The Liberals are currently into their own version of Groundhog Day, the exact same script we saw play out last fall. It would appear the "nervous nellies" are winning the day, as Dion softens his election rhetoric:
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion gave the clearest indication to date Monday that he may let the Harper government's Feb. 26 budget pass instead of voting against it and triggering a federal election.
During a stop in Quebec City Monday, he acknowledged he won't get what he wants in the budget and appeared to lower the bar for what he'd accept, saying he might let it pass if it's “not too harmful” for the economy.
“It won't be a Liberal budget. Unfortunately, the ideas I have put forward won't be in the budget,” Mr. Dion said of the looming fiscal plan.
“But we also have to respect the decision of the voters in 2006,” he said, referring to the Conservative victory in the last federal election.
“Therefore, if it's a budget that appears to us as being acceptable or at least not too harmful for the Canadian economy, we could let it pass and avoid $350-million in [taxpayer] expenses for an election,” the Liberal Leader said.
The old, "we don't want to have an expensive election, paid by the taxpayers" line. Gee, where have I heard that lame rationale before? Why don't we just copy and paste the events of last October?
Greg Weston column today, titled "Dion Signals Retreat", outlining why the Liberals want to avoid an election like the "plague". I find this reasoning curious:
They point out the party is short of money, candidates, organizers, ground workers and planks for a platform.
At this writing, the Liberals can't even find a campaign plane, and Dion's practice sessions for the pivotal televised leaders' debates are described by one party insider as "frightening."
Don't get me wrong, I understand the Liberals have challenges to confront. With that said, it is also inexcusable that a party isn't election ready, given the fragile minority situation, not to mention a full TWO YEARS since the last vote. Makes you wonder if the party will ever be ready.
How can you still be short of candidates? How can you still not have the organization in place? How in the world can you still not have a platform in place? Should I call Air Canada, see if I can line up some transportation, or maybe Dion can bicycle across Canada, highlighting his environmental creds? Wasn't Kennedy put in charge of "election readiness" over a year ago? Given the lack of current prepardness, how can anyone argue that the party will be "ready" come next fall? They won't, if recent history is your guide.
The real fallacy here, Dion needs more time to establish himself, confront the negative stereotypes. Nothing conveys leadership like abstaining from votes, giving your critics powerful ammunition. Those that argue it won't hurt Dion, must also acknowledge the fact it certainly doesn't help either. So, come next fall, expect the same Dion perceptions, treading water, making no progress. Are the Liberals just delaying the inevitable?