Monday, September 07, 2009

Why a Fall Election is the Right Way to Go

1. It's time for a Prime Minister who can lead all Canadians, not just a narrow base in Alberta. Harper hasn't even bothered to unite his own party. He has repeatedly characterized Quebec voters as un-Canadian. He has expressed contempt for every citizen east of Manitoba. He reviles the values of most Canadians.

Harper is a formidable foe because his Alberta base ensures that his party has by far the most money to spend. He uses that money on negative, character-based attacks on his opponents, and these attacks have been very successful. As his mentors in the US Republican party have discovered, lies are very effective in undermining your opponents.

2. Last December, Harper pulled such an egregious stunt that he lost the confidence of Canadian parliament. Since he did this a month after an election, an immediate election was not an option and the opposition parties were forced to form a coalition to replace him. Unfortunately, the leader of the official opposition proved himself to be not up to the task of leading the coalition government and had to be replaced. The new leader needed some time to get up to speed. Ever since last December, Harper's government is alive only until Ignatieff is ready to go. Now, Ignatieff is ready to go.

3. To stay in power, a minority government must be propped up by the opposition. This requires that a minority Prime Minister must work with the opposition, or at least with some portion of it. Harper has chosen not to do that, and hence he has teetered during his entire tenure as PM. The instability of the government is all down to Harper. The Liberals and NDP have reached out to him, and in response he has spat at them. Consequently, the decision to topple him is forced on the opposition and their job is merely to pick the most advantageous time. As to when the most advantageous time is, the political experts seem to think it's now.

4. Last fall, Harper broke his own rules and commitment to fixed election terms, and called an election at a time advantageous to himself - another month or two and he wouldn't have been able to keep the deficit figures from the public and the election result would have been quite different. The opposition must take control of the game or we're doomed to a series of weak, unpopular, minority Conservative governments.

5. Harper is still up to his Nixonian scheming, trying to subvert democracy. Years ago he let it be known that his strategy is to beat the Liberals by bankrupting them. He's still at it, with his latest scheme involving trying to force the Liberals to pay retroactive GST fees. There is no reason why the opposition should continue to let him pull these sleazy stunts. Furthermore, the incompetence of the Harper cabinet has led to serious consequences and it is the obligation of the opposition to put an end to it, for the good of all Canadians.

Under Harper's control, the Conservative party has become a gang of thugs, sleazebags and imbeciles. Harper's need to control everything has resulted in a weak and scandal-prone cabinet. Canadians died because of secretive attempts to reduce food safety inspections; the trust of our allies was diminished by a cabinet minister who left NATO document at his mafia-connected girlfriend's house. It just goes on and on, and Harper doesn't seem to be learning or improving. Time to go.

See also: My thoughts before last year’s election



CanadianSense said...

What is the percentage of seats the Liberal won outside Quebec in October 2008?

What is the percentage of seats won by the CPC outside Quebec?

Why are you suggesting Alberta is narrow?

ROC already passed judgement and gave a sweeping majority, only Quebec has chosen to vote for a separtist party instead of any federal party.

24/75 total Federal seats.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you think Harper has a narrow base in Alberta? And he's formed the government with just that?

Well, the populations of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are greater that Alberta and that is where the Liberals hold all their seats so why isn't your guy in the big chair? Should've been more votes...non?

Harper has said that his "egregious" stunt was no stunt at all and intends to make it a part of his election platform. Watch for it.

And to make a blanket statement that Harper has refused to work with the opposition parties is just wrong. The size and magnitude of the deficit is purely because of the Libs and NDPers screaming from the hill tops that this money needed to be spent. If it wasn't spent the way Jack, Gilles or Mike wanted, well, there's that issue about seat count again. He who has the most seats...decides.

And just to be clear, the Conservatives have discovered that there is a flaw in the interpretation of election expense reimbursements. They feel they double dipped and were enriched by this and would like to pay the Canadian taxpayer back. You take this to mean that he is trying to bankrupt the Liberals? How about doing the right thing for the taxpayer. If you don't think doing the right thing for Canadians is proper, then you are already bankrupt.


Lizt. said...

I guess their is no use in writing the truth.. you will get undated with trolls.

Yappa said...

Hi Kat,

Thanks for your comment.

I said the _money_ is coming from his narrow base in Alberta... and the money fuels the votes, especially when used for negative, character-based, lying ads.

The egregious stunt in the fall update last year is no less egregious if he repeats it in a campaign. No doubt he'll twist the facts, but it's still anti-democratic, hurtful to Canada, and being done only because the Cons currently have the most money.

