Monday, June 15, 2009

Stepping Back a Bit



Well, if it was nothing else, it was an interesting day for political junkies.

I've already top noted what Ignatieff said this morning. Harper responded somewhere between stepping back and appearing amenable to dialogue, but I rarely take his words at face value, so we shall see.

Beyond all the obvious though, I wanted to try to take a cursory look at the subtleties of both men and their positions.

The toughest bit to answer though is, do they both want an election, or do they both not want an election?

Why would Harper want one?

The only thing I can come up with is to demonize his opponent to the point that he is no longer a threat. He may think he can do that, but I doubt he's that unequivocal.

Why would he not want one?

Well, to stay in power is a given. To maintain control and get his ducks in a row for the inevitable. To gain time to sell Canadians. To avoid being accountable. To ensure that his plan is implemented. To provide further time to implement more Conservative policy. To perhaps see the economy improve and take credit for that. There's more I'm sure.

Why would Ignatieff want one?

To begin with I suppose it would be to put some distance between himself and the Dion (necessary) strategy. To show that he doesn't make idle threats, is a different kind of leader, etc. Not to be ignored are the poll numbers that show that he and the party have momentum and now may be their best bet to change government and set the country on it's proper axis again. (Yea, that was meant to raise hackles.) There is a genuine concern that the fiscal outlook for the country is in tatters.

Why would he not want one?

If the party was not prepared yet to fight as they would like to, it would be imprudent. That includes nominations, money and the ability to respond to attacks. He too has his eye on the economy. Cynics would say that he doesn't want it to improve, but that's base politics. Those same cynics claim that he's not a politician, but rather an arrogant academic or some such. The facts are, anyone rooting for further decline in the economy doesn't deserve to be leader and the party would tell him so. He may genuinely feel that by going to an election he'll not help the economy.

Those are some reasons, but as I listened to Ignatieff on Politics and reviewed some of what he said this morning, I sense that his decision lies in the fiscal realm. Remember, anything he agrees to now, he'll likely inherit. The problem is, for whatever reason, Harper has gotten away with telling us nothing. We really don't know what the fiscal capacity of the country is, because the numbers haven't been put out for all to see. We know Flaherty is the master at this game. So I think there is a real concern as to where we are as a country and all of his questions point to that.

EI? The clarity he wants has to do with what the fiscal framework will support. So, he needs to see the numbers. The paying down of the deficit? Well, that requires a look at where we stand now and what revenue vs expenditure is projected for the next 5 years. The stimulus? Well that's the obvious one.

In any event, I suspect that this is going to be an eventful week.

Harper says he's happy (cough) to meet with Ignatieff...over the summer. Ignatieff said, sooner is better...as in tomorrow.

Stay tuned...

Update - Good post here by Ottlib

29 comments:

penlan said...

One other reason why Harper wouldn't want an election now - if the Libs win how badly the books are cooked will be revealed before he has any chance to make them a little better.

Anonymous said...

That makes a lot of sense; very insightful. I'd encourage you to let some NDP & Bloc sites aware of it, cuz their leaders seemed mystified by MI's stance.

Cherniak_WTF said...

I kind of like Chantal Herbert's take:
Le "gong show" de Michael Ignatieff

Michael Ignatieff a réussi l'impossible aujourd'hui: faire perdre son latin à tout ce qui bouge sur la colline parlementaire, y compris des conseillers libéraux.

Toute la journée, le chef libéral a dit la chose et son contraire. Cela a commencé ce matin quand il a annoncé, en point de presse, qu'il ne voulait pas d'élections cet été pour ensuite ajouter qu'il était prêt à laisser tomber le gouvernement dès la fin de la semaine à moins d'obtenir satisfaction sur quatre dossiers.

Pour autant, le chef libéral a refusé de qualifier de conditions ses demandes. Il a plutôt insisté pour les présenter comme des questions. Trois d'entre elles sont larges comme des portes de grange. Elles se résument à demander des précisions supplémentaires sur les perspectives à long terme des finances publiques au Canada, le statut des dépenses en infrastructures et le plan de sortie de crise conservateur sur le front de la pénurie d'isotopes.

