Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's All Good

All things being equal, and with added evidence emerging, I'd say today's development represents the best possible scenario for the Liberals moving forward. Of note, the initial reaction in the media seems to view the Liberals as the "big winners", just to take it out of the partisan realm.

The reason, well it's pretty obvious. Putting aside the 11 people in denial online, the overwhelming condemnation of the NDP is striking. There's just no credible way to rationalize the contradictions, this was the core NDP rallying cry and it has been obliterated. The moves reeks of weakness, that fact alone works for me from the Liberal perspective. Watching the NDP cling to the most paltry of EI reforms, as though central to their cause, well, reasonable people see it for what it is, enough said. Beyond that, the NDP now have to deal with Harper, and it's hard for me to see that relationship bearing much fruit, when you take the "strain" into the totality. At best it's a net neutral, more probable it starts to do damage.

If you're going to let the government survive this week, seems a reach to see another 180 degree turn in a couple weeks when the Liberals vote non-confidence. The NDP will work to avoid an election in the coming weeks, and not much is required to assure their support.

Assuming we have some breathing room, it's really hard to see the Liberal downside. I said this before the Sudbury caucus, that I preferred to see us build "up a lather" in Parliament, get the government on the defensive for a few weeks, before we entertained an election. If we would have went now, so be it, I still have some optimism, but the "chess" play was a slow buildup, rather than an instanteous pull the plug. If all these new "relationships" mean no fall election, then it is a question of competiting realities. Yes, the economy probably improves, although nothing seismic is on the horizon for quite some time. Yes, Harper gets the Olympic glow and his personal election "scenario" want (which is concerning), but he doesn't operate in isolation. If the Liberals are truly free of this "prop up" albatross which is dragging down another leader, then I see plenty of latitude to present a strong, confident front. I'm quite comfortable listening to others defend their support, if that's the case, while we simply oppose with impunity.

If it all unravels in October, that gets us over this hump and its temporary quality more assured. If it's a prolonged awkward dance with the socialists and the separatists, then we build and build without the constant defensive posture, which has blunted us for years now. One important factor, the Conservatives have put all their cards on this coalition argument, the effectiveness of that line is quickly evaporating, a few weeks, it will enter the realm of the ridiculous and that potential hammer will be gone. No matter the timeframe, there will come a TIME where others say "enough is enough" with these guys, or the Conservatives short curcuit themselves- whatever, the Liberals are a secondary consideration in terms of blame now.

It's all good. Maybe by accident, clearly this wasn't the primary plan in Sudbury, but I'll take it.


DL said...

I think you're over-analysing all of this. Perhaps we should wait until something actually happens. So far the only thing we actually know for a fact is that the BQ will vote for the W&M motion on Friday. Beyond that its all about manoeuvring to look good in the eyes of the average person.

In the end there will be a non-confidence vote in a couple of weeks and I expect the NDP and the BQ to vote for it (though anything is possible). The net impact of the NDP's strategy this week will be to make Harper look as intransigent as possible and make the election look even more like it was his plan all along. I could be wrong, but I actually think that the NDP's plan all along was to go through this flirtation for a few days, be the centre of attention, then pronounce the Tories to be unworthy of support after all and then vote them down.

Steve V said...

No, this is genuine fear on the NDP's part. You don't abandon every talking point you've used in the last year, to make this move. That's just pure craziness from my perspective. Like I said in the post, and I've been following this game for a long time, you can smell the weakness, the backpeddling, this doesn't have a hint of confidence. Now, I will say, that the strategy does allow for a certain posturing on the election, if it comes to that, so there is "backup" angle so to speak, but that wasn't the thrust.

If the NDP side with the Liberals in two weeks, it's better than today as far as I'm concerned.

Steve V said...

Just to clear up any doubt of the NDP's support on Friday:

Yvon Godin, a lawmaker with Canada's opposition New Democratic Party, said he expects the party will support a budget vote Sept. 18 that would keep Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in power. "Friday is on lowering taxes for renovations. I expect that we are going to vote for lowering taxes," Godin said in comments broadcast on RDI television.

