Monday, January 31, 2011

Another Banner Day For The F35

There must be a liberal media conspiracy or something, because the almost daily deluge of negative stories pertaining to the F35 is starting to reach critical mass. This morning, two stories provide further evidence that this plane isn't suited to Canada's needs or capabilities.

The issue of a single engine fighter has been dealt in the past, and Canada has rejected those fighters because of safety concerns. I guess the question for the government- what has changed, is pilot safety no longer a concern?:
Single-engine F-35’s may endanger Canadian crews

The decision-makers 30 years ago realized that a single engine was a distinct liability for long-distance patrols across the Canadian North and along long coastlines. If the engine failed — and engines do fail — how would the pilot get back?

The decision to opt for two engines when the time came to replace the Starfighters and Voodoos seemed like a no-brainer. Since the twin-engine CF-18 came into service in 1982, it has proved to be reliable. Although some aircraft have inevitably been lost, its safety record sets off no alarm bells.

Yet today Ottawa is proposing to abandon the caution and concern for safety that characterized its CF-18 decision 30 years ago. Why?

Pressure from Washington is clearly a factor...

To be fair, maybe we have solved the single engine "long distance patrol" issue because the F35 won't be able to go very far anyways:

Canada has no way to refuel new jets in air

The Canadian military does not have the ability to conduct aerial refuelling of the F-35 fighter jet it wants to purchase and is now looking at ways to get around that problem.

Options range from paying for modifications to the stealth jets to purchasing a new fleet of tanker aircraft that can gas up the high-tech fighters in mid-air. That option could cost several hundred million dollars, depending on how many new tankers are needed.

In addition, because the F-35 would not be able to safely land on runways in Canada’s north because those are too short for the fighter, the Defence Department is looking at having manufacturer Lockheed Martin install a “drag” chute on the plane.

That parachute would deploy when the aircraft lands, slowing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter down. But some pilots have said that high winds affecting such runways could make using a drag chute tricky or even dangerous.

Cha ching!

Starting to feel like a square peg in a round hole isn't it?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Death Star's Vulnerability?

David Akin reports on another corporate tax poll, with equally DEVASTATING numbers for the government position. The Abacus poll isn't a one off, this Leger finding is nothing but red flags for the government:
Turns out that’s been a tough sell: 43% of Canadians want “job creators” to pay more income tax, not less, according to the poll from Leger Marketing.

Leger surveyed 1,525 Canadians online between Jan. 24 and Jan. 27.

The pollster found that just one in 10 people nation-wide believe that companies should pay less income tax than they pay now. Nearly one in four believe corporate tax cuts are about right and one in four had no opinion.

Only 10% agree with lowering corporate income taxes? This is astounding, because even Conservative baseline support isn't on board with the government. Numbers like these we simply haven't seen on ANY question since the government took office. You have 43% that want higher taxes, another 40% say the status quo is desirable, there is no appetite for the government position, absolutely none.

Common sense is starting to find empirical support. The idea of lower taxes for massively profitable companies is a simple point of rejection, it doesn't require complicated arguments, everyone gets it. The Liberals may have found the Death Star's ultimate vulnerability- an issue which you can pivot off to present an entire platform, a complete divergence, a clear distinction. Finding like the above will only embolden the Liberals and make them that much more aggressive, knowing "families" are on side.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Memory Lane

Sometimes it's fun to go back to your initial reaction to certain issues and see if you "analysis" had any objective merit or if it was just crap. When the Liberals introduced the corporate tax policy, I was excited because it wasn't just a tax, but a philosophical departure with potential impactful tenticles. Anyways, here is my gut reaction post from March 2010, the day after the Liberals came out with the corporate tax freeze.
"Corporate Tax Freeze Puts Liberals In The Game"

Everyone was waiting for policy, and the ground the Liberals chose was shrewd, for a host of reasons. I've commented before, or more correctly criticized, the duplicity of trying to argue fiscally responsiblity while offering new big ticket spending initiatives. Fair to say the Liberals were guilty of "sucking and blowing", there was a certain incoherence within our presentation, which left the party open to easy retort. In one move, Ignatieff has repositioned the Liberals on the fiscal front and given himself latitude.

I note today, a piece detailing business executive sentiment. Not only does a freeze on corporate taxes seem reasonable, but people are actually arguing for increases. These views are indicative of some sober realities, and the Liberals now have a new credibility.

The idea of further corporate taxcuts isn't exactly an easy sell with Canadians. We've already seen many corporate reductions, the record is clear and the facts support an already "competitive" climate in Canada. If the argument centers around to reduce further or not, the Liberals can expect some sympathy for their position. The Conservatives are effectively reaching, if they think voters will reject the Liberal position- ordinary Canadians won't shed any tear if corporate Canada doesn't get another break, good luck with the "Tim Horton's" crowd. The optics are on our side, and this "savings" can be manipulated by the Liberals for other initiatives.

I don't mean to be to cynical here, but it's pretty easy to massage the numbers to present a fiscal framework. Where a party gets in trouble, is when they are offering competing narratives. The Liberals were guilty, but by now giving themselves some fiscal room, any new initiatives gain some credibility. With the pricetag in the range of a 5-7 billion dollar savings, the idea of a childcare initiative no longer looks reckless. The Liberals can present priorities as investments, and still give the appearance of reigning in the debt. Contrasted with the slash and burn Conservatives on the one hand, "fat cat" reductions on the other, I wonder what is the easier sell?

The Liberals bought themselves some hope "capital" with this tax freeze. We can still provide a measure of vision, investments, and argue we're being responsible. Ignatieff also offered a realistic deficit forecast, which denotes an overall plan. A bit early to tell, but these ideas put forth in Montreal look to put the Liberals back on the "economic front" radar. Given the entirely feeble response from Conservatives today, I am even more confident that we're now a more elusive target.
My post the next day on the subject was titled "Tim Horton's vs Bay Street".

I still like our chances on this issue anyways, today's column by Susan Riley explains why.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Yes, Yes, Yes I'm Afraid

Kudos to Jeff for finding the lowest note on the piano, imperative for scary ads.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

15% Of Voters "Paying Attention"

It's a recurring theme in this corner of the blogosphere that apathy rules, Canadians simply aren't engaged, this reality crucial to understanding what's going on or could happen. We get frustrated when things don't "stick", numbers don't move, we over analyze every little detail, fret about negative this and that, when really, rarely does much resonate, at least in an impactful and sustained way.

