Doubling down - Macleans.ca
 

Doubling down


 

Stephen Harper doesn’t sound particularly sheepish in his interview with the boss. Wrong on policy? Nope: he’s going to put cuts to public funding of political parties in his platform for the next election. (Excellent. Bit belated: Since he clearly planned to do this all along, he maybe should have put it in his platform for the last election. It’s an odd rationale for electing a guy: if we do it often enough, we might finally smoke him out on what his plans are.) Wrong on the economy? Nope: this week’s version of the Harper economic policy was the right one all along. But perhaps the most striking line is this one, in which he muses about his party’s chances if the opposition unites to defeat him:

Obviously, if we had an election today somebody will have a majority because it will be either Canada’s Conservative government or the coalition.

Goodness.

Now obviously, this applies today (or, say, the first week in February), if the Coalition of the United ND-Libera-Québécois, branded as such, unites to take the government down on a confidence vote and then petitions the GG for a new government within this Parliament. Harper will petition the GG for dissolution, believes he’ll win, and now says he would run the whole campaign as a binary choice between Our Lot and That Lot.

But don’t kid yourselves, coalitioneers. This binary choice will now certainly be the campaign strategy of any Harper-led campaign at any point in the future under any circumstances. Recall that Harper just campaigned against Stéphane Dion as a guy who would raise the GST, based on two-year-old musings by Dion during the ’06 Liberal leadership campaign. He doesn’t recognize statutes of limitations on his opponents.

So at the next election, whenever it happens and however it comes, Harper will run on a guarantee — his own guarantee — that the opposition will unite to govern unless Conservatives outnumber them all. And the opposition can’t exactly deny it, can they, after Dion spent the last campaign swearing up and down that he would never form a coalition with Layton’s bunch?

Note that I’m not predicting Harper’s polarization gambit will win. I’m just telling you, that’s the game now.


 

Doubling down

  1. Of course Harper/Cons are going to use the specter of a Coalition whenever the next election is and probably the next one after that as well. Why not use it? Libs have been using ‘hidden agenda’ for long time now and no one calls them on it. And like you say, both Dion and Layton denied they would join together but decided to form Co-Operative government anyways.

    At least the Cons accusation would have a ring of truth to it.

    • ‘Hidden agenda’? You clearly didn’t read the mention above about announcing policy after the election, did you? Or do you simply not get it?

      • I simply do not get it I guess because Cons are clearly the first party ever to introduce policies after an election that they didn’t mention during the election.

        • Reform/Alliance/Western Coalition/Conservative ….. is that and has that not been a coalition route to Ottawa or has the MSM failed to see it ? I say to Iggy Challenge him now ….. his new Senate Plan also his new book ” How to manipulate Senate Committees” heck what do think they have been doing on their extended taxpayer Christmas Vacation ….. working on behave of the possible millions of unemployed , or health care, or pension guarantees or a number of other important issues other than selling off Canada’s assets to try and lower their deficit numbers.

        • The hidden agenda theme is kept alive by the Conservatives themselves. Whenever Harper does something non-Conservative or betrays some cherished principle, Conservatives comfort each other by explaining that Harper has to do what needs to be done until he gets a majority.

          You can think of that as tactical, if you want. The rest of just think it points to some future where something, as yet unknown, will happen. Ergo…hidden agenda.

          Really, it’s not that hard. Besides, it’s the essence of politics.

      • You mean like planning to form a Coalition if Harper one again – you mean THAT HIDDEN AGENDA!!!

        I get it – it seems like you don’t Richard.

        • Requisite amount of exclamations points but not enough majuscules,

          You’re slipping, ‘Berty Gal.

  2. “Binary choice” elections generally don’t bode well for the NDP. A “binary choice” election would represent a notable departure from the Flanagan strategy of bolserting the dippers at all costs that has (thus far) served the Conservatives quite well. Of course, maybe Tory polling shows that they have sufficiently built up the NDP in the past four years to count on it holding its support.

    Still, in a “binary choice” election, where on earth to the Tories find their growth?

    • Well, at the risk of re-hashing all the polling that was done during The Madness, look at the polling that was done during The Madness. Support for the Harper Conservatives spiked. Would such a spike be durable? There’s no way to know in advance, although everyone should feel free to argue the question into the ground. Obviously that’s Harper’s bet though.

      • Or… It’s the old Flanagan strategy, phase III. It’s ultimately an attempt to force Ignatieff to swear off of a coaltion, giving Layton the ability to campaign on a “nothing to lose” strategy. Whether you want a Liberal or NDP Prime Minister, vote for Jack Layton, as he’ll support either. Harper wants Liberals to chase votes on the right by disavowing the coalition, in hopes that the lefties stick with Jack, and provide the necessary vote split.

        • But the Iggy factor is unknown and not included in above analysis. He could be a spectacular opponent to Harper and dynamic campaigner. I don’t understand why he’s not being factored in to any discussion of future campaigns. This guy is quality like we haven’t seen in Canadian politics in a long time. Is he susceptible to a Harper personal attack campaign and massive wedge issue advertising? Don’t think so.

          • “I don’t understand why he’s not being factored in to any discussion of future campaigns. — Too soon to know what to factor in there. We have to wait and see how Iggy does. He has good credentials . . . so does Bob Rae . . . but it does not necessarily translate into strong voter support. Woodrow Wilson is a good example of a strong academic type who flopped when it came to running the country.

