Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Where Does This Leave Layton?

The forgotten player in the Afghanistan debate, what does the "meeting of the minds" mean for the NDP?

There are different ways to look at, and I suppose your political leanings will determine the particular perspective. Have the Liberals ceded the anti-war vote to the NDP, leaving them the only voice for those who think the mission is doomed to failure? Are the NDP now marginalized, there hardline position out of step with mainstream Canada? Can the NDP argue their case, now that you will have the two main parties selling the agreement to the Canadian public?

I wonder if the NDP strategists see these developments as a plus for their prospects, or are they worried that the train has left, their arguments no longer relevant? I'm not sure at the moment, how this all shakes out.

16 comments:

ottlib said...

It is true that the anti-war sentiment will probably coalesce around him now but the "get-out-now" crowd has never been very large and most are NDP supporters to begin with.

The majority of Canadians would like to see a continued presence in Afghanistan but the nature of the presence has to change.

If this motion does come to pass it will probably have broad public appeal and Mr. Layton would be somewhat isolated.

Please note I will not believe in this new detente until I actually see a motion that both the Liberals and the Conservatives agree on passed in the H of C.

The Grumpy Voter said...

This leaves Layton precisely where he's always been. On the fringe of the Canadian electorate and without a hope of ever launching a serious challenge to form a government. The NDP can go back to being the "conscience" of Parliament - it's about all their good for.

Raphael Alexander said...

Have the Liberals ceded the anti-war vote to the NDP, leaving them the only voice for those who think the mission is doomed to failure?

Maybe. We'll see how it gets spun when the election begins in the Spring.

Jack Layton isn't offering a coherent military strategy anyway, so the votes he's getting are based on a fundamental pacifistic misunderstanding of Canada's global role and responsibilities.

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... the NDP's argument is far from being irrelevant for the simple fact that Dion was trying to co-opt some form of it just as lately as last week. This move does nothing to hurt the NDP's position because it moves the Liberals closer to the Conservative position (or precisely to it, depending on your interpretation) than to the NDP. From the way I read this, Dion is willing to gamble that those people on the left who might have voted Liberal will still do so, but going to the right is a funny way of doing that.

As for Mr. Layton, this does play right into his hands. The position of the Canadian people hasn't change, just the position of the Liberals. The majority of Canadians were not alright with Harper's vision for Afghanistan, and now Dion has moved towards it. That can't play too well over time.

By the way, aren't you worried about the fact that you now have Stephen Harper defending Stephane Dion in the House of Commons??? Getting too close to the Conservatives has been the political equivalent of touching a high voltage power line. Just ask the Bloc about that.

Steve V said...

"By the way, aren't you worried about the fact that you now have Stephen Harper defending Stephane Dion in the House of Commons???"

Cam, first time we've seen that in two years, so I'm not about to suggest a newfound habit. I seem to recall praise for the NDP from time to time too ;)

ottlib

"Please note I will not believe in this new detente until I actually see a motion that both the Liberals and the Conservatives agree on passed in the H of C."

Ignatieff has already said this is Liberal position, that they intend to sell to Canadians, as though governing. The Cons have moved, why would anyone believe that people will regress back to the corners now. The positions are spelled out now, according to Ignatieff this was months in the works, there it is, essentially a platform, or an agreement, either way firm.



One thing I did notice in QP today, and this is just my impression, Layton looked dejected when he spoke of Dion going the other way, as he put it.

janfromthebruce said...

Where does that leave Layton, with alot of the voting public who want our troops out of Afghanistan, and not in the 'same boat' as the Harper Conservatives.

And that's a good thing!

northwestern_lad said...

Ahhh... but Steve, the NDP hasn't been running attack ads about Dion and his leadership.... Harper did that, and now is praising Dion... it's been said many times before that Harper doesn't just do things, he usually has some kind of scheme in mind. That's why I would be worried.

Mushroom said...

Layton has moved somewhat recently by suggesting peacekeeping and out by 2009. None of the immediate withdrawal position taken when the Grits tabled the motion a year ago.

