Monday, May 30, 2011

newmusicmonday #95:: Oh No! Yoko

Genre indie pop
Everett Morris: Keyboards,guitar,vox
Liam  Hamilton: Drums
Nic Denis: Bass, synth, yelling
Base Vancouver, BC, Canada

Forthcoming EP, summer 2011


Here's another recommendation from @Jackkn1fe, Oh No! Yoko from Vancouver, a band whose members are still in high school. The music may sound like it would be more at home on a game console but I like the spirit of this is DIY alt pop—and I like it a hell of a lot more than the overly precious Vampire Weekend.

Twitterversion:: [blog+streams] #newmusicmonday feat. Oh No! Yoko, high schoolers fr. BC.Music for Playstations, in a good way. @jackkn1fe . @Prof_K

Monday, May 23, 2011

newmusicmonday #94:: Henry & the Nightcrawlers

image:: MySpaceMusic

Genreart indie rock
MembersHenry Alcock-White
Peter Carruthers
Tony Marriott
Zachary Gray
Tom Dobrzanski
BaseVancouver, BC, Canada
Upcoming Tour Dates

May 6 – The Duncan Garage, Duncan, BC (w/The Autumn Portrait, Handsome Distraction, Go For The Eyes)
May 7 – The Fort Street Cafe, Victoria, BC (guests TBA)
June 24 – The Campbell Bay Music Fest, Mayne Island, BC (w/with lots great bands)

Jackkn1fe gave me the heads-up on this Vancouver band, along with a slew of others. There's a melancholy streak through their music and lyrics that evoke the incessant greyness of the Pacific Northwest from October through May with fine layers of pop pulling it all together. One of the LastFM features I like to check out is super similar bands, which include The Zolas {NewMusicMonday #9}, We Are the City, a Kelowna band that also got a nod from Jackkn1fe, and Aidan Knight "100 Blows" with its video homage to Truffaut's Quatre Cents Coups, offers a good intro to what the band's about::

Here's a live version of "Daytime Friend"::

Henry and the Nightcrawlers • Daytime Friend from Green Couch on Vimeo.

Well, I'm under the weather this Victoria Day, which is fitting since I hear Queen Victoria isn't doing so hot either. So, I think I'll go back to bed. I hope your VD a good one

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] Victoria Day #newmusicmonday featuring Henry & the Nightcrawlers from Vancouver. Upcoming BC shows. @Prof_K

Sunday, May 22, 2011

When Ads Attack:: Newfoundland/Labrador Birds Offering Commentary?

Last week, Impolitical linked to this Reg Whitaker opinion piece in the G&M offering more pontification on the demise of the Liberal Party of Canada. While it may be hard to see, the birds from the Newfoundland/Labrador Tourism ad could not be confined and proceeded to fly over Whitaker's piece. In my mind, it was fitting for it to have such guano-wielding visitors.

Twitterversion:: [image] When ads attack! Newfoundland/Labrador birds offering colour commentary on G&M piece on the demise of #LPC? @Prof_K

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Night Videos:: "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" Ted Leo, Patti Smith

Twitterversion:: [videos] Two covers of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" Ted Leo, Patti Smith #FridayNightVideos @Prof_K

Friday Night Videos:: Girls "Lust for Life" & "Hellhole Ratrace"



Girls. AcclaimHabits. The most recent.

Twitterversion:: [videos] #FridayNightVideos Girls-"Lust for Life" 2009 regular & NSFW vers. + "Hellhole Ratrace" #SanFranciscoIndie @Prof_K

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

newmusicmonday #93:: Little Girls

Josh McIntyre, circa 2009, CBCr3

Genregothic punk
MembersJosh McIntyre
CityToronto, ON, Canada
Upcoming Tour Date18 May, Discotheque Tropicale Montréal, QC

I've now got a backlog of newmusicmonday posts since Officer M. has clued me into some BC/Vancouver-area bands, which I asked him to do since I've been neglecting the West coast. I'm currently in the Eastern Townships in Québec and saw on IndieMontréal that Josh McIntyre's Little Girls is having a show on Wednesday night at Discotheque Tropicale in Outremont. The show is part of the God Save the Queen tour with Rituals, Rattail, and Mausoleum.

