Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wake Me When It's Over

They folded on Afghanistan. They folded on the Tory budget. They even folded on their own amendments. They folded on the environment. Every time the Tories shout "boo" Stephane Dion dives for cover and takes his MPs with him.

He was supposed to get his government ready to fight an election. That's the first rule when leading a party in a minority parliament.

Now he's up against it. He goaded the Tories with a tax cut and they're calling his bluff. Will Dion fold again? Does it even matter? James Travers, writing in the Toronto Star, argues that Dion allowed himself to be outflanked even on his strongest issue:

While the Conservative performance is long-term threatening to the environment, the Liberal failure is more immediately politically damaging.

The difference for Dion is that the environment is a point of a departure, an easily grasped way of presenting Liberals as the vector for a country moving forward in optimism, not back in nostalgia.

How the party skidded past that point puzzles even many Liberals. But two factors are clear.
One is that
Dion's green credentials had more currency with the party than they now have with the public.

The other is that Conservatives were as skilfully swift in positioning Dion as an impotent environmentalist as they were framing him as a weak leader.

Even before the echoes of Dion's victory speech faded, Harper's spin-doctors were tracing the sorry record of Liberals who signed Kyoto but did next to nothing to rise to its challenges.

Since then, outflanking Dion on potential ballot questions has become the Conservative norm. They succeeded on Afghanistan and the management of a slowing economy while the renewed climate activity coupled with last night's vote on the NDP motion leave Dion without a compelling election issue.

- Update - This post has attracted a great deal of interest from Blogging Tories and their ilk. Before you do something embarrassing in your drawers, calm down. This post is about Mr. Dion, not the Liberal Party which, as each of you knows in the dim recesses of your narrow minds, will be back in due course. You, my friends, are gloating on borrowed time.

A quick question. Where would you be if you didn't have a leader like Harper? If there was ever a time you ought to be steamrollering the opposition into a powerful mega-majority, this is it. But you're not, not even close and you can blame lard-ass for screwing up your great and yet fleeting opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Given that Bob Rae has been running the party for the last twelve months, I know exactly where my blame lies.

me dere robert said...

Whoever it is has him convinced that the bi-elections will turn everything around and that he has to do whatever it takes to get to them. Hopefully they haven't done too much damage. How much more damage can be done in a week anyway? I guess we'll see.

Anonymous said...

I really still like Dan McTeague and I sure hope he doesn't let his bill get run over by Dion. If Dion tramples McTeague's bill, I think you'll begin to really see things fall apart at the seams.

The Mound of Sound said...

It seems I'm not alone in feeling like I've been watching a highway accident unfold in slow motion. If the alternative to losing an election now is losing it next year, let's go for it so we can try to give the LPC the fresh start it so badly needs.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, seriously... you've got the Cadman thing going, Mulroney-Schreiber still kicking around, timid action on the environment, the NAFTA leak, the Feds embroiled in a fight with Onterio, and now the conservatives are making a Liberal initiated TAX CUT a confidence matter. If this isn't the time to go to the polls I don't know what is. Honestly, if they can't find the backbone to pull the trigger this time I'm ripping up my membership card.

Anonymous said...

I agree we need a fresh start...that would preclude Iggy or Rae who are poisoning the party for purely selfish reasons.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's disheartening to see how inept the Libs are at making these scandals stick to Harper. He ought to be reeling from them.

I agree that the party needs fresh leadership. Would somebody get Louise Arbour on the phone?

Anonymous said...

Some of you might think I am dumb for saying this, but I think the party needs Chretien or Martin to come back. I really mean that. That would create a huge revival for the morale of the team.

Anonymous said...

All you scardy cats go read Kady O'Malleys Blog, Carefull what you wish for

Dion is playing the long game, you'll see.

WesternGrit said...

I think it is just plain WRONG to blame Bob Rae, or Ignatieff on this. The success - or failure - of our party currently rests squarely on the shoulders of the OLO, and our current leader. Still, I say let them run their strategy. I'm still one of those that say let them prove themselves with the strategy - which I believe to exist.

If there IS a strategy, and it works, then they are vindicated. If not, someone didn't stab them in the backs, they failed on their own accord (as leader, Dion is ultimately accountable), and then we have a normal party process in place to ensure that we get the changes we need.

Hopefully, in the next convention for leadership, we choose the strongest leader... Not the one the fewest people "disliked". You know, the "anything but Rae", or "anyone but Iggy" camps. Certainly not saying either of those would be any better... Just that the NEXT leadership needs to be about leadership and VISION - not the same old meek liberal-dom.

Let's try for a Western leader, or one from Atlantic Canada. There are strong leaders - who have leadership experience - like Tobin or Goodale, or even McKenna - who are also very strong parliamentarians, and would certainly "rock the house". To get beyond the "leadership malaise" in the current Canadian political scene, the Liberal Party can be instrumental. We need to elect a "firebrand". A pitbull in Parliament. Someone who makes this Party stand apart. It's TOO easy to water down policy of another party, to make it seem less than it is. We've had that happen to us for a couple of years now. The last good idea we actually brought to the public was the Kelowna Accord, and the Childcare Plans. Our election "platform" itself got buried under accusations of "scandal"...