The Liberal pollster has apparently found that only 15% of Canadians are paying attention to federal politics. The number isn't a surprise, in fact it fits, explains a lot actually. Federal Canadian politics bore people to tears, those of really engaged are a rare breed. This reality explains why message repetition is essential in politics, because only sheer mass might just might reach a sizable portion of the population. Most people catch a bit here, a headline there, a story once in a while, a very disjointed- lots of gaps- perception of what is going on. Only on a rare occasion does an issue resonate enough to really move and change perceptions.

One of those rare occasions is an election, and that's why people that are already writing Ignatieff off are sort of clueless to be honest. Canadians have an entirely superficial impression of the man, strong feelings simply don't exist. A solid campaign, a good debate performance, and this "weak leader" at present can get some traction- any student of political history knows this well. It is also true that any weakness on the trail when eyes are trained, and it could spell a quick end, the lack of engagement to date works both ways.

Ignatieff heads into this campaign a bit bruised, but not to the degree the pundit class endlessly digests, he still remains largely an open book. In the larger sense, this poll supports the underlying reason we political geeks all look forward to campaigns, because we know anything can happen and does. This current apathy translates to potential volatility, things can move quickly once people do "pay attention". Probabilities still suggest likely outcomes, no dispute there, but with people so disengaged, it's a "rookie" read to be definitive at this point...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


A new poll by Abacus offers a objectively devastating finding for the government position, reaffirming that the Liberals are on solid ground philosophically with their corporate taxcut position. When I came home from The Thinkers Conference, I called this corporate tax cut idea "Tim Hortons vs Bay Street", it was a wedge play and I fanced that we were on the right side of this policy divergence.

The government has a serious problem on their hands, everywhere you turn with this poll, it's nothing but bad:
The survey then asked Canadians if they support or oppose the government’s plan to continue with the corporate tax cuts. In total, 52% strongly or somewhat oppose the government’s plan, while 26% support or strongly support it.

Remember this is a pollster which gives the Conservatives high 30% support, the fact they can't even muster a baseline here is alarming. Of note, the Conservatives lose big everywhere, even Alberta on this question, a large plurality on the side of the opposition.

On the question of the government argument that corporate tax cuts will create jobs:
“Only 21% of respondents buy the job creation argument when given the alternative to spend more on health care or to reduce the deficit.”

Here you see the frame the Liberals have made is in fact a TRAP. 57%, almost three times the respondents, side with the opposition view that corporate taxes are already low, investment is better made elsewhere. Honestly, rarely do you see such one sided viewpoints, pure gold from the opposition perspective- you can't even argue that they divide one side of the pie, because the Conservatives enjoy so little support, it's a liability no matter. Only 54% of Conservatives support their policy, a very precarious position indeed, particularly in the electoral heartland.16% of women support the government, 24% of Ontarians, 13% in Quebec, 23% in British Columbia, 12% of undecided voters, no wear for a fat cat lover to rest their weary heads, it's just a bloodbath at every turn.

Here's the added bonus- Canadians don't even realize that our corporate taxes are more competitive than the Americans. These numbers come despite the fact we don't appreciate where we stand relatively. Once that message is relayed in a campaign, one has to wonder if the facts only serve to harden these numbers.

I've argued before, the entire Liberal narrative starts with these corporate tax cuts, everything rolls off this "class" related divergence. The Liberals are on the side of average Canadians, the Conservatives will defend corporate Canada. If you are actually on the "street", you realize that fighting for families as opposed to banks, is a pretty good spot. Abacus confirms that perception, with game changer potential, make no mistake.

Finding His Voice

People can't seem to understand why the Liberals would even entertain an election right now. I agree on the odds, nobody is deluding themselves, but I also believe prospects aren't likely to improve over time. While negativism is rooted in certain electoral facts, there are reasons for optimism for team Liberal.

Okay, it's just a speech, so not to overstate, but I would define Ignatieff yesterday as a culmination of sorts, one that bodes well for a looming campaign. The Liberals have spent the time crafting a platform, and their leader has been quietly honing his craft across this country, in small rooms, taking ALL comers, relating to the "street". Rarely mentioned, how SEEMLESSLY Ignatieff has pulled off all these town halls, wading into crowds, all the things that can provide embarrassing moments, gaffes, simply hasn't. Compare this person to the Ignatieff of 2006 and you see the transformation from thoughtful professor to retail politician.

People can quibble with the policies, but the Liberals have now armed Ignatieff with a narrative, a few simple concepts that can spin off into every crevice. The leg work has brought us to this moment, Ignatieff has finally found his voice. We political geeks have seen this evolution, but now we have reached a stage where I think this guy, right now, can actually resonate. With expectations so low, my political instinct almost guarantees we will see a "second look" during a campaign. He's polished, he can deliver a line with authenticity, he can actually INSPIRE, he's attractive. Contrasted with superficial impressions to date, it's a recipe for potential traction.

If the guy who delivered that speech yesterday can make his way into Canadian homes, the Liberals have a fighting chance to catch fire in a campaign. It was the kind of moment, however fleeting, which made you consider that anything is possible...

Clip package:

Full version:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Smoked Out

With all this "unnecessary election" rhetoric being spewed by Conservatives, it is fair to ask just what efforts they've made to form a majority consensus, so their budget can pass. Thankfully, I'm not the only one who wondered and it turns out the Conservatives are "refusing" to work with any other party to avoid "the last thing we need" election, that will "distract" from the important work on our "fragile" economy. More succinctly, these people are full of shit:
Harper refuses to discuss budget with Layton

When Layton and Harper last spoke on the phone on Dec. 17, Layton said, Harper expressed a desire to meet with him to discuss NDP priorities for the budget. Harper has not called to set up a meeting, and does not plan to do so, said MacDougall, since Layton has made his positions clear.

The Conservatives say the NDP have made their demands public, which is vaguely true on one level, utter nonsense on another. If the Conservatives are truly interested in avoiding an election, one would think high level negotiations with potential suitors would be JOB ONE.

Let's follow the Conservative logic. They don't want an election, but they will present a budget, which may or may not incorporate a few broad soundbite ideas from Layton. The Conservatives will let an election hang in the balance, based on a transcript of a Layton speech, this is how they will avoid the election nobody needs or wants. There will be no formal sit downs, no hashing out, no negotiations, no working out some broad deal, no sense of a government that understands the nature of minority rule? No, what we will see is a unilateral document, that throws a few scraps based on the Conservatives interpretations of what will be palatable to the NDP. Or, the Conservatives are merely going to do what they want and see if the NDP blinks anyways.

No matter the scenario, "refusing" to even meet with the NDP is a clear, irrefutable REBUKE to all this rhetoric from the government's side we are forced to endure, which largely goes unchallenged. Let's say a company wants to avoid a strike. Would Canadians say that said company did what they could to avoid said strike if they refused to even meet with the workers? A loose example, but the point is crystal clear. The Conservatives are playing hardball, they are acting as though they have a majority once again, they are failing to appreciate the nature of minority rule.