Little Girls might take you back to the 80s when a branch of post punk went dark and sinister, yet dance floor friendly. Here's an early 2009 performance, which was Josh's first show::

Little Girls - Youth Tunes - Live At Sonic Boom Records In Toronto from Graeme Phillips on Vimeo.

From the same era is "Last Call" performed live at the Horseshoe in TO::

I'll leave you with excerpts of a set from Baeble's Guest Apartment::

Watch the full video at

Twitterversion:: [blog] #newmusicmonday feat. Little Girls. Ultra lo-fi goth punk. 18May show in #Montreal @ Discotheque Tropicale  @Prof_K

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Night Videos:: Hooverphonic Live feat. Noémie Wolfs

live at Ancienne Belgique, Brussels - 29/01/2011:: "2wicky"

live at Ancienne Belgique, Brussels - 29/01/2011:: "Eden", "Vinegar & Salt" and "Renaissance Affair"

Twitterversion:: [videos] #Fridaynightvideos Hooverphonic live at Ancienne Belgique feat. new singer Noémie Wolfs @Prof_K

Monday, May 09, 2011

newmusicmonday #92:: Pony Up

image:: Pony Up BBC6, MySpace

Genrealt pop
MembersSarah Moundroukas  guitar, vocals
Lindsay Wills  drums, vocals
Laura Wills  keyboard, vocals
Lisa J. Smith  bass, vocals
BaseMontréal, QC, Canada
LabelLaughing Outlaw {AU}. Download:: Villa Villa Nolawebsite

Pony Up could easily be confused with a slacker retread of 90s grrrl-centric indie pop, but I think there's more going on than that. I think the tipping point for featuring them were lukewarm reviews on Pitchfork. Sure, the confessional lyrics, often tinged with some smirk, edge, and pain, might seem like familiar territory, but {duh} this is pop and it goes with the territory. While the songs from their début EP and two albums {'Make Love to the Judges with Your Eyes'; 'Stay Gold'} are often Plathian keepsakes, which isn't a bad thing. I'm not a fan of every song, but the band is at its best with songs that have an effortless feel to them. Almost as if they're a product of a DIY ethos and minimal fuss, without sounding minimalist. Moreover, the lyrics on songs like "Charles" with references to Manson create imagery that goes far beyond confessional tales of twentysomething angst::

In fact, in an interview below {Dans ton Salon}, the bandmembers discuss how the lyrics are personal and there's a contradiction of lyrics about talking about things and music for dancing that comprises their sound. The right mix can be pop perfection. They tend to fuse the darker themes with a poppy veneer, evident in "The Truth About Cats and Dogs {Is That They Die}" with a video that matches the style::

The band is current on maternity leave according to a Facebook update, but I'm looking forward to their next release and further evolution of their sound. I'll leave you with a 'Dans ton Salon' interview of the band done by P45 {partially in French, but the interview with the band is in English} from 2008::

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday feat. indie pop of Pony Up from #Montreal @Prof_K

Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Night Video:: Blonde Redhead feat. Miranda July

Twitterversion:: [video] #FridayNightVideo feat. Miranda July in Blonde Redhead's "Top Ranking". @Prof_K

AV in the UK:: Electoral Reform Going Down in Referendum

It looks like the Alternative Vote referendum is going to be defeated in the UK. There's talk of electoral reform in Canada in the wake of Monday's election, but I'm not holding my breath.

The AV system proposed was pretty straightforward. The BC-STV and Ontario's MMP were defeated in 2009 and 2007, respectively. I think it's pretty hard to get the electorate behind changing electoral mechanisms. It might be a communication issue, but I think voters get comfortable with a heuristic of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," not realizing that FPTP is flawed in a multi-party system. Without reform, there's Duverger's Law...first-past-the-post leads to a two-party system over time.

This video explains the UK AV proposal::

I think that electoral reform will be more likely in Canada if the Conservative Party of Canada fragments back into Progressive Conservative and Reform factions. While some are saying that Layton's new Québec faction will test the NDP, I think Stephen Harper's majority government will put him to the test with social conservatives. Before, he had the crutch of having a minority government as a limiting factor on what he could do. He's stating he wants the Conservatives to be the natural governing party of Canada, replacing the Liberals. I think that's a stretch, which I'll blog about in the future.

