Sunday, June 22, 2008

Calling Out Harper

Who's playing chess now? The best defence is a good offence, and Dion has successfully turned the tables on Harper. I view calling for a television debate on climate change as a strategic stroke of brilliance. Dion basically calls Harper out, leaving a simple question- what are you afraid of?

Nobody can dispute the merits of an "adult" conversation, to allow Canadians the opportunity to make up their own minds. Whether you think Dion "crazy" or not, the onus is now on Harper to rise to the occasion, put his inflammatory remarks to the test. Harper has characterized the Liberal plan in such a dismissive way, he should relish the opportunity to pound Dion with his reckless plan. Anything less, and Dion has successfully marginalized Harper as nothing more than paper tiger, spewing nonsense, but cowardly resisting a serious discussion.

Dion seizes the initiative once again, he has laid out the terms and Harper is forced to react. I would suggest, if Harper ignores the proposal, that Dion use that at every turn, as proof that Harper is "not a leader". What does it say about Harper, that he would refuse to debate a man, which his supporters constantly argue, lacks a basic grasp of English? Afraid to debate Stephane Dion, on an issue which apparently "screws" us all, how can one not jump at the opportunity?

Let's hope all the surrogates take up this theme, and constantly put out the idea of a debate. This ensures that every interview with a Conservative asks the question, leaving Harper and company to scramble with weak excuses, or take up the challenge. Either way, that dynamic is a political win for the Liberals. As people try to sift through the conflicting messages, what better way than to have the two principles engage each other? Match the bravado with action Mr. Harper, or risk being so marginalized that you aren't taking seriously, yelling from the bleachers, but afraid to take to the pitch. I fail to see the downside for the Liberals here.


andrew said...

Dion setting up a duel at the O.K Corral? Give me a break Steve. As the previous commenter said, he's cut and run on so many issues,
INCLUDING KYOTO, so who exactly is afraid to debate?

Debates are held during election campaigns, so if you turn tail and run from elections, you're turning tail and running from debates too.

Steve V said...


Then, Harper should have no problem debating, what with Dion being so afraid and weak and all. Face it, put up or SHUT UP.

Anonymous said...

I agree.

The liberals could not have garnered more attention on a specific policy issue than they achieved this week. After weeks of hints and build-up, including pre-attacks, they had all eyes on them for the announcement. And yet they surprised everyone by presenting much more than anticipated. And, as you had suggested, they clearly were ready to respond to some of the pre-attack lines.

I also agree there isn't a down-side to calling for an actual debate. Dion and the Liberals have staked their claim on the green shift, and they will have to promote and defend it - regardless of whether that happens now or in an election. The death of a thousand rumourous cuts on the plan is probably a greater danger than an outright upfront debate. So why not lay down the gauntlet now, and have at it.

Harper will either bite, and Dion will have to stand and make his case for the policy (and Harper his) - as it should be in my opinion. Or Harper will appear to duck and weave, and look unseemly doing so.

Even if Harper "deflects" by saying there will be a debate "when the time is right" (which is what I expect as it is what their counterparts to the south would do), the Liberals should respond by continuing to press for a debate NOW as they pursue discussion of the plan in public and the media over the summer. The call for a debate should definitely be included EVERY TIME they respond to the attacks on the plan that will undoubtedly continue.

My only final thought is the Liberals had better get the fundraising gears turning, if they haven't already. You know the conservatives already have their calls to action flowing.

Steve V said...


Harper will most likely duck and weave, but that just allows for a nice counter, everytime we hear the howls. On some level, Canadians should appreciate the desire for an "adult" conversation, whether they agree or not.

I'm curious about fundraisng too.

Antonio said...

while i am sure many Liberals are happy Dion found his testicles just in time for a 3 month vacation, im sure a lot of people rolled their eyes.

remember dion started floating this idea well before the time limit on bringing the government down. he had several opportunities. This is green plan 6 I believe. Him sitting on his hands and then when its too late saying "are you ready for the challenge" is a little too cheeky for me. This might have meant something a few months ago, but back then he was against a carbon tax :)

Steve V said...

"This might have meant something a few months ago,"

If it doesn't mean anything, why is everyone attacking him so rabidly? If it doesn't mean anything, why is it dominating the political discussion, why is it now the central argument?

You're looking backwards, but it seems to me this debate is clearly the future, and Dion has placed himself right in the middle. I've been a detractor in the past, but that doesn't preclude me from seeing the merits now.

blue liberal said...

What Antonio said.

Gayle said...

I think it was a smart move for Dion to wait until the House broke before releasing this plan.

First, it ensured he was able to get it out there with minimal opportunity for the cons to do their usual silly mindless mocking crap in the House. Harper had to resort to making comments to the media, where he would have to face actual questions (the media do not really tolerate answering a question by avoiding it and bringing up something completely irrelevant).

Second, he has set the stage for media coverage over the summer, when normally the little political coverage that exists would concentrate on the PM.

It gives him a chance to sell his plan, get exposure and pose himself for a fall election. To date any potential election was risky at best. Hopefully that will change.

Whether it works is another thing...

Steve V said...

This is what I mean by win/win:

Title on NN

"Will Harper Accept Dion's Challenge?"

Dion just offered to debate him on Question Period.

Tomm said...


Dion had a great week. His challenge to PMSH was a very good idea. It's his issue, so he will definitely be confident. It's been a weak one for Harper so he won't be confident. He's challenging a guy who can by his own admission "take a punch" so he should be ready for a challenge, and he will get free advertising right when the Liberal's need the slinghshot effect.

Harper won't accept. Although I personally wish he would.

Calgary Junkie said...

Will history repeat itself (sort of) ?

During the last election campaign, Martin was saying he would debate the seperatists anywhere, anytime. Duceppe took him up on his offer. Martin backed down. Harper then offered to debate Duceppe. Duceppe backed down.

Fast forward to today ...

Dion challenges Harper to a debate. Harper refuses. Layton offer to steps into Harper's place, and debate Dion.

And Dion responds ... how ?

JimmE said...

"... Layton offer to steps into Harper's place, and debate Dion.
And Dion responds ... how ?"

Just a guess:
If the Prime Minster of Canada does not want to have an Adult debate on the subject, we will let the citizens of Canada decide what that means.
If Mr Layton as leader of the 4th party, wants to act as the representative of the Present Prime Minister & the Conservative party in such a debate, I would also welcome that debate.

Game, Set, Match.

janfromthebruce said...

Dion is pure theatre and nothing else. As other posters have pointed out, if Dion wants a debate, well than vote against the govt, for crying out loud. Until such a time, he just looks ridiculous.
The libs need to quit talking outside of both sides of their mouths - outrage - than quietly vote with Harper Cons - the optics speak louder than any sound bites coming out of Dion's mouth.

Anonymous said...

That's a good idea. Why doesn't Layton challenge Dion to a debate on "How to deal with global warming: The NDP plan or the Liberal plan?"

No need to include Harper since he doesn't have a plan at all.

Anonymous said...

As good as Dion's speech was, he was even better in Q&A with the press. The message and the communication strategy are both working well. Dion can all but call Harper a small-minded bully and still seem like a nice bloke.

Steve V said...

"Dion is pure theatre and nothing else."

And Jack walks on water, we get it Jan. ZZZZZ.