67

Ahead and behind


 

CTV: Liberal support lowest since Dion became leader.

La Presse (the large-sample monthly CROP poll, in which this corner has taken a particular interest:) Liberals and NDP tied in Quebec — at 16%.

In 2006 Paul Martin scored the lowest popular vote in Liberal history in Quebec, at 20%. When Stéphane Dion became leader nearly a year later, I was certain he would do better in his native province than Martin had. By May 2007 I was less certain about this certainty than about some others, and I wrote a column which concluded that Dion’s faltering leadership would recover at home “or not at all.”

Then another year went by. Not much luck. Now it was supposed to be an audacious pro-environmental policy and a summer barbecue tour. Niente. Came the writ drop, and the campaign was supposed to help — level playing field, matching budget caps for all parties, blanket coverage for all leaders, finally a chance for Dion to shine. He has shown intermittent flashes of spark and some genuine grace under pressure, but the effect has been modest and given where he started, he needed the effect to be better than modest.

Tonight the debates begin, and while some of my colleagues have shown a lot of affection for the Dion-has-to-score-in-English, Harper-in-French model, really Dion is in such dire straits he must be formidable in both languages.

But what am I saying. The preceding paragraph is simply more of the OK-now-it’s-time-to-really-get-serious that people have been saying about Dion since he became leader.

He now has a little less than two years behind him, and two weeks ahead until the election. Which looks larger: the potential in those two weeks, or the unexploited potential in the two years that came before?


 

Ahead and behind

  1. I agree, I think Dion has a near-zero chance of saving himself at these debates.

    My biggest concern is that Harper savages him so brutally that he comes across looking as a bully.

  2. True Paul but Martin didn’t have to deal with a splintered Left now, did he?

    Not to minimize Dion’s dire situation because it is nothing short of that, he has had to contend with “situations” that Martin didn’t have to deal with.

    A. I do not know of any Opp leader in the history of this country that had to endure a constant barrage of attack ads from a sitting government PRIOR to the writ being dropped. Dion barely got settled in Ottawa when they begun.

    B. Martin didn’t have to deal with a party with barely any funds to speak of.

  3. “genuine grace under pressure”

    I don’t see this. Both Harper and Dion seem remarkably thin skinned for pols. Dion gets wound up too easily and starts sputtering when his patriotism or Green Shift policies are questioned and Harper just seems to be in permanent ‘woke up on wrong side of bed’ mode.

    “Which looks larger: the potential in those two weeks, or the unexploited potential in the two years that came before?”

    I loved the quote I read the other day in someone’s column about wisdom of relying on hail mary pass when Dion can barely throw the ball ten yards. I don’t think the past two years were unexploited, exactly. Dion has been trying, he’s just not very good at retail politics.

    Dion is done like dinner and Layton is the one who has the most riding on these two debates. Adding more time for economy discussion will help Layton and Harper but not Dion.

  4. Isn’t the MoE on a month-long poll just about the same as that of a small sample poll done over one to two days?

  5. Here’s what I don’t get. People I know – Liberals, independents, and even brave Conservatives – who have seen Dion interact with Canadians (the ordinary kind that Harper likes to talk about) always tell me the exact same story. That Dion is very relaxed and engaged and people almost without fail warm up to him, are impressed by him, and like him.

    If this is true, and I have no reason to believe it is not, why does he seem so awkward and unimpressive on TV? Does he just not do well with media? I’m not trying to boost for him here, I’m genuinely interested in finding out what is up with the disconnect. Paul, you have surely seen Dion in such situations – is he markedly different than when he’s doing something ‘public?’

  6. Boudica; yes, Paul Martin DID have to deal with a splintered left. Remember Layton’s “Lend me your vote” pitch, which seemed to work. (I envisioned that the Lib’s slogan this time would be “Please return our vote now,” but there’s really no nice way of saying that.) Anyway, the left is even more splintered this time around, but it was splintered enough in Martin’s time to call it splintered.

  7. Did any reporter cover the BBQ circuit, or write about how it was carried out?

    From my opinion and general knowledge of what happened, the circuit wasn’t well organized and was really about “green shift rallies” rather than “down-home consultations and chillin'” which usually are what BBQ circuits are about.

    He was busy trying to sell an unpopular policy, instead of reaching out to the grassroots in an laid-back, “get to know me” fashion.

