Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hello In There!

Much speculation, about various scenarios that get something done over EI, avoiding a June election. Janke posits that any deal will cause Liberals to "grind their teeth", and then offers some apparent LSD inspired musing about the "Liberal caucus sharpening their knives". Let's clear the air on WHAT exactly is happening here, and this ain't spin.

The media suffer from duplicity. They chastise political parties for perpetual "election" talk, when it's they in fact that pour over every sentence to raise the temperature, so THEY can talk about a possible election. Sometimes they don't even require an idle quote, in amongst a much more telling paragraph uttered, they just see any area of conflict and RUN with it. If the media is tired of election talk, I assure you we are all more tired of their lazy frames that manufacture real election talk (generalizing of course).

The Liberals are pushing in Parliament, no question. The Liberals have made EI reform a pivotal issue. Let's face it, without the Liberals on board Jack and Gilles could bellow forever and nothing would happen, Harper wouldn't move, because he simply doesn't have to. Throw a determined Ignatieff into the midst, the game has changed, there's enough support that the government must respond. The government must respond, because they don't WANT an election- is this really a newsflash to anybody? More the "sky is blue" realities, the NDP and Bloc don't WANT an election. Even if one of them did, it's still irrelevant because BOTH MUST want to, so let's just say an election isn't in the cards, nope, nada. Liberals can add, unlike some people (hey there Jimmer!).

Does everybody think the Liberals are without strategic sense? A pretty self-evident review of the landscape reveals an opportunity to assert ourselves, without much risk of actually pushing Parliament over the edge. Equating a firm stance on EI as "Liberals clammoring" for an election fails to recognize LEVERAGE. Parliament is brinkmanship, you don't get what you want unless you convey strength, committed and your opponents fear you. For the first time in a long time, that's the dynamic the Liberals enjoy. Ignatieff doesn't have to cower, he can push and be forceful, because he knows full well the other parties aren't keen. It's really no different than the NDP exploiting past Liberal weakness to introduce non-confidence this, non-confidence that.

Do the Liberals want an election? I'm sure a few do, the polls are positive, but I can say with reasonable certainty, the "hawk" camp is in the minority, most are looking to the fall now as the realistic window. To conclude then, that talk that a compromise on EI will leave the Liberals wanting, is just asinine partisan tripe. If we get a deal on EI, no matter what "coalition" of parties agree, it will be because everyone is trying to get to the summer break. From the Liberal perspective, a few more months to ramp up fundraising, organization, attract a strong slate, etc, etc, that's always been the real gameplan, the majority view. If the EI issue is resolved, to some extent, then the Liberals have succeeded in their demands, they got what they wanted and they didn't have to "prop up" anybody. I fail to see any reasonable observer suggesting otherwise, no matter the final configuration of parties that make "backroom" deals.

"Liberals thwarted", more like Liberals get a concession on their key demand coming out of the convention. Concession that only came about because Liberals were strong and prepared, letting others dance around like they did in the past. And, everybody returns to Plan A, without much fuss. That's the bottomline.

14 comments:

kirbycairo said...

Though I don't disagree with the substance of your analysis, what you have said here is testament to why Canadian are entirely disillusioned with our political system. It is all gamesmanship. And until we have some politicians who are willing to stand on actual principle we can look forward to voter turnout to continue to go down and cynicism to be the norm.

Steve V said...

I agree on disillusioned, but in some respects it's a simple reality of politics that plagues most countries where a majority isn't in the cards. It's an interesting debate if this is the natural state or not, irrespective of the characters. That said, let's not forget that this debate is predicated on a principle, wanting EI reform. It's not like people just invented an issue to look strong, it came because people see EI as problematic in its current state, in this current climate. If you want to take cyncism to the absolute, then I suppose you could dismiss it all, but I know I want to see reform, and it isn't because I get to watch Harper cower, that's just an added, delightful bonus, given the past ;)

RayK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RayK said...

The problem with your analysis is that it's correct.

Time and time again the opposition parties have agreed on a vareity of substantive initiatives that they wanted to enact--from EI to credit card protections to a cap and trade system. In most cases, these initiatives have been proposed by the NDP. But time and time again the Liberals have chosen to prop up the Conservatives rather than try to force the government to act.

The only difference between Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff is that the latter has repeatedly talked as if he would stand fast, but then hasn't. Dion knew he couldn't get away with that. Frankly, I can't understand why Michael Ignatieff has, but--as far as substance goes--actions speak louder than.

It's not that "the game has changed" because of "a determined Ignatieff". So far, for all we know, Ignatieff may just cave once again. If the Conservatives do move on EI it will only serve to demonstrate how much damage the Liberals have done to Canada by letting him govern as if he had a majority up to this point.

kirbycairo said...

