Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Imperfect Plan

According to some, that master strategist, the Kasparov of politics, Stephen Harper has duped the opposition into forcing an election. The theory requires one disregard almost every single public comment, from almost every single Conservative, but apparently conspiracy and deep intrigue trumps glorious blue sky. To often, people prefer to torture reality to fit their pre-determined bias, rather than just letting events tell a clear story.

I don't doubt for one minute the Conservatives aren't prepared for an election. I also don't doubt that through this entire budget lead up, many Conservatives have concluded if the opposition pressed, they wouldn't hesitate to go to the people. However, that stance is far different from this idea that the Conservatives have actually goaded the opposition into an election. Apparently, the Conservatives have always wanted an election, itched for it, but wanted to appear kicking and dragging, wanted to let the opposition own the call, while quietly high fiving each other at their strategic brilliance. Oh bullocks, use your eyes and ears, not you imagination, again sometimes things are actually as they appear, as hard as that may be to believe.

When I saw Flaherty on television, I saw GENUINE disappointment that the NDP was so quick to reject the budget. When I saw Tim Powers on television a day or two prior, I saw GENUINE disappointment that the NDP were poised to reject the budget. As a matter of fact, I can't think of one Conservative I've seen that has come close to articulating any GENUINE desire to go the polls- not fearing an election by any means, but also not particularly enthusiastic. In fact, the body language has been clear, this is not a Conservative strategy that unwittingly trapped the opposition. People are free to articulate whatever they want, but I would submit the normally absent BRAVADO coming from Conservatives (as we've seen in the past, every single time an election has been threatened by the way) is more telling that bastardized theories, that rely on suspicions, rather than the on the record materials at hand.

If this was some master plan, I think we all need to reaccess the supposed strategic prowess of this PMO. Afterall, does anyone actually believe there is one Conservative in Ottawa, who would PREFER the opportunity to head to the polls with scandal and negativity story lines swirling all over? Can anyone point to a single time when so many unflattering issues broke in such a short time frame? And YET, we are supposed to believe the PMO plowed ahead with their plan, while the hapless opposition did nothing but accomodate. I fail to see how a PMO that prides itself on controlling the message thinks the current state is optimal. Rather, I see more resignation than GENUINE want. A majority is a reach a this stage, high water polling touches the holy grail, but the medium makes it look improbable. SO, when a government says it would rather continuing governing than have an election, maybe we can dispense with the over analyzing, sympathetic spin and just take it all at face value.


Jerry Prager said...

Harper is a much overrated strategist, other than the plan to transfer wealth to the overwhelmingly conservative owned media to keep them from going bankrupt and to keep them performing endless spin cycle duties about what a strategic, moderate guy is... That was a good idea, it didn't cost the Party anything, and none of their supporters care whether it cost taxpayers about 400 million... but then again, that may have been Finlay's idea.

The Rational Number said...

I sincerely can't understand why Harper doesn't ask for dissolution or prorogue or something to run away before the contempt vote tomorrow. Sure, its obvious he'd pay a price for running away again, but he's going to pay a price anyway. I'm also certain there a way to spin a runaway to the CPC base.

I'm starting to fret, and get very nervous that he really has something up his sleeve. The contempt motion really is proceeding too smoothly. Something else is up.

Steve V said...

I think he should go to GG as well, but he is on record saying he won't and they've spent two months arguing against an election. Plus, they get to run ads outside of the writ for a few more days, and that is a huge consideration from their side.

Tof KW said...

To any of the braindead who still think of Harper as some sort of master political tactician, I have but one word...


If that's not enough the November'08 economic package that almost cost him government is another example.

Or how about not winning a majority when he had the wind at his back in '08?

Plenty of other more minor stupid maneuvers he's made from the census to the G20 location shows Harper can fuck-up as good as the next guy. He's just good at threatening, smearing, creating strawman arguments, and playing the victim card (as in the Conservatives are always victims) enough to distract the media from reporting the truth.

Kasparov of politics? He still can't figure out the L-pattern those horsey-things follow.

kirbycairo said...

I suspect that if the contempt charge had not been in the offing, the Cons would have gotten one of the opposition parties to pass the budget. But they knew that it was impractical for them to vote of the budget and then vote to find the Government in contempt. That is why they were so quick to reject the budget, they knew that they couldn't vote for it even if they wanted to.

Steve V said...

"I suspect that if the contempt charge had not been in the offing, the Cons would have gotten one of the opposition parties to pass the budget."

I agree with that. Since this dance started things have changed dramatically, we've had a series of ethical questions which changed the math. Had it just been ho hum Ottawa, I suspect the budget might have passed, NDP was clearly willing. All these scandals swirling about though, just make this "spider to the fly" nonsense from columnists all the more unbelievable.

Tof KW said...

TRN & Steve, I think that the Harperbots really believe they can just tell the public that the contempt charges are just a slap on the wrist imposed on them by a star chamber.

With no other government ever being found in contempt in any Westminster-style Parliament... Harper may very well be right.

They'll probably use the public's ignorance in this matter just like the 'illegal coalition' strategy.

That's why they don't seem to care.

Steve V said...


I don't think any of this issues resonate on their own, this Carson the latest example IMHO. What doesn resonate is the collage, the laundry list when heard, makes me people take pause. It's death by a thousand cuts now. As for the contempt, I don't think the Conservatives are happy at all that we begin the campaign with this discussion at hand, regardless whether it lasts.

Jerry Prager said...