Steve V said...

One other point, let's say the NDP does vote with the Libs and Bloc in a couple weeks. That means they have to explain why they want an election now, after just saying they didn't. Okay, let's say you can pull that off, what's your argument to sell it? That you can't work with the Harper government, they won't compromise, we tried in a sincere way. Now, please tell me how that hurts the Liberals argument for not supporting these clowns anymore, AND does it not take the election heat off us to some degree? Oh, I like that.

DL said...

I guess that means that only NOW are you finally acknowledging that each and every one of the 79 times the Liberals voted to prop up the Tories - it was all because of morbid fear on the part of the Liberals.

As much as it made sense for the NDP to exploit the Liberals' weakness as much as they could over the last few years - I'm not convinced that the NDP actually got all that much credit for opposing Harper 100% of the time anyways. So its actually a pretty easy ledge to climb down from. Honestly, I think the NDP is probably amazed that they managed to hoodwink the Liberals into voting confidence in Harper for as long as they did!

Steve, you need to get over your complex about the whole issue of the Liberals 79 votes in favour of Harper in exchange for NOTHING. Its obviously a raw nerve.

This whole thing is turning into a bizarre game of "hot potato" between the three opposition parties with Harper being the hot potato and with each leader tossing the potato to each other...The only people who actually care about any of this are a few dozen of us who are political junkies. I'm not sure what all of this means to the average voter who pays attention to politics for about 5 minutes per week.

I think its all about trying to get a lasting imprint in the minds of the voters as we start a campaign. Whether it will work or not is another question - but I think that the NDP wants to go into the election looking like a party that was trying to be constructive.

DL said...

I guess now its the Liberals turn to pronounce that they will vote against anything the Tories propose without even reading it and are making themselves "irrelevant"!

Jerry Prager said...

The Liberals are no longer Harper's enablers, and that can only be good for you guys, the NDP is walking into trap, perhaps knowing it's a trap, and perhaps even knowing that no good can come of it, and yet they have no choice, it will certainly be the end of Layton, for the simple reason that it's all about Harper, Harper is what has been wrong with parliament since Harper became PM. Layton just became Harper's enabler, even more so than Duceppe. The Liberals, having escaped from being Harper's enabler, will actually find a bounce in the next round of leadership equations because Ignatieff played hardball and won. People like strong leaders, even if they're total assholes like Harper, not because they like them personally,but because it's a horrible world, and at least a leader who is a horrible person can at least be a strong leader.
Ignatieff just proved he could win a round.

Steve V said...


No, you guys need to get over 79 votes, that's the point.

It's not very compelling, and nobody apart from NDP sympathizers buys any of it. You're free to put the best face on this, I expect nothing less, but it's lipstick on a pig.


I agree. Ignatieff doesn't have this "hid behind curtains" theme that handicaps any sense of strength. Now, when he's forceful, it does come with the false bravado, he means it. People don't like Harper, but he is seen as decisive. I fail to see how the new latitude hurts Ignatieff in this regard.

Steve V said...

Oh, and feel free to review all my posts the last, I don't know, three years arguing for us to show some spine, that "prop up" was hurting, not all the time, but the sheer mass. You're qualifications never existed.

********************Donas Kim Leaman said...

I am satisfied that all is well as well. Nice analysis Steve, and of course I do not mean Stephen Harper. I have very little Confidence in This PM.

It is good to not have to be seen as propping up this man. It is good to see the loose but highly visible Coalition of the CRAP and the NDP and at least for this next vote, the Bloc.

Harper's very recent loud cries of "Socialists" and "Separatists", and his Countless Rantings about the Absolute Necessity of avoiding Coalitions as if they were the plague, are now only Hypocrisy and the CRAP ( now the SCRAP LOL )are now the weaker for it.