  8. Trent, it isn’t so much that Dion isn’t doing well on camera. To me, this is more about Dion having to fight the caricatured image that the pundits and Harperites have created.

    I still believe that Dion has a great advantage tonight because his opponents and detractors have ridiculed him so much that voters fully expect him to bomb.

    If he does remotely well, it will be a surprise.

    Harper, on the other hand, has been billed as this master politician with a lethal intelligence. Expectations are quite high. There will have to be a let down on his end since the man doesn’t even have a platform to present to voters. Harper’s policies are trite and without depth.

    I say that between Duceppe, May and Dion, it won’t take long to expose Harper for the fraud that he is.

  9. And Martin had to deal with that thing… You know that thing, that umm minor Quebec story… the one .. oh let me think, what was it? Ummm, oh yes. Sponsorship. That’s what. And by the looks of things, Dion still has to carry some of it too. In Quebec, the Liberal Party will be a generation in the wilderness because of it. But that’s a subject for another day.

  10. Khai, I totally disagree. Before May arrived on the scene, the Greens were nowhere near the threat that they are now. Until Mulcair took Outremont from the Libs, the NDP wasn’t even on Quebecers’ radar.

    Things are far different now. The anti-Harper sentiment is probably stronger today but not at all as potent because it is split between 4 parties.

    Dion’s only salvation is if, with the help of May, he can make enough of a dent into Layton tonight so as to get his base to rally behind him.

    Dipper supporters might not like Liberals but a Harper majority has always proven itself enough of a threat to get them to defect over to the LPC.

  11. Clearly it is “save the furniture” time for the Liberals. They should be focusing all of their efforts on saving core seats in Southern Ontario and Atlantic Canada, giving the party a base to fight another day.

    When faced with a dire situation in the last two weeks of 1993, the PCs kept fighting a national campaign, launching Hail Mary negative ads and pretending we still had a shot at winning. We ended up with two seats. The Liberals won’t tumble that far, of course, but in order to salvage an honourable defeat they are going to need to make some smart strategic decisions very quickly.

  12. It may be superficial, but a lot of Dion’s communication problems have to do his rush to get too many words in. Listen to Obama speak, for example – he clocks in at probably half the words per minute as compared to Dion. Dion has never learned the appropriate tone and meter that works in the world of sound-bites and headlines. It also reinforces an image of man who has not thought through his policies and ideas to the extent that they can be distilled into a coherent and essential summary. (The world of academia tends to discourage clear and simple explanations of ideas, so he comes by it honestly!)

  13. Look, we all know Dion’s gonna lose this election, his chance of even a weak minority government is very small.

    The only question is how much does he lose by and does Harper get a majority. I think that in either victory scenario, the Libs will drum him out of office.

    With a Harper majority, they can take their time though I expect Dion to resign immediately.

    With a Harper minority, Dion might resist a bit, depending on whether his seat count dropped or improved from the last election. But it will probably drop so he’ll have to go.

    At which point, we’ll have another 1-1.5 years of Liberal infighting, during which Wells and co. can speculate who will be the next Liberal leader. Then another 1-1.5 years of speculation over whether and when we’ll have an election.

  14. To me, this is more about Dion having to fight the caricatured image that the pundits and Harperites have created.

    Oh come on boudica. This comes with politics, and it’s pathetic to see Liberals whining about it now after years of them doing it to Manning, Day, and Harper, with the gleeful help of the media. The view of Harper that is painted by the Liberals and media is no less of a caricature than the one painted of Dion.

    Harper has managed to overcome his negative image with a near flawless 2006 campaign and a reasonably solid performance as PM for 2.5 years. Dion has unfortunately largely lived up to his.

  15. I listened to Stephane Dion on Cross Country Check up. Most of the questions were lob balls but he consistently muffed them. It was almost like he couldn’t hear the question.

  16. jwl: “Dion has been trying, he’s just not very good at retail politics.”

    Trent: “…Canadians (the ordinary kind that Harper likes to talk about) always tell me the exact same story. That Dion is very relaxed and engaged and people almost without fail warm up to him, are impressed by him, and like him.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Dion is clearly limited in his political skills – he’s not great at soundbites and ineffective on the attack. He needed a campaign that played to his strengths, displayed the warm, integrity and command of issues that you hear about from those who meet him.

    He needed Rae and a few other sharp Libs running the attack portion of the campaign from day 1. Instead he was alone for the first week, which was supposed to be some sort of coming-out party but only succeeded in giving the Cons a jump on defining him through attacks.

