Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Jim Flaherty might just be the Liberals biggest asset in Ontario. Despite every pollster in agreement, Flaherty's assaults on McGuinty are backfiring with the electorate, these politically tone deaf Tories continue with the rhetoric:
Ontario is on track to become a "have-not" province within two to three years, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says.

"I'm quite concerned with the weakening of the Ontario economy," Flaherty said yesterday.

"If this continues -- this is not hyperbole, this is a fact -- Ontario will become a 'have- not' province in confederation.

"And it will be Premier (Dalton) McGuinty's legacy that he in two terms took Ontario from being the strongest economic province in the federation to a 'have-not' province," he said.

And on, and on, and on...

An error of almost herculian proportions, Flaherty continues to make the fight personal, offering absurdity to Ontarians, that everything is McGuinty's fault. Nobody forgets the speaker is the same man who left Ontario in debt, part of a very unpopular "revolution".

People can debate the merit in Flaherty's arguments for eternity, the fact of the matter, the Conservatives just reinforce the image of mean-spirited, divisive politics, more interested in bashing than working together. Common sense dictates that the federal government will never win in a feud with a provincial Premier, especially one that just won another majority. Rather than put McGuinty on the defensive, Flaherty gives him a platform to champion Ontario, against a hostile federal government. Any reading of Canadian history shows that calling out a relatively stable Premier never works to the feds advantage. In fact, it usually results in a rallying around the "locals".

By more than 2-1 Ontarians favor McGuinty over Flaherty/Harper in this war of words. Four polling outfits show erosion for the Conservatives in Ontario, with two on record citing Flaherty as partial cause. And yet, the heated language continues, the fight personal, all the while cementing a negative frame for the Conservatives. I have to laugh at it all, because Jim Flaherty is really, for the Liberals, the gift that just keeps on giving.


RuralSandi said...

I watched Steve Paikin's - The Agenda the other night where a panel was discussing this.

Apparently, Flaherty gets his orders from Harper (of course) and it's a tactic to blame McGuinty instead of the Conservatives for the problems in the manufacturing sector, etc.

Harper is attempting to "set up" his excuse to Ontarionians.


Anonymous said...

The Conservatives do everything for a reason. And that reason is to do whatever it takes to insure a majority in the next election. Therefore, they would not be offering this "gift" as it appears, unless it did not support the reason.

The true reason for the "gift" will be revealed soon. I have no doubt that like the extra $Ms spent in Quebec ridings, there is an equal reason for the "gift".

I do agree with ruralsandi that it is a "set up", but believe that it will be used more than as a simple "excuse".

Unlike us Liberals, there is a Conservative "war room" and leadership that schemes and manipulates.

Steve V said...

I would argue, this tactic, will ensure that they don't get a majority. If, they would just stick to arguments, based on a principle, then they might get traction. But, the combination of personal attacks, led by a character with little political capital in Ontario, is a recipe for failure. This strategy is a complete misfire, and it is clearly costing them support in Ontario.

Jennifer Smith said...

How's this: Ontario has been written off as a lost cause for the Conservatives so what we think of them doesn't matter. However, in the eyes of the rest of Canada, throwing punches at McGuinty and Ontario can be seen as "taking those arrogant Ontarians down a peg".

Just a guess.

Steve V said...


One caution on that note, there was a poll done, and the national numbers showed an even split in siding with Flaherty and McGuinty. If memory serves, even in Alberta, a healthy percentage disagreed with Flaherty's tactics, which was surprising.

Anonymous said...


With 40 Ontario Conservative MPs, there is no way that the Conservatives are writing off Ontario. I believe they need at least a dozen more in Ontario (28 more in total nationally) if they wish to get their majority.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I would be careful to draw any conclusions based on poll numbers at this point. The CPC has probably calculated something down the road and there has to be some logic to their tactics. Some form of divide and conquer. (ie. Push voters to the left so they split them up between the three left wing parties). The CPC might be sensing that voters do not view the LPC as a clear cut viable alternative at this point.


Anonymous said...


Why would Flaherty attack a recently re-elected Premier who remains high in the polls? How will it bolster a Conservative leader struggling to hold on?

John Tory is not going to find a 905 seat real soon. He is reduced to Leeds-Grenville and Carleton-Mississippi Mills, both places where his nomination can be challenged and defeated.

