Thursday, August 20, 2009

Risky Business

If this "majority" talk is the new Conservative strategy, it's a risky exercise at best:
The Conservatives are breaking their own taboo by starting to call on Canadians to award them a majority government in the next election.

The tactic will be part of an appeal for stability in a recession if the opposition defeats the government in the Commons early this fall, a year after the last election.

The Conservatives expect to contrast their call for a majority with two other potential scenarios they hope will prove less appealing: a Liberal minority and a Liberal-NDP coalition.

In fairness, one has to wonder if the Conservatives have much choice. After all, arguing for another minority- which essentially maintains the status quo Canadians are increasingly frustrated with- is a pretty pedestrian approach. With that said, this argument is rife with potential blowback for the government.

Over the past few years, we've seen a consistent backlash from voters when the prospect of a Harper majority are pondered. While Harper has won elections, he hasn't really endeared himself to Canadians- amazingly, in many respects, he remains an enigma, despite the tenure. There is a underlying belief, that a Harper majority would be much different than a Harper in check. That distinction shouldn't be lost on anyone, and the prospect could have the boomerang effect of consolidating opposition to stop Harper. Particularly in a place like Quebec, where Harper is wildly unpopular, the prospect might just benefit the alternative, rallying support that otherwise drifts elsewhere.

There is also this potential angle, which the Liberals would be wise to exploit. All this instability and hyper partisanship, which has lead to constant election talk, has happened under which regime? Do you reward the manager for the chaos under his watch? You can turn this majority talk around into a verdict on Harper's inability to work with other parties, a statement of his own failures. That sentiment can resonate with voters, particularly if Harper insists on interjecting the "coalition" talk. Harper is seen a mean spirited, highly partisan and divisive. Liberals can counter that the architect of instability is the real problem, we can offer a more bi-partisan, inclusive approach, an end to the constant nonsense. Point to the irony of skunk complaining about the smell.

Realistically, I see no chance of a Conservative majority, when you do the math. Yes, they only have to turn a few more seats to achieve, but with the changed landscape, it's not so simple- other seats are also in play, which translates to a probable net nowhere at best. In fact, when you input all the various variables, 2008 was the Conservative "perfect storm", that has little chance of replicating itself. With that in mind, pushing for a majority now, brings just as many pitfalls as it does potential. I suspect the Liberal war room will entertain the same. In fact, I'd lean towards WELCOMING this narrative from the Conservatives, because when voters are asked which they would prefer, a Con or Lib majority, we win every time. Narrow it down to this choice, hard to see the "in totality" downside from our perspective. Harper just might stir up a dynamic that has been his trump card for years, counting on a divided opposition for his own benefit.


ottlib said...

Look for the National Post and Ipsos-Reid to publish a poll showing that Canadians are just ducky with the idea of a Conservative majority government. I suspect it will be released by the weekend, maybe early next week.

Of course, the horse race numbers will still show the two main parties neck-in-neck but that will not stop Darrel Bricker from pronouncing a Conservative majority being within reach. That's assuming they publish the horse race numbers.

At any rate for Mr. Harper to get his majority he would need a major resurrection in Quebec or at least a sweep of Ontario. Anything is possible but I just cannot see either happening.

If anything, as you say, the idea of a Harper majority may cause many voters in both provinces to switch back to the Liberals just to prevent such an event.

Cari said...

If the people wanted him to have a Majority...they would have given him one last year..It would be completely disastrous for this Country!

A BCer in Toronto said...

If it wasn't for several miscues Quebec, he'd have gotten a majority last time. While a majority is further out of reach for him this time (it would take major movement) I don't think people are necessarily offput any longer at the thought of a CPC majority.

That's not to say they'd give them one. But I think, at this point, the decision for most voters would be are they worthy of a majority, and not would they do crazy-ass scary stuff with a majority. Harper hasn't burned the country down for the last few years, so I think with most people the scary Harper ship has sailed.

That said, I think Harper still finds himself outside the mainstream of Canada on many issues. So, if Canadians do get it in their mind that they want to change their historical voting pattern to ensure a majority so we can have some stability, when they narrow it down to the two likely choice, CPC and LPC, I think most are more likely to come down on our side.

