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Road to 2012

Andrew Coyne on why we may not be voting this fall


 

Oh, about that fall election? Never mind.

UPDATE: It’s just one poll! No way the Grits can back down! They’ve crossed the Rubicon!

Funny, that’s not what Liberal MPS are telling John Ivison

UPPERDATE: That incredible quote from “a senior Liberal” in last week’s Don Martin piece seems worth recalling in this light:

“Wanna hear my analogy to this mess?,” he confided. “The car is ready and moving forward. Unfortunately there’s a cliff straight ahead. But the real problem is that the driver is accelerating because he thinks he can jump the canyon.”

UPPESTDATE: Ivison and Martin seem to be talking to different anonymous Liberals than the anonymous Liberals Jane Taber talks to. Here’s Ivison’s take on last week’s fateful meeting in Sudbury:

One MP said  the mood at the caucus meeting in Sudbury was “near unanimous” against a fall election. Yet, less than an hour after caucus had debated the issue, the Liberal leader emerged to hand down his decision. “We might as well have stayed in bed,” said the MP.

And here’s the same meeting a la Jane:

Last Tuesday, the Liberal Leader followed the script he laid out in June, announcing to his caucus, who were meeting in Sudbury, Ont., for their annual summer retreat, that at their first opportunity they would move a motion of no-confidence.

“Mr. Harper, your time is up,” he said in his speech to caucus as MPs and senators jumped to their feet, cheering and applauding.

Gosh. Which anonymous Liberals to believe?


 
Filed under:

Road to 2012

  1. No way Ignatieff backs down now.

    Besides, Harper was at a similar polling disadvantage when he triggered the 2006 election.

    • I agree; Ignatieff has grabbed enough headlines with his recent sabre-rattling that to back down now risks making him as much of an indecisive all-talk-no-action caricature as Dion was.

      The Liberals will vote non-confidence; whether any of the other opposition parties will support the government is where any uncertainty over a fall election lies.

    • I agree with your conclusion but not your reasoning. Not only are the Tories generally late bloomers (they do badly in pre-election polls, and then surge once election season starts), but I think Iggy is in it to win seats – maybe government if he is really lucky. I don't think that is comparable to Harper in 2006.

  2. When you've shown your hand, it's too late to fold – no, the Liberals are all in. Backing out now would be political suicide, since they've given a real commitment, not a conditional one as they have in the past.

    The Bloc have no reason to avoid an election, according to that poll (which I suspect is somewhat flawed), their numbers are about as high as they're ever going to get. So it falls to the NDP – they don't want an election, but they really don't want to become Dion's Liberals. I don't see them having much choice but to take their losses and head to the polls as well.

    • "The Bloc have no reason to avoid an election, according to that poll (which I suspect is somewhat flawed), their numbers are about as high as they're ever going to get."

      Agreed. I'm not sure about the national polling numbers but the regional breakdowns are off. Leger Marketing has the Libs and the Bloc much closer.

      • Craig O., your description of the situation is eerily like those descriptions of the Great Powers immediately before World War I. Nobody really wanted a war, but they'd all put themselves in positions where they couldn't (or at least felt they couldn't) back down from one. So they had one.

  3. C'mon Andrew. Do you really think that poll's worth the paper it's printed on? (Without suggesting that the Liberals are in a great position, at the same time.)

    • I agree: Andrew sees one poll from one pollster, and he's trying to use that to support his hypothesis of no fall election.

      There are other pollsters in Canada that show it neck and neck.. and certainly don't show the BQ at near 50% in Quebec (and those other pollsters also didnt' show the Greens leading the province of Quebec a few polls ago).

      Andrew's jumping the gun here.

      • Andrew's 'hunk-a-hunk-a burning love' for the deficit fudging Harper crew seems to be blinding him from the trees… Mind you, past Grit waffling may be enuf to believe that one poll and a few panicky shout outs by the Bairds and Kenneys could restore a Dionesque dance.

    • I agree: Andrew sees one poll from one pollster, and he's trying to use that to support his hypothesis of no fall election.

      There are other pollsters in Canada that show it neck and neck.. and certainly don't show the BQ at 50% in Quebec (and they also didnt show the Greens leading the province of Quebec a few polls ago).

      Andrew's jumping the gun here.

    • I agree: Andrew see's one poll from one pollster, , and he's trying to use that to support his hypothesis of no fall election.

      There are other pollsters in Canada that show it neck and neck.. and certainly don't show the BQ at 50% in Quebec (and they also didnt show the Greens leading the province of Quebec a few polls ago).

      Andrew's jumping the gun here.

