Monday, August 04, 2008

The Liberals Will Fish

Will they or won't they? Another column today in The Hill Times, which argues Dion has been to told to "cool it" when it comes to fall election talk. The article then asserts what I think is a ridiculous theory, that the Liberals were spooked by last week's Conservative lovefest in Quebec. Yes, a co-ordinated partisan retreat has led some to get cold feet, as though Liberals will run because Harper dared them, in front of an orchestrated champaign style rally. Please.

IMHO, I take a fall election as a given now. I don't really care what Dion says the rest of the summer, because ultimately I don't see the benefit in telegraphing intentions. What some define as "hedging", I see as shrewd, pulling back creates an air of uncertainty, even if the intent remains the same. Politically, I don't see any reason to continual beat the election drum, some comments were made, now its best just to "sell" and wait until Parliament returns.

If you read between the lines here, it's hard to see how the Liberals avoid a fall election. Any fair observer would have to agree, that whatever their opinion of The Green Shift, Dion has succeeded in reshaping his image somewhat. The spectre of Liberals sitting on their hands throughout the last session of Parliament has faded, the image of Dion as "weak" obviously tempered, replaced by a bold policy that has finally given Dion his voice. Again, you can argue the wisdom in the policy, but you have to acknowledge some positive developments for Dion, in terms of perceptions.

Fast forward to the fall, and Harper introduces confidence motions, daring the Liberals to fight an election. How any strategist could conclude the Liberals can take a pass, again cowering in the face of a challenge, is beyond me. That is a strategy to undo any of the rehabiliation of Dion, in fact this summer would translate into a complete waste of time. I'm of the mind that the Liberals have now passed the point of no return, this is the policy, these are the frames, for better or worse, it's now or never. Backing away now amounts to electoral suicide, Dion will be hammered, more rounds of "discontent" as an idle media reasserts an old theme, hard to find any positives for the Liberals, apart from some faint hope that the Conservatives shoot themselves in the foot.

So, as the media debates whether Dion is backing down, will he or won't he, I'm just operating on the assumption that the election is coming this fall. I don't see any other option at this point, the time has come, those arguing further delay seem detached from reality. Dion should "cool it", but in the end, don't read anything in to what amounts to political necessity.

12 comments:

bigcitylib said...

Bloc has to cooperate. Not sure they will (About the only part of that story I find at all credible, it being by the notorious anti-Lib AP)

Acid Reflux (acidrefluxweb.com) said...

I'd be curious if there were to be a fall election, having the American one running at the same time, and messages coming up around change, the kind of charge from the various policies Harper has mimicked of Bush, and if any campaign seepage would occur and if it would have any effect on the election. Probably not, but it would be interesting to see.

I'm not so sure it's a bright idea on Dion's part to discuss election timing openly. In my dealings with strategy its always best to keep it quiet as long as possible.

Now we have to watch Harper self aggrandize and puff himself into a pseudo alpha male.

kody said...

Steve V has it bang on.

Jason Cherniak said...

I think you may be right about Liberal strategy. However, as BCL points out, that won't necessarily result in an election. Proroguation is also possible if we do well in the by-elections.

Steve V said...

I guess I should have prefaced my comments on the Bloc wanting an election. If the Bloc props up the government, then the negatives for the Liberals are essentially removed.

Jason, isn't prorogue off the table? I mean Harper and company have been pretty clear, if they lose the by-elections, then prorogue, it would be a real sign of weakness, politically on the defensive.

knb said...

I thought Van Loan said they would not prorogue?

Mushroom said...

Van Loan said "no plans". This is the same as going to war against Iran later on this month. There is a contingency should the by-election goes badly for the Cons.

Prorogue means the possibility the Throne Speech is dead on arrival. There is nothing that will galvanize the Grit membership than moving election readiness full steam.

There will be steps for the Grits to get the election machine in full gear. The caucus is still in summer mode and the staffers are not handing in their Parliamentary passes as of yet. Expect a few weeks of filibustering by both the Cons and the Grits so they can go into campaign mode.

Anonymous said...

prorogation is off, unless it's a day-before type thing w/ a throne speech serving as a platform.

JimmE said...

Ah, nice to be back in Canada.
Acid: There is never a good time to call an election. Either farmers are planting/harvesting or there's a flood/snowstorm/drought/hurricane, the economy is too good/bad for an election right now or voters are voting in some provincial/civic/regional/dogcatcher election. Perhaps voters are distracted by world events/politics, Brangalina's kids or the migration of the whooping cranes. Tim & Tina Hortons might get fooled sometimes, but we can tell one election from another.
FYi
1988 - Free Trade Election of Mulldoon's choosing & he almost lost it to Turner. (One more reason I'll NEVER vote Dipper!) American friends were asked why their election was boring (Bush 41 vs Dukakis) & we had an interesting one (Americans actually knew Canada had an election that year!).
2000 - Chr├ętien called it & won it during the US presidential election.
Both cases the incumbent called it & won - what happens if the opposition forces an election?- who knows. Politicians who can't fight an election - at anytime in Canada - need to get a new job. Just ask John Turner, Kim Cambell, Stockwell Day, Paul Martin or the last 2 or 3 Dipper leaders.

ottlib said...

Every time the media has said there would be an election at a specific time they were wrong.

It is the beginning of August. The House comes back in mid-September. So, the first votes of any importance will probably not take place until the beginning of October.

Alot can happen between now and then that could convince any one of the parties in the HofC that an election is not a good idea. And that could include the Liberals.

Anonymous said...

"Any fair observer would have to agree, that whatever their opinion of The Green Shift, Dion has succeeded in reshaping his image somewhat. The spectre of Liberals sitting on their hands throughout the last session of Parliament has faded, the image of Dion as "weak" obviously tempered, replaced by a bold policy that has finally given Dion his voice. Again, you can argue the wisdom in the policy, but you have to acknowledge some positive developments for Dion, in terms of perceptions."

Translation: Dion's image was taking a beating and so he was desperate to press the "re-set" button by proposing something seemingly bold. In other words, it was all about playing politics. If Dion were a popular leader and the Liberals felt confident of winning the next election - there is no chance they would have proposed a carbon tax - and Dion would still be condemning the idea in the same way as he was up until about three months ago.

Its all just Dion playing politics - nothing more.

Steve V said...

anon

Yawn.