M. Ignatieff voudrait également que le gouvernement s'attaque dès maintenant à rendre le régime d'assurance-emploi plus accessible et même qu'il prolonge la session parlementaire pour y arriver avant l'ajournement d'été. Contrairement aux deux autres partis d'opposition, par contre, le Parti libéral n'a pas de propositions précises à faire à ce sujet.

Si on nageait en plein flou au terme de ce point de presse, on a ensuite plongé dans la purée de pois à la période des questions. Après avoir annoncé qu'il avait des questions tellement pressantes à poser au gouvernement qu'il était prêt à mettre la survie du régime Harper dans la balance pour obtenir des réponses, le chef libéral s'est présenté en Chambre pour n'en poser aucune.

Confondu, le premier ministre a fini par convoquer les journalistes pour répondre aux questions que Michael Ignatieff ne lui avait pas posées. En gros, M. Harper dit qu'il est bien prêt à rencontre son homologue libéral pour parler d'assurance-emploi et autres sujets connexes mais qu'il n'a pas l'intention de réformer le régime d'ici la fin de la semaine. Il a également ajouté, avec une certaine pertinence, qu'il est difficile de répondre à un ultimatum quand on ne sait pas au juste en quoi il consiste.

Le Canada est-il plus ou moins près d'une campagne électorale cet été au terme de cette journée: personne ne saurait vraiment le dire puisque celui qui est au centre de la dynamique actuelle ne semble pas le savoir.

Y-a-t-il derrière tout cela une stratégie tellement brillante qu'elle échappe au commun des mortels: Peut-être mais généralement, en politique, ce qui a l'air bancal l'est vraiment.

Que faut-il penser de la perspective d'une campagne libérale menée sur le mode d'aujourd'hui ? Qu'il est temps de parier quelques sous sur un éventuel gouvernement conservateur majoritaire.

Pas très sérieux tout cela !

http://www.lactualite.com/blogues/chantal-hebert/le-gong-show-de-michael-ignatieff

KNB said...

Ahh, there are few who can say it like Chantal. She is brilliant in her prose, but not accurate.

She takes the contrarian view, sides with the under dog...Harper, then quotes his comments and sentiment.

She then portends...no wait, she doesn't really. She short-sheets us with her maybe.

Love her though. She and others are far more attractive than the cameras would have you know, both in looks and character. That...from the convention.

RuralSandi said...

Curious - does anyone know what Ignatieff meant in an interview about warrants to let money flow during and election?

By the way - when you see what's happening in Iran, we shouldn't be complaining about elections.

wilson said...

The GG issues special warrants so that the operational business of government carries on (ex: utilites, civil servants etc. get paid)

KNB said...

Indeed, what wilson said is true.

It's not quite that formal, rather routine really but it begs the question...

wilson, will you push the 'money will stop' meme?

You clearly understand what your party proposes to spin.

Gayle said...

Wow. wilson outed herself there.

Sorry KNB, but I think this whole thing was the wrong way to play this. Harper has a collossal ego. Coming out and demanding he do something or else is not ever going to work with him, so unless the plan was to force an election no matter what, and this was just an attempt to put that election on Harper, this was badly played today.

Maybe it is just because I prefer people to mean what they say and say what they mean. I think he should have just come out and said either "no election because no matter what else, people do not want one now and so we will not force one", or "the government has lost the confidence of the LPC" and leave it at that.

As it stands Ignatieff looks like someone who gambled and lost.

Anyway, I went over to the LPC and topped up my donation.

penlan said...

Gale,
You wrote:
"Wow. wilson outed herself there."

What do you mean by that? I don't understand.

penlan said...

Oops! that's Gayle - not Gale. Forgot the "y". ;)

Gayle said...

She outed herself because she admitted the money would flow even if there were an election, and as KNB points out, she has been pushing the "money won't flow" meme. Clearly she knows she has been lying about that.

