Saturday, June 07, 2008

"They Don't Want An Election"

Don Martin, commenting on the current Conservative posture. As far as I'm concerned, that sentiment tells us all we need to know about whether the Liberals should trigger an election:
"I don't think, since 2006, I've ever seen the Conservatives so nervous about an election as right now. You talk to them, and it's no more of this chest beating testosterone, we'll take them down, we'll crush them on the campaign trails. THEY DO NOT WANT AN ELECTION. The window of opportunity is wide open right now, and I'm telling you right now, if they do this prorogue thing in August....and we don't come back until November or later, the Harper government will have repaired the damage, all this things will be forgotten, their machine will be stronger than ever. The Liberals will be kicking themselves for all of 2009, going why didn't do this in the spring. When you get the Conservatives nervous, when you have the PM tired, I don't know why they aren't doing it."

Don Martin

Martin basically argues what I've said, namely that waiting allows the government to get back on their feet, with the added kicker that they will control the agenda as far as Parliament reconvening.

We now hear talk of Dion being "isolated" on an election call, the vast majority of MP's, the main players in caucus, all in agreement, all showing increased frustration, all wanting an election. In Dion's corner, his advisers and campaign people, which means you have the elected representatives on one side, those that are getting feedback from their riding, and a few Dion loyalists on the other. It is actually quite a scary proposition to think that Dion has little caucus support for his plan, a dangerous situation that could well blow up.
Susan Bonner

"It is going to make for a very interesting summer for the Liberals"

Let's keep it real, Dion's hold is a weak one, he is not immune to another round of questioning quotes and behind the scenes second guessing. To move forward with little support from other influential people in the party, not to mention an unease within the grassroots, raises the spectre of an interesting summer in deed. You provide the window of complete idle, coupled with restlessness, and people's focus could surely wander. Moreover, the signature reasoning, this carbon plan, doesn't seem to enjoy widespread support within the same circles, creating further potential tensions. The question becomes, can Dion afford to wait, or is he on a ledge somewhat alone? I've never heard the word "isolated" used to describe a party leader, and people may be optimistic not to understand what exactly that means.

Reading today's Globe and Mail piece, on this same question, it reads like a tragedy. The silliest argument:
More broadly, one adviser said, Mr. Dion must use the summer not only to sell his green plan, but to hone his skills at communicating it so he can use it to counter Tory attacks that he is a weak leader.

Stephane Dion is what he is, to actually think that he will morph into a "communicator" over the summer is just wishful thinking. We already have all the evidence we require, Dion has been leader for 18 months, and he still reads from a piece of paper in Question Period, looking exactly as he did, this time last year. That isn't Dion's strength, and we've seen enough to resign ourselves to the fact that it is what it is. I suggest another viewing of Dion's dud of a convention speech for anyone who actually thinks Dion possesses any natural aptitude in this regard. I'm not holding my breath for the "honing of skills". Maybe Harper will develop "warmth" too.

Interesting, that last fall when Dion wanted to force an election, the majority was against the idea, now the opposite, with the only consistent element, Dion virtually alone. This fact suggests little confidence in the leader, and his reasonings, which when you jump out of your partisan considerations, is an objective worrying condition. A leader is only in command if he possesses the ability to make people follow, otherwise he is really only a leader in name only, finding hollow comfort in the inner circle bunker, detached from his supposed army.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

its possioble that this is some sort of communications strategy, that is Dion wants there to be consensus in his caucus.

interesting that nobody from his Quebec caucus is quoted as wanting an election ...

it also could be a strategy to keep Harper off balance.

Anonymous said...

Please see latest fable from ipsos at newswatch...dont know how to send U link..gramps....any wonder dion gets yellow.

Steve V said...

anon

The last thing Liberals should consider is what Ipsos says.



"interesting that nobody from his Quebec caucus is quoted as wanting an election ..."

Liberals in Quebec will always be nervous, so long as Dion is the leader. That won't change.

Gayle said...

Dion is a smart man and I think he would be a good prime minister.

He is not a good politician. He needs to take advice from people who are.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I don't think, since 2006, I've ever seen the Conservatives so nervous about an election as right now...

Or maybe that's just what Stephen Harper WANTS us to think... He's such a freakin' strategic genius, remember. With his chess playing and what not.

Steve V said...

Coyne smells "mutiny".

ottlib said...

There is no compelling issue to justify having an election in July. If the Liberals are going to force one this summer they had better come up with one.

And the fact the Conservatives maybe vulnerable right now does not fit the bill. And I have doubts about that assertion because a) none of these scandals have been fatal and b) Don Martin in no friend of the Liberals so they should not be making such important decisions based on his columns.

The Immigration Bill is not the compelling issue either. An election on that issue would resonate with the immigrant communities but not the broader Canadian electorate. In fact, in some parts of the country it would be a negative for the Liberals so that issue would be a wash.