Twitterversion:: [blog] AV in the UK? Election reform referendum en route to defeat in the UK. @Prof_K

Monday, May 02, 2011

newmusicmonday #91:: Rah Rah

Rah Rah, PopMontréal performing Nancy Drew, MySpaceMusic

Genrealt rock
MembersMarshall Burns Vocals, Guitar
Erin Passmore Vocals, Drums, Keyboard
Kristina Hedlund Vocals, Violin
Joel Passmore Vocals, Bass, Drums
Leif Thorseth Guitar, Good looks
Vanessa Benson Vocals, Keyboards, Bass 
Dan Crozier Guitar
BaseRegina, SK, Canada
LabelHidden Pony

I was on CBC Radio 3 and Rah Rah won me over with "Fuck NAFTA" {on CBCr3}, a song that I find perfect for election day here in Canada.
"Fuck all you stockbrokers in the crowd...
I'm so sick of your management
I'm so sick of your bullshit"

The band would be easy to dismiss as one of those quirky college indie bands, given a quick listen, or worse yet being labelled as Arcade Firey. Rah Rah is a large band with an eclectic melange of instruments at their beck and call, but I find it's often the lyrics that draw me in—their storytelling creating these vignettes out of what seems to be nothing, such as being in love with a communist man. The band manages to say out of indie realms that can be oppressively clichéd. They are neither overly dear nor overly serious and dour. The band released an album last summer, 'Breaking Hearts', and much of what comes through is that this band sounds like they're enjoying making their music. Love of the craft and all that, perhaps. A strong suit is the band's sense of humour that's thankfully not cloying. I have a sense this band will be going places. In 2009, iTunes bestowed the honours of “Best New Canadian Band” and “Best New Alternative Band”.

I'm a fan of "Beachfight", a punkesque homage in a song that clocks in under two minutes::

The folksier "Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel" evokes thoughts of a Prairie Indie::

I'll leave you with "Henry", a catchy song with a video featuring a girl meets werewolf storyline::

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday featuring Regina's Rah Rah, part of an emerging Saskatchewan scene @Prof_K

The NDP and the Economy:: What Is the Truth About the Bob Rae Ontario NDP Government?

Bob Rae, Ontario NDP Leader before elected Premier, September 1990, Toronto Star

Today's election may hinge upon the vote here in Ontario, a province where the mere mention of Bob Rae's NDP government is likely to cause eyerolling to jeering in many circles. Currently, there's talk that the Orange crush of the NDP's meteoric rise in the polls is very analogous to a 1990 Ontario when the provincial NDP came out of nowhere to come to power, with Bob Rae as Premier. Stephen Harper is warning that the NDP will lead to economic ruin, quick to remind Ontario voters of those recession plagued years of the early 1990s. Bill Curry in the Globe and Mail even explored the idea that Rae's legacy is holding NDP numbers down in Ontario.

I think Rae gets a bad rap because much of the Ontario NDP story is ignored. The problem as I see it is that there's little room for discussion on the complexities of economics—boring, right? Maybe, but nevertheless the stuff is important. For example, are all recessions and recoveries the same? The current "recovery" in Canada is a jobless one when one examines the average hours worked—the labour force in aggregate is underemployed, while official unemployment rates show improvements. 

Recessions can have different flavours and policy needs to take this into account. There are key economic differences between Bob Rae's Ontario and Stephen Harper's Canada that can be boiled down to:
  • interest rates
  • policy
The Reality
The Bob Rae government was faced with a big recession, high unemployment, high interest rates::

Under these conditions, deficits become very expensive and government spending can "crowd out" business investment. Moreover, Bob Rae inherited prior commitments and boondoggles, such as the grossly mismanaged public-private Skydome venture that he rid the province of, but after he paid off the huge debts the project racked up.

