Friday, April 15, 2011

A Question Of Power

As we enter the second half of the campaign, Harper is ramping up his calls for a majority. With polls at least keeping the prospect alive, we can expect to have a national conversation at some point, reviewing what exactly that could mean.

Jeffrey Simpson made the point, it's been awhile since we've had a majority, Canadians may have forgotten that a Prime Minister in this situation yields more power than a President of the United States, almost dictatorial in scope. Harper wants to talk about a majority, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest a focused debate could backfire. Some are even positing, that talk of a Harper majority is now the Liberals best chance to try and rally support behind a "stop Harper" movement. Not the silly fear tactics of the past- hidden agenda stuff that has never worked- but a more rational reading of Harper with unchecked power.

When you drill down past the fawning Harper receives on a daily basis, you find ceilings, you find real hesitations about Harper, the Conservatives. Despite a country headed in the right direction, sentiment doesn't replicate for Harper. Despite certain recognition of competence, steady hand, there is also real apprehension, Canadians forever luke warm about this Prime Minister. A divided opposition vote tends to gloss over Conservative problems, around 2/3rds of us don't particularly care for the PM. Factor in poor past turnout, and it's fair to say there is little enthusiasm around, apart from the marginal faithful. 22% of Canadians voted for the Conservatives in 2008, never forget the latent reservations that exist, and they haven't changed, if the polls are any indication. No matter, our democracy is such that Harper doesn't require widespread appeal, only a mention in terms of how this discussion may go around Easter dinners, across the country.

My point- let's not forgot that the call to majority is a double edged sword, a real conversation not necessarily a net plus for the Conservatives. We have to see how this campaign proceeds, but if a Conservative majority looks a distinct possibility, will those hesitations crystallize, can someone else take advantage and we see a late push elsewhere. I'm not predicting, but if we hear more talk like Simpson, this idea of a person with more power than Obama, it could well take soft, undecided voters aback. The word is TENTATIVE, I submit Canadians are still tentative about Stephen Harper. If the question becomes, does this man deserve unchecked power? Do you want a democratic check to keep an eye on him, given past behaviour is more power a good idea? I'm not sure the answer to these questions is positive for the Conservatives. While I understand the Harper logic in calling for a majority, if the prospect looks real and distinct in the second half of this campaign, fair to wonder how that changes the landscape, as well as motivate latent opposition.

15 comments:

Fat Arse said...

Bang on the money Steve. Here's my take on the "power" we have good reason to fear from the "other Quebec" should Harper secure a majority. See:http://arsenisms.blogspot.com/2011/04/elxn41s-other-quebec-consevative.html

Jerry Prager said...

Easter weekend before the vote should see the same thing that started happening with Dion before CTV released the interview footage in an effort to stop a resurgence of Liberalism, the media has been paid hundreds of millions of dollars over the last few years by the PMO to smooth his hold pn power, 26 million just before the election. This was always a stop Harper election, always a question of increased turnout, always a question of hyper-partisan voters stopping long enough to salvage democracy.
I'm counting on the vote mob movement to engage parents and grandparents in serious Easter weekend discussions about the future of Canada, one that won't include Harper.

Tof KW said...

Suspicious timing for the CBC - last night the At Issue panel was seriously suggesting that the NDP could become the official opposition. Well as Kinsella wrote, they're probably worried about the next round of CBC cuts after Harper wins his majority.

Gayle said...

That was an odd At Issue. NDP are still at least 10 points behind the LPC. How can anyone seriously consider them a potential secong party at this point?

Maybe if they come within 5...

saskatoonauthor said...

The way to stop Harper is for Liberals to start attacking the NDP. The smartest thing I saw in the debate on Tuesday night was when Ignatieff said "at least we get into government" or words to that effect. There's a reason the NDP don't win elections and I think Liberals should come out swinging and ask voters if they're voting for their local MP to be a member of government or of the opposition. A vote for the NDP is a vote to stay in opposition - something like that. Shift the focus away from Harper because Canadians already know what they are getting with him. Go after Layton and the NDP and just start speaking plainly: you're wasting your vote by supporting the NDP. Do you want to elect a government or an opposition?

