You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? - Macleans.ca
 

You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Layton doesn’t have to outbluff Harper. He just has to outbluff Iggy.


 

Well you could knock me over with a feather: the Liberals will no longer support the government. Imagine that — an opposition party that opposes. Mind you, he didn’t actually say the Liberals would vote to defeat the government. Only that they would not support them. Still, let’s suppose the Liberals really will show up to vote in numbers sufficient to defeat the government, when the time comes.

That certainly seems to be the general supposition: This time they really mean it. An election now is all but certain. Etc. etc. And the reviews have not been kind…

Canada to pay the price for Ignatieff’s needs
Ignatieff’s folly
Liberals reading from a familiar script
He couldn’t have picked a worse time It’s all about vanity Ignatieff will lose if he can’t justify trip to the polls

Etc. etc.

I’d agree that Ignatieff would be a fool to force an election, for all the reasons that others are offering: It’s been less than a year since the last election. The public’s in no mood for one. The Liberals don’t have an issue to fight on. They’re not doing terribly well in the polls. The party still has some rebuilding to do. Etc. etc.

In fact, Liberals themselves were saying all these things until yesterday. So let’s consider the possibility that Iggy is not quite such a fool as all that — in other words, that the Grits have no desire for an election, and no intention of forcing one. As, of course, they can’t: for the hundredth time, you need all three opposition parties voting together to defeat the government.

And if there is one party that wants an election even less than the Grits, I’d wager, it’s the NDP. They’ve just come off two provincial election campaigns in BC and Nova Scotia. They’re headed into an important leadership campaign in Manitoba. Their poll numbers are sagging. They’re in no shape to fight an election. Possibly Ignatieff has noticed this.

And that’s what this is about: shifiting the focus off the Liberals, and onto the NDP.

The Dippers had great sport over the last couple of years advertising their eagerness to defeat the government and fight an election. And why not? They knew they’d never have to make good on their boasts, because they knew the Liberals didn’t have the stomach for it. And because the NDP always seemed to get to the mikes first, whenever the occasion arose, to declare their firm intention to vote against the government, the spotlight always fell on the Grits. Are you going to defeat the government, the press would ask? Well, are you? And whoever was Liberal leader would dither, and stall, and stare at his shoes, before finally confessing: er, no, actually.

So this time the Liberals are getting out of the blocks first. By commiting themselves to vote against the government — sorry, to no longer support the government — they hope to put the onus on the NDP (the Bloc is always ready to fight an election, with 86% of its expenses paid for by the taxpayer) to decide whether the government lives or dies. More particularly, they expect the NDP to cave, and spare them having to make good on their boast, in a reverse of their previous roles.

It’s a pretty good gambit — if you don’t want an election, tell the world how much you do. Si vis pacem, para bellum. They can spend the next month thumping their chests, riling up their supporters, rallying the anti-Conservative vote to their side. The only problem is: it’s a bluff, and everyone knows it. Possibly that’s why the Grits are being so public about it — to block their own retreat. The more they trumpet their eagerness for an election, the more humiliating any belated capitulation would be, and the more unlikely it becomes.

Unlikely, but not impossible. Or so the NDP may calculate. We look to be headed for an intriguing three-way game of chicken. The NDP and the Conservatives will now make a show of negotiating, but there’s no guarantees of what will happen. As of now, I’d say Harper has the strongest bargaining position, in the sense that he has least to fear from a fall election, and may even want one — to get it out of the way before next spring’s budget, which will have to impose some pretty severe spending cuts if we’re to rein in these runaway deficits.

So if you’re Harper, you probably offer some fairly desultory concessions, and see if the NDP picks them up. If they do, fine: the longer you’re Prime Minister, the longer you’re Prime Minister. If not, you take the high road into an election: “I offered the NDP the hand of cooperation, and yet they refused…”

But maybe Layton plays a little hardball of his own — not so much with Harper, as with Ignatieff. That is, he refuses Harper’s offer — or makes it known that he will, or that he might — and watches how Ignatieff squirms. Maybe he calculates Ignatieff’s all bluff — that he’ll fold, if called.

It’s a bit like that old joke about the two guys in the woods, who see a bear. You know: the one guy puts on his running shoes; the other guy says what are you doing, you can’t outrun a bear; the first guy says I don’t have to outrun him, I just have to outrun you. Layton doesn’t have to outbluff Harper. He just has to outbluff Iggy.