What was Rae's eventual response to the economic situation? The NDP had to move away from Keynesian policies. This analysis of the Rae government illuminates the reality of the bleak situation::
"Although this sounded as though economic policy was still informed by a Keynesian perspective, both critics and supporters overestimated the extent to which the NDP government was committed to counter-cyclical budgeting: 'only $640 million of the deficit reflected new expenditures, while the rest could be attributed to decreased revenues and ongoing commitments.'"
So, the rampant Keynesian spending attributed to Rae is a myth—the government was trying to merely maintain services in a toxic economic environment with huge interest payments on existing debt. The government was out of options and moved towards...fiscal conservatism out of economic and political necessity::
"During 1992 it became clear that the government had discovered the attractions of fiscal conservatism. Premier Rae asserted his determination to move close to a balanced budget before the end of his term and public sector wages and social spending were reined in accordingly. The length of the recession seems ultimately to have created a deficit panic and, following a government caucus meeting at Niagara-onthe- Lake in March 1993."
Ironically, much of what is remembered about the Rae NDP government is a fiscally Conservative shift in policy—one that's in alignment with Harper, at least Harper's theoretical economics, as opposed to his political economics. Bob Rae and the NDP were forced into embracing austerity measures and the "social contract", along with unpopular "Rae days" {wage freezes and unpaid leaves} came into effect. Rae didn't totally abandon his ideology in favour of economic conservatism, as he passed the pro-labour Bill 40, which had anti-scab provisions.

Stephen Harper's Canada:: What Harper and Flaherty Are Hiding
The current economic situation is quite different from the 1990s. There are two main issues that need to dealt with. One is common to both Rae and Harper is Canada's productivity trap. The other, in my opinion, isn't talked about or readily understood. The elephant in the living room is what's actually driving Canada's "fragile recovery"—something that that Harper and his Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, aren't really discussing. What is it? Well, the answer is above on that interest rate chart. The rates are rock bottom and the Canadian "economic recovery" may start to evaporate and even turn into a nightmare once rates start to creep up.
"The country's recent growth has largely been driven by super-low interest rates. With relatively cheap borrowing costs, prices have surged for housing -- nearly doubling in the past ten years nationally -- and for commodities, which make up nearly half of Canadian exports."
The current Conservative policies should be worrisome, since the "big idea" has been to foster bubbles. In the US, the 2000s saw a rampant housing bubble fueled by laxed lending rules, leading to the subprime crisis. Under Obama, the economic policies consciously took a "jobless recovery" approach, opting to prop up markets, calm investors, and fuel a stock market bubble, rather than focus on jobs. In Canada, the Conservatives tried the same thing, but ran into Liberal regulatory policies and now are concerned that their policies might lead to financial instabilities. Case in point: Flaherty had to reverse his mortgage liberalization policies after consumer debt started creeping up, ostensible because people are using credit to augment income in a recession and buy into what may well be bubble assets—real estate.

I have a sense that the Conservatives are making things up as they go along with policies all over the map {e.g., F-35s, Afghanistan, piecemeal projects, blocking of Potash sale, GM bailout, etc.} and are hard to track. Finance Minister Flaherty has been accused by the business community of being exactly that—hard to track. While the Conservative "schizophrenic" policies may seem like politics as usual, by throwing money to appease various constituencies, it becomes hard to reconcile when the political rhetoric is steeped in fiscal prudence. There's seems to be funding for certain things but not others, while there are increasing numbers of people falling through the cracks. I have a sense this is fueling the NDP surge. The Conservatives think that private industry and markets will solve the economic puzzle, but Canada faces the one-two combo. There's the productivity trap and the current policies of idiosyncratic spending that aren't leading to real job growth and a liquidity trap where despite rock-bottom interest rates, there's a reluctance to lend or invest.
  • Productivity trap: Relatively low productivity and levels of innovation, despite low taxes and low government debt.
  • Liquidity trap: Low investment due to uncertainty {unemployment/underemployment; deflation; insufficient aggregate demand for Canadian business}
The Conservatives are trying to sell stability, under the hopes that that neoliberal policies will foster an economic rebounds, in the course of regular business cycles. The problem is that the interest rates are unprecedented and the economy is in uncharted waters. Staying the course could very well result in a trainwreck. The Conservative budget that's tantamount to a Seinfeld episode {about nothing} and doesn't address the structural economic issues of the two traps. Ignatieff was right to bring up how the $11B in future budget cuts need to be scrutinized, given that funding cuts can be used to shape a political agenda under the guise of financial exigency. The stale low tax and corporatist mantra is hopefully wearing thin. The idea of tax giveaways to entice business is akin to a cheap date that puts out or a sugar daddy that offers up inducements to get gold diggers to stay—You're just going to get used. These policies are part of a race to the bottom that's wholly irrelevant, given the real issue in Canada is dealing with the two traps. 

