Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Optics

A piece in Le Devoir today, which outlines some of the rationale, for why the budget is likely to pass. The requisite anonymous Liberal insider:
"I would be very surprised if they voted against the budget," said a person close to Mr. Ignatieff. «Le gars [le premier ministre] s'est mis à terre, il a donné à peu près tout ce qu'on veut. "The guy [Prime Minister] went ashore, he gave almost anything you want. If we end up with 30 or 40 billion dollars in deficit, will we ask for more?"

There are two chief issues here that confront the Liberals, and both revolve around optics. The first is outlined in the above- how do the Liberals rationalize a vote against the budget, if said budget comes with many of their demands, if it represents a significant departure for the fiscal update? No reasonable interpretation expects the Conservative budget to completely mirror what the Liberals want. But, a partial overlap does give the Conservatives some room to argue that they've responded, they've tried for compromise in a minority parliament. As the above suggests, if we see a substantial deficit, with significant stimulus, infrastructure money, then any vote against risks looking too political for the Liberals. The public won't pour over the finer details, if the broad strokes show a Harper climb down from the past, there will be little appetite for quibbling.

Many people just assume, that if the budget is defeated, historical precedent will allow the coaltion to form. We all know the arguments, but I don't put much faith in believing that Jean will turn to the opposition. I don't think you can discount public opinion in any decision, the public want will surely be weighed. Even more important, don't discount Harper's ability to argue for an election. IF, Harper brings a budget that addresses some of the root demands, he can then make a case to Jean that his government has responded to this crisis, and the opposition's continued resistance speaks more to a want for power, than the idea of making parliament work. Look at where we were, look at where we've moved, clearly this isn't about good government. Harper will surely push this angle to justify another election, and one can easily see how Jean could support the logic. Stephen Harper is the only one who knows what Jean said during their meeting, and I suspect he is operating with that knowledge in mind.

Of course, all of the above falls apart, should Harper deliver another dud, or is provocative. Short of that, in terms of optics, the Liberals will be hard pressed to bring down the government, using any assumption on the coalition.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

The budget will not be defeated.
Iggy is not interested in the coalition.

The only one who makes sense in the article was Mulcair... go figure...

Also interesting that Harper is thinking of reducing environmental impact studies for many projects...

Greg said...

The budget will probably pass. Harper will welcome Iggy as his new partner. Iggy will try to escape Harper's toxic embrace in vain. Harper will welcome every piece of economic bad news with the words, "We are following the course set out by a consensus between ourselves and the Liberal Party". Iggy will protest that he can't be blamed for bad economic news. Harper will laugh.

Susan said...

I agree with Greg, and if that does indeed happen, Canada is screwed. We can only hope that Ignatieff's silence is not as the inevitable leaker suggests but pregnant with meaning - namely that he has a strategy of his own. Surely he won't accept tax cuts and ppp infrastructure projects while Harper dismantles even more of what most Canadians consider essential government services. That is my hope but so far Ignatieff has disappointed me at every turn. If he goes too far right, we will need a new left.

Antonio said...

"mis a terre" is more lie on the ground in front of me.

thats pretty significant. The insider basically said he allowed the Liberals to demand whatever they wanted.

Antonio said...

and even in tough economic times, the government ALWAYS wears a recession.

Canadian history has showed that almost no government survives a recession.

1874 saw John A get defeated

A 1911 recession cost Laurier an election.

Same thing in 1920 with Borden

Bennett won because of the recession in 1930 and lost cuz of the depression in 1935.

trudeau was reduced to a minority in the 1970s recession and then lost in 1979 as the Canadian economy was also in trouble.

After the 1989 recession, Mulroney didnt survive.

And no matter what concocted argument people will try and make, governments ALWAYs wear a recession

Anonymous said...

The mysterious Liberal insider is Brigitte Legault. Marc-André Blanchard is too smart to talk to the media like this.

Susan said...

Now I'm impressed - from what anonymous said it appears Ignatieff's team is on top of what was a serious leak problem! There is hope.

Anonymous said...

To me its not about the budget. Its about who whether or not the Liberals have confidence in Harper and his flunkies staying in power. In fact, why wait for the budget at all, why not just vote down the Throne Speech which has to come first.

The Rational Number said...

I think it might be possible that if the Liberals vote for the budget, they might get away from wearing it too - UNLESS Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty have told the WHOLE truth, not withholding ANY more information.

If, months after the budget would pass, new facts leak out about what Harper and Flaherty knew before releasing that budget, the Liberals can claim they didn't have all the facts, were manipulated into saving Harpers' gov't, etc.

But what's the chance of that now?

Antonio said...

hey anonymous

if youre gonna make an accusation like that, why not say who you are?

I find that especially ironic

Northern PoV said...

It ain't the amount of the spending. ie Big shiny numbers meant to distract.
It is how (or if - the Cons announce and re-announce lots that never happens) the money gets spent.

Harper despises gov't and will ensure his stimulus package is a failure to discredit the process and make sure the cupboard is bare so that neither he nor anyone else can fix things.

I do not trust our GG but there is precedent on our side this time - unlike the out-of-the-blue prorogation request.

As long as the coalition is a phantom-menace it will be used successfully by Harper against us (esp. in the next election). Six months of good coalition gov't and we are into a new era in CDN politics.

Anonymous said...

And no matter what concocted argument people will try and make, governments ALWAYs wear a recession
A coalition would likely put a spanner in that argument..

Anonymous said...

The mysterious Liberal insider is Brigitte Legault. Marc-André Blanchard is too smart to talk to the media like this.
She's none too bright, that I have no problem in believing... She was a disaster when she ran in the Federal elections. If she's a party insider, it goes a long way in explaining the QLP....

Anonymous said...

In some ways this could be an ideal time to take power. Let Harper propose a budget with a $30 billion deficit and throw their fiscal credibility out the window. Then if the coalition takes over and brings in a budget with a large deficit of their own, the Tories are then stripped of any ability to beat the drums for a balanced budget as they would almost certainly do if they were in opposition all along.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon -
Do you have a preference for the deficit to be managed by a coalition or by the no-oversight Conservatives?


Then again, I'm starting a draft Paul Martin campaign...

James Curran said...

Sounds more like Coderre to me.

Anonymous said...

These leaks have to stop and I'm happy that Michael's team is calling these idiots out. Coderre, Legault, whoever. Enough is enough.