Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Well Done Mr. Dion

Stephan Dion seems to be doing things differently these days. When Harper speaks to the press and famously distorts the truth, Dion doesn't waste any time reacting to it. While I wish he had adopted this strategy a little sooner, I'm glad to see it now.

What I'm referring to specifically is that this morning, while answering questions from the press gallery Harper inferred that Dion is avoiding setting up a meeting for the 2 to discuss the fall session. In fact, he said that his office has spent several weeks trying to nail down a time and that they can't seem to come to any agreement. Subsequent questions had him reinforcing the fact that this has been dragging on for a long time and that he's spent weeks playing 'telephone tag'. And then he went a step further:

But he complained that two opposition leaders -- Dion and the Bloc Quebecois' Gilles Duceppe -- won't meet with him before Sept. 9.

When Harper was asked why there was so much urgency to go to an election and how exactly is the parliament dysfunctional, he had this to say.

"I think it's clear they want to bring down the government and not say when," Harper said of the opposition parties, adding, "We'll have to ask whether it's appropriate to have people vote twice in the space of a few weeks."

Does this man have any idea of how our parliamentary system works? And btw, why doesn't anyone in the media bring that point up? Since when does the Leader of the Opposition have to tell the PM precisely when he intends to bring the government down?

Dion quickly called a scrum and quickly put the lie's to rest. They haven't been trying to reach him for weeks, in fact, the first time his office was contacted was 8 days ago at which point Dion's people said he was free to meet on....wait for it, August 26th. Yep, Dion was prepared to meet today, but that didn't work out for the PM so the offices are still negotiating.

It really is something how easily this PM lies isn't it?

The scrum went on with questions directed to Dion about why Harper is pushing for an election. By his response, which you can listen to here, it's pretty clear that Dion has the PM's number and isn't falling for his feints.

I think I gained a little clarity on Harper's strategy while listening to him earlier. It struck me that this really is about doing things on his timetable, specifically, his desire to reclaim the agenda.

He's obviously aware that Dion is in the driver's seat on that count at the moment and he wants that seat back. Going back for a Fall session will only allow Harper to pursue his current sagging agenda and Dion will still have the upper hand. By calling an election, Harper gets to push the re-set button and come forward with a new agenda in the shape of a platform.

I think the other factors I've cited these past few days all lead to that conlusion and still have their own weight, but in the end, it's about Harper's need to be in control.

Update - Harper has grounded the GG from travelling to Beijing. Start your engines.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dion looked good today. The choice of backdrop, in particular, was perfect. Harps seems to forget that he is the one who called the by-elections. If the parliament was dysfunctional then, why did he call them? I guess he sees that he is going to lose badly in all of them (thank you Oily) and he is running around like a neutered rat.

Steve V said...

It would seem we have learned the art of "rapid response". Everytime Harper utters his nonsense, Dion runs to a mic to point out the hypocrisy. No dead air.

knb said...

Anon, yes I think Dion did well and I'm happy to see hin respond immediately.

knb said...

Exactly Steve and I for one am thrilled to see it.

An argument could be made that by holding off on that strategy reduced expectations I suppose, but I'm not looking back.

I'm hoping that this continues and imagine it will.

Joseph said...

Agreed on all the above points.

I have found it interesting to note some media updated articles this afternoon to include Dion's most recent responses while others did not.

I continually find it fascinating (in a morbid kind of way ;) that online media are consistent only in their inconsistency with amending stories as they unfold.

Most notorious today was the G&M adding a (minute) link to the audio of Dion's response but not actually including the new comments in the article itself. Easy to miss but I give them some credit.

On to the election, I FULLY expect Harper will call for the election and immediately put forth some type of "economic crisis relief" as part of his agenda. The Liberals had better be prepared for that and have their own plans or they may lose the agenda quickly.

The truly evil thought is that Harper is going to use the current crisis as cover for his government's mismanagement leading us into deficits.

