Friday, March 07, 2008

The Sound of Teeth Gnashing

Well, it would seem that many Lib-bloggers are expressing their frustration with the current strategy of the Official Opposition.
I understand the frustration and I'd agree that some of what they have done does look bizarre, but I also see an odd irony here. Dion finally gets off the front pages for being a weak leader and he actually has the pundits suggesting that he's showing strength in the House and now some of his supporters have taken over where the MSM left off. I get that the hawks are antsy, but I'm not sure I see the point.
I was thinking back to when Harper was in this same spot. His press was awful.
The stark reality is that Stephen Harper, although he is an intelligent man, simply lacks the leadership skills necessary to form the next government. His lack of these skills became obvious when the February budget was introduced. When the budget was first tabled, Harper quickly said it was a good "conservative budget" and supported it. He and his Tories then announced that they would vote against the budget and try and bring the Martin government down. A couple of days before the vote, Harper again changed his mind and announced that his party would support it. The reason for his last flip flop was that there was pressure from Newfoundland and hints that his Newfoundland members might cause the non confidence vote to be lost. A person with political smarts would have foreseen this and supported the budget all along. The end result of his wavering was that had the Conservatives initially supported the budget that they ultimately voted for, Paul Martin would have had no reason to make a deal with Jack Layton. Harper, as much as Martin, is responsible for the $4.6 billion dollar "NDP budget" that ultimately passed by one vote.
He avoided a budget vote, was forced to sit out one of his own amendments because another party felt they could sign on to it and that would have brought down the government. Why? Because he didn't yet feel he had the conditions to win.
How is that different from Dion's position? You can argue that the Lib's should be ready, but that doesn't address reality does it? The reality is Dion and the Liberals are biding their time, waiting for the mess that Harper wades into daily, to take hold while at the same time expecting those who were entrusted to be campaign ready, accomplish their task. Being short 30 candidates isn't the ideal position to be in to call an election is it?
The scandals, Cadman and NAFTA, that Harper has found himself in have placed him in a different light and the Lib's are exploiting that. lf there are diplomatic grumblings in the States because of the Obama thing, that bodes poorly for Harper. And that seems to be happening. Emerson apparently told a congressman behind closed doors that he'd be willing to renegotiate NAFTA, but that is not what they are saying here is it? That bodes poorly for Harper. There are already grumblings out there for the hypocrisy on the Death Penalty and that too affects his image and how he's risking Canada's image.
This part of the equation is important in my mind. That is changing Canadians perception of Harper. If something that is supposedly so solid begins to show cracks, then people start listening and focusing on the other things. Things like, the McTeague bill getting through, funding cuts, the private members bill that looks like it's setting the law up to reverse pro-choice, the film/tv tax credit censorship, program cuts, income trust betrayal, environment, etc.
Some of these things have taken hold, others have yet to really resonate and if the recent scandals have yet to really resonate, do you really think people are following votes in the House? Will those votes be part of dialogue when we do go to an election? I don't think so.
The other advantage is if Dion and team reveal cracks in Harper's image, he, Dion, introduces himself to Canadians as he truly is, not as he's been portrayed.
Do I think the stand down can go on much longer? No. But I'd like to see the by-elections done with and then push on full steam. Don't get me wrong, I think the stunt they pulled yesterday was bizarre, but for all those who followed that, how many didn't? On the other hand, on a campaign trail the Lib's can say that the NDP and Bloq voted against all of those measures for women.
Is this all opportunistic politics? You bet, but no differently than anyone else plays it. Look, we all want Harper and gang gone, but I want to challenge the Con's when there is a reasonable chance that we can keep him out. I see no benefit in catering to the pressure of the opposition only to be back to square one at the end of it.
BTW - An Ipsos/Canwest poll says that 44% do not believe Harper when he says there was no offer of $1M made to Cadman, 33% say they do believe him, (guess who that is,lol) and 22% haven't yet decided. 66% do not think he should sue Dion. Some of it is sticking.


Anonymous said...

The reality is Dion and the Liberals are biding their time, waiting for the mess that Harper wades into daily, to take hold while at the same time expecting those who were entrusted to be campaign ready, accomplish their task. Being short 30 candidates isn't the ideal position to be in to call an election is it?

The "mess" Harper is wading into daily is concerning. How much more of a "mess" should we let him wade into before Liberals force an election? That's what scares the hell out of me. When will the Liberals say enough!

Karen said...

I do hear you Darren and I'm not discounting how you feel. I've felt it too but I've just tried to think it through for myself.

In answer to your question, I really think we push our readiness team with all that we have right now and after the by elections, we go asap.

To be honest, I'd be more afraid if they went right now. It's not that it's not enough. It's what the masses think is enough. All I mean by that is, it seems to take weeks for some things to register in the public domain, whereas we hop on every issue, hour by hour.

