Friday, December 17, 2010

Canadians Are Ready

Conservatives in a tizzy this morning, as Ignatieff starts laying the groundwork for an election. My only quibble, whether it is wise to telegraph the future, but then again, it boils down to simple logic at this stage. The Liberals don't support the Conservative agenda, particularly what we expect to come out of the budget, so to say we oppose isn't exactly shocking. I suppose if one is glued to every poll, any proclamation is shocking, but if you delve deeper you see Ignatieff is entirely right- Canadians are ready for an election.

Graves finds approval for direction of the federal government at a TEN YEAR low, the only solace for the Conservatives, their opposition is divided. However, that divided resistance doesn't distract from the central theme that Canadians aren't happy with the status quo, there is no love in the land, we want change, we just don't know where to go. After a seem less summer tour, that showed professionalism and readiness, the raw campaigner surprising firm of foot and relaxed, one can understand the Liberal bluster, despite the front line numbers.

In the last few months the Liberals have put forth policy that differentiates them from the Conservatives, even the formerly sceptical at least give this admission. Listening to all the year end speeches, from all quarters the Liberals were highlighting the divergence, now soundbite worthy, there is enough there for Canadians to make a decision. With this budget, those differences will be highlighted, so unless the Liberals are prepared to swallow hard, an election seems likely. In a wider sense, Ottawa has ground to an uninspiring, mostly irrelevant halt, an election is hardly the perceived obscene proposition it was in the fall of 2009.

Liberals had best be ready, if an election is in the air, we can expect a flurry of pre-writ attacks. If we want to project the future, we better understand it begins now, and I suspect we do. In all honesty, I don't fancy our chances in an election, the odds are clearly not in our favour. However, I also firmly believe the odds aren't likely to change, a "this is it" circumstance, which precludes waiting for the perfect moment to "pounce". If we catch fire in a campaign, we can win, because the electorate is ansy, Ignatieff's real world perceptions are spot on. The trick for the Liberals, they must define a clear choice, "us vs them" and somehow manage to get the sizeable anti-Conservative vote to coalesce behind our brand. Clearly a large challenge, but not outside the realm of possibilities either.


Mark Richard Francis said...

I'm not sure the timing is going to get any better. A pre-budget election takes that advantage that a budget can give away from Harper.

I wonder if Harper will prorogue again, using the repeated excuse of needing to work on an austerity budget?

Tof KW said...

"In all honesty, I don't fancy our chances in an election"

Don't discount the idea that Ignatieff may run a solid campaign, while all Harper's crew does is go on about boogieman coalition threats. The trick there is for the Libs to stay on theme and not shoot themselves in the foot. Keep the spotlight on Harper.

Now after saying this I predict if an election is held this spring, it will result in a weakened Conservative minority government.

My fearless forecast:
CPC-131, LPC-92, BQ-52, NDP-33

Notice that leaves Harper with an extremely tight seat advantage over any LPC+NDP combination ...which will make for very interesting times in Ottawa.

However my bet would be that Harper somehow buys the Bloc's vote for the budget, obviously with goodies for Quebec. The other possibility is the NDP is too nervous and folds.

doconnor said...

"Notice that leaves Harper with an extremely tight seat advantage over any LPC+NDP combination"

This is not relevant. The only thing that is relevant is the combinations that make a majority in the house. Your scenario leaves us in the same place we are now, requiring a Liberal-NDP-Bloc combination to form a non-Conservative government.

Jesse said...

So far, the reaction from the media doesn't seem to be "oh, he thinks he can win, so now he's pulling the plug", so hopefully this at the least gets us relatively safely back to acting as the opposition, and letting Harper cut deals with the Bloq and NDP.

Which I haven't seen a tonne of talk about... why don't we think Layton will flip like a circa-1990 pog on this one?

DL said...

"Your scenario leaves us in the same place we are now, requiring a Liberal-NDP-Bloc combination to form a non-Conservative government."

That scenario also would require a Tory-BQ combination to prevent a Liberal-NDP government...

BTW: I tend to agree that it is largely irrelevant whether the Liberals and NDP together get more seats than the Tories or not EXCEPT for one thing. Imagine of Harper tries to pass a throne speech after the next election and it gets voted down and then the GG invites Ignatieff to form a government. If the Liberals and NDP together have a couple of seats more than the Tories - it means that then it means that the BQ can abstain and the Liberal minority government can survive - its no longer necessary to get them to actually support the new government.

Tof KW said...

"This is not relevant. The only thing that is relevant is the combinations that make a majority in the house. Your scenario leaves us in the same place we are now, requiring a Liberal-NDP-Bloc combination to form a non-Conservative government."

To the contrary doconnor, this situation would be distinctly different than what we have now. With Harper on the verge of loosing government all together, the CPC will be nowhere near as combative as they are now. They certainly won't be ramming through legislation by making everything a confidence vote.

Also the dissatisfaction from the ranks of the CPC would be out in the open, and I would not be surprised to see at least one real leadership challenge eventually come out of it (my bet would be on Maxime Bernier).

Also your idea that a majority is the only outcome which must be obtained is hogwash. Harper (CPC: 31-33%) has as much of a chance at winning a majority as Iggy does (LPC: 27-30%) ...which is no chance.

The next election will result in a minority, I would bet the farm on that. The only question is how many seats will Harper loose, and will he still be able to maintain government.

Gayle said...

"However, I also firmly believe the odds aren't likely to change"

I agree. I also think that there will not be an election. Either the NDP or the Bloc will support the budget.

Gayle said...

