Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Right Choice

Two polls, one from Strategic Counsel, the other from Ipsos, both reach the same conclusion on the Liberals decision.

The SC poll provides the best of all worlds for the Liberals. Canadians believe the opposition deserves credit for the stimulus, Harper's conversion pure politics, and the Liberals right to let the budget pass:
72 per cent of Canadians say the government would not have introduced the stimulative budget of this week had it not been for the pressure of opposition parties.

69 per cent say they still blame Mr. Harper for causing an unnecessary political crisis late last year when he should have been focusing on the economy.

Asked whether they believe Mr. Harper has changed since the fall and is taking the country's economic troubles more seriously, 63 per cent said they perceived no change and that the budget is all about politics.

On the budget itself, overall support:
62 per cent saying they have a positive impression, compared with 38 per cent who feel the opposite

The Liberal decision:
The poll also shows that the decision of new Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to avoid bringing down the Tories may have been the right one. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents say they would be less likely to vote Liberal should the Grits defeat the budget.

“If they had done the opposite, it would have come at a political cost to them,” Mr. Donolo said.

More bad news for the NDP:
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.
Conclusion, Harper has damaged itself, and the Liberals clearly made the right political decision, to let the budget pass.

The Ipsos poll finds Canadians largely "indifferent" to the budget. The strong majority see the budget as "neither good, nor bad." On the question of budget support, again Ignatieff's decision appears a good one:
only 39 per cent of those polled agreed with the statement "the opposition coalition would have presented a better budget for these tough economic times than the Harper government has."

That suggests Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was probably correct to kill the coalition with Jack Layton's NDP, but to have done so in a way he can be perceived as forcing the Conservatives to bend to the will of Parliament.

"I think his moves this past week were incredibly astute," Mr. Wright said. "It was a very smart strategy but what the poll, however, shows is that people really don't believe that any political party or anybody really has the answer to this," he said, referring to the economic downturn.

"Astute", "very smart strategy", from the pollster, seems to reflect the general mood we've heard elsewhere, rabid partisans aside.

It's very evident now, that Ignatieff made the right political choice, in allowing this budget to pass, while others misread the mood of the public at large. It's also abundantly clear that Harper is damaged goods, a fact which will be particularly noteworthy when we do have an election.


Pearce said...

Cue shrieking contrarian Liberals and NDPers. From a political standpoint it was a good move. From a humanist perspective it was neglectful of his duty to work towards the best possible budget for the Canadian people.

Pearce said...

ie: I can see why he did what he did. His job is to get the LPC elected.

Steve V said...

There's no question, we have a better budget, than if Harper was left to his own devices. Does it fall short? Absolutely, but generally after an election, the government gets one budget, so this passage should shock no one.

I want to see what the Liberals do moving forward, if we sit back and let the Cons fumble along, my view will change, but if we make further demands and/or force an election, then we can see a better package, coming out the other side.

Anonymous said...

Stop counting your chickens. Harper can still insert poison pills in the budget implementation act. If he does, Iggy will have no choice but to go along because he seems to have blown up his Layton/Duceppe bridges. Harper will then unleash his attack ads all through summer when the House isn't sitting.

The Strategic Counsel poll -- let's call it the Peter Donolo poll -- was a push poll. The Ipsos poll conclusion -- indifference -- sounds about right.

Steve V said...


You guys are a joke.

Pearce said...

Really, you should just remove anonymous posting. Anons are cowards.

Anthony said...

yea because harper amending the implementation bill will go completely unnoticed right?

the reason the tory reaction was so violent was because they were truly afraid.

They can puff out their chest and act like John Baird but the Conservatives are running scared.

47% of NDP voters said they should support the budget? sounds like some fertile ground to go get voters for the Liberal Party

Steve V said...

"yea because harper amending the implementation bill will go completely unnoticed right?"

What kills me, and it speaks to weakness of argument, this assumption that after the budget vote, the Liberals are completely passive, we have no strategy or plan, just sit idly by while others do what they want. It's freaking hilarious.

Blues Clair said...


Though, I agree with Pearce, smart politically, troublesome otherwise. Far and Wide argrued before that there was a media bias against the Liberals. Why was that? Because Dion was a crazy leftwinger? And why does the media now shine Ignatieff's boots?