If we do head to the polls, this budget "dance" or lack thereof demonstrates why the government is the TRUE obstacle to good government, not deserving of another mandate. The fact that Harper can't be bothered to contact the man who is offering you a lifeline speaks to the style and neuters the Conservative rhetoric. What Harper is doing is playing right into the backup NDP theme- we tried to make Parliament work, but the phone never rang.

The Conservative rhetoric doesn't translate to reality. If we have an election, if we must speak of "blame", then the idea of a minority government that never bothered to discuss with ANY opposition party, well.... There is simply no excuse, no rationalization that can distract from the firm facts at hand. Where's the effort, where's the outreach, where's the "burning the midnight oil" routine, to show Canadians that we've done everything to avoid this "needless election"? Exactly.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's Up With Jack?

It's hard to separate fact from fiction with the NDP mixed messages routine. You're a bad, bad man Mr. Harper that we need to "get rid of" pronto, but we're willing to work with you if you give us some face saving scraps. Remember all that bragging about how many non confidence votes we've cast, that was so yesterday, let's "get things done" now, unlike these irresponsible Liberals who seem to be taking a position BEFORE reading the budget- tsk, tsk.

In all seriousness, I get the spin, I mean what else can the NDP do this point? As a Liberal, this scenario is well known, so my perspective takes no high ground, just a recognition once again, than when push comes to shove, all these parties are the same, all will compromise supposed core principles in the name of political expediency, self interest can and does trump. That people can still claim otherwise, well...

Are the NDP really gearing up for an election? Is this olive branch routine just pre-writ posturing so the NDP can say "we tried to work together, but.."? Or, are the NDP actually laying the groundwork to prop up this government, for what everyone agrees amounts to another year of reign? Remember all the nonsense the government put in the budget omnibus bill last year, the "end run" around Parliament, where the real agenda was found? I see nothing but embarrassment for the NDP if they support this budget, no matter what they are able to "extract".

Honest to goodness, a more mockery laden treasure trove of past NDP quotes and positions, you won't find, whatever the deal, it will never reconcile with the record to date. Liberals can tell you from experience, no matter the justification, supporting the budget, while others object with free reign, is a recipe for perpetual defence. If you accept that reality, I find it quite hard to believe the NDP will see any improved electoral position, based on supporting the budget? Maybe the situation now isn't ideal from the NDP perspective- assuming this, based on their current posture- but I highly doubt propping up this government will bring upside. What I see, no real improvement, but with the added burn of selling out.

Go re-read the lead up to last year's budget. What you'll find is the CORE NDP position centered around corporate tax cuts, giving big banks a break, etc, etc. The NDP have purposely put out a meager "demand" list, but even if these issues are dealt with, you still are left with these core affronts in the budget, no reasonable philosophical way the NDP can support such measures. And yet, the NDP might just let corporate tax cuts pass THIS year, after all the rhetoric? From the Liberals perspective, I honestly can't think of a more advantageous development, the NDP self neuters and they get to play "weak Liberals" for a year. Again, strategically, the ultimate upside here is hard to fathom, the fact Liberals would welcome it about the biggest red flag for the NDP.

What we know, the NDP clearly aren't keen on an election right now. Beyond that, it really becomes a question of how far the NDP are prepared to bend to let this budget pass. Layton is correct, Harper has a responsibility to try and hash out some agreements, that is a factor moving forward. I don't think the Conservatives want an election right now, so I suspect they will do this and that to try and secure NDP support. However, given what we already know is coming, the cornerstone budget commitments, coupled with all those jewels that will come out with subsequent budget revelations, support seems a hard, hard swallow. Strange days indeed, when the Liberal security blanket is removed from the equation...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Personal Attacks Harper's "Legacy"

Ignatieff interview with the CBC, wherein he states that when history looks back on the Harper years, attack ads, the politics of fear and intimidation will be his legacy. One thing for a party leader to take that view, but there is ample evidence that Ignatieff is mirroring developing opinion, the latest ads drifting toward "more about the messenger" rather than injuring the target.

We have to wait to see how these ads resonate with actual people, but to date, it's fair to say the attack ad "reception" hasn't be charitable. In fact, these ads have brought more connecting of the dots, more reinforcement of Harper's negative characteristics, traits that have handicapped his ability to truly connect with Canadians.

This latest round has one "positive" ad you could say, but even that is lost in the sheer volume of the attack ads, not issue based like the Liberals, but personal and nasty, something no one seems to deny. Have these Conservatives ever had a solely positive ad campaign? Go back to all the outside of writ campaigns, every single one is personal in nature, like a one note bully that doesn't know it any other way. The question then becomes, at what point does the kneejerk "attack ads work" perspective become complicated by WHO is delivering the message? Do voters get to a point where they see more to dislike about Harper than they do what they say about Ignatieff? I believe we are at this tipping point right now, and I would suggest the reaction to date supports this emerging recalibration.

There was a story a few weeks ago by Linda Diebel, that canvassed a wide range of Ottawa opinion to get a read on the Harper government. Again, with this subset, the now common negative themes emerged, that of the "super-partisan", preoccupied with besting his opponents, strategy over substance, basically a political animal with little in the way of redeeming qualities. Canadians have this sense as well, although it far less pronounced or truly understand. That said, the achilles heel is available and these ads only serve to lend weight to detractors.

I might be wrong, maybe my own bias as a Liberal fails to understand the effectiveness of the latest batch of ads, but there is a credible logic developing that suggests Harper on the attack, in this way, is actually a net negative from the Conservative perspective. Time will tell....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Return Fire

I like the imagery in the corporate tax cut ad, particularly the limo at the end. A touch of class warfare at play, which in this instance can be quite effective.

The fighter jet ad is good in establishing the money involved, although it requires the "other shoe"- we are not against buying planes per se, just this process which isn't competitive, the best bang for the taxpayer buck.

Quite pleased to see a response. Good stuff!!

Ads aren't free obviously, if you're so inclined. We HAVE to get rid of these guys:



Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Mr. Harper Attacks People, I Attack Problems."