I think the timing is precarious, but I think it's coming sooner than you think.

To my way of thinking, the kind of 'mess' Harper is wading into is not one he can be trusted to fix himself. That is key and that's the point. The scandals include all of his inner circle.

Flanagan, Finley, Soudas, Buckler and now Brodie. Emerson whom he courted and Baird his poster boy.

He may fire/demote them all, but he also hired them all and each of them are involved in something untoward. That speaks to judgement. Personally I'd prefer to go on bad judgement, that put's the country at risk than fight the stupid 10%'s that the Con's keep sending me.

Governance is now at stake, not the juvenile "we're getting the job done Mr. Speaker".

I guess it's a case of 'pick your poison' at this point.

For the moment, I see method in the madness.

Anonymous said...

Mathematicians Have Formulated New Equation To Calculate Flaherty's Geometry Of Hypocrisy

A well respected scientific journal is reporting that Canadian mathematicians have formulated a new equation to calculate Jim Flaherty's geometry of hypocrisy.

The formula is expressed in the following equation:

a^2 = b^2 + c^2


a = "asshole"
b = "bullshit"
c = "cock-and-bull story"

These mathematicians have tested their theory in the "real world" by inputting all statements uttered by Flaherty into the formula and have found the equation to hold true 100% of the time.

Of course, funding for the study was not provided by the Conservative government.

WesternGrit said...

Nice post Lib Arts and Minds. I think you're on the right track here. As I posted earlier today, there is strategy involved in all of this. We have to bait them a little more. Let them expose a few more of their (criminal) scandals. There are more to come. Let's ensure the public gets a lot of time to hear about them clearly - before an election campaign comes along and distracts everyone with stuff that's typically "platformy"...

Karen said...

I like it robert. I'm not sure those who live outside Ontario understand who this munchkin is though.

Karen said...

Thanks westerngrit.

I think the key word you used was 'bait'.

Dion is apparently quite the fisherman.

I do think we will need a solid platform, but more than that we need to disprove who Harper is portraying himself to be and prove that Dion is something other than what the Con's have portrayed.

At the moment, it seems to me that Harper is handing us that on a silver platter.

I really think looking inside, what Ottawa is feeding us, is catching us up.

Jim said...

In a discussion with some friends of all political stripes an interesting point came up. The CPC is a fairly new party, that was built from fractured remnants...I think alot of people realise this and for that reason allow some latitude. More latitude is gained because frankly, the CPC has not done a terrible job in government. Canadians aren't terrible fickle people...if things are fairly good, leave them alone. To me this is one reason the Libs have a hard time gaining traction. Yet we are great at voting OUT governments. If the CPC would have sucked at the job, we would already have a new Liberal government, Dion or past scandals be damned.

I think only a few things are going to unseat Harper, and barring those things, he will enjoy a long tenure.

1. A scandal that eclipes Adscam, and Cadman or NAFTA ain't it.

2. The economy craters. Possible, especially if the opposition parties pass defecit sytle bills like the RESP bill. The downside to that is the Libs would have to worry about the loss when they took government.

3. Harper gets hit by a bus.

There are other factors that could turn the tide, but overall, most Canadians are content, and I think Liberal internal polling is showing that, hence the fear of facing the electorate.

It is a great time to be a political junkie!

Anonymous said...

knb, you made some good points. I also have the same question as darren. I guess you can count me among those who want to see Harper gone soon (who doesn't). But I am not too critical of Liberal's plan to file motion criticizing NDP. Since NDP's motion was designed to embarrass Liberal. No wonder Harper was praising him. I read a couple of blog including yours that don't agree with rushing into an election and prefer to wait until after the by-election. I guess that is not too bad and a few Liberal win might change the optics.

The reason I think we should go to an election soon is during an election, people's attention to politics increases and are more likely to examine Harper and all the party more closely. There is no certainty in election, but if we manage our campaign effectively and quash any Conservative misinformation right away, people would see the real Harper.

Karen said...

Jim, it is indeed a good time to be a political junkie.

I'd agree with you, if only it wasn't so easy to disagree.

There was a once upon a time era that surrounded Harper. I'd say that 30-36% of you still live in that fantasy. The rest of us were never there and since he seems to be into book banning now (scripts at least), that makes that scenario just a bit too inaccessible to most of us.

I'm thrilled you've had your run, but reality is about to come crashing down.

Yes Adscam was not good, though I tend to agree with Hebert about it being an elephant of a mouse affair, (or something like that).

Harper's problems extend to the US now, not just Quebec. Imagine that? The great defender of the Bush administration, the man who would have us in Iraq, actually has done enough damage down there as to de-stabilise trust.

Yes, Parrish said stupid things to be sure and Ducros? Good grief, if memory serves, Harper went mad and she was let go. Oddly, they were both right about Bush, though their language was undiplomatic. Neither of them however, destabilised the trust between our two countries. This my friend, your guy's staff has done.