        • The funny part about Harper’s comments is that it implies that if there was an election, that if the conservatives won a minority, that he would actually let the Liberals govern in a coalition.

          That said, if there is an election, I predict Michael I. will say ‘no coalition period.’ before the writ is finished dropping.

  3. It’s good that Harper, by always changing the question just when his opponents think they have the answer, is taking his strategy straight from the playbook of Rowdy Roddy Piper. I, for one, have been long advocating for stronger ties between Canada’s Confused Government and the inanity that is the world of Pro Wrestling.

  4. Among the many disadvantages of being a Canadian-not-in-Canada is that it’s hard to keep a finger on the public pulse, but my sense is that Harper is on solid ground in projecting a majority for someone at the next election–though not necessarily for his reasons. My sense is that, especially after the Madness, there is (or will be) an appetite for stability in the form of majority government. Paul’s right that the Tories will use the threat of an unholy alliance to make the case for Conservative hegemony; it sounds like Iggy will try to flank Harper on competence (aided by Harper’s various policy reversals) to make the case for a return of the Grits.

    It was easy to predict a minority last election, because for all the sturm und drang Canadians were pretty well pleased with the state of affairs from 01/2006 to 09/2008. But that doesn’t seem to be the case any more, and while I’ve learned enough not to make predictions, my sense is that a majority based on either of the preceding suggested campaigns is more likely than a minority on more or less any other ground.

    Am I misreading the lay of the land?

    • Not only the lay of the land, but the likely results of the election.
      Remember, the Conservatives didn’t gain any noticable support last election, Liberal voters just stayed home. They didn’t like what they heard of Dion’s GreenShift (until it was explained by someone other than the Conservatives), didn’t like Dion’s “no-show” strategy in parliament, and didn’t like Dion’s presentation ala Duffy.

      None of those are likely to apply this time. If it appears that Ignatieff is at all a credible alternative to Harper, expect to see an even smaller minority after the next election.

    • Not that I can see. Pretty much every party is running on “Vote for us — we’re the least unsuitable.” I don’t think any candidate really believes deep down that they should be PM, so they keep trying to justify why they should. People pick up on this uncertainty. Did Chretien, Mulroney or Trudeau ever explain why they should be PM? Did anyone really ask? No. They just had an aura of leadership.

      Unfortunately, nobody really knows what it means to be a Conservative in Canada at the moment, so wanna-be Conservative leaders try to be all things Conservative, even when they’re contradictions. Harper doesn’t lean to the left or the right within the Conservative spectrum, he sags in the middle. The Jean-Paul Liberal infighting & existential angst (yes, Sartre-yrical pun intended) drove all serious leadership contenders out of that party. The NDP — well, they’re all just too nice and believe in fair play too much to have the required sense of entitlement you need to be an effective political leader. Maybe if Jack lost the mustache & unconvincing condenscending outrage he could pull it off. Olivia, try shaving it off in his sleep, please. (The mustache, that is. Maybe slip some of Harper’s benzodiazapines into his Ovaltine, while you’re at it.)

  5. Clearly that’s the game now — an explicit campaign for a majority.

  6. I agree. ‘Binary choice’ could backfire. In fact, it plays exactly into the Liberal strategy: “we’re the only ones who can unseat that guy.”

    • I’m just got the greatest mental image of Stevebot 2.0.

      “Binary choice!
      “CCP 1, Coalition 0
      “No other choice computes!”

      • And by CCP, I mean CPC.

        Because, you know, yeah…

        *Walks away in a post-brainmelt snit.

  7. Without getting into a seat by seat analysis, it`s probably wise to assume that most of the Conservative seats are safe. So they only need another dozen for a majority. Seems to me a good strategy would be to give the voters a simple question for these times. If you vote for any party but the Conservatives then you are voting for a coalition ( Libs, NDP, and Bloc ) majority.

    • I think the Con’s recovery in PQ is the biggest factor in whether they will get a majority. Harper’s slash-and-burn response to the coalition threat really hurt his prospects in Canada’s second-largest province.

  8. I have always admired my boy Stevie for the absence of a so called hidden agenda … because if anyone cares to stop and pay attention he almost always telegraphs his punches. There is only one question I would have like to ask however that will come into play by about this time next year when depending upon how the stars line up = the Senate – who knows maybe a conservative majority or damn close in which case more bills being passed considerably quicker?

    • because if anyone cares to stop and pay attention he almost always telegraphs his punches.

      So why do you Connies always claim he’s playing chess?

      • you’ve obviously never played very much chess – there are strategic moves where you may want to telegraph a punch as it were they are called gambits. I have a favorite one where 8 out of 10 times I take an opponent down by telegraphing my intent however there is little an opponent can do since I force them into a check on the King while I threaten their Queen at the same time : I have found it particularly demoralizing on my opponents.

        • That’s very interesting. I prefer to play chess with my friends, and I’ve developed a strong distaste for demoralizing my friends. Maybe that’s why I’ve never developed such an obviously nuanced view of Canadian politics.

          I suppose one can become a master of chess while completely lacking an understanding of punctuation & sentence structure. Threatening queens is something the political right seems to have a monopoly on at the moment, but I always thought keeping the king in check is supposed to be more of a leftist trait.

          One would think if your opponents were at all skilled you wouldn’t keep getting them with the same move. Are you playing/demoralizing your grandchildren? Because that would be a Conservative tactic worthy of our Dear Leader Party Chairman Harper.

