It would seem that all the pollsters share the confusion:
"It seems to me they're putting more of their eggs in building up support in Quebec. I don't know if they've cut Ontario loose. I can't imagine you'd want to do that ... but it does look like an odd strategy right now," said Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research.
"I'm as perplexed as the next guy about where the Ontario strategy is."….
"When you start to get scrappy with issues of concern to urban voters, it's hard to do that and six months later go back and ask for their vote," said Nik Nanos, of Nanos Research.
"If majority was the name of the game, then they do need to make some sort of gains in Ontario, specifically suburban Ontario. You're not going to do that if you're viewed as being anti-urban," Nanos said.
But he also said it reinforces that Tory habit of talking to their "core constituencies – small-town, rural and also suburban Canadians," as well as Quebec.
"It basically means that Toronto, suburban Toronto and urban Ontario is not really part of that mix," Nanos said…
"I don't see where the electoral upside is in that," said Bruce Anderson, Harris/Decima president. "I have no way to explain what would be in it for the Conservatives to take a relatively confrontational stance, at least in rhetorical terms, with the Ontario government."
The really odd part, most of the tensions have been created by a belligerent government, that gladly mocks the Premier, expresses disinterest at legitimate concerns. There is no sensitivity, when it comes to Ontario, which stands in stark contrast to the egg shell routine we see in Quebec. Obviously, and legitimately, the Conservatives made the astute calculation that Quebec provided the biggest opportunity to expand support. However, that approach has developed an exclusive flavor, where the tunnel vision has failed to see the other part of the equation. Even the most optimistic of Conservative scenarios couldn’t possibly have entertained a complete Bloc collapse, which always necessitated additional support elsewhere.
When you see the polls, and wonder what is holding back the Conservatives, the answer is primarily the failure in Ontario. It’s not like the polls only recently projected this truth, that has been a known quantity for over a year. That consistent picture makes the recent posturing all the more curious electorally. A very timid approach to the manufacturing situation, verbal slurs directed towards the Premier on an issue that is political suicide from the federal perspective, referring to cities as “whiners”, dumping centrist candidates who articulate urban issues. A host of examples that make you wonder if these people really do the simple electoral math. The Conservatives so obsessed with winning a majority on the one hand, so utterly clueless and self-destructive on the other.
The Conservatives are not interested in a real majority...just a technical majority, which they believe they can achieve through retail politics and by taking advantage of the over-representation of certain constituencies. Why they want to do this remains a mystery, unless one goes back to the hidden agenda which is of course anti-urban and anti-Toronto/Ontario, among other things.
"unless one goes back to the hidden agenda which is of course anti-urban and anti-Toronto/Ontario, among other things."
The funny part, you have Ontario MP's like Van Loan, Flaherty and Baird doing most of the bashing.
Personally Steve V I tend to think this is at least as much because much of Harper's core cabinet is made up of former Harris government members who care more for savaging those that defeated them in Ontario and kicked them out of office than anything else. Given the strong pattern of revenge/retribution this government operates under from the petty to the foundational/substantive I find this alas all too easy to see/believe. Not to mention the fact that Harper set this operating mode/style with his own brand of vindictive politics from the outset of his taking power, setting the example for the former Harrisites to follow.
In any event this is going to almost certainly have the effect you describe in this post, and it certainly makes it far harder for the CPC to have a hope at majority except under one circumstance, that being the NDP managing to split enough votes in enough Ontario ridings to enable up the middle wins by CPC candidates. Which as you and I both know is clearly a CPC strategy that has been ongoing since at least the last election (if not before then). Especially when Flanagan comes out and tells the public about it earlier this year.
"the NDP managing to split enough votes in enough Ontario ridings to enable up the middle wins by CPC candidates. Which as you and I both know is clearly a CPC strategy that has been ongoing since at least the last election"
That's a possible scenario for sure, but as far as sound Con strategy it is poor cousin to actually trying to appeal to voters.
Oh, I agree with you that it is a poor strategy, but it is clearly the one they have chosen to go with judging by their actions. Indeed, I agree with you entirely about just how strategically stupid this Ontario bashing by the CPC government has been in its quest for majority, and really, the only reason I think they could be doing it is that they think they have already maxed out their potential seats in Ontario for the time being and/or the Harrisites want payback on Dalton for beating them and exposing their fiscal lies. With any other government I would not believe such vindictive pettiness could be influencing such serious political calculations, but with this government I could see it.
I've always maintained that Harper is pretty clever tactically, but a lousy strategist. These days though I am starting to question even the tactical side given the way he has massively mishandled the Mulroney/Schreiber affair from the outset. The way his government appears to be going out of its way to surrender Ontario is only another example of why I think the notion of Harper the strategic genius is wishful deluded thinking and not reality.
This is a government made up of a lot of angry zealous ideologues, I do not expect rational logical thinking from such, and they certainly have not provided much reason to think otherwise have they? If they were not so inherently dangerous if ever allowed unchecked (majority) power I would find watching them amusing beyond belief because of how disconnected from reality they tend to be in both word and deed. So this idiocy with Ontario can be seen in that light as just another example of why ideologues make for bad government as a rule, especially in a nation like Canada.
You cut a useful distinction between tactic and strategy. May I assume that a tactic is a goal relative to a situation (i.e. putting down an opponent) and a strategy is a plan for owning or controlling the situations? Say the difference between sailing in cross wind (tactic needed), and sailing to Syracuse (larger plan needed). Something like that perhaps? Intuitively, I like what you suggest.
I agree with you that Harper is not a master strategist. Much of what he has done will be counter-productive to whatever his large strategy is; notably, throwing away seats in NL and NS when he has a minority government; and entrenching opposition members in the major cities. There may be some sense to the strategy, if a minority government is his goal; and the goal relies on an increase in NDP seats in ON at the expense of the Liberals.
One of the long simmering sources of “Western” alienation is the perception that Ottawa, for reasons relating to Quebec, is unwilling to recognize the region’s growing economic and democratic clout. The Conservatives are not so much trying to reduce “Western” alienation as trying to stoke it. The Conservatives are betting that the Liberals will defend the status quo and so far the Liberals have done just that. During the next election the Conservatives will mention how the Liberals are content to continue short changing the “West”. By the way, it is no accident that the Conservatives are proposing to give the same number of seats to the BC and Alberta as Quebec has.
On the other side of the ledger Ontario’s huge rate of growth in absolute terms is bound to scare the bejesus out of Quebec and the Maritime premiers and by short changing Ontario the Conservatives are signaling to these provinces that they recognize these concerns and are willing to do something about it.
The Conservative fall back position is to say to Ontarians that while Ontario might be shortchanged in comparison to BC and Alberta and Quebec, it nevertheless gains more seats under the new system then it would under the old system.
In short the Conservative plan is premised on the Liberals continuely to defend the status quo.
"On the other side of the ledger Ontario’s huge rate of growth in absolute terms is bound to scare the bejesus out of Quebec and the Maritime premiers and by short changing Ontario the Conservatives are signaling to these provinces that they recognize these concerns and are willing to do something about it."
Good points koby, but on this question, Quebec is against the whole concept of more seats for anybody.
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