Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thanks Jane

Jane Taber receives a lot of unwarranted criticism from many in the blogosphere, for her tabloid approach to journalism. Some view Taber as a gossip hound, but today's column shows her keen political analysis, that leaves the reader wondering if she possesses an extra sense, that others can only read in awe. On Ignatieff's moves in the coming year, this mind numbing prediction:
Watch for Mr. Ignatieff and his Liberals to support the budget to avoid an election or trying to govern as leader of the coalition with the NDP, supported by the Bloc.

Wow, watch for it, you heard it here first. So, the Liberals will either vote for the budget, or vote against it and move on the coalition. How was Taber able to decipher the potential Liberal moves, does she possess a crystal ball?

I have a couple of my own "watch for it" predictions, along the same vein:

-In 2009, there will be another federal election, or there won't be.

-The Liberals will improve on their fundraising, unless they don't raise more money.

That's all I can come up with right now, but then again I'm not a seasoned political commentator, armed with "insider" knowledge and exceptional instinct.

29 comments:

bigcitylib said...

She'll still probably manage to get this wrong.

Steve V said...

I wonder if a "senior" Liberal spilled the beans?

Anonymous said...

Hot or Not - ah, no NOT regarding the lack of knowledge of Canadians on our parliamentary system and how Harper is spinning with misinfo?

Really important stuff - Loreen thinks Steve is hot. I feel better now knowing that - don't you?

Mark said...

It depends on where you place the missing commas. You interpreted this sentence as:

1) Watch for Mr. Ignatieff and his Liberals to support the budget to avoid an election COMMA or trying to govern as leader of the coalition with the NDP, supported by the Bloc.

It could also be interpreted as:

2) Watch for Mr. Ignatieff and his Liberals to support the budget COMMA to avoid an election or trying to govern as leader of the coalition with the NDP, supported by the Bloc.

Given Ms Taber's general lack of intellectual depth, it's easy to assume that she intended #1. However, her comments on the coalition, and about Jack Layton, provide subtle hints that she may have intended #2.

Personally, I am betting on #2, even though I don't think it's a good option for the Liberal party. Even with our new leader, we're still not in any shape to go into another election. Yet with Michael Ignatieff as leader, we are no longer even trying to sell the coalition to the public. Which means that the only effective option will be to support the budget.

Anonymous said...

Does Iggy have much of a choice in terms of the budget vote?

Option 1: Support the budget.
Harper starts a negative ad barrage, defines Iggy, brings back a poison pill or two in early Spring, and calls an election just after the Liberal convention in May.

Option 2: Oppose the budget, but hold back enough members from voting to let the budget go through.
Harper does the same thing as in Option 1, plus ridicules Iggy as being weak and not a leader.

Option 3: Vote against the budget en masse and let Rideau Hall call on Iggy to form a government, which he does following the Ontario Peterson/Rae model.
Iggy then calls an election a year or so down the road on his own terms.

Isn't Option 3 the only viable option for the Liberals?

Steve V said...

Option 1

Why do people just assume the Liberals are impotent, and the Conservatives just do what they want? We just sit there, while Iggy is defined? Okay

And, if Harper wants to call an election after the convention, good stuff, because if history is our guide, we should be on a brief roll.

Kris said...

Isn't Option 3 the only viable option for the Liberals?


Not if you consider that Harper won't be as effective in "defining" Ignatieff as he did Dion. Iggy's "try me" warning at his first presser makes me think there will be a lot more resistance from the Liberals to a move like that, including spinning it against the Cons to the public. i.e. playing partisan games in dangerous economic times.

Option 1 seems like the right choice to me.

Steve V said...

kris

That's the thing, this isn't 2006 and we've learned our lesson. Also, if Harpo wants to go negative during an economic crisis, we can spin it around as further evidence of his hyper-partisan, mean spirited pre-occupation. I would argue, the more the Cons go to that well, the more we see diminishing returns, more about the messenger than the message.

Anonymous said...

Option 3 is the only one where the Liberals get to define the agenda. It is much better to be in power setting the agenda than to be outside whining and moaning and groaning.

Kris said...

It is much better to be in power setting the agenda than to be outside whining and moaning and groaning.


It's not better when your rise to power has left a bad taste in Canadians mouth and probably scuttles any attempt at running a campaign NOT tied to the NDP and Bloc. It would backfire, that much is obvious to me.

Anonymous said...

