Okay, so apparently, the reason why the Liberal Leader has dragged us to the National Press Theatre today is currently crisscrossing southern Ontario (but carefully staying clear of Guelph)announcing vote-winning infrastructure investments, and making unflattering remarks about his personality, policies and political guts, not necessarily in that order.
Anyway, that’s the working assumption amongst the gathering press (which sounds rather like gathering storm, come to think of it).
So how will Dion respond? It’s not like he can call the PM’s bluff (which may or may not be a bluff) and bring down the government by press conference. At least, I’m pretty sure he can’t do that, but I continue to be amazed by the remarkable ability of the Standing Orders to anticipate the unexpectable.
So – hmmm. Colleague Wells just turned up. Now it’s a party! Also, readers will be guaranteed at least.some coverage of this thing in the event that I nod off midway through – which won’t be an indictment of Dion, but purely a result of having been up forever.
Wow, good crowd. I’m surprised. It always feels like everyone is on vacation, except when something happens, and then suddenly, they materialize – tanned, rested and sometimes still grumpy at being hauled back to the grindstone, but they’re there.
The show is about to start – Dion’s minions are scampering about behind the scenes, and the mess of gabbling journalists has fallen silent.
He’s here, and he’s ready to take questions – but first, a story about that fish that he caught. I’ll skip the details, but it was very symbolic, and tasted of victory. And fish, presumably.
Juliet O’Neil up for the Ottawa Citizen, and she wonders about the PM’s threat to end this “dysfunctional” parliament. Dion blames the Conservatives for the stonewalling. He lists the legislation stalled by ornery committee chairs, and in some cases, shut down completely.
Really, when he puts it this way, it’s amazing that any committees are still operational at all.
And he just mistook the Ethics committee for Procedure and House Affairs, but we’ll let that slide since it was supposed to be in charge of the in-and-out investigation. Anyway, he also wasn’t impressed by the no-show witnesses.
Joan Bryden wants to know if this means the fixed election date law is a joke, if the PM could simply ignore it. Not a funny one, judging from Dion’s response – but an example of another broken promise.
Have I mentioned how much I hate these earpieces? I’ve never successfully gotten one to stay on my ear, so I sit here, hunched on one side with it under my chin, resenting it.
Oh, apparently, people are much more ready for an election now – as opposed to last spring, or the fall, or all the other times we whipped ourselves into election fever.
Dion is explaining his plan – strategic voting to trigger an election, basically.
The CBC’s lustrous Alison Crawford wonders what it’s like to have to run in all these byelections, knowing they might have to do it all over again in a few months. Actually, Dion doesn’t seem to mind that – he seems almost giddy as he describes his plans to be in every one of those ridings over the next few weeks.
Is the Conservative Party the new party of Canadian unity? Well, he acknowledges that the Liberal Party doesn’t have a monopoly on good ideas, but thinks Canada should quit having these existential crises, and the PM should quit encouraging them.
Canadians are telling him, more and more, that it’s time for an election — but he still won’t commit to this fall. First, the byelections have to be fought.
The Sun chain is sceptical. Is there any issue left on which the Liberals could defeat the government with a shred of credibility? What about all those abstentions? It’s about timing, Dion reminds him – like fish! Is there bait in this metaphor? Is it the Green Shift? Anyway, unlike certain other opposition parties, the Liberals aren’t here to criticize the government, they’re here to replace it.
Everyone loves the Green Shift. Just ask them!
Does he run the risk of being perceived as “weak”? Not at all, says Not A Leader – it’s about timing, and winning, and then making the country richer, fairer and greener. It’s right versus left, as far as visions go – the Liberals, according to Dion, have a very progressive agenda; this government is very much a right-wing creation.
Is he in a better position than he was a year ago, wonders another reporter. Canadians, Dion suggests, are more aware of this government now. That’s bad, just in case you were wondering – bad for the government, that is. But good for the Liberals!
Colleague Wells! He wants to know whether Dion agrees with him or Coyne on the whole Georgia/Russia issue – although he disguises it as a question on foreign policy. I won’t spoil y’all for the answer, but it did involve certain countries pulling out post-haste.
Oh, and if the Liberals get back in, they’ll probably keep the fixed election law.
In response to the “irresponsible” epithet hurled himward this morning, Dion claims that it’s this government that is irresponsible, and manages to work the RCMP raid and the Cadman Affair into his answer.
Can this parliament be saved? Well, maybe – if the Conservatives come up with laws that are acceptable to other parties, and stops being so ideological.
Yeah, it’s doomed.
Dion hasn’t spoken with the PM yet about the fall session, and can’t predict what he -Harper – will say when they finally have that conversation – or what he’ll say in response. “The Prime Minister thinks he runs everything, but he does not run the Official Opposition.”.
The longer the government lasts, the more Canadians learn about the Conservatives, and the more horrified they’ll get — that seems to be the current theory on election timing. Oh, but if the PM calls an election, he’s ready – and he’ll win.
A question about the ten percenters – particularly the latest one to hit downtown Vancouver on ‘junkies’ and crime. Dion, not surprisingly, isn’t a fan – and he points out that the government has been careful not to take its zealous zero tolerance and opposition to InSite into Quebec.
This is an American, Republican-style policy, he says.
Liz Thompson gets the last question, and she wonders if this offer to meet with Harper is a setup. Will he be tricked? (Okay, I added that bit in honour of the Oilykateers.) Dion says that it is his duty to meet with the PM when invited, but once again stresses the importance of timing.
And that’s it. Don’t forget to check Wells for more considered analysis.
Colleague Wells just reminded me that I completely forgot to mention the question on the Governor General, ans whether she could refuse to dissolve Parliament. No, was the eventual upshot – she does what the PM says. Everyone does, except the OLO! This government thing. It goes all the way to the top.