Saturday, November 29, 2008

End Game

If the idea of coalition really comes to fruition, and that still remains a big IF, then it's imperative to get it right, because the stakes are immense. Any coalition must be credible to the Canadian people and for that reason sober logic trumps emotional response. The following will offend some, alienate others, but extraordinary times call for unconventional consideration.

As a preface, remember that I defended Dion in the election aftermath, and I spent considerable time making my view known to people in the party, for whatever that's worth. I mention that fact, because my opinion now isn't merely knee jerk opportunism from an Ignatieff supporter, I see it as situational necessity. Let's face facts, Mr. Dion has little stature with the Canadian people, given the feeble resistance to his resignation, it is probably less than it was in the election, an election wherein he was unequivocally rejected. If people are really serious about a coalition thriving, as opposed to a temporary diversion that ultimately leads to a Harper majority, then we need to get it right, we need to stop with the crusades, the emotional responses, and approach it with cold logic and pragmatic concession. Mr. Dion as Prime Minister is a death sentence for any coalition, rightly or wrongly, he simply lacks the authority with Canadians to lead through a crisis, that's the bottomline and only wishful thinking suggests otherwise.

I probably shouldn't say this, and Ignatieff's team will cringe at the arrogant assumption, but my gut screams the following. I would argue, and I believe rational people would agree, that Ignatieff is much stronger this time, my own sense and reading of the situation allows for a possible first ballot victory. Speculation, "the race has just begun", yadda, yadda, it's true, but sometimes events trump process, and a crisis demands intellectual elasticity. Listening to Rae, it is obvious he senses the same, his team can see the landscape and know the task is daunting. If rapidly changing events occur, then sometimes you deviate from the script, let's be nimble, let's not make a crucial error. If not Dion, and it shouldn't be, then it's Ignatieff and people can't just slough off the proposition or react with irrational fury. The simple reality, Ignatieff has the majority support in caucus, he also has the institutional support within the party and YES, he enjoys formidable grassroots support, his leadership is based on practical strengths within the party. In this unprecedented circumstance, I will put my trust in my elected officials to act with sober consideration, I expect them to think the situation through, and if it means short circuiting a probable outcome, then get on with and make this coalition as strong as we can.

If you're paying attention, then you've noticed that Ignatieff has performed exceptionally well in the last days, his clarity and strength contagious, embodying everything that leadership demands. What I see, is someone that Canadians could get behind, someone who can give a coalition the credibility it demands, instead of watching Dion awkwardly stumble, because he lacks respect from the conduit- why start with weakness, and if so, how do you expect to succeed? I suspect the Conservatives best hope within a bad situation, the prospect of PM Dion and all that pinata entails. Leave your emotions at the door, it's time for serious and COLD realities.

Mr. Dion doesn't enjoy the confidence of Canadians, Mr. Dion doesn't enjoy the confidence of his caucus and Mr. Dion lacks widespread support with the party rank and file. How these simple facts translate to success escapes me, sounds more a recipe for disaster, that will breath new life into Harper and the Conservatives. We need someone who Canadians can take a chance with, not someone that makes them roll their eyes in doubt. Given the support, there is only one option and that is Ignatieff.

Cue the outrage, but if we are really serious about getting this potential coalition right, as opposed to a temporary exercise in probable failure, it's the best move, by a long shot.


Skinny Dipper said...

Except for Rae, Ignatieff, and LeBlanc, he needs to have strong people ih Liberal held cabinet positions--especially finance. And please, no Green Shift carbon tax. Focus on the economy.

Skinny Dipper said...

He is Stéphane Dion.

Steve V said...


RuralSandi said...

I watched a Constitutional expert this morning and he said the GG is required to go along with the will of the House, BUT, a coalition group would have to guarantee and stable government for a least a, Dion will not be leader in the next few months. This doesn't seem like stability to me.

I think perhaps Harper knows this and that's why he centering his focus on Dion. I think the Liberals have no choice but to pick a leader now, whether Dion is stubborn or not or it may not work.

Steve V said...

Dion is a lightning rod for Harper to undermine the coalition. Anyone suggesting someone else, besides the leadership contenders, is arguing the same "undemocratic" appointment that seems problematic with the hopefuls.

I just saw an idea floated in one of the news items. All that need happen, two out of the three contenders drop out and the one left is uncontested.

Anonymous said...

