Monday, January 26, 2009

Jack Layton :"Steven Harper Sounds Like A New Democrat"

In a very unintended way, I think Jack Layton delivered the rationale, as to why the budget should pass. The comment by Layton came in reaction to a question on the series of budget leaks. Layton referenced social housing, infrastructure, prior to making the above statement. Also noteworthy today, the Throne Speech referenced a few Iggyisms, verbatim phrasing, which was representative of who the true authors of this budget really are. The point- if you were given the budget releases to date, and had no knowledge of which party was delivering the announcements, what party would you think crafted these initiatives? I would argue, the LAST party chosen would be the Conservatives, much more Liberal, a healthy dose of NDP, but little that resembles the Harper government we have all come to know.

I completely agree with Jeff, on hunting dogs and power grabs. A credible argument for toppling the government is completely undercut, when said offering includes almost all the original demands made. Even if the document includes other measures which don't jive with you sensibilities, you must view it all in totality. It is entirely laughable to suggest that Ignatieff and the Liberals will be "caving" should they support this budget. Oh sure, partisans may float the characterization of "propping up", but I have a very calm confidence that the frame will resonate with virtually no one. The reason? This budget has the Liberal fingerprints all over it, the same arguments made since day one, no wavering or amending as we moved forward. Stephen Harper has moved,, I will posit, moreso than any previous government in Canadian history. The chasm between the Conservative government of today, and the proposals offered in November, or the election for that matter, is so substantial, I think people are still having trouble comprehending the movement.

This government has already caved, they lost a long time ago. The only "victory" I suppose, would be clinging to power, but it's supposed to be about the economy, so that consideration supercedes. As for the idea of "trust", completely well founded, but don't forget the opposition isn't neutered moving forward, they will have a strong role on the "accountability" front. If promises aren't fulfilled, or shell games are in operation, a minority parliament always leaves the opposition with plenty of tools. The fact of the matter, at this moment, delivery is secondary to the optics of presentation. You can question the sincerity, but that hardly justifies rejecting the spirit of the initiatives, which is surely what Canadians will look at.

Just imagine, the Liberals rise to defeat the government, when everyone agrees that their checklist was, for the most part, met. That scenario does bring back the power grab angle, Harper can use all the "compromise" to show the opposition wasn't interested in solutions, but control. Politically, Harper is well armed and I see plenty of pitfalls.

I don't "trust" Stephen Harper, nor do I believe he's changed or his recent conversion authentic. However, absent of any huge surprise tomorrow, the government has covered its bases on the substance of the budget. Again, I'm hard pressed to think of another historical example, wherein a government of the day shifted so profoundly policy wise, it's really unprecedented. I don't believe Ignatieff will suffer, should the budget pass. Canadians will exhale, they could care less about, all they want is politicians to get on with it. If anything, I think Ignatieff will come off well, putting partisanship aside, in the name of national interest. Hollow cries from other politicians aside, who is really going to support the "weak" narrative, in this instance? Nobody.

Stephen Harper does sound like a New Democrat, sounds a lot like a Liberal too, sure as shit doesn't sound like the new Conservatives. That's the underlying reality, all the other arguments for coalition, elections aside. People no longer care how we got here, all they care about is getting somewhere. We'll have to wait until tomorrow, plenty more to come, but it's pretty hard now to see a OVERALL justification for defeating the government.


Anonymous said...

LOL it's getting bizarre. Politics before Economy, that's Canada.

Steve V said...

Anon, politics would be defeating a budget, despite it addressing your demands.

JAWL said...

I agree with Anon, its politics all the time. It is just positive to see the Liberals playing it again.

Joyce said...

Permanent tax cuts is the justification.

Anonymous said...

I think that we should pay no attention to what Harper says is in the budget - because coming from him it will all be a pack of lies. The issue isn't what pretty words and lies Flaherty says in his speech - its whether or not the opposition has confidence in Harper as PM. We KNOW from past experience that Harper is a liar. he will say ANYTHING to get a lease on life and get the budget passed - and then you know perfectly well that he will simply not bother to implement any of what he's saying and none of the promised money will actually flow. Once he gets past the six month post-Oct. 14 date and the opposition can no longer topple him without an election - he will turn his back on his own budget and dare the penniless Liberals to force an election they can't afford and will probably lose. On top of that Harper will build his whole campaign around cheap, incindiary accusations that the Liberals and NDP are willing to work with "traitors" and "separatists" - and it will work!