Anonymous said...

What most are missing is, the Liberal brain trust are pretty sure that Harper is in small majority territory, if they were not worried about that why not feed Dion to the voters and get this over with? Dion wants an election...its the big brains that dont want one. Think about it...you had three picks for leader..a newbie who wrote pro-Iraq war and torture memo's and an ex-NDP leader, and Dion. Calling an election and putting Dion on display is Harpers wet dream, waiting and abstaining on every vote gives the media something to vent about but the average Canadian could care less. Besides, 10% of voters are looking for any reason NOT to vote Conservative, and, 30% percent will always vote Liberal...(i dont get that but I dont get Alberta voters either)..so...why not continue hammering Harper and hope to get that 10%? billg

The Mound of Sound said...

I suppose WesternGrit has a solid point. Let them play out their strategy, if they have one, although there's nothing we can do about it one way or the other. Then look for a leader who can unite the party and actually lead it forward with clear policies.

Anonymous said...

Why are we Liberals again?

Anonymous said...

"the Liberal brain trust are pretty sure that Harper is in small majority territory,..."

I think you hit it square on - going into an election a few points behind (or just even) means that Dion has to out campaign, out debate, out spend, and out manouver Harper. That means people have to learn to like Dion more than Harper.Since both are not all that "likeable" and Harper is a much better campaigner, there is every reason to believe the Conservatives could pick up 4, 5 or 6 percent in the polls during an election - remember they started double digits behind in 2006.

This Iggy/Rae thing could make it all worse - How long will Iggy stick around once Rae is in the House - Rae knows his way around politics and I am sure he is knee deep in gaining control of the party apparatus by getting friends in key jobs - When Iggy and friends see the writing on the wall, what will they do? This has all the makings of another Chretien/Martin battle ---

Anonymous said...

In regard to the by elections I understand that only Rae is guaranteed a win. Martha Hall Findlay is in trouble and they have called in the big guns. Sask.will never go liberal because of the parachute candidate and BC is turning out to be a 4 way race which may let the Conservative come up the winner.

Anonymous said...

"The other is that Conservatives were as skilfully swift in positioning Dion as an impotent environmentalist as they were framing him as a weak leader."

Mr. Travis gives the Conservatives far too much credit here. Dion stumbled into the leadership as a result of a Rae/Iggy power struggle. Never was leader material and no amount of wishful thinking or blaming the Conservatives will change that.

Anonymous said...

I have to tell you that it's really entertaining to see you all crying in your beer over the weakest version of the LPC I have ever seen.

I would say the dumbest, but that was Paul Dithers Martin's legacy.

Cheer up with the Conservatives continuing to govern Canada things will be much better even for you all. Although you will never admit it nor appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, with how often our party has been absent and willfully impotent in the past few months, I am losing all faith in the party as a whole. And McTeague's tax cut for the rich kids may look good to any idiot who buys into the sound bites, but if Flaherty does amend the budget to pass or fail on this motion, come election time there are going to be a lot of questions raised. And Dion isn't going to have the answers.

Honestly, if this is how our party is going to act, I am not confident I want to be a part of it. And with the options available -- the separatist Bloc or the Left-wing extremists of the NDP -- I'm just about sooner ready to vote for the Conservatives than the Liberals.

Dion has turned out to be a joke. And the fact that the rest of the party has been willing to go along with him for the ride in the name of partisan politics rather than putting the country first is only convincing me that the Liberal party needs some downtime to get itself organized. And if that means some time with a stable, non-extremist Conservative government for four years (and let's put to bed the ridiculous notion that Harper is a right-wing extremist, which he ain't) rather than a wishy-washy Liberal party with a no-good leader or an extremist Left-wing nutjob like Jack Layton who would ruin both our economy and our international reputation, I'll take stability thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

"Dion is playing the long game, you'll see."

Not quite . . Dion is playing the wrong game.

Anonymous said...

Whew , I'm not the only one.
As a fourth generation life long card carryin liberal, I TOO, find myself doubting that anything makes our party "special" .
After seeing the conservatives soundly manage our countries economy, internal affairs and war effort, I'm more and more happy with the headlines I read in the Toronto Star every day.
Our dollar has never been stronger, we're winning in Afganistan.
It goes without saying, that there is far less scandal and theft not to mention that there is zero involvment with organized crime figures like our party insiders Alphonse Gagliano and Joe Morselli.

I think once we pay back our fellow Canadians the money we stole through adscam and lock up "da Little guy" Chretien for organizing the largest theft of taxpayers money in the history of Canadaian politics, then maybe we can hold our heads up and come up with some policy that might launch us back to our natural governing party status.
We've been promising free day care for what, 13 years now?
Lets come up with a good idea this time.
Maybe that can be our new slogan once we pay back the stolen money.
"This time, it's a GOOD idea"
Yours progressively,
Harry Castor

The Mound of Sound said...

