Sunday, June 26, 2011


It's interesting to watch everyone in Ottawa recalibrate the political landscape in the wake of the last federal election. Obviously, things have changed dramatically, so an adjustment is warranted, in terms of which party gets focus, the coverage pecking order, conversations about relative "irrelevance". Keeping it real, there is simply no way around the "decimated Liberals" narrative, that's what happened and the consequences are sobering.

However, within this new reality, I'm now sensing an over reach, wherein people have exaggerated the narrative. The Liberals are not "dead", the Liberals are not "irrelevant", at least not yet. If you want to argue such, then perhaps a history lesson is in order. Were the NDP dead after the 2008 election, where they received LESS popular vote than the 2011 Liberals? Were the NDP "irrelevant" when they were the FOURTH party in Parliament, farther down the pecking order? Seems a bit of relativist distortion, rather than a true recognition of Parliamentary makeup. Again, by no means trying to elevate the Liberals, it's a dire position, but I'm also sensing a bit of over compensation now, which is subjective punditry.

I can recall MANY times that Layton would get the soundbite over Ignatieff or Dion in the newscasts. I never had a problem with this coverage, because it was more to do with who had the effective line, rather than simply a concrete hierarchy based on seats. That said, this new Ottawa seems to be consumed with ensuring that the 2011 results are solely reflective. I'm sure the NDP braintrust is pressing hard to ensure the party gets coverage they now legitimately demand. The spin game might help explain this disturbing "irrelevant" characterization.

The Liberals are the third party in Parliament. The Liberals are, in many ways, what the NDP used to be in terms of makeup (again go look at 2008, the seat totals are similar as well). Now, I don't recall media types positing that the NDP should be ignored, even though they actually had a lower fourth place status. So, in the interest of fair coverage, balance and intellectual honestly, can we all just dispense with this irresponsible over compensation? Incorporate the new realities, but don't swing so wildly that you forget historical context and 3 million of us that voted for the dead people.


jad said...

In the whole Canada Post legislation thing that has just concluded, the Liberals were completely irrelevant. When Rae had anything to say, and it didn't happen very often, he was simply a pale imitation of Layton and did not contribute anything. He didn't even bother showing up for the final vote.

If the Liberals want to stop being seen as "irrelevant", they have to put some space between themselves and the NDP.

Omar said...

Completely agree with the above statement. Straight out of the gate the NDP harness the Opposition reigns impressively and make the Liberals look like yesterdays lunch. To my mind it throws cold water on the Liberals whole 'lets pick a new leader in two years time' stance. If Bob Rae's handling of this latest parliamentary situation is any indication of future performance I think the sooner they get a new leader and re-brand themselves the better.

Steve V said...

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't see how appearing pro labour really helps in expanding your base support. CP isn't exactly a beloved entity, people aren't reading the mood of the country if they think the NDP are scoring huge points. Not a question of right or wrong, but the Libs are losing nothing during this debate.

Frankly Canadian said...

It's just the right wing Conservative plan to adjust the Canadian political landscape to include only two relevant parties; all other parties are only small independent types. If there are only two main parties, the left (NDP) and the right (Conservatives), Harper captures more of the middle ground soft right or soft left vote. Just look at the optics of this recent Canada Post fiasco, 70% of Canadians sided with Conservatives and wanted Canada Post back to work. No one really talked about how the workers were locked out and that management’s plan was to have the government intervene all along. The right wing Conservative party has had the Media in their back pockets for years and more and more people are realizing this fact. Unfortunately we are powerless in control of our media and will be spoon-fed propaganda until the right has completed their plan to dominate the political landscape. I'm sure that's their plan, however I still believe the Liberals can right this ship and bring back independence to out media, back to a unbiased, investigative, journalism that includes full and balanced disclosure of facts relative for us the people to make informed decisions.

Omar said...

I wasn't so much commenting on whether the NDP scored any political points with their filibustering (which I think is debatable), but rather how confident and competent their caucus appeared for what was their first real political testing. For those who thought there was to be big stumbles from this new Opposition, this polished performance states otherwise. I think it would be naive to believe the Liberals "lost nothing" during this debate.

CK said...

I agree with the first two statements.A very sleep deprived Elizabeth May also had a nuanced stance. She was against c-6, but not fond of the filibuster, but was present as much as her energy allowed her to and was present for the votes. Sure her pleas for compromise were as ignored as those of the few Liberal MPs present, but at least, she kept trucking.