Canadian politics is like Stampede Wrestling, the only difference is that the combatants don't were tights.

Steve V said...


The media were like a pack of wolves with Dion. With Ignatieff, I get a clear sense that there is a different level of respect. Now, that could well change, I refuse to put my faith in the media, but there's no question, a different tone exists, and it isn't just the new leader narrative. Couple that, with Harper finally getting deserved scrutiny, and the dynamics have clearly changed.

Anonymous said...

There's no question a media bias existed with Dion. Call me a conspiracist, but I think the right-winged forces controlling newspapers and television informally aligned in this country to ensure he didn't get a fair shake. These same forces did not call Harper on many of his questionable tactics.

I'm not saying they'll make it easy for Ignatieff, but I think they have a higher comfort level that he won't lead the Liberals down the path they utterly fear.

Northern PoV said...

Not only was Iggy's capitulation wrong for the country, it will prove to be wrong politically as well.

The window of coalition opportunity has closed and very soon this 77 member rump-group will be seen (again) as the weak part of the Con/Lib coalition. They couldn't (wouldn't?) even fix the EI issues - the most urgent at this moment.

One of the reasons the rank and file rejected the elite's choice of Iggy back in 2006 was that he was all about scheming to take back power as opposed to promoting progressive policies.

Leadership by polls (what you have been pushing on this blog lately) is the oxymoronic disease that is killing democracy in this country.

Anonymous said...

Right political choice? Definitely, but the right policy choice? I think A LOT of Liberals are thinking privately no.
Judging by these numbers while the public clearly preffered a Harper budget to a coalition one, it seems the blowback would have been minimal if Harper was replaced with the coalition since people were largely "indifferent" to what came out of Harper anyway.

But politically with the path we've taken we still come out ahead of what the coalition would have brought us it seems for sure.

So Harper gets to "wear" this budget and we are in better shape for the next election. Not all that comforting though I'm afraid to all those losing their jobs (who have to wait for EI payments that should NOT have been frozen at their current level), cash-strapped cities who can't afford the infrastructure projects or those wanting more global action on climate change.

My biggest concern remains that when the Libs get back in government there won't be much left in the coffers for us to do anything meaningful anymore.

So I guess my lingering question now is our only interest power, not what we would do with it? Because our margin or maneuver will be almost zero should we get govt AFTER letting this budget pass. No child care, no Kelowna for at least a decade I bet. That's unfortunate, and it will be the most vulnerable and our future competitiveness that will suffer GREATLY as a result.

Anonymous said...

Northern PoV, if Ignatieff is so much about "taking power" then why didn't he pull the plug on this government? You know as well as I do that there is a solid chance the Governor General would have allowed a coalition to govern the country.

It seems to me that a man who truly covets power would have gone for this strategy no matter what the budget contained.

I mean, Ignatieff could practically have been PM right now. But, no. He's decided to take a longer and riskier road to the office...a more legitimate road in the eyes of the Canadian people. It's a road which may not even lead anywhere near 24 Sussex Drive.

That's sacrifice.

That's leadership.

Anonymous said...

I should point out that I really did not expect the Libs to vote down the budget but for them to have suggested no substantive amendments just so Harper could better "wear" this budget to me seems completely irresponsible policy-wise (and an abandonment of some of the people and issues we've claimed to represent) even though it makes sense politically.

Anonymous said...

Jack leadership would have been suggesting amendments not completely abandoning cities, those on EI and the environment.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I'm not trying to give the Cons credit here, but with this budget they've ALREADY bent over backwards to meet the Liberal's demands.

Look at the anguished cries from their own base. Look at the pundits shouting out things like "the end of the Conservative movement in Canada".

This is a HUGE 180 degree turn for them. The Canadian public sees this and they see three words in the news: Budget, Stimulus, and Deficit and that's all it NEEDS to see.

With all due respect, the public doesn't care about EI right now, it doesn't care about the environment right now.

It wants ACTION on the economy. This is what the Conservatives have delivered. This is what the Liberals demanded. And this is what the public expects them now to support.

EI is a pittance in the BIG PICTURE.

MississaugaPeter said...

Northern PoV,

The saddest thing about Steve V's recent blogging is not "Leadership by polls (what you have been pushing on this blog lately)", but is his recent quick rush to blog out the Ignatieff spin of the day, without his past regard for due diligence.