          • I think I want Wayne on my Chess Team.—too much of that Sarte-Farte angst on that Shenping guy.

  9. I’m really not all that sure that the CPC should think it’s Ontario seats are safe.

    • Ontario is 100% Safe for Harper and Company …… and that is fact and you can sell your house car and bet the whole lot on it ….. Harper has the winning card …. just mention Quebec and Ontarians will fall on their hands and knees for Harper…. he is the King of Ontario and when he says jump people in Ontario jump ….. and do not ever forget it ….. Reform/Alliance/Western Separatist /Conservative Coalition rules! think …. if Harper could pull off the David Orchard Incident then Ontario is in the bag …… Harper rules Ontario lock stock and barrow and don’t you ever forget it……….. got it!

      • Thanks…. for the …. value add… David… lock stock and…. barrel! Got it!

      • Let’s add some line breaks:

        Ontario is 100% Safe
        for Harper and Company
        and that is fact
        and you can sell your house car
        and bet the whole lot on it
        Harper has
        the winning card
        just mention Quebec
        and Ontarians will fall on their hands and knees
        for Harper…. he is the King of Ontario
        and when he says jump
        people in Ontario jump
        if Harper could pull off the David Orchard Incident
        then Ontario is in the bag
        Harper rules Ontario lock stock and barrow
        and don’t you ever forget it
        got it!

        and one can clearly see that this is poetry written in free verse, much like Roo Borson’s 2004 Governor-General award winning Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida, while narratively reflecting the stream-of-consciousness structure of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist of a Young Man, showing the state of mind of both the author and subject.

        Shorter Shenping: DeceptaCON sub-literacy is fun!!

        • Shenping:

          In jazz there is certain type called free-form.
          It is characterized by a loose, stream of consciousness free for all.
          Tonically, it is discordant, off-time, and from the perspective of one who believes that music of value echoes the “music of the spheres”, notably unpleasant. Playful, it’s adherents note it.

          Or, in fewer words, Wankery.

          Cordially

          Niall

          PS: Speaking of self delusion: N.D.P. = No Darned Possibility

  10. Some things never change …… Americans start wars and Harper attacks the Senate and Quebec …. seems I remember the Reformers marking “X’s” through the faces of Quebec candidates….. the more things change the more they remain the same. And to think 36% of Canadians fall for it ….. and yes Paul they might even fall for more ……..

    • An ellipsis is three periods, usually equally spaced. It usually is used to mean you’re leaving something out.

      I’m not sure what gratuitous periods mean.

  11. I don’t know why Ken Whyte just doesn’t tell us right now who’s going to win the next election.

    • Ken Whyte just called a Conservative Majority

  12. Has Harper campaigned any other way? No.

  13. I have a feeling that Harper may have been thinking along the same lines as Richard Van Loon:

    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/coalition+doesn+stack/1149585/story.html

    Van Loon’s premise is that the presumed Lib-NDP-Bloc coalition, in order to have popular legitimacy, would have to conduct the next election with the understanding that it would work as a coalition. That’s going to be an awfully tough pill for the Liberals under Ignatieff to swallow.

    • A lot of holes were poked in Van Loon’s thesis here yesterday.

      Basically he started with a conclusion and then confected arguments to support it.

      • “Basically he started with a conclusion and then confected arguments to support it.” — Doesn’t everyone do that?

        • No.

    • Ignatieff ain’t going to swallow, the coalition is DEAD.

  14. “He doesn’t recognize statutes of limitations on his opponents.”

    I enjoy statements like these. Because we all know the other parties would never dig up something said while a candidate/leader wasn’t in politics, and then use it against them in a campaign. That Stephen Harper, he’s just so mean.

    • So protective of Harper, it’s kind of cute. I misread Mr. Wells post, I thought it was titled Dumbing Down.

      • Actually I’m just bemused by so miuch of the coverage about Harper. He learned politics watching Jean Chretien in action. Apparently it surprises people that he plays the game by Chretien’s rules.

    • Many of our readers are exquisitely delicate flowers.

      • Are we going to play the ‘what flower are you’ game? SUPER!

  15. A tad early to speculate about the next election, no?

    • We’ve had four general elections in eight years, and three in the last five. The Governor General now cannot plan long trips overseas because Stephen Harper has needed to visit her during each of the last two she planned. I would be so delighted if it were a tad early to speculate about the next election — and indeed I wrote above that my analysis holds “at any point in the future” — but I’ll be amazed if we make it to Canada Day without voting again.

      • Oh God, I tremble at that prophecy . . . esp. since it adds up.

        From the big-picture angle, do you think there’s a limit to how much minority government — with its psychodramas and its posturing, not to mention annual elections — that the Canadian public can stand? If so, how many more cycles would it take?

        • How many cycles will it take, maybe two? Don’t the new seats in Ontario which would enable a party (Conservatives) to win a majority without Quebec come into play by 2011?

          • So, three elections hence? Now that’s what I call a tad early to speculate about a Conservative majority!

      • Paul – if Steve really comes up with $30B – how can Michael I actually vote against the budget??

        He can’t!

      • And who’s going to want to be GG if you can’t even plan a nice long trip?

    • A tad early to speculate?

      A large faction of liberals can’t stomach Jack and the socialists.

      Too many NDPer’s would rather move to Sweden than support uppity libs.

      Neither party is foolish enough to make long term agreements with the block.

      I’m ready to go to the poles.

      • Or the Czechs. Hard to decide, really.

