Friday, January 30, 2009

Lack Of A Price

It's well understood, that there was a substantive disconnect between Quebec and the "rest of Canada", relating to attitudes on the coalition. The Liberals really had nothing to lose politically, by moving away from the coalition in the majority of the country, with the clear exception being Quebec. Given Quebecers apparent clear support for the coalition, you could cobble together an argument that the Liberal cause will now be hurt with the budget passage. Recent polls show the Liberals very competitive in Quebec, but these will surely wane, now that they've turned their backs on a popular concept. I don't really see that circumstance necessarily, at best a mild blip, for a number of reasons, but I've tried to gauge what I can, in the immediate aftermath.

From everything I can gather, in a general sense, scanning the outlets, the post-budget cartoonists that are quite flattering towards Ignatieff, some punditry, there is really no sense whatsoever that the Liberals have really harmed themselves in this instance. Yesterday, I heard the following from Chantal Hebert, who generally has a good read of her province's mood (even when it articulated the stubborn resistance to Stephane), and it seems representative:
"Today in Montreal, where people liked the coalition, people on the street who wanted to talk about it, there were quite a lot of them, seemed to think that it was almost normal that Ignatieff backed the budget. So, I think he had prepared, even those who liked the coalition, and I'm not talking die hard NDP and Bloc supporter, but he had prepared the grounds for supporting the budget sufficiently to get away with it."

Others, obviously have a more intimate read, but it would appear that the Liberals did "get away with it", there is little outrage or mockery. If the Liberals can remain relatively unscathed in the one province that held any prospect for "blowback", that's an added bonus, because the danger was beyond minimal anywhere else. As a matter of fact, apart from "die hard" partisans everywhere, Ignatieff and the Liberals have emerged from this debate it very good shape, particularly when you compare it to recent history.

Of course, everything could change in time, but then again, isn't that always the case....


Greg said...

The press is tired of Harper and Iggy is the flavor of the month. That will carry Iggy a long way.

MississaugaPeter said...

Far and Wide,

One of the more objective Liberal blogs in the past, has become the Ignatieff Cherniak.

The recent poll you are referring to is the January 29, 2009, Angus Reid poll that stated:

"The Liberals are just five points behind the Bloc in Quebec (31% to 26%)."

Why don't you comment on the other significant parts of that Angus Reid poll:

"38 per cent of respondents (-1) say they would vote for the governing Conservative Party in the next federal election, followed by the Liberal Party with 29 per cent (-1), the New Democratic Party (NDP) with 18 per cent (+1), the Bloc Québécois with eight per cent (-1), and the Green Party with six per cent (+1)"

"41% say Harper has a clear plan to deal with the economic crisis; 26% say Ignatieff does"

"In Ontario, the Conservatives hold an eight-point advantage over the Liberals (41% to 33%)"

The Poll reveals that the advantage the Conservatives had in last year's election is statistically the same as it is now. The real story is that there was NO IGNATIEFF BOUNCE which usually accompanies any change of leadership.

Anonymous said...

Here, here, Greg.

I fear Michael Ignatieff has become the “Freddy Picker” of Canadian politics.

For those of you not familiar with the reference, Freddy Picker was the chief antagonist in the classic political novel Primary Colors.

A former Governor who jumped into the Democratic primaries to take over the campaign of a close friend who’d had a heart attack, Picker was a totally different kind of politician. He ignored traditional campaigning, refused to go on the attack, praised his opponents, admitted his mistakes and would never consider issues in black and white. Freddy Picker appeared to be a politician who simply refused to play political games. But it turned out he was nothing of the sort.

Ultimately Freddy Picker was all too willing to play political games--it’s just that “not playing political games” WAS his political game. The only problem for Picker was that when the novelty of his strategy wore off, he was destined to become just another victim of hardball politics.

Michael Ignatieff has spent the last four years carefully cultivating a phoney “Philosopher King” persona of his own. He’s crafted an image for himself as a man of seriousness and deliberation. He has refused to vote straight up or down.