  17. “To me, this is more about Dion having to fight the caricatured image that the pundits and Harperites have created.”

    Those ads were so effective because the used clips of Dion saying things like ‘this is unfair’, ‘do you think its easy to make priorities’ and the clips gibed with peoples impression of Dion.

  18. “Clearly it is “save the furniture” time for the Liberals. ”

    This must be from the CPC war room talking points for the week. I think I heard this one sentence about 50 times in the past 24 hours.

  19. Dion is toast. Martin was toast. As they say across the river from Ottawa, “a pair of toast, side by each.”

    Still, it is my fervent hope that the 60-70% of Canadians that do not want a Harper government manage to prevent a Conservative majority.

  20. “Harper has managed to overcome his negative image with a near flawless 2006 campaign and a reasonably solid performance as PM for 2.5 years. Dion has unfortunately largely lived up to his.”

    John g, please keep your bullshit (winking at Wells) for those who don’t know better. The ONLY reason why Harper is Prime Minister today is because of the sponsorship scandal. He didn’t overcome a damn thing.

  21. HARPER’S ATTACK ADS HAVE VILLIFIED DION. IT TURNS OUT IT IS EASIER TO GET VOTERS TO HATE DION THAN IT IS TO LOVE HARPER. EITHER WAY HARPER WINS.

  22. I can’t help but wonder about all of those who are busy writing Dion’s obituary. The campaign isn’t over yet. Considering the man’s track record at always coming back from the dead, one would think that some of you would be more cautious and not so confident.

    In fact, some of you are beginning to sound like the Martinites during the 2006 campaign.

  23. Here’s a thought for the ABC contingent…

    Dion was everyone’s second choice for leader of the party. Sometimes, being number two across the board doesn’t average out as being the best option.

    So, if a co-ordinated ABC movement somehow manages to displace the conseratives (not gonna happen), or at least hobbles them with another minority (Layton or Dion as leader of the opposition), does it necessarily follow that the country’s best interests will be served? i.e., if your first choice is really the NDP, is it still a good thing to see the Liberals leading the opposition?

    Discuss…

  24. “The anti-Harper sentiment is probably stronger today but not at all as potent because it is split between 4 parties.”

    I don’t think it is. Before the 2006 election in Toronto, I’d notice groups rallying against Harper like it was going to be the end of the world as we knew it if he got elected. I haven’t seen one this election.

    This is anecdotal of course, and I’m not claiming it’s Harpermania out there but if there really was high anti-Harper sentiment, I don’t think the Liberals would be dealing with the problem of a fractured anti-Harper vote as much as they are. When people want to throw the bums out, they throw ’em out.

  25. Chretien leaned right, against the inclination of the Liberal Party to run to the left. Martin ran to the left. Dion sprinted even further left.

  26. But Boudica, only a very few committed progressives and a whole host of trolling Tories ever visit this comments section, so how can we ever expect to influence the average Canadian voter?

    Our despair may be premature, but it is also harmless. Anyway, progressives tend to be more realistic when viewing events because we are not, in the main, ideologues.

  27. ‘I don’t think it is. Before the 2006 election in Toronto, I’d notice groups rallying against Harper like it was going to be the end of the world as we knew it if he got elected. I haven’t seen one this election.”

    Are you blind or something? Can you think of any party leader who generated so many “anybody but you” websites and protests during an election? Because I sure can’t.

  28. “The ONLY reason why Harper is Prime Minister today is because of the sponsorship scandal. He didn’t overcome a damn thing.”

    Don’t forget the RCMP coup-d-etat/investigation of Ralph Goodale smack in the middle of the campaign. I was so angry at the Liberals at that point, that I voted Conservative for the first time. I’m not doing so again.

    Getting back to the topic at hand, the polls show above Harper heading for an equal-or-weaker minority government. Unless Harper does well enough in the debates to get a majority, nothing will change.

    Or Dion does well enough to weaken Harper’s standing in the Commons significantly and survive a leadership review, then it’s possible we’ll have another election sooner than later.

    But those numbers portend a Liberal loss, Harper possibly picking up some seats but no majority, Dion resigning, and another 2 years with Harper in charge while being annoyed by the opposition for fun.

  29. “But Boudica, only a very few committed progressives and a whole host of trolling Tories ever visit this comments section, so how can we ever expect to influence the average Canadian voter?”