Brodie, allegedly, has managed to do that. He's portrayed in the US as the one who interferred in an election. The PM's Chief of Staff! You do remember irony, no?

Indeed, it's a good time to be a political junkie.

I apologise for the sarcasm, but for those of us who still have access to fact, well we threw out (recycled) the fiction we were being doled long ago.

Karen said...

cyberwanderer, agreed. Attention shifts in my view during an election.

I think in delaying it a bit we have more concrete evidence of who Harper is and the damage he is capable of and is indeed doing.

Prior to now, it was kind of a trust me thing on the part of the Lib's. We were trying to convince people on what we knew, but it wasn't proven.

At present, we have solid evidence that could only emerge with the Con's having been in power for a while.

Our time is soon and I don't think soon is a bad word, nor do I think it's bad strategy.

Jim said...

KNB, I am having a bit of a problem following your posts, but suffice to say that considering I follow no man, I enjoy the fireworks.

I will continue to pay my due to a country that could be so much more than it is, but will not be, given our current political choices. All I ask is leave me the hell alone.

I am dissatisfied with all the options. If the Libertarian Party was stronger, I would give them a try...I know that is a catch 22, but I feel I need to try and make a far, no love.

Anonymous said...

As to election timing, it is not enough that people like us who would never vote Conservative and never liked Harper as PM think we have had enough. People who voted Conservative have to want a change, and I agree with jim that it will take a lot -- a combination of missteps/scandals which point right to Harper, some examples of mismanagement and/or economic woes, together with a strong platform and effective campaigning by the Liberals.

It seems that the NDP either underestimates what is needed or they simply don't care as long as they think they can pick up some seats. I do get the sense that the Liberals are more aware of what is needed, but whether they will have what it takes, is another matter. It is expected that this job would fall to the Liberals (not NDP) as they are the ones who have the potential to strip some voters from the Conservatives, whereas the NDP is better at stripping them from the Liberals.

Karen said...

Jim, you're not suggesting my posts are convoluted are you?

You wouldn't be the first, ;).

Karen said...

clh, I don't disagree you or jim completely, but I'm not sure the % of disaffected Liberals who voted Con during the last election is really being measured.

wilson said...

''Why? Because he didn't yet feel he had the conditions to win.''

Big difference here knb.
Martin had been governing for less than a year.
That was Martins FIRST budget.
Dion Liberals abstained from PMSHs THIRD budget, after more than 2 years in office.
Big difference.

PMSH and the Conservatives tried to bring down the Martin government.
All the polls and media said Cons were sure to lose, Martin was going to get the largest majority in Cdn history.
That didn't stop PMSH.

So to state PMSH waited to defeat the Martin government, until he had winning conditions is flat wrong.

wilson said...

''I think in delaying it a bit we have more concrete evidence of who Harper is and the damage he is capable of and is indeed doing.''

-Like the new fulltime job numbers for jan & feb far far exceeding analysts expectations.

Big risk for Libs, propping up a government, keeping their fingers crossed in hopes the PM will screw up bad enough for Cdns to toss the government out.

Risk that PMSH won't screw up to that degree, and the Cons win the next election in 2009.
Risk that Libs tarnish the 'brand' and lose their grassroots with their inaction, not standing on principle.
It's how you play the game, win or lose, that brands a party.

wilson said...

More proof PMSH is damaging Canada:

(weds, March 7,2008) ''Mr. Harper was named newsmaker of the year by the Economic Club of Toronto, feted over lunch and presented with a commemorative print of Canada's winning 1972 hockey team by former Toronto Maple Leaf Ron Ellis.''

Yah, I don't know how much more of this Canadians can take 'till they want to kick this guy to the curb!!

Gayle said...

Ahhh, good old Wilson, right on cue.

I asked my husband last night if he knew anything about the liberals abstaining on votes and he said he had not heard anything. This from a man who lives with a political junkie. He did hear about NAFTA and turned up the TV when it came on the news.

That poll that came out this week saying so many people disapprove of Dion's tactics of abstaining - I wonder how many of the people polled had to be told about the abstaining before they gave their opinion on it.

I do not care if Harper did this on the first budget and Dion did it on the third. It really makes no difference. The point is Harper did not want to go until he had the right conditions. He did not want to wait for Gomery to come out with both reports because he was afraid the second might exonerate Martin, so Wilson is wrong when she says Harper wanted to go even when he did not think he could win. Instead, he wanted to go when it was the only time he thought he had a chance, because he knew he was not winning people over on policies.

Dion cannot just go on minor scandals, because the liberals have had enough of their own that the two parties basically balance each other out and the liberals will not want to concentrate on scandals during a campaign. The difference between the parties is disenchanted liberals can park their votes with the NDP.