Example: the Ipsos-Reid Poll he refers to in today's blog:

The report states:

"Canadians Give Shrug to Budget, Seen as Benign: 58% Say It’s Neither Good Nor Bad, Only 24% Give Thumbs Up"

"While Government Viewed as Doing What it Takes to Get Economy Back on Track (61%), Only 23% Say Budget Will Help Them Personally, and Only 32% Derive Spending Confidence"

"Majority (53%) Says Big Deficit Shows Government Doesn’t Know What It’s Doing on Managing Spending"

How this is all favourable to us Liberals as Steve V would make it sound, I do not know.

Steve V,

You referred to me as Stephen LeDrew in your comments in the previous blog, when I praised you for your past commentary, but mentioned that it has recently become less intuitive and less informative and more like a blog I would expect from Cherniak (but with the Ignatieff blinders on).

Au contraire!

I, and probably made of the other readers of your blog, just want the objective guy back. The one who carefully crafted his arguments with considerable thought and without overlooking obvious counter arguments. You built your considerable readership because you were more Calgary Grit and less Jason Cherniak.

It's your blog, so you can and will write what you wish. It's just that as a fellow compatriot, I sincerely just don't want people to read this blog, or come to this blog, and start to second-guess your commentary because they feel it has lost its objectivity. But it's your blog, and you can and will write what you wish.

Stephen said...

With all due respect, the public doesn't care about EI right now


One fast-growing part of the public does care about EI--the unemployed, particularly the nearly 6 in 10 who pay into EI and aren't eligible--thanks to restrictions imposed by Libs and Cons--to collect when they lose their jobs.

Maybe you'll remember this sector under the name Michael Ignatieff had been giving them up for a while--"the most vulnerable."

Oh, Michael Ignatieff was looking out for them--until, that is, they became, according to Glen Pearson's blog, just a "constituency group" and not part of the "public."

Tommy Douglas had it right: Liberals and Conservatives; black cats and white.

Anonymous said...

"With all due respect, the public doesn't care about EI or the environment right now"

Oh that's right Jack the 7% unemployed (which is actually higher since the number only counts those actively looking for work) will probably be too worried about making ends meet than to turn out at the polls in the next election so screw them right?

And who cares about the future of the planet or global warminig as long we win the next election (which if polls don't start putting us ahead could be more than a couple years away)

After it's all about what's right politically right Jack? Power above all else eh?

This is exactly the sentiment the Liberal party DOES NOT need.

Where is the conscience of the party? Poverty reduction was one of the main planks in our platform in the last election, if it's forgotten just because there are no votes in it, then we've become no better than Harper.

I sincerely hope the sentiments of Jack are not widespread in the party. But Ignatieff did let down the most vulnerable by refusing to introduce amendments to EI and he's set back our efforts for being a real player on the environment and let our cities down as well. Anyone who argues different is purely putting politics above principle.

We had Harper crapping his pants willing to do whatever we asked of him and we blew it on some key issues plain and simple. But as long the polls favour our approach I guess that's all that matters eh?

Anonymous said...

As someone who didn't like Iggy origionally I have grown to admire his sense of political timing. At the end of the day the game is called politics and you have two choices, be like Layton and grasp for power at any cost now or like Harper and slowly build winning conditions until the time is right.

The jury is still out whether Iggy will make a good leader or be like Harper and that rests entirely on whether the liberals come up with a solid platform in the upcoming convention. This needs to be a long term vision backed by shorter term policies to deal with todays problems. The main thing is that both long and short term objectives are the same giving voters a clear idea of what they are votng for. With the split opening in the conservative party there are a couple of million former pc votes up for grabs like my own as well as some soft ndp votes as both parties are becoming disillusioned by their leaders. It is going to be interesting to see whether the reform or pc sides of the conservatives threaten to split first.

In the meantime the liberals can do lots of damage to both parties by floating private member bills that cause rifts and keep them in the media. A good one would be a bill that enables any worker to collect EI up to the amount they have contributed over their lifetimes, regardless of current rules. Over half of workers many of whom will find themseles trying to collect for the first time are out of luck under the present rules while those who collect frequently can continue as long as they get enough hours. How much fun would it be to watch the other parties posturing on this one? The time to strke and call an election will make itself clear in about 6-8 months and at that time the liberals need to make sure they have everything in place to achieve victory and put Harper out on his rear for ever.