I still think a majority for anyone is unlikely, but how many people make that strategic decision, plus how many Liberal non-voters come back out, will determine who forms the next minority.

Steve V said...

I think there is still a distinction between scary Harper in government and Harper with unchecked power. I also believe many people can make that distinction. For example, I'm sure the prospects of a Harper majority would scare the shit out of Quebecers.

I also think a majority is virtually impossible, unless Ignatieff gets arrested with a truck full of heroine or something during the campaign.

Möbius said...

I don't think people are necessarily offput any longer at the thought of a CPC majority.

I think you're absolutely correct on this point. What will lead to another minority is the abandonment of the CPC by fiscal conservatives. The LPC will not gain from this, because they supported the big-spending deficit budget as well. I'll not vote for either party, but creatively spoil my ballot.

Steve V said...

If that's true, then why do only 1 in 4 voters want a Con majority? I mean, if there's nothing to fear, you would think the party could at least reach it's national poll standing on the question.

I don't want to confuse the "tanks in the streets" bullshit as a strategy, but that doesn't mean Canadians wish or want a Harper led majority.

Ad Rem said...

Perfect Storm

Adscam Trials in September
Framing against Liberals is increased. Wait for progressive voters to be made aware of his numerous comments*
How much are the Liberals spending on a junket in China? They have no authority to enter into any agreements. (Taxpayers losing jobs Liberals spending $ 100k+)
Ontario is suffering from Ehealth Scandals, Mayor is Toronto Cupe fallout. (Liberal/NDP comparison)
The demographics are too young and they will not show up.

A BCer in Toronto said...

If that's true, then why do only 1 in 4 voters want a Con majority? I mean, if there's nothing to fear, you would think the party could at least reach it's national poll standing on the question.

Because the Conservative base of natural supporters is small. To build it they need to pull voters from closer to the centre, where they bumping-up against the Liberals. And, all things being equal, we have a better shot at those voters than they do.

In essence, people aren't scared of the Conservatives. They just don't particularly like them either.

Steve V said...

"In essence, people aren't scared of the Conservatives. They just don't particularly like them either."

That's my perspective as well Jeff.

Ad Rem said...

Where is the groundswell to remove Harper?

Where is the groundswell to elect the Liberals?

There is a groundswell NOT to have an election to have another minority.

You are asking Canadians to choose stability vs another minority government.

IF the CPC can "frame" this as a Power Grab again than those numbers will be low 40's.

Steve V said...


Just curious, where exactly was the groundswell for an election last year, when Harper broke his own law? That stuff means squat once the writ is dropped, and Harper proved it.

I see the "coalition" angle as desperation really. I picture it during a debate, and Ignatieff merely says "I already could have had your job, if I wanted a coalition". Pow.

Ad Rem said...

The CPC and Liberals love to believe in a breakthrouhg in francophone Quebec.

I won't drink the Kool-aid from either room.

Since 1980's Liberals are stuck. The Tories won some seats around Quebec City. That's it! 24/75 seats. You can pretend the Bloc will go away.

Unless Charest emulates D.W. and campaigns for either pary neither Federal Party will make any gains.

Anonymous said...

I think ottlib has the "objective media" figured out. I too expect to see the same nebulous polling plastered in the media by the weekend or early next week at the latest.

Ad Rem said...

Steve are you honestly asking me to defend the decision by Harper to use his political advantage because it paid off in more seats?

If I hear the "spirit" of the law complaint I know I already won.

Can't you understand Chretien did the exact same thing against the opposition.

The OBC (Ottawa Bubble Crap) including pocketing wafers is not on the RADAR for most Canadians.

If you think Cadman, Income Trusts, In-out, puffins, tasteles jokes, plagerism, unsexy comments REALLY matter than your judgement is regarding the average voter is beyond repair.

Steve V said...


The Liberals will most likely make gains in Quebec, no kool aid required. If you're actually suggesting that anyone believes the Bloc disappears for the forseeable future, then I don't know what your drinking.

Steve V said...

"Steve are you honestly asking me to defend the decision by Harper to use his political advantage because it paid off in more seats?"