Please Ignatieff - destroy this horrible man NOW while there is still a chance. A bird in hand is worth two in a bush!

Steve V said...

"Permanent tax cuts is the justification"

I don't think you can vote on a single issue, particularly when nothing is "permanent" in a parliament.


Just curious, is it possible to have another point of view, or is there only one "holier than thou" perspective on a complicated situation?

Steve V said...

"I think that we should pay no attention to what Harper says is in the budget"

That's what Canadians want to hear. Man.

Austin said...

Anyone can come up with airy-fairy goodness in the throne speech. Anyone can up with airy-fairy goodness in the budget speech.

What you are not understanding is that it is all about implementation and how it is going to be implemented. It is also incumbent to obtain an honest and detailed account of the federal finances.

Otherwise, it is garbage. And no one should be supporting it if it is founded on irresponsible accounting.

Steve V said...


I didn't even listen to the Throne Speech today- who cares?

As for implementation, that's where the opposition kicks in, after the budget. As for playing with the numbers, if the accounting is bad, then I agree, and that would be enough to reject it in good faith.

Anonymous said...

"As for implementation, that's where the opposition kicks in, after the budget."

Once the budget is passed the opposition loses all its leverage on Harper and he will just do as he pleases. He knows that in an election he can get a majority just by running against "traitors" and "separatists" and he won't care if he breaks up the country as a result. Last year McGuinty won an election by having a fear-based campaign about a relatively trivial policy to give some money to religio8us schools. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel for Harper get distract everyone from the economy and make the whole election about who will stand up to so-called separatists and Canadians are probably dumb enough to fall for it.

If we don't get rid of a malignancy like Harper right now when we can - we will live to regret it!

Steve V said...


The opposition ALWAYS has leverage in a minority Parliament. ALWAYS.

Anonymous said...

Could have fooled me. In the last parliament, the Liberals abstained 43 times and gave up any leverage and let Harper rule as if he had a majority. Will we see more of the same?

Gayle said...

I agree with you Steve, but I also agree with Anonymous (what is so hard about giving yourself a name that distinguishes you from all the other anonymouses?).

Harper will cease to play nice as soon as he knows he is guaranteed to get an election if he loses the confidence of the House.

I think the LPC can win an election, but only if they have money. They better get moving...

Gayle said...

Ugh - "as long as he knows..."

Joyce said...

"...and let Harper rule as if he had a majority."
That's the point, Harper doesn't govern, he rules. We are going to see more of this:

Ottawa fails to follow through on toxics review
The Globe and Mail
On-line 16/01/09 04:53 AM

Steve V said...

"I think the LPC can win an election, but only if they have money. They better get moving..."

I agree. The "coalition" window will last until mid-April, after that who knows what Harper transforms into next. At the end of this session, or next fall, the Liberals have to be ready.

Steve V said...


At the first hint of Harper not following through on any promises, we pounce and take it to the people. It's not like this is over after Wednesday, time stands still and we're forever neutered. Not even close.

Mike said...

Steve while I agree the context is now different, but when your opponent is drowning what do you?.

Harper desperately wants to survive and cling to power not just so he can govern another few weeks, but until he gets to 40% in the polls. The new Harper that seems to appease Liberals will stick around for maybe a year hoping that's long enough to convince everyone he's changed, then he'll call an election on much better terms than if he were fighting one now.

Greg said...

At the first hint of Harper not following through on any promises, we pounce and take it to the people. It's not like this is over after Wednesday, time stands still and we're forever neutered. Not even close.

I think Harper will relish running against his coalition partner.

Steve V said...


I heard Scott Reid today, didn't even recognize him from that piece. Things have changed.

I don't think we'll ever see Harper in the 40%, he's past his best before date, damage has been done, his opponent is more daunting and he has a bad economy. I'm not suggesting the Liberals wait for very long, because he clearly wants to ride out the economy.


Nobody is buying that, but if it makes you feel better.

Steve V said...

Fifty-seven per cent of Canadians want the opposition parties to vote for the budget...

By contrast, 30 per cent believe the opposition should defeat the budget, while 13 per cent are unsure.

Albertans are most likely to want the budget to pass, with 66 per cent wanting the opposition to support it. Saskatchewan and Manitoba are next, both at 65 per cent, followed by Ontario at 61 per cent and British Columbia at 59 per cent.

Forty-six per cent of Quebecers want the opposition to support the budget, while only 45 per cent of those in Atlantic Canada hope it passes.

Steve V said...