This post give me a bit of dejavu as a regular reader of your blog. Flashback to Sept 27, 2007 and I quote:

"The Dark Side"

"Since I've already jumped off the deep end, I thought I might swim around for a moment, before toweling off. Why doesn't Dion fall on his sword and resign, then have an emergency meeting of the executive and install Ignatieff as interim leader? If an election is averted after the throne speech, then we could have a proper, fairly quick leadership and prepare for the spring. If an election is called, the Liberals take their chances with Ignatieff and hope to salvage something. The notion of democracy seems a subjective circumstance within the Liberal Party, so you could rationalize that a "hand-picked" leader is just an extension of what happens in the ridings."

You've kind've been an Iggy fan all along you just didn't know it. :)

RuralSandi said...

That's interesting - haven't heard from LeBlanc at all lately. Would Rae or Ignatieff drop out? I wonder.

I like Dion as a person of principle, etc. and although I didn't support him in the last leadership race I tried to support him during the election for the good of the Party. But, he does not present strength and stability.

I hear he's being stubborn - and it's that stubborness that lost him the election.

Steve V said...


If that were true, then why didn't I push for Dion to resign after the election?

I would however say, that earlier advice was very good advice.

Dion is dead, let's move on, because if we are silly enough to think he'll fly with Canadians now, and the Cons won't have a field day, then we deserve what we get. Period.

Scott Tribe said...

Sorry Steve, but if there is going to be a PM, it's already been stated that none of the leadership candidates:

"A senior Liberal added the coalition leader would not be any of the three Liberal leadership contenders – MPs Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc."

SO it's either Dion.. and if it's not him, it will have to be another interim leader - like McCallum or Goodale for example.

Steve V said...


This thing is in it's infancy, if you think one line in a piece settles it, then...

liberazzi said...

Ill be repeating my earlier comments but:

Iggy is looking quite good and he is saying all the right things, but he needs to keep his team in check.

Dion has to resign, he cannot be pushed, so I hope he sees the light, but...Why is Dryden not mentioned as interim?

Yes, this thing could blow-up in the Libs face if they look power hungry or if they are ineffective in govt if this all goes through.

One thing I mentioned b4, Harper might not let go so easily, GG or no GG.

Harper can make this all go away and save himself if he acts like a statesman and not like an ass!

Scott Tribe said...

I've already written at my blog I didnt mind if the party leadership and caucus took a vote as per the LPC Constitution and installed whoever as leader.

The other angle is though.. perhaps the NDP and/or BQ have made it a condition of support that none of the current leadership candidates can be leaders of that coalition.. which would make sense because they dont want that person to get a head of steam which would cost them at the next election.

So, their safe choice is either to say keep Dion for a few months until the leadership convention, or pick an interim leader. If that's the case, the leadership supporters and candidates are simply going to have to wait. And, if the caucus or the strategists really think Dion as the leader of that coalition is a liability, pick someone else like Goodale or McCallum.

Steve V said...

"I've already written at my blog I didnt mind if the party leadership and caucus took a vote as per the LPC Constitution and installed whoever as leader. "

Let's do it.

liberazzi said...

Dryden! Dryden! Dryden! Sorry I have my biases.

The simple thing for us would be for Dion to resign, but he is a little too stubborn for that. We will all be holding our breath that he doesnt turn this into a dog's breakfast. There could not be much of a party for Iggy to lead if that happens.

MilitantLiberal said...

The Iggy lovers never give up. It's over. Dion is the man. If you guys still insist on a leadership contest after he becomes PM he should run and win. I absolutely guarantee the NDP would not go near a coalition that was run by Ignatieff. It is probably the first condition they laid out. No corporate tax cut and no Ignatieff. The beauty of this coalition is that it stops both Harper and Ignatieff. Chretien has saved Canada again!

liberazzi said...

I would like to dedicate this song to Stephen Harper

Anonymous said...

I think the NDP could live with Ignatieff if they had to. A lot of this is about personal chemistry and I've heard that people in the NDP actually find Iggy reasonably easy to get along with mano-a-mano. The only person who would TOTAL destroy any possibility of cooperation between the NDP and the Liberals in thsi context is none other than Bob Rae. The mutual hate between him and the NDP is so intense its hard to imagine them ever being in the same room together.

Anonymous said...

I think Goodale would make the best interim PM, but I don't know if his lack of French is a problem.

liberazzi said...

I just read another comment on another blog that believes that the GG will send them to their corners and not to come out until they are ready to play nice. Maybe, the most logical outcome...

JimmE said...

Honestly, I think the issue's dead. The present PM will take a week to re-jigger the statement so there is some vague promise of future stimulus, & as you've pointed out, sell his PoV at taxpayer's expense. If the MSG is not selling, I'm sure he'll prorogue the house as long as he can into 2009, & direct an air war against any coalition talk.