    Archangel, the macleans blog is pretty popular indeed but it isn’t the only game in town. As I just told sbt, I do not recall seeing this many campaigns calling on Canadians to oppose a single leader. Want a list? The most impressive movement is taking place in Quebec.

  30. My biggest concern is that Harper savages him so brutally that he comes across looking as a bully.

    Puhahahahah~!

    Yeah…good luck with that.

    Austin

  31. “But those numbers portend a Liberal loss, Harper possibly picking up some seats but no majority, Dion resigning, and another 2 years with Harper in charge while being annoyed by the opposition for fun.”

    Don’t be such a defeatist. For me, everything rests with the NDP and whether their supporters defect to the Liberals in fear of a Harper majority. The wild card for the NDP in the upcoming debates is May.

    Remember, hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned and boy is May a scorned woman. Layton has now a formidable enemy in that woman because of his stand against her participating in the debates.

    If May is able to take a chunk out of Layton by pulling the curtain on his unholy alliance with Harper, Dion might get a second wind.

  32. The best thing that could happen to the liberals is a Harper minority. Can we have the election tomorrow?

  33. “If May is able to take a chunk out of Layton by pulling the curtain on his unholy alliance with Harper, Dion might get a second wind.”

    Possibly. May would also be able to articulately explain the global warming issue in a way that Dion can’t.

    Layton’s not good off-script, he just repeats talking points like a robot. He’ll look ineffective. On the other hand, Dion has to be able to talk it up off-script himself. Can he do that? He’ll be masterful in French, but what about English?

    I’m gonna watch the French debates for the first time ever tonight, hopefully the delayed translation doesn’t annoy me too much.

    It’s at times like these I wish I knew how to parler French fluentement, like Wells, and Justin Trudeau.

  34. Whoa Boudica… you come off as very bitter. You may want to change tact if you expect to win over any support for your party.

  35. actually, May has been gunning for the NDP for quite a long time. I think there is a risk for Dion in the debates if it appears that May is propping him up. He needs to show that he can stand up for himself, and Canadians. That will be a challenge given the Liberals performance in the House over the past year. At this point, there is no reason to vote Liberal–even if you are afraid of Harper.

  36. I love it. Dionistas complain that it isn’t fair because the Tories ran negatives ads using the words of Dion’s adversaries in the Liberal leadership contest.

    But, they seem to have amnesia about the years and years of negative ads run by the Liberals threatening the end of the world due to Harper’s so-called hidden agenda.

    Gimme a Break. Politics is a rough sport and the Liberals are every bit as nasty. If proof is needed, just look at Rae’s stink bomb yesterday. That wasn’t exactly the action of a Sunday school teacher.

  37. Pete, the image of Dion that I still hold is the one of the man who pimpslapped Lucien Bouchard into submission. I also remember Dion in the LPC leadership debate where he did so well that he actually was able to pull me away from the NDP (well… I was on the way out anyway).

    I haven’t seen that Dion since but, since I work in Comms, I also know the Not-a-Leader campaign along with the Brutus crew within his party have done him no favours. You got to admire the man for even getting up in the morning. What he has been put through is enough to rattle anyone, I don’t care how strong you are.

    I thought Harper had been put through the ringer (well… he has) but the constant mocking and vilification of Dion has been something else.

    That being said, look up the words “back from the dead” in the dictionary and Dion’s picture is there. It ain’t over until Oct 14th.

  38. “Whoa Boudica… you come off as very bitter. You may want to change tact if you expect to win over any support for your party.”

    Do I? Perhaps I should join the CPC “research” team. I understand that bitterness is a job requirement over there.

  39. Don’t worry Boudica. Life as you know it probably won’t change much if Harper’s PM. Chill.

    You don’t actually believe the tripe they’re pedalling that Harper will destroy the country as we know it do you? I don’t understand why people get so worked up over this stuff. Whether it’s the Libs or Cons they pretty much govern from the middle when in power. NDP supporters on the other hand. I feel their pain.

  40. The conundrum for Dion is that the more he tries to portray himself as the leader of a united left, the more room in the centre he gives to Stephen Harper.

    The Liberals governed very successfully for a decade from 1993 to 2003 by staying steadfastly centrist, adopting a pro-business tone while tossing the occasional bone to their progressive wing. In so doing, the Liberals managed to move their brand a bit upscale, if you will, making the Liberals a perfectly acceptable option for middle and upper middle class voters, all while managing to keep their base with urban and working class voters. It was a very neat trick, actually, one that infuriated hapless opposition parties on the right who found it impossible to gain any traction.