At about 1AM Saturday morning, when the vote that struck down the NDP's hoist motion took place, the Cons' had all hands on deck for that vote. Most shortly left afterward, except those holding vigil over the night shift. The Liberals didn't have too many. I know, the NDP looked like amateur hour when 30 of their's didn't show up to vote for their own motion, but I'm not talking about that.

We saw precious little of Bob Rae throughout the whole drama. Where was he? Shouldn't he have shown some leadership? I don't care how he and his party would've been ignored or how little attention would've been paid to them. Being absent made them all look that much more irrelevent.

Then, Justin Trudeau's tweets from last night. Tweeted, that he was basically relieved that filibuster was over, as it would've been his turn to do night shift had filibuster gone on into last night. He said that celebrating Fete Nationale was basically more important than working in HoC. Very disappointing for one who is supposed to be a candidate for future leader. Bad attitude. Certainly shows he does not have his father's work ethic. His father, whether you liked him or not, would've worked night and day, regardless what position he would've taken. Definitely, not ready for prime time. Perhaps that cafeteria worker from my work place was right. young Trudeau isn't serious. "He only wants to ride a bike".

Liberals are going to have to do much better and be more present if they ever expect to be a viable option in the next election, or else, expect Harper to be in power for the unforeseeable future.

Steve V said...

I don't think the Libs lose anything on this particular debate, and I actually think it naive to believe more than EIGHT Canadians were paying attention to how NDP MP's did during this debate.

I do agree, Libs have to keep up a profile, but on this issue, if the NDP want to like an extension of big labour with the public, have at it, just reinforces the image they are trying to shed.

Others are free to see it differently, but I frankly don't get all this "missing in action" concern, at least not here. I thought we placed ourselves in the middle of two ideological parties, which is where the vast majority of Canadians reside. I'm fine with all of it.

Dame said...

It is nothing else but wishful thinking from the "winners'
Right now nothing happening the strike is just a small scale fight without much significant /in my mind '/ where liberals can’t bite and change much.. the cons .are simply getting things the way they were hoping to do.
it is refractory time.. except jack's showboating .. .his favorite play.
I worship unions personally I think they were building the country the way we like it now… but Rae just can’t be fighting now on that base …

I remember very clearly the words Trudeau said when he was forced to be the leader of the opposition party against Joe Clark minority Government.... and somewhat was accused not being very forceful in opposition... he said "LET THEM DO THE GOVRNING PART and then we see what to do.... and he needed just a short time when he stepped up and voted them out soon as they were doing the stupid stuff.... the rest is history.

CK said...

Big labour?? How about working class? Aren't most Canadians members of the working class? Surely they're not big management or even middle management?

Many Canadians are or at least, have been union members, and as such, have been involved with often bitter labour disputes, often involving strikes and/or lockouts. This bill sends the message to management (not just Canada Post), "Why bother negotiating? I'll just get my buddies Lisa Raitt and Steve Harper to hammer out a contract and if they don't like it, too bad!" Is that what we really want?

Harper, Raitt and their friends showed that they really despised unions during those debates and likely, they could go by way of Wisconsin. Is that what we really want?

Then, what happens when they ban unions? What's next? Non-unionized labour. Whatever regulations non-unionized labour would have (yes, most types of non-unionized employment is set by the provinces, but some like banking, transport and broadcasting are set by the feds), could also go out the windown. Standards like health and safety, basic minimum wage, etc. That doesn't bother anyone here?

CK said...

For the record, what few Liberals who were present, voted against c-6, as well. It was the filibuster they took issue with. However, none of that matters, because of their absenteism and lack of leadership.

The point is, they looked like they weren't taking a stand one way or another, something both the right and left in Canada raked the Liberals over the coals with. They're going to have to start making better efforts to rectify that.

Steve V said...


I don't think the public is onside with the NDP stance (I am btw), so it's fine to say working class this and that, but from what I saw polling wise, most people favour ending this immediately. Harper has the soundbite, the NDP playing to their traditional base, I don't see us losing out to them here at all. Most of the moves are all inside Ottawa stuff anyways, this isn't cooler chatter at all.

CK said...

That isn't my point. This is about pandering to ignorance and misinformation.

This kind of pandering is short sighted.

By the by, the Liberals non-stance and absenteism, or Bob Rae's use of the word "Shambolic" sure didn't help them, neither.

Of course it's about working class. I wonder how Canadians who are members of unions will see their own rights neutered? Or non-unionized workers seeing their rights gone?

Steve V said...