Steve V said...

That may well be, hence the IF. I believe it is just as conceivable that Harper backs down further, and the opposition declares victory. Reading the columns today, Harper is getting hammered from all sides, so if he think the MSM will prop up his argument, well...

Anonymous said...

With someone other than Dion as the designated interim PM, Harper loses his whipping boy and the coalition really emerges as a new governing alternative.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Yeah, when one of the fundamental issues at play is democratic principles the Liberals should unceremoniously dump the democratically elected leader & have a small select sliver of the party install a newcomer to Canada who supported the Iraq War, justified torture, voted against 3/4 of his colleagues to extend the Afghan mission & plays footsie with QC nationalists, and is detested by a large portion of his own party. That will really give the extraordinary coalition legitimacy!

Brilliant idea. Now ask me to contribute to Iggy's campaign in these times of crisis instead of to the party in general.

Sometimes I wonder if you Iggy guys are all just Rae moles.

Steve V said...

" Liberals should unceremoniously dump the democratically elected leader"

Thank you for the irrational response Eugene, but then that seems your forte lately.

Pardon my ignorance, but Dion already resigned, he's just a toothless caretaker. That's reality, deal with it.

For the record, I'll take Bob over Dion too, but Iggy seems more logical, given the support level in caucus and the party as a whole.

A View From The Left said...

I think a coalition would work under Dion if only because Layton and Duceppe would worry less about making him look good as they wouldn't have to face him in the next election. If they were constantly worrying that the Liberal leader was going to end up looking too good than the coalition would fall apart faster, and I think Canadians would rather PM Dion than another election.

Mike said...

Steve: It's going to look like naked opportunism to the public if Iggy is crowned. Harper will say "the Liberals weren't interested in principal, their caucus just wanted their guy installed as PM without a leadership race or an election. They knew he couldn't win an election so this is what they do"

And Layton would NEVER agree to Ignatieff. Layton absolutely HAS to portray Ignatieff as a far right Liberal (even though it's NOT true) or his chances against him in future election ABSOLUTELY COLLAPSE. So he will not agree to a coalition led by Ignatieff under any circumstances, you can bet on it. In fact I would bet that no matter who leads a possible coalition it breaks to pieces on the election of Ignatieff as Liberal leader as Layton will not want to give Ignatieff any credibility or give him a chance to show himself to be more moderate than Layton claims.

Steve be REALISTIC, you KNOW how partisan and cynical Layton is, why would you GIVE LAYTON SO MUCH MORE CREDIT THAN THAT? He need a false image of a scray right-wing Ignatieff, how could you deny that? They've probably already paid people to write up the ads equating Iggy to Harper and Bush.

Steve V said...


Speaking of realistic, how the hell do you think the public will react to a man they just REJECTED, in devastating fashion. I assure you, the Cons are salivating at the prospects of Dion. Credibility is right.

As for Layton, any agreement will have the same demands, regardless of who the Liberal leader is, so... If Layton can accept Mulclair, he can stomach Ignatieff, the lure of cabinet positions will be enough to appease the optics.

RuralSandi said...

To all of those Tory supporters fuming with outrage at the possible “overthrow” of Harper’s minority government in an “undemocratic coup” and who are especially aggrieved at the thought of the Bloc’s participation in a progressive coalition government, please read the following letter from your Dear Leader to then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson dated September 9, 2004:

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program. We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority. Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

That letter was signed by all three opposition leaders: Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper.

h/t Red Tory

interesting hypocracy here eh?

Dion fans just have to face the music. Canadians made their decision about him and it isn't going to change. Sad for you, I know, but you have to be realistic here.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

You poor dear.

Anonymous said...

I think we desperately need a coalition agreement in place with our opposition partners whether now is the time to take power or not, whether Dion is the leader or not, just so we have our combined forces ready and willing to move at any time to fight Harper's insanity. Shoving Iggy into the driver seat too soon is a short-sighted solution and a very perilous move for both Iggy and the party. It would be better for all concerned if he's given an opportunity to win over the doubters like me and is elected through due process. Personally, I'd prefer a one member one vote using the current membership versus a caucus only vote even though that potentially leaves me out in the cold since I just renewed my membership and haven't got my paperwork yet. Otherwise we will just find ourselves exactly where we are right now with our leader being targeted by alienated malcontents from inside the party and we'll never have any peace or stability. At some point we have to break the cycle, no?

Mike said...

Steve: The argument could be quite simple, Dion is more qualified to lead in these economic circumstances. Ignatieff has no cabinet experience and this is no time for such a steep learning curve and on the job training.

