I am of the belief that we should go now, should have gone already, so my understanding of the rationale is more admission of another point of view, rather than complete agreement. It seems clear to me, that people do see the potential for victory now, but feel it is best to keep our powder dry until the result looks more certain. The feeling is that time is the Liberal friend, both in terms of heightened “readiness” and potential for further Conservative erosion. You only get one chance, better to roll the dice with maximum odds.
I understand the apprehension in this sense, a 50/50 proposition now has the potential to be a 60/40 scenario in the fall. I’m not debating whether that potential is real or wishful thinking, but it is true that the Liberals are in the drivers seat on election timing, Harper has largely given up control with his fixed election date pledge. The Liberals have the power to choose the issue, choose the moment when the landscape offers the best opportunity.
David Herle writes an interesting column, with a great headline –“Yes, They Can Win An Election”. It offers advice on ways the Liberals can improve their fortunes, particularly how Dion can use his lack of natural political instincts to his advantage, namely that is fine to be different, maybe even attractive to not be a seasoned spinster, a partisan pitbull. Herle also offers advice on Quebec, correctly arguing that it is key if Liberals are to acquire better odds for victory:
”The Liberal party with its current problems in Quebec could likely not beat the old Progressive Conservative party, but it can beat the Harper Conservative party.
In particular, this needs to happen in Quebec. Savagely caricatured by the media and political elites of Quebec, he has essentially been the victim of an ongoing negative ad campaign with no response. As a native son of Quebec City, somebody who has travelled the road from separatist to federalist yet remains a stout defender of Quebec's jurisdiction, and with a strong record of achievement, he has a biography that needs to be told in Quebec. Right now, he is considered a liability for the Liberals in Quebec. He needs to be, and can be, a strength. Liberal fortunes in Quebec will largely rise or fall on the basis of Dion, and the Liberal party should respond by reintroducing him to the Quebec electorate.”
Herle echoes what I’ve argued, if we are to wait, then Dion’s focus should be Quebec, Quebec and then some more Quebec. If hesitation has been “internalized” by Liberals, most of the apprehension stems from perceived organizational and popular weakness in Quebec. The readiness question is largely a regional problem, it could go a long to improving morale, if there was a sense of movement in Quebec. Last week’s successful fundraiser can’t be understated, an influx of money into the provincial coffers acts like a shot in the arm, lays the foundation for the idea of some improvement. A good first step for suggesting the Liberals could come off the mat, sometimes a possibility is all that is required to change psychology.
When Conservatives argue the Liberals are scared, that is why they wait, I think it should be dismissed. I’m not afraid of Stephen Harper in the least, and there is nothing to suggest that he has made any inroads with Canadians. My only beef with waiting, has always been about what that does to Dion, what that does to the Liberals, how Canadians react to perceived “weakness”, it was never about worrying about the big blue machine. I think we would have a good chance of beating them now, but I also understand why some might think the odds are better with time. If people want to think its “fear” that’s their prerogative, I think it more a debate about when best to pounce, what scenario offers the best case scenario. Tactical consideration, rather than any sense of seeing a juggernaut across the aisle. Waiting is just a strategy, a strategy we can debate, it isn’t about scary internal polls, or inability to spend the maximum in an election campaign, or no ideas, or fear of Harper’s merry band of misfits, it’s just a gameplan, with the ultimate goal of forming the next government.