    • Yeah that's right. TWO co-called 'outliers' from TWO different polling firms in TWO weeks? I'm off to buy a lottery ticket. Before I go, just remember that polls are never wrong. Polls are only a representation of the people that they talked to. Of the 1000 people they talked to, this was how they responded. The polling firms don't make up these numbers, the numbers are generated after TALKING to people. The way some people talk you would think the polling firms are just whipping up whatever numbers they want.

      These polls are the voice of the people, at a given time. Much like a photograph, it's a look back in time. Just because that photo may not reflect how you think things look today, doesn't negate the content.

      In any case, Ekos comes out on Thursday, and if they show the Tories expanding their lead, what then? Call it another 'outlier'?

      • "polls are never wrong"

        Yes they can be. When they claim to represent a wider population, such as the voting public. Sampling methods can vary in their reliability. The survey instrument itself can be flawed in many ways. A poll done in a short time span, like this one, has a greater potential to miss too many potential responents, and thus not represent a truly random sample.

        There's more, and I'd be happy to suggest some reading, if you'd like.

        • No, polls cannot be wrong. 'Wrong' suggests that the data from the poll is not representative of the poll. Unless the pollster intentionally falsified the data, the poll can not be wrong. However, that does NOT necessarily mean that the poll is representative of the views of the general public. There is a huge difference between the two though.

          A poll can't be wrong. The people who were contacted for the poll actually feel the way they do. That makes the poll 'right' – unless you want to try and prove the pollster used fraud in publishing the results.

          Feel free to dispute whether the poll is representative of the general public, just don't say it is 'wrong'. It can't be.

          • Yes they can be wrong. Because *nobody* in the business puts out the results as standalone. They are always conducted and presented as representative of the whole. Who the hell cares what a thousand Canadians think, if they're simply a group who happened to answer the phone? If you must wring out a pedantic little victory, I will agree that pollsters don't fudge the results. But it's a bit like using a faulty thermometer to guage the temperature. It certainly will give you a number, in degrees, that is true to itself, and thus not "wrong" in some abstract philosophical sense. But so far as measuring the temperature, it's wrong, even if faithfully reported.

            And so far as the accuracy of what people "feel" being right every time, that's hardly a given. The construction of the survey instrument (questionnaire) involves issues of phrasing, order, and interviewer neutrality that can infect any poll. And can make them wrong, by any practical definition of the word.

            As for

          • Yes they can be wrong. Because *nobody* in the business puts out the results as standalone. They are always conducted and presented as representative of the whole. Who the hell cares what a thousand Canadians think, if they're simply a group who happened to answer the phone? If you must wring out a pedantic little victory, I will agree that pollsters don't fudge the results. But it's a bit like using a faulty thermometer to guage the temperature. It certainly will give you a number, in degrees, that is true to itself, and thus not "wrong" in some abstract philosophical sense. But so far as measuring the temperature, it's wrong, even if faithfully reported.

            And so far as the accuracy of what people "feel" being right every time, that's hardly a given. The construction of the survey instrument (questionnaire) involves issues of phrasing, order, and interviewer neutrality that can infect any poll. And can make them wrong, by any practical definition of the word.

          • Hmmm….Savant, meet Dennis.

          • If it's only accurate 19 out of 20 times, I don't think its far-fetched to say it's "wrong" 1 out of 20

      • Outlier or harbinger…that was the question then. If your Ekos scenario comes to pass then the weight of evidence starts to come down on the side of harbinger. But polls like tides rise and fall, the question is how high or how low and in each case, for how long.

        The Liberals still have to deal with the fact that the Con vote is highly motivated. While the Liberal vote has better morale attached to it now than under SD I really do wonder if they have fully recovered, and what would another setback do, what would more infighting caused by bad polls do? And is the rae Iggy schism, a continuation of the martin chretien wars, really resolved or just on smoulder till there is some fuel?

        • No need to wait for Ekos, it seems Nik Nanos has another poll that favours the Tories by 6 points. Unless, it too is another outlier. That would be three polls from three different polling firms in the last three weeks. But hey, anything is possible right?

      • I don't call (nor other Liberal bloggers who've mentioned this poll) the whole SC poll an outlier, Savant.. Just the Quebec portion of the SC poll. If their Quebec numbers were in line with other pollsters, they'd also be showing a virtual dead heat… which leaves Ipsos-Reid as the big outlier.

    • NEWS
      Campbell best-liked PM in 30 years: poll
      By Edison Stewart TORONTO STAR
      16 August 1993

      OTTAWA – Kim Campbell has the highest approval rating of any Canadian prime minister in 30 years, according to a Gallup poll.