Just questioning Flaherty's tactic of denting McGuinty in the 905 as a means to boost Harper. It may backfire and turn Southwestern Ontario towards Dion!!!!

Steve V said...


I think you give the Cons too much credit here, they have shown a capacity for self-inflicted wounds before. At the root, this approach stems from personal dislike, and the error begins from there.

Anonymous said...

Mushroom, you asked: "Why would Flaherty attack a recently re-elected Premier who remains high in the polls? How will it bolster a Conservative leader struggling to hold on?"

Flaherty attacking a recently re-elected Premier who remains high in the polls DOES NOT bolster a Conservative leader struggling to hold. THAT'S THE POINT. This is all a set up for something more and this "gift" is not all that it seems to be.

Steve V, the Conservatives do not self-inflict wounds without a reason. They are much more disciplined than that. There is a reason, and I could speculate what it is, but it would be just speculation. But there is no speculation that there is a reason, since their God would never stand for it if there wasn't one.

Jeff said...

It is puzzling, isn't it?

I've heard the Harper is playing chess while we're all playing checkers meme before. Maybe he does have a master plan that will reveal all in time. I'll be interested, though, in seeing how he plans to break into majority territory without pick-ups in Canada's largest province. He can't get all the seats he needs in Quebec, they don't like him in the Maratimes, and there aren't enough seats that he doesn't have in the West to get him the numbers he needs.

The math doesn't lie, he needs to gain Ontario seats. He's playing chess though, so I'm sure the genius of the Ontario sucks campaign will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Steve V said...

"The math doesn't lie, he needs to gain Ontario seats. He's playing chess though, so I'm sure the genius of the Ontario sucks campaign will be revealed in the fullness of time."

So Conservative strategy is like watching Lost?

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

I think it is quite puzzling and I really cannot see how it helps the Tories. Maybe picking a fight with David Miller might have some logic since they won't win anything in the 416 and turning the rest of Ontario against Toronto proper might have some logic. I think it is a case of two people with big ego. Harper is a strategic player but sometimes his ego gets beyond him.

It is also ironic that a few weeks ago the Tories were around 40% in Ontario and in great shape to pick up seats there and then they decide to blow it and now are in the low 30s, which is pretty close to their hardcore base in Ontario. If those numbers hold they will win 20 rural ridings that will go Conservative no matter what, but not much else.

Steve V said...

"It is also ironic that a few weeks ago the Tories were around 40% in Ontario and in great shape to pick up seats there and then they decide to blow it and now are in the low 30s"

They were looking very good until they started the assault. We might be over thinking the why here, I chalk it up to a consistent style. These Cons love to turn up the heat, make it personal, it is just backfiring this time.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

Steve V - You are probably right. I wonder what the chances of Flaherty losing his own riding are as he only won by around 5% so hardly a large margin and it is not a rural riding like Cheryl Gallant's that will vote Tory no matter what. At least in the case of Peter Van Loan attacking McGuinty earlier, he probably didn't jeopardize his seat as it is it will likely go Conservative no matter what but I wouldn't say that about Flaherty.

Besides, he should be thankful for his current position as that is the best he will ever get. There is no way he will ever become PM or premier of Ontario. It probably won't be until around 2020 that the CSR will be fully forgotten and by then he will be too old. Never mind he was one of the most right wing and partisan of the Harris cabinet ministers. At least people like Elizabeth Witmer were widely respected and even many who disliked the Harris government could still support someone like her.

Anonymous said...

Many Ontario residents notice how Conservative ridings in Quebec get that little "extra extra" from the federal government. We know Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty don't give a damn about manufacturing jobs in Canada as long as Alberta is making money from oil. Many of us also realize that Mr.Harper's speech in London, Ontario where he called Ontario Canada's "engine" was all part of the good PR tactic.
What we haven't forgotten is Flaherty and how he and his friends ran Ontario into debt. We haven't forgotten the closed hospitals, the laid-off nurses, the attack on education, and the famous "a can of tuna costs 60 cents" when it came to helping the poor. It amazes me he's tackling finances for the rest of the country. Flaherty just keeps alienating Ontario residents and voters. I don't know how anyone can respect a man who talks from both sides of his mouth.