Harry, if you have the slightest shred of proof that Chretien organized the sponsorship scandal misappropriations, let's see it. There were some individuals involved in this but it certainly wasn't the Liberal party, no matter how much you might wish to believe it. The strength of our dollar is a double-edged sword and your notion that we're winning in Afghanistan is positively delusional. Wherever you're from, Harry, you need to read a lot more.

Anonymous said...

"Read A lot More"

Agreed, again, the mound!
I took your advice.
From the Gomery Report
(I trust Gomery he's one of ours, before the lid was blown off of Adscam, he was helpful when Paul Martin wanted to buy his steam ship line, and needed a rubber stamp from a judge.)

# The Prime Minister's Office, via Jean Pelletier, and then-minister of public works, Alfonso Gagliano, directed the awarding of contracts through the Sponsorship Program bypassing normal departmental oversight. ...
# Jean Chrtien ignored advice from the Privy Council Office that it would be prudent to transfer the sponsorship program to a department or let PCO run it.

# Jean Chrtien and Jean Pelletier are both to blame for the mismanagement of taxpayer money resulting from a program that was set up without proper oversight and had no clearly articulated objectives.

With progressive thanks,
Harry Castor

The Mound of Sound said...

Harry, they're responsible for mismanagement, no question there, it happened on their watch. There is however a huge difference between misfeasance and malfeasance. The sponsorship scandal wasn't about mismanagement but misappropriation, a bunch of guys who "stole" government funds. I believe Chretien has to bear responsibility, as Top Dog, for what happened on the "buck stops here" principle. That, however, does not mean that he's implicated in the misappropriation and you've not shown a thing to suggest that he was.

The Mound of Sound said...

By the way, Harry. If you want to discover how badly we're not winning in Afghanistan, you can find all the information you'll need on that subject right here on this blog, beginning with a piece I posted this morning.


Anonymous said...

"a bunch of guys who "stole" government funds. I believe Chretien has to bear responsibility, as Top Dog, for what happened "

Ain't that the truth.

Goes along way in explaining how he can afford his mansion in Palm Springs, United States Of America ,and all that money, too!

Progressive cheer,
Harry Castor

The Mound of Sound said...

You do realize, Harry Castor, that you've just said that former prime minister Jean Chretien used stolen money to purchase a mansion in Palm Springs? You've just accused the man of participating in a crime and you've done it without offering a shred of proof. Do you know what defamation is, Harry? Do you realize you may just have made yourself liable to an award of tens of thousands of dollars in damages?

Here's a bit of advice, Harry. Unless you have some convincing proof of your allegations, you would be well served to come out - right now - and admit your claim is groundless and freely apologize for impugning this man's reputation.

Don't go around accusing anyone of a crime unless you're either right and can prove it or you're willing to pay huge sums in damages.

You're playing with fire here chum.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, the mound.
I'll take that free lawyer'in advice for what it's worth.
His reputation speaks for itself.

Progression above all else.
Harry Castor

The Mound of Sound said...

Well Harry you can't say you haven't been warned. Yet you repeat it with the castoff line about his reputation speaking for itself. It's low, Harry, to toss out groundless accusations. No one deserves that. If you have some basis, any legitimate basis, for your claims, let's hear it. If you don't, that makes you a scoundrel.

Anonymous said...

Its low to toss out groundless accusations. Liberals should know. They do it every day.

The Mound of Sound said...

"Anonymous" is synonymous -with "vermin!" Thus endeth the sermon for today.

Anonymous said...

In politics, it is often follow the money that leads one on an interesting trek. At the federal level, the Liberal Government under leader Stephane Dion has repeatedly drawn lines in the sand threatening to bring down the Conservative Government. Then once a critical vote comes up in Parliament, the Liberals have either abstained from voting, or voted with the Conservatives.

The list of issues continues to grow where the Liberals will likely lose traction in a national campaign against the Conservatives. Afghanistan, the environment, the budget are just a few of the issues where the Liberals have lost traction recently.

Interestingly, the latest major point of attack by the Liberals appears to be focused in on former MP Chuck Cadman. For days now in Question Period, both Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff have tried to pound spikes into the Conservatives on this isse.

Considering that the Conservative Prime Minister has threatened legal action over comments posted and not removed from the Liberal's website, as Warren Kinsella, states, "Given how unusual it is for a Prime Minister to sue a Leader of the Opposition for libel - I don't know if that has ever happened, in fact - I'd hazard a guess that this isn't the action of someone who fears a full airing of the facts".

So what are the real reasons that Stephane Dion, despite media reports that he wants to call an election, has not brought down the Conservatives?

Some are speculating that Dion, who reportedly still owes an estimated $850.000 from his successful leadership campaign is also realizing that if the Liberals do not win the next election, that paying down that debt would be extremely difficult.

Dion's leadership has not apparently inspired many Liberal members and supporters to contribute heavily to the party, so the idea that he could raise over three quarters of a million dollars to pay down his leadership campaign debt on his own would be even harder. Especially if Dion were not the leader of the Liberal Party.

Perhaps, and I am simply speculating here, Dion's focus on Chuck Cadman could an effort to head off some in the Liberal Party who might be willing to raise the funds to pay off Dion's debt in exchange for the Liberal leader stepping down as leader.