      Slightly more than half of the respondents – 51 per cent – approve of how she is handling her job while only 22 per cent disapprove, the survey found.

      "Not since the days of Lester B. Pearson (who hit 56 per cent in 1963) has a Canadian prime minister received as high an approval rating as Kim Campbell does today," Gallup reported.

      The only other prime minister to receive a higher rating since 1957 was John Diefenbaker, who hit 52 per cent in 1959.

  4. I agree. It's just one poll. The Liberals' internal polling is telling them that they are still tied with the Conservatives, so I don't think this poll will change many minds.

  5. Gosh – someone with a particular narrative picking and choosing polls they like to support their view? Why, that's unheard of! Except of course over at your blog, Scott.

    • Do partisan bloggers cherry-pick polls for their partisan purposes? Sure… I'd like to think journalists don't however.

      The implication here seems to be from Andrew that the Liberals will see this one poll , get all quivery, and back down. That isn't going to happen. If there is no election, it will be due to the BQ and/or NDP not wanting one. not because the Liberals backed down.

    • Do partisan bloggers cherry-pick polls for their partisan purposes? Sure… I'd like to think journalists don't however.

      The implication here seems to be from Andrew that the Liberals will see this one poll , get all quivery, and back down. That isn't going to happen. If there is no election, it will be due to the BQ and/or NDP not wanting one. not because the Liberals backed down. (and if they do in the unlikely event back down , Iggy's credibility on this will be more shot-up then Dion's ever was due to the abstaining or leaving MP's home from votes or whatever.. .which is why I am pretty sure that scenario won't happen)

      • You're reading implications into a 6 word blog entry?

  6. The mistake in assuming Iggy is all in is that Canadians actually give a tinker over these things.

    Dion got accused of being "not a leader" not because he backeddown on election threats but all of his other issues, flip flops on policy inability to explain and the Liberals inability to present him properly.

    The only people it mattered to were insiders.

    It wont' matter if Iggy backs down. I think he needs to read the riot act to his party, dislodging the cons is more of a seige than a blitzkreig… He should limit his confidence votes to the traditional ones and spend his opposition days doing something constructive.

    Being a good opposition leader will make people, including his party, feel that he would be a good PM. Right now, he isn't being very good at some important aspects of his job. Threre are other ways other than threatening elections to hold the government to account, what would the Liberals do if the cons had a majority?

    MI needs at least another 6 months to 1 year to build himself up, learn how to be retail and let the government accumulate more baggage.

    • But you've gotten at the nub of the problem there — "being a good opposition leader." That's the problem with the Liberal Party of Canada — they cannot bear the thought of being in opposition. It seems to them to be contradictory to their DNA, a foul and unnatural state from which they must escape at the first opportunity. Thus their impatience. Moreover, the LPC still hasn't come to terms with the fact that (#1) unlike during the Trudeau years, they no longer own Quebec, and (2) unlike during the Chretien years, they are not running against a divided right. When I listen to LPC members & hacks talking, you can still see how they think that the Harper govt is this temprorary aberration from the Natural Order of Things. E.g., read Warren Kinsella's blog entries. They're full of that mentality. And they'd be better off without it.

  7. How much money do you have riding on a 2012 election ? It's too bad we don't have a Ladbrokes here. Hey, come to think of it, we allow every other type of gambling here, why don't you go on one of your free market tirades about allowing proper bookies here in Canuckistan ?

  8. They have to go for it anyway. They've crossed the Rubicon.

    The problem now is that the BQ will be less inclined to prop up Parliament since they stand to gain from the Libs in Quebec. If the NDP sticks to their past statements then the Libs have no safety net to protect them from their own non-confidence votes.

  9. The Libs have to go for it anyway. They've crossed the Rubicon.

    The problem now is that the BQ will be less inclined to prop up Parliament since they stand to gain from the Libs in Quebec. If the NDP sticks to their past statements then the Libs have no safety net to protect them from their own non-confidence votes.

  10. While I dont disagree that 2012 is a distinct possibility, I don't think it will go that long, I don't think anyone can stand the constant brinksmanship till then.

    If the opposition doesnt do it I think the Cons will pull the plug for a fall 2010 election, post G8 summit and post throne speech. So a year from now.

  11. You guys are looking at the wrong target for Ignatieff. Ignatieff doesn't need to win government to remain leader – he just has to gain at least 15 seats (which he would do even if the SC poll is correct). He can do so easily by winning something like 2006 levels of support (and he will likely do better than that). Either Ignatieff takes the grand prize and wins, or he gains seats, and positions himself well for election 2010/11, by which time the Conservatives will have to make unpopular spending cuts. The likelihood of Ignatieff gaining nothing is almost nil.