Prorogation is the perfect example of my theses: the conservative conglomerate media spin-cycle machine told everyone to go to sleep but then a Facebook Group came along with 255,000 plus members at its peak and I know because I watched the numbers climb from 40,000 when I joined and watched them peak at 255 thousand and a few, and I also remember Harper coming back, and I remember his great strategy then. "Let's trap the Liberals by making them vote against taking the March Break off to 'make up for lost time.'" Some trap, it was like stepping around shit on a sidewalk, and, we got Harper himself to say the words "We have to make up for LOST TIME." Harper is afraid of the people, that's why he doesn't want an election: the majority of us have voted against him three times in a row, and the coalitions of FB friends and neighbours and splinter groups that went to ground after CAPP won its victory, on top of all those who were politicized by the G20 police state actions that start and finish with Harper, are going to blow the Tories out of the Twitterverse; we will flash rally Harper everywhere he goes, every riding he shows up in. We have grown in numbers and we are the counterspin. The National Post won't even accept comments anymore because they know we can move scores of people to counter everything in the article. One the pages still open for comment, "we will own the comments, and disown the odium." This is our election,the majority of voters who support liberal democracy. and those parties who understand that and act accordingly, need do nothing more than give us the writ, give us a reason to vote for you. We are the Ents of the destroyed forests of democracy, we are the spirits of the Cyberwoods, and we want Sauruman Harper and his Wormtongue companions, so don't fuck with us and the parties that fight our cause will survive, and those that don't won't.

Kirk said...

Whether the Conservatives wanted an election or not, they are well positioned for one. And I'm looking at the polls here not what we hope will occur during the election.

How well the Liberals run their campaign and how much the media protects Harper will be the two big opposing factors that will play out over the next 6 weeks.

If the "in-and-Out" scandal continues to be ignored or downplayed by the media while that same media takes every opportunity to question/attack Ignatieff and, as normal, allows Harper to hide behind his veil like he's down for the last 5 years then it will take a hell of a campaign by the Liberals to obtain any gains.

I bet there will be more "coalition" talk in the media than "In-and-Out" talk.

Meanwhile, Harper will look boring and stable and people will think, "good, we can elect Harper and go back to sleep".

A Eliz. said...

I think I read that the Bloc and the Liberals won't have time..the Bloc with a motion, and the Liberals with their contempt bit on Friday..its all over today!

Steve V said...


I have never disputed that the Cons are well positioned, only their cadence suggested they didn't want one now.

Sean Cummings said...

>>If this was some master plan, I think we all need to reassess the supposed strategic prowess of this PMO.<<

I think it's less of Stephen Harper's supposed Rommel-like tactical brilliance and more of a case of how our national media's inability to figure the guy out.

The Mound of Sound said...

Harper isn't good but he is diabolically shrewd.
Turning the 2008 poll into a referendum on Dion was brilliant. Harper had the summer for the public to forget the scandals of the past winter and spring and he didn't even have to campaign on any platform.

This is Ignatieff's chance to prove he's not John Kerry. I had the chance in 74 to cover part of Trudeau's campaign. That was the gold standard for political combat. Trudeau would absolutely shred a guy like Harper. No, I'm sorry, he'd eviscerate him first, then shred the remnants.

It takes passion to fight a guy like Harper. You have to wear your heart on your sleeve. You have to relentlessly attack Harper as a secretive, manipulative, undemocratic bully boy. You have to make enough Canadians revile that prick to throw him out.

Any opposition that can't make an election a referendum on the guy in power is not going to win. To go all lame-assed and drone on about "the economy" is loser talk.

I'd love to see Louise Arbour have a shot at taking Harper to pieces.

ottlib said...

Yep, I am certain the Conservative brain trust, when planning on how to begin the next election campaign, decided on letting the Opposition define the Conservatives as in contempt of Parliament.

Sounds like a winning strategy to me.

This is why political journalists should stick with reporting the facts instead of trying to be political strategist. They such at it.

The Rational Number said...

Well, I think I found my answer in the new Ipsos poll. Hopefully the CPC have peaked early with nowhere to go but down. But this is just wishful thinking. The poll number won't change unless the public is engaged with Iggy, health care and fighters. Democratic issues work on me, but not on my friends without political ears.

Rotterdam said...

Now that Ignatieff is on fire, will he go barbeque Harper, or himself back to Boston....I think Bob Rae lit the match and wants Iggy's exit hastened...stay tuned.

Gene Rayburn said...

I think Rotterdam is a moron

Tomm said...

I agree with Steve. From my reading of the CPC, they did not want an election; their grass roots didn't want an election and their mothers didn't want an election.

I think they successfully read the mood of the electorate on that item. They will no doubt be damaged by the contempt and scandal stories. Perhaps it's a push. If so, the loser is most likely the LPC for forcing their will on the Canadian voter. It was a risky play. It may work out, but to do so requires a level of momentum that I haven't seen manifested yet. We will be swimming in polls in the next two weeks, so we will find out quickly where the parties are as the starters gun goes off.

Tof KW said...

Gene ...already confirmed, Rotterdam is a moron.

- - -
Tomm pretty much have it, except I think when given the choice the public never wants an election. Exception being unless the governing party really screwed up, and a 'throw-the-bums-out' attitude begins to form.

Is Harper at that point? No way. However the Liberals are counting on the post-writ adverting laws to balance the field for them, and to paint a narrative on the Harper government's breach of ethics and accountability.

The Grits will have to be really sharp over the next two weeks, and this democratic reform platform had better be bold and released ASAP. If not this election will be over pretty soon. As you wrote, we'll be swimming in polls over the next few days, but the numbers two weeks hence are the ones to pay attention to.

Tomm said...

I wish there was a polling holiday at some point so the politician's are asked serious questions by the media and not lazy ones about how their party is polling. It really takes away from the messaging when a politician has to patiently repond to such superficial concerns.

Kind of like Layton having to answer endless questions about his health. I see that getting tiresome real quick.

Steve V said...


I don't disagree with you, would be a good idea.