Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rubbing Salt

I say, give them what they want:
The Conservatives have drafted a throne speech aimed at forcing the Liberal party into a politically embarrassing abandonment of its Kyoto crusade.

Government sources told The Canadian Press that Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes the Liberals are so desperate to avoid an election that they will roll over and accept a throne speech that describes Kyoto climate-change targets as unattainable.

It is among several unpalatable options for Liberal Leader Stephane Dion that the government is considering salting into its blueprint next Tuesday for the new session of Parliament.


All this talk about "winning conditions" for the Liberals is irrelevant in the current climate. Harper is preparing to squeeze the Liberals, which means they roll over and fade away, or they stand on principle and fight. There is no conceivable way that Dion can tackle the leadership gap if he is forced to cower, in the face of a complete affront. As a matter of fact, allowing the Liberals to be bullied will solidify perceptions and destroy any thoughts that things will improve with time.

I think Liberals need to come to grips with the fact that the present reality trumps all the long term strategic planning. Conditions are certainly far from optimal, but by the same token, allowing Harper to run amok and embarrass the Liberal Party is unacceptable, on every level. If Harper is planning to pour salt in the wounds, then the Liberals have one choice, maybe not the preferred choice, maybe one that was made for them, but one that has to answered. Dion is nowhere if Harper walks all over him and the Liberals react by disappearing for a vote.

Harper assumes the Liberals "are so desperate they will roll over", quite a statement and hardly one that can go unchecked. IMHO, it will be a terrible mistake, that Liberals will regret in the future, as the ramifications of saying "uncle" gel. This throne speech looks to be completely obnoxious, one that shows no respect for a minority parliament, one that basically laughs at a supposed impotent Liberal Party. How can anyone accept that?

25 comments:

Mushroom said...

I would prefer to wait for a vote of confidence on an opposition day. One that is brought forth by the NDP on the Kyoto protocol.

It is merely retreating so one can dig a trench to fight another day. I don't consider abstaining from the throne speech a surrender if you have the means to fight the battle on your own terms. At the same time, I am weary of going into battle when some of the gains the Grits are going to need will be at the hands of the Dippers.

Steve V said...

"It is merely retreating so one can dig a trench to fight another day."

Mushroom, that "retreat" has consequence, which negates any advantage in picking a later battle. Don't forget too, it isn't just Harper, the NDP and Bloc will quickly frame the Liberals. When you look at the potential damage, then the wait approach loses its luster.

CuriosityCat said...

Abstaining on voting on the Throne Speech is craven cowardice. Harper will have proved that he can brand Dion and the Liberals as weak, not believing in their principles enought to fight for them, and cowardly.

The voters will accept Harper's framing: what other logical conclusion can one come to?

Could you imagine Pierre Trudeau opting for abstention instead of calling Harper on his programs,and voting against them?

It is a time for brave men of principle, not weak men who fear the future.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think it is totally arrogant to discuss spending $300 million taxpayer dollars for an election that is not needed.

There is no burning problem with the Harper Conservatives - they are getting things done and pretty good managers even though still on a learning curve.

The only thing "wrong" according to you guys is that it is not a LIBERAL government. Don't you think about the rest of the country who have to pay for your little tirades about "saving face".

Not only do Canadians not WANT and election we do not NEED an election. Things are fine the way they are. How about the liberals have a policy conference or something so you can at least offer something other than old useless red book ideas that were not implemented, a new slogan or two or three pillars with no plan, no budgeting and nothing but cheap tricks to play to the polls.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Harper is playing a very high stakes game here it would seem. If Dion backs down with the environment as the issue it's a huge setback and embarassment for him personally. But if Dion calls Harper on it, then Harper will have given Dion what he was hoping for when he first became leader: an election with the environment as the trigger issue. And if it's a Kyoto denial motion that triggers it, all the attempted enviornmental face saving the Cons did over the past year will be tossed out the window.

An election on Kyoto? Sure, Mr. Harper. Why not.

sassy said...