        • OOps! typing to fast – must ___finnish – go for walk!

          • Now you’re talking turkey.

          • Don’t Russia, it might be slippery where you are.

          • That was my imPrussian.

        • Don’t forget the Uke’s (see Iggy’s strange dislike for some Ukrainians as he calls them in his book Sad and Pathetic)

          • I wasn’t sure of my position til I paused and Moldova it.

          • I’m not Guyana go there.

      • The Swedish Liberal Party is currently in a governing coalition there….the NDPers will have to move to Norway.

  16. In the last election:

    1. Four opposition parties spent 2 debates debating a single person. They spent zero hours (except Jack Layton once) differentiating themselves from one another.

    2. Liberals, like Warren Kinsella, advocated that Quebeckers vote Bloc Quebecois.

    They were already campaigning like a coalition in October. So this time, Tories will just catch up to the new reality.

    • He advocated that Ontarians vote for Harper in 2004, so what’s your point?

  17. It’s fun to see the “hidden agenda” meme back out in force, but personally, I’ve abandoned that notion.

    The idea of a hidden agenda is that the Tories have this agenda, and they’re keeping it hidden, right? Well, if the last 6 months have taught Canadians anything, it’s that the notion that the Tories actually have an agenda is utterly laughable. Agenda? They didn’t even have an election platform until they got embarrassed into cobbling one together in the middle of the last campaign. The three most impactful items of the first economic update of their new mandate were things no one in the country had ever heard a Tory mention before.

    The whole idea of the “hidden agenda” theory is that the Tories are hiding their real agenda behind an illusory one. Well, these days, they don’t even have the ILLUSION of a plan. I’ll use Occam’s razor here. To me, the simplest explanation for the Tories complete lack of any coherent agenda isn’t that the Tories have an elaborate plan to distract us with their seeming lack of any plan, so that they can spring their actual secret plan on us post-majority – it’s just that they have no plan whatsoever. Sure the CPC has seemingly no interest in providing me or my fellow citizens with any glimpse of what they actually plan to do with and for the country, but I see no reason to conclude from that fact that their keeping the plan secret. More likely the plan doesn’t exist.

    After all, it would seem the government has no interest in showing me their unicorns either, but that doesn’t mean they have a secret unicorn.

    The Tory agenda is “win more seats”. That’s it. The only thing they’re hiding is the fact that that’s it. Frankly, I’m starting to doubt any member of our government has any idea what they’re going to say or do, on any topic, more than five minutes before they say it. The problem for the Tories is that they came up with a year and a half’s worth of governance to show Canadians they could be great governors in order to lead the populace to give them their inevitable majority; and now, they’re starting to have some trouble stretching their 18 month plan into its third year.

    Personally, I’d love it if I thought the Tories had a hidden agenda. It’d be perversely comforting to know that while they appear to be totally winging everything, making things up not so much as they go along, but AFTER they trip on something, that nonetheless, in secret, in some safe somewhere, there’s this well thought out plan for the future of Canada and they’re keeping it quiet because they’re not convinced it’s be popular. This notion that they’ve got an elaborate secret strategy that they’re waiting to spring on voters AFTER they finally get their majority is creepy, but at least it preserves some sense that the people in charge of our government have some strategic vision, and a notion of what needs to be done in the future for our country.

    The truth is, there’s nothing behind the curtain. It’s just some guy who’s somehow got his hands on a big machine and is randomly pulling levers. There’s no wizard. There’s no magic. There’s nothing to fear.

    Hidden or open, there’s no agenda whatsoever. It’s not more complicated than that.

    • But what if they DO have a secret unicor—I mean, plan?

      Stripping women’s rights has made it onto the agenda already with the massive changes to the Status of Women offices across the country. Stripping women’s rights, stripping party funding, stripping workers’ rights—these were all part of the fiscal update, which *thankfully* got thoroughly quashed.

      I’m pretty sure there’s an agenda, or at least some plans for policy/legistlative change. Probably hidden at this point. Probably ill-advised. Maybe even composed of myriad sentence fragments. I think Harper plays it pretty close to the chest, so whatever’s there we won’t know ’til the end of the hand (poker reference—take that, chess afficionadi!).

      • By “stripping women’s rights”, do you mean Harper’s attempt to reform pay equity legislation so that public servants can no longer file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission? This after reaching a 4 year contract with the PSAC that gave its members a generous 6.8-per-cent wage increase just before the recession hit. Not to mention the $4,000 in lump-sum payments (totaling $340 million) in exchange for dropping two outstanding pay equity complaints. Not to mention the billions of taxpayer dollars spent in pay equity class action settlements during the last ten years.

        As usual, this highly complex and nuanced issue is boiled down to three simple words: “stripping woman’s rights”. I have seen no intelligent analysis of this issue in the MSM – just a lot of glib, empty rhetoric along the lines of “Oh, Harper’s bashing women again”.

        • “As usual, this highly complex and nuanced issue is boiled down to three simple words…”

          Sour grapes, Harper’s much lauded simplistic messenging chops are being challenged.

          • I think you mean “simple,” not “simplistic.”

          • I’m not a fan of “simplistic messenging” when Harper does it, or when his opponents do it. There are many legitimate criticisms of Harper, but misogyny is not one of them.

            I remember when Harper cut a handful of women’s programs and his opponents were all over the media, saying that this proved Harper to be a a dinosaur who obviously wanted women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, with a bible in one hand and a child care benefit cheque in the other hand.