Besides, what sort of party votes against Girl Guides:

• $481,300 to the Girl Guides of Canada to develop safety programs for girls.

Joyce said...

Ipsos Reid, the Tories' personal pollster.

Frankly Canadian said...

There are many feasible scenarios presented here, however I have to agree with Steve, now is probably not the best time to take Steven Harper down. The polls definitely indicate that Canadians want politicians working on resolving our current crisis, and any party who obstructs that progress will more than likely pay for it in the next election, with exception to the N.D.P. who’s core base are faithfully compliant. I believe with some others here that, when Mr. Harper shows his true colors and reneges on his commitments, and he will, then the Liberals can stand up in the house and vote no confidence, sending us into an election on their terms not Mr. Harpers. My one big concern though is that Mr. Harper will pull a stunt like the one in his financial update, and we end up going to the polls to save funding for political party’s or something of the sort, which most Canadians who aren’t overly involved, might support.

Steve V said...

"Ipsos Reid, the Tories' personal pollster."

Of course. Good thing it's not the only poll that shows overwhelming support for wanting the budget to pass.

Steve V said...

"Canadians want politicians working on resolving our current crisis, and any party who obstructs that progress will more than likely pay for it in the next election"

I think it's important to remember, Canadians were pissed off at all parties, "a pox on all their houses", which might not be fair, but it's accurate.

janfromthebruce said...

Are those the liberal talking points and so they justify backing neocon Harper? This is pathetic, but carry on with the hogwash.
It will be cute with photo-op of Harper & Iggy. He'll want to make sure he gets another snap of Iggy shaking his hand.

Mike said...

Interesting to hear Reid did an 180degree spin, but so be it. Obviously polls favour passing the budget, and that's no change, but were that not polls showing 60-70% of Canadians did NOT want Harper to call an election when he did last fall?

Harper went against the polls ing going to the polls and breaking his fixd election law and I hardly think he was punished for it. If a coalition took power, we wouldn't face the electorate for 18months, I hardly think they are going to hold a grudge that long particular if the economy recovered under our watch.

People get momentarily upset but then they go back to their lives, they will then judge a government on its actual record at election time. The alternative is an election this fall or early next year where Harper runs agaisnt a fictional version of the coalition anyway. May as well show Canadians what the real thing is like.

Steve I know you believe Canadians hate the coalition right now (and I guess based on poll you are right), but do you honestly beleive ANYONE will believe Ignatieff if we go to an election next fall and he says "I will not enter into a coalition with the NDP"?

Stephen Harper will frame the next election as him vs the coalition whether we like or not. What do you propose we can do to maximize our chances if WE KNOW that will be the narrative.

Anonymous said...

Again, I know what you are saying Steve. But the Ipsos Reid poll, really? I'd have to know a bit more about the dirty little details of that poll before I'd believe it, especially with the obvious spin of the pollster himself "telling us" what it means. I just hate that.

We don't even know the budget yet, none of us. So I'd like a reading on who really said definitely what they wanted, and how the questions were worded. I just don't think people are sitting around with firmly entrenched beliefs on the matter. And in an election, most of that would be forgotten. I doubt the punishment factor would last long in an election with a half-decent run campaign. Personally I'd love to see the debate in which Harper gets nailed for trying to be on absolutely every square on his precious strategic checker board.

And what would the results have been if the question included a "Do you think it's wise for Ignatieff and the Liberals wait until they see the full budget before deciding whether to support it, in which case the headline would be "72% agree Liberals right to wait to decide on budget release." Follow up with that question with "Do the Liberals have the right to oppose the budget if the terms are unacceptable to them?" and we'd have another bell-ringing winner spelling potential doom for Harper.

But, no, Canwest comes through again with another "pressure article" trying to pigeon hole an end result before the game even starts.

I hope to God the liberals and Ignatieff never base their decision on an Ipsos Reid poll, otherwise there will never be another election and we'll just be anointing Harper PM for life.

Bottom line point is make your arguments however you wish, but please don't hang the arguments on highly suspect polls.

MississaugaPeter said...

Another day with Harper as PM is one too many days of Harper as PM.

Are we really that stupid?

Can we not remember all the Harper lies and Harper arrogance of the past 3 years.

If the budget is sooo, sooo good, then copy it, change the leader, and reintroduce it.

Anonymous said...


If Harper sounds like a New Democrat, then who does Jack Layton sound like?

"What do you propose we can do to maximize our chances if WE KNOW that will be the narrative."