Maybe he’s right. But if he’s wrong — or if Iggy’s wrong about him — we go to the polls…


 

You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

  1. Wow Coyne. Fishing for a senate appointment? Macleans not paying you enough?

    • Little Lord Fauntleroy doesn't get paid. Salaries are for little people.

    • Little Lord Fauntleroy doesn't get paid. Salaries are for little people.

  2. I'll note most of those headlines you trumpeted up there were either from the national Post or the Calgary Herald.. and Angelo Perschelli has been a critic of the Liberals for the most part since the last couple of years.. snd with all due respect.. I'm not too concerned with the views of the national Post or Calgary Herald.

  3. LOL!

    The National Post and Calgary Herald.

    your research monkey quit, or what?

  4. I'll note most of those headlines you trumpeted up there were either from the national Post or the Calgary Herald.. and Angelo Perschelli has been a critic of the Liberals for the most part since the last couple of years.. and with all due respect.. I'm not too concerned with the views of the (sorta) National Post or Calgary Herald and what they consider to be bad. The last folks I'd want the Liberals to take advice from are those 2 publications.

  5. I'll note most of those headlines you trumpeted up there were either from the national Post or the Calgary Herald.. and Angelo Perschelli has been a critic of the Liberals for the most part since the last couple of years.. and with all due respect.. I'm not too concerned with the views of the national Post or Calgary Herald and what they consider to be bad. The last folks I'd want the Liberals to take advice from are those 2 publications.

  6. And the reviews that "have not been kind" consist of 3 National Post articles, 2 in the Calgary Herald and one op-ed piece from an independent observer in the Toronto Star. Nice selective reading there, Andrew!

    • Dee, can you find a review that HAS been kind ?

      • Well, to be fair, the posting by Andrew Coyne that you are commenting on. As he points out above he is indeed "defending Iggy", to some degree: "It's a pretty good gambit — if you don't want an election, tell the world how much you do."

        Andrew's National Post and Calgary Herald subscriptions aside, it's clear that Iggy really has no choice but to attempt to put the Conservative government out of its' misery. If the Conservatives don't find a band of "socialists" or "separatists" to prop them up, and if the Liberals can convince Canadians that they will put an end to the last three years of incompetence, mismanagement and political instability, Canada will have a Liberal government by Christmas. But these are certainly both big "ifs".

        • …and if pigs fly, we will be granted a directionless and incompetent government headed by a visitor from America leading a party with no particular redeeming qualities.

          • Tom Flanagan for PM?

          • Well scf, that's actually the kind of government we have now, except for the purported "visitor from America". We currently have a PM who once described his own country as the following: "Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status…" What a patriot, eh?

          • That quote has been repeated a gazillion times by partisans like you. Big deal. He was correct, because he said it when the corrupt Liberals were in power. Fortunately, we've been able to turn things around since 2006.

          • You clearly haven't been following Canadian economic news very closely since 2006. We aren't doing all that well, at the moment. We used to have federal budget surpluses now we're running up ever more debt. Why? Global economic problems as well as incompetent management by the Conservatives (cutting the GST for e.g.).

            If there is an election in 2009, the primary question should be: "Do you feel you are better off than you were in 2006, when the Conservatives came to power?" Most Canadians will answer "no" to this at the ballot box.

    • But if you're considering the what ifs and worst possible scenarios of a potential election, don't you want to suss out some of the things your adversaries are going to say about you? Like, in order to be prepared?
      And, were there many morning editions today that rushed out to clap MI on the back and urge him to go out and force an election at his first opportunity? I mean, I think it's a great idea because I love elections, but I think lots of things are great ideas, even when they aren't.

  7. LOL!

    The National Post and Calgary Herald.

    your research monkey quit, or what?

    only thing that keeps us from going to the polls is a lumber bailout package.

    • I know, when I looked at those 'reviews', I laughed. They are all 'Fox News' reports.

    • It's as good a reason as any. If we're going to throw money at the car companies why not the lumber industry?

      • Well,

        At the risk of preventing Steve from screwing up again, there is the whole Lumber Coalition thing.

  8. I'll note most of those headlines you trumpeted up there were either from the (sorta) National Post or the Calgary Herald.. and Angelo Perschelli has been a critic of the Liberals for the most part since the last couple of years.. and with all due respect.. I'm not too concerned with the views of the (sorta) National Post or Calgary Herald and what they consider to be bad. The last folks I'd want the Liberals to take advice from are those 2 publications – all they're doing is playing to their "base" and concern-trolling.