Well Steve. . . if this is the 'simple reality of politics' then maybe that means that we need to push forward to electoral reform that will take some of these issues out of the game so to speak. Unfortunately neither the Liberal nor the Conservatives are willing to embrace real electoral reform because they both seek de facto dictatorship with a solid majority and don't want to do anything to disrupt this possibility. But critics from every quarter are starting to talk about the failure of our democracy (and this goes for many countries) and so clearly it is time to look at serious changes.

Steve V said...

" In most cases, these initiatives have been proposed by the NDP. "

And, that's the luxury of being the fourth party in Parliament, you can push everything you want, but it's almost always theoretical.

kirby

One thing about electoral reform, it won't stop this behavior, in many respects it will enhance it. If you want to talk representation, that one's thing, but when you have different parties jockeying for influence, this crap will be everywhere.

kirbycairo said...

Saying that reforms will "enhance" these behaviours suggests that you don't understand what kind of reforms I am talking about. You seem to think I am just talking about PR or some similar reform. I believe in some form of PR from the point of view of Democracy. However, the electoral reform that can address the issues we are talking about, and the only way that we can really take this cynicism out of the system, are other types of reform. If we have any hope of democracy surviving then we have to take most of the money out of the system, take most of the advertising out of the system, we have to take a great deal of power out of the PMO, we need to change how political parties function etc etc. Even the NDP has never proposed these kind of serious changes at a substantive level. People seems to think they are beyond the pale and brush off these kind of reforms but without them I believe it is simple: democracy as we know it will fail.

partisan_non_partisan said...

"One thing about electoral reform, it won't stop this behavior, in many respects it will enhance it."

Hi, my name is Steve V. I pretend to have a knowledge of comparative legislative behaviour, but I clearly don't.

Steve V said...

kirby

Not that I didn't understand, but maybe you could be more clear. Whenever anybody mentions electoral reform these days, it usually revolves around voting schematics. What you suggested here, is an entirely different matter.



pnp

Hi, I'm a pompous windbag that will select international examples that fit nicely into my narrow point of view, while simultaneously ignoring a host of examples that suggest the opposite. Whatever, sorry to piss on your pet utopia.

Tomm said...

Steve,

Election?

The only way we get one is if we fall into it through a series of Laurel and Hardy stumbles (like the Christmas Coalition). But they could happen. I am quite surprised that Jack Layton is tossing this football out the door. Layton and the NDP have been continually screaming for the PM's head on a platter. Remember January...?


In regards to electoral reform, reform is never an advantage to the governing parties therefore they are never pre-disposed into allowing changes.

And quite frankly, I DO NOT want a bunch of Green's on parliament Hill jumping and dancing around just because they garnered 5% of the national electorate without getting a seat. It is the same reason that we didn't want dozens of Socreds in the 80's and it is why it finally died out, as it should have. If we put in some type of proportional representation, we end up with 10-15 parties, most of them electing single issue fanatics and posers. The Christian Heritage Leader? The Confederation of Regions? The Marijuana Party? And once they have a seat, they will always have a seat. Depending on the system brought forward, it may be the same wingnut every election if the party is able to choose their rep from a national list.

What we have now certainly isn't perfect, but I shudder at the thought of the obvious alternatives.

The one potential system that may work is a collection of right and left coalition groups that all lean on each other (kind of like the Dion-May agreement). But that sure does give the junior partner a lot of power.

RayK said...

"And, that's the luxury of being the fourth party in Parliament, you can push everything you want, but it's almost always theoretical."

Nonsense Liberal spin.

First, in my comment above I explicitly referred to initiatives that the Liberals supported which would mean they too were "push[ing] everything" because it was "almost always theoretical".

Second, the NDP has included each of it's proposals in a balanced budget platform in each of the last three election and no other party has offered ANY substantive claim that the NDP's budget numbers did not add up. If they could have, you'd think they'd have done so.

The simple fact of the matter is that the NDP has brought forward far more substantive ideas than the Liberals over the last several years and--unlike the Dion carbon tax--the NDP's ideas have gained substantial support from other parties.

Steve V said...

"Nonsense Liberal spin."

Or, the most obvious of realities. Hey, what happened with all those non confidence motions, ANYTHING?

A reader said...

"The media suffer from duplicity. They chastise political parties for perpetual "election" talk, when it's they in fact that pour over every sentence to raise the temperature, so THEY can talk about a possible election. Sometimes they don't even require an idle quote, in amongst a much more telling paragraph uttered, they just see any area of conflict and RUN with it. If the media is tired of election talk, I assure you we are all more tired of their lazy frames that manufacture real election talk (generalizing of course)."

Well, we don't agree on much else, Steve V, but on this particular point above, I believe you've nailed it perfectly. Cheers.

Steve V said...

Nice to know we agree on something :)