It's quite a simple argument to make to the public, out of both caucuses a coaltion was needed and Dion was most qualified. And if it can't be Dion it should be McCallum another bilingual MP with cabinet experience.

Ignatieff would be the least experiened Liberal leader in history and Canada faces the worst economic crisis since the depression. You don't think that's bad optics? You don't think the Conservatives would point this out? He's less experienced in the House than either Clark or Harper were when they became PM and as we know they were HORRIBLE. Experience matters my friend and it does to the Canadian public too (let's not bring in Obama either who had 11 years legislative experience and engaged in like 30 public debates and ran a two year national campaign with some of the best advisors around, but he won for a entirely different set of reasons that outweighed his relative inexperience anyway).

And Layton I don't think will be allured by a 6 month cabinet stint, you should know he tihnks very long term and giving Iggy credibility as a moderate is NOT at all in his interest, in fact it might kill him in the next election so he will avoid it all costs.

Yvan St-Pierre said...

I'm not convinced at all by the argument according to which Mr Dion is not a valid choice for PM until next spring.

First, I don't buy the "Canadians voted against him" line, because the only one for whom they voted in larger numbers is Stephen Harper. So if that point is a good one, so is Harper's rhetorics about usurpation or what have you. People voted more opposition MPs than in government, which is all that matters, and among opposition leaders, Dion was in fact the most voted for.

Second, the stability point doesn't work much better either. If other parties can support a new leader now, they can do it when duly chosen in 6 months as well. In the meantime, we mostly need to show unity amongst ourselves if we want unity to be credible with other parties in the GG's judgement.

I'm still keeping an open mind on this (hey, like I got a say in the matter), but I need better arguments than that to support someone else than Dion as PM at this precise time.

Gayle said...

Again, this is all speculation, but:

I don't care who the LPC pick to be the leader. What I care about is the people who have not been chosen working behind the scenes to undermine the other.

We know Iggy's people did that, I am told Rae's people did too.

If these two guys (and their people) do not agree to cool their jets if the other is named interim leader, then neither should be.

Which is why I think you have no choice but to stay with Dion.

Scott Tribe said...

Stay with Dion until the leadership COnvention (and make sure you get the NDP to agree to that and enough legislation that will keep the BO on board) or else appoint an interim leader like McCallum or Goodale, if thats not acceptable to the caucus.

I've already seen enough sniping on the Liberal blogs today from Iggy/Rae supporters to realize that the Liberal source today who said none of the 3 LPC candidates will be interim leader made a wise decision.

Steve V said...

"It's quite a simple argument to make to the public"

No, it's not simple and I guarantee (please quote me), they won't buy Dion as PM. This is craziness, let's hope Harper caves...

Steve V said...


Would you stop with the unnamed Liberal source, because I can quote the same, suggesting Dion would be a DISASTER.

Goodale? McCallum? My goodness, get ready for a Con majority.

Steve V said...

"We know Iggy's people did that, I am told Rae's people did too."

You forgot one Gayle ;) Believe me.

Scott Tribe said...

Oh come off of it, Steve, This is going to a coalition government, not an immediate election, in all likelihood. You don't know how any of these folks will react as interim PM, so why don't we wait until it happens? Let's see what the Liberal caucus and leaders decide to do, before we go off declaring disaster or victory over this pick or that.

Furthermore, as I said earlier, the BQ and/or NDP may be making it a condition that none of the leadership candidates should be PM. Further to that, I'm sure the leadership camps are also objecting to their other 2 rivals being picked as de facto PM.

It's not as simple as you make it out to be, Steve. My fear is the greatest damage to the prospects of a coalition isn't from the Conservatives or the other opposition parties.. it may be due to Liberal infighting who cant get united for the greater good.

Jerry Prager said...

Not being a Liberal, but having voted Lib, NDP and Green over the years, I agree with Steve that this needs to be done well, which is why I think Broadbent's and Chretien's involvement is genius. Emotionally I am fully in favour of this legal coup d'etat. The Bloc doesn't frighten me if they take Duceppe at his word from the election and create an environmental economic (EE) policy. The carbon tax itself may be off limits, but an EE agenda would suit the vast majority of Canadians. As for Dion, I have no problems with him in the interim.

Steve V said...

Tribe, if you think the BQ can accept Dion, but can't accept Iggy, good grief man.

I'll tell you want isn't simple. Thinking this coalition isn't going to face a shitstorm, we are headed into bad times, and if you think Dion will be seen as credible, well good luck to you all.