  9. I'll note most of those headlines you trumpeted up there were either from the national Post or the Calgary Herald.. and Angelo Perschelli has been a critic of the Liberals for the most part since the last couple of years.. and with all due respect.. I'm not too concerned with the views of the (sorta) National Post or Calgary Herald and what they consider to be bad. The last folks I'd want the Liberals to take advice from are those 2 publications – all they're doing is playing to their "base" and concern-trolling.

  10. Good post. How sad. This is politics? If there's an election, my prediction: voter turnout below 50% (a first, Federally?).

  11. I'll note most of those headlines you trumpeted up there were either from the (sorta) National Post or the Calgary Herald.. and Angelo Perschelli has been a critic of the Liberals for the most part since the last couple of years, With all due respect, I'm not too concerned with the views of the (sorta) National Post or Calgary Herald and what they consider to be bad. The last folks I'd want the Liberals to take advice from are those 2 publications – all they're doing is playing to their "base" and concern-trolling.

    • Scott: from a little known eastern newspaper…..
      Toronto Star.com poll

      After almost nine months as federal Liberal leader how would you rate Michael Ignatieff´s performance?
      Better than expected: 378 12%
      As expected 981 31%
      Better than expected 1725 55%

      • Oh brother.. like an online poll is supposed to convince me I'm in the wrong? What Richard said below: If the Blogging Tories and the Conservative Kool-Aid dribkers are good at anything, its Freeping online polls – particularly at liberal papers.

      • Oh brother.. like an online poll is supposed to convince me I'm in the wrong? What Richard said below: If the Blogging Tories and the Conservative Kool-Aid drinkers are good at anything, its Freeping online polls – particularly at liberal papers.

      • Oh brother.. like an online poll is supposed to convince me I'm in the wrong? What Richard said above: If the Blogging Tories and the Conservative Kool-Aid drinkers are good at anything, its Freeping online polls – particularly at liberal papers.

    • I Agree, Trying to follow in Duffy's footsteps to an easy pension, starting now

  12. Oh for heaven's sake: Can we get past the second graf? The point is I'm defending Iggy

    • That's beside the point. You didn't flatter Iggy enough to appease the Liberal partisans here, hence the whinging and accusations of bias.

      • No, the point is that making a general statement saying "the reviews have no been kind" in the media should consist of more then 2 conservative leaning newspapers before making that statement.

        • That's what Dee said. Is there an echo?

    • I think you are right, Andrew and I think Layton will lay out his price and it will be take it or leave it. Duceppe appears to be headed in the same direction. Then they can say to their bases "We tried, but the Tories wouldn't work with us". The Tories can tell their base, "We would not bend to the socialists and separatists". And the Liberals can say "We always wanted an election." if it (as is likely) falls apart.

    • sorry

      I just thought it was funny is all. Mind you, good choice of papers if you were trying to save time.

      • On the other hand, a good choice of papers would be nice.

        • Don't you think his job is tough enough?

    • Your flattery would come off easier if you didn't bitch slap Layton(and by extension the Liberals) in the same hand stroke.

  13. Well one of the Posties was Don Martin…hardly a Conservative apologist. And do you object to the inclusion of the Star?

    Good post Andrew, you nailed it. Nothing happened this summer that would justify withdrawing confidence now, especially after the way Ignatieff caved only a few months ago when he had another chance to force an election. Since then the economy has stabilized and there have been no scandals worthy of defeating the government. This is one of the most obvious examples of an election call based solely on a naked power grab.

  14. Well one of the Posties was Don Martin…hardly a Conservative apologist. And do you object to the inclusion of the Star?

    Good post Andrew, you nailed it. Nothing happened this summer that would justify withdrawing confidence now, especially after the way Ignatieff caved only a few months ago when he had another chance to force an election. Since then the economy has stabilized and there have been no scandals worthy of defeating the government. This is one of the most obvious examples of an election call based solely on a naked power grab, and people will see through it.

    • "This is one of the most obvious examples of an election call based solely on a naked power grab…"

      Second only to last fall? :)

      • No, that was a naked power retain. :)

    • Yawn. Poor Andrew, now getting the thumbs up from the CON-bot muppet. Is there no one who saw his point — he was kinda thinking Ignatieff did a right (as in correct for being the opposition leader) thing. I mean, with all that circumstantial evidence that Harper was just as concillatory an opposition leader as he has been a so-called leader, its hard to square the muppet circle. Maybe you should just go back to egging Davey Akins' car…

    • "Well one of the Posties was Don Martin…hardly a Conservative apologist.."