The economy would fit but do the Liberals have any compelling solutions? If not, then they had better not fight an election with that as their centrepiece issue.

I have said it before but I will say it again. Liberals cannot conflate their desire for an election as a general desire for an election by the electorate. If they do they lose and they lose big.

Steve V said...

"Liberals cannot conflate their desire for an election as a general desire for an election by the electorate."

The electorate never wants an election.

As for reasons for an election, what about all those "markers" we have put down? There are a million reasons to go to the polls.

Dennis (Second Thots) said...

Steve V, name one compelling reason to force a snap election in the middle of summer.

I can tell you right now what Harper's most uttered line in that campaign would be: "The only reason we're having an election in the middle of summer is because Dion's leadership is so weak."

And it won't take long for Canadians to agree.

This cannot possibly be a serious campaign to force an election. More likely, this is an attempt to isolate Dion or worse.

Steve V said...

"This cannot possibly be a serious campaign to force an election."

Why not? I think as the clock winds down on this session, more and more people are coming to realize that there might not be another opportunity for quite some time. Nobody, including the Cons, disputes that we are in the midst of the roughest patch for the government, so what is so hard to believe.

I would add, Harper didn't mind pulling the plug, having an election over Christmas, so the summer argument doesn't really wash with me. People never want an election, you can always cobble together some excuse about timing.

WesternGrit said...

Don Martin is a Conservative schill - straight outta Calgary. He would write whatever the Harperites ask him to - unless he is upset or angry with the Cons.

I don't think Martin is angry with the Cons right now - maybe a little dismayed at the scandals.

I would take what he says with a grain of political salt...

Steve V said...

grit

You can shoot the messenger, but I really don't see anything suspicious in saying the government is in it's worst patch, they would prefer an opportunity to retool, rather than go to the polls. When is the last time you heard a Con daring the Libs to force an election? We used to hear that daily, I haven't heard it in weeks. About all we hear about is a potential cabinet shuffle, changes at the PMO, policy development, etc. Doesn't sound like a party begging for an election.

Anonymous said...

If Harper were in Dion's shoes, we'd be in an election now. He'd tell his caucus what the consensus is.

Dion wants 100% of his caucus behind him, the entire media, his dog, and every blog in the world before he can enter into his decision-making chamber to write a long letter to himself as to why he should or should not have an election. By the time he's finished, it will be September.

Dennis (Second Thots) said...

Steve V, you really didn't answer my question.

Harper AND the opposition made a sustained case for an election right after the Gomery report, and after 13 years of status quo governance.

Why exactly would we be having an election this time around, other than because Dion's leadership is in such shambles?

Westerngrit,

The idea that Don Martin is a Con hack is nonsense. My guess is that he's an Alberta Red Tory at heart. Nevertheless, if he thinks the Cons are "bone tired", then that's what he thinks — as misguided as it might be.

Mushroom said...

"so the summer argument doesn't really wash with me."

Lower voter turnout, which tends to benefit the incumbent. Problems in getting the vote out. If Dion had wanted a summer election, he would have forced it immediately after the Victoria Day break. This allows Harper to cancel his European tour and be in election mode (or try to filibuster).

Once the word "carbon tax" was floated around, Harper slacked off a bit and prepared for the summer. Dion may end up becoming the Grit version of Peter Parker, letting the thief get away to terrorize another day.

"If Harper were in Dion's shoes, we'd be in an election now. He'd tell his caucus what the consensus is."

Harper also won his leadership convention convincingly with Tony Clement and Belinda his half serious challenger. He also defeated Stockwell Day quite easily. Dion was a consensus pick who won up the middle. Big difference.

Mushroom said...

Steve,

This is my response to your comment at Coyne's blog.

"The Quebec wing has already had their mutiny, there will never be an occasion when they are clamoring for an election under Dion."

They are waiting their time. Two by-elections to be called real soon to replace Robillard and Maka Kotto in Quebec. If Garneau falls in Saint Henri-Westmount, it will be game, set, and possibly match.

Also expect Don Valley West and Guelph to be called at the same time. Grits need to go 3 for
4. Will not predict what the post-mortem entails.

Anonymous said...

Janke is reading this blog. He sounds worried. Once an election is called, a whole new dynamic will take over. I think Dion is ready to go - this is a PR stunt, they are playing mind games with Harper's people.

burlivespipe said...

A little mind games back at them is a good thing. We can't play with their morality because the CONs don't have it, apparently.
While i think Harper believes that any election would be a good thing -- he's roaring with confidence no matter how teary and morose he looked when he cut Bernier loose -- there could be fewer stars aligned for the Liberals except for a real smoking gun in the CON library.
The economy should be the numero one reason, and the Liberals should ride that in Ontario-Quebec along with a very positive campaign about 'doing the right thing' vis a vis the environment, poverty, social justice, international affairs etc.

Dr. Tux said...

