Thursday, November 01, 2007

One Step Forward, One Step Back

The Conservatives seem to have this uncanny ability to squelch any momentum with self-inflicted gaffes. A feel good week by any measure, whether it be the goodies or other's "disarray", the Conservatives look poised. Some quick electoral math, Ontario will be ground zero if Harper achieves his majority goal.

What does the Conservative braintrust do? The strategic "genius" turfs one candidate in Guelph, democratically nominated, in a riding with no incumbent, historically of the "swing" variety. Talk of a "star" candidate, which will go over with a gigantic thud against a hometown Liberal boy, with deep roots in the community.

On the same day, and an even bigger blunder, the Conservatives decide to dump a candidate in Toronto, in a riding that they were never going to win. Bob Rae is a sure thing in this riding, miracles aside. In other words, Warren was really just a name on a ballot, which makes the optics of removing a red Tory all the more perplexing. Newsflash, you leave the candidate in place, regardless of the minor deviations from head office, because to remove him brings unnecessary negative coverage, in a region the Tories are desperate to make inroads. You certainly don't remove someone for speaking about issues that matter to the constituents, one's that play well in an urban environment.

The Conservatives have really damaged their brand in the GTA, with this boneheaded decision. The spectacle of Warner telling reporters he won't vote Conservative, because they don't embrace the middle ground is a horrible frame for the party. It would seem the rigid, dogmatic approach of the party brass has sacrificied pragmatism and simple logic in this case. I guess the Conservatives aren't content to just lose this riding under natural circumstances, they find it necessary to highlight all their failings in the process. Good job.

14 comments:

Mushroom said...

Note that Harper will probably call the two by-elections in Ontario very soon, unless he is absolutely sure he wants to fall on the crime omnibus bill. The Cons will be running more or less paper candidates there in the GTA. Nobody considers them to be serious threat to Rae and Hall Findlay.

Not sure what are the rumblings down in your area, Steve. The return of Perrin Beatty to make way for Brent Carr? It has to be this major to dump on the nominated candidate there.

burlivespipe said...

Barr's opponent -- a city councillor -- kind of left enuf positive spin on her comments to be in the running as Guelph's next mp. As to CON star candidates, here's hoping they find someone who people outside a 100-mile radius has heard of them, aka London's former mayor.
Then again, maybe their just going to run the Northern Star, since they've gone to great lengths to animate this lame pitchline.

And Steve, you mean Warner, right? I can't imagine Warren (k) ever embracing this gang of mystery-con thugs...

Anonymous said...

It's easy for Liberals to allow candidates to pretend they hold whatever principles a particular riding might vote for since the Liberals have no actual principles to begin with, but a serious governing force has to be consistent and stand for something.

That's how the Conservatives have accomplished more in two years than the Liberals did in twelve.

Left leaning inner city voters consistently vote for candidates that can't get things done but pontificate nicely about raising taxes to employ their friends.

Gayle said...

I guess the con trolls have received their talking points for today.

Try something original anon - if you are able to voice opinions that do not come from con"troll" central.

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... sorry to be the typo police, but the Toronto-Centre candidates name is Warner, not Warren.

As for Toronto Centre being a lock for Bob Rae, I will believe it when I see it. Yes, Bill Graham held this seat for a long time, but over the past couple of elections, his margin of victory had gone down, with the NDP showing a strong 2nd place. So now the Liberals are going to run an unpopular former New Democrat against a popular actual New Democrat, that makes you wonder how much Rae's past will come back to get him. Add that to the fact that because he is now Dion's Foreign Affairs Critic, he's wearing the recent record of Liberal Abstentions. How is he going to explain that???

Also, remember, in a By-election, you tend to get upsets like in Outremont, and in a By-election, parties have the ability to flood ridings with all kinds of help. Look at what the NDP pulled off in Outremont, and in Toronto Centre they'll be running against a unpopular former NDP Premier. So I guarantee that you'll see an amazing show of force from the NDP in that riding not only to get that seat, but to get Rae. By not taking down this government and not pushing for a Federal Election, the Liberals have hurt their chances in many ways in a riding like this. This by-election will give the NDP some of the best winning conditions possible for taking a riding like this from the Liberals.