"Jack Layton isn't offering a coherent military strategy anyway, so the votes he's getting are based on a fundamental pacifistic misunderstanding of Canada's global role and responsibilities."

Raphael,

If he had offered a more coherent strategy then Dion would not have worked with Harper. Mind you, the caucus would be closer to the CPC than the NDP. But sometimes you need to be reasonable, rather than scoring political points.

"Layton looked dejected when he spoke of Dion going the other way"

Troops are staying until 2011. Unless the NDP wins 60-70 seats in the next election and force major concessions from Dion, they are not going home any time soon. Until the caucus meeting, Layton even got some Grit bloggers to support his position. Now they are firming their support to the Grit amendments. I don't think Cam and Jan will lose sleep over this, but it could have been much different.

Greg said...

In the short run (which is all the Liberals are worried about), I suspect it will hurt the NDP. The MSM and the two big parties will now stop talking about Afghanistan. It is "settled". However, the Liberals are now, more than ever, part owners of Afghanistan going forward. If it turns south, both they and the Tories will wear it. It will be interesting to watch when 2011 rolls around and they have to explain to Canadians that when they said "withdrawal" from Afghanistan, they really meant stay for just a few more years yet.

catherine said...

IF this shifts election issues away from Afghanistan I will be pleased. Our troops are going to be in Afghanistan in one role or another for the next few years and while I think it is very important for the Canadian government and military to precisely define that role, I see so many other issues that Canadians in general need to take a position on. The environment, poverty, first peoples, justice issues, daycare, economy,... are a few that come immediately to mind. I doubt many people will base their vote on Afghanistan.

RuralSandi said...

You know - Layton can't have it both ways. Tooting that Canada must honour it's committment when it comes to Kyoto but not when it comes to a committment to NATO.

Either we are a country of honour or we're not.

If the Democrats get in on the next US election - both Obama and Hillary want to concentrate of Afghanistan big time. This would leave us open to being involved. The piece meal plan in Iraq and Afghanistan isn't working but a concentrated effort may.

Imagine how it would look to our troops if Canada didn't finish its committment to 2009 leaving the other countries - our soldiers would look like a**holes.

Layton thinks we're still in the 1960/70's - make peace not war.

MarkCh said...

The actual text of the Liberal amendments shows that the demand for an end to combat in 2009 has been completely dropped. My read is that the army can continue on doing whatever it wants militarily. I certainly read that as no significant change away from combat. So, ottlib, Tribe, miss etc., and bcinto: if there is an election soon, will you stay Liberal, knowing this is the policy, or go NDP?

Raphael Alexander said...

MarkCh said @ 9:40 AM, February 13, 2008:

My read is that the army can continue on doing whatever it wants militarily.

Mark, no. Look:

"(a) NATO secures sufficient troops to rotate into Kandahar (operational no later than February 2009) to allow Canadian troops to be deployed pursuant to the mission priorities of training and reconstruction;"

That should read as a sneaky way for the Liberals to introduce a non-combat role for Canada without withdrawing.

MarkCh said...

Interesting, but everyone agrees that the mission priorities are training and reconstruction. And the best way to achieve reconstruction is to have the troops actually engaged in providing security. Security is just a means to an end - however, that means takes up most of our resources. The number of troops available to do reconstruction depends on the number needed to provide security.

Similarly, "rotating in" makes no mention of us "rotating out". The expectation has always been that the new troops would be added to the combat portion.

I agree that Dion is trying to make this as vague as possible, which is why I wouldn't trust him to stick to it if he became PM. However, if these amendments pass, the Liberals won't have much ammunition for complaining after the fact.

Steve V said...

"Similarly, "rotating in" makes no mention of us "rotating out". The expectation has always been that the new troops would be added to the combat portion."

Mark, you are right. It was never rotation, it was always augmentation.

Raphael Alexander said...

Steve, are you sure about that? Take a stroll around the military sites and they aren't seeing the motion that way.