I must say, I'm hoping Harper brings something to the table, because we have lost our minds.

Scott Tribe said...

Steve, If you have a direct ear to the negotiations over what is acceptable to the opposition parties, then you can enlighten us. :) I'm just speculating like anyone else.

Steve V said...

I have no direct line, but you're presenting a line, from one unnamed source, as if it's written on a tablet. You know better.

Blues Clair said...

Canadians won't buy Dion as PM (yes it will hard for many swallow)? But the Candadian Public will buy the Liberal Caucus deciding who they think should be PM?

Steve V, your political instincts are shot I'm afraid.

Get a grip Liberals.

Steve V said...


We already know your bias here, so don't be surprised that I fail to take your "instinct" comment seriously :)

Gayle said...

I may very well have missed one Steve - I just think that makes my argument stronger.

If this party wants to get through this unscathed, you cannot have any of the leadership candidates named as interim leader. Otherwise the party will destroy itself while Harper stands back and laughs, and Layton picks off your support.

If you ever needed any reason to believe this, just look at the comments on this post.

Blues Clair said...

True that, I'm a Raeman, but seriously, you are crzy. Continue on though, this kind of talk helps my fellow out. (Who needs all the help he can get)

Steve V said...

"If you ever needed any reason to believe this, just look at the comments on this post."

True enough.

I just hope Harper caves.

Steve V said...


Probably not as crazy as thinking people will suddenly become enlightened and embrace Rae as economic savior. Get off the bong :)

Gayle said...

Harper will not cave, nor is it necessary.

I think you just need to step back and consider that the interim LPC leader need not be one of the leadership candidates. It need not be Dion either.

The whole issue of clawing back the subsidy will not die. Harper will bring it back in a form where the opposition either has to accept it or fight an election over it. I think the only option now is to plough ahead with the coalition.

Blues Clair said...

True again, Liberals should of stuck with Dion... now they got 2 highly intelligent and flawed Candidates.

BTW, Wine is my vice.

Steve V said...

Wine is fine :)

Miles Lunn said...

Steve - good post. I am glad to see there are some Liberals being pragmatic on this and not doing it out of hate for Harper. I think long-term success is more important than short-term one. Also, I think we need to make clear that finance will not go to the NDP. This will be a disaster as people generally support the NDP more on social issues, not on fiscal ones.

MilitantLiberal said...

No need to fight, we're all Liberals. Can't we have wine and make good use of our bongs?

Scott Tribe said...


it dismays me enough to hear Baird and Poilievere screech about Layton being finance minister.. It dismays me more when I see Liberals parrot those exact same talking points.

Liberals should know better then to fall for that crap, which is deigned to scare the "nervous nellies" in the other political parties.

Let's wait until the vote happens.. and if the government falls and IF the coalition is accepted by the GG, let's see what the negotiating teams have come up with.

Steve V said...


I don't believe Layton would be FM, but this came from a unnamed media source, which is really ironic, given you advice to Miles ;)


It's a big tent PARTY.

Scott Tribe said...

Mine came from a "Senior Liberal".. slight difference ;)

I can also recall reading this morning an "uunnamed Liberal MP" who said he has no isues with Dion being the interim leader/PM.

Another source said the caucus hadn't signed off on DIon being that leader.. so its crazy out there.

Steve V said...

Yes, "senior Liberal". Volpe?

Let's move on.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, I have to say your blog has the best comments section and is the most fun to read because the debate is so.. well... feisty and intelligent. P.S. I commented on your comment over at my blog which I believe was commenting on my comment, etc. The keys were under the couch btw. And reading the comments here since my last comment seems to reinforce my... er... comments.

And no disrespect intended re the original comment, as a fellow Kennedy supporter, I remember you did fight hard for Dion after the fall and are not categorized by me as an Iggy-maniac but just someone trying to figure out how to get this fractious bunch to hang together.

More power to you.

Take care.


Steve V said...


Thanks for that. I know I have my bias, but it's just a point of view, which I believe has merit. Others, not so much ;)

Constant Vigilance said...


Another excellent well thought-out post. It carries some weight because your credentials as a Dion supporter over that post election weekend are impeccable. I do have a few points, however.

Any agreement that is hammered out will be very finely balanced. I expect that the coalition proposal will have had at least some back channel pre-approval from the GG. In that regard, if Mr. Dion is put forward as the PM, conditions of his longer term support will be evident.

To be honest, I will support whoever is proposed as PM. We have crossed the Rubicon. If the Opposition doesn't proceed there will be consequences as well. It is hard to realize it, because I doubt if any of us have lived through a full blown constitutional crisis before, but it is time for personal ambitions to be shelved for a bit.

