Tuesday, April 08, 2008

You Make Your Own Destiny

Don Martin's story on the Liberal conundrum is a good read, with the right framing. The choice to force an election basically comes to down to these two options:
But the Liberals must be wondering if, by supporting such an affront to a signature policy strength, they'll finally reach the point where the damage to their brand for its ongoing acquiescence is worse than the sobering challenge of facing the voters this spring.

The balance between cowering on immigration reform and the perception that the odds are long for election victory.

Where the mental math should shift towards an election, is when you consider the simple psychology. There is a sense amongst many Liberals that we aren't ready, we don't have the money, we lack "readiness". Well, according to our readiness guru, we are prepared now:
"I would say that on the organizational side, we can handle an election from this point on," Smith said. "I wouldn't have said that a few months ago, but I can say it now."

Smith brushes off any suggestion that money is an issue. Sure, he said, the Conservatives have a big war chest, but the Liberals aren't destitute and once an election is called, all parties can only spend up to the legal limits. In the last few campaigns, that figure has been around $18 million.

The money is there, the organization seems to be credible enough to fight a campaign, maybe everything isn't perfect, but an honest question considers the "ideal" to always be wanting.

The biggest factor, this sense or fear in our ranks, unease with the leader, worry about "war rooms" and the slick alternative. Weakness is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because in my mind you make your own destiny.

I'm not afraid of Stephen Harper, because it is abundantly clear that Canadians know him well, and they aren't particularly impressed or inspired, outside of the faithful. I'm not afraid of the Conservatives policies, because I'm confident our message will better articulate the view of mainstream Canada. I'm not afraid of a campaign, because it's not like the Liberal Party is chalk full of election amateurs, people with no "expertise". I'm not afraid of Dion in an election, it actually provides an opportunity to break out of this negative cycle, demonstrate to Canadians that he is a thoughtful leader, armed with solid ideas.

I guess what I'm saying, when you weigh the pros and cons, it all comes down to confidence. I'm not afraid, so when Harper sneaks immigration reform into a budget bill, I have no qualms calling his bluff. Sure there is risk, but that is a constant within the present circumstance. If we are waiting to see the Liberals up 6% in the polls, the coffers full, Dion viewed favorably, the Quebec house in order, that day will come long after the fall of 2009. When you weigh the risks of inaction, the potential to be a "laughing stock" with an election, the answer is easy, if you feel confident.

I don't see much of a choice anymore, a situation of diminishing returns moving forward. With that said, I would rather embrace a campaign, than be forced kicking and screaming, worried about the unknown. Martin says "no guts, no glory", lofty phrasing, but don't discount our ability to make it happen, we are not passive observers within a pre-determined script.


Greg said...

we are not passive observers within a pre-determined script.

You may not be, but your parliamentary caucus is acting as such -- more and more each day.

Steve V said...

"You may not be, but your parliamentary caucus is acting as such -- more and more each day."

You can always jump off the merry go round.

Anonymous said...

How are the nominations coming in Quebec? The rest of the Country?

Steve V said...

Outside of Quebec we're fine, and if you believe what has been said, then we should have candidates, particularly where we can be competitive.

Gayle said...

"The biggest factor, this sense or fear in our ranks, unease with the leader, worry about "war rooms" and the slick alternative."

My biggest fear are the idiots who seem to want to deliberately sabotage the liberals from within.

It worked the last campaign. Why wouldn't someone try it again. I would suggest the liberals believe that is possible judging by their reaction to the candidate list "leak" last week.

That said, I do not believe they can abstain on this immigration motion. Is it coming up for a final vote? I have no issue with abstaining while it is in committee, but once it comes for a final vote it needs to be voted down.

Steve V said...

" I have no issue with abstaining while it is in committee, but once it comes for a final vote it needs to be voted down."

But, it shouldn't even go to the Finance Committee, which is where it will go, that's the wrong venue. If the Libs can get it moved, then that's fine for now, until the final vote.

Anonymous said...

I agree it is a question of confidence. The liberals will win on the environment, the economy and Canada's role in the world.

Dan said...

I'm conflicted on this too Steve, I don't like this bizarro politics where we seem to be fine with looking weak. Seems to me the least we should do is demand that is it separated from the budget bill, or force an election. Is it really unreasonable to ask for that? I don't think the media and Canadians would believe so. Of course Harper might say sure, and then when its alone it might be even harder to abstain on, but maybe that gives us more time.

Is there any indication that the Bloc might support the immigration moves?

Koby said...

So long as the Liberals are not even able to come up with a coherent critique of the Conservative immigration program, having an election over it is non-starter.

Part of the problem is that the system has its problems and most to blame lies with the Liberals. Allowing someone to sponsor their grandparents is beyond stupid, allowing someone to sponsor a criminal (e.g., Robert Dziekanski) is even worse. The Conservatives are going to hammer the Liberals with this and rightly so. The Liberals need acknowledge mistakes and shortcomings and attack the Conservative’s Achilles Heel, viz., their willingness to greatly let in large number of guest workers. There is ample evidence that allowing a large body of disenfranchised workers, be they illegal or guest, is a recipe for disaster.

Möbius said...

It depends on whether you care more about the party, or the leader.

A quick election might cause headaches for the latter, but improve the lot of the former.

I would suggest waiting until the mandated election date in 2009, and work hard in the meantime.