            Of course, once you got past the silly rhetoric and actually looked at the cut programs, they turned out to be black holes where taxpayers’ money disappeared. One group in particular was unable to produce any quantifiable results after many years and tens of millions of dollars. The only thing they had to show for their efforts was a string of press releases that nobody read. There was no accountability whatsoever.

          • Jack, I no longer no what I mean.

          • arg… know. Critical, personally I wouldn’t accuse Harper of misogyny… but you know, live by the sword.

          • CR: “. . . his opponents were all over the media, saying that this proved Harper to be a a dinosaur who obviously wanted women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, with a bible in one hand and a child care benefit cheque in the other hand.”

            Yeah, but it’s hatred for that “rights” lobby that drives the Conservative base. So it’s a vicious cycle, in which Tory strategists are participating gleefully. Cf. arts program funding cuts, which saved very little money but got the Harperite base all stirred up. The day these Conservatives do something not premised on “divide and conquer” will be the day I buy a hat and eat it.

        • Hey, Critical Reasoning. ‘Critically reason’ this: if settlements were granted, would it not mean that there was merit to the cases? Or, are the judges/mediators irresponsibly meting out public funds to thankless whiners?

          And what proportion of MPs are women? I think it’s around 20%. Senators? I believe less than 30%. Women make up more than 50% of the population.

          They may not be perfect indicators of women’s status in Canada, but I’m pretty sure if women were truly not at any social disadvantage the proportion of female MPs and senators would approach the proportion of females in the general population.

          • I’m sure you’re quite right in general, but I wonder about the MP thing. Self-love isn’t a male monopoly, but the degree of self-love required to become an MP is such that, I’m guessing, testosterone-fueled hubris of the Peter Van Loan type is a great help.

          • are the judges/mediators irresponsibly meting out public funds to thankless whiners?

            Well, it’s not like the Canadian Human Rights Commission has a perfect track record in this regard.

            I think part of the issue was that some of the plaintiffs who had already received settlements from the government were still appealing to the CHRC, because it was a no-lose situation for them. If they won the appeal, they could get even more money from the taxpayers; if they lost the appeal, they still had their $4,000 settlement in the bank.

            Women may still be at a social disadvantage in Canada, but less so now than at any time in our country’s history. This is 2009 and I don’t think you can blame the federal government anymore, even if you don’t like the current PM. Also, I am hopeful that we will achieve 50% female MP’s within the next 20 years – maybe even our first elected female PM.

    • Actually, no. The idea of a hidden agenda isn’t that there’s another one out there to replace it, just that they aren’t telling us the one they actually have.

      Also, the idea that because there is a long term agenda there means that it must be well thought out is, of course, hogwash.

      That all said, there isn’t a hidden agenda, there’s just an agenda that hasn’t been implementable yet. The Conservatives have already given lots of signals, both in word and in legislation, as to what that is.

      Bill C-484 last session, the “Kicking Abortion’s Ass” bill. Quite simply, the Conservative government wants to make abortions illegal, with the strange assumption that doing such a thing will thus eliminate both abortions and the need for them, and the underlying understanding that making a woman have a baby when she can’t support it is just punishment for her having the temerity to spread her legs before she’s in a married relationship.

      Bill C-51 last session, the “Kicking Fair Use’s Ass” bill. The Conservative government wants to remove any and all property from the public’s ability to use. If you can’t pay for it, you shouldn’t have it.

      Elimination of the gun registry. The Conservative government believe that making guns illegal is a waste of time since it doesn’t stop guns or the demand for them (contrast with C-484 above) and since guns obviously never escalate the level of violence in a conflict.

      Elimination of the CWB. Even though a majority of farmers continue to support this, despite the legislative gag order put on the CWB to keep it from promoting its own activities, the Conservatives wish to eliminate this because it prevents private corporations from realizing their maximum exploitative potential of farmers.

      Elimination of any consideration of women or other races as requiring any sort of public protection from racism or exploitation. Under the conservative regime, it is assumed that these type of tendancies in people are only in place because we talk about them. If we’d just shut up they would eventually go away through the market rules. It should be remembered that no conservative has ever put much thought into how long “eventually” is, nor what happens between then and now.

      • My sense of this is a little different, but maybe complimentary to what some of you guys are suggesting. It seems to me that the conservatives don’t have a plan per se, but rather seek to act in an incremental way, as the opportunity arrises, on various ideological causes. These causes are largely determined in two ways: in consultation with their members and drawing from the flannigan/harper neocon resevoir. If there was a plan in all this, it would be to increase their own power to act on their ideological causes, which increase would be in part effected by incremental gains that shift the bar and in part my means of attacks on political opposition.
        The notion, however, that they have a secret plan seems to me wrong on two counts: first, because their specific agenda pushes are opportunistic, and secondly because the ideological causes of the conservative membership and the flannigan clan are by no means hidden or secret.

    • “Well, if the last 6 months have taught Canadians anything, it’s that the notion that the Tories actually have an agenda is utterly laughable.” — I think you are wrong about this. The Tories have made many efforts to put forward legislation that reflects their agenda (not hidden) — sometimes they have been successful and other times not. What you interpret as a “missing” agenda may simply reflect that governments must also respond to current and changing circumstances. Not everything a government does (must do) is foreseeable in advance.