      More unintentional irony.

    • There have been plenty of reasons to withdraw confidence, just nothing above and beyond the reasons that already existed to withdraw confidence. Then again, if this qualifies of a power grab, what do you call the election last year?

  15. Interesting theory but I don't think it's a bluff. I'm not saying Ignatieff wouldn't be just as happy not to have to go into an election if the NDP suddently flip flops and supports the enemy but I think Ignatieff has a good shot at winning. Remember that Harper voted down the Liberal government twice and the polls were not good for the Conservatives (at least not good enough to safely say Harper would win). He lost the first time and won a slim minority government his second time around. The majority of Canadians didn't want an election and he wasn't punished for it. Also, we all remember Harper breaking his own election 'law' and calling one last year just before the recession. He wasn't punished by the electorate for that either. If the Liberals do launch their million dollar ad campaign shortly, we'll know they are not necessarily bluffing. Who knows, but I think they are finally serious and by their own internal polling, they think they can win a minority….

    • I don't think he's bluffing either

      Seems to me now is as good a time as any. It's not like Harper's doing anything that special. I mean, really. How much headway can you make being the doormat?

    • Nice theory but Harper only voted the Grits down once. PMPM called the 2004 election all on his own.

      But here's the thing. Harper, Layton and Duceppe all know how this game is played: Harper doubly so because he tried to take down Martin in the spring of 05 and came up short. Iggy's the newby trying to play at the big table. Andrew might be right about Layton not wanting an election, owing to a lack of scratch, but I'd hazard a guess that Smiling Jack wouldn't be all that upset by another trip to the polls. He's a media hog from way back and elections are the only time he gets treated as an equal by the media. Besides he no doubt knows that his next campaign will be his last. No doubt all the leaders know that the next campaign might be their last, all except Iggy. His advisors are convinced that, even if he doesn't win, he will be able to carry on as leader. Of course Dion thought that too, but he was wrong. If Iggy grabs for the golden ring and misses, Bob and the boyos will have the knives ready. Of course Iggy doesn't see this, which makes the game all the more interesting to watch.

      • It seems to be about changing the tenor and perception, which is likely a good thing. Harper has been in control of both during the past few years (and could again fire back with a ways-and-means bill, but that may just be a self-inflicted gambit of another day) so Ignatieff is advancing his own gameplan within a circle of 'we're finished.' Canadians who don't want an election but will vote are just as equally split on what they'll vote for when it comes down to it. A convincing message from either side (and the CONs appear to only know how to trash talk and not upsell their own assets, if any) could just as likely put wind in Ignatieff's sails as Harper's…

  16. Andrew, how do you square your sarcasm – "Imagine that — an opposition party that opposes"
    with your assertion – "Ignatieff would be a fool to force an election"

    (a) How is Ignatieff (alone) forcing an election?
    (b) If he's a fool to force an election, and he's a fool not to oppose the government, what would it take, in your esteemed view, for Ignatieff not to be a fool?

    • Did you read the whole column? I'm not employed as Coyne-to-English interpreter but he addresses both your points in the article:

      "So let's consider the possibility that Iggy is not quite such a fool as all that — in other words, that the Grits have no desire for an election, and no intention of forcing one. As, of course, they can't: for the hundredth time, you need all three opposition parties voting together to defeat the government.

    • Did you read the whole column? I'm not employed as Coyne-to-English interpreter but he addresses both your points in the article — in fact, pretty much in a single paragraph:

      "So let's consider the possibility that Iggy is not quite such a fool as all that — in other words, that the Grits have no desire for an election, and no intention of forcing one. As, of course, they can't: for the hundredth time, you need all three opposition parties voting together to defeat the government."

  17. There's always the small chance that Iggy has simply found his inner Chretien.

    • This must be nurtured and encouraged.

  18. Most of the analysis assumes the Conservatives are actually happy to go to the polls. I simply do not see it. While nobody (well nobody who is not delusional) can predict this election result, the odds are right now for a Conservative minority. Depending how the campaigning goes a small Liberal minority is not crazy, but I do not believe anyone is looking at a majority.