Steve V said...

", and probably made of the other readers of your blog, just want the objective guy back. The one who carefully crafted his arguments with considerable thought and without overlooking obvious counter arguments."

I don't see any change whatsoever, the only thing that's changed, you don't like Ignatieff, you're clearly biased against him and you wanted a coalition, so now I'm a hack for having a different perspective. There are a lot of people who have lost any sense of objectivity, I don't consider myself one of them. I don't need to spin, and watching the way this has all played, I frankly feel vindicated in my view. I feel quite comfortable with my perspective.

Ignatieff has done well, navigating through this mess, if you think that's spin fine, but I think the counter view is pretty clueless, more about PERSONAL want, than any sense of the GREATER perspective.

And, if you can't see favorability in these polls, you are the one spinning like a top, and two, so jaded you can't see straight. Harper was asked about the polls yesterday, he won't even talk about them, and you'll note he readily does when they're good- that tells me all I need to know about who's SPINNING Peter, and who is "objectively" looking at the evidence.

Steve V said...

"The jury is still out"

Way, I agree with that sentiment completely, nothing I suggest is absolute or definitive. Merely, reviewing where we are, at this point in time, and there is little doubt, Ignatieff has had a good launch, he's done himself some favors, and he's positioned us well, moving forward. What happens now, is anyone's guess, but the opening act is a success, in the general.

Steve V said...

"Leadership by polls (what you have been pushing on this blog lately) is the oxymoronic disease that is killing democracy in this country."

You just don't like the decisions, all I'm saying, these decisions haven't cost him politically. I don't think it's particularly "oxymoronic" to see the wisdom in not wanting another election, three months after the last. The government moved it's position, and we responded like the official opposition must, given the circumstances and timing. If you want to argue the merits of the coalition, I would say, you probably don't have much moral clarity with a leader just rejected, and an alliance that frankly amounted to a pathetic percentage of MP's, the weakest presentation imaginable.

I like polls, because they provide feedback, it's PUBLIC OPINION after all, which last time I checked is a pillar of democracy. Now, that is certainly no statement on policy direction, but you do need a sense that your policies are supported SOMEWHAT, by the people you represent. This isn't focus groups, and buzzwords tested, to "sell", this is about gauging the public mood.

MississaugaPeter said...

Steve V,

You comment that I dislike Ignatieff. Once again, au contraire. Prior to becoming leader, I always referred to him as Iggy - a name he disliked in high school. No more, it is Ignatieff.

About 10 days ago, I publicly suggested to James Curran to join me on the Ignatieff bandwagon.

Do I love the guy, NOPE. Do I dislike him, NOPE. Do I want him as PM? YUP. Ignatieff is the leader of a Party that I have belonged to for over 25 years. He is a smart man that has many admirable qualities.

Am I upset that Harper is still PM, and probably will be for another few years? Yes, I am!

Am I upset that Ignatieff has supported a Budget that does not address the three main issues he himself said would have to be in the Budget? Yes, I am!

Since I am upset about these two issues does that mean that I dislike Ignatieff. NOPE! And that is not SPINNING.

Steve V, you wrote "if you can't see favorability in these polls, you are the one spinning like a top, and two, so jaded you can't see straight".

Did you even bother to read the Ipsos-Reid report. The old Steve V would have. Here it is again.

Here again are it's main conclusions. I have NOT selectively chosen which ones to highlight. I am not SPINNING their conclusions.

"Canadians Give Shrug to Budget, Seen as Benign: 58% Say It’s Neither Good Nor Bad, Only 24% Give Thumbs Up"

"While Government Viewed as Doing What it Takes to Get Economy Back on Track (61%), Only 23% Say Budget Will Help Them Personally, and Only 32% Derive Spending Confidence"

"Majority (53%) Says Big Deficit Shows Government Doesn’t Know What It’s Doing on Managing Spending"

RuralSandi said...

You know, these are opinions of a few bloggers, but reality is - the "voters" out there. They don't want a coalition and they wanted the budget approved.