Again, CP has little public support, almost everyone agrees Harper has much latitude. I'm not extrapolating to all unions, and I agree about this HORRIBLE precedent, but I see no evidence whatsoever that this a big winner for the NDP outside of their base. I couldn't even watch this filibuster, people actually think Canadians were?

jad said...

I don't think the NDP were big winners here, but I think the LPC were big losers. What exactly did they stand for - collective bargaining rights, the CUPW, or the fillibuster. Not quite sure.

If layton is going to come out with stunts like this, he is going to suck all the air out of the room. And if Rae is MIA, exact;y whose side is he on ? It's all about grabbinbg those votes on the left side of the spectrum.

Steve V said...

I've others say we are the big losers here, but I don't see anything BIG about this issue.

CK said...

Steve, the point is, no matter the issue, the Liberals have to be standing for something. They have to be at work. They have to have all hands on deck when it comes to voting, even if it is to abstain. This time around, they looked irrelevent.

Even Elizabeth May, who was up for more than 32+ hours straight, before actually taking a break for sleep was participating in debates. She was pleading for both sides to at least compromise--to perhaps remove the parts of c-6 that the opposition side didn't like. It was obvious there, that she stood for compromise--the one woman show. She made an effort.

The Liberals, particularly Justin Trudeau in last night's tweets showed he didn't care. If he so obviously doesn't care, perhaps he should resign. That kind of language proved that Vivian Barbot was correct about him--if that don't sound like a dilitant, I dont' what does.

sharonapple88 said...

I agree that as leader, Bob Rae should have been there to reiterate the party line from time to time.

The Hansard to this thing is huge.

Ted Hsu had a few interesting comments on the filibuster: ".... I would have liked the filibuster to have occurred at a different point. What I heard was some eloquent speeches about the history of the labour movement, the importance of collective bargaining, etc., lots of emails read by Conservative MPs about the pain caused by the lack of mail service. So what we got were two sets of speeches that were more ideological and less about problem solving than I would have liked. I would have preferred the main filibuster to have occurred in Committee of the Whole at the clause where the Conservatives imposed a wage settlement that was worse than what Canada Post was offering. The reason is that it's easy for the average, busy, person to understand that point and I think we could have maximized the pain and political cost, and maybe even gotten a concession."

Hmm... he may have had a point. I'm not sure if there's any guarantee they would have got a concession... but it was dissapointing that the NDP just suddenly broke off their filibuster yesterday and didn't try to filibuster the amendments, which in my opinion were more important than the Hoist (which had no chance of passing).

A few questions come up after all of this.

Having now filibustered for this bill, will the NDP put up as big a fight with every bill and budget that they disagree with? They can't show less of a fight for something like the big omnibus crime bill as they did against the back-to-work legislation.

Will the Conservatives allow filibusters in the future? Gerry Bryne pointed out that the government can limit the time a debate can go on, and therefore they could have stopped the filibuster cold. Was it a housekeeping error on the government's part?

Did they allow this filibuster to happen as a way to fundraise -- "Hey, even with a majority, the Conservatives are under attack... give generously to help build a wall of money to protect us from the opposition." ;)

We'll find out answers to some of these in the following months.

Steve V said...

Taking your cues from the union is hardly a big winner for the NDP.

CK said...

Isn't anyone just a tad troubled by the growing anti-union sentiment in the country?

Supposing Harper succeeds in neutering unions, what do you think he'll go after next? Basic labour standards and regulations for non-unionized labour. It's already happening in the US.

CK said...

Oh, and Deepak Chopra made 650,000$ per year in salary and bonuses. I don't see Harper asking him to cut that down, nor Canadians. Why would that be? I seriously doubt he works nearly as hard.

Steve V said...

Isn't anyone just a tad troubled by the growing anti-union sentiment in the country?


Omar said...

..particularly Justin Trudeau in last night's tweets showed he didn't care. If he so obviously doesn't care, perhaps he should resign.

Unfortunately the wrong Trudeau decided to get involved in politics. Brother Sacha would have been the better bet to gravitate toward his father's greatness as a leader. Justin is a bit of a phony, I'm afraid.


Omar said...

not sure why that Sacha is down at the bottom there.

sharonapple88 said...

Isn't anyone just a tad troubled by the growing anti-union sentiment in the country?

Yes. It's all apart of the zero-sum games we're playing. Politics nowadays appeals to everyone's apparent self-interests. It would be nice if someone could try and reach the angels within all of us -- "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."


The Senate seems to get a passing grade for their sober thoughts on the Canada Post legislation.