Thursday, December 11, 2008

In the Nick of Time - a Leader

At long last the Liberal Party has a leader, one who's more than a match for Stephen Harper. Slag him if you like but I won't. What I've heard from Michael Ignatieff over the past two days removes any doubts I had about the leadership vacuum our party suffered under Stephane Dion.

I've said it here many times before but the best thing that Dion and Harper had going for them was each other. There were a lot of people who wouldn't vote for a Dion government. Some stayed home, others voted for Harper. Some, who couldn't bring themselves to vote for either, parked their vote with the NDP.

I think that dynamic is ended now and I'll bet that Harper does too. The reality is that Steve Harper has been a remarkably poor prime minister. Despite being educated as an economist, he was so busy in constant campaign mode that he was totally blindsided by the economic meltdown that's swept over us. Steve didn't do one thing to protect our country against this crisis, nothing. I knew it was coming, why didn't he? Joe Stiglitz knew it was coming, Paul Krugman knew it was coming. They were telling anyone who would listen. When it came to America's economic collapse, Stephen Harper wouldn't hear of it - and he didn't.

So now there's a new kid running the show and he's one that the schoolyard bully isn't going to be able to push around. Harper may finally have to run on policy and his record, two areas where he realizes he's vulnerable. That was evident from the timing of the snap election in September. The summer was winding down, MPs were just about to return to Ottawa, the scandals of the previous winter and spring had fallen silent - BOOM, an election! So, what was the urgency, what great policy initiative did Harper have that needed an electoral mandate? Nothing, nothing at all. He didn't even bring out a "platform" until the last week of the campaign and it was thin as a reed. The election was fought over Stephane Dion and Harper held every card. It was rank political game playing and nothing but. And, for Steve, it worked. He almost pulled off a majority.

That's over now. You don't get to pull that scam twice. Now Steve is being forced to do what he fears most - he's forced to govern, to lead, as though his political life depended on it which it most assuredly does.

True to his cowardly nature, Steve is trying to lure Ignatieff into his standard trap. He wants Ignatieff to formulate an economic recovery plan which Harper can then either adopt as his own or, if he sees an opening, attack. Either way, Harper doesn't have to take the risk of actually governing. Ignatieff, however, doesn't seem willing to let him get away with that - again. Who has all the best and brightest minds in the civil service at his beck and call? That would be the prime minister. It's his job to propose this sort of legislation, not the opposition's.

Wow, the next election might be a referendum - on Harper. That would be a first and it's a prospect that must be giving our Furious Leader absolute tremors.


Anonymous said...

Tje Tories hvae letters going around, stating that Ignaieff did not become the the leader democratically....he was parachuted into leaership..boy how thy lie!

Anonymous said...

I agree we shouldn't slag Ignatieff, but I don't like you kick at Dion either (completely unnecessary). It's the National Executive I am angry with. I'll rally around Ignatieff but we need to throw out this National Executive.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry, Anon, my intent wasn't to slag Dion but I don't think that recognizing his considerable flaws now, after the fact, is inappropriate. He's a man of great qualities but leadership was not among them. I hope it's not unfair to critique Mr. Dion in order to point out mistakes we can't afford to repeat.

Anonymous said...

Who's big idea was it to seat Dion at the back of the room for yesterdays caucus Christmas party?
A disgrace!!!!

The Mound of Sound said...

How do you know that's not where Dion wished to be? Until you know, save the exclamation marks and your keyboard.

Anonymous said...

The Liberal party cannot continue to concede the low ground to the Conservatives and hope to win control of the government. Until we have a leader who is prepared to get down into the gutter with Stephen Harper and return smear for smear and lie for lie the Tories will always have an edge. In our Carl Rove inspired political atmosphere, nice politicians finish last. Dion was a nice politician who would have made an excellent Prime Minister had voters been able to see through the slime the Conservative marketing machine coated him with. It is to be hoped that Ignatieff is a tougher bird.

Dennis Hollingsworth said...

Beautifully written & brilliantly composed Mound … a NEW Draft Plan for the Liberal Party of Canada.

This piece represents the the WIN / WIN narrative that plays to the very best interests of the Canadian citizenry.

Seasons Greetings !!!

Anonymous said...

I think that there will be two narratives to what Stephane Dion did for Canada and its peoples.

One is that he failed us by allowing the Harper conservative juggernaut to start the dismantling of Canada. His weakness was manifold: he failed to tame down the adversarial forces in his own party; he failed to see the urgency of modernizing his party in order to render it competitive in today's environment; he did not foresee the ruthlessness with which Harper would go about implementing his agenda until it was too late. He did say Harper was "scary" towards the end, but by then the public was for the most part so completely mesmerized by Harper's viciously personal attack ads that not many were prepared to listen. Still, ordinary citizens do not have the tools that Mr. Dion and his team had at their disposal to fight for the well-being of their country. So, yes, Stephane Dion failed us.

On the other hand, he has worked tirelessly for Canadian unity and the environment. And most notably, in a show of resolve and determination, during these last fews weeks, banding together with the other two leaders Duceppe and Layton, he managed to stop the Harper juggernaut dead in its tracks. And it was just awesome! For that, I shall always be grateful to Stephane Dion.

The Mound of Sound said...

Doz, I sincerely hope you'll rethink your cynicism. The solution isn't to get down into the gutter with Harper. What can that achieve but trying to out-bully the bully? It's not necessary to "go low" to take down Harper and, quite frankly, I think Canadians are tired of his neo-con/Rovian ways. Steve has had a free ride for far too long and he can be handily defeated on his record and his policies (or lack of them). I think a majority of Canadians would be all too happy to reach out to a viable alternative to Harper and his ways.

Anonymous said...

Pretty good read! Although...I'm pretty sure that middle of the road Canadians, you know, the ones who actually decide elections would feel comfortable with either Harper of Ignatief. If the Libs were to win the next election with MI I'd probably be a little pissed until about noon the next day and then I'd start to focus on my day, which is the way I like my politics. Hard core partisans dont see it that way, but, they are not the ones that decide elections...and I like my politics that way too. billg