The latest AR poll, reveals some serious vulnerabilities for this government, particularly as it relates to the title soundbite used by Ignatieff today (h/t Jeff Jedras). Impolitical has already digested this finding, but it bears repeating. Rarely do you see such a one sided response to a question, but Canadians overwhelming believe that Ottawa is more partisan and Harper bears the bulk of the responsibility:
-28% believe Ottawa is more partisan than it was 5 years ago, only 10% believe it less partisan

-of those that see increased partisanship, 61% believe the Conservatives are responsible, 16% blame the Liberals, 2% the NDP and Bloc, 14% give shared responsibility

Every time we see another attack ad release, we receive the standard analysis- attack ads work, period. While I support the general thesis, this automatic reaction fails to incorporate circumstance, that doesn't allow for blanket conclusions. Yes, attack ads work, and yes, the may damage the Liberal leader. But, it is also true that with a Prime Minister already carrying "hyper-partisan" perception baggage, a clear cut picture isn't readily available. In other words, "more about the messenger" is a reasonable counter effect here, the above poll only serves to support this perspective.

If the question centers around the mood in Ottawa, Canadians generally aren't impressed. This sentiment, coupled with the obvious conclusion that Harper shares much of the blame, is a ballot question- this guy wants a majority, do you reward a toxic atmosphere in Ottawa with ANOTHER mandate, with a STRONGER mandate? The Liberals would be wise to hammer this angle, because Harper is entirely vulnerable. The terrific soundbite in the title is the perfect response, you highlight Harper's shortcomings, while pivoting to your own focus, a clear contrast, one that feeds their negatives.

This idea of a man solely focused on the economy, contained within attack ads is an amazing disconnect that can be exploited. The reason it can, polls of this type, because we clearly have a receptive audience, the impression is built in, we just need to remind and entrench.

Nobody is particularly enamoured with Ottawa these days, that is an objective fact no reasonable person disputes. The key is to make the government wear the environment, make it their responsibility, make them the central obstacle to good, clean government. This poll just highlights the potential on this score, and succinct, snappy soundbites like the above are an excellent way to turn these attack ads into a verdict on the sender, not the target.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free Pass

Harper's interview with the CBC last night was instructive for a number of reasons, primarily because it reveals the core talking points the Conservatives want to convey. When asked about achievements of his government, Harper stressed the Economic Action Plan, that was the central economic argument to portray himself as able manager. Much of other other arguments stem from the EAP, it was the catalyst that led Canada through the recession, in a relatively enviable way.

I must say, the Liberals don't seem to have much of a coherent response to the EAP arguments, and this odd void partially contributes to the huge gap the Conservatives enjoy on the economy. During the economic storm, the government reacted and steered Canada through the choppy seas, blah, blah, blah- but it works! Why is it that Harper so easily re-writes history and turns a clear failing into a grand achievement? Canadians might be surprised to realize that it was the LIBERALS that DEMANDED an economic stimulus package, this is the OPPOSITION'S baby, the chronology is clear, precise and entirely irrefutable. And yet, Harper claims ownership, enjoys the "other side" and we get no credit whatsoever??

I remember Flaherty's economic update in the fall of 2008, it was universally panned farce that showed no understanding of the gravity, offered NOTHING in terms of stimulus to deal with the maelstrom. I also remember the opposition demanding a stimulus package as essential to deal with the economic meltdown. I also remember the Liberals using the stimulus as the key consideration to allow the 2009 budget to pass, Harper cling to power. As I recall, you can trace all the "success" of the Economic Action Plan back to an opposition demand, the Conservatives only came on board to save their hide and survive!

Why is it exactly then, that we Liberals have ceded this ground and allowed Harper to adopt the EAP as his crowning economic achievement? Are we afraid that this brings up the coalition, is that the root of apprehension? Hardly a rationale, because the coalition is coming up whether we prefer or not, so rather than take a passive barrage, why not turn the whole discussion on its head! The Liberals rejected the coalition, only because the stimulus was included in the budget, their chief demand, their line in the sand for support, the economy came first. Of course, there was more to be considered, but apparently you can write whatever story you choose, so where is our loosely based non-fiction account? Apparently, we have no attention span in Ottawa, people can revise history at will, so let's partake shall we, particularly when the FACTS are on our side.

The Economic Action Plan is clearly a key Conservative thrust to sell their economic manager narrative. The Liberals have a powerful counter readily available to at least dent this perception and/or highlight their own economic philosophy. Nobody seems prepared to call the Prime Minister on his fictional memory, so it is up to us to make the case. Maybe we are effective, maybe it is all for not, but at the very least an effort is required, as opposed to this unilateral avoidance which basically says "uncle" on a core file and all the arguments that stem from this central distortion.

Monday, January 17, 2011

From The Mouths Of Babes

There's talk of a book as well:

Up Is Down?

Several major developments on the election front this weekend, that demand a rethink. Flaherty has signalled than any HST deal with Quebec isn't on the near horizon, which means the Bloc's key demand for support simply isn't there. I had concluded that the Bloc was the only option for the government to avoid an election, primarily because I simply couldn't wrap my head around the idea of the NDP propping up the government. With the latest twists, that assumption may well prove flawed, Layton is making overtures with a very "conservative" set of demands, the prospects of a deal now a distinct possibility.

I've argued that there is little real upside for the Conservatives in having an election, more likely they are weakened than attaining the treasured majority. If you listen to the Conservative talking points, safe to assume their internal polling supports that likelihood. For the government then, it becomes a question of finding a dance partner. Again, with the Liberals clearly out, the only reasonable option I entertained was the Bloc, which now clearly requires revision. One caveat, we are nowhere near a deal. However, the fact efforts will be made, somewhat surprising in an of itself.

Why, why is it surprising, if you believe the government wants to avoid? I just can't believe that the NDP can swallow THIS hard. This isn't late 2009, when the electorate was foul about an early election, this isn't a one off support with a phantom extraction, this is the budget, this vote has tentacles that will embarrass for months to come. All the riders within the budget that are rarely discussed on the big day, all those unseemly thrusts, every revelation, will put the NDP on the defensive.

From the Liberal perspective, I would say the NDP supporting this budget represents THE optimal political scenario moving forward. It is for this reason that I struggle to see how the NDP voluntarily accepts this reality. Never mind the bravado, propping up Harper, no matter the scraps, says loud and clear, the NDP see trouble on the electoral horizon. There is simply no way- even for the most skilled of spinsters- to reconcile the big ticket offences contained in this budget from the NDP perspective. One need only look back to last year's budget, and you'll see corporate taxes where the CENTRAL NDP theme.

If we are headed down this road, it represents a delicious concoction from the Liberal perspective. Finally free of holding the bag, we can make the distinction between TWO options, while the NDP apologize and get lost in the budget shadow (Liberals know this game well, to dismiss is to ignore simple hard, well established realities). This is the narrow election window right now, should it pass, we are looking at another full year of Harper rule. The gravity of that reality, no matter the concessions, is something that will destroy every single narrative the NDP have pumped for the past five years. I remain sceptical, but "up is down" apparently, and let's hope so....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Good Ship Liberal

A lot has been made about "star" candidates. Whenever the Conseratives attract a name, it tends to feed now established narratives, but when it comes to the Liberals or NDP, largely ignored, in terms of drawing wider conclusions. The NDP have attracted some talent for the next election, most noteably in Quebec, but that's hardly discussed, even though it does deserve consideration. On the Liberal front, I see a real disconnect between the "conventional wisdom" and the reality on the ground, because the party is attracting big names at a nice clip.