Actually no, but it's an interesting diversion from your original point. I believe you brought up people wanting an election, I just gave you a recent example wherein the EXACT same dynamic was at play and it didn't hurt the party that forced, rending your point MUTE. Try to stay focused.

Ad Rem said...

When the Liberals threaten an election their numbers dip.

The Liberals need an issue to champion and stick to it.

EI 360 won't work.
Isotopes won't either.
The fallout and now shaky recovery has not boosted the CPC numbers.

Wait another month when the MSM start talking about the positive numbers and recession is over.

Time is not on your side. You need a REAL scandal or screw up.

Blaming or calling the CPC racists or stupid radicals is not a good strategy.

Those CPC learned from Kinsella- Chretien and are now showing they paid attention.

Ad Rem said...

The point the CPC benefit in a seat gain makes my point mute about causing an election?

Were the CPC were able to "frame" the opposition as dysfunctional?

Are you now suggesting the Liberals will be able to frame triggering an election in their favour?

I have said the BLOC are SAFE. Only the Liberals and CPC suggest the Bloc support is weak and thin.

The Bloc will hold their seats. Bet on it.

Steve V said...

"The Bloc will hold their seats. Bet on it."

Maybe, maybe not. When I say they're vulnerable that only means a few seats, nobody is suggesting a Liberal wave. If you look at the last election, the Liberals were within 5% of the Bloc in six ridings. I'm sure you'll agree Ignatieff is an upgrade in Quebec, so there's clearly room for pickups. Couple that with a real chance of the Cons losing a few and it's a sizeable balance of power shift.

You seem to like absolutes, when I've always been far more "conservative" in my perspective.

As for "issue" comment, I agree. I don't think EI is a winner, and the isotype thing is just "a thousand cuts" issue. I think we need to turn to the deficit, offer a bold 5 year program that tackles the debt and sets us up to thrive in the modern economy. The government is vulnerable in this sene- Harper has no overarching plan or vision, it's just managerial stuff that isn't terribly inspiring. If we come up with a platform that weaves many different ideas together into a comprehensive thrust, on the economy, then we have a chance.

Ad Rem said...

Thank you. I agree the Liberals need to work and engage Canadians for different direction. Leaving it for 6 week campaign following the CPC strategy won't work. Why?

Angus Poll Aug 15, 2009.

Liberals (rabid) are disconnected with reality regarding their party strength vs Canadians.

That means a long-term game vs the short term game to destabilze and gain 20 seats for another election in another 12 months to win control.(That plan makes little sense and the backlash risk is 25% with a very low turnout.)

The US meltdown is NOT over. Protectionism is growing and may have bigger problems regarding NAFTA/AGW in the next 12-24 months.

First Iggy is a rookie. His speeches are weak. Harper is slightly better, Jack and Gilles are also better. Only May is worse than Iggy.

I have been watching Iggy on Youtube, have you?

Charisma, passion, please. Bob Rae is experienced and it shows.

So again lack of experience will be a Big problem. Learning the ropes won't work.

The June meltdown was my Red Flag.

The progressive vote will not vote Liberal. The Bloc and NDP are masters of exploiting out of context statements.

The campaign has not started and the "ugly" dirty gutter stuff has not begun. The Bloc and the Quebec media will destroy their target.

Who is the target? Who is the larger threat? The CPC who can gain zero and risk losing 4 seats?

OBAMA spent years and had a superior organization and ran against G.W not McCain.

OBAMA pulled in million of young and black,spanish speaking voters.They outspent the Republicans and out organized them.

Are you suggesting we have Iggymania?

In what Poll is the Liberals regaining the Jewish, visible minority or Catholic vote?

Do you think Liberals will hold or increase the progressive vote? Will Liberals bring back ex liberals?

The rebuilding of the Liberal Party and their finances is not a short term game.

the Liberals who stand to gain 6 seats?

(Gilles will make sure he frames Iggy as G.W. cheerleader)

Anonymous said...

"don't think EI is a winner, and the isotype thing is just "a thousand cuts" issue."

This is the reason why Harper may be just posturing. He knows that the longer that he governs in this minority situation, the better for him. Thus I agree with Jeff's assessment somewhat.

No election this fall.