Harper's obsessive hatred for the Liberals is not news - this is just another manifestation of it.

"No respect for a minority parliament"

In Harper’s (and ONLY in his) “I am a legend” mind, this must be Harpers finest hour – the ultimate fulfillment of his raison d'ĂȘtre.

ottlib said...

anonymous:

Did you say the same thing when it was Paul Martin as PM? Did you complain vociferously when it was the Conservatives bitching, complaining and saying that an election was needed?

My guess is no. If yes I apologize but otherwise you are probably just another hypocritical Conservative.

ottlib said...

steve:

Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Much to the chagrin of Conservatives the Kyoto Protocol is still popular with Canadians so a government that makes formally ignoring it part of its Throne Speech is taking a hell of a risk.

If you combine that with the idea that the Speech may say that the Conservatives will move to extend Canada's mission in Afghanistan you increase the risk.

I cannot think of a government that would want to fall on issues where their Throne Speech comes down on the wrong side of what is going to be two of the most important issues in the next election.

Before we get ourselves worked into a tizzy we should hear what the Speech has in it first. Garth Turner points out on his blog that the first vote on the Speech takes place a couple of days after it is delivered. That is a lifetime in politics and there will be plenty of time to decide on how to vote on the speech.

MarkCh said...

But if the speech says "Canada cannot reduce our CO2 emissions to meet Kyoto's required target (35% below current levels for the whole period 2008-2012) without doing unacceptable damage to the Canadian economy", could the Liberals really bring the government down over it? They might as well vote against "pi is equal to 3.14159, to six significant figures". Saying "most people believe pi is 3.14000" will only take you so far.

James said...

If Harper is stupid enough to force an election by introducing "unpalatable" policy in the throne speech, he will have to answer not only to liberals, but also to Canadians.

Canadians do not want an election right now and if Harper thinks he can bully parliament into doing anything he wants, he's got another thing coming.

Liberals want to make parliament work, but Harper, showing no signs of consensus building skills, is determined not to make it work. It's his way or the highway but this strategy, I predict, would blow up in his face.

Memo to Harper: the era of cowboy politics is over. Stop taking your cues from George W.

Steve V said...

"Personally I think it is totally arrogant to discuss spending $300 million taxpayer dollars for an election that is not needed.

There is no burning problem with the Harper Conservatives - they are getting things done and pretty good managers even though still on a learning curve."

It is arrogant to deliver a throne speech, as though you have a majority. If there is an election, the responsibility will fall on Harper. No desire for consensus, no respect for the numbers in parliament, completely obnoxious, detached from reality. The country doesn't want an election, whether it happens or not, will be determined by Harper's approach.

Steve V said...

"It is a time for brave men of principle, not weak men who fear the future."

CC, I agree with pretty much every word in your comment. This is the moment, ready or not, it is time to rise.

Jim said...

So much comedic bluster from the left...

"An election on Kyoto? Sure, Mr. Harper. Why not."

Because it would be a death sentence for the Liberal Party, thats why not. There are a few good issues to fight an election on, Kyoto isn't one of them.

"Much to the chagrin of Conservatives the Kyoto Protocol is still popular with Canadians"

See there you lefties go, speaking for all of Canada again. I don't know who you have been talking to, but Kyoto is a dead issue with most people (of all political stripes) that I talk to.

"Liberals want to make parliament work"

This is just downright funny. The Liberals have become one of the most obstructionist oppositions ever...and I believe alot of Canadians see it exactly the same way.

"Memo to Harper: the era of cowboy politics is over. Stop taking your cues from George W."

2 for 2 in the comedy department from James! Decisive, powerful leadership is not "cowboy" politics. And you guys really need to lay off the "Bushisms" and find a new schtick, that one is as tired as the "hidden agenda".

"It is arrogant to deliver a throne speech, as though you have a majority."

Liberals talking about arrogance, now that is funny, but please explain exactly why it is arrogant? The Prime Minister is the leader of the country so acting that way is certainly not arrogant. It is not a prerequisite in a minority government that you must kow tow to the opposition, especially one as weak and bankrupt as the Liberal Party.