Note this additional item for Option 1: Harper will spend February to May showing up in every infrastructure program ground breaking ceremony. He and his ministers will have a photo op for every cent of the $20B deficit, and he'll toss in a few dog whistles too (e.g. cutting money for aboriginal programs, setting one immigrant group against another) because that's who he is.

The more Liberals think through this, Option 3 preceeded by an appropriate "this is what we'll do if we are the government" public relations effort through the month of January becomes the best of the lot.

Nobody will care how Iggy got to power, just as they don't care how he got the Liberal leadership. They will care what he does once he is Prime Minister. That's how he'll be defined under Option 3.

Antonio said...

"She also cooked garlic chicken for her husband and his leadership opponents, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc, when they came to the Ignatieffs' Toronto condo for the famous dinner in which they decided to support the coalition. What was in the chicken?"

it was at this point that my head exploded.

Kris said...

At this point I think the outcome is really in Harper's hands. If he presents a reasonable budget that implies a genuine effort to reach out, then Canadians will want it passed, and the Liberals will be hard pressed to defeat it.

That said, the terms have been laid down, and if Harper pulls a stunt akin to the update, then I don't think the public will have any sympathy for him and will accept readily the coalition. It all depends on whether the budget is worthy of defeat.

If there's one impression I've gotten from speaking with people who don't generally follow politics, it's that they see this mess as Harper's fault. If he builds upon that I think public opinion will turn pretty quickly against him.

Steve V said...

antonio

She's a national treasure :)

kris

Completely agree. If Harper presents a reasonable budget, particularly one that addresses most of the measures we demanded in a broad way, then any defeat will be seen as a power grab, that Canadians will reject. If, however, Harper slips in one poison pill, then there will be such a fury, that the coalition will gain legitimacy. Harper's taken a pounding from the media, even some reliable allies, he will get no sympathy if the budget isn't sober serious, devoid of any games.

Antonio said...

steve

i need your help

I want all Liberals and like-minded folk to shout "what was in the chicken?" at Jane Taber

We will be doing Canada a great service

Ken Chapman said...

Every time I see or read Taber I keep thinking that she should be cast in the sequel to "Legally Blond."

Anonymous said...

Great post.

I am more inclined to believe Kris and Steve have the right take on this.

The reality is the ball is in Harper's court.

Either he presents a reasonable budget or he does not. If he does, it passes.

If he does not, it gets voted down.

I think people are really stretching in trying to make this an "Ignatieff is cornered" scenario. Seems to me he is sitting in a pretty good position at the moment.

Harper is the one who has pressure to rise above himself (for once). And if he can't now, he'll have no chance of ever having his stature raised again. Personally, I think it is already too late but I've got to believe he or someone in his inner circle is still hoping he can overcome his trust deficit.

RuralSandi said...

Well, the bitter pills may be coming:

Ottawa considering turning grants into loans for aboriginal students: Free Press

By THE CANADIAN PRESS
Sat. Dec 27 - 10:05 AM

WINNIPEG — The federal government is considering turning university grants for aboriginal students into repayable loans.
The Winnipeg Free Press said in a report from Ottawa that Patricia Valladao, spokeswoman for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, confirmed the Post-Secondary Student Support Program is under review.

She wouldn't say if the department has decided to transfer control of $314 million in student grants for First Nations university and college students to the existing Canada Student Loans Program, administered by provinces.

The review is worrying some aboriginal leaders and university officials across the country.

One Quebec-based aboriginal group, the First Nations Education Council, is circulating a web-based petition against any changes. More than 13,000 supporters have signed it since its launch online Nov. 13.

Ya, what was in that chicken and what did she serve with it?

Steve V said...

"I think people are really stretching in trying to make this an "Ignatieff is cornered" scenario. Seems to me he is sitting in a pretty good position at the moment. "

The onus is on Harper. Period. And, while we don't know the details, this budget is major climbdown for the government already. No reasonable observer expects any budget to contain every single thing the Liberals want, so the idea of "victory" is already achieved for the opposition. From a strategic point of view, you really don't want the budget to completely embrace the Liberal position, because if it fails in some regards, the government is still on the economic hook, which it deserves to be.

I think Ignatieff is well positioned, Harper plays games, then he has the moral authority/validation to pounce. Harper largely caves, then he can offer a temporary pass, for the good of the economy. It will all hinge on the stimulus, the Liberals can highlight failures, but stress that the money needs to flow immediately, too many delays already. The stimulus is the centerpiece idea coming out of this budget, and it just happens to be a Liberal and NDP demand, so hard to see how passage is tantamount to "propping up".