It will be "it's the economy, stupid" irregardless the election is March, June, or September. The coalition will force Harper to realize it is majority or bust for him. Let's put it this way, if the Grits get to 100 seats the next time, we will all be laughing. Thus, the Grits will have to govern in coalition no matter when.

"Are we really that stupid?"


The answer for the coalition is now or later. I would prefer later, after the Grits confirm Iggy as leader and establish an electoral pact with Layton. In this case, we win and we convincingly

RuralSandi said...

janfromthebruce - your typical NDP reaction is why the coalition could be a serious problem. You see, a coalition co-operates and already Layton isn't doing his job.

He's already decided he's voting against even though he says Harper is now a New Democrat - dumb, dumb, dumb. Even Duceppe says he wants to read the budget.

He's already (as you have all along) begun to attack Liberals -ya, play in the sandbox well Layton.

Layton said in an interview yesterday that he trust Ignatieff because he says in private what he says in public - well, you can't have it both ways Layton.

Remember - Layton claims to have produced the Martin budget - stupid or what. It takes hours and hours, man/woman time, planning etc. to produce a budget. All Layton did was proposed an "amendment" that Martin agreed to. Proof that Layton exaggerates and misinforms.

The coalition problem is not the BLOC - it's Layton. He'll sleep with anyone and take credit for pretty much nothing. HE'S the problem. He's no Tommy Douglas and he's no Ed Broadbent.

Jan - if you want the coalition - play nice. It wouldn't hurt.

janfromthebruce said...

Just because the liberal leader is going to climb into bed with Harper, and do a two-faced climb down, doesn't mean the other opposition parties have to walk over the cliff.
The operative word is "sounds like". Don't be fooled is what Layton is saying. We all know that poison pill is right there in that postage stamp of a throne speech.
At least Dion, Layton and Duceppe believed in the common good. Where is the matra "liberal values are Canadian values"?

Anonymous said...

jan - go back to work - are you blogging on taxpayer time? Jan you know darn well for you and Layton it's posturing for the NDP and nothing to do with Canadians at all.

We're not all that stupid.

Anonymous said...

If Liberals are gullible enough to fall for Harper pack of lies - and they decide to prop him up - they deserve to be tossed into the garbage in the next election when people can render a verdict on the Harper/Ignatieff "grand coalition" that will have led the country down the drain.

Steve V said...


There was another poll, which showed similar results, so keep in that in mind. It is quite clear, Canadians overwhelming want this budget to pass. All you hear is this sentiment of "get on with it", no more political games. Does this Ipsos offering really deviate?

"but do you honestly beleive ANYONE will believe Ignatieff if we go to an election next fall and he says "I will not enter into a coalition with the NDP"? "

Well, considering he didn't, when the opportunity was staring him the face, I'd say Ignatieff will have pretty good real world example.

BTW, Jan is representative of nobody, like I said hyper-partisans aren't really part of the thought process. Jan can scream and hurl venom, but Canadians will just breathe a sigh of relief. The last thing I give a shit about, is the opinion of someone who has one arm around you and the other with a knife at your throat. It's so WHATEVER.

Steve V said...

"they deserve to be tossed into the garbage in the next election"

I like our chances.

Anonymous said...

What a poll says now about the budget is irrelevant. If the Liberals stand up for some principles and vote it down - they become the government and that government will last several years. Do you think that when the coalition government runs for re-election in 2012 - ANYONE will care about whether or not the opposition was justified or not in voting down the budget in 2009?

I think not.

Giving Harper what he wants now is like letting an aggressive cancer continue to spread. He must be stopped NOW before more damage is done. There is no telling how much damage Harper can and will do between now and the next election if the opposition doesn't destroy him immediately.

Steve V said...

"What a poll says now about the budget is irrelevant."

I think people need to get out of the blogosphere and walk the streets. People want something, and they want it yesterday. Period. Any move to delay a budget, create a period, however long, of uncertainty, will be seen with disgust. Harper caved, everyone knows it, and in so doing, he's removed the genuine validation to bring him down.

Steve V said...

That may have been harsh, what I mean is there appears a real disconnect online, with my reading of people as a whole. I think sometimes, we're too close, or to invested in the details, to see the general mood.

Anonymous said...

All that matters is killing the Dark Lord Sauron (aka Harper). Get rid of him NOW. Some people will be pissed off for a week or two, but once the new government is sworn in - the events leading up to it coming to power will be ancient history. If a week in politics is a long gtime - what is two years???