    • Exactly!! The person who is probably on his knees, praying that the election doesn't take place is Stephen Harper. He's the one who stands to lose his job here. Winning the next election won't save him from the wrath of his caucus. Harper must deliver a majority govt the next time around. Anything short of that will bring about a leadership challenge. Why do you think Kenney is jumping on every soap box avalaible to make himself heard? And he's not the only one sharpening his knives.

      Iggy may not win the next election but I doubt the Libs will want to go through yet another leadership contest. It is Harper who stands to lose the most from a fall election.

      • "Harper must deliver a majority govt the next time around."

        Wasn't that the theory last time? Seems to me that Conservatives just like being in government. It also seems like they enjoy being in government alot more than Liberals like being in opposition so the person who needs to watch their back if Harper wins (even if it's a minority) isn't Harper but Ignatieff. Especially since most Liberals still seem to believe Harper's 2006 win was all because of the sponsorship scandal and the only reason they didn't win in 2008 was because of Dion.

        • On what planet do we have caucuses embracing a leader that keeps them from ever reaching the "majority" promise land, I ask you? I do realize that the CPC caucus isn't known for keeping its leader's feet to the fire but they aren't all sheep.

          Honest question: How many more chances does Harper get from this caucus? At what point do they admit to themselves that Harper just might be the reason why they can never reach majority status?

          • A planet, or country, where even a Liberal majority is difficult (with the Bloc in Quebec, and a merged Conservative party in Ontario, the Liberals haven't really gotten close) and the prospect of replacing a prime minister while still in office is risky at best.

          • Let me see if I understand this…

            You are telling me that should Harper win another minority, that even though this would be his third kick at the can and everything pretty much demonstrates that Harper just might be the party's biggest impediment in obtaining the said majority…You are telling me that in spite of all of this, the CPC caucus will remain faithful to its leader?

            Then perhaps I am wrong and they are indeed all sheep.

          • Repeating the same talking point over and over again doesn't make it right.

            Are you of the belief that successive majorities are in reach of any political leader now with any political party?

            While I agree that another Harper minority might result in rumblings within party ranks, that's a long way from deciding to turf a sitting prime minister who will have in fact won three elections in a row, in an economic landscape ripe for minorities.

          • "While I agree that another Harper minority might result in rumblings within party ranks, that's a long way from deciding to turf a sitting prime minister who will have in fact won three elections in a row, in an economic landscape ripe for minorities."

            But Dennis, the rumblings are already taking place or have you not been paying attention? Only a hardcore Harperite would suggest that Harper's inability to muster a majority must mean that a majority is simply not attainable. That is utter nonsense! I am suggesting to you that had the CPC had anyone ANYONE other than Harper in the last election against Stephane Dion, the CPC would have gotten its majority. Canadians are keeping the CPC in minority standing for one reason and one reason only:

            Stephen Harper.

          • lol, you can keep suggesting the same thing over and over again as much as you want. Not sure what your motivation is. But the idea that anyone but Harper could have led the CPC to a majority is, quite frankly, idiotic, and suggests to me that your motivations are in fact not sincere, or your understanding of politics is juvenile.

          • Off the top of my head, Jean Charest could probably deliver a majority.

            By the way, is it at all possible that you could treat the posters on this website with some respect? Just because someone else has a different idea than you is not cause for calling that idea idiotic. It is your behavior on this website that is juvenile.

          • I don't think a third minority for Harper would be his last term due to the party faithful losing faith, I think a third minority for Harper would be his last term because the national consciousness will get bored of the "Conservative minority" narrative and long to change the channel.

          • I agree PolJunkie. CPC members are just as hungry for the good ole days of Mulroney majorities as LPC. I'm also amazed that Harper gets the kudoos for bringing the right together when in my opinion it was Peter McKay's folly for giving up the chance to be a minority PM (not that he would have been any better or worse a PM).

            A Harper Minority= Leadership review

          • And I'm trying to understand why I have yet to see a column or news item on this matter. As someone above stated, Iggy can afford to lose the next election. He just needs to increase the seat count. Seems plain as day to me that the one who ought to be doing everything in his power to avoid going to the polls this fall is Harper.

          • "On what planet do we have caucuses embracing a leader that keeps them from ever reaching the "majority" promise land, I ask you?"

            The one where the leader keeps the respective party in power. Sure, the Conservatives would probably like a majority but they'll accept staying in government and, more to the point, keeping the Liberals out of it. Is it really that difficult to understand?