    If the Liberals win a minority, the talk around Harper will built rapidly and viciously. He has not delivered a majority, he has not (permanently) crippled the opposition, he has not delivered fiscally conservative governance, he has not delivered on anything of significance for the social conservative agenda. If he wins a reduced minority, serious discussions arise about the respective legitimacy of coalition governments versus governments representing tiny fractions of the voting public. That discussion taken to any logical conclusion is bad news for the conservative party as currently constituted.

    Yes the Conservatives have money… they also have everything to lose in this election.

    • I tend to agree with you. I think an election is not really something that Harper wants or needs at the moment. I suspect that much of the inroads the Conservatives made in the 905 are likely to evaporate as Ignatieff seems to be much more popular than Dion was. He also did no favours for himself in Quebec and I have a sneaking suspicion that the Liberals have cleansed themselves of Gomery in that province and will acquit themselves quite well. Furthermore, I'd wager that there is a significant chunk of NDP voters who are willing to vote Liberal just to be rid of Harper.

      Barring a collapse by Ignatieff during the campaign the tea leaves seem to predict a reduced minority at best. I find it hard to believe that Harper would be willing to go to the polls in such an environment.

      • That said, we disagree on the final outcome. Harper will force an election. He will not be able to help himself.

        • I'm with you on this one. While the MSM is focused on Iggy, no one seem to be paying attention to the fact that this next election is do or die for Harper.

          Winning the next election isn't sufficient for Harper. He must deliver a majority or his caucus will eat him alive. Baird and Kenney are already sharpening their knives…

        • I'm with you on this one. While the press gallery is focused on Iggy, no one seem to be paying attention to the fact that this next election is do or die for Harper.

          Winning the next election isn't sufficient for Harper. He must deliver a majority or his caucus will eat him alive. Baird and Kenney are already sharpening their knives…

  19. You can oppose the government without actually defeating it. That's what opposition parties do all the time, in majority situations. At the same time, I don't think there's anything wrong in principle with the Liberals defeating the government, which was the tone of some of the criticism. When I say he'd be a fool, I mean from the standpoint of his own interests.

    • How does "what Opposition parties do all the time, in majority situations" hold any relevance to the immediate circumstance which prompted this column?

      Honestly.

      • You missed his first sentence, the part that says "You can oppose the government without actually defeating it". Not apply this Iggy. No need to thank me.

      • typos: Now apply this to Iggy.

    • I think he's painted himself into a corner.

    • true enough

      but then again there's the whole doormat thing. There's no defining yourself from that position. and it leaves stains.

    • Andrew is quite correct. The onus is on the government to hold the confidence of parliament not the other way around. That requires consultative governance and yes letting committees do their work. Harper's approach has been to spit in the face of the opposition and then periodically cave on important issues.

      The talking line that the opposition parties (the MP's of which represent the majority of Canadians) are obliged to keep the government in power is bogus.

      • I think the pertinent point is that we have a minority government that doesn't recognize
        that fact.
        The only way to deal with a minority government that doesn't bend is to break it.

        • Agreed. This government has proved again and again that they are unwilling to work with the opposition parties. No form of super glue will fix whats broke here.

          • I guess rewriting the entire budget doesn't count, along with quarterly financial reports, along with listening to the opposition's endless lack of ideas to do anything differently.

          • Really, how often does Harper call up the opposition leader to chat and talk policy. Like it or not he is the one responsible for bringing all parties together. All that you mentioned above only came to fruition because his back was to the wall last December.

        • It does bend from time to time when the polls are unfavourable to them (which is just not often enough on the account of the Liberal flying circus). The Liberals are so disorganished and incongruent that the Cons bend they take full credit for it and the public is none the wiser…. so we end up with another election and "it's all the Fiberals' fault!".

    • You don't think it's in his interests to have an election? It wouldn't take much to reverse minorities, and he's running out of time both in terms of the economy and his own political career.

    • You don't think it's in his interests to have an election? It wouldn't take much of an Ontario swing to reverse minorities, and he's running out of time both in terms of the economy and his own political career.

    • You (Coyne) don't think it's in Ignatieff's interests to have an election? It wouldn't take much of an Ontario swing to reverse minorities, and he's running out of time both in terms of the economy and his own political career.

  20. I can't imagine the NDP cutting a deal with the Conservatives – I mean, wouldn't that betray their socialist principles ?

    • I can't imagine it either, considering the hundreds of times that Layton has roasted the Liberals for propping up the Conservatives.