    Paul Martin then comes in and counter-intuitively tries to move the government a step or two to the left. He loses government, and is replaced as leader by Stephane Dion. Dion moves the party even further to the left, completely marginalizing the business wing of the Liberal Party. (I wonder how John Manley feels about Bob Rae being the Liberal Party’s new policy point man.) Dion’s reward? Worse numbers than Paul Martin ever had. Is there a trend here?

    If I am a Conservative strategist, I am delighted with the Liberal Party’s leftward drift. It allows their guy to take the centre lane without even having to fight for it. For the life of me, I can’t understand why pro-business Liberals are sitting there quietly while this is happening to their party.

  41. “Paul Martin then comes in and counter-intuitively tries to move the government a step or two to the left.”

    Dennis, I think you might be the only person who thinks that the Chretien-Martin move was a move to the left.

  42. I not only believe that the Martin government took a step to the left from Chretien, but I was personally told by Mr Martin himself in a private conversation that this was a deliberate strategy move by him to attract voters from the NDP.

    Given the fact that the conservatives have now successfully taken over the centre ground of Canadian politics, I guess Mr Martin’s strategy backfired.

  43. I, for one, am appalled at the inherent anti-Americanism in the new Liberal Bush/Harper ads now running on TV and on the Internet. Personally, I think this is another reason for the continuing collapse of Liberal Party support.

    Small scale anti-Americanism in Canada has long been tolerated by many Canadians. Large scale anti-Americanism by a party that wants to form government has not.

  44. Not to belabour the point, being anti-Bush is not being anti-American. If anything, it’s being pro-American.

  45. “I not only believe that the Martin government took a step to the left from Chretien, but I was personally told by Mr Martin himself in a private conversation that this was a deliberate strategy move by him to attract voters from the NDP.

    Given the fact that the conservatives have now successfully taken over the centre ground of Canadian politics, I guess Mr Martin’s strategy backfired.”

    And Dion seems to be trying the same strategy with the Greens and NDP. Only he failed to learn from Martin’s mistake, and assumed that the only reason Martin lost the election was the sponsorship scandal.

    Actually, that was only one of the reasons why Martin lost my vote, which was solidly Liberal up to that point. It was because he was so weak – that’s why he lost my vote. Everything was his number one priority, he couldn’t come to a decision to save his life, and he went on that massive spending spree, and he did everything and anything, including the NPD deal and Belinda Stronach purchase, to stay in power. It was because he had no balls.

  46. I don’t think you can talk about the strength of the NDP and the Greens in this election without giving some of the credit/blame for that to Dion.

    Outremont went NDP under Dion’s watch, with his hand-picked candidate going down to defeat, with his Quebec lieutenant generating significant fire from within the party for the performance there. Mulcair was a star candidate, sure, but it was still Dion’s race to lose, and he did.

    As for the Greens, Dion didn’t get May elected leader, but nobody can seriously say that he hasn’t played a significant role in helping her gain prominence. That may have been a strategic error that is to Dion’s detriment on election day, but it’s an error he made — nobody else.

  47. “Are you blind or something? Can you think of any party leader who generated so many “anybody but you” websites and protests during an election? Because I sure can’t.”

    Wow. The internet. So powerful it made Howard Dean president. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the blogosphere becoming more and more popular in recent years due to more tech savvy voters becoming more interested in politics and is all due to the country absolutely hating Harper.

    But you know what? If Canadians hate Harper anywhere as much as assert, it still doesn’t explain why they just don’t hold their collective noses and vote Liberal like they did for Martin in 2004. I’d also point out that Martin was able to keep the Tories at 30%. Why are their numbers higher now if people hate them more? Doesn’t that defy logic?

  48. Dion’s biggest handicap is the economic policy he is running on. Even without the whole Green Shift Shaft thing only really hard core Liberals believe he can deliver a balanced budget when his first assumption is based on economic growth rate of 4.5% per annum and “finding” $12 Billion in current spending that can “re-allocated” to his Green is Good economy. That’s $12 Billion of hidden agenda.

    Call it dream call, it a nightmare, but Canadians are not that stupid to buy into Dion’s Peter Pan budget.