          • I think there would be some movement in the vote if Harper wasn't at the helm. Many former conservatives have stated in these forums that they would vote for the CPC but for Harper. The man has a way of irritating a lot of Canadians – conservatives included.

          • It appears as though the Liberal justification for subjecting Canadians to a fourth election in five years is the hope that Conservatives would be stupid enough to turf one of their own sitting prime ministers if another minority victory was achieved. Lovely. This is the big Iggy vision, is it?

          • You're assuming that I'm a Liberal. I'm not and I can't speak to the big Iggy vision. This was merely my own observation and humble opinion. Now the question is, how many Conservatives will not vote for the party because of him?

          • Well, you seem to have an agenda that has nothing to do with discussing the issue genuinely. You've come on here thumping a certain talking point, and seem intent on doing it endlessly.

          • Dennis, I made one comment up to this point, how is that "endlessly"? I made one other comment further down about how some of my friends feel about Harper at the helm. How many comments have you made with your certain talking points?

          • True, but not necessarily to the advantage of the CPC. People always like the idea of a fresh face leading the party. The only problem is that most people do not have the same vision of who that person is or what their policies will be. So while it may be true that a Jean Charest-led CPC would clean up in Quebec where Harper failed to win his majority, it could lose the rather solid lock the party has had in Western Canada in recent elections. Other potential leaders have similar risks (a western-based leader may have limited appeal in Quebec where the party needs to grow).

            Basically, Harper will not face a serious leadership challenge in the short to medium term as long as he keeps winning because none of the current frontrunners for his job can credibly claim to deliver a majority and while people may not like Harper, at the end of the day, he still wins elections which means most Conservatives will put up with him.

          • You're probably right, but he has many disgruntled Conservatives to contend with – some of the old Conservatives that have a hard time stomaching his style and methods, and some of the old reformers who think he's sold his soul to the devil.

          • "Sure, the Conservatives would probably like a majority but they'll accept staying in government and, more to the point, keeping the Liberals out of it. Is it really that difficult to understand? "

            Spoken like a true Harperite suffering from perpetual opposition-itis. So the whole purpose of the CPC is not to obtain a majority and implement its agenda with a free hand but simply to keep the Liberals in power?

            You are right, sbt. If this is truly how the Tory caucus sees things, Harper's got nothing to worry about.

          • "Sure, the Conservatives would probably like a majority but they'll accept staying in government and, more to the point, keeping the Liberals out of it. Is it really that difficult to understand? "

            Spoken like a true Harperite suffering from perpetual opposition-itis. So the whole purpose of the CPC is not to obtain a majority and implement its agenda with a free hand but simply to keep the Liberals out of power?

            You are right, sbt. If this is truly how the Tory caucus sees things, Harper's got nothing to worry about.

          • "So the whole purpose of the CPC is not to obtain a majority and implement its agenda with a free hand but simply to keep the Liberals out of power?"

            The purpose of any party is to implement ones agenda, majority or not. A big part of implementing ones agenda is being in power (and, as a result, keeping the other parties out of power). While Harper doesn't have a carte blanche he still has the opportunity to advance parts of his agenda while preventing other opposition parties from implementing their agenda. Most Liberals would gladly switch positions with the Conservatives which is why they want an election, right?

            "Spoken like a true Harperite suffering from perpetual opposition-itis."

            It's not really about being a Harperite, it's about being realistic. Which, when push comes to shove, most Conservatives probably will be. If the Liberals want to get rid of Harper they'll have to beat him in an election. They shouldn't sit around and wait for the Conservatives to do it for them.

          • "While Harper doesn't have a carte blanche he still has the opportunity to advance parts of his agenda while preventing other opposition parties from implementing their agenda."

            Oh really? Sure could've fooled me with that last "conservative" federal budget.

          • IMHO, there's little reason to believe that the budget would have been much different if he had had a majority. None of the provinces led by nominally right-leaning governments produced a budget full of cuts in order to cover budget shortfalls. That's just my opinion, though. You could have chosen plenty of other examples of him not being conservative and I could point to examples where he was and to liberal policies that have not been implemented because the Conservatives are in power. At the end of the day, that's what we get with minority government and, I think, on the whole, Harper has been a net positive for conservatives. Of course, some expect more but generally I'd say they are pretty content for the moment.

            In getting back to our original debating point, I think we both agree that the easiest and most satisfying way for the Liberals to get rid of Harper is to beat him in an election, I just don't necessarily think Harper is gone if he doesn't win a majority. On that point, we'll have to agree to disagree and all that. Cheers.