"There is no burning problem with the Harper Conservatives - they are getting things done and pretty good managers even though still on a learning curve."

This is the most honest and logical quote of this entire thread. Anon is quite correct and I suspect the majority of Canadian feel the same way. The Cons are doing a good job so why screw it up?

My belief is that the Liberal Party should pull the pin and force the election. They will, of course, lose it and probably by a wide margin. I know you Libs hate to hear it, but the prospect of a Conservative majority grows stronger with every day they are in power. If the CPC survive til the next budget, the Libs will be totally doomed. By forcing the election the party will have saved a little face and you will then be able to replace that dancing doofus that you never should have elected as a leader in the first place. Canadians like a strong leader, and your guy ain't it.

Then you need to rebuild your party brick by brick from the inside out. This may well take years to put out the internal fires and build some harmony and maybe while you are at it, come up with a credible set of policy stances. The lust for power needs to be toned down, it comes across as unbearable arrogance. As well, time to stow the government in waiting attitude and realise the you are the opposition. Your time will come again, but if you keep up the way you are going, it will only get longer.

Steve V said...

jim

So much nonsense, so little desire to bother. Take care, and thanks for the laugh.

Mushroom said...

"Don't forget too, it isn't just Harper, the NDP and Bloc will quickly frame the Liberals. When you look at the potential damage, then the wait approach loses its luster."

Will the Dippers and the Bloc not frame us during an election campaign anyway? Particularly when Liberal star candidates are going head to head against them.

Would Layton and Duceppe relish the idea of being spectators in a double dare grudge match between Dion and Harper? It frames their political existence: you can't trust these two kahunas.

I had wrote in a blogpost that for Dion to be PM, he needs to target Harper and he can't do it alone. Thus, the need to make a deal with Layton. Harper did it in 2005 when he waited for Layton to support a non-confidence motion. Dion needs to do so.

Jim said...

No problem Steve V, glad I could return the favour.

Steve V said...

mushroom

Layton has about as much desire to make a deal with Dion, as Harper has to meet with Dion. Layton will exploit the abstention, declare the Liberals irrelevant and champion the fact that he is the real opposition.

I saw Layton in his press conference last week. When a reporter asked about his meeting with Harper, Layton spoke carefully and there was clearly more there than he felt comfortable discussing. I found the body language very interesting.

Jim said...

So very true. Layton has stars in his eyes and would love nothing better than to see Dion collapse. If Dion even hinted at a deal Jack would run to the press to make Dion look weak.

Nope, The libs have to handle this one on their own.

Mushroom said...

Steve,

Real opposition when your best performance in the polls is 20 per cent at best???? Deep down Layton knows he can't be PM.

If the meeting between Harper and Layton is about feasting off the political carcass of Stephane Dion, then the blame should be squarely on us. It reads like the same story that led to the fall of the Martin government in 2005 and the lesson has not been learned two years hence.

What the meeting is probably about is that Layton had promised not to support any Liberal motions on Afghanistan. It would give Harper the leeway to sink and swim on his foreign policy and take Dion with him if the mission goes haywire.

Steve V said...

mushroom

Check out this NDP letter released today. No coincidence how the letter starts, nor the war footing.

wilson said...

If I remember correctly, the Cons did not make even one ammendment to C30.
And, they said that there are many good components that they approved of and should be implimented.

Dion demanded that C30 be reintroduced in the new parliament.

Perhaps PMSH will advise Dion that C30 will be reintroduced, with ammendments.

Dion saves face, Harper does not get an election HE DOES NOT WANT.

A 5 person panel on the Afghan mission was just announced.
I could hear Dion's sigh of relief from here.

Just the 'feds limited interference in prov jurisdictions' to stress over.

Relax. Those pesky 'sources' and hungery reporters are just stirring the pot.

Ben said...

It's a tough call.

I don't know which is the better option in this scenario for your guys. (Heck, I don't know which is better for mine.)

