Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And In This Corner...

The supposed master tacticians in the Conservative braintrust seem to have a glaring blindspot when it comes to Ontario. No matter how you do the math the Conservatives must, at the very least, make marginal gains in Ontario, if they hope to form a majority. With that obvious reality in mind, the complete lack of diplomacy exhibited by Van Loan, in reference to a legitimate point by McGuinty is amazing:
The Harper Government accused Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty yesterday of being "the small man of Confederation" after he appealed to his federal colleagues for help fighting proposed legislation that would increase the number of seats in the House of Commons.

Mr. McGuinty spoke privately yesterday to federal Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion as part of a bid to build grassroots support for his campaign for what he sees as a fairer deal from Ottawa on legislation that he says shortchanges the province. He has also asked Ontario MPs of all political stripes to spread the word that the legislation is unfair.

"He seems to prefer to become the small man of Confederation, focusing only on taking partisan shots while not concerned about the strength of Canada as a whole," Mr. Van Loan told The Canadian Press.

The use of the phrase “small man” is relevant, because it accurately describes the government reaction. You don’t start dishing out personal attacks, on a question of legitimate disagreement. Last time I checked, McGuinty represents Ontario, why should he react any differently, then every other Premier, when his province is at issue?

Van Loan’s comments demonstrate a complete lack of understanding, because there is no way he wins this fight. Good luck trying to curry favor by attacking the Premier, who is defending the interests of his province. The people of Ontario will not side with the feds, when the perception of unfairness is created. The simple math, Ontario is being treated differently than the other provinces who are also receiving seats. The federal government does have a case, in terms of the Canadian compromise and the fact the legislation lessens the present disparity. Why not make the argument, on substance, instead of turning the whole affair into a public pissing match? In other words, what are you thinking Van Loan, are you purposely giving McGuinty a club to pound you with?

I’m starting to think that the government’s biggest drawback, the main factor that inhibits expansion, is their approach to a conflict. Every challenge is met with a macho response, and it usually is reduced to the personal. In some warped sense, the rationale seems to be that you rise to the challenge and belittle your “opponent”. Trouble with that logic, particularly in this instance, you attack the man who is defending his constituents, which just happens to represent electoral gold, or coal as the case may be.

UPDATE:

Ontario Liberal Caucus Opposes Divisive Electoral Reform

November 21, 2007
OTTAWA – Ontario Liberal Caucus is united in its opposition to a Conservative electoral reform bill that fails to adequately address the population growth of Canada’s largest province, Ontario Caucus Chair John Maloney said today.

“We will oppose any legislation that forces one region of Canada to fight against the other regions to get their fair share of representation in the House of Commons,” said Mr. Maloney, building on last week’s criticism of the bill by Liberal National Caucus Chair Anthony Rota.

Bill C-22, introduced last week by government House Leader Peter Van Loan, modifies the current formula used to determine the number of seats for each province in Canada’s Parliament. If passed, this legislation will effectively weaken Ontario’s position in the House of Commons, adding fewer seats to the province than their population should dictate.

“What’s shameful is the silence on this bill from Ontario Conservative Members of Parliament. While their House Leader is busy making inappropriate personal attacks on the Premier, they’re sitting on their hands, and allowing the people they represent to be shortchanged,” said Mr. Maloney.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

All of Ontario thinks he's the smallest man of Confederation.

He didn't win the election, there was no viable option.
John Tory was just a better looking McGuinty.

catherine said...

How do you mean it "lessens the disparity" -- do you mean for BC and Alberta. Ontario will get 4 of the 7 new seats under the existing legislation, which means 110/315 and the Conservatives propose to change this to 116/330 so that Ontario neither loses ground nor gains ground. I don't see this as lessening the disparity for Ontario, and in fact, projecting to the future, it will make it worse for Ontario, since there would be new legislation which only corrects inequities with respect to a larger province. It is a step backward for Ontario to be singled out based solely on size.

Steve V said...

catherine

What I mean, is this legislation does give Ontario more seats than at present, which is a relative improvement.

anon

What exactly are you babbling on about?

Ron said...

van Loan does not deserve to serve an Ontario riding.

Why should our (Ontario) vote be worth only 50% or 60% of other Canadians. One-person/one-vote (of equal value) is a fundamental bedrock of democracy.

This is part of Harper's long term plan to shift the country to the control of his right wing bandits.

catherine said...

I believe if the new legislation passes with Ontario singled out in this way, it will be extremely difficult to correct it any time in the future, as Ontario will speak alone. At the moment, there are 3 provinces underrepresented with the present legislation and we have a better chance of correcting this with 3 provinces pushing. Harper surely recognized this and implemented a divide and conquer technique.

As far as relative voice in Ottawa, the current and proposed systems are identical for Ontario, so we have nothing to lose and should fight hard now while the topic of equal representation interests more than one province. Good for McGuinty. I've written him as well as my local (NDP) MP.

Steve V said...

"I believe if the new legislation passes with Ontario singled out in this way, it will be extremely difficult to correct it any time in the future, as Ontario will speak alone. At the moment, there are 3 provinces underrepresented with the present legislation and we have a better chance of correcting this with 3 provinces pushing."

That's a great point, the window is closing.

ottlib said...

The Conservative response to any kind of criticism does seem to be a knee-jerk one doesn't it? Liberals should be developing a strategy to exploit that glaring weekness.

Let's see they have alienated the Maritimes, they have alienated a large number of folks in Saskatchewan and now they appear to be attempting to alienate the voters of Ontario.

Political genius indeed!!

Anonymous said...

Statesmanship is not in the CPC vocabulary - they need classes.

The way Van Loan sets it out it appears that Ontarionians would be left with less than one vote per person.

The other provinces should attract more people to build up their population if they want more seats than they are getting - simple.\

So, the CPC's have insulted Lorne Calvert, McGuinty, Williams and bringing the country together - ya right.

Truth is - Flaherty, Baird, Van Loan - Harrisites hate McGuinty and are out to get him and more angry than ever that he won the election in spite of their efforts to interfere in provincial politics.

It was McGuinty that brought the Harrisites down remember.

Steve V said...

"The Conservative response to any kind of criticism does seem to be a knee-jerk one doesn't it?"

I think it more natural, than a strategy. It's just a mean-spirited bunch, which is ironic because Van Loan is given such profile because of his soft tone.

Gayle said...

Tonight on Don Newman one of the panelists said prior to this he felt VL was an accident waiting to happen - and that he just proved him right.