"Martin basically argues what I've said, namely that waiting allows the government to get back on their feet, with the added kicker that they will control the agenda as far as Parliament reconvening."


You think it's smooth sailing from here for the Con's? You think our country will just ride out the international economy and a moon-shoot in global oil prices? This government will remain unscathed?


"I think as the clock winds down on this session, more and more people are coming to realize that there might not be another opportunity for quite some time."

No? You're quite sure, are you? Didn't you say the exact same thing during the budget election speculation?

catherine said...

I see the Conservatives are launching another round of attack ads, this time aimed at Dion and the carbon tax. One newspaper reported the ads have talking gas pumps. (At least they don't have the stupid picture of Dion with his head replaced with a head of lettuce that has been on the CPC website!)

The contrast between the Liberals explaining and selling an environmental plan which includes carbon pricing and the Conservatives attacking without offering anything, could work well for the Liberals. If one wants to attempt to fight the election over this one issue, then perhaps all this could happen during an election. Otherwise, I think it would be good to let this play out first.

Anonymous said...

TELLTALE sign that CONS are in the crapper...no decima poll...they use to have one every week ...now they have polls about who thinks what about this or that...

Steve V said...

"Didn't you say the exact same thing during the budget election speculation?"

Yes, I believe I said Dion would suffer if he the Liberals took a pass, reinforcing the idea that he is a weak leader. That is exactly what has happened, his numbers are actually worse now (hard to believe), and the weak argument has further cemented. Tux, haven't you noticed, that despite all the Con troubles, the Lib numbers don't move, or not in any way that you would expect? Also, I believe the NDP was on the ropes at this time, they have since rebounded, as they rightly claim to be the real opposition. We have given the NDP a powerful theme, supported by objective evidence, to argue their relevance. I would also add, if you want to play the luck or kharma game, had we gone, some of these scandals would have blown up during a campaign, an environment that would have derailed Harper. Imagine "explain the tape" within the context of a campaign?

In a sense, our inaction insulates the Cons from real damage. People make a big mistake I think, focusing on the Con problems, without acknowledging the concurrent them of a weak opposition. The Cons don't need "smooth sailing", so long as Canadians don't see a credible alternative. And, nobody doubts that the Cons are better off without Parliament sitting, as they are less accountable, there is less speculation, they can present carefully scripted announcements, they can come up with some new ideas.

catherine

"I see the Conservatives are launching another round of attack ads, this time aimed at Dion and the carbon tax."

Apparently, we are set to launch ads as well.

Steve V said...

"Why exactly would we be having an election this time around, other than because Dion's leadership is in such shambles?"

Yes, because this government is running like a well oiled machine, surely you can't find any areas for criticism, or argue the need for a new direction. I must be way off here, but I can think of several coherent narratives, a myriad of issues to highlight, to present an argument that Canada can't afford to have Harper at the helm.

Anonymous said...

I think the government does need a new direction.

However, who is the one asking all the questions in QP, leading the major charge on the Tories outside the House of Commons, doing more media selling the carbon tax than anyone else...

when the answer to that question is not Stephane Dion, that is a problem for the Liberal Party...

Dennis (Second Thots) said...

Steve V, this is the third time I'm asking. Please name one compelling narrative that justifies a snap election in the middle of summer. I know that Canadians get over having to go to the polls, but they still usually have to be told why.

As far as I can see, the only people who actually want an election — and they aren't the ones pressuring Dion right now — are the people who hate Harper's government. And, for the most part, they aren't the average voter.

Steve V said...

dennis

You keep coming back to "as far as I can tell" the only people wanting an election...when you admit earlier NOBODY ever wants an election.

If I actually have to give you the issues, then you're one, not paying attention, or two, a Con sympathizer who thinks everything is just peachy. Come on.

Dennis (Second Thots) said...

Steve, is it so hard to give me just one narrative for an upcoming campaign? Just one?

Steve V said...

The environment. That was hard :)

Dennis (Second Thots) said...

So, after more than two years of passing Harper's agenda on the environment, Dion is NOW going to tell us we need an election on the environment?

Oh yeah, why didn't I think of that one?

Steve V said...

dennis

Thanks for being predictable, the reason I didn't offer a narrative, I knew you would just shoot it down as irrelevant.

BTW, passing Harper's agenda on the environment. What agenda? Even Baird says it's "coming". There is no agenda, there's just smoke and mirrors to date.

Dennis (Second Thots) said...

lol, I'm being predictable, am I? If that's the case, I'd think it'd be easy to shoot down any criticism. Instead, you just admitted that any justification for an election now won't bear scrutiny.

Characterize Harper's environmental record all you want. The person most responsible for it, other than Harper, is Dion. That's a fact, which is why I don't get the narrative in the context of forcing a snap election.

But, by all means, feel free to anticipate any other predictable responses from me. lol

This is fun.

Steve V said...

zzzzzzzz