Also, Although, it is not likely, It is not outside of the realm of possibility that they (all 3 of the Opposition Parties) are doing this as a Final Unmasking of this no longer hidden Hypocrisy. I have seen Stranger things happen and If they collectively were to Campaign on Harper's record, He would be toast.

If it is not "All Good" it is Better. Ignatieff is, for the moment anyway, able to take the initiative to Educate Canadians and make Harper's lack of Competence into the biggest issue in the minds of Canadians.

I know it is the real Question in my mind, and as I will never fail to state: "I have no Confidence in Stephen Harper, None."

bigcitylib said...

Why can't the NDP just vote "No" to the ways and means and everything works fine for them?

marie said...

I sent off a letter to Jack Layton and this is the response I received. I would like to share is reasoning for you all.

Thank you for writing to voice your views and concerns about a possible
federal election.

First, I have been clear on this matter. The decision to have a fall
election is up to Prime Minister Harper. Either the Prime Minister can
choose to work with the other political parties to make life better for
Canadians or he can force yet another election. The choice is his to

I think that the Conservatives want an election. And, threats by Liberal
Leader Michael Ignatieff to force a fall election are as equally
objectionable as when Prime Minister Stephen Harper broke his own
election law case last September to force an election Canadians didn't
want. Now, Michael Ignatieff is following the same path of political

Ultimately, Canadians will be the losers.

Minority governments require all parties to find some common ground.
And, given the economic uncertainty we are facing, Canadians expect
Parliamentarians to put the good of the country first.

The Conservatives' recent announcement on EI appears to be a step in the
right direction, but there is still much work to be done. If you would
like to read my response to the Conservatives' proposed EI changes,
please visit:

I believe there is a difference between "propping up the Conservatives"
and "making Parliament work". With our EI motion, we were trying to
make Parliament work. By agreeing to sit on the EI blue ribbon panel,
the Liberals simply propped up Harper and got nothing in return.

Regrettably, both Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff are putting their own
partisan calculations ahead of the public interest. Canadians deserve

In contrast, New Democrats have been pushing for action on protecting
pensions, helping senior citizens, and fixing the EI system. If there is
an election - we will be ready. However, we would rather be returning to
Ottawa to make this parliament work for Canadians.

Again, I appreciate receiving your correspondence and your continued
support for our party. All the best.


Jack Layton
Leader, Canada's New Democrats

Its too bsd Layton didn't tske his own advice when it came to making parliment work. The reason he is doing it now is to save his own skin. What a pathetic little man he is.

Anonymous said...

Found this at Cowboys site, but thought you'd be interested.

Hard to believe this was just three weeks ago, isn't it?


Oh, the days when the NDP was least likely to support the conservative goverment . . . all those deep-seated irreconcilable differences in philosophy and all.

ottlib said...

I agree, there is no Liberal downside.

Jack Layton has put the onus for preventing an election squarely on himself.

The Liberals will have more time to fundraise.

As you say the Liberals will have more time to build up a "lather".

The incipient sentiment in the country that the Conservatives have past their best before date will have more time to take hold.

Canadians will have more time to realize that the economic recovery is very lopsided with ordinary Canadians getting the short end of the stick while business begins to show profits again.

It is true the Conservatives probably prefer to go in the spring but it probably will not matter by then. They have nothing on the Parliamentary calendar to sustain them or to boost their fortunes until then. By then we could very well see the "kick the bums out" sentiment hit critical mass dooming the Conservatives no matter what they do. Then again maybe not but I doubt we will see their fortunes improve in a significant way between now and the spring.

I am not certain that this was the primary objective of the Sudbury announcement but I have to believe that the Liberal brain trust must have foreseen this as a very real possibility and said "We can live with that."

Northern PoV said...

"Maybe by accident, clearly this wasn't the primary plan in Sudbury, but I'll take it. "
On the contrary, I think they finally got strategic.
Michael Ignatieff escaped Harper's fatal embrace, perhaps w/o an election.
Unlike Dion, he didn't claim he could decide the election timing - just that he was no longer going to support an unworthy "partner".
And even if we have an election this fall, he has shifted that blame.