The War of Rhetoric
Perhaps what is interesting in this election is how the NDP embraced a pro-small and medium sized enterprise stance. Strategically, this was a brilliant move that was in-synch with their policies, by encroaching on Conservative territory and embracing a fresh approach to market development that has the ability to address the productivity trap. I think this can be significant, as the Conservatives have been quite successful at painting both the NDP and Liberals as the "tax and spend" parties. Malcolm Fairbrother in this article on the provincial NDP governments in British Columbia and Ontario correctly points out that the mere perceptions of the adverse impact socially democratic policies have can affect business decisions. The Conservatives {and to a certain extent the media} help to promote a folklore wisdom of neoliberal economic orthodoxy—taxes are bad for business and lead to fewer jobs and less real income. In other words, the fear rhetoric primes voters and industry to act according to a script, as opposed to reality.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Bob Rae's Ontario NDP govt. invokes the bogeyman in light of Layton's #NDP surge, but is it all smoke & mirrors?  @Prof_K

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Vote-Splitting in Ontario:: Using Cluster Analysis & Ontario Swingdex 2.0 to Assess the Risks of Conservative Gains

I have a sense that vote-splitting in Ontario because of the NDP surge may be overstated. I decided to examine Ontario ridings past voting pattern and relative support for each party to create partisanship indices for each riding. It is a refinement of the Ontario federal riding "Swingdex" I developed last month. The idea is to classify ridings by partisan support in 2006 and 2008. You may wish to just skip to the chart.

Regional Effects
I ran some k-means cluster analyses {using a cluster algorithm in Orange [v2.0b] set to a 5 cluster solution}. First, I looked at possible regional effects. While I'm not exactly sure what the boundaries for Toronto in the EKOS polls, looking at the numbers over time, I'll assume it's the 44 ridings in the GTA. Here's the 29 April numbers [pdf], showing the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP in a dead heat in  the GTA.

29 April 2011 EKOS poll for federal vote intent for cities

Before the no-confidence vote, the 10 March EKOS poll [pdf] had the Liberals and Conservatives polling 6.8% and 7.5% higher, respectively. The NDP has jumped 10%.

10 March 2011 EKOS poll for federal vote intent for cities

A summary of the GTA numbers are::

13 Oct. 2008::  CPC 31.1% LPC 38.0% NDP 17.0% GPC 13.4% {derived from Toronto & Suburbs numbers}
10 Mar. 2011::  CPC 41.0% LPC 38.8% NDP 13.1% GPC 6.5% ±6.3%
29 Apr. 2011::   CPC 33.5% LPC 32.0% NDP 24.4% GPC 6.5% ±5.4%

The Ontario-wide EKOS numbers were:
13 Oct. 2008::  CPC 34.0% LPC 34.0% NDP 18.0% GPC 13.0% {error not stated for ON}
10 Mar. 2011::  CPC 41.0% LPC 34.0% NDP 14.4% GPC 8.3% ±3.4%
29 Apr. 2011::   CPC 38.9% LPC 26.6% NDP 26.2% GPC 6.5% ±2.9%

The 2008 non-GTA Ontario EKOS numbers are reported here [pdf]. While the sample size does not justify this, I nevertheless decomposed the Ontario numbers to create a non-GTA Ontario numbers [x = (Ontario — (GTA*.42))/.58)], where .42 represents the proportion of Ontario ridings in the GTA and .58 represents those outside the GTA.

13 Oct. 2008::   CPC 38.0% LPC 29.0% NDP 20.0% GPC 13.0% 
10 Mar. 2011::   CPC 40.9% LPC 30.6% NDP 15.3% GPC 9.6% 
29 Apr. 2011::   CPC 42.7% LPC 22.8% NDP 27.5% GPC 6.1% 

The question is whether or not the six point Liberal drop in the GTA since 2008 and the Conservative gains plus the NDP surge will cause the Liberals to lose a large number of their 37 seats. 10.9

Quick Cluster Analysis Solution
The cluster analysis yielded a solution with 5 clusters using three simple indices based on the unweighted average of the 2006 and 2008 riding results for the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP and subtracting that from the party's provincial results.
Indexparty = [average (riding result)2006, 2008 — average (provincial result)2006, 2008]
I named the clusters, which all 106 ridings are assigned to::

  1. Liberal {30}
  2. GTA Liberal Fortress {9}
  3. Conservatives/Split Left {22}
  4. Strong Conservatives/Weak Liberal {25}
  5. NDP {20}

All of the 37 Liberal ridings are in clusters #1, #2, and #5. Given the erosion of Liberal support and relative strength of the Conservatives, I chose to focus on how the election might cause the Liberals to lose seats. I see the Liberals or the NDP possibly picking up at most 3 seats in clusters #3 and #4.