          • Question: Would the Conservatives have created a stimulus package if they had a majority?

          • Wouldn't they kind of had too? They were making promises at international summits to stimulate up to 2% of GDP. Conservatives, including Harper, had laid the groundwork for unpopular decisions at the Conservative convention talking about the need for "pragmatism" in the year ahead well before the fiscal update and the opposition got its act together. The minority situation has arguably made Harper's life easier with his base through this recession. He gets to blame alot of decisions that are necessary, unpopular and that he probably would have made anyway on other people instead of wearing it all by himself.

          • I agree that Harper would likely have set a pragmatic course even with a majority. However, given the fact that these stimulus packages don't seem to do what they're supposed to do, which is to stimulate economies out of a current recession, rather than pour money in after the fact, it's interesting to speculate about what could have been, isn't it? The economy recovering itself without massive government intervention, which is what small government conservatives believe, and thus not engaging in the kind of huge deficit spending that liberals think is necessary , then complain about when the bill comes in – at least when they're not in power.

            In theory, at least, the conservatives might have been able to get away with this approach at the very front-end of a majority mandate, and with an ensuing recovery in their back pockets.

      • In the friendliest sense possible: are you nuts? If Harper can deliver yet another minority win, in an era where a majority is all but impossible, and where he can almost single-handedly claim credit for bringing the Conservatives back in from the wilderness, just what will the substantive complaint be?

        • That minority status has not allowed the Conservative Party of Canada to implement anything like a conservative agenda, even if Harper was willing to do so. That the Conservative Party of Canada, made up mainly of the remnants of the Reform Party, has had to twist itself into ideological pretzels to gain and hold onto power. They can't hold the pretzel position indefinitely. Conservatives didn't knock on doors for candidates and give their money over to the party so that Harper could incur the biggest deficit in Canadian history. Politicians may love power, but they put up with all the abuse because they genuinely believe in something (shock, horror) and want to see that something implemented. If Harper loses seats in the next election, his leadership is doomed.

          • "That minority status has not allowed the Conservative Party of Canada to implement anything like a conservative agenda…"

            Bingo! Which means it's very hard to accuse Harper of failing on that front. If anything, he might have more wolves to keep at bay if he were running a majority show, since there would be vocal rumblings to get on with the complete destruction of the country – er, I mean vigorously implement conservative policies.

          • I think the Conservative party would be stupid to dump Harper even if he loses seats but holds a minority government. Just don't see anyone else like Prentice coming in and being able to navigate the party clinging to a thread in a Parliament full of anti-Conservative sharks, or even big guppies. I think you keep Harper until he's no longer PM. Period.

  12. Let's see. Barbara Yaffe says that Iggy wants to expand the G-8 into the G-20 in order to show that Canada leads the world by example and makes us all proud.. OK. In other words, Iggy wants Canada to dilute its presence in the G-8. I find it difficult to believe how this is a "big idea" that will translate into votes on main street.

    I remember bureaucrats asking Paul Martin why he was so keen to expand the G-7 finance ministers' meetings into a G-20 when Canada's voice would be further diluted than it already is in international fora.

    While I agree that we should bring China, India, and others into the global dialogue, we should not be so naive as to think that Canada's voice will not continue to shrink, as it has done for the past twenty years under both Liberal and Tory governments. This is not a sign of "small thinking" on the part of the Harper government. Rather, it is a sign that other countries are growing more rapidly and have been doing since well before 2006 when the Liberals lost power.

  13. No election?

  14. For those who think these elections don't make any difference, before the last election, Harper was:

    Cutting taxes in the most stupid way possible (GST);
    Attacking cultural institutions Canada-wide;
    Vowing to stay in Afghanistan forever if needed;
    Telling municipalities to like it or lump it on infrastructure funding, and saying he wouldn't fill Senate appointments until the provinces provided elected candidates.

    During/post-election, he:

    Unequivocally set a date for withdrawal from Afghanistan
    Began distributing infrastructure funds without strings (enough that FCM approves)
    Started providing funds to festival and cultural institutions in the form of stimulus
    Drafted a rebate program based on home renovation (I think it should have been attached to energy conservation, but in any case the housing stock in Canada will have improved).
    Restocked the Senate.

    In other words an election and the ongoing threat of an election (coalition) wrought these compromises from a hyper partisan leader where parliament could not. To me this is evidence that the election last fall has prevented a hard shift to the right that Canadians don't want.

  15. Andrew Coyne, you will rue your words!!!!

    • Paul,
      Andrew may be right about an election in 2012. That doesn't mean we won't have one in 2009 as well.