  49. I’m afraid that M. Dion’s best before date had come and gone before the election was called. And largely do to the Liberal lack of performance in the House. The media coverage of that performance made a bad situation worse.
    I can’t imagine his performance in the English debate as being helpful, especially since it will be opposite Bubble Head Betty in the States.
    The only possible (slim) hope for him is if he unexpectedly “wows ’em” with something out of left field in the French debate and receives positive coverage going into Thursday. The longest of shots.

  50. Good point Fred most especially when the numbers forecast by the gov’t indicate that if the projected growth statistics go down 1 point that means a 3.3 billion shortfall and none of the projected budgets so far would balance!

  51. Fred, M. Dion’s economic assumptions are the government’s economic assumptions.

  52. Pete said: the polls show above Harper heading for an equal-or-weaker minority government.

    They do? One poll shows the Tories a few points above their 2006 numbers. Combine that with a giant gap between the nearest 2nd place rivals (the Libs), and that would likely translate into more seats, not equal or less.

    The second poll (CROP) shows the Bloc tied with the Tories in Quebec. Again, to me that would indicate more seats.

    I don’t think pundits, journalists, etc look at those numbers and think “this is basically the status quo for the Tories.” Instead what we hear repeatedly is “will they get a majority, or a larger minority?”

    If I’m mistaken, please let me know. I’d be curious to read about pundits suggesting the above numbers would translate into equal or fewer seats for the Tories.

  53. Rae sure did “drop a bomb” yesterday.

    The fact that the speech was copied is miniscule.

    Getting the media to remind everyone that Harper supported the war in Iraq? Brilliant.

    That creaking noise you hear may just be the Lib war room coming out of hibernation.

  54. Paul – this debate and tomorrow’s will be about Layton and Harper. In Quebec people know Duceppe and they are holding their noses to keep Harper from a majority. This is the first debate where Quebecers will be looking at Layton as a real option. Tonight is also about Layton and Harper because their visions of Canada are starkly different. Harper big biz is the priority, massive tax cuts and deregulation and Layton’s vision a pluralistic society that fiscally responsible, that is socially and environmentally just. Bloc voters who may be holding their noses to vote for Duceppe and his team may very well see the real alternative they have been looking for in Layton.

  55. Somebody made the comment about expectations, and because expectations on Dion are low, he is likely to win. I am a big fan of rational expectations, but it has its limits. Dan Quayle in the 1992 VP debates made a solid stand against Gore (Stockdale was the laughingstock out of that one), who is an excellent debater. It didn’t matter because people’s image of Quayle was already cemented in place.

    Dion’s real challenge isn’t Harper – who is a middling debater anyhow – it is Layton. Dion needs desperately for left-leaning English Canadians to watch that debate and see him as the natural rallying point against Harper. That is the only way he can salvage the parliamentary status quo, keeping most Liberal seats intact. Dion WILL be leader of the opposition (there is an outside chance it will be Duceppe), but if Layton starts looking like the real alternative to Harper*, Dion may face Turner-like results.

    *Which he is in BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and industrial Ontario.

  56. Trent, some people just don’t do well on camera. Just like some very attractive people are not photogenic, while other somewhat-less attractive people can look great in photos. Even as a Conservative, I can tell you hands down that I’d prefer Dion as a next-door neighbour to Harper. But people are not voting for a next-door neighbour; they’re voting for a PM.

    TV is still THE media that sets the agenda (though it has lost ground to the Internet in recent years) and if Dion doesn’t do well on TV, he doesn’t do well period. It is unfortunate and unfair, but it has been a fact since Kennedy destroyed Nixon in the 1960 Presidential debate. He didn’t destroy him by out-debating him. Kennedy destroyed Nixon by looking stylish and relaxed on TV while Nixon looked stiff, squarely dressed, and ill at ease. I’m not saying Harper is smooth on camera, because he clearly isn’t a natural. But he comes out miles ahead of where he used to be (think about the 2004 election – Harper was downright snarly in front of the cameras) and light years ahead of a bumbling, hesitant Dion.

  57. Harper needs to go into the debate with one message: we can’t take the economy for granted in this turbulent time, and the Conservative Party is the only party serious about the economy.

    If I was Harper, no matter what question I was asked, my answer would be “the economy”. I think he realizes this as well. It’ll be interesting to see if he stays on message or allows himself to be baited away.

  58. I think that before they hold the first televised debates all parties must have provided to the electorate their full platform. It should be a condition for that party to be included in the debate. No published platform then no representation at the public televised debate.