Marpman said...

its curious that Canada never seems to have multiple parties on the right, but a myriad of parties on the left. The Tories love this vote splitting idea, coupled with low voter turnout and they squeak in once again.
Guess there were multiple RW parties, Reform, Progressive-Conservatives...but they were eaten (alive) by Harper and MacKay.
We need a good vote-split on the right to help balance this all out.

Tof KW said...

saskatoonauthor said...
The way to stop Harper is for Liberals to start attacking the NDP.

No need to attack, all the Grits need to do is translate some NDP Quebec candidate's quotes for the ROC to hear. Especially the west, I'm sure they'd love to hear some of the dipper-separatist's words.

Another way, get Layton to say what he said in English about bill-101 the other day.

The NDP in Quebec are closet separatists, and they need to be exposed for what they are. Actually some of them aren't even hiding they're Péquistes.

http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/319773/quebec-solidaire-veut-marginaliser-sa-gauche-radicale

sharonapple88 said...

The way to stop Harper is for Liberals to start attacking the NDP.

To stop Harper, we need to get into Conservative held ridings. It's possible. Most of them aren't necessarily Conservative strongholds.The Conservatives are campaigning only in swing ridings, and offering them things -- offering to move a federal department from Montreal to Quebec City is the most disgusting example. It would be nice to see them sweat a bit. WesternGrit has one interesting point on how to do this here.

We need a good vote-split on the right to help balance this all out.

Conservatives apparently are better at
group loyalty. I'm not sure either the Liberals or the NDP could do half the crap Harper has without their parties being split.

Tof KW said...

By the way, just wanted to point out that federalist parties playing footsie with the soft-nationalists dans la belle has a great potential to end very badly.

Case in point, the last politician who tried gave us... Après Meech

sharonapple88 said...

No need to attack, all the Grits need to do is translate some NDP Quebec candidate's quotes for the ROC to hear. Especially the west, I'm sure they'd love to hear some of the dipper-separatist's words.

Wow. Layton's campaigning for Alexandre Boulerice today too. I think the NDP needs to be questioned a bit on this. It does explain the upswing in popularity in Quebec.

Tof KW said...

Sharon, I lived in Quebec back in the late 80's/early 90's when there was still a provincial NDP - and it was no secret they supported sovereignty along with the PQ. Once they fell apart, the federal wing began employing them, and they do to this day.

That's the whole secret to the NDP's popularity dans la belle, they've been setting themselves up as the Bloc's alternative for 20 years now. That's why Duceppe was challenging Layton on bill-101 during the debates, he knows the Bloc is losing votes to Layton.

Also, typical NDP that they say one thing in Quebec, and something else to the rest of Canada. Kind of like they are for the LGR, except for those rural ridings where they are against the LGR.

This is why I distrust the NDP and think they are slime - I may disagree with Harper and his version of conservatism, but at least I know where he and his party stands.

Steve V said...

Gayle

As of the airing, NDP 13% back of Libs, Libs 8% back of Cons, and yet the battle for second was on! Utterly useless.

sharonapple88 said...

Interesting history lesson T of KW. Had no idea of the NDP's past in Quebec. I think they're playing with fire there.

Steve V said...

Only if someone calls them out!

sharonapple88 said...

Only if someone calls them out!

Got some links from Eugene Forsey's blog on the NDP. Here's another blog on the whole NDP separatist candidate

More mainstream source, the Globe & Mail, notes Layton's position on Quebec.

"Consider the rhetoric of the NDP, now sitting second in many polls in Quebec and actively courting Bloc Québécois voters. Jack Layton reiterated his support for an unnecessary extension of Quebec’s controversial language law into areas of federal jurisdiction. He then echoed Lucien Bouchard in pledging to create “winning conditions” for Quebec, by bringing the province back into the constitutional fold. In fact, in terms of culture and language protection, Quebec is already winning within Canada.... It is a divisive policy to effectively allow for the import of controversial provincial legislation into national politics."

Yikes.