Lost in the Fantino bi-election, the Liberals had a "star" of their own in Winnipeg North and that's the ONLY reason they won this seat from the NDP. Why Lamoureux decided to run for the hapless federal Liberals never really addressed, but plenty of ink on the "coup" that was Julian Fantino.

In the past, there was a fair perspective put forward, namely that the Liberals were having a hard time attracting high profile candidates. That angle, part of the wider leadership discussion, poorly attended events, readiness and general ability to really confront the government. I would argue evidence now exists that demands a revision on that perspective.

You probably haven't connected the dots, because nobody had bothered just yet, but don't look now, the Ignatieff Liberals are attracting an impressive slate of candidates. That Ignatieff is bolstering the candidate ranks has meaning, because it defies this notion of a party playing pure DEFENCE, whilst the Conservatives attack from all sides. In the last month, the Liberals have added three more high profile candidates, two of which are decidedly offensive in nature. A quick review:

Peter Tinsley: Former chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission, who will run in Prince Edward-Hastings, a seat currently held by the Conservatives.

Peter Fonseca: High profile cabinet minister in McGuinty government jumps to federal Liberals.

Marie Bountrogianni: The former, well respected, provincial Minister will run in Hamilton, challenging a NDP held seat.

If one is being fair, I think Ignatieff's team deserves some credit, for at least showing the capacity to attract talented "names" into the fold. It contrasts with this idea of a party not ready to fight an election. In addition, it also shows these people see something worth jumping aboard. Again, this wasn't always the case in recent past, some acknowledgement is due.

Ignatieff tours the country gaffe free, he seems to draw mostly overflow crowds, he seems to be attracting names, he seems to have a tightening clear message. Let's wait and see, but this election preamble is far more encouraging than what I remember heading into the last election- these star additions coming in short order, further evidence.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Goddamned Scary"

The runaway must read today, primarily because of the wide swath of source material, is the linked piece on the Harper government, titled "Fear and loathing in Ottawa"
It's no secret Harper runs a tight ship with little room for dissension. In the months leading up to his first minority government's five-year anniversary on Feb. 6, I interviewed about 30 politicians, public servants, consultants and academics about his style and brand on Parliament. Some requested anonymity because they fear repercussions.

For the most part, what emerged is a portrait of a highly intelligent, skilled and super-partisan politician whose style has created a mood of fear and loathing on Parliament Hill. He hasn't shied away from stoking an “us versus them” dynamic in the country. Critics use words like “control freak” and “mean-spirited.”

What strikes me, the overwhelming tone that seems to blanket Ottawa. Contrast an now established reality with the Conservative campaign of 2006, wherein they promised openness and transparency, as centerpiece. Rhetoric vs reality, quite possibly the BIGGEST fraud perpetuated on the Canadian people in our history. The antithesis of every single thing these charlatans supposedly stood for, quite astounding when you pull back and look it in its entirety. I'm not sure what is more amazing, the Harper hypocrisy, or the fact all the reformer puritans are NOW silent in the name of political expediency.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Latest EKOS

EKOS is out with a poll today, which Mr. Graves describes as a "good" one for the government. Relatively speaking, it is a positive result for the Conservatives, they now enjoy a 7 point lead, compared to 5.5 in the last EKOS offering:
National federal vote intention:
¤ 34.5% CPC
¤ 27.3% LPC
¤ 14.8% NDP
¤ 10.3% Green
¤ 9.8% BQ
¤ 3.2% other

Of note, another pollster that shows a dead heat in Ontario, Fantino mania not yet congealing into "storming" consistency. Graves repeats my line, that Ontario is fully "in play" come the next election- a point which can't be stated enough, when one considers why some might not fear as they supposedly should. I predict a wild ride come the election in Ontario.

Here's a graph that deserves attention:

The type of result that supports the Liberal strategy of trying to narrow the question down to an either/or. Even with a "good" poll, when voters are asked which government they would like to see, the Conservatives have no advantage, complete saw off. The more us vs them the Liberals can make, the more opportunity exists. On the other hand, this poll shows how the "coalition" angle, a muddied picture can still work, marginally, for the Conservatives. The Liberals will try to make it a clear choice, the Conservatives will try to make it them or some nebulous and scary unknown alternative. The above graph is a key consideration, one that could dominate the final days of the any campaign.

It is worth noting, and this explains a great deal about preference, that a "good" poll for the government is now below their 2006, 2008 results. Yesterday we had the Angus Reid poll, which also showed a meagre 34% support for the government (a pollster which tends to shower higher support for Cons, relative to others btw), reinforcing this notion that the government has little upside potential by calling an election. Reading the government posture the last few weeks, I'd bet their internal polling shows the same stagnant support. I honestly can't remember the last poll that put this government beyond majority support, so from their what's to gain from an election? The odds suggest more of a chance for seat erosion, rather than pickups.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Race Tightens Dramatically In Ontario"

As we all ponder the impact of the Conservatives assault on the Liberal bastion, another pollster reminds us nothing will be decided in Ontario until the final days of a campaign. Normally, polls taken just after the holidays tend to favour the incumbent government. Not so with the Angus Reid poll, wherein a sizeable Conservative lead is cut in half, with a very noteworthy change in Ontario:
The biggest change has come in Ontario, where the 13-point Tory lead observed in December has become a statistical tie (Conservatives 38%, Liberals 36%).

National Voting Intention: Con. 34%, Lib. 28%, NDP 17%, BQ 11%, Grn. 8%

Again, we see how quickly Ontario can change. There is really nothing substantial to explain such a large shift, but it just speaks to the superficial volatility at play, voters can and will change on a whim. In reality, you have 20-30% of the electorate on the market come the campaign, a subset that will have the biggest impact on the ultimate results.

In addition, lots of talk about Conservatives targeting ridings. Although that hope may very well be true, it is equally true that as many are available for Liberal consideration. In this poll for example, the Liberals would likely gain seats at the expense of the government, relative to the 2008 results. In other words, assaults can be replaced by erosions in dramatic fashion, that's the nature of Ontario at the moment. In fact, I suspect more ebbs and flows come the campaign, with the result being more about timing than conviction.

Shall We Dance?