Revised Ontario Swingdex:: Vote-Splitting Chart
The following chart summarizes the Ontario races. The first three columns are the three indices calculated for the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP. The winning margin is the average winning margin for the 2006 and 2008 elections, where * denotes a party switch occurring. The Swingdex 2.0 column denotes a swing riding {22 total}.

Ontario Federal Swingdex 2.0-swing riding chart,
click on image for larger view

The Liberal Cluster:: Risks of Loss
The Liberal cluster of 30 ridings has a high average percentage of Liberal votes {2006 and 2008} at 47.2%. The Conservative and NDP votes being 33.9% and 12.7%, respectively. Examining the Liberal cluster {which has 5 ridings that have switched to Conservative but have a Liberal history}, I have identified 9 ridings that the Liberals should be very concerned about. The rationale are in the notes column, but the main criteria are close margins, the patterns of support in the indices, patterns of regional party support in EKOS polls, and volatility {riding changing parties}. Seven of the 9 are in the GTA, where the Liberals and Conservatives are statistically tied. There is overlap {5 ridings} with the Conservative party's targeting of GTA ridings and overlap with 4 of the original 21 Swingdex ridings. These nine represent all but one of the Ontario ridings that I see could go to the Conservatives. The tenth is Guelph, discussed in a later section.
  1. Ajax—Pickering might be at risk, but incumbent Mark Holland should hold off a challenge from a cookie-cutter "star" candidate in Chris Alexander.
  2. Brampton—Springdale, Ruby Dhalla's riding, where the years old "nannygate" might be overshadowed by Conservative opponent's "immigate" with allegations of offers of immigration visas for votes.
  3. Brampton West, Andrew Kania won in 2008 by 231 votes in the most populous riding in Canada, which also has 54% visible minorities.
  4. Don Valley West, Rob Oliphant's riding.
  5. Eglinton—Lawrence, Joe Volpe trying to hold off a concerted Conservative effort to puck up this riding.
  6. Kingston and the Islands, no incumbent, in the wake of Peter Milliken's retirement. I feel the NDP also has a shot here.
  7. London North Centre, Incumbent Glen Pearson may be technically be in the danger zone, but the Conservatives would need a sizeable swing along with Liberal defections for the riding to go blue.
  8. Mississauga South, Incumbent Paul Szabo, Chair of the House of Commons Ethics Committee
  9. York Centre, Ken Dryden being challenged by Mark Adler.
The Liberal Cluster:: Possible Liberal Pick-Ups
There are 5 ridings that have been historically Liberal that have switched Conservative, with four being in the GTA. All of these 5 were in my original Swingdex and three are targeted by the Conservatives for their bid for a majority.
  1. Kitchener—Waterloo, Liberal Andrew Telegdi lost by 17 votes and hopes turnout will turn things around.
  2. Missisauga—Erindale, a riding with another close race in 2008 determined by 397 votes. Liberal Omar Alghabra is seeking to get his seat back from Conservative Bob Dechert.
  3. Oak Ridges—Markham is yet another close race with the Liberal and Conservative candidates squaring off on a local national park proposal.
  4. Thornhill, Liberal candidate Karen Mock is seeking to unseat Conservative incumbent Peter Kent.
  5. Vaughan, Fantino or Ferri? Will Conservative riding association resignations over a health care project grant help to return the riding the Liberals from the ex-Ontario top cop, Fantino?
The GTA Liberal Fortress:: NDP Cashing In?
This cluster of 9 ridings should be safe for the Liberals (55.7% average Liberal votes in 2006 and 2008), with the Conservatives faring poorly in these ridings. The sole threat is from the NDP::
The Wildcards: Seven Selected Ridings from Three Clusters
Three of these are being targeted by the Conservatives on the quest for majority, Kitchener Centre, London West, and Guelph. The first two are held by the Conservatives and Guelph is Liberal. All seven were in the original Swingdex, so 16 of the original 21 ridings made it into Swingdex 2.0. Dropped were Essex, Brant, Huron—Bruce, St. Catherines, and Ottawa—Orléans.

