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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why the Liberals are really pushing for a Spring election

The Canadian Liberal party's polling numbers have plummeted like prices for Christmas tree decorations on Boxing Day. If the recent polls are correct, then the Liberals and New Democratic Party will both lose seats were an election to be held soon and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives may even get its elusive majority government.

The Liberal party's swing to the left may have acquired them some votes from voters inclined to the NDP and Green parties, but that same move has driven even more centrist Liberal voters into the arms of the Tories.

Despite their best efforts to hammer the Conservatives with scandals like that of Bev Oda's mysterious signature on the CIDA document denying funding to the anti-Israel group, KAIROS  and the 5-year old "In and Out" election financing scandal, neither has had any resonance with the public. In fact, Harper's numbers have ascended in the midst of the campaigns to discredit his party.

This phenomenon can be explained by the one Conservative asset that the opposition parties cannot surmount;  incompetent, uninspiring leadership from the Liberals, Greens and NDP.

Liberal Foreign Affairs critic and Michael Ignatieff's former (and present?) main rival for party leadership, Bob Rae, seems to be pushing full on for a spring election.

In what sounds like an election push, Rae recently wrote on facebook, "The issue is not Kenney or Oda or Ouimet or Elections Canada - it is now democracy itself, and the simple idea that the rule of law means limits and respect that apply to everyone, even the Harperites. This is the issue of our day and our time - nothing more, nothing less."

Do the Liberals seriously think that if they shout that loudly enough, they can overcome the lack of confidence Canadians have shown in Liberal leadership as exhibited by Ignatieff for the last 3 years and Stephane Dion in the 2 years prior to that?

The answer is, "probably not."

What seems likely at this point is that senior Liberals like Rae realize that as long as Ignatieff helms the party, they're going to be shut out of power. So the sooner they replace him, the sooner they have a shot at winning. For a party like the Liberals, for whom power is frequently the overriding principle, nothing spurs a leadership change faster than an election loss.

Senior Liberals wanting to rebuild the brand have figured out that the fastest way to accomplish that is getting the inevitable Ignatieff loss out of the way quickly, so they can pursue their own ambitions now rather than later.


Anonymous said...

Biased, unbalanced reporting from Conservative mouthpieces is hardly convincing. These scandals are beginning to stick, and the Cons don't like it at all. The tables, it seems, are turned. Like 2006: excellent economy (13 billion surplus)yet the Cons concentrated on scandal. Now, again, excellent economy, yeet it's the scandals that people are tuning in to. Tables are turned, yes sir. Let's see what happens.

Richard K said...

The polls would appear to disagree with you. If I were a Tory and the Liberals said 'call an election right now', I'd say, "Go ahead, make my day."

Anonymous said...

Pro Liberal Media reporting making a big issue out of nothing, again and again. Politics is a game, lets get this government back to important issues. Economy, Middle East and Jobs for Canadians. Im glad Oda kept the millions here for us Canadians and our homeless people.

Anonymous said...

Canadians are fed up with corrupt Liberals...here is how they operate in Committees to not allow 12 witness's to testify


DCR said...

This sounds about right. The Liberals are void of anything new. They are regurgitating the same ideas that were brought up decades ago.
The Grits need to be beaten....bad. If they do not rebuild from the ground up, and get power back, the same puppet masters will be pulling the strings again.

Jan said...

Anonymous (Mar. 9 @ 12:27

"Like 2006: excellent economy (13 billion surplus)yet the Cons concentrated on scandal."
That's because there was real not faux scandal!!! (Try Adscam, Shawnigate, Martin avoiding Canadian taxes by registering his ships out of country, brown envelopes to the Quebec Liberal Party (of which $40 million has never been repaid to Canadians. It's endless.
Let's see, Wafergate, Guergisgate, Bathroom gate, Odagate, the smearing of FOUR Conservative mp's who are women--the Liberal track record is dismal, since none of the mud seems to be sticking.
We need an effective Opposition -- try coming up with issues that are important to Canadians instead of sounding like a bunch of yipping dogs.

Unknown said...

Scandals are a great basis on which to run a campaign provided that they aren't to complex for the average disengaged voter to easily understand and not incredibly fucking boring. In and Out and Oda are both.

There's a pattern of Tory scuzziness, but that's meaningless unless it's sexy enough to build a theme out of. Harper's lucky that his people engage in the most pedistrian corruption imaginable.

The Liberals never cease to amaze me. If they were even halfway smart, they'd run to Harper's right on the economy and the budget in particular. It's not like there isn't a lot of room there to do it, and they do have a record that's a stark contrast to Harper's allergy to money.

Having said that, the Grits are going to lose and lose hard. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the NDP expliuted their schizoprenia (conservative leader and liberal caucus) and snagged a few of their seats.

I think they know that, too. They're done with Ignatieff and I think Ignatieff is done with them. They'll get crushed and find another leader to get clobbered in their civil war.

Unless of course Sir Stephen of the Blue Sweater Vest manages to fuck up a sure-thing majority for the fourth time in a row. I'm not sure he can survive only barely beating the two weakest Liberal leaders in Canadian history. If Harper's sent into retirement, I can't see anyone beating Kenney for the leadership, and I'd give the Grits even money on kicking his ass regardless of how helpless they are.

Remember, Tories don't historically lose in this country as much as they beat themselves.

Richard K said...

So Skippy, I guess what you're saying is that you're a huge fan of Harper ;-)

Actually, I agree with much of what you wrote, except that the NDP is so damaged that I doubt they'll pick up any seats from the Libs and may even take a loss in a few of their existing ridings to the them. (Which will not be offset by the even greater loss the Libs likely will suffer in seats going over to the Tories).

Right now most of the bashing and counter-bashing has been the Tories and Liberals going at each other. Layton's stooges have slipped under the radar because they aren't really worth the trouble before an election campaign. But when it actually happens, the ton of dirt that lands on the NDP that's out there may completely bury them.

I still think the best bet the Libs have is Marc Garneau. Can you name a successful Liberal leader that hasn't been from Quebec since Mackenzie King? Garneau hasn't voiced much interest, but while I genuinely like Bob Rae, Harper could beat him easily by running against his record as Ontario premier, and I'd even be willing to bet on Jason Kenney against him.

And your last thought, while very true, applies equally to the Liberals when they're in power.

Unknown said...

I actually think that Rae might be a little more formidible than most folks suspect. Remember, he was premier twenty years ago and then the leader of the NDP. Things have changed quite a bit in those two decades.

Besides, assuming that Harper's even around, what's he going to do, run on Rae's right on the economy? Ol' Bob is bright and articulate enough to point out that he was a socialist when he tripled Ontario's deficit and then ask Harper what his excuse is. I'd pay a goodly sum of money to see that. That could be a game changer on the order of "You had an option, sir. You could have said no" in '84.

Of course, none of that matters unless and until the Liberals settle their own civil war, which they won't. It's been going on since 1975 and seem to enjoy to like.

And that leads to my broader point. The NDP aren't going to vanish the Liberals by themselves. They aren't politically astute to do that. But if you see a Harper majority, I think a good part of the Grits still significant left wing is going to ask what the party is good for if it can't even stop Harper and look seriously at a merger.

Over the next generation the NDP has room for growth to the center and the Liberals can't grow anywhere. They're crowded out on the left and Harper, in governing like a Grit, is edging them out of the center. Plus there's the civil war to consider.

That being the case, I think that you'll see a merger soon and over ten or twenty years, see the NDP take it over completely. And I'm fine with that. At least they believe something, even if it's wrong.