And I don't buy for a moment that we aren't heading there. One of the other reasons for calling a snap election now is while they can still "on paper" say all is just peachy on that front.

Steve V said...

"On to the election, I FULLY expect Harper will call for the election and immediately put forth some type of "economic crisis relief" as part of his agenda. The Liberals had better be prepared for that and have their own plans or they may lose the agenda quickly."

Good point Joseph, Harper already floated this need to deal with the economy as justification.

knb said...

The truly evil thought is that Harper is going to use the current crisis as cover for his government's mismanagement leading us into deficits.

I don't disagree with you, but that's going to be one hell of a tough sell. He's fought tooth and nail to this point in not providing relief and Flaherty is out and about telling us how solid things are.

Indeed the Lib's need to be prepared for it, but I don't see the counter as being incredibly difficult at this point.

One of the other reasons for calling a snap election now is while they can still "on paper" say all is just peachy on that front.

You just lost me. They can't argue both points.

penlan said...

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA

August 26, 2008
Ottawa, Ontario

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to Represent Canada at the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that His Honour the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will represent Canada at the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, to be held on September 6, 2008.

The Lieutenant Governor will travel to China instead of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada.

Well there it is. Looks like the GG will be home to do Harper's bidding.

Dion has to come out pronto everytime Harper speaks now. Wish he'd started sooner.

knb said...

I just added the update penlan.

What a devious, arrogant man he is.

Omar said...

"What's Mr. Harper doing, walking away and just saying, 'I quit?'" Layton asked. "That's a loser mentality that I think a lot of Canadians will have difficulty accepting."

LOL

~I'm telling you. Calm, cool and collected. The Prime Minister knows exactly what he is doing..

ottlib said...

It would appear Mr. Dion and the media are getting into election mode.

We still have a week to go before the expected election call and alot can happen in that period so I will say again that I will believe an election call when it actually happens.

However, it would be interesting to see how Canadians would react to an election call just after the end of the summer. I would bet most Canadians are still trying to squeeze out one final week of summer enjoyment and are not really paying attention to the Chess Master and his machinations.

So, imagine their surprise if they just send the kids back and then have to endure an election. As well, it really will be interesting if this combined with the fact Mr. Harper will have to break his own election law to cause an election will have any impact on public opinion.

wilson said...

''By calling an election, Harper gets to push the re-set button and come forward with a new agenda in the shape of a platform.''

He could still prorogue parliament.
3 weeks ago Goodale was absolutely certain of it.

penlan said...

"What a devious, arrogant man he is."

He is also a dangerous man, if he were ever given a majority. His plans for the country are something that would absolutely shock Canadians if they were implemented.

It's all still hidden agendas that are slowly being revealed in bits & pieces, & we are made aware of AFTER the fact,eg. the arts cuts. But that is minor to what is coming down the pike if they are re-elected.

They've already done a lot of damage that will take a long time to reverse - & this with a minority!

wilson said...

'the arts cuts' part of the invisible hidden agenda

Arts and Culture funding under PMSH has INCREASED to an all time high, higher than the Libs.
Some programs deamed ineffective were cut, those showing results were increased.
That is what an accountable government does.
Can't blame you for not knowing that, as we have had too many years of Liberal govts using record surpluses, to feed special interest groups without making assessments along the way.

penlan said...

wilson,

Knowledge of the cuts came AFTER they were done. There was no discussion, etc. You missed the word "after". That makes something "hidden".

knb said...

ottlib, I would say Harper is about to take us there and Dion is reacting.

A week away? I don't think so. I think it could be a matter of days.

How will Canada react? With shock likely and a lot of expletives.

That said, it must be stressed that Harper manufactured the need for this election out of whole cloth.

The Con's are swallowing, as they always do, but they are making this about what it is not. Meaning wilson will show up soon.

Canadians maybe didn't pay attention this summer, but I hope now they will.

knb said...

Oh look, right on cue!