    • Paul,
      Andrew may be right about an election in 2012. That doesn't mean we won't have one in 2009 as well…yeah…yeah.. I know about the bet between you two

  16. NEWS
    Campbell best-liked PM in 30 years: poll
    By Edison Stewart TORONTO STAR
    16 August 1993

    OTTAWA – Kim Campbell has the highest approval rating of any Canadian prime minister in 30 years, according to a Gallup poll.

    Slightly more than half of the respondents – 51 per cent – approve of how she is handling her job while only 22 per cent disapprove, the survey found.

    "Not since the days of Lester B. Pearson (who hit 56 per cent in 1963) has a Canadian prime minister received as high an approval rating as Kim Campbell does today," Gallup reported.

    The only other prime minister to receive a higher rating since 1957 was John Diefenbaker, who hit 52 per cent in 1959.

    • Just post a link to Kinsella's site, why dontcha.

    • Rich Little highest polling numbers for the favourite prime minister we never had

      Seems he polled huge in both the over 65 demographic: "I loved that bit he did with …"
      AND in the under 30: "Yeah, never heard of him, guess he must have been better than the turkeys we have now"

  17. I guess no one at the Globe told Lawrence Martin about this poll. As I write over at my own recently resuscitated blog (yeah, I know, shameless plug :P), can't figure out how people like Martin think Iggy can actually win an upcoming election. I just don't think the seat count is there for him.

    • Well, it might have something to do with the fact that Lawrence Martin is a Liberal Party of Canada shill masquerading as a (not very good) journalist.

      • Yeah, L. Ian Macdonald is waaaaay better.

  18. Bad economic times are the best weapon the opposition has for topping the government. The dropping stock market last September/October is the reason that the Conservatives had a minority and not a majority; a bad economy is why Bush Sr. didn't get re-elected despite a victorious war, and it's also the reason why Kim Cambell got bounced from office.

    So, with that in mind, the somewhat optimistic recent economic data may we worrying for the top Liberals. They may think: "OK, well, if we don't have the election now, this Autumn, then we have to wait until after the Winter Olympics. The country will be possibly coming off a nice emotional high, who knows, maybe a hockey gold medal. And next summer's construction season (right afterwards) is when much of the stimulus funds will be actually spent, and the economy will start to pick up again, and everyone will be feeling happy, and that's not a good time to try to bring down the government. Better do it now when things are still in bad shape, and people are upset."

    • Well, my reply to that kind of thinking is that, even during good economic times, voters can get sick and tired of incumbent governments, or their offspring. Which explains how Al Gore and Ernie Eves lost, as just two examples.

      Now, for that to happen here, Iggy would have to let Harp govern for a while – and hope the latter doesn't jump the gun before that. But even if he did jump the gun, he could get punished because, well, voters would be sick of him.

  19. At the risk of seeming stodgy, I think this whole debate is a bit off kilter.

    1. If there's an election called, it should be the result of Harper losing an confidence vote. Since he only needs the help of MPs from one party, an election would be a pretty big failure on his part. Is there not a single cookie he can toss to a single party on a single confidence motion? (Notwithstanding the fact that Harper convinced the GG to call an election despite there not having been any confidence vote … which was, um, dodgy.)

    2. All Iggy has to do is look pretty reasonable and pick up more seats than Dion did. If half of the 850,000 Liberals who sat at home last time show up, he'll certainly do that (if he betters Martin's anaemic performance, he might even get a minority). It took Harper two bites at the apple to win a minority, and Iggy might reasonably be expected to fair better than Mr. Chessmaster did in his first run. Also, 168,000 fewer Conservatives rallied to the barricades in the last election. Can Harper motivate them to return?

    3. Given that Gilles thinks he can beat the Liberals in Quebec, shouldn't most of our attention be on Jack — not Iggy? If Layton finds himself in a federal election this fall, after the NDP spent a lot energy on a runs in BC and Nova Scotia and is also facing the prospect of replacing Mr. Doer in Manitoba, his band may sound a little ratty in a Federal concert. More ominously, he may be leading the NDP to its 7th consecutive 4th place finish. Can you image — seven times out of the medals? What are the odds on Jack finding, deep inside his bosom, the ability to get along with Mr. Harper "for the good of the country" — and for the preservation of his own party leadership?

    Basically, while most of the commentary has been about Iggy v. Harper, I think he's only the third most important leader in this election-call debate (after Harper and Layton).

    • In other words, there's a whole lot of things that have to go right for Iggy, along with a lot of twisting and turning, in order for him to win an election, right?

      Again, a I write in my own blog, how exactly does Iggy make up a 66 seat difference from Harper in order to win minority government?

