Ruining Quebec from Toronto - Macleans.ca
 

Ruining Quebec from Toronto


 

The Globe and Mail’s package today on Ignatieff, Coderre, and the “Toronto Team” is great. The bios of Davey, Apps, Fairbrother, and Rossi are gems. How mean is this?:

Alf Apps, 52, Liberal party president

A Toronto lawyer and businessman, Alf Apps has had his hand in Liberal causes – and internal spats – since the days of John Turner. He helped to recruit Paul Martin into politics, and was an early champion of Michael Ignatieff, becoming national party president after Mr. Ignatieff assumed the leadership. Mr. Apps is considered partly responsible for the imbroglio over the riding of Outremont.


 
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Ruining Quebec from Toronto

  1. I've been following Canadian politics for many years now, and we've seen this sort of riding battle a million times.

    In every political party in Canada, power flows from the top down. Why are we surprised to find this out?

    • It might be that compared to other parties, the Liberals don't have a clear ideological underpinning to their existence (which is often a good thing, to many Canadians, but imay be why they tend to be perceived as a party in search of power and little else.).

      When the Conservatives get heavy handed in a riding, for example, it's probably less likely to peeve their core supporters, given that they have something of a shared ideological mission (never mind the reality of their governance, believers tend to press on, regardless).

      With the Liberals, there's less of a shared philosophical project at hand, and as such the internal politics tend to overshadow things like platform and positioning. There's that saying that the fighting is fiercest where the stakes are the lowest, and in this case I think it might be the case that low or absent ideological stakes allow infighting to flourish.

      But it's just a theory I've put forward, and it's not meant to be a partisan smackdown of anyone.

    • It might be that compared to other parties, the Liberals don't have a clear ideological underpinning to their existence (which is often a good thing, to many Canadians, but may be why they tend to be perceived as a party in search of power and little else.).

      When the Conservatives get heavy handed in a riding, for example, it's probably less likely to peeve their core supporters, given that they have something of a shared ideological mission (never mind the reality of their governance, believers tend to press on, regardless).

      With the Liberals, there's less of a shared philosophical project at hand, and as such the internal politics tend to overshadow things like platform and positioning. There's that saying that the fighting is fiercest where the stakes are the lowest, and in this case I think it might be the case that low or absent ideological stakes allow infighting to flourish.

      But it's just a theory I've put forward, and it's not meant to be a partisan smackdown of anyone.

      • I don't buy the theory. The Conservatives aren't as ideological as you suggest. Their governing record shows that. Nor are the Liberals as lacking in ideology either. Their continuing rage at Harper shows that. People always accuse the other side of ideology. Despite your disclaimer, it tends to be a partisan accusation. Infighting occurs in both parties when they're in opposition. In other words, for parties that want to govern, it's almost always about power. When they forget that, they get into these divisions and squabbles.

        • I would expect a stiffening of the ideological backbone if Harper and old Reformers get a majority, a prospect which seems more likely as each day passes.

          • I suppose one of the reasons for the greater likelihood of a Conservative majority is that its critics only seem to have tired old accusations to throw about instead of legitimate criticisms that resonate with voters.

            I'll also try to keep reminding people that the existence of the Bloc in Quebec, and a merged conservative party in Ontario, means that majorities are much harder to come by for both main parties.

      • You're right in one sense but in another …

        The Weberian position, i.e "We don't have an ideological position, we're just good pragmatic managers," only appears to be a non-ideological position. It has been possible, until recently anyway, to disguise this because most Canadians shared that ideology. If, as happened in the USA back in the 1970s, that small-l liberal "pragmatic" consensus were to crumble (and I believe it is although I admit I can't prove it), then the Liberals would find themselves in the position of having to admit, first to themselves, that they do in fact have an ideological position and it is largely Weberian.

        It would also put them in the unusual position of having to expound and defend their ideology for the first time since the rise of Mackenzie King. An exercise almost certain to create rifts in the party.

      • You're right in one sense but in another …

        The Weberian position, i.e "We don't have an ideological position, we're just good pragmatic managers," only appears to be a non-ideological position. It has been possible, until recently anyway, to disguise this because most Canadians shared that ideology. If, as happened in the USA back in the 1970s, that small-l liberal "pragmatic" consensus were to crumble (and I believe it is crumbling although I admit I can't prove it), then the Liberals would find themselves in the position of having to admit, first to themselves, that they do in fact have an ideological position and it is largely Weberian.

        It would also put them in the unusual position of having to expound and defend their ideology for the first time since the rise of Mackenzie King. An exercise almost certain to create rifts in the party.

        • Well put!

