Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Flushed Out?

There are moments where the political rhetoric is forced to accept an emerging probability. The last time the threat of an election moved from theory to practical reality, the NDP did a bear hug on an already floated Conservative plank on unemployment, adopted it as their own, and essentially propped up the government to avoid an election. The previous stature, CUSHIONED by perceived Liberal weakness, evaporated once the political jockeying moved from inside Ottawa to potential election.

In the last few days, the Liberals have signalled they won't support the budget. This early posture has heightened the chances of an election. The Liberals provocative move has also flushed out the other players it would appear, and I would argue should force a sober re-think on just where we are politically speaking. The Conservatives are SUDDENLY playing footsie with the NDP again. Of secondary importance is whether the overture bears fruit, it's the fact the government is trying to build alliances, to avoid an election, TELLING and quite informative, denoting a reality beyond the current Ottawa narrative:
Tories soften tone with NDP ahead of 2011 budget

The Conservatives are suddenly saying nice things about Jack Layton and the NDP, a party they once dismissed as irresponsible socialists...

Mr. Soudas’s e-mail included a note regarding the NDP Leader: “Mr. Layton has written a letter to the Prime Minister asking the government to invite Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi to Canada. We thank Mr. Layton for his positive contribution to this matter...”

Last week, in a year-end interview with the Reuters news agency, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty spoke of the “common ground” that exists between Tories and New Democrats.

The Finance Minister said he had met separately with Liberal finance critic Scott Brison and NDP finance critic Tom Mulcair. Mr. Flaherty said it was clear from his chat with the Liberal critic that “I guess they’ll vote against the budget.”

But Mr. Flaherty suggested there’s a better chance of agreement with the NDP, particularly on programs to train workers.

“That doesn't mean they'll support the budget, but it does mean there's some common ground,” he was quoted as saying in reference to his discussion with Mr. Mulcair.

Again, it is hard to imagine these two parties can agree on a budget passage, but just the EFFORT is what we should focus on. I mean, here we have a Liberal Party which is apparently on the verge of complete collapse, tired, a horrible leader, and yet the government isn't ready to pounce and take advantage of their HAPLESS foe? Are they not reading some of these polls? What about the cluster strategy, all these theories that make it seem like a majority is actually in their grasp? Seems a bit of a disconnect here, between what everyone is assuming and the real world reactions now starting to unfold. If I'm just look at actions, rather than rhetoric or pundit analysis, I'd dare say this looks like a government that sort of fears an election. Why? Maybe more vulnerable than people are entertaining.

A hint perhaps, today's AR poll shows a superficial advantage for the Conservatives over the Liberals on the economic file, sure to be the centerpiece issue of any near term campaign. However- and this dynamic may explain the apparent government unease- there are more people undecided than support the government, there are more people who want to see the policies during a campaign before they make up their mind. In other words, there is nothing certain. People already know the government's agenda, the wait and see crowd clearly a concern when face with a not yet know opponent and policies.

I am marvelling at how quickly this government has pivoted, actively looking to avoid an election. I expect a big move on the Quebec HST file to secure Bloc support. It also looks like the government is entertaining a backup plan, via the NDP. Whatever, quite telling that this government is suddenly involved with separatists and socialists. At the very least, real world machinations demand a reassessment in current thought processes, because this doesn't look like a juggernaut on the cusp of anything, except perceived relative setbacks, outright vulnerability. Whether we have a spring election or not, it would appear the government will only come kicking and screaming... Imagine that.


Oxford County Liberals said...

Add to that the Governor General has gone public on Sunmedia in a year-end interview saying he has no problems with Parliamentary coalition governments, saying it's part of the democratic process.

JimBobby said...

Canadians rarely seem to be in the mood for an election. Like root canal, it is generally viewed as a necessary pain. However, if the opinion polls predict an election (like the last one) that is going to deliver the same CPC minority result, even fewer Canadians have any use for the hyper-partisan hoopla and a $300-$400 million exercise in futility.

If the Cons are seen to be dragged into an election kicking and screaming, that will work in their favour; at least, initially. Unless they are really dissatisfied and fed up with the current regime, voters will penalize the party they see as triggering an election.

Without some help from either the NDP or BQ, the Libs cannot singlehandedly force an election, though, so they may escape the wrath.

NDP backers seem content to squeeze a few concessions out of whichever party is in power and call it "making Parliament work." If the Cons can get the NDP on side with their budget, they'll win this round.

When Harper said last week that this is no time to "screw around with a bunch of political games," he was clearly referring to the possibility of an election. One would think that democratically-minded citizens would be offended by such disrespect for the cornerstone of the democratic process but Harper's disparagement brought about little response.

CK said...

Well, well, well, ain't that special?

I shouldn't be surprised, I guess. I thought it would've been the Bloc who would've supported the upcoming budget. I know that our finance minister, Raymond Bachand has been negotiating with Jimbo Flaherty over that 2billion in HST payments the feds owe our belle province.

I know the Bloc supported the Cons' purchase of those big fighter flying killing machines, but then, it's supposed to bring jobs back to Quebec. Scrapping 'em will be a tough sell for the Liberals and NDP in Quebec, but I digress.

Plus, Bachand was one of the few premiers who actually support Flaherty's privatized pension ponzi scheme, but then, we have the QPP, so we're not really affected by that.

However, why would it be necessary for the NDP to play "Let's Make a Deal" with Harper? Aren't they the ones always condemning the Liberals for having voted with the cons so often in the past?

And for what? Job training? That would assume there are jobs in Canada. The jobs are in Asia now.

CK said...

Oops! Just proof read my comment; I made a goof; Bachand is the finance minister of Quebec; not our premier.

rockfish said...

Perhaps we should hear the demon-cries against a coalition government -- this time the nDp and Cons, with the Bloc's grudging approval -- blasting off the Sun media newswire?

Steve V said...

Honestly, it's hard to see how a budget with corporate taxcuts can be supported by the NDP. It's more the attempt that intrigues me, says the gov't sees long odds for improving their seat count, great risk of smaller mandate at best.

Tof KW said...

Steve, have you checked out Impolitical this AM yet? André Pratte (editor in chief at La Presse) just wrote an editorial that Quebec should think twice before voting for the Bloc in the next election. His point (quite accurate) is if they truly want Harper out of office, voting BQ will only ensure the status quo, another Harper minority.

Now M. Pratte is a well known federalist supporter, so the PĂ©quistes will dismiss this quite quickly. Regardless he has an influence in Quebec, and was quite blunt in this latest editorial. This might be the beginning of something dans la Belle.

Anonymous said...

it will be interesting to watch.

JimBobby, I respectfully disagree that the party that 'causes' the next election will be punished, that may be true a year after the last election, but at this point everyone knows its coming and the near gridlock in parliament (which will only become worse if Harper keeps using the Senate to block bills) makes it very reasonable to go to the polls and see if voters can solve the logjam.

ottlib said...

Of course Stephen Harper is afraid of an election. He knows he will probably lose said election.

At the very least he will only achieve a reduced minority which will spell the end of his time as leader of the government. That is unacceptable to Mr. Harper because he likes having the power too much.

Either way Mr. Harper knows that the number of days he has left in politics is diminishing and he will do whatever it takes to postpone the final day.

PS: The Word Verification string for this comment was "Voter".