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.
Update - Good post here by Ottlib