Monday, January 17, 2011

Up Is Down?

Several major developments on the election front this weekend, that demand a rethink. Flaherty has signalled than any HST deal with Quebec isn't on the near horizon, which means the Bloc's key demand for support simply isn't there. I had concluded that the Bloc was the only option for the government to avoid an election, primarily because I simply couldn't wrap my head around the idea of the NDP propping up the government. With the latest twists, that assumption may well prove flawed, Layton is making overtures with a very "conservative" set of demands, the prospects of a deal now a distinct possibility.

I've argued that there is little real upside for the Conservatives in having an election, more likely they are weakened than attaining the treasured majority. If you listen to the Conservative talking points, safe to assume their internal polling supports that likelihood. For the government then, it becomes a question of finding a dance partner. Again, with the Liberals clearly out, the only reasonable option I entertained was the Bloc, which now clearly requires revision. One caveat, we are nowhere near a deal. However, the fact efforts will be made, somewhat surprising in an of itself.

Why, why is it surprising, if you believe the government wants to avoid? I just can't believe that the NDP can swallow THIS hard. This isn't late 2009, when the electorate was foul about an early election, this isn't a one off support with a phantom extraction, this is the budget, this vote has tentacles that will embarrass for months to come. All the riders within the budget that are rarely discussed on the big day, all those unseemly thrusts, every revelation, will put the NDP on the defensive.

From the Liberal perspective, I would say the NDP supporting this budget represents THE optimal political scenario moving forward. It is for this reason that I struggle to see how the NDP voluntarily accepts this reality. Never mind the bravado, propping up Harper, no matter the scraps, says loud and clear, the NDP see trouble on the electoral horizon. There is simply no way- even for the most skilled of spinsters- to reconcile the big ticket offences contained in this budget from the NDP perspective. One need only look back to last year's budget, and you'll see corporate taxes where the CENTRAL NDP theme.

If we are headed down this road, it represents a delicious concoction from the Liberal perspective. Finally free of holding the bag, we can make the distinction between TWO options, while the NDP apologize and get lost in the budget shadow (Liberals know this game well, to dismiss is to ignore simple hard, well established realities). This is the narrow election window right now, should it pass, we are looking at another full year of Harper rule. The gravity of that reality, no matter the concessions, is something that will destroy every single narrative the NDP have pumped for the past five years. I remain sceptical, but "up is down" apparently, and let's hope so....


JimmE said...

Mr L supporting the present PM's Corp Tax cuts & the bottomeless pit of the F35 means he's afraid of one, or more, of the following resulting of a spring vote:
- Major Dipper losses (including his & Do-Nuth'n-Chow's seats)
- A Reform party majority
- A Liberal minority
We may also be seeing Mr L attempting to look reasonable and at the same time gingering-up his horses. Either way, you're right, this is good for Mr I.

Steve V said...

If you want to have fun, google the NDP and corporate taxcuts. This issue was their central rationale for voting against last year!

There is no way to spin it, no matter the concessions, if they prop up this right wing gov't, then we can conclude they are in a bad position financially, electorally. Any other suggestion is pure partisan nonsense. I still can't believe they will support, but man Layton does look eager...

Tof KW said...

The NDP possibly supporting corporate taxcuts?

Is there anyone here from Saskatchewan that can help us confirm if Tommy Douglas is rolling in his grave?

Steve V said...

Amazing times...

Tof KW said...

JimmE, you forgot about the fight that Mulcair will have holding Outremont, as the NDP's uncertain stand on the LGR vote will definitely be used against him there. I don't think Layton will have any problems holding his seat, however Chow and Mulcair are definitely in play.

A Eliz. said...

What about the poison pill that may be put in the Budget.
Harper is running scared...6 new ads,five against Liberals and one against the NDP!

Tomm said...


Each opposition party has drawn their line in the sand.

Nobody benefits from an election, except perhaps the CPC (sympathy bounce).

The CPC tries to isolate out the LPC (corporate CPC policy appears to include the death rattle of the LPC), so they try to cut a deal with the NDP to show Canadian's a strong NDP v. a weak LPC. If the NDP bites, no election.

If the NDP can't swallow that hard, then what?

I think you are right, the Tories will not woo the Bloc. Therefore, the only other answer is the LPC backing down in one of two ways, or we go to the polls. Way 1: pass the budget by voting for it. Way 2: pass the budget by recognizing this is cold and flu season.