      Or does he need an unelected coalition to do it?

  20. Liberals (such as Kinsella) seem to assume that it is automatic that they will pick up many of the 825,000 votes of Liberals who sat on their behinds in the last election. What they forget is that last time many centrist Liberals stayed home. This time many left-wing Liberals may stay home because of MI's views on Afghanistan, etc. In other words, I think they are counting votes that may not be there.

    • A related point is that, unlike the last election, the Liberals cannot automatically assume that a whole bunch of pro-environmental votes are going to come their way. The Green Shift is now commonly seen as a big net vote loser for the Liberals, but among left-leaning voters, I'm willing to bet that it was a winner last time out. This one could be a real free-for-all among the Liberals, Dippers, Greens & BQ to see who gets the lefty votes, and who gets the greenie votes.

      • "A related point is that, unlike the last election, the Liberals cannot automatically assume that a whole bunch of pro-environmental votes are going to come their way. "

        This is a good point. Iggy's support for the oil sands, which, incidentally, is a principled position for which I give him credit, will unlikely earn him seats in Alberta where voters still resent the coalition. However, it could well lose him votes amog Greens and Quebeckers.

        • Honest questions: Is there much potential migration from Greens to Libs? And is there really a pro-environment vote in Canada?

  21. Liberals (such as Kinsella) seem to assume that it is automatic that they will pick up many of the 825,000 votes who sat on their behinds in the last election. What they forget is that last time many centrist Liberals stayed home. This time many left-wing Liberals may stay home because of MI's views on Afghanistan, etc. In other words, I think they are counting votes that may not be there.

  22. Defund the lesser parties ( all parties )and let's get on with it . If there is an election , any thoughts on the debate makeup ?

    Mine for free . Anything other than Ignatieff vs Harper shows how idiotic this whole process has become .

  23. Well, contrary to the attempt by some here to suggest that it's the Tory caucus that's divided, John Ivison reports on real and current divisions among Liberals regarding the sanity of Iggy's latest gambit.

    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomm

    And, surprise, surprise, the greatest doubt even among Liberal MP's is this: Why? Why exactly are we having an election now? Iggy hasn't put forth a vision, except to suggest "wait and see."

    • Right, because we all know that the National Post offers nothing but fair and honest journalism from its opinion writers… *eye roll*

      The newspaper prints one op-ed piece, often from an independent writer, that isn't some sort of Conservative apologist piece maybe once or twice a month. It's often on a topic that has little to do with the current political scene, and it's always in the back. Don't get me wrong, sometimes the apologists pieces make sense and are warranted, but regardless of an article's quality, it's always in favour of the Cons at the Post.

    • whatever, water long under the bridge and a non starter at any rate, just leftist hail Mary's.

      • No "do over" required. The GG called the election and its really her right to do it anytime she receives that advice from the PM, so would argue its her duty to follow that advice, but thats another thread.

        It is an unworkable law in minority parliament, because it only applies to one side. You heard Dion, and now you hear Iggy talking about when THEY want an election, which leads to an undisciplined opposition in my estimation.

        In a majority situation, I am more open to the law…although I have my issues with it even then, since it leads to a longer election cycle, ie they start ramping up etc. Chretien took it to a place it probably shouldnt have gone, and he almost got punished for it. Petersen did the same thing and DID get pu nished for it. I am more inclined to call it a dumb and unecessary law. I like Duff, but sometimes he can't see the forest for the trees.

  24. In just over twelve hours, a seven-word post has elicited 76 comments and counting. Wonder if any other post beats that 10-to-one ratio.

    • It's been almost a year since an election. We're like sailors on shore leave – any excuse…

  25. If you want to vote for a liberal party, vote NDP.
    If you want to vote for a conservative party, vote Liberal.
    If you want to vote for a socialist party, vote Conservative.

  26. "Gosh. Which anonymous Liberals to believe?"

    Andrew, clearly you need your very own anonymous Liberal. Looks like they are marked down for "Back To School"

    Seriously, whatever happened to both sides ensuring that anonymous sources needed at least one back up and confirmation….its just gossip otherwise.

    Maybe if the national media, you know the ones that arent just bloggers but allegedly real reporters, gave its readership some reason to believe this has actually been investigated from multiple angles we could really learn something. I dont see any difference between the weight of the information these columnists provide and what I would read on anyone of a number of blogs.

    Will Macleans vow to honour the confirmed anonymous source rule…maybe even make a policy statement about how you use anonymous sources, why they are anonymous and when you will refuse to maintain anonymity. Give us a reason to at least believe Macleans.

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