          I should have found a different term than ideology, I suppose, and perhaps simply characterized the Liberal's as one that is difficult to rally fervent support for.

          • Surprise, surprise, but will have to disagree again. Don't know why you think conservatives are more "fervent" than liberals. All kinds of people "fervently" race to the Liberal banner for ideological or principled reasons. Just go down the list. Different approaches or attitudes to crime, climate change, homosexuality, and so on and so on.

            It's been my experience that Liberals try to see themselves as less ideological. Not sure why, especially when I don't think that the evidence supports it.

    • I don't think anybody is surprised, but such battles in the Liberal party tend to have a different dynamic than in other parties. The Conservatives and NDP are a fairly unified party. By contrast, the Liberals are not. Forcing a candidate on a riding association doesn't just pit the local riding association against the party leadership (a battle the latter will always win, ceteris paribus), but is also has implications for control of the Liberal party.

      The Liberal party of Canada has been in the midst of a leadership race since about 2000 (and in many ways has gone on since 1980). The question of who gets the nomination in what riding is important to that race. It determines who is likely to be able to deliver voters in the riding association, it determines MP endorsements, it determines caucus support and so on.

      Michael Ignatieff had very strong caucus support in 2006. 39 MP's endorsed him in various capacities. However, since then, many have lost their seats (12 were defeated or resigned). Right-leaning suburban Ontario MP's were slaughtered in 2008. That makes Ignatieff's hold on his party fairly tenuous – sufficiently so that letting in even one more MP (a heavyweight with Desmarais credentials, no less) could seriously impair his hold on the party.

      This is, I should note, a good example of minority party syndrome – an affliction that historically kept the Tories from winning elections. The kind of adversarial name-calling that helps one climb in an opposition party is not the same kind of thing that helps you win elections. Even when a party does, they tend to collapse into in-fighting like Mulroney's PC's did.

  2. Another plug: James Travers in The Star has a very balanced fair analysis of the Con Lib recent battles and how the Libs under Ignatieff have been consistently outplayed by the Cons.
    Find it yourself.

  3. They forgot to mention that his dad was a pretty good hockey player. After all, for the Grits (and the CBC as well) its not who you are: it's who your parents are.

  4. The LPC now being officially renamed to LPT (Liberal Party of Toronto) by non ohter than the Quebe Lieutenant! … ouch … now that has to hurt. Kind of like going in for a vasectomy and hearing your doctor say … ooops! I don't know about about the party any more as it seems to spending a lot of time and energy into redefining the gang that could shoot staright to that of the gang thazt wants to shoot something but have run out of feet to shoot and now they can't hobble anywhere to at least try shooting the opposition. Macleans here is more of an opposition at party at this moment and I note Laytons leadership numbers creeping up … didI hear oops again!

    • "The LPC now being officially renamed to LPT (Liberal Party of Toronto) by non ohter than the Quebe Lieutenant! … ouch … now that has to hurt."

      No more than the Conservative Party of Calgary, I imagine.

      • I don't see the comparison. Has Harper surrounded himself with Calgary advisers only? In fact, the Conservative party has expanded its regional support beyond its base, while the Liberals have been retreating to its base in urban centers, well, like Toronto. Hasn't it?

      • Maybe it would hurt, if it weren't for the 51 seats the Cons hold in Ontario.

    • It all can be summed rather succintly:
      Denis Coderre's feelings = sour grapes
      Denis Coderre's actions = burning bridges

  5. Jean Lapierre was on Clark's show last night and he talked briefly about Apps. Lapierre looked like he was ready to spit when he mentioned Alf's name.

    I would be curious to learn if this spat is typical political manoeuvring or is this something Iggy and his Toronto brain trust need to worry about.

  6. I think it should also be noted that the Globe has led the way in columnists, Simpson and Martin specifically, who are suggesting that the Conservatives want an election now in a bad way. Another Martin over at the Post seems to concur. Only problem: how to trigger one without looking like you're triggering one. So far, no one has put forth an answer, including above-mentioned columnists.

    • I think that is because Jeffrey Simpson is an idiot. The polls today show that an election would likely return slightly fewer Conservatives, and a few more Liberals, in spite of the party's troubles. That is not accounting for the ballot-box penalty likely to accrue to the Tories if they defeat themselves in an obvious way. That is also ignoring the fact that the economy is in recovery. Over the next while, Tory fortunes are likely to climb with the economy. Moreover, the next year is set to feature billions of dollars in stimulus money swirling around the country.

      Oh and that is ignoring yet another thing that Harper realized long ago – he doesn't need a majority to have a majority. So long as the NDP, Bloc or Liberals fear an election, Harper can cow them into supporting him (so long as he doesn't mess with election financing).