One very unlikely scenario, that I've toyed with, the idea that the Liberals could allow the budget to pass, but demand a confidence motion immediately after. The argument would be that we can't afford to delay an economic stimulus, but we have no confidence in the Conservatives to navigate further. You go to the public without the spectre of politicians playing games while the economy burns, because the budget has passed, it's already in the pipeline, an initiative only achieved because of opposition pressure. Having allowed passage, the Liberals can't continue on in good conscience, because they have no confidence in the government to lead us out of recession. It really would be a compromise position, that would put the country first, without allowing Harper to "escape". You could actually challenge Harper, tell Canadians in no uncertain terms that we will support the budget, only if an election follows, any refusal quite revealing. The intruiging element, I think the Liberals would have a powerful argument, that in uncertain economic times, returning the Conservatives is the equivalent of a roadblock for good government. If you want to return a sense of purpose and the spirit of co-operation, you need to remove the irritant and put a party in power that has the capacity to work with others, and focus solely on the serious work ahead, without all the distraction. A new Liberal leader, undefined, has much room in this regard to make the case. A stretch idea, but not necessarily a bad one, because it covers all the bases.

Anonymous said...

"...the idea that the Liberals could allow the budget to pass, but demand a confidence motion immediately after."

Yes, this is just an implementational variant of Option 3 above. The Libs could vote down the Throne from the Speech since that vote has to come before the budget vote.

Anonymous said...

Meant to say "Speech from the Throne" :-)

Aaron said...

Is it too early to start speaking of "Senator" Jane Tabor?

Steve V said...

That's not what I'm saying at all, you let the Speech pass, as well as the budget, so long as it includes immediate stimulus. Once the budget is passed, then you demand a confidence motion. That way, you have action on the economy, while we sort out the political mess, created by Harper the "can't play with others" guy that must go.

Anonymous said...

Okay, but what if Harper pushes all the opposition days back to just before May? Then you're back to the Option 1 scenario by default.

Parliamentary maneuvers don't resonate outside the insiders' circle anyway. If you want to fire Harper, do it cleanly. Can't trust Harper to implement the budget is about as good an argument as any.

janfromthebruce said...

Steve, last time I checked Canadians don't want an election. So the choice becomes an election now or a coalition govt now.
As to this thought posted above, Option 3: Vote against the budget en masse and let Rideau Hall call on Iggy to form a government, which he does following the Ontario Peterson/Rae model.
Iggy then calls an election a year or so down the road on his own terms.

So, is this commenter suggesting that the NDP and Bloc would support a Liberal minority govt without evoking the previous signed contract?
My response would be along with the NDP and Blocs response would be and "pigs can fly."
NDP learned that propping up a liberal govt without any shared power arrangement is not "good politics."

So I guess will just have to prop up the Harper govt, perhaps they just have more in common with a right-wing mean spirited govt and politics of Harper. The optics of jumping into bed with Harper and the neocons and libs being Harper's backup band is just so optimal and eye-catching. Iggy would have to start really nice things about Harper. And when the economy tanks more from wonderful neoliberal ideology and policy, well they both can wear it.
And Harper will be timing that next election and all those poison pills will his campaign themes. I wonder if Iggy will be willing to sell out workers with no strike and put women's equity on the chopping block?
How's the fundraising going?

Antonio said...

jan

the Liberal party has raised more money in quebec since the leadership change then Jan 1-Aug 31st

im sure its just the giving spirit at Xmas though...

Steve V said...

Last time I checked, Canadians never want an election.

Jan, what I just love about people like you, you'll carve the Liberal to no end, as though we have more in common with the Cons. THEN, when you have a small chance at power, we're suddenly "progressives united", you can work with these Libs, that are the same as the Cons you hate. You make absolutely NO sense whatsoever, which is why your opinion is frankly irrelevant, when considering how the Libs should proceed. Who cares? I know I don't, nor can I wade through you contradictory dribble.

anon

Option 1 only flies if Canadian opinion changes, short of another economic update debacle, it's a non-starter.

Steve V said...

antonio

That's good to hear, and I don't doubt an uptick outside of Quebec as well.

Anonymous said...

Jan....your constant Liberal bashing is tiresome and also rather obvious. NDP way or attack Liberals.

You can't have it both ways. And, quite frankly, the Liberals don't answer to Jack Layton - who spends his political time trying to make backroom deals. Layton can't make it on his own - so uses others.