Friday, October 22, 2010

Ignatieff's Outremont

Normally, I resist the superficial analogies, each situation unique that lazy overlap rarely informative. However, when I consider the stakes, it might be fair to categorize the upcoming Vaughan by-election as Ignatieff's Outremont. We now know who will take on Julian Fantino, the Liberals have chosen Tony Genco. Genco is a local businessman, that looks to have strong local ties, the battle is now joined.

Fantino is a complete wild card, nobody really knows how effective he will be at campaigning, articulating the issues, he could well prove to be a gaffe prone, divisive disaster. That said, Fantino also brings incredible name recognition and it is reasonable to assume he has a fighting chance in this supposed Liberal bastion.

I found the following informative:
At their closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday, the Liberal Leader told MPs and Senators that the expected and soon-to-be announced by-election in Vaughan is “ours to win.” A caucus source also said Mr. Ignatieff warned caucus not to let the Conservative star candidate “walk on water.”

Everyone’s support is needed for this, he said, according to the source. It seems that Mr. Ignatieff is rather anxious about this by-election – and he has good reason to be. Mr. Fantino, the former Toronto police chief and recently retired Ontario Provincial Police commissioner, is well-known in the riding and instantly recognizable; he also plays well to the Conservatives’ law-and-order agenda.

First off, I like that Ignatieff is "anxious" because it conveys he appreciates the potential significance of this one by-election. A Liberal loss on the perimeter of their fortress, one can imagine the headlines and the long term damage. The possibility of a Rob Ford win in Toronto would only add to the new narrative, conservatives on the march in the Liberals backyard. The fallout would be every bit as disastrous as Outremont was to Dion, you could argue he never recovered, perception wise, from that defeat.

The Liberals were VERY slow off the mark in Outremont, costing dearly in the final analysis. I assume lesson learned, which may explain Ignatieff's sense of urgency. The Conservatives will bring volunteers from across the province, the entire machine will focus on taking this riding, because they also understand the potential impact. This riding has seen Liberal support eroding, plug in a "star" candidate, plus the quirky dynamic of a by-election, and it's ripe for the taking.

This by-election will be dogfight, and I'm glad Ignatieff is taking a "all hands on deck" approach. Should the Liberals lose this seat, all the apparent unity on the leadership front will immediately evaporate; Ignatieff will be questioned and undermined, of that I have no doubt. Seems rather silly in one sense, but no matter, a loss in Vaughan translates to a heap of trouble that won't quickly disappear. To suggest otherwise, more wishful thinking rather than a reading of historical precedent.

Liberals should be worried, and this worry will serve to motivate. We should proceed as though the underdog...


Tof KW said...

Indeed, the Liberals had better go into considering themselves the underdogs.

I'm also watching how much the long gun registry comes into play here. Fantino has of course spoken out against the LGR since 2003, however continuing to hammer the issue should help to keep vote splitting to a minimum. I think the Libs should raise the issue as much as possible.

Steve V said...

I'm curious how the LGR plays as well.

The Libs might be wise to play Fantino as the bored retiree looking for something to do. When first interviewed, he said he was getting sick of working in the yard, hardly a "burning desire". Genco as the local, who understands the riding and wants to fight for it in Ottawa might be a nice contrast to the 67 year old former cop parachuted into the riding.

DL said...

It's about time someone slammed Hazel. People have cut her slack for far too long because she's good at playing the "I'm a feisty old lady" card over and over again. But the reality is that she is corrupt, clearly not all there (how many people are 89 and not suffering noticeable cognitive impairment??) and should have retired at least ten years ago. Mississauga has drifted with no leadership at all for years - because no one dares to criticize "the feisty old lady" - who does NOTHING.

Steve V said...

Love the new blogger feature. "Canadian Sense" marked as "spam". Lol.

Tof KW said...

Steve, excellent suggestion. To reinforce this, one only needs to re-print all those articles where Fantino himself stated he had no intention of running for public office. Remember he was also being wooed for the mayoral race in Vaughan, and by the Ontario Progressive Conservatives to run provincially.

Tof KW said...

Love the new blogger feature. "Canadian Sense" marked as "spam".

LMAO ...oh that blogger feature is long overdue! ridenrain and wilson need to be added on that as well.

Steve V said...

I assume Fantino will be lacking on true specifics. Genco's best chance may be to highlight local knowledge, issues specific to riding and ask voters to choose who can best represent Vaughan's interests. Fantino has liabilities here...

JF said...