      • Yeah, but that doesn't mean Layton won't cut a deal.

    • I seem to recall something from the Dipper convention, that they are still paying off a $14 million loan from the last election. I see one of the major Lib Bloggers is gloating about the Dippers poverty forcing them to compromise their principles, and tweak their talking points.

  21. Tom Flanagan wrote in the Globe about the 'war of attrition' that the Tories are fighting with the Libs. Perhaps Iggy is fighting a similar war with the Dippers ?

    • I hope you're right. It would be the first sign of any Liberal having any semblance of a long term strategy since 2006.

    • Yes, but Flanagan also wrote that one of Harper's long-term goals was to bankrupt the Grits by making them go to the polls again and again, draining an ever-dwindling number of donors. (Continuous leadership campaigns would have the same effect.) If that's the plan, then it seems that Iggy is doing exactly what Harper wants him to do.

      • That Flanagan article was very provocative. It got the Lib partisans on the Globe riled up more than usual, dismissing Dr. Flanagan as some kind of second-rate Tory hack.

        Flanagan seemed to be sticking the knife in and giving it a twist, when he speculated that the end game would have the "Liberal" name going up for sale in bankruptcy court !

  22. Layton would cut a deal with anyone. The question for me – if Harper did cut a deal with Layton, Layton would forever brag and boast and somehow I don't think Harper would like that. Remember Layton cut a deal with Martin. Layton maintains the the NDP balanced and produced the budget, when in fact they got an amendment to it. Whatever little thing Harper would give to the NDP – Layton would make much more of it than it is…….and, as I recall, after all that wheeling and dealing with Layton and Martin, Harper manipulated Layton to bring down the government shortly after……so, what's the point of dealing with Layton?

    • " … if Harper did cut a deal with Layton, Layton would forever brag and boast and somehow I don't think Harper would like that."

      I don't see why that should trouble Harper. They're not going after the same voters. Harper's supporters will forgive him for throwing the NDP dog a bone, just like they've forgiven Harper for throwing the totality of everything he ever stood for under the bus in his quest for power. All Layton has to do for a win is to show that he squeezed something out of Harper that's on the NDP policy agenda. Layton's core supporters don't seem to mind that he does deals with the Conservative devil. How swing voters who sometimes support the NDP and sometimes support the Liberals feel about Layton's betrayal of his principles is, ironically, a slightly different matter …

      • just like they've forgiven Harper for throwing the totality of everything he ever stood for under the bus in his quest for power.

        Hey Mull, not ALL of us have…

        • Sorry, MYL, present company excepted ;->

      • There is a truth here, because among the hardcore Ndpers is a group who despise the Grits more than the CONs. Perhaps not as many per say, and as you mention the swing voter who occasionally or often parks its votes with Team Orange may not be so inclined to accept dancing with the so-called PM leader.

        • Actually, I'd say that amongst most even medium-line NDPers, there's considerably less animosity directed at the Conservatives than the Liberals.

        • Actually, I'd say that amongst most even medium-core NDPers, there's considerably less animosity directed at the Conservatives than the Liberals.

  23. The 55% should have been typed "Worse than expected". Sorry Scott.

    • You haven't been paying much attention to the online version of The Star have you? As soon as they opened up comments it was over-run by Blogging Tories and their ilk in what I can only imagine is a lame attempt to convince everyone that even readers of the pinko socialist Star are actually staunch social conservatives.

    • I think it's safe to say you should take any online poll with a few kilos of salt, since they aren't scientific polls. Then again, Conservatives seem to be good at ignoring science (see isotope crisis, for e.g.).

  24. I have to agree with your analysis Andrew. He kicked the ball over to teams NDP and BLOQ, which incidentally is the same mistake that several of our past politicans have done in minority governments. I would list some of their names but can't seem to recall them off the top of my head. if Iggy isn't careful a few years from now his name won't be poppping into to the forefront of anyones immediate recall as well. There is no doubt though that he had no choice as there is no way he could have whipped his party into supporting the governmtn come next confiednece motion not after 79 in a row tthe fundraising for the party would have nose dived and all chances not to become Dion redux would have evapourated. I find nothing surprising about his play right now and have little doubt that neither Harper nor Layton are surpised either. Right now the chairs are being re-arranged on the LPT deck and the iceberg is looming on the horizon for his party.

  25. The Conservative vote for the last four years has been highly stable. And going into another election is not something that the Tories are terribly affraid of.