He could, but he won't. Too much info will come out in the meantime and that still means going back to committee's and the House.

He's got no way to avoid that other than to call an election.

knb said...

penlan, yes he is dangerous in terms of how we feel and think of this country. I'm not sure it's so much hidden as it is under-reported.

The media don't get into it because it requires too much context. That's sad but true.

All hands on board. It's time to expose and pose questions to the PM that deserve answers.

Push your local media people. Pose the questions to them that you want answered because if we go into an election, it's time for us to have a voice.

ottlib said...

knb:

Mr. Harper would be a first class idiot to call an election the week before Labour Day.

It is highly inadvisable that he call it during a long weekend or the day immediately following a long weekend.

So, if he does finally decide to have one then I suspect the call will be next Wednesday.

However, alot can happen before then so we will see.

knb said...

Good grief wilson. You have blue smoke coming out of one ear and red out of the other.

You're pro spending? Your leader is pro spending? What tripe.

Some programs deamed ineffective were cut, those showing results were increased.

Deemed ineffective by whom? There was no consultation!

Oh, that would fall to the executive of the party who were given a passed budget and estimate in this department and expected that those expenses would go forward.

Harper etal has no right to alter that. His arrogance is pushing the boundaries.

I know you love the man, I cannot understand why, because he seems to be the kind of guy you would hate.

Sleazy, slimy, arrogant, underhanded, a liar, well the list goes on.

The few women you represent who like Harper must be an interesting group. Thankfully, I've never met any of you.

Frankly Canadian said...

I hope the thirty three million plus people of this great country Canada band together in unity to change the repulsive representation (Right wing Conservatives) we now have in office, just as the Americans are now doing in their elections. We also need to throw that disgrace of an opposition party leader (Jack dam Liberals Layton) and get back a leader for the N.D.P. that will work together with other party's for the benefit of the country. As a union member I will never vote N.D.P. while this S.O.B. is at the helm and my fellow workers feel the same way and that number is in the hundreds!!! Canadians need to work in unison to help rid ourselves of this invasion by Alberta oil barons who believe money and advertising buys you the highest political office. Myself, I constantly talk to as many people as possible at work and neighbours about the constant stupidity of this Harper Regime, and when the elections do begin I will devote my spare time to do what ever I can to help support my local Liberal candidate. In the event of no Liberal candidate, like Bonnie in B.C., support the Green Party! Make sure you and all your neighbours order their lawn signs A.S.A.P. and contact your local riding office about how to help. As for yourself knb and Steve V and many of the other bloggers here, keep up the great work in exposing these clowns for who they are. I find your blogs to be far more informative than any of the national news papers/agencies.

Joseph said...

knb,

I tend to write these comments on breaks so sorry I wasn't clear.

What I meant was it is now clear the trajectory towards deficits is underway. The conservatives clearly designed their razor thin budget based on rosy economic scenarios that are failing.

After starting in deficits earlier this year, the conservatives have canceled programs, from shutting down arts programs to scuttling even their own ship building "priority. In addition, they have also stepped up selling off of government assets to get additional funds into the government coffers.

So with this latest interim report, the budget appears on track again - for now.

What I am suggesting is they want to call the election now because they know the balance on the books is a temporary blip on a downward trajectory.

I am not saying the Liberals can run on this . . . it just reinforces why the conservatives are insistent on moving into an election now.

I predict they will run on a platform to increase spending to "help the economy" knowing the mess won't be apparent until after the election is over. Getting elected again far exceeds their desire to maintain a reasonable budget.

Flaherty at work.

That's just how I see it.

Even so, the liberals cannot give them a pass. It is vitally important the liberals 1) be ready to respond to any "stimulus" plan offered as part of the conservative platform and 2) to make damn sure voters know how the conservatives have squandered the healthy economy and financial situation they were given.

And I think someone should pour over the books for this current year to see if anything stands out. I think their are some tough questions to ask.

The signs just all point to a government hiding a deficit, in my opinion.