Well it is important, I don't think it's as important as you make it out to be... it's not Outremont, but it is still important beyond the "every riding counts" sense. My gut tells me that we're riding a small but growing momentum wave at the moment and a loss of a seat will grind that to a halt.

I'm glad to hear that it's being taken seriously. I can only hope that it's being taken seriously enough that the national office & caucus will put time and money into it.

My stratagy would be to come out of the gates hard. Secure and present as many local endorsements as possible as much as Fantino maybe be a "Star" candidate he's still a parachute candidate. OF course it wouldn't hurt to have a little star power of our own on the campaign in support roles. Personally, whenever Genco makes a public speech/appearance during the campaign I'd have a Liberal with positive name recognition being his warm-up act. I'd have Bevilacqua out a lot on the husting with him too.

Fantino isn't a hero, he's not untouchable, don't treat him as if he is.

Dame said...

I Live in BC so I have no real sense of these men's "stength"
however I wonder why an EX police BiWig is counted as "ASSET"
Do we love all what and how they do??

Jim said...

Steve, I agree with all that you are saying. We have strong riding associations in and around Vaughan as well as in Vaughan itself that can help pull in all "hands on deck" to get out the vote and promote the new candidate. Underdog, yes, but I think we have a good shot because we are organizationally strong in the GTA and have a solid local candidate.

HOWEVER, I suggeset we do NOT run with the idea that Fantino is a parachute candidate who doesn't know the riding. He does actually live there:

"Fantino — who lives in Vaughan’s Italian enclave of Woodbridge"

I think he's lived there for awhile actually and I don't think people would have been encouraging him to run for Vaughan mayor if he didn't know the issues or was actually a "parachute"

All parties have had parachute candidates (Stephen Harper, Martha Hall Findlay, Bob Rae, Jack Layton)so I find that line could blow up in our faces.

I think we can win, but let's not peg our hopes on lines that could backfire or presume that Fantino doesn't know the riding that well.

Fantino has a long list of other things to criticize him with, just look at his wiki profile for starters (which may conveniently be edited in weeks to come).

Jim said...

We also shouldn't be counting on Bevilacqua's help. He will likely be elected mayor of Vaughan on October 25th. It would certainly be excellent if he came out and endorsed our candidate when the by-election is called (it's not unheard of for mayors to endorse federal politicians), but we shouldn't expect him to get so partisan right after being elected to a non-partisan position like mayor that is going to have to work with whoever wins the by-election.

We'll see, I hope I'm wrong, but we shouldn't be pegging our hopes on having Bevilacqua's help in any case. I'm sure his riding association remains strong and they will be pulling out all the stops to bring this riding home for us again in any case.

rockfish said...

I completely agree, and feel that it is the Liberals to lose. Fantino may have instant 'star' credentials (compared to the mostly dreckian candidates they trot out everywhere else) but he has baggage; one doesn't have to resort to dumping all over that baggage to tar him with the rotten CON brush. Just start with the G20 mess, and how the 'law-and-order' types threw away fiscal responsibility and semblance of an open, democratic process and ended up with hamfisted police-state-like soup... Step up the talk on the 'police chiefs want long gun registry' to see how he reacts -- is he quick on his feet or will he be a diletante?
I also believe that some of Fantino's own stripe will be eager to throw their own mud. Stay away from the Hales etc, and talk up the latest Liberals program ideas.

Greg said...

Fantino is a complete wild card, nobody really knows how effective he will be at campaigning,

If history is a guide, we won't see Fantino during the campaign.

WhigWag said...

Well, don't forget you can enlist the help of:

(Including getting them to actually CAMPAIGN for the Lib. candidate.)

BTW, plz. add Observant / Observateur / Consistent to your spam filter

Kirk said...

And keep McGuinty away from the riding and hope he stays out of trouble elsewhere.

I bet he's costing the federal Liberals 3-5% in Ontario.

With some luck maybe Harper will create another of his little fiascoes right before the vote.

Lots of little wild cards but it's good to hear the Liberals are getting off to a fast, early start.

Steve V said...

I note a few people thing I've overstated (on the FB comments as well) the significance. I'd just add, I've now heard a radio report, seen a print piece and watched at tv bit, all three have reference Outremont when describing this bi-election. Exaggeration or not, that's the frame...

Kirk said...

$24 million for 4 meetings rooms in an existing building.

Harper may have given the Liberals a nice little scandal to work with.

These by-elections should be turned into a referendum on Harper's wasteful spending.

Do you want to reward a govt that spends $24 million renovating 4 rooms?