      The principles that the Conservatives espouse relate to slow, steady change — things like asking departments to find 10% savings in their budgets for programs that will reflect Conservative priorities. I believe that one of their objectives is to reduce funding for special interest groups and move taxpayer dollars towards things that are relevant (or appeal to) middle class Canadians. A really good example is the Status of Women funding that was taken away from the Ottawa SOW bureaucracy, and then given back, but ear-marked for women’s programs in the community. This is just one example. You need to look at what the Conservatives have accomplished via shifts in funding (thank goodness we are not buying Kyoto credits — at least I hope not) and legislation. A political agenda is not a simple set of promises posted on a bulletin board during a campaign.

  18. I agree, mostly.

    So-cons like myself do see a vision. The pendulum must swing back from the doling, nepotistic, selfimportant, corrupt, liberals know best, american hating, ( have I forgotten anything) attitude we lived with under Jean and co.

    • Funny! Sounds to me like yr voting against something not for any vision. Hopefully you’ll be as adament in yr condemnation if these guys turn out not to be all you hoped for?

  19. Paul should have included an expiry date of December 2009 (on the current government). Because in January 2010 Harper can obtain a majority in the senate, and the liberals would want to limit that. They also can not go back to abstaining, and that would happen if they formally break the coalition. Can Iggy use the coalition threat, and distance himself (at the same time) from this whole fiasco in that time frame? It is unlikely, and the strategy of making this a two party choice will cleary benefit the conservatives, with the possible exception of quebec.
    Iggy should have wrestled the liberal party from Dion before he had the chance to sign the coalition agreement. He could have maintained the threat, without the agreement. Not doing so was a failure of leadership, and will saddle him with an unpopular association with Jack and Gilles parties. His only option is to find more common ground with the conservatives, and isolate the NDP and Bloc. He must retake the center, not fight over the divided left. To maintain that association will have him hanging around with the marginal parties, making his presence marginalized.

    • But darcy, there is an expriation date. Remember, according to law, there has to be an election on October 19th, 2009. Harper and his cabinet spent a day or two of their valuable parliamentary time that you pay for debating this very subject and coming up with a law to enforce it. So no worries, right? Right?

        • Wait.. so are you saying that all that time they spent debating and crafting this legislation was just a waste of effort? Say it isn’t so! Surely the conservatives would be more careful with their taxpayer wages, right? RIght?

  20. Wow, it didn`t take long for that age-old hidden agenda tactic to show up—as soon as you see the desperation in the eyes of the Libs you know they will be dusting out that old girl.
    I know it is confusing for you to understand why Harper would want a majority, after years of watching Liberals strive for majorities so they would be in a position to reward their friends who would in turn reward them.
    I think the main reason Harper would like a majority is because he would like to govern for a while without the constant interference of threatened coalitions, opposition controlled committees looking for ancient news, and the mischief of an irrelevant Senate.
    I am not sure what new policies a conservative majority gov`t would implement but I can tell you a few things that will not happen:

    CBC will not continue to use more and more public funds to espouse the views of a small minority (the left ) of Canadians.
    CWB will not continue to cheat farmers because of some antiquated collective ideas of a few socialists.
    Criminals with guns will feel less secure because police will spend more time chasing them , rather then duck hunters in northern Sask.
    Bureaucrats in Native Affairs and native leaders will see a reduction in their standard of living while basic living amenities on reserves will improve.
    Less emphasis on large gov`t-controlled factory daycare centers will happen as more families are able to take care of their own children.
    Gov`t sponsored women`s clubs will become less relevant as women realize they are the equal or better then men. When women feel that way, men will follow quickly.
    And No there will be no change in the abortion law (or lack there-of ).

    This is only a brief outline but I hope it is of some help.

    • Harper would like a majority is because he would like to govern for a while

      Why though? Just to establish your right wing dystopia?

      No thanks. Your vision for Canada sounds narrow and hostile.

      • Your dysphemistic dysentery brought on by a dysfunctional dyelexia is giving me a dyspeptic dysrhythmia.

    • Evidence suggests otherwise on nearly every one of your points.

    • William
      It’s all so simple when you have all the answers at your finger-tips isn’t it? Just 7 little sentences and snap, poof, all those problems just magiced away if only we would just give Harper a majority. Who knew. Those silly, mis-informed voters, because it’s them William, who forbore not just not once but 3 times and It’s not, as you imagine an unholy alliance of the CBC/ senate/ opposition/ coalition and you forgot to mention the liberal press,no need to thank me. If we throw in the GG gratis that just about makes it a…let me see now… the word i’m looking for is dictatorship. Well why not the liberals had one for so long, fairs, fair, it’s our turn.
      I don’t even disagree with all of yr aspirations, because that’s what they are. It’s the ugliness of the imagery that’s so ojectionalable.
      Bad CBC-lefty minority vs real Canadians
      Bad CWB-socialists vs good honest farmers.
      BadCriminals run free whlie Sask duck hunters in peril.[ maybe not that one]
      Bad rich Chiefs and Bureau vs poor reserve indians.
      Bad govt factory daycare vs wholesome family care
      Bad govt spon Women’s clubs impeding gender harmony.
      No abortion ban – for now.
      This isn’t a political agenda it’ a refusal to see the world as other than black or white, good or bad, ours or yours, right or wrong, Conservative or Liberal. just give us a majority he says, NO! I Say!!

  21. William said it best. I would add that the real reason my boy Stevie would like a majority is because he believes (as do many others) that he can do a better job at governing than any of the other options available … obviously this is not only a valid belief but one that continues to be reinforced every time the Igster, Jackie or Gillie open their mouths let alone actually do something except complain about how evil, meanie Stevie is not doing what they want.