Re the deficit, our deficit would be even larger if we hadn't had a stimulus package. Our deficit might well be smaller if the stimulus had been implemented more quickly and more effectively. (In a severe recession such as this one, government revenues go down and government costs go up: there's a deficit even if a government does not enact stimulus, and in fact it's probably larger.)

The creation of a coalition forced Harper to agree to a stimulus package. There was no negotiation: he was backed into a corner and about to lose his job.

In other areas, he has not shown any ability to play with others. Just last week Layton tried to deal with Harper; I wasn't bothered so much that Harper didn't warm up to Layton's offer, but the way Harper spoke of it - with utter contempt and disrespect. Likewise, he has not dealt honestly with the Liberals' demands that he meet certain requirements to continue being propped up. There have even been issues of honesty about reporting of stimulus spending.

Harper and Tom Flanagan have publicly stated that their long term goal is to bankrupt the Liberal Party of Canada. Its not my partisanship that finds that anti-democratic and disgusting. If my party's leaders stated they planned to try to bankrupt another party, I'd protest loudly and probably cease supporting the party.

The timing of this latest ploy (to force parties to return GST rebates) makes it clear what they're up to: they're trying to deplete opposition coffers just as they head into a campaign. You have to be pretty naive, given Con statements about bankrupting the opposition and given the timing, to think this is "about the taxpayer".


Don't worry... the Liberals were slow to upgrade their online donations system and suffered from internal disunity and leadership problems, but they're back now and the monetary discrepancy between the Libs and Cons will not persist forever.

Yappa said...

Hi again Kat,

Oops, I see now that I wasn't clear enough about the narrow base thing. What I meant is this: the Conservative party, as I understand it, gets most of their donations from a narrow base of people in Alberta. Harper's leadership is far too strongly aimed at that little group of people.

By the way, I don't at all mean to be anti-Albertan. But I believe strongly that once in power, a leader should remember that all citizens deserve to be heard, whether they voted for him and gave him money or not. I would hold my own party to the same standard, and it's the major reason I moved to the Liberals.

As I have written before: "The strength of the Liberal party is that it responds to the needs of all Canadians and not just a narrow base; it is jokingly called Canada's "natural governing party" because it offers the most responsive, responsible governing style. The Liberal party tries to be fiscally conservative and socially progressive - a balance it can never achieve perfectly, but it's the only party even attempting it."

CanadianSense said...

I am not a conbot Troll. In fact I am ex liberal when the GST budget vote threw out my Liberal Rat Pack MP. I became an independent. I voted for Bob Rae. Chretien had Alan Tonks (former Mayor) finally beat the long standing Liberal.

I never voted PC.

You can continue to dehumanize us narrow minded people, stupid or racists with an agenda or conspiracy.

You can suggest some right wing "evangelical republican" hidden agenda from a small number of people in Alberta.

Every party has their rabid bloggers who live to trash different view points.

Painting CPC supporters as uncanadian or religious winguts does not benefit our democracy.

Here is a must read. It will help dispel the myth of Christians in church basements in Alberta.

Anonymous said...

So basically it's the right time for an election because you think Harper is a bad Prime Minister?

I'm sorry, but none of these are actually reasons to have an election *now*. They're reasons not to vote Conservative if we do have an election. The reasons you've given would apply at any time the Conservatives were in government with Mr. Harper leading them. (Or since the fall for #2).

Assuming a voter agrees with your reasons and feels that Mr. Ignatieff would be a better Prime Minister, exactly what has changed between December and now? Between the spring and now?

That would be a reason to hold an election in the fall. Anything else is just political games.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of the narrow base doing the funding:

"What I meant is this: the Conservative party, as I understand it, gets most of their donations from a narrow base of people in Alberta."

Actually, our rather sharp restrictions on political donations make this impossible. If there were no limit on donations, then a party could be funded by a narrow base. The donation limit means that instead of getting a lot of money from a small group, you need to get a little money from a large group.

I'm sorry, Yappa, but what you're talking about simply isn't possible under the current law. It is possible that they get more funding from Alberta voters than other provinces, but it's simply not possible to get the amount of money the Conservatives have from a "narrow base in Alberta".

Anonymous said...

Hi Yappa,

I've never been called a troll before and I apologize if I came off that way.

I guess we disagree. I didn't think it was an egregious stunt and I hope we have the opportunity to vote on whether or not political parties should be funded by the taxpayer. I think political parties should be funded in after tax dollars, not tax dollars. If you are inspirational and motivating, people should want to give. Grassroots.

"Our deficit would be larger if not for the stimulus package". Is that your opinion?