The one caveat- when discussing the prospects of an election- is this potential HST deal for Quebec, which could well win Bloc support. My opinion is this HST angle is the only real scenario that can prevent a spring election. The Liberals are taking a firm stand. The NDP seem an unlikely partner, even though we have evidence of some minimal government outreach. The Bloc are really the only option for the government, so it comes as NO surprise that we now see this HST issue come to the fore, talk of "progress". It is also not shocking that Duceppe has suddenly made the HST issue the main consideration in supporting the budget:
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe says his party will vote against the next federal budget if it doesn't include $2 billion in compensation for Quebec for harmonizing the GST and the provincial sales tax.

A spring election could be triggered if a majority of Parliament's 308 MPs vote against the budget.

Quebec harmonized its sales tax in 1992 but has not seen any compensation from the federal government, unlike Ontario and British Columbia which recently implemented the measure.

Duceppe says negotiations with Quebec have stalled but sources have been saying for several weeks that federal and provincial negotiators are on the verge of a deal.

Duceppe tells The Canadian Press he is not guaranteeing Bloc support of the budget even if the compensation is included.

He will evaluate the budget as a whole and see if it benefits Quebecers.

The timing is a bit cute. Just as we hear a deal may be within reach, Duceppe suddenly issues "demands" on that very topic. It's a well played political tactic, find something that is already on the table, adopt it as demand, so when it comes to fruition you look like you've extracted. The NDP in the fall of 2009 serves as the template, creating the optics of concession where none really existed. The Bloc has purposely made the HST an almost make or break consideration, because they sense the government is likely to acquiesce.

In the coming weeks, we will see just how badly the government wants to avoid an election. If they fast track an HST deal with Quebec, and come close to the dollar figure, then it appears the Bloc can support the budget. Duceppe is no fool, even though he's left voting against the budget on the table regardless, really he is being quite transparent here. Get this HST deal done to satisfaction, and you will avoid a spring election. I believe this government wants no part of an election, so I suspect we will see a union develop over the coming weeks. The polls show little upside, best case status quo, worst case a loss of power in some configuration.

If people don't want an election, we now see the path to passage. Both parties are signalling their desire to find a commonality on this front, the dance has clearly begun...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Still Searching For Bobby Fischer

I note another spate of columns today, detailing the master stroke that is last week's cabinet shuffle. Never has relative nothingness been given such prominence, but that's another discussion. A quick update on the impressive Conservative strategy, Minister Kent is flourishing in his new role, making friends, raising the temperature and risking elevating a dormant issue which never works for the government. But anyways, I'm sure I just can't see the forest from the robust trees here:
"I’ve worked with many provincial and federal environment ministers and I’ve never seen a more horrifying first day on the job than Minister Kent,” said Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada. “Right from hour one on the job, apparently he has thrown in the towel on cleaning up the most polluting industry in the country. I just think on a very, very basic level he has miscalculated here. I opened my morning paper and I almost spit my coffee across the room when I was reading what he was saying on his first day on the job.”

...Meanwhile, this could be a liability for the Conservative Party, Ekos pollster Frank Graves told The Hill Times.

“The Conservative party suffers a net liability on environmental issues,” he said. “It has probably been the most obvious barrier between them and a majority.”

Mr. Graves added “it’s a possibility” that the furor over Kent’s statements could draw voter attention back to the environment

Let's look at the master plan again, and ponder where the Conservatives need to win seats. Now if someone can POSSIBLY explain how a vigorous, blank cheque defence of the Alberta oil sands will swing votes in the GTA and surrounding area, I'm ALL ears. Factor in how well this will posture will play in Quebec, the Lower Mainland, and this gambit really starts to come into full blur.

The environment is off the radar, and no Conservative strategist would suggest that is a bad thing. Kent's comments do risk giving the issue more prominence, which presents an unnecessary handicap, particularly in regions where sentiment isn't exactly on board with the characterization. Kent's position is so absolute, it puts the government outside of the mainstream view.

The environment is an embarrassing portfolio, as Graves notes, it's a clear "liability". The question becomes, will it take votes away from the government, which is unclear, I'd lean towards no for the most part. However, when you are using Kent as a backdrop to "expanding" support, the disposition is nonsensical. It might not cost you many votes you already have, but it sure as shit ain't attracting people either, particularly in the regions so dissected as "pickups".

Again, don't ask pundits, Liberals, observers, go ask Conservative strategists. If one of the them tells you the Environment, this portfolio is truly a road to the GTA, please fill me in to the logic. I'm searching for Bobby Fischer here, but I can't find him... Looks like a gift to date, not a threat.

blunder- A usually serious mistake typically caused by ignorance or confusion; a terrible move, usually one that loses material or causes the loss of the game.


Monday, January 10, 2011

"Taking The Fight To Our Opponents"

I don't give blanket praise for all things Liberal, but I'm pretty impressed with this Ignatieff winter riding tour announcement for a number of reasons. The Liberals spend way to much time on the defensive, why that is we can analyze for eternity. Quite refreshing to see an initiative which ignores the negativity swirling around and gets aggressive:
Ignatieff will use the winter outing to take direct aim at vulnerable rival MPs.

All 20 ridings Ignatieff is scheduled to visit are currently held by the Conservatives, NDP or Bloc Quebecois.

They are among the top ridings Liberals believe they can steal away in an election, which could come as early as this spring.

Insiders say the tour will mark a more aggressive stage of Ignatieff’s pre-election sorties, what one strategist called “taking the fight to our opponents.”

A bit of moxy, a bit of swagger, why the hell not- they're laughing at us anyway, so no danger on the perception front. I find it striking, that while everyone is digesting big, nonsensical ramifications relating to the nothing cabinet shuffle, the Liberals hatch a tour which is REAL and has clear intentions. It's sort of a "cold shower" moment, because while we talk of vulnerable seats, nobody has bothered to realize it's a TWO WAY STREET. Why in Ontario alone, there are around 20 seats the Liberals placed second, by less than 10%. In other words, TONS of seats in play, on all sides, this notion that Liberals sit idly while the Conservatives pick us off requires a tin ear. Factor in the volatility seen now for years in Ontario polls, and the one side arguments all the more suspect and intellectually lazy. I'm not suggesting for one second that vulnerabilities don't exist, that the Liberals sit precariously, only that any seasoned observer knows elections are peculiar and much is in play, risk for all participants.

I love this line:
As the strategist put it, Ignatieff intends to hammer away at a simple message: “If you vote NDP or Bloc to send Harper a message, you get Harper and he doesn’t get the message. So, if you want to get rid of Harper, you have to vote Liberal.”