Anonymous said...

Watched that “At Issue” late last night, I thought Chantal Hebert was going to start crying.
Coyne had a look of disgust on his face and what he said about Iggy was bang on for once.

Most telling though was the Mansbridge interview of the wayward professor preceding, in which Mansbridge point blank asked Iggy that “isn’t threatening an election if your demands are not met an ultimatum?”

Professor Puffins response was the most pathetic display of waffling I have ever seen, part of his answer was. “I never used the word, ultimatum.”

That’s as bad as Clinton saying it depends on how you define “it”.

Professor Puffin has failed this week, his political career, if the Liberals go into an election with him as leader now they will not be the official opposition again, let alone even a minority government.

Iggy is a buffoon who knows no bounds, an abysmal failure he makes Dion look good by comparison now, who’d a thunk it?

Iggy, London’s calling, followed by a trip back to Haaaaarvaaaard.

Gayle said...

"...if the Liberals go into an election with him as leader now they will not be the official opposition again, let alone even a minority government."

Ooo, you scared me!

I love it when silly little anons think they are insightful.

Anonymous said...

Gayle, remember the coalition? Jack and Gilles had been talking about it long before the idea was pitched to Dion. Right now the NDP and the Bloc have a combined 88 seats. Jack and Gilles just might decide that they can share Stornoway.

Gayle said...

Sure they will silly little anon - sure they will.

All they have to do is unite and become one party - because there is so much in commone with a regional separatist party and a national left wing party.

Or maybe you forgot that the Bloc was not part of the coalition.

Anonymous said...

Gayle, that condescending attitude that you consistently display is precisely the trait that most Canadians associate with people such as yourself, Professor Puffin and the rest of the Liberal camp, that is why the Liberals have lost seats in subsequent elections.

The NDP and the Bloc have a lot more in common than you will let yourself see, but that's your problem.

And no I didn't forget that the Bloc was not a formal member of the coalition of the three stooges, that is precisely why it failed.

sjw said...

If Harper and Ignatieff reach a consensus I think it will be crystal clear as to whom will be in a governing coalition. That is a poison pill I certainly don't wish to swallow.

KNB said...

Anon, it's not condescending to point out the inanity of your comments, not to mention the juvenile language.

KNB said...

sjw, I don't know how they could reach a consensus is less than an hour.

We'll see.

Gayle said...

Yes silly littel anon - having been backed into the corner where your argument took you, you come out swinging against my "condescending attitude", and in the very same post you refer to "Professor Puffin".

The sad thing is that you probably can not even understand why your post is so silly.

Anonymous said...

Gayle for someone who professes to be so intellectual you sure come off as thick as a brick.

Have fun with Iggy as your leader, this is going to be very humorous indeed watching Iggy come out of that meeting looking a deer caught in the headlights of the bus that Dion was tossed under.

sjw said...

Consensus as in what will occur Friday, not their 60 minute set-down. If the bluster emanating from the government benches during QP today is any indication there seems little to agree upon.

Gayle said...

Wow silly little anon - you come in with a post that is totally fabrication and fantasy and end with a personal attack and lies.

Well done.

Anonymous said...

Dion was not tossed under the bus?

Right.

Anonymous said...

I'll leave you sufferers of Leftist Mental Disorder to your own devices, you are quite beyond hope, keep drinking that Lieberal Kool Aid.

KNB said...

sjw I can't argue with you there..it was certainly rowdy.

I since learned that further mtgs are scheduled for later today and that the mtg was courteous and productive.

Sigh

KNB said...

Anon...go away. You're offering nothing here and sound like a child in a playground.

Cherniak_WTF said...

I'll leave you sufferers of Leftist Mental Disorder to your own devices, you are quite beyond hope, keep drinking that Lieberal Kool Aid.
Wow anon, such insight...
Will you cure all the ills of the American banking system next?

ottlib said...

Leftist Mental Disorder.

Is that anything like the Rightist Atrofied Intellectual Syndrome?