If the Grits wait, then it may not be that bad. Better to react to Harper's intentions, then use the Harper is scary rhetoric through attack ads. Something to get people to vote, if the Ignatieff message fails to work.

Steve V said...

Ad Rem

Gilles will do the usual, that's expected.

I don't know if you recall, but when the Liberal really climbed, tied or ahead of the Bloc, it came after a series of Ignatieff appearances on popular shows, plus other events. You say his speeches stink, but that's selective- he's actually been quite eloquent and compelling in many major speeches. Put Harper in a townhall, oh nevermind... My point, Ignatieff has shown an ease in "edgy" venues in Quebec, so don't make any assumptions. This guy ain't a dud. Seem to recall, beside his intellectual prowess, he was pretty popular on television, articulating. Just don't get carried away with the pessimism. I think he can skate circles around Harper.

Ad Rem said...

The Honeymoon is over compliments of the June meltdown. Why are you repeating he lost those numbers again?

The framing by others is starting to stick. The Bloc will use do what they did to Harper last year.

Remember Harper wanted to send 13 year olds to jail as candy for the adults?

The truth will not matter. The Liberals don't have grassroots in the Francophone ridings outside Ango Mtl. Island.

Are you looking at the results since 1980-2009 regarding the Liberals in Quebec?

How many seats do you think 4-5 more in Quebec?

Can you link any Videos of him being effective?

I have said Harper comes across a little better. I think Bob Rae is a much smoother orator.

I have been watching and listening for and don't think he is a great communicator.

I have seen 20 videos and they are better than Dion but clearly not convincing, strong or effective.

Do you think I am being too critical or unfair?

Please link videos that you feel he is strong effective and convincing.


Steve V said...

Dude, you have a tickle me Iggy pic on your handle. Like you're being objective here.

I'll tell you what, you keep slanting everything as a negative, and I'll keep not caring in the least. Deal?


Ad Rem said...

I am not slanting negative. I am being realistic. Not a blind partisan, do you prefer I use a goof pic of Tubby?

I am critical of both major parties and think the risk vs reward for voter backlash is significant for any party "if" blamed for triggering the election.

I have my opinion regarding the videos and speeches.

I have doubt regarding the logic of having +30 seats for the Liberals and another election a year later.

Have I been unfair in my opinion?

If I think real issues vs the silly stuff I am negative?

I read and agree with some your posts does that make a partisan or negative?

Free thought and dissenion are permitted?

A few lib bloggers have the same concerns.

Steve V said...

I have concerns too, I assure you there's no delusions. June was a red flag for me, as I've stated every since. All this said, I don't think it's doom and gloom, and I firmly believe there is great possibility with this party, better armed, led by a guy that is impressive by any measure. As for Rae, well he's probably the best political orator in the country, so anyone comes second fiddle, really an unfair point of distinction. I do wonder how well Bob would be wooing us all on the economy at the moment, particularly here. Just imagine that for a moment.

ottlib said...

One intangible about about Mr. Ignatieff, he has been a television journalist so he is good in front of a camera. Indeed, he is used to putting ideas across using television.

So far we have only been given snippits of him on television media. During a full bore election campaign we would be seeing much more of his ability to communicate using television.

The contrast between him and Mr. Harper could be stark at that time.

It could mean nothing because speaking to a camera as a politician if much different that speaking to the camera as a journalist. We will have to wait and see.

Ad Rem said...

First I think MI has an impressive resume. I think he is a good person.

One of my concerns is the lack of experience is showing in the 20 youtube videos so far I have watched.

When I raised Bob, I was speaking about his experience and ability to work a room/mic. He looks comfortable in his skin.( A pro)

I have not met MI.

I am trying to be critical without being a nervous nellie.

I think in 2006 the handlers did not do Dion any favours. I think in 2008 we are witnessing the exact same handling mistakes.

Ad Rem said...

Nik a generally a more friendly Liberal Pollster?
308 thinks so.

October 14,2008 62.4% (did not vote for Harper)

Aug 2, 2008 Nik Nanos found 58.9% won't vote for Harper.

A 2.6% improvement for the CPC?

The Left are STILL not united. Strategic voting?

Is your overall impression of a minority government situation positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or negative?

53.9% Positive, somewhat positive
37.3% Negative, somewhat negative