Mind you, there is more likelihood of an election while the LPC numbers are low than there is if they were high.

Kirk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
doconnor said...

"it means that then it means that the BQ can abstain and the Liberal minority government can survive"

I think most people realize abstaining would be the same as supporting, so I doubt that would make much of a difference.

"With Harper on the verge of loosing government all together"

They would be no closer to losing government then they are now. They may not be happy if they lost seats, but that is all.

"Also your idea that a majority is the only outcome which must be obtained is hogwash."

I didn't mean there would be a majority government, but the government has have a majority in the House, even if it gets support from more then one party. That's why the combinations that make a majority is important.

"Either the NDP or the Bloc will support the budget."

The NDP might support the budget if they get enough (billions) out of the deal and that support would only last a few months before they want more.

If the Bloc support the budget that would anger both the Bloc's and the Conserative's base. It's not as easy as it seems.

Kirk said...

I'd be just as happy for the Liberals to say "We won't support this budget (or any particular legislation) unless you remove that, add this and adjust that".

Then be prepared to let the chips fall where they may.

Let the Cons negotiate with the NDP and BQ if they don't like the Liberal's demands.

That's really been the issue for the Liberals, rolling over instead of taking a firm position.

Kirk said...

If the Cons compromise with the NDP to pass a budget doesn't that just make them look more moderate and allow them to move into the center more?

And let's face it their right wing supporters will still support them as they move to the left because those supporters just blame the other parties and dream that everything will be different once Harper gets his majority.

Kirk said...

Just a side note.

I went to the Winnipeg Free Press article you linked to and checked out the comments.

And what did I see?

Three very familiar names!

3 right wing posters:

Observant, who must post on every newspaper comment section in the country.

BC Voice of Reason, a tireless Star commentator who I don't think is from Winnipeg.

hollinm, a former CBC poster how abandoned that site long ago but now shows up on the Star and G&M.

And one center/left poster:

And Bugzy, who now posts at the Star.

You know, the CBC had technical problems a few weeks ago and they lost their entire commenting section. I actually liked the site better without the comments.

Commenting and voting on those comments, especially on general interest boards, seems like incest... sure it's fun but the result is deformed.

Tof KW said...

Kirk, don't be surprised if any of those three names you mention are paid out of the PMOs office. Remember this ditty?

Canadian Government monitors political commentary on internet

"The Conservative Government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been caught monitoring political comments on Internet chat rooms, and employing respondents to correct the commentators, and their "misinformation"."

Steve V said...

One thing to keep in mind, the Bloc could well prop up this budget, if the Cons reach a deal on the HST money for Quebec.

DL said...

"the Bloc could well prop up this budget, if the Cons reach a deal on the HST money for Quebec."

But REMEMBER that we need to stop a "coalition with separatists" AT ALL COSTS because they might open up the cheque book to Quebec!!!!!

Steve V said...

Can you imagine, their whole election "coalition" strategy, and they survive because of separatists. Hard to imagine really, but not out of the realm...

The Pundits' Guide said...

DL is therefore right in that sense. The Bloc could, in effect, prop up the Conservatives now by abstaining on the budget, if they believed that timing was in their interest.

Tof KW said...

Bloc support in Quebec is very high right now, and they would look good to take 50-55 seats the way the polls look. They have no reason to not want an election right now. However buying them with HST money for Quebec would show the voters in la Belle that the BQ is still relevant and producing results for them.

So either way it goes the BQ wins. The bigger question is how would a CPC+BQ coalition that gives Quebec money going to look to Harper's base?

Steve V said...

The biggest threat the Bloc faces is a sense that they are always on the outside, never really delivering for Quebec. If they can spin this HST deal into a testament to their worth, then it's better than going to an election. They already own the province electorally, not really much incentive in forcing a vote, if they don't have to, if they can cover the "prop" attack with hard cash for Quebec. It's a fascinating dynamic, that's for sure. The only loser I could see would be Harper, because these guys have been obsessed with the coalition angle and such a result would welcome complete mockery.

Tof KW said...

The Reformatories have no one to blame but themselves for making any support from those scary separatists such anathema. Really, 95% of the time the interests of les Quebecois are the same as the interests of the residents of any other province. Provided there is some good for Quebec the Bloc are happy to support any bill in Ottawa, by any party.

So very amusing now if Harper attempts to create a coalition with the traitorous separatists this spring to keep his government afloat. Or for that matter with those socialist lefties in the NDP.

You see now Sweaterboy, this is what happens when you can't play nice-nice with your cohorts in the sandbox.

DL said...

There is one good reason for the BQ to want an election this spring. I think that Duceppe wants to either retire or depose Pauline Marois and become PQ leader. I think that he cannot really do either unless he gets the next election behind him - and what better way to raise his "net worth" in Quebec than to get one last landslide for the BQ in Quebec and then go out with a triumph. I don't think he wants to leave the BQ high and dry by quitting on the eve of an election that could come at any time.

bubba said...

I think I remember us having this discussion about a year ago Steve. I think you have to bow down to me or something based on my statements about election timing. Something like that. I am not as confident this time but I say post june 2011 how say you?

Jerry Prager said...

All this just points to the central flaw in Canadian democracy, we are governed by parties. the majority of Canadians despise Harper, and have little respect for Ignatieff, if it was up to the voters in a real democracy, neither man would ever govern us.

doconnor said...

Maybe the flaw is too many Canadians worry about the personalities of the party leaders, rather the then the policies their parties will implement (not to be confused with the policies that they talk about).

Steve V said...

I think you may be right!