But I'm going to send in an application now for an absentee ballot, I think.

Gayle said...

For what it is worth, my take is that our little anonymous friend knows full well that it is Harper who wants the election. As for Jim - he simply swallows Harper's statements, hook, line and sinker.

I have to agree that if Harper is prepared to put in a poison pill about the environment and Kyoto into the throne speech, the liberals must vote against it.

Rather than being a sign of how desperate the liberals are to avoid an election, it will be a sign of how desperate Harper is to have one, NOW, when he perceives them to be at their weakest.

Last night Chantal Hebert said she thought Harper would focus on the economy (noting he has not done anything other than cut the GST), and that he would stay away from issues he cannot win on, like the environment.

By the way, for what it is worth I think most people are not following the liberal fortunes that closely - if they are able to close ranks and fight a tight campaign, they should do just fine.

Scotian said...

Gayle raises a good point regarding how closely or not the average voter is following things as opposed to we political junkies across the political spectrum and how that could negate much of the perceived Liberal weakness for an election campaign, especially given Harper and the CPC's clear fear of Dion since he became leader as evidenced by the multiple attack ad campaigns on how Dion is not a leader. After all, if Dion is such a weak/poor leader why then go to such extraordinary lengths to destroy him outside of an election cycle (not typical in our politics) instead of letting him self destruct on his own?

Not to mention there are many in this country that are clearly uncomfortable with the Harper style of "leadership" among those that are not eager for an election, and if it looks like Harper set things up to force his own defeat by making the Libs have to vote against their own positions/policies to maintain Parliament that will be seen by many voters as making any election Harper's doing despite all the spinning CPCers and doing to the contrary.

I also agree with Steve V regarding any chance of Dion and Layton doing a deal, it takes two to tango and Layton has clearly chosen his preferred dance partner, Harper. Therefore it would be counter productive for Dion to try to do such deals with Layton, because all Layton will do is use it to claim Dion is too weak to even be the official opposition leader let alone PM if he cannot fight his own battles. Layton has made perfectly clear by his actions over the past couple of years that for him target priority is the Liberals, not the CPC, because Layton has this idea that he could be the first NDP PM and be the NDP leader that finally replaces the Libs, although the best chance for that happening passed in the last election cycle where while yes he got ten more seats the Libs still got nearly a third of the Parliament, hardly a great indicator for such an outcome/result.

I am waiting until I see what is in the Throne Speech before I comment on whether the government must be brought down, but given what has come out about it from the CPC to date I must say it is likely that that I will think it must be defeated. As it is having Harper declare a Throne Speech a "mandate" is bad enough, that he claims that to not oppose the Throne speech and defeat his government then means that all legislation derived from the Throne Speech must be treated as confidence votes (whatever happened to the Harper that thought there were too many confidence votes under Martin, I believe that already Harper has been a worse offender in that regard) and supported since they were not defeated over that Throne Speech is worse. This despite that the Throne Speech is a general blueprint/guideline while legislation is the detailing of how one achieves the plans and that details are needed before making informed decisions as to whether something is a positive or negative. The level of contempt Harper is showing not just to Parliament but to the average Canadian by assuming/acting like they do not understand their own government well enough to recognize this is profound and entirely in keeping with the man.

Steve V said...

"The level of contempt Harper is showing not just to Parliament but to the average Canadian by assuming/acting like they do not understand their own government well enough to recognize this is profound and entirely in keeping with the man."

This is why I think Harper will put a few poison pills in the throne speech, he can't help himself. When has Harper ever missed an opportunity to turn the screw, or act in a non-partisan fashion?

gayle

"By the way, for what it is worth I think most people are not following the liberal fortunes that closely - if they are able to close ranks and fight a tight campaign, they should do just fine."

I agree, that people aren't engaged to any extent, which probably mitigates the damage that the junkies see. Having said that, negative coverage does have an effect, even if people walk by and see a headline, or catch 30 seconds of a telecast. The average voter understands the themes, we pour over the irrelevant details ;)