As a case in point, CBC just announced that Harper has gone into full run away mode vis the funding thing.

Steve V said...

"We have crossed the Rubicon."

I love the imagery.

I saw that the Cons have backed down, let's see if there is more to come, because the opposition certainly can't accept just this announcement.

RuralSandi said...

A Constitutional expert said that a coalition government would have to prove there would be stability - check.

Dion has already stepped down as leader and is sitting in until the leadership race of complete - 5 months away - check.

So, an interim leader, then the new leader - that's not stability folks.

I don't think it's going to work out - if it is true what is being said at Liblogger "Curiousity Cat" (who appears to be NDP).....trouble on the over-anxious horizon methinks.

Anonymous said...

Let me comment on how the coalition will affect the Grits.

This is a coalition in which the Grits will be entering with as the weaker coalition partner even though they have the premiership. The NDP will get major finance and social portfolios, they have the hammer given its strong results in the 2008 election. Since the coalition will remain stable until the federalist left make the Bloc pull the plug, the Grits need to consider these points.

Will it hurt the Grits long term? The party will be guaranteed to be in perpetual minority position for a long while. Dissolving this coalition and attacking the NDP in the short term is a non-issue, as it provides cannon fodder for the Cons. A good coalition government benefits Layton and Mulcair as they end up as competent managers and their party usually are better at the grass roots than the Grits. Neither Rae, Iggy, nor Leblanc can defect from the coalition if they become PM. Another election will probably emerge with the Cons getting the most seats and the Grits consoling themselves to being in bed with the NDP again while maintaining the premiership, hopefully without depending on the Bloc for survival.

This is the reality which has forced this coalition. A Liberal Party recognizing that it can no longer realistically challenge the Cons on its own, despite the public assertions of the 308 strategy. When Layton and Broadbent threw this spanner, the Grits grabbed it or face bankruptcy. Silently hoping that Harper can back down will not work. Some Con supporters are consoling themselves that they will be much stronger in two years with a moderate Prentice at the helm than a testy Harper. This is not something the Grits will be in two years time since their political hopes are locked in step with Layton and Mulcair's recent machinations.

Anonymous said...

A progressive coalition will address the needs of Canadians. Fewer people will lose jobs, social services, and businesses with a progressive coalition. This is the reality.

Anonymous said...

Look at these two quotes.

"I wouldn't say the train has left the station but it's gathering speed," said John McCallum, chair of a Liberal economic advisory committee.

"At this point, it's difficult to believe anything this government says. I mean, it's clear that they are desperate so no matter what they say, how can we believe it, given their past record?"

Before the government reversal, Brison said Harper poisoned the atmosphere in Parliament.

"I see virtually no possibility of Stephen Harper being able to earn back the trust of this Parliament."

Tit for tat. Only Harper's resignation would be enough to help the Cons survive. This is from two senior Grit politicians who are definitely NOT fans of Stephane Dion and would want him out sooner.

Möbius said...

Any coalition (LPC + NDP = what? 114 vs. the CPC at 143) involving the BQ will be the end of the LPC in the next election.

Hate to be fatalistic, but I'm not a viscerally anti-LPC person, and I was warming up to an possibly Iggy-lead LPC, following the errors of the Harper CPC. However, seeing Chretien back in the news reminded of why I abandoned the Libs in 2003.

My opinion only, but I never voted PC again after Mulroney, and I think there's a core group of folks out there like myself, with really long political memories.

Scott Tribe said...


IF the Progressive Coalition (as I will be calling it the moment it gets formed and if it gets formed) passes bills and policies that help the economy out and show Canadians it is working, then your proclaimed death sentence will not come to pass. Surely you recognize that.

Möbius said...

I saw that the Cons have backed down, let's see if there is more to come, because the opposition certainly can't accept just this announcement.

I'd like to see them re-introduce the motion, but reducing the subsidy by 10% per year for 10 years, to allow the parties time to find other sources of cash. How many other countries do this sort of thing?

Möbius said...

IF the Progressive Coalition (as I will be calling it the moment it gets formed and if it gets formed) passes bills and policies that help the economy out and show Canadians it is working, then your proclaimed death sentence will not come to pass.

You're very optimistic. Never will happen. Even Liberals on this blog are disagreeing vehemently about hypothetical PM's. Throw in Layton, and a separatist party that wants to show that Canada is a failure........

The next election, and there will be one in any case, will include campaigning about why separatists think your party is so keen.

Anonymous said...

