Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Formidable Foe

Susan Delacourt's piece yesterday presents a sobering reality, at least for those of us not supportive of the "Conservative coalition". However, there is no disputing this reality, further emphasized by an almost bedrock underpinning that guarantees permanence moving forward. No other party can brag about such a loyal base of support, at least in terms of sheer numbers. A built in advantage that will only grow as our electoral map changes and shifts focus. I have to agree, there is every possibility that these Harper Conservatives dominate the political scene for many years to come.

It is quite amazing that Harper sits with an impressive majority, with almost no presence in Quebec. Along the same vein, the NDP have swept the province and their reward is ZERO real world influence. Both facts speak to a new era in Canadian politics, which will only be re-emphasized when the new regional seat distribution map is truly digested. This Conservative coalition looks all the more resilient. when we incorporate the very near future. You look at the conservative power base, as well as regions where a center right alternative has an entrenched history, and the challenge for the opposition entirely daunting.

Things tend to ebb and flow in Canadian politics, but I do agree that this Harper coalition is stronger than say Mulroney's majority metric. I call it the knee jerk base, tried and true, no danger of it revolting or protesting really, intoxicated by power, it will be there, wallets agape for the foreseeable future, no question about it. Factor in all of the almost institutional in nature advantages, with the added regional power shifts, and it's an impressive presentation.

I'm not sure Canada is anymore conservative than in the past, but by offering this "value" based identity, there is enough of an attraction for "swing" voters that meld with the rabid base to create a formidable foe, with ever expectation of future strength.

16 comments:

Dan F said...

Will the social conservative base stand by them in 4 years if there has been no movement on their issues?

Will the reform base if there has been no movement on senate reform, and Harper has turned out to be everything they hated about the Liberals and PCs?

Will former PCs stick by them if the economy doesn't get any better? There are already signs of a split that keeps showing itself at every Conservative convention.

I'm not saying the road back for us will be easy, but there is a road back, even if its not entirely clear yet.

Remember, the defining narrative of this campaign was not apparent until 2 weeks into the campaign. To try to predict the next one, 4 years out, is impossible.

At the point in time where Martin succeeded Chretien as PM, the Liberals would have seemed a Formidable Foe as well, but here we are only a few short years later.

If we do the work, lay the foundation, soften the ground across the country (what were the NDP doing in Quebec the past 4 years to prepare for their breakthrough?) then going into the next election, its anyone's game once again.

Steve V said...

Will the social conservative base stand by them in 4 years if there has been no movement on their issues?

Absolutely, where are they going to go?

Sean Cummings said...

The social conservative base has no other place to park their vote. They could, I suppose, start up a new Reform party, but they know that it will do nothing more than divide the right, so it's been there - done that. The best they can hope for is to push their agenda or hope for a new leader one day who shares their values. What I do see happening, though, is a possible implosion of the left - Dippers have a far more activist vein running through them and they're prepared to fall on their swords to protect their values. If the NDP starts moving to the center, I think there is much more possible volatility in terms of what the NDP looks like in five years time. It's even possible that merging with the Liberals might be too much for NDP purists to take.

sharonapple88 said...

Things tend to ebb and flow in Canadian politics, but I do agree that this Harper coalition is stronger than say Mulroney's majority metric.

Is there any hope in the fact that there's a bit of a fracture developing in the Conservative party on riding associations and representation? If there needs to be a majority of delegates and a majority of delegates from each individual province, it's unlikely something like this will pass. Which makes you wonder why they would bother even suggesting something like this in the first place.

Omar said...

The Liberals could take their already fiscal conservatism and move toward a more socially conservative agenda in attempt to stem the comfortability people are acquiring for the CPoC. Of course that comes at the cost of losing progressives, but I don't think anyone is buying this 'big-red-tent-middle-of-road' spectrum they keep trying to sell. More and more I think a merge with the NDP is not only preferable, but inevitable. Let the Greens be the viable third party in Parliament.

Kirk said...

Their base is the biggest issue.

But the way to deal with that base is not by worrying "where are they going to go" but by using voter suppression to get them to stay home.

Remind them of every issue, from the de-funding CBC to restricting abortion, that they hold dear that Harper will do nothing on.

40% of Canadians stay home likely because they don't feel their vote matters or that their issues aren't being addressed. Every issue Harper doesn't act on that the base cares about is an issue that isn't being addressed and a sign that the vote of this base doesn't matter.

Harper will never address all the concerns of his base. Something like killing the LGR will happen but many others won't.

Every time he does some limited thing to appease his base we should use it to energize ours. Killing the LGR endangers Canadian women...

Every time he fails to do something for his base we should use it to encourage that base to stay home on election day. Another budget and the CBC's budget hasn't been touched, Harper doesn't care about you. Another anti-abortion march on Parliament Hill and Harper proclaims he won't re-open the abortion "debate", Harper doesn't care about you.

If Harper wants to be a squatter in the center of Canadian politics then kick him out, he doesn't belong there.

Gloria said...

Wikileaks says, welcome to the N.A.U. Canada. This is Harper's evil agenda.

Strangely, I looked for the video of, Harper's henchmen storming Guelph University. That video has been removed. Hmmmm

BigRed said...

Where will they go Steve? They'll go to the Wildrose Party when it goes national:) I know I know, it's a stupid idea. I mean it's not like the Western wing of a party, spurned by what it saw as little attention paid to it over the focus on Ontario (the CONs new girlfriend), ever splintered off. Oh, wait...