The budget may be quite vanilla.

I still don't think there is going to be an election.

Steve V said...

"Nobody benefits from an election, except perhaps the CPC (sympathy bounce"

Man, you really are a riot Tomm. Does this look like a gov't that sees ANY upside in having an election? They are running ads TODAY against an election call, and you think they are the one's that can benefit?

Cold water, smelling salts, I don't what else I can suggest?

Steve V said...


Exactly, they are running ANTI election ads... can it be anymore clear??

Tof KW said...

I agree with Tomm on his last comment. I think all 4 parties (well maybe only three, the Bloc doesn't really care whether there is an election or not) will do some bending here as no one would benefit from an election right now.

However without the Quebec-HST deal, I will change my spring election odds from 4:1 against, to maybe 3:1 now.

Again, as Tomm said it will be a vanilla budget, and I can see the CPC bending by leaving out any money this year for the F-35s, but keeping the corp tax cuts. That could put the Libs in a spot this spring.

I do however disagree with the sympathy bounce idea for the CPC though, at least if there is it will not last long. If the Grits trigger the election now by voting against the budget, any negativity against them for this will evaporate once a real campaign is under-way. At least now the Libs have policy differences from the government (unlike 2009). And from the polls released it seems the public is more accepting of an election this year.

That said, the most likely result of an election now is still a CPC minority, the only question is one of seat erosion for the CPC and to what extent. I see riding losses in Quebec, and the challenge is to hold all their seats in ON. It is the most politically volatile province of the 10.

JimBobby said...

Couldn't the anti-elections ads be a preamble to elections ads encouraging punishing the opposition who triggered an unwanted election?

Or, perhaps a shot across the bow to let the opposition know that the CPC election machine is well-oiled and ready to roll?

I fully agree that if Layton capitulates (Jack Capitulayton) and swallows the corporate tax cuts, it'll hurt his party. Will it hurt enough to move votes? Maybe not, but it could hurt enough to keep would-be NDP voters away from the polls. In this era of low voter turnout and citizen cynicism, the party that can motivate voters to exercise their franchise has the advantage. Parties that disappoint their would-be supporters lose out.

Steve V said...


The Liberals aren't bending at all, you can bank on that one.


I think it's a shot across the bow to the opposition. They've done this before... I think it hurts the NDP, but it also feed this Lib narrative about two clear choices. It could also benefit your Greens, because the NDP have lost their moral edge on the protest front.

Tof KW said...

About the CPC anti-election attack ads ...all I gotta say is 'just in time for the Super Bowl.'

Gawd, the CPC war room is about as predictable as a $1 who-done-it novel.

Tof KW said...

Steve, I certainly hope you are right (re: Libs caving on softened budget). But I really do see the CPC caving a bit to put the nasty on the Grits.

Steve V said...

If the CPC cave, not sure how that hurts Libs? I would relish the dynamic of the NDP propping up the Cons, giving us free reign to act like an official opposition. I see a weakened NDP narrative and a more forceful Lib party. The polls show that people are prepared for an election, this isn't 2009, no downside in opposing strongly. Parliament can actually become a tool to express our opposition, rather than finding lame ways to support (like the NDP apparently want to do now). I can't find any Lib concerned if this budget passes with NDP approval?

Tof KW said...

"If the CPC cave, not sure how that hurts Libs?"

OK here is my hypothetical guess. The CPC releases a budget without a poison pill (all signs do signal they don’t want an election) and defers any money for the F-35 until 2012 or later. However they stand firm on corp. tax cuts. The NDP grow a spine and do not support the budget (I take it as a given the BQ will not support without Quebec-HST money) leaving the spotlight on the Libs. One key demand is acknowledged, no F-35 money. That leaves them open to attack by the CPC that the Libs are not interested in compromise.

In other words the CPC will try to put ‘the nasty’ on the Liberals for triggering an election. Also they will use the coalition angle since the NDP and BQ will be voting against too.

Not saying this any of this will be successful, I just see this all as a very real possibility.

However I don’t see any downside for the Libs if there is an election this spring. Even with the worst poll numbers over the past 6 months the Libs would still win a few seats over 2008. That should be enough for them to stand firm here.

Kirk said...

Under Layton the purpose of the NDP has been to destroy the Liberal Party just as it is the purpose of the CPC under Harper.