See Scott Reid's piece in G&M. A must read.

Scott Tribe said...

Actually Mobius, the US does have a public financing system for their elections, as do many European countries.. so this isn't some unique thing Chretien brought in. He had precedent to look at with other countries.

I note too, that there wasn't a WORD about killing public financing on Blogging Tory sites until Flaherty mentioned it 3 days ago.. and then suddenly it was shrieks of glee over there that the Cons were so smart in killing of any viable opposition to them during an election campaign.. followed by shrieks of outrage at parties sucking the public purse once to their horror they realized Harper wasn't going to get away with it.

As for me being optimistic, I hope Harper and his Cons keep being deluded into thinking this won't happen. In a way, the delay Harper did in chickening out of a non-confidence motion on MOnday and moving it back may have helped the opposition, by giving the opposition time to work on the details of how the Progressive Coalition might work.

Steve V said...


I think you need to come to grips with your conservatism, and stop with the charade that you're just an unbiased observer. No matter the issue, you find fault for the Libs, just go Con and look yourself in the mirror, because frankly I don't buy any of the qualifications.

Steve V said...


Interesting points for sure.

Möbius said...

I think you need to come to grips with your conservatism, and stop with the charade that you're just an unbiased observer.

I don't claim to be unbiased. Not sure where you get that from, and if you can find a completely unbiased observer, I'll show you someone who doesn't vote.

I am, however, relatively non-partisan in that I've voted for all parties at some time in my life (conservative, Liberal, Green, and even NDP), when I thought it was the right thing to do.

Möbius said...

Actually Mobius, the US does have a public financing system for their elections, as do many European countries..

Seems like it's optional there. Did Obama not turn down public funding in the last campaign?

I assume that made it easier for him to accept corporate financing.

JimmE said...

I still think the Present PM will sex-up this motion to make it acceptable.
But let's go with your premise; a new Liberal leader after an appropriate amount of time could declare victory & claim (with some truth) the government had come to the end of the issues upon which all the parties can agree. Bad times demand bold moves blah, blah, blah. Statesman like statements thanking the Dippers & BQ for putting the nation first etc. but now - he needs a mandate for these troubled times. If one of the changes a coalition brings in is to raise the max. contribution limit, the Liberal party will suddenly be much more competitive with the Tory air war. It is the Dippers who would be in the pickle as they would be campaigning not on good management, but on the rest of their make-the-rich-pay platform. A new Grit leader as PM would have the middle ground what with the Tories on the other side shoring-up the base with more red-meat snarls. Power has disciplined the Tories, if they're now out of power, would the power of the Harper Kool-aid wear off?
But hey, what do I know? I took what folks said at the doors to be legit! 8-?

JimmE said...

... but hell, I would LOVE this incident to be the present PM's political epitaph.

My advice to the opposition is here:

My feeling on how the preent PM must be feeling is here:

while I'm a roll here's one for the Queen's rep. in Ottawa:

Steve V said...

I thought this was an interesting summation, from the Reid piece, that has everyone in a tizzy:

"The other elephant in the room is leadership. Stephane Dion has bargained his way to the drive wheel of the new government. Good for him, but only if it suits the greater good. If Mr. Dion can make his case, then great. If he can't, move to an alternative - and do it fast.

Mr. Harper knows that his greatest advantage lies in Mr. Dion's weakness. The coalition can't let that impulse triumph. Don't permit the defeat of Mr. Harper to depend upon Mr. Dion's personal credibility - or that of any single individual, for that matter. There's too much at stake.

The coalition must be ruthless. Be quick to signal that if Mr. Dion can't win the confidence of his own party, or the country, an alternative will be identified before the vote in the House."

Blues Clair said...

Only thing I can say about Scott Reid is that he knows how to irritate the hell out of people of all political stripes. Is that a talent? Hard to say.

Get behind Dion quick Liberals, don't let Harper exploit that obvious weakness.

Suicide is installing Ignatieff (or Rae, Leblanc...), Harper will have field day with that move.

Ashley_Wilkes-Booth said...

Harper's wrong on this one, and has put the CPC's interests and partisan gains over Canada's -- that's wrong, and if it means a coalition gov't taking over, that's totally fine with me. But surely we can come up with something more than "Let's install my personal preference as Leader!".

NO LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES SHOULD BE PM AT THIS TIME. Not Rae, not LeBlanc, not Ignatieff. Go with Dion or an interim leader, but you're just trying to shoehorn your choice in early to give your team an advantage. On a moral level, I don't think that scores much higher than Harper's move this week, to be honest. :(

Gayle said...