This whole recession was created by the sub prime mortgages reaching it's first re-set. Harper had been talking about it for a year prior and doubled the infrastructure spending in the spring budget of 2008. While we were all busy waiting for the political games to end this spring, it was last year's budget that was being implemented.

Guess what, it takes a year to get the approval in House, through the bureaucracy and into the municipalities. So this year's spending spree will certainly prove to be wasteful. And is it really all the Conservatives fault? I completely disagreed with the auto sector bailout and would love to know what Ignatieff thinks about that. Everyone has been incredible silent on this subject but are very quick to complain of the size of the deficit and point fingers.

The coalition was nothing more than a desperate power grab. I have the hardest time believing otherwise. It had nothing to do with forcing a stimulus and everything to do with $1.95. It's not just the Conservative voters who were upset with this. Canadians everywhere spoke out about this because it said loud and clear, the people have spoken and we think we know better. To actually vote was really just an exercise, a perception of democracy.

I wouldn't speak with Jack either, frankly. He has openly admitted that he won't read the bill/budget but will vote against it just "cuz". In those cases, it was to force the Liberal leader into a corner. If the NDP don't want to take their role in parliament seriously, then why should anyone else.

Harper and Flanagan have said they want to bankrupt the Liberal party. Kind of like what Reagan did to the Kremlin. Good then? Now that you know his plans, don't let it happen.

Politics is really just a game right? And what's really frustrating is when the politicians forget that their work is serious.

So you don't like Harper and want your guy in. What will he do differently? He's a better us...what has he led? Has he ever balanced a budget? Has he run a company? Does he have any executive experience? Is his experience strictly in the classrooms? Did he actually have a classroom or was he just a researcher?

All of the confidence motions that are about to come before the house have already been approved in the budget supported by your leader who now says; "nope, not going to let it happen". Is he serious or is he just trying to push Layton in the corner?

I guess this is a game of chicken.


Yappa said...

Hi Kat and CanadianSense -

Sorry about the troll thing... That was unfair. As a general note, the term troll gets bandied about more than it should, and should be reserved for cases where it applies: commenters pretending to be something they're not in order to spread disinformation. It definitely doesn't apply to either of you. Also, I've been called a troll unfairly and I know it's hurtful. So sorry about that.

CanadianSense - I didn't respond to your first post because I don't have any rebuttal. It's a fair point that the Liberals did dismally in the last election. Also, even though they win a lot of the time, they have always struggled with getting seats in all provinces (as have the Conservatives).

As to another point you made, I don't think that most Conservatives are far-right extremists. I think _Harper_ is. He runs his party in such a centralized fashion because he differs from most of the party on fundamental ideals and policy. It was a hostile take-over, not a merger. I don't think the Conservative party will represent its members again until it gets a new leader.

issachar - I don't think you actually read my post.

Kat again - You argue your points well but we may just have to agree to disagree. Certainly my outrage about the economic update was about the refusal to stimulate the economy, but also there are sound reasons for having the subsidy. The coalition was not a desperate power grab: a minority PM survives only as long as the opposition lets him live. He lost the confidence of the house but it was too soon after the election to have another one (as I'm sure Harper well knew when he did it). There was no "power grab" involved.

Whether Iggy is just trying to push Layton into a corner, I have no insider info but I sort of hope he's doing that. I mean, as I say - I want an election this fall - but also, Layton has to have some accountability.

Anonymous said...

I just voted .. and i DIDNT vote for the liberals....Who the hell is this Ignatieff.. Until this year i never even heard of this guy.. now he wants to force an election....How the hell can he claim he knows what us taxpayers want...I will still vote for harper... I dont trust Layton as far as i could throw him...And this iggy dude.. I DONT EVEN KNOW WHO HE IS LET ALONE CARE WHO HE IS ...Now is not the time for an election.. ...Canada has people who have lost thier jobs left right and center..Now is not the time to be spending a couple hundred million more of taxpayer money so the liberals can try and get into power..

Prime Minister Harper.. once again sir you have my vote...

Savant said...

Perhaps now is not the best time for the Liberals to pull the plug.

Anonymous said...


I did read your post, but I decided to reread it again after your comment.

I still fail to see anything in points 1, 3, 4 or 5 that you wouldn't have stated, (I'm guessing), at any point since the last election. (Or before in some cases). Point 5 references a new technique, but on an old strategy of attempting the bankrupt the Liberal party.

The only point that gets into why one should have an election *now*, is the implication in point #2 that Mr. Ignatieff wasn't ready for an election earlier. Is that it? Is that the reason for an election? Mr. Ignatieff is ready for one now?