An election will see more Liberal seats as every poll has them up from their 2008 election results. That is why Layton will make a deal with Harper, to prevent any improvement in the Liberals fortunes.

Steve V said...

Ahh okay. I really see no scenario now where we do support this budget, given the Cons refuse to backoff corporate taxes. Notice how the NDP demands yesterday focused on other things besides taxes? Because they know they have to frame "concessions" in other areas, won't get any deal on taxes. The Libs have made taxes the central question, all other policy stems from this divergence, so backing down now seems unlikely to me.

Steve V said...


You're right. The party with the best chance to increase their seat total is clearly the Libs. I've looked at the seats, just don't see where the NDP will pickup, particularly when the Libs are coming on several fronts. The Cons and NDP have a mutual reality, neither sees much upside electorally at the moment. Funny, all the supposed philosophical beliefs are secondary to naked political self interest.

JimmE said...

While I tend to agree with you that the present PM does not want an election (that whole democracy thing again - ecch!) I don't see the F35billions and the Corp Tax cuts as vanilla.
I'm out on a limb here, but MrL is not well liked by a significant # of folks in his riding. If seen as too close to the Reformparty he could suffer that Dion effect ie. People stay home. Dippers would have to get all the homeless people they bring to the polls to Mr L's riding to win.

Tof KW said...

JimmE, not saying that can't happen in TO-Danforth. However JL won with 45% of the vote with the Libs behind at 29%. I won't consider this an easy pick-up versus, say, Chow's or Mulcair's ridings.

Oh, for interest's sake the third party winner in TO-Danforth back in 2008 were the Greens, followed by the CPC. Yup I can feel the love for Harper in Toronto.

marie said...

I'm out on a limb here, but MrL is not well liked by a significant # of folks in his riding. If seen as too close to the Reformparty he could suffer that Dion effect ie. People stay home. Dippers would have to get all the homeless people they bring to the polls to Mr L's riding to win.

And believe me they do.They obviously have a lot of campaign workers. I have worked in the last two election polls and the NDP are standing near the doors bringing people in all the time. Like a revolving door.

They also have many scrutinizers bring different ones in hourly and those leaving are stopping voters just outside the doors to talk to them obviously pushing their party. That is a problem and the liberals need to do the same to at the very least to break up these little gathering. They know better than to do it in the poll center but they wait outdoors.

My community is very largely seniors and they do come to vote. The only good thing is the candidate has not overwhelming had the majority of the NDP votes.
The Cons though had a candidate who was arrested for smuggling wine and a car across the border. He was chased off the Cons but because it happened close to the election, his name was still on the ballot and he took a substantial number of votes. When I talked to one of my friends, later, I mentioned this CP candidate and she said she & her husband always vote for the conservatives and that is something that the liberals need to make clear. That the Con are merely a coalition of a few actual conservatives and the remaining, the former Reform Alliance party. It is amazing how many people think that way especially the very old who do not follow politics that closely. That’s another item that the Liberals need to talk about and inform the public.

At the last election, the NDP had an automated system call list asking for their support. I received that call late in the evening when most people are home. I am assuming that they probably called everyone in the local phone book.

I received a phone call 2 days ago from a solicitor for the NDP. It was very short and on my part. I also told to never call me again and to take me off their phone lists. I think they got the message real quick.

Not only have the CPC started their campaigns and surveys, the NDP are just as guilty. Double talk these two parties and obviously planning their strategy together for support already. I live in a small community and the NDP MP has an office in my town and is holding sessions at different business on a regular basis. He is still sending 10 per centers more frequently now. They are bold enough to place their advertisement in the local papers. I do not know if they have large crowds attending as I am the least bit interested in their party.

They also have a lot of canvassers hitting our small community ignoring the no soliciting this park.

Sorry for the long post but this is what is happenrg in my community.

Steve V said...


No worries on length, I love anecdotal accounts, gives a sense of what is going on.

ottlib said...

Stephen Harper does not want an election. The Conservative ads and their statements on this are not rhetoric they are statements of truth.

The Conservatives know that it is nearly impossible to win more than three elections in a row. Further you have to go way back in our history to see a party leader who enjoyed success when they were fighting their fourth straight election.

I know the pundits do not give the Liberals much of a chance but if they fight a good campaign I believe they have as much of a shot at winning as the Conservatives.

Finally, the party seen to trigger the next election will not suffer any permanent damage so the Liberals are free to vote against the upcoming budget regardless of what the other parties do.