I note, this angle is drawing the ire of all the other party supporters. That reaction confirms to me that this strategy is quite sound. Every party is trying to siphon off from others, so any "take offence" opinion from other partisans a bit rich to be honest. I commented early that it is shrewd to define the parameters of the next election early and often, as opposed to the hail mary "stop the Conservatives" message Liberals normally deliver in the closing days of a campaign. Get this frame out there, sell it hard, put the seed in voters minds, use succinct and pointed lines like the above, and I predict you might get some traction.

To take an offensive posture is also refreshing. That Ignatieff will also show off his campaigning stamina, another signal that should calm nerves about election abilities. Pull this tour off, after a mostly seem less summer tour, and one starts to have confidence that we will run a well oiled campaign. As far as I'm concerned, it's about time we started to "take the fight to our opponents", as one who firmly believes nothing every comes to you, you MAKE your opportunities.

This tour won't set the world on fire. This tour will probably be largely ignored in terms of certain narratives and now established mindsets. All that aside, I think this strategy, particularly the early message timing and required repetition, might well prove to be something we look back on as a key development.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Placing Blame

As everyone wrestles with early details of the Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt, a fascinating blame debate is swirling. Since this was a politically motivated shooting, hard not to eventually move to political considerations in this discussion. Although no ties, even some contradictory "evidence", the tea party, Sarah Palin, conservative talk radio, basically all things wing nut, have been drawn into the discussion.

Not surprisingly, if your a conservative, you dismiss any causal relationship, on my side of the spectrum far more connecting of the dots. I think one has to be incredibly careful, because at the core we are dealing with mental illness, a disease that negates the blame game. For that reason, it may very well be isolated, separate, not instructive to generalize, just see it as another troubled individual doing something insanely cruel and senseless. However, with the climate backdrop, the discussion does require some further examination.

People that are shocked that anyone would connect the "vitriolic" political discourse to this lunatic need to remember that this issue of violence against politicians was part of the conversation in her riding. Giffords herself, in what are now haunting words:
She told the interviewer she wasn't fearful for her life, but that protesters' rhetoric was becoming "incredibly heated". She was asked if the Republican leadership should have spoken out more to denounce the violence. Diplomatically, she said both parties should. But then, she recounted how she was on Sarah Palin's hit list. "We have the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district," she said. "And when people do that, they've got to realise there are consequences."

Giffords warned of consequence herself, so hardly an affront to consider the connection to yesterday's events. Maybe it was the gun some Tea Party protester inadvertently dropped at one of her political rallies, maybe it was the campaign office vandalized, maybe all the death threats, maybe the continual references to SHOOTING PEOPLE that leads to the most easy of connections. Frankly, given the rhetoric, you have to be an idiot or a complete hack to not at least entertain.

Forget what lefties are saying, look no further than the Sheriff Dupnik press conference yesterday, wherein he made all kinds of connections, this from a man who knows intimately how serious the situation had become in her riding, his state, the country as a whole. Did the overheated rhetoric of radio hosts, Tea Party activists, fringe political leaders contribute to yesterday's events? I don't think so, but again, when you have all these violent references, all this hate and bigotry, is anyone surprised that things manifest to real world "consequence"?

I don't have a freaking clue, and maybe we never will truly understand what happened yesterday. That said, when you have a crime, the first thing you do is look for possible motives. Is the hated fueled, over the top, gun glorification, wingnut inspired, somewhat unhinged movement, a possible inspiration? You can't rule it out as this point, so anyone daring to suggest, isn't exactly being unfair or ridiculous. The reality demands some consideration, it's a simple as that.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Fascinating Statement

The Ibbitson piece today is a good read, and it comes with a fascinating statement:
Consider this bit of evidence: The Tories may or may not truly believe they can take seats in the Greater Toronto Area from the Liberals in the next election. But the national media believe it, and that’s more important. Pundits universally agreed that Tuesday’s petite cabinet shuffle, elevating Peter Kent to Environment Minister and putting Julian Fantino in the seniors portfolio, proved that the Conservatives are on the warpath in the 905.

Isn't it a bit odd to say that the narrative everyone has bought into isn't supported by the source necessarily? Ibbitson basically posits a situation wherein the media has subscribed to a strategy where one might not exist, WORSE presented it as fact. Wouldn't one want confirmation from an "anonymous Conservative" or two who floats that the cabinet shuffle had this intended thrust prior to running wild, and frankly looking more ridiculous by the moment for buying in?

This whole thesis is pure bunk, that falls apart with the slightest inspection. I'm not saying the Conservatives don't have their eye on the Liberal fortress, only that to conclude these cabinet posts are part of that strategy is nonsensical.

I watched with great delight yesterday, Peter Kent fumble when faced with the slightest scrutiny relating to his newly landed albatross portfolio. I much enjoyed Rex Murphy savaging the shuffle, for the most obvious of reasons any informed person already well knows. Pick one cabinet post that most highlights Conservative vulnerability, that consistently makes the government look bad, that brings the most negative press, you'd be HARD pressed to beat out the Minister of the Environment. Now, with that "inherent truth" in place, please explain how putting a Toronto area MP onto to this dud of a file translates to "storming" the Liberal bastion?? If anything, Kent's stature is sure to take a hit (as has the stature of EVERY single Environment Minister under this government) with this portfolio, hardly a recipe for success.

People have already detailed the Fantino appointment, his post is hardly high profile or advantageous demographically, when one considers the desired ridings. If one wants to argue that Fantino winning in Vaughan is part of the strategy, then that is entirely plausible. But, to extrapolate to this inevitable cabinet position, this ENTIRELY underwhelming junior portfolio, demands a lazy co-relation. This cabinet position guarantees we will hear almost NOTHING from Fantino, apart from those occasions where he says something controversial. Explain to me how a tertiary seat at the cabinet table will lead voters to reconsider their traditional Liberal support?

You know how this narrative that everyone has bought into would make sense- if Harper actually gave these guys attractive, compelling jobs, THAT'S HOW. Instead, Fantino gets the blandest of vanilla for agreeing to run for office and Kent gets the most thankless job in this government, trying to make people believe the mirage really holds water. Where's the political upside here? Where do these guys get to shine and demonstrate to Ontario voters that they should vote Conservative? Will the Fossil Awards win us over? Will the two paragraph piece, on page 43, that Fantino's portfolio will generate tip the balance? What about the one question Fantino will get every Parliamentary session, will this exposure cost Mark Holland his seat? Will listening to Kent constantly defend nothingness and look comical in the process motivate key voters to ask for a Conservative lawn sign?

Good grief.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

World Juniors Are A Joke

Hardly surprising, but everywhere I turn today DA HORROR!! I love hockey. I have the misfortune of being a Leafs fan. I also have turned my son into a Leafs fan (please don't call Children's Aid). Hockey is the best team sport in the world, no other exercise necessitates such a hive mentality to succeed. Beautiful, fast, brutal, a million adjectives, just a great game, sport at its finest.