The problem for Ignatieff is that refusing to take a stand doesn’t actually constitute “seriousness” and “deliberation”. Great bluster followed by wishy-washy policy doesn’t make you a Philosopher King. And giving a blank cheque to a government you claim to abhor doesn’t “put them on leash” even if Warren Kinsella claims it’s so.

For all his talk, Michael Ignatieff has put himself--and Canadians --in the same bind as Stephane Dion: stuck with no other option but to provoke an election he can’t possibly afford to fight. And when the novelty wears off, I suspect we’ll all come to realize that Michael Ignatieff’s big talk was just that--talk.

Anonymous said...

At the moment, things look encouraging in Quebec, but Duceppe and Layton will be working to change this. At the moment, Harper seems to be giving Quebec a pass.

The Globe has a poll on the budget - no surprises: Harper took a hit, but Canadians want the budget to pass. I found the NDP numbers interesting:

Canadians are also urging the opposition parties to back the budget, with a full two-thirds saying they should support it. Even 47 per cent of New Democratic voters feel that way. The NDP has said it will vote against the budget.

From the NDP blogs, I would have expected 0% of NDP voters want the budget to pass.

Steve V said...


I found that quite interesting as well.

Anonymous said...

With any party there is a GIGANTIC difference between party activists and run of the mill voters. The people who post in NDP, Liberal or Tory blogs represent may be 0.00001% of all the people who actually vote for those parties. So while the views expressed in blogs can be interesting and thought provoking - they are not representative of anything.
The vast majority of people don't really like politics and just want an excuse to ignore what's going on. A majority will always oppose an early election, will always oppose parties voting non-confidence on ANYTHING etc...A year from now, the Tories may bring in a budget that the Liberals decide to oppose. I'll bet that in polls most people will say they want the opposition to let it pass. But so what. The vast majority of Canadians didn't want Harper to call an unnecessary early election - but it ended up being a non-issue in the campaign.

Steve V said...


Leave me to my delusions, and I'll leave you to your Stephen LeDrew routine. What you're really saying, "hey, you were objective we I agreed with you, but now that you have a different perspective from ME, you're just a hack". Could you be anymore of a boreasaurus?

Steve V said...


I agree, and the trick is avoid taking comfort, or forming your view of the greater population, based on what you get online. That's why I've been relatively unmoved by the attacks, the rage, because there is clearly a massive disconnect here, that shows virtually no relationship to the general population.

Anonymous said...

How do we reconcile polls showing 54% of decided voters preferred an NDP-Liberal coalitiion with polls showing that 62% of Canadians support the budget?

Assume for a moment that everyone who would prefer a Conservative government to an NDP-Liberal coalition (46% of Canadians) are also going to support the budget. That means 16% of the population (62-46=16) would prefer an NDP-Liberal government but still thought the Conservatives budget should pass.

My guess is that when ask which governing coalition they'd prefer these people can give a clear answer, but when asked if the budget should be defeated they get confused as to what the consequences would be: Another election? Gridlock in parliament? Huge delays in the elements of the budget that all parties agree on anyway?

The simple fact is that an NDP-Liberal coalition could have made a few simple but important changes to the budget that would have greatly improved it in no time at all. I think a certain number of people--apparently about 16% of people--either didn't understand that that was what was at stake in this budget vote, or just didn't really understand the question.

I don't think this is any reflection whatsoever on Michael Ignatieff's decision to prop up the Conservatives.

Steve V said...

"How do we reconcile polls showing 54% of decided voters preferred an NDP-Liberal coalitiion with polls showing that 62% of Canadians support the budget?"

Well, first off, you can refer to the other 20 odd polls, that showed no support close to what you've cherry picked here (the fact you have tells me you are trying to play with numbers). My question has always been, if 62% of Canadians didn't vote for Harper, then why did we consistently see polls around 40% supporting the coalition, where did all the other anti-Harper go, and it said a lot about just how unpopular this idea was?

And, you can speak of confused questions, but it was asked so many different ways, to even present that as an argument is just weak shit, more about personal want than wanting to get an accurate read. Coalition supporters can't seem to handle the truth.