Seriously, I understand that Harper has done a lot to build this party over his time as leader, but it is nothing that cannot be overcome. We just have to have our wits about us.

Dylan said...

Not all Conservatives are Albertans giving their party of blind-choice generational majorities. Remember that.

Delacourt is correct that Harper has impressively brought together many types of conservatives from across the country. However, I would charge that underpinning all of these gains were 2 myths.

The first myth is the myth of Harper's conservatism: small-government, low taxes, fiscal prudence, centrism.

Very little of this has proven to be the case. Unless you consider "small government" to be slashing bureaucrat jobs, then maybe. Unless you consider "low taxes" to be the GST and fiscal prudence to be... well... there's little of that to be seen. Centrism, on the other hand, has been the mantra of the Harper conservatives while in a minority type situation where MOST of their legislation is tailored to do nothing radical if anything.

I believe the reason this myth is so pervasive and that survives is that the SECOND myth will push a reasonable electorate to the status quo every time: the Liberals wills stand for anything as long as it translates to gaining power.

What does Harper stand for? Fiscal responsibility! Law and order! What do the Liberals stand for? Uh... err...

Those fed up with both historical options in QC thought that it would be best to toss all the bums out and select a brand new choice - the NDP. This bodes well for Harper as he has always envisioned a Canada where the CPC and NDP are the two parties fighting it out, and he believes; and so do I, that the advantage goes to the CPC and their attack machine over the "socialist" policies of the NDP in the majority of elections that system would produce.

I would challenge all Liberals to think like this:

We can choose over the next four years to organize ourselves for the destination of the party or for it's destiny.

We can organize to win the next election and govern, or we can organize to build a Liberal Canada. Think about how Harper wrangled the CA/PCs and how he has conducted and driven the CPC in each election since 2003 - he has had DESTINY in his sights not the destination. He knew the latter would come eventually, with or without the former. But MUCH better WITH it. That means moral victories. That means incremental steps. And that means letting Harper govern with a majority and showing the electorate who he really is. It may be two majorities in a row. That's fine, because our work is not only in the HoC it is at the EDA level. It's not about knocking him off, that will eventually happen; it's about our position for the long haul. About re-writing the myths and turning the tides. This is what Delacourt didn't mention or give any thought to and it's to our advantage that we realize this sooner rather than later.

Jerry Prager said...

Harper will destroy that Party.
His character, his drive for power, and the fact that he will never be satisfied means that he will go too far: he will become an object lesson in hubris in Canadian history books, the contempt ruling a foreshadowing. The dark thing behind his eyes is not done with him yet, or Canada.
He will drive people to the streets, the opposition he faced at the G20 practice game, will rise exponentially each day of his rule: he will whisper and people will be killed much like Harris at Ipperwash, only worse, more foreshadow of the malice at the heart of the Lack of Common Sense Reaction.
The PMO has links to racketeers, corruption will follow Harper every day he is in power, and then he will implode and suck the party he built from existence with him, an inverted rapture.
Elmer Mackay + Karlheinz Shreiber + Brian Mulroney + Peter Mackay + Stephen Harper + Julian Fantino = follow the money and the weapons, for that way lies darkness and doings that will someday come to the light.

Sean Cummings said...

>>His character, his drive for power, and the fact that he will never be satisfied means that he will go too far: he will become an object lesson in hubris in Canadian history books, the contempt ruling a foreshadowing. The dark thing behind his eyes is not done with him yet, or Canada.<<

Cue creepy organ music.

sharonapple88 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sharonapple88 said...

Cue creepy organ music.

Which Harper is fully capable of performing considering his skills on the piano.

Interesting article on the problems of uniting the left. One of the more interesting points is the breakdown of Canadias in terms of politics -- 65% consider themselves centrists, 21% are right-wing, and 9% are left-wing. The base the Conservatives have isn't insurmountable.

Omar said...

No, what may prove to be insurmountable is the disdain for the Liberals in Quebec and the overt hatred of them in the West. In those regions the Liberals are the Lada of the political world: Nobody's buying.

Jerry Prager said...

Until liberals return to liberal political philosophy - greatest equal liberty, abandon the faux neo-liberalism defined as such by American conservatives, and solve the problem of corporatism once and for all, there will only be corporatists and those who fight a valiant, but losing rear guard retreat as the uber rich take over the planet, and restore feudalism and turn the rest of us into serfs.
The NDP has nothing to offer but rearguard, the cons are corporatists masking as libertarians. It's do or die time for liberalism, give us greatest equal liberty, or go away and let us live and die as peasants.

sharonapple88 said...

No, what may prove to be insurmountable is the disdain for the Liberals in Quebec and the overt hatred of them in the West. In those regions the Liberals are the Lada of the political world: Nobody's buying.

The Mace article points out something that escapes partisans (myself included): The general public votes on to the party whom they believe will govern best at the moment. Things can change -- and widely from election to election, or even year to year. In 2003, Paul Martin looked unstoppable, and we all know what happened to him. (And if that poll was right, a few more election cycles and the PCs could have turned their fortunes around.... Well, we'll never know now.)

There has to obviously be a new plan, new ideas. No one has to point out that what the Liberals have been doing hasn't been working.

Having said this, I hope the next federal election, the leaders try and move beyond regional interests and give the Canadian equivalent of Obama's red-state/blue state speech. (Say what you will about Obama, he pretty much tries to breakdown walls between groups in that speech). We don't need to become more fragmented than we already are.