Mushroom said...

Cam,

You are in danger of falling for Harper's trap. He is going to run a paper candidate in Toronto Centre hoping you Dippers can take down Bob Rae. Mark Warner's candidacy would it more difficult for the Dippers but by pulling him out, you guys have got a bit of a boost.

Why we Grits would let it come to this, I don't know. How will Harper's trachery be overcome remains a difficult dilemma for us.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

This is the kind of thing that makes it very difficult for me to "resist the pull of cynicism" (my blog tagline) about federal politics. The Conservatives are being SO slimy about this.

You're absolutely right, though, that people are seeing through it. It's enough to restore a cynic's face in her fellow Canadians!

Mushroom said...

IP,

First past the post does this. Witness the growing popularity of strategic and tactical voting in UK elections. Once Cam posted his comment, the idea of Harper using a paper candidate to block Rae becomes apparent.

Chalk one up again for electoral reform :)

Steve V said...

Oops ;)

"That's how the Conservatives have accomplished more in two years than the Liberals did in twelve."

Whatever you're on, I hope it is part of the Cons war on drugs. Jeezus.

Koby said...

North Western Lad:

>>>>> "As for Toronto Centre being a lock for Bob Rae, I will believe it when I see it. Yes, Bill Graham held this seat for a long time, but over the past couple of elections, his margin of victory had gone down, with the NDP showing a strong 2nd place."

Strong second place? What are you talking about?

The Liberals won by 16,000 votes in the last election, more than double the NDP candidate, and 17, 600 in 2004.

The reason Warner was dropped is rather straight forward. He is Red Tory and there was no way, once it became clear that there would be no fall election that Harper would allow Warner to run against many things he holds near and dear.

Toronto Star: "Conservative officials have been actively resisting Warner's emphasis on housing, health care and cities issues, he said, even blocking him from participating in a Star forum on poverty earlier this year and pointedly removing from his campaign literature a reference to the 2006 international conference on AIDS in Toronto – which Warner attended but Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not.

Plett [Conservative party president] didn't argue with Warner's characterization of the dispute."

http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/272579

Harper has made it clear time and again just what he does not like about Red Tories but never so clearly as in Rediscovering The Right Agenda
http://www.ccicinc.org/politicalaffairs/060103.html

Miles Lunn said...

Stupid move although I think it just shows where Harper's views really lie. Another possiblity though is I've noticed the hardcore conservatives are complaining Harper isn't conservative enough so he feels he has to throw them a bone every now and them rather than just tell them to shove it. Mulroney, Clark, Stanfield, Diefenbaker, and Bill Davis all had hard right wingers in their party and they all ignored them. Even if Harper loses his conservative base, for every hardcore conservative you lose you can gain five moderates since there are far more people in the middle than on the fringes. Off course since Harper is not in the middle he can only pretend to be up to a point.

burlivespipe said...

Warner's interest in controlling his own message likely displayed the kind of tendency that Harper is trying to root out from the CON field -- people who have ideas and stand up for their constituents, as opposed to 'party first, YES master! (that's from a horror movie and not a Song of the South reference)... How will CON members react? Will this, along with the Casey thing, provide a kick in the balls for those who bought into the 'grass roots up' movement? I don't doubt that there is going to be some CON price to pay; it just may not be paid in this next vote.

Anonymous said...

I really like how you blame the conservatives for being "13 years too late" to meet Kyoto, when they've been in power under two years. Typical liberal - blame everybody else for your own failures.

northwestern_lad said...

Koby... Getting 25% against an extremely popular incumbent is pretty strong. Having a strong incumbent goes a long way to raising those vote totals, and there is far from any guarentee that Bob Rae will be able to pull that same kind of result, especially in the current climate.

As for "Falling into Harpers trap", we have no control over what other parties do. We can only play the hand that we are dealt. But of course I would expect many posters here to say that voting for anyone other than a Liberal would be falling into that supposed trap. Unlike the US, there's more than one way to be a progressive voter in this country and more than one party that progressive voters can vote for, which is something that the Liberals have never really liked.