    • You are right Wayne – maybe 4th time will be the charm.

      Imagine a Liberal leader getting 4 cracks at it? Ha!

  22. Paul, when you do cast your ballot in the next election…………. I don’t think I would be too far off to assume it won’t be for Harper.

    At least, that’s the impression one gets from reading anything you write. Maybe you and James Travers can car-pool.

  23. Do journalists vote? Many have said they don’t.

  24. Obviously, if there are votes out there inclined to vote only Liberal or Conservative and for no other party (and yes, there are many such voters), then it’s only fair to point out that a vote for the Libs might also be a vote for the NDP.

  25. James R. Halifax is betting I won’t vote for Harper at the next election. Safe bet indeed: I live in Ottawa Centre. The prime minister isn’t a candidate here.

    However I have already written, way down on one of these comment boards in December, that my personal preference, as between the Harper Conservatives and this coalition as it was constituted or could conceivably be constituted from the current Parliament, was that the Harper Conservatives continue to govern. I doubt that preference will change before an election. I’ve written a book — it’s the only book I ever wrote — that sings Harper’s praises to the freaking heavens. That book is still on sale, so I have a non-trivial pecuniary interest in Harper’s continued success. I have voted Liberal, NDP and Conservative in my adult life. In every election since 2004 I have had to think and study a fair bit before choosing among the candidates for those three parties in my riding.

    James R. Halifax is a really big idiot. Worse, he’s a common kind of idiot: the kind who reads criticism of a public figure, takes it as an endorsement of the man’s opponent, and decides that since the writer Is A Liberal, no more thinking (and I’m not sure the inclusion of the word “more” is appropriate, actually) is required.

    Folks: I could not possibly have less influence over who gets to be the prime minister of the country. That decision is made way, way above my pay grade: it is made by all of you, and then by your Members of Parliament. When I do this political-journalism thing, I am almost always writing a variation on a pretty simple line: whoever the prime minister of Canada is, could he maybe do a better job while he has it?

    If James R. Halifax or any of the rest of you came here looking for me to say nice things about the prime minister or anyone else except perhaps Tony Bennett, you’ve come to the wrong place. I am sorry for your confusion.

    • Back up their Mr. Well’s. Are you saying that because Harper wasn’t in your riding you couldn’t vote for him.
      Jack (the stashiod) Layton said he was running for PM. I looked on my ballot, but no Jack. Guess I had a faulty ballot.

      • Guess so, Pau’l.

    • You’re feeding the trolls, dude…

      • Does the T. stand for Turd?

  26. I agree Paul.

    Harper = meanie. Could do better.

    Tony Bennett = stand-up guy.

    Should Tony Bennett usurp any of the candidates in Beaches-East York, or run as an independant, he will have my vote.

  27. “whoever the prime minister of Canada is, could he maybe do a better job while he has it?”

    ha! proof you’re a Liberal, a Conservative propagandist would never get caught with a gender exclusive statement.

    anyway, judging from Iggy’s performance today and to date, I think we’ll be repeating this conversation next week with the opposite outrage and accusations.

    • Did Iggy do something today? Oh yeah, the town hall out east. I missed everything. (I’m actually on a vacation of sorts; I blog because it’s weirdly soothing.) I presume it was one for the ages.

      • its just that it just hit me:

        how does a guy like Iggy step in front of an audience of business people and tell them how he’s going to save the economy? even the cbc reported it as a “skeptical audience”.

        and now, neocon tax cuts with neocon middle east policy. and every Liberal is going to sign up to it just like every Liberal, just days ago, signed up to a socialist-separatist coalition. its rather breathtaking.

        I just figure he won’t escape some scathing stuff from you. Because its hard not to be scathing.

  28. kc
    I never meant what I wrote to be thought of as a political agenda as you would say. It is just a few examples of how i believe things will change with a Harper majority. And that`s the key word—-change—the small c conservative thought process of most Liberals is very resistant to change. But change doesn`t have to mean conflict or hardship—-it`s just moving on with the new age we live in.
    Most change happens naturally in our lives but Gov`t groups often have to be dragged kicking and screaming to change—-maybe it`s their sense of comfort and entitlement in their positions.
    Harper is the first PM in a long time to want real change—-Trudeau talked about it but only in a flighty philosophical way and he governed in a very traditional conservative way—-There is a lot of room for change and now may be the best time for it.
    So , don`t fear change—it`s all good—-hey there`s a leader just south of us that won an election with that slogan.

    • william
      You have the right to advocate these changes. But you still don’t get it. These changes are not so simple or painless to impliment and more importantly they are not changes i believe the majority of canadians desire. As i said, the very ugliness of some of your images leads me to not trust you or people ho think in these very narrow terms. do we need change? yes, in many ways, but idon’t trust this particular group of conservatives to impliment them.
      Yr take on Trudeau is completely wrong.[ i give you credit for not frothing at the mention of his name] Read Andrew Potter’s take on the repatriation of the conststitution. Trudeau, Lougheed and company can lay claim to being at least the modern fathers of confederation. Trudeau my friend, like it or not, turned this country on it’s head, a true agent of change. SH is also an agent of change but not,in my opinion, for the good. It’s all depends on yr perspective i suppose?