Dale said...

Isn't the continued survival of this minority government good for the NDP? Now that the Liberals have indicated that they will no longer support the government, the NDP is the only party left for Harper to look for support from. If the Liberals go up in the polls then the Conservatives will need to avoid an election in order to avoid being removed from government. As the Conservatives' need to avoid an election increases, so does the NDP's leverage to influence legislation. This is a similar scenario that lead to the "NDP Budget" when the Martin Liberals had a minority. When the Conservatives stopped supporting the Martin Liberals, the NDP were able to wring a large number of concessions from the Liberal Minority government. When the opportunity arose again, the Martin Liberals decided to spurn the NDP and take their chances with the electorate, they lost the gamble and were voted out of office. If this minority government can survive until the budget, the NDP will likely make an attempt to "rewrite the budget" for them. If we have an election and the Liberals get a minority, then the Conservatives will go through a similar exercise that the Liberals did post Martin and again post Dion and will prop up the Liberals while they are "rebuilding" just as the Liberals have with this Conservative minority. It is in these periods after the opposition's testes have descended and they begin pounding their chests at the minority government, that the NDP is most effective in parliament. It doesn't look like the NDP is running scared, it looks like they are trying to engineer another time period where they can actually accomplish something. We've seen this dance before, it's just that the NDP is trying it with a new partner.

Steve V said...

"Isn't the continued survival of this minority government good for the NDP?"


DL said...

I agree with most of what Dale is saying, but the fact is that we will have minority government one way or the other. We can have an election this fall and we know that there is about a 99% likelihood of another minority government - so there is nothing to lose for the NDP or the BQ in having another election (except maybe some money). But I'm not sure what there is to gain either.

Gayle said...

"I guess that means that only NOW are you finally acknowledging that each and every one of the 79 times the Liberals voted to prop up the Tories - it was all because of morbid fear on the part of the Liberals."

I think it was quite apparent to anyone who was paying attention, liberal partisan or not, that the LPC were propping up Harper because they were in no position to go to an election.

"Layton just became Harper's enabler..."

Layton has long been Harper's enabler. His tactic (that is coming back to haunt him now) of forcing the LPC into a corner to prop up Harper, and to keep track of all the confidence motions that passed, only served to help the conservatives. When Layton attacks the LPC the CPC win, every time.

RuralSandi said...

Seems to me that Harper has always been able to manipulate Layton.

I have to wonder how Layton, as a so-called principled man who's interest is the working people - can hold his head up. 60% of Canadians live from pay cheque to pay cheque and Harper is going to increase the EI payments (back door tax).

rockfish said...

Perhaps some of the fear in Layton's eyes in the ugly polls this week that suggest not only his vote collapsing in certain areas, but that a lot of it is eroding to Harper. Any hint of a possible CON majority would mean the NdP as we know it would be reduced to busking for campaign funds -- Harper is certain to bring his FU weapon back to knee cap his opponents if he has the ability. With the Liberals showing positive strength (tho top heavy) in fundraising, the elimination of the public funding of political parties (which I support and have been pumping the idea that Ignatieff also propose a voter option on every ballot which would give them the choice to fund $2 to the party of their choice) is most crippling to the Bloc and NdP... All the more reason that he may turn his sights on Harper come the campaign.

Dale said...

"so there is nothing to lose for the NDP or the BQ in having another election"

An election resulting in a minority for either the Liberals or the Conservatives would have a definite downside for the NDP. In either case the losing main party will need to "rebuild" (e.g. new leader, fundraising, policy review, etc.) and would likely support the minority government by default until they had determined that the rebuilding was sufficient. As a result, the NDP would lose their influence. It is during these periods of Liberal-Conservative coalition that the NDP stop being politicians and go back to being idealogues. It is only in the last few weeks that the NDP have had an opportunity to come off the bench and try to play the political game. An election would force them back to the sidelines again without their really having had a chance to make any plays.