At the risk of enraging already fragile emotions, I'd like to posit my thesis, namely that the World Juniors, sanctioned by the IIHF, are an inherently unfair institution, systematically setting Canada up to succeed, betraying all other countries who deserve equal opportunity. TSN has done a masterful job turning a previously little know tournament into a cash cow that fills the coffers of the IIHF. Because of the economics, Canada, and more importantly Canadians with money to burn, have become THE only consideration in this amateur exercise.

Pretend for a moment you aren't Canadian, then digest the following. What if I told you that in the past seven years, this tournament has been held in Canadian friendly terrority FIVE times? Then consider next year it will be held in Calgary/Edmonton, with plans to have Canada host every other year after that. In the last seven years, it has been held in two American locations, North Dakoka and Buffalo, both of which strategically chosen so they can capitalize on Canadians flooding the border. You see, outside of Canada, nobody really cares about this tournament, no where near the attention, the stature, the fixation- we cheer mostly alone to be honest. This reality explains why a big semi-final match between Canada and the USA IN the USA was 95% pro-Canada. The IIHF knows what butters the bread, Canadians watch, Canadians pay big bucks to view, Canadians drive this entire tournament.

Is it really fair to other countries that they must endure a decided disadvantage, on an almost yearly basis? Does this never ending home field advantage Canada enjoys really speak to the notion of amateur athletics, fairness, equal opportunity? An odd time to raise the issue, given we lost yesterday, but nonetheless, Canada has an ace every year that other countries can only dream of.

I watched the final, but I admit I've soured on the tournament over the years as it has become a hyped up, Canada-centric spectacle. I wonder just how good we really are, do we make the finals every year because of the advantages we enjoy? Valid question, because the athletics are subsidized by the economic angle.

Today, we all wonder what went wrong. I wonder how much worse the result if not for the built in advantage, making this whole tournament a bit of a "homer" joke to be honest.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

On "Triggering Elections"

First off, I think we are NOW at the point in the election cycle wherein whomever actually "triggers" a vote will face little electoral blow back. One caveat, the party that looks most eager may be on the defensive at the very outset of a campaign, but that will disappear as we build up a real lather.

If you're listening to the Conservatives, we see the talking point on the election speculation is "the government will not trigger an election". Choirs are rarely this in tune, and it is fair to say this pushed posture brings certain advantages. However, this notion the Conservatives are pushing is simply bunk, which deserves some follow up or critical questioning.

If you are the government of the day, if you hold a minority, then it is INCUMBENT on you to form a majority consensus, the inability of which is in and of itself a "trigger". The question becomes whether or not this government has compromised, reached out, consulted, with other parties to get their budget passed? Has the government made a real effort to speak to the opposition parameters, or have they simply acted as though a majority, my way or the highway, this is the policy, deal with it? If it's the latter, then it is the government who is triggering an election, at least if one is giving a fair interpretation of our Parliamentary democracy and its CURRENT makeup.

The Liberals have laid out certain demands, like all parties have done. That mere assertion of certain values doesn't equate to saber rattling on its own, unless of course political parties aren't allowed to stand for anything that deviates from another party. We don't demand the NDP or Bloc mirror the government agenda, and yet when the Liberals take a stand it suddenly becomes "itching for an election". Read carefully, the dynamic is clear, we cannot accept certain policies, so if you want to avoid an election, we need some revision.

Let's throw out a theoretical- the government agrees to delay corporate tax cuts for one year, but stands firm on the F35 purchase. Then, we have a government trying to build consensus, it puts the ball squarely back in the Liberal court and any subsequent rejection may just qualify as "triggering an election". The Conservatives show an ability to compromise, making it incumbent that the Liberals do the same. But, this scenario isn't what we see, instead we get a pseudo majority mentality that finds conflict instead of minority demanded compromise.

If we go to an election, it is a testament to the fact this government doesn't play well with others, has failed to properly reach out to the opposition, thus triggering this unnecessary election they continually argue. If the government TRULY believes the "last thing we need" is an election, then we should see herculean efforts to avoid just that, Ignatieff's phone should be ringing, Flaherty should be meeting with Brison, a sense that people are trying to find agreement. To date CRICKETS, so let us all dispense with lapping up this thin government talking point, because it simply falls apart with the slightest scrutiny.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Nothing's Shocking

The new Abacus finding states the obvious, namely the Liberal brand suffers, associated with unattractive connotations. When people think Liberal, they think of corruption, dishonesty, internal divisions, among other things. In other words, we see little evidence that the Ignatieff Liberals have shed any of the baggage that led to past defeat.

The most maddening characteristic of the Liberal Party of Canada, is the never ending nostalgia, the rear view mirror routine that bathes itself in past triumphs. I don't discount a pride in certain accomplishments, but the projection onto the public dialogue is counter-productive. Today, we have a "new" leader- in the sense of no ties to past regimes- and Ignatieff still continually talks of the "institution", what people did prior, this bizarre continuity which actually handicaps the brand with the public. We trot out the old war horses, competent or not, and wonder why people still associate the party with the past. Instead of surrounding Ignatieff with all things new, young, vibrant, different, we favour experience, pedigree, pecking orders, all the things which congeal to inspire absolutely nobody. This Abacus poll should be a wake up call in a sense, because we've basically done very little to re-invent the brand, something I've always felt should be job one.

Long ago, I came to the conclusion that the only people proud of the Liberal legacy are Liberals. Look at those three successive majorities we won against NO credible opposition, a divided right, that's the template, that's the way it's done, that's what we need to recapture? Oh bloody bullocks, in the public's mind that name, that legacy is associated with EXACTLY the words Abacus found, EXACTLY. You can never recapture the past, and in our case, it's frankly better left there, with little reference required. We need the "new Liberals", the forward thinking re-constitution, a departure from the past, something people see as current and above all distant from the BAGGAGE.

Every time I raise this issue, I sense some blow back, because people rightfully remember accomplishments. However, this is a harsh game, and in the interests of the "team", I'd ignore the past and strategically move people around to promote the freshest optics imaginable. In concert, an actually effort to re-invent the brand, instead of these continual, purposeful references to lineage. Nobody cares, here you have a poll which says the past is poison, so let's get over it, let's forget about egos and institutions, accelerate natural turnover, do whatever you must to get the very real stench off the brand. Can't understand why we never fully capitalize on Harper's missteps? Here you have your answer, in stark and sober terms, simple but so instructive. I understand it's a process, but I'm not even sure we've begun to tackle. The Liberal brand doesn't need tinkering, we need an almost revolutionary mindset...