I read at CTV that Harper is backing down on the funding matter, but will also introduce some stimulus measures tomorrow.

If he does that, then all parties can walk away from this. The opposition will have succeeded in doing their jobs.

Harper will take some time to plot his revenge.

Scott Tribe said...


Scott Reid is right.. Harper will not give us another opportunity to stop him... we cannot back down now.

He must be destroyed, as Reid says (figuratively).

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that as an NDP supporter who has been very hard on the Liberals and Dion in my postings - i think that the time has come for us to bury the hatchet and work together to rid Canada of the Harper gov't. Let's put some of the poisonous partisan stuff behind us and try to cooperate - its good for the Liberals, good for the NDp and good for Canada if we can find a way to make it work. Maybe someday if we make a relatively modest reform towards preferential voting we can create a longterm coalition arrangement like the Liberals in Australia (who are really the Tories)and the rurally based National Party. If we play our cards right we can keep the Tories out of power for a very, very, very long time. But we both have to put some water in our wine.

Gayle said...

Scott - he is right, but only if the coalition can actually do that.

I am torn because I still think it is best for the opposition if Harper governs during the recession.

As I said above, however, I think if they let him go now he will plot his revenge - and it will not be pretty.

Steve V said...


"It's that last one, I suspect, that may determine how the Liberals decide to proceed. If they can't gracefully replace Stephane Dion, it's probably not going to happen. But if Dion agrees to step aside, Bob Rae takes one for the team and Michael Ignatieff is installed, there'll be a lot more enthusiasm in Liberal ranks for trying to get him into 24 Sussex forthwith.

But then, that assumes the NDP and Bloc were willing to join a coalition led by Ignatieff; there's been buzz that they'd in fact prefer Dion, presumably because of his relative weakness."

Not because he's more palatable spectrum wise, because he's "weaker". Don't think it's kumbaya time, that will be leveraged by the peacock.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Dion & Rae aren't going anywhere. Anyone with the slightest insight into their characters, based on their careers, would know that. These are tough smart guys who have stayed in Canada over the past three decades and fought the good fight while others were elsewhere. Dion is not going to roll over to please the very people who spent three years trying to overthrow him & Rae is not going to let himself get pushed around.

Since the cost of an undemocratic hostile takeover would be too high for even the most maddened Iggiot, I would think (hope?), and definitely for the mass of caucus & Liberals across the country, you & your Iggy-mad like are best advised to take the gentle advice of BC & AWB and deal with it.

Get behind Dion. There may still be a leadership convention, we shall see. But if you wanted to help Iggy, you'd stop engaging in behaviour which turns off the neutral & undecided. Maybe I shouldn't give you this advice since I detest Iggy, but the most important thing is maintaining a united front for the good of the party right now.

Take as a given Dion will be PM in a coalition. Then think how you might best help the party, given that situation. But please, think these things through a bit. While it pleases me to see you alienating the undecided from Iggy, it's hurting the party too much.

It's not the end of the world if Dion becomes PM, surely, even in your headspace. Your guy will probably still have a chance to become leader, if not in Vancouver, then somewhere down the line. I'll do all I can to stop him, but while I appreciate your unintended help, it's at a point where you are doing more harm than good. Think about it.

Anonymous said...


"If one of the changes a coalition brings in is to raise the max. contribution limit, the Liberal party will suddenly be much more competitive with the Tory air war."

Non-issue I'm afraid. The Bloc and the NDP do benefit from Chretien's campaign financing law. Also will not alleviate the weaker senior partner dilemma which the coalition government will permeate. Ironically, it is this weaker senior partner scenario that allows for this coalition to work. That the NDP has a strong enough hand to demand coalition seats encouraged this attempt to defeat Harper in the first place.

Anonymous said...

"he is right, but only if the coalition can actually do that."


The key to the coalition's success is recognizing that the Grits have the weakened hand. Dion as PM also helps Layton as Steve points out.


Iggy and Rae have a role to play too. They will need to step in once the Bloc withdraws their support in confidence supply measures. There will probably be an election in the fall of 2009, for the simple reason of having the Canadian public ratify the Liberal-NDP coalition. The Grits will need to target Quebec more than ever before, for the simple reason that we will have to let Layton a free rein in the West. Dion does not have mileage in Quebec, so he needs to go in May 2009.


What you are suggesting is preposterous. Trudeau came back in 1980 because the party thinks that it can win a majority then. There may be a dozen who seriously thinks that Dion can do the same in 2009, once this Parliamentary session finishes with Harper or Prentice as Leader of the Opposition.