      • William – A last pt. You cannot honestly equate the change that Obama promises with the change that SH would like to bring about. Obama will reach across partisan bounderies in an attempt to unite and heal. It may not work, but he offers hope of a different type of politics. I see no evidence that SH offers anything of the sort. In fact i think that the majority you want would already have occured under a different kind of leader as the liberals have been a spent force for some while. All bets are off now. The Liberals have found the sort of leader that may well rejuvinate them. We live in interesting times.

  29. Paul wrote:

    “James R. Halifax is betting I won’t vote for Harper at the next election. Safe bet indeed: I live in Ottawa Centre. The prime minister isn’t a candidate here.”

    Very clever Paul. You must have thought a while to come up with a comment like that. You’re probably almost half as smart as you think you are. Well done.

    “However I have already written, way down on one of these comment boards in December, that my personal preference, as between the Harper Conservatives and this coalition as it was constituted or could conceivably be constituted from the current Parliament, was that the Harper Conservatives continue to govern. I doubt that preference will change before an election. I’ve written a book — it’s the only book I ever wrote — that sings Harper’s praises to the freaking heavens. That book is still on sale, so I have a non-trivial pecuniary interest in Harper’s continued success.”

    Title please…..I will go pick it up.

    “I have voted Liberal, NDP and Conservative in my adult life. In every election since 2004 I have had to think and study a fair bit before choosing among the candidates for those three parties in my riding.”

    Any adult who votes for the NDP, is not one who should be offering political opinions and expect to be taken seriously.

    “James R. Halifax is a really big idiot. Worse, he’s a common kind of idiot: the kind who reads criticism of a public figure, takes it as an endorsement of the man’s opponent, and decides that since the writer Is A Liberal, no more thinking (and I’m not sure the inclusion of the word “more” is appropriate, actually) is required.”

    Paul…Paul….Paul. Most people who’ve read anything you wrote understand that you think almost everyone is an idiot. Common or otherwise. Your opinion of yourself pretty much assures that result.
    As for thinking you’re a Liberal……I’d say that you are more a Liberal than you are a writer. I guess we’ll consider it an impasse.

    “Folks: I could not possibly have less influence over who gets to be the prime minister of the country. ”

    And that’s what really bothers the press gallery too…..though they do their best to change this.

    “That decision is made way, way above my pay grade: it is made by all of you, and then by your Members of Parliament. When I do this political-journalism thing, I am almost always writing a variation on a pretty simple line: whoever the prime minister of Canada is, could he maybe do a better job while he has it?”

    Yes he could…..if only the Opposition parties and biased press allowed it.

    “If James R. Halifax or any of the rest of you came here looking for me to say nice things about the prime minister or anyone else except perhaps Tony Bennett, you’ve come to the wrong place. I am sorry for your confusion.”

    No one is asking you to SAY nice things Paul…..they’re asking you to be fair. If that’s too difficult, maybe you should call it a draw and stick to voting for Layton’s Party. Of course, if you want to talk to any NDP MP’s, or a few select Liberals….they can be found protesting Israel somewhere in order to show their support for HAMAS.

    shalom.

    • In other words, if you don’t dip yourself in Tory blue bodypaint and run screaming down Wellington St. with a big portrait poster of St. Stephen, your non-partisan bona fides will forever be suspect.

      • It might be better to avoid breaking out into:” I left my heart in San Francisco.” too! [ is that Bennet?]

    • James, your statement of indictment buried the lede:

      I have voted Liberal, NDP and Conservative in my adult life.

      All right Wells, fess up, who did you vote for when you were not an adult? I didn’t know Joe Volpe was an elected official that long ago.

      • James – way to answer reasoned, critcal insult with…well…insult. It might have been a little bit more effective and briefer to blow him a raspberry.

  30. Very good story Paul. Harper has been very crafty. Die on tis hill now and that one later, maybe. The coalition option still doesn’t appeal. But if Ignatieff has good footwork the other hill may have a view after all. Pass the budget, swollow the poison pill and say you’re taking one for the good of the country or whatever is most plausible. Now sing a loud song about how the threat of the coalition has been worth it all. lots of stuff on how Steve was off key and couldn’t hold a tune without the help of the coalition chorus. That’s the easy part. The hard work is earlier. Convince yr campaneros that it’s in their interest to let the choir master Ignatieff bring the baton down on the coalition. Why? What’s in it for jack and Jill? Ignatieff could argue plausibly that of the 3 only the libs have any real chance a future power. It makes sense to put the coalition to sleep for a while and meet again at a future date under the b

    • Sorry addendum. … banner of say a liberal minority [the best they could hope for] govt. Not as a formal coalition but informally. This would answer the legitimacy concerns of the electorate. A powerful arguement against the coalition as it stands. A coalition but not necessarily a coalition now. Of course the would be the little matter of the election. if they go coalition they better hope the GG gives it too them. ” No wheels on my wagon, …the Harpies after me…but i’m still singing a happy song”

  31. Pffssssttttttttttttttttt……………………

    better?

  32. Nice to see Mr. Wells had the webmaster remove my rebuttal to his lame post. Not surprising really….that seems to be about his speed when things don’t go his way.

    Not too bad really…….it simply confirms exactly what I wrote about you Paul. In fact, I was expecting it.

  33. Â ñâîåì áëîãå ÿ ïèøó î ïðîéäåííûõ ìíîé ñîáåñåäîâàíèÿõ , è î òîì êàê òðóäíî óñòðîèòñÿ â “êðèçèñíîå âðåìÿ”.

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