So they need the by-election bump. They need the NAFTA thing to take hold. This is no mere scandal involving inappropriate behaviour because it has major international implications. I think the liberals can use this issue as a centrepiece to show the conservatives have hurt our stature internationally. Look at the "balanced response" comments, and Baird's behaviour in Bali. How about Ambrose using an international conference to discuss domestic partisan politics. To the world our country appears to be in the hands of high school students. Clearly the conservatives do not have the experience and the knowledge to accurately represent Canada on the international stage.

Or something like rhat...

RuralSandi said...

I thought this was an interesting comment/article:

Too cute by half
Adam Radwanski, 06/03/08 at 4:20 PM EST

In the same Question Period that Jack Layton calls for the head of his chief of staff, Stephen Harper praises the NDP leader for asking good questions.

Naturally, this was in the context of the Liberals not asking good questions. One is left to draw two conclusions:

1.) If the Prime Minister is enthusiastic about questions on the NAFTA leak, and angry about questions on the Cadman affair, that's a pretty good indication which topic the opposition should be focusing on. (Hint: not NAFTA)

2.) If you're the leader of an opposition party, and the Prime Minister is saying nice things about you in Question Period, it's pretty obvious you're not doing your job properly.

What's that saying? Oh yes, good things come to he who waits...

Karen said...

wilson, I'm not saying the two situations are completely analogous, but if you honestly believe that Harper leapt without believing he could get out ahead of certain events of the day, I think you're dreaming.

His internal polls and analysis must have shown the Con's that all things considered, now was their best shot.

As to external polls and pundit comments, I think you've confirmed how unreliable they are. That would apply to Dion too of course.

To your second comment, as I have already said, it's tricky business to be sure. The thing with Harper messing up is, even in his tighest circle, he's unable to control the agenda. That's a problem for anyone, but it becomes a stark contrast to the steady, in control, Leader image he's trying to portray.

btw, even the experts are saying there is something funny about the job numbers. Not that that makes me happy, it doesn't, but they believe that productivity isn't being factored in properly. I don't expect it will last.

To your third comment. Somehow I don't think the breakfast tables across Canada were all atwitter with that news this morning.

Karen said...

Gayle, that's funny, I asked my partner the same thing last night and got the same response. He did know about NAFTA and Cadman though, through the news and me of course.

Good comment. It seems to me there were a couple of other incidents internationally. In addition to Bairds stonewalling in Bali, wasn't there a document presented that was old info and did not actually represent their eco plan? I think Verner did the same thing with a woman's group last week. She presented misleading info too I think.

Karen said...

Lol Sandi. Don Newman said something similar last night on Politics.

Anonymous said...

I think you're assuming things will only get worse for the Conservatives and better for the Liberals in the next while. I'm not so convinced about either!

What happens if things get better for the Conservatives and worse for the Liberal fortunes? Then what happens? An election call would be even more disastrous for your party -- the Liberals.

Karen said...

Darren, things may get better for the Con's, but at the moment that would assume that they are absolved of any and all scandal.

But, to take your premise, would it have been better to Canadians with less evidence of who the Con's are to prove how the Lib's might set things straight?

Prove that to me.

your party -- the Liberals.

I'm really sorry to see that such a line came so easy to you.

ottlib said...


I am beginning to believe that Gomery is right.

There is a sense of entitlement amongst many Liberals. They believe they should be in power and the longer they are denied it the more anxious they get.

Whether we like it or not Canadians elected the Conservatives into government and so far I have not seen any evidence that they are ready to change their minds.

In that situation is would be downright stupid to force an election.

Make no mistake, the desire of some Liberals to see this government gone is not shared by Canadians. To assume otherwise is a recipe for electoral defeat.

This is not the result of the Liberal Party or its leadership. This is just reality. Many Liberals believe that this Conservative government is just a pause between Liberal governments. That Canadians have only given the "Natural Governing Party" a time-out before letting them get back to the business of governing. I have never really bought that argument. It is an illusion developed by many Liberals as a balm to ease the pain of losing the last election.

However, if it is true then I would say Canadians are still not ready to let the Liberals out of the corner.

Again, if Liberals assume otherwise the punishment Canadians will give the Liberal Party will be much more severe than a time-out.

The Conservatives have begun to collect a sizeable collection of lodestones around their neck and they will be a drag on their fortunes but it is going to take some time for them to do their work.

Darren, to answer your question the conditions may never be right for an election. We could go into the Fall of 2009, have the scheduled election and the Conservatives could win another mandate.

That is just the way it is. To wish otherwise is great but to make decisions on that wishful thinking is, to my mind, downright stupid.

As well, to blame the Liberals and its leadership for that reality is beyond stupid.

It is dillusional and it is projecting your own desires on those of Canadians. Political parties that are guilty of doing that are NEVER successful.