Wednesday, January 05, 2011

On "Triggering Elections"

First off, I think we are NOW at the point in the election cycle wherein whomever actually "triggers" a vote will face little electoral blow back. One caveat, the party that looks most eager may be on the defensive at the very outset of a campaign, but that will disappear as we build up a real lather.

If you're listening to the Conservatives, we see the talking point on the election speculation is "the government will not trigger an election". Choirs are rarely this in tune, and it is fair to say this pushed posture brings certain advantages. However, this notion the Conservatives are pushing is simply bunk, which deserves some follow up or critical questioning.

If you are the government of the day, if you hold a minority, then it is INCUMBENT on you to form a majority consensus, the inability of which is in and of itself a "trigger". The question becomes whether or not this government has compromised, reached out, consulted, with other parties to get their budget passed? Has the government made a real effort to speak to the opposition parameters, or have they simply acted as though a majority, my way or the highway, this is the policy, deal with it? If it's the latter, then it is the government who is triggering an election, at least if one is giving a fair interpretation of our Parliamentary democracy and its CURRENT makeup.

The Liberals have laid out certain demands, like all parties have done. That mere assertion of certain values doesn't equate to saber rattling on its own, unless of course political parties aren't allowed to stand for anything that deviates from another party. We don't demand the NDP or Bloc mirror the government agenda, and yet when the Liberals take a stand it suddenly becomes "itching for an election". Read carefully, the dynamic is clear, we cannot accept certain policies, so if you want to avoid an election, we need some revision.

Let's throw out a theoretical- the government agrees to delay corporate tax cuts for one year, but stands firm on the F35 purchase. Then, we have a government trying to build consensus, it puts the ball squarely back in the Liberal court and any subsequent rejection may just qualify as "triggering an election". The Conservatives show an ability to compromise, making it incumbent that the Liberals do the same. But, this scenario isn't what we see, instead we get a pseudo majority mentality that finds conflict instead of minority demanded compromise.

If we go to an election, it is a testament to the fact this government doesn't play well with others, has failed to properly reach out to the opposition, thus triggering this unnecessary election they continually argue. If the government TRULY believes the "last thing we need" is an election, then we should see herculean efforts to avoid just that, Ignatieff's phone should be ringing, Flaherty should be meeting with Brison, a sense that people are trying to find agreement. To date CRICKETS, so let us all dispense with lapping up this thin government talking point, because it simply falls apart with the slightest scrutiny.


Tof KW said...

" least if one is giving a fair interpretation of our Parliamentary democracy and its CURRENT makeup."

That's a pretty big 'if'. Should our mainstream media-types in fact begin to interpret the Harper government in relation to 400+ years worth of modern Westminster-style Parliamentary government, that would be a first. With few exceptions, our MSM are fat and lazy; and would rather just regurgitate the talking points supplied, rather than do any actual research or proper reporting.

In other words, I'd expect them to just publish whatever the PMO says, and for that to go unchallenged.

That said, your thoughts here are bang-on Steve. Just wish our media were doing their flippin' jobs.

Steve V said...

If this is the gov't line, then it should be challenged. Period.

Rural said...

If you are the government of the day, if you hold a minority, then it is INCUMBENT on you to form a majority consensus, the inability of which is in and of itself a "trigger". -
That sums it all up nicely, would that our politicians and more of our citizens realized that!

Democracy requires dialog, please join us at

Kirk said...

T of KW's post sums it up for me.

The media has completely adopted the Conservative spin. And it is long established among the media.

When the Conservatives started making every bill a confidence measure the media didn't care one bit that legislation was being voted on, not on it's content, but on whether the Liberals were willing to cause an election.

This was absurd but for the media the only thing of interest was how the Liberals were being played. Politics over governing and the media cheers politics.

WhigWag said...

Good post. I'd just like to add that we shouldn't give the Cons. an 'out' of regarding not including the F-35 as part of the next budget cycle as representing any sort of compromise, since acc. to them, Canada wasn't going to start paying for them for at least a couple more years, yet, anyhow (since delivery isn't going to start until 2016).

Tof KW said...

Thanks Kirk, but my point is not so much the MSM adopting the Conservative spin (well with SunNews yes it is , but the others not so much) as sheer laziness. Thanks to cost-cutting, market over-saturation, and the movement to turn news into entertainment, we've got the crappy reporting we have today.

All the various media outlets do now is faithfully report the PMO's talking points, then interview a Lib or NDP MP to get the counterpoint, and if you are lucky then the resident political analyst will gloss over the comments to tell us how we should 'feel' about things. There is precious little in real reporting or analysis. Good luck to anyone being called out for outright lying anymore.

There are a few bright lights and hold-overs from an earlier generation. For example Andrew Coyne's blogposts during the second prorogation were excellent, and Kady O'Malley never lets anyone's spin get by without presenting the actual facts. However for the most part the MSM are pretty much useless these days.

The situation is now so bad that Wikileaks seems to be taking over for what our reporters have not been doing since the 1980's. I'd bet the farm that Wikileaks will find out what our government's role in the Afghan detainee issue was before Iacobucci's parliamentary committee.