    I see the Conservatives have not provided a platform, only sound bites or their negatives applied against what the other parties have to offer, but without any direction or actions they would take.

    I doubt if we (the elctorate) will have the Conservative platform in hand to allow us to compare and make an informed decision by Oct14.

    The Conservative platform does not exist. All they seem to have to offer Canadians is “Trust Me”! Trust them to do what!!??

  59. Trust them to do what!!??

    Nothing. And what’s wrong with that?

    The Conservatives are running against the grand plans of the Liberals/NDP. Harper’s constant refrain is that he’s *NOT* making big affordable promises.

    A costed platform doesn’t seem necessary when the Conservatives aren’t promising anything outside the current budget framework.

  60. *unaffordable promises, of course

  61. BobbyB: I think that before they hold the first televised debates all parties must have provided to the electorate their full platform. It should be a condition for that party to be included in the debate. No published platform then no representation at the public televised debate.

    I agree. But I think one problem is that the minor parties like the Greens and NDP get a free ride on their platforms because they’re fantasy-league politics. What percentage of Layton’s platform is Harper going to implement? Probably around zero. Same with the Greens.

  62. I continue to be amazed at how, so far, Jack Layton and the NDP continue to get an undeserved pass on their claims to being ahead of the Liberals in protecting and advancing the best interest of the average Canadian, considering, among other things:

    1. for at best, a chance to get closer to being the official Opposition in the last election, they shamelessly served up the last (Liberal) Government, which actually could have formed the Government, delivered on a number of progressive programmes, to Harper and the Tories, and got nothing (at least for the progressive constituency they pretended to speak for) in return;

    2. Layton continues to dissemble about his not insignicant support base among the loony left-9/11 – Jewish conspiracy crowd;

    3. Layton, with a staight face, when it’s not a smiling face, seeking an immediate Canadian pull-out from Afghanistan, thereby inevitably diminishing Canada’s standing in the world community and our Allies, and more lethally, leaving the women and girls of Afghanistan to the terrible mercy of the Taliban misogynists, while claiming moral superiority about the cause of women’s and children’s well-being in Canada;

    4. Layton, the champagne socialist,[anyone remember his and Ms. Chow’s subsidised co-op “problem” a few years back?], who couldn’t even get elected as Mayor of Toronto, and has been a career public trougher (except for a brief stint as a lecturer at Ryerson U.), claiming to be able to relate to and advance the cause of the average, non-unionized, non-pensioned, non-benefited working person.
    [see above note about selling out to the Tories in 2006].

    The hypocrisy is to choke on!

  63. Hey Steven maybe and just maybe it was the 43 times where Jack actually stood up in the house and voted against the gov’t while Dion and crew phoned it in and took a day off 43 condience motions all on the nightly news gotta wear thin and completely indefensible as well as giving Jack a ton of credibility!

  64. Wayne, seriously:

    Sentences.

    Paragraphs.

    Periods.

    USE THEM.

    And while I’m certain that Jack would love to see a Conservative majority as long as there were an NDPer in Stornoway, the Liberals disagreed. Not forcing an election was a logical tactical move; it’s just too bad that Harper was so desperate to undermine and ultimately ignore his own laws.

    (But, hey, if it’s good enough for Bush…)

  65. Wayne:

    I am not sure where the “43” comes from, but even if so, that just makes it 43 times too late for Jack to make up for the one time he got up with the Tories and the Separatists to defeat the last Liberal Government, with whom he could have been effective, let alone spare us all from two general elections in two years.

    “Strong Leader” indeed!

  66. I love the naysayers – I mean really folks get a grip. The job of the opposition is to oppose and not ONCE not one single itty bitty little confidence motion did Dion actually stand up and vote aginst the gov’t … and you guys call this strategy I call it what it is cowardice … that’s right as there is only one reason Dion didn’t do his job in opposition and that is simple to figure out for anyone = he was afraid to lose, in a way Stevie boy did him a huge favor and yank the chord himself sparing Dion from doing it again in the fall. I’m sorry guys but there are certain things you can rationalize, certain things have explanations and then certain things are just the way it is … in point of fact I am waiting for Harper to remind him of just this inescapable fact, hopefully during the debate. By the way Dion has set a world record in the parliamentary systems of abstentions as far as I can determine.

  67. Bush like. The epitomie of witty.

    And an easy way to spot the short bus riders.

Sign in to comment.