Kenora, Kitchener Centre, and London west are part of a cluster that trends Conservative with the Liberals and NDP splitting the vote. In this Conservative/SplitLeft cluster, the average 2006-2008 Conservative percentage is 42.9, while the Liberal and NDP percentages are 34.6% and 15.6%, respectively. These three ridings are volatile, previously Liberal, but going Conservative in 2008.
  1. Kenora, strategic voting {SV} for the NDP could defeat the Conservatives. The riding has a history of relatively high NDP support.
  2. Kitchener Centre, rematch of a close 2008 race {1.4% margin} with Stephen Woodworth {Conservative incumbent} up against Karen Redman, Liberal.
  3. London West, this is most likely a two-way race between the Liberals and Conservatives. Vote splitting could allow the Conservatives to hold on to this seat.
Oshawa is in a cluster of strong Conservative ridings with average 2006-2008 Conservative votes of 51%. This cluster is characterized by a Strong Conservative/Weak Liberal voting pattern. Oshawa is a riding that may be vulnerable, given the NDP surge. The Schwa was Ed Broadbent's old riding, but back when GM had a much greater presence.
  • Oshawa, Colin Carrie is trying to hold on, while Chris Buckley of the NDP tries to knock him off.
These ridings are curiously in the NDP cluster while being currently held by Liberals. The cluster of 20 ridings has an average 2006-2008 NDP voting percentage of 39.9%, while Liberal and Conservative percentages are 31% and 22.3%, respectively.
  1. Beaches—East York, Matthew Kellway is taking up Marilyn Churley's cause of taking Maria Minna's seat.
  2. Guelph, a riding that had strong showings from 4 parties, Liberals, Conservatives, Greens, and NDP. Guelph was the site of a special ballot controversy, where the Conservatives tried to get student votes invalidated, over allegations that the polling place was illegal. This is a riding that vote splitting could lead to a Conservative pick-up.
  3. Parkdale—High Park, Peggy Nash {NDP} is trying to return to office by unseating Gerard Kennedy {Liberal}. I'm sure many in this riding feel that proportional representation is in order, as both the Liberals and NDP have left-progressive candidates.
Final Thoughts
Ontario will be critical with respect to how well or poorly the Conservatives do in this election. The current breakdown for the 106 seats in Ontario is Conservatives 51, Liberals 37, NDP 17 , and independent conservative 1. The theoretical maximum pickups based on the cluster analyses here for each party in Ontario are:: Conservatives 10, Liberals 7, and, NDP 11. Technically, it would be 11 for the Conservatives, given that Simcoe—Gray is held by Helena Guergis, an independent conservative. 

The latest projections expect a few net pickups for the Conservatives, upwards of 10 seats lost by the Liberals, and a handful of seats for the NDP. The projections are all in the order of Conservatives, Liberals, & NDP::

LISPOP:: 56 26 24 {1 May}
TooClosetoCall:: 55 30 21 {1 May}
EKOS:: 60 25 21 {1 May}
Canadian Election Watch:: 63 21 22 {1 May}
DemocraticSpace {avg.}:: 63 19 24 {29 April 1 May}
308:: 55 31 20 {1 May}

I expect the Conservatives to gain a few seats {net +3-4}, the Liberals lose a few {net -6}, and the NDP picking up 4-5 seats in the province. The latest EKOS poll [pdf] has the NDP surge holding at 26% in Ontario. I'm not expecting the Liberals to collapse entirely in the Liberal cluster, let alone the GTA Liberal Fortress cluster, with the NDP support allowing Conservatives to come up the middle. I think the cluster analysis is doing a good job of identifying the at-risk ridings, based on underlying patterns of support in the riding. I might be dead wrong...particularly if Liberals are so demoralized they stay home. The EKOS poll doesn't support this::

Twitterversion:: [blog] How much -splitting to expect in Ontario? Cluster analysis tries to address this question.  @Prof_K