There's a group that hate Iggy and spend most of their blogging time putting him down, bitching and moaning - and what does it do. Nothing.

The coalition wouldn't have worked - because of the personalities involved. There's no way on earth that Layton or Mulcair would play nice one in a coalition government. They would make constant and threatening demands and try to claim all credit for anything positive. Remember when Layton succeeding in getting an "amendment" to Martin's budget then claimed the NDP wrote the budget? It takes months, a lot of man hours, etc. to produce a budget - and yet Layton tries to claim it. So, how in hell could anyone trust Layton or work with him? Mulcair is an aggressive loose cannon with a temper management problem. Face it, Layton had plans with Duceppe right after the election and then talked Dion into it - and, he had attack ads ready for Ignatieff.

Nope - not a good man to work with at all.

About EI - should there be some control? We don't know how bad it's going to get - and wouldn't want to run out of money.

Steve V said...


Umm, ya I did bother, and I believe I included the ho hum response of Canadians. Seems to me you left out the coalition question, but hey, spin away. I'll go with "astute" and "very smart strategy", because that's sort of the point of this post. And, I also notice you completely ignore the SC poll...

Here's the deal, if you want to blather on about "old Steve" have at it, these polls seem entirely clear to me, Ignatieff made "The Right Choice", although I didn't need a poll to tell me that, you can see the sentiment pretty much everywhere. I'm taking a big picture view, with my eye on the Liberals turfing these characters. What I've seen to date gives me confidence. Period. See it different if you like, but please spare me the "changed" argument, because I don't share you enthusiasm for certain scenarios. And if you can't, see ya round :)

MississaugaPeter said...

Steve V,

I did not intentionally just focus on Ipsos and leave out the SC Poll.

It's just I don't comment without seeing the raw data from the polling firm, and the Strategic Counsel have NOT posted the information on their website.

Kris said...

"Canadians Give Shrug to Budget, Seen as Benign: 58% Say It’s Neither Good Nor Bad, Only 24% Give Thumbs Up"

"While Government Viewed as Doing What it Takes to Get Economy Back on Track (61%), Only 23% Say Budget Will Help Them Personally, and Only 32% Derive Spending Confidence"

"Majority (53%) Says Big Deficit Shows Government Doesn’t Know What It’s Doing on Managing Spending"

The only number I see in there that could be considered really negative for the Liberals is the 61% who see the gov't as Doing What it Takes to Get Economy Back on Track. Yet even that number is offset by a low personal confidence in the government.

Steve V said...


Well that's interesting, since you don't have the raw data for the Ipsos poll, you just copied a few lines from the website (what a joke response actually). Ipsos doesn't release the raw data, and if they do, it's always days late. It's actually one of my criticisms, if you're releasing a public poll, you shouldn't force people to pay to see you data.

Lept said...

Hey Steve V:
(Yes, I'm still a regular reader: all the best for the new year and all).

Firstly, lets get the 'I told you so moment' out of the way: with the baggage he had in Quebec, Dion never had a chance - that was not media bias but rather simple reality. As you know I am anything but a Liberal, but, already there is a perceptible difference on the ground here in deepest darkest Quebec - if nothing else than in the quality of the 'old guard' that is returning to the fold - not old Chretienites but solid fund raisers and organizers.

Oddly enough, your views on Ignatieff echo mine - and while I never found his politics terribly appealing, his performance has been astonishingly effective since his 'elevation'. Personally, I much preferred the notion of the coalition but reality - especially with the conservative spin on it - meant that the route he has made for the Liberals through that particular minefield is bloody impressive.

While Duceppe's response is logical and expedient enough,that of Layton is quite simply both self destructive and potentially damaging to the country he claims to love so deeply.

If Ignatieff continues as he has begun even those of us completely at home in the Bloc might find an acceptable way of getting rid of the Conservatives. (A one time offer - of course).

Steve V said...

Hey Lept :) All the best as well, nice to hear from you.

I was actually wondering what your take was, you bring an important perspective. Interesting to hear a change in the air, our albatross removed. You did tell me so, but if you review my pre-convention posts on Stephane, my head always agreed re Quebec, but one could dream ;)

Keep me up to date on the "deepest, darkest" part of Quebec, and I fully expect this leader to make a excursion or two.