I write this as someone who is somewhat disappointed in Mr. Ignatieff. I'm generally conservative voter, and I want to have options in my voting. I want to be able to vote for the Liberal party and I want to be able to vote for the Conservatives. I don't want to have my choice determined by thinking that one man just isn't competent enough for the job. (i.e. Mr. Dion. By many accounts a good cabinet minister who got promoted beyond his ability).

I was pleased when the Liberals picked Ignatieff, although I was disappointed that they had to rush it all through because of that coalition fiasco. Still I was looking forward to seeing what a fresh face would bring.

Since then I have been waiting to see what Mr. Ignatieff is going to put forward as the new Liberal policies to compete with the Conservatives. So far, I see a lot of political posturing and not a lot else. There's a lot for small-c conservatives to find disappointing in the last few years of Conservative government. Some might argue that's because it's been a minority Conservative government, and they might be right. Still I'd like to see an actual reason to vote FOR Mr. Ignatieff rather than AGAINST Mr. Harper before the Liberals decide we need an election because their leader is ready for one now. It smacks of an apparent assumption by the Liberal party that they deserve power simply because the are the Liberal party.

Still, it's not over yet. I can be hopeful the Ignatieff Liberals might propose good policies before the next election.

Anonymous said...

One thing I think might help the Liberal party, (and I'm serious, this isn't some kind of poison pill), would be stop trying to demonize Mr. Harper, (or some strands of the Conservatives) as a small base of Alberta zealots.

The strategy worked well for Mr. Chretien, but it's over. It was divisive and ugly, but it DID work. But it's working less and less.

Mr. Harper is more popular out West. No kidding. The Liberals are more popular out back East. No kidding. This doesn't make either of them zealots from a narrow base.

The both have some support across the country. I know people in Toronto who are rabid fans of Mr. Harper, and I know fans of Mr. Ignatieff (and Dion before him) where I live in BC. And they're all very much Canadians. Demonizing them as some kind of "other" or unCanadian plays well for a while, but it's not good.

Yappa said...

Hi issachar -

I guess my point was that there are several reasons why we should have an election as soon as is politically feasible, and the LPC seems to think that we're finally there.

I'm with you on being iffy on Iggy. He has been leader such a short time... I believe they usually say that new party leaders need two years to hit their stride. He needs a whole lot more serious exposure. And after the problems with the last leader, I think we're all a lot more wary. I believe with my head that he's good, but I haven't got the gut trust yet. But then, I'm a Bob Rae supporter so anyone else doesn't seem quite as good.

Yappa said...

Hi issachar (again) -

Re not putting forth policies, this is just political reality. Dion put forth his platform too early and then public concern with the environment waned and he was screwed. The opposition has to be careful when to propose things. If you do any (even cursory) background reading on Iggy, you'll see that he's a giant policy wonk.

Anonymous said...

Hi Yappa,

I don't think it's "political reality" to not put any policies forward. Granted Chretien was helped by the post-Mulroney implosion of the Conservatives, but the Red Book was a big winner for them. Similarly, the Conservatives put forward policies early on and it helped them, and the fact that they've got more than a little vague recently is hurting them.

This is an opportunity for Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal party, not something to be avoided.

I'm sure Mr. Ignatieff is a huge policy wonk, but then again so is Mr. Harper. Until we hear it announced as "This is what I'll do in my first term if I'm elected", it's just fluff. Sure, Ignatieff has some good ideas. But which ones will he actually legislate? (It can't be all of them). And when will they be done? This is the substance that's required to get people to give the new guy a kick at the can.

Mr. Dion wasn't screwed by putting policies forward. He was screwed by putting badly planned, poorly explained and unpopular policies forward. One presumes that Mr. Ignatieff wouldn't do the same.

Yappa said...

Hi issachar -

I have to agree with you for the most part... and I am most definitely not a policy wonk or an insider or knowledgeable about the strategy of politics, but it seems that Dion's green plan suffered greatly from being put out there too early. For one thing, the mood of the public changed dramatically from pro-environment to worry about the economy; had he waited, he could have made it a dual env/ec plan. Also, it gave the Cons time to confuse people thoroughly about what it meant - like all those ads that said that it would result in increases at the pump (when the plan didn't even include increases in gas prices).

I can't argue for the Green Plan, though, because I disagree with it. I don't think we should move away from progressive taxation (which is what Dion's plan and the Green Party want to do). Progressive taxation is the foundation of fairness in our society; moving to a consumption tax with a ton of fiddling with exceptions and subsidies would be madness. (For example, green proponents want to punish people who live in suburbs but reward people who live in the country, which is bogus on all sorts of levels, just one being that there are subdivisions in the country.)

Anonymous said...