    The real question is how soft is the NDP vote? Because Iggy has to steal enough of it to come out slighter better than the Tories. My sense is that it is real soft. Iggy has been getting closer and closer to backroom revolt and he had no other choice but to talk tough and call for an election. They've been cozying up to NDP ideas (EI) and the whole Lib caucus knows that the NDP is not going to be any weaker than they are right now. They are short on cash, poorly organized and down in the polls. Iggy is going to the polls. The only thing stopping a win for him is if Jack realizes who he is really fighting.

    • I think a lot of traditional NDP supporters are willing to take one for the team and vote Liberal just to be rid of Harper once and for all. I have no idea what the numbers actually are, but if the NDP is polling low in downtown Toronto then they are in trouble.

    • Nice concoction there Smitty. Yeah, months after he is handed the leadership, months after membership DOUBLES and fundraising TRIPLES there's 'backroom revolt'… I think you're getting your teams mixed up. Apparently the real backroom revolt is happening on Team Blue, with the likes of Ablonczy, Prentice and Moore… Seems that the FU stink Harper cut in November still hasn't left the room.

  26. The Conservatives are in a minority situation, its up to them to look at the opposition parties platforms and reach out with some token peices of legislation.

    It really wouldnt take that much to hold this parliament together, but Harper is incapable of taking a single action that does not somehow diminish his opponents. It is the single reason he was ever elected PM, and the single reason he will never hold a majority.

    • Don't underestimate Harper's negotiating abilities. He did a lot of that on the way to uniting the CA and PCs. And most recently, he came up with the "blue ribbon panel for an extra non-confidence day" deal with Iggy.

      I'm sure he's got something creative up his sleeve that will allow him and Jack to save face with their bases. It's way too early for Harper to deviate from his 'nobody wants an election, etc' script, so he'll play his cards tight, and let the other guys twist in the wind for a while. He also surely wants more information … from polls, possible cracks in the Lib caucus, and the like.

      • Who said 'saving face' with Jack and Stevie wouldn't be a positive from Ignatieff's standpoint? No matter the depth of any deal, that bunk rebellion line the CONs have been bleeting about regarding 'the Coalition' suddenly becomes as relevant as an 8-track tape. And Harper's credibility among his own true believers takes another hit. Sweetness.

    • The Conservatives are in a minority situation, its up to them to look at the opposition parties platforms and reach out with some token p[ie]ces of legislation.

      Thing is, the Tories have so little practical experience getting along with others in opposition because, except for the FU of late '08, the Liberals have been the moodiest and petulant of BFFs, but repeatedly acted like BFFs anyways when push came to shove, with no friendship effort required on the part of the governing party.

  27. But the Cons did it last year, forcing an unnecessary election before the officially scheduled one for this year, so I guess the Libs are turning the Cons' strategy of "if the Liberals did it, so can we" onto itself. Brilliant. Truly meta.

  28. Ignatieff had little choice but to finally take a stand and roll the dice. He couldn't continue to vote with the Cons for 6 months or a year. He must be relieved that it now clear and the course is set and he can drop the Hamlet act.
    Libs rank and file should get a morale boost knowing the leader is willing to put it all on the line and live with the consequences.
    And as Coyne says, the ball is finally in Layton's court, and Iggy has put himself in a position where he can't back down.
    Good day for Liberals. The've shifted ground and can fight from a higher more strategic spot.

  29. I can't keep track of all the double head-fakes happening here. Good analysis though….I think.

  30. Contrary to what Coyne seems to be suggesting, I doubt the Liberals were planning on forcing the NDP to prop up the Conservatives. It seems pretty clear to me that the would foremost prefer an election, but secondarily are satisfied with either the NDP or Bloc humbling themselves in propping up the Conservatives. It's handy because this would neutralize two irritants at once: the NDP or Bloc (but not both) and their claim to not having had to prop up the government, and the Conservatives with the 'coalition with the separatists and socialists'. Of course, all parties involved know that the only way to keep these arguments credible would be to have an election at the next confidence vote. So either there is a vote when it is inopportune for NDP and CPC, or the CPC and NDP (likely) are both humbled by forming a working coalition.

  31. My Liberal friends in Ottawa don't think this is a bluff. They believe the LIberals will pick up 20 seats in the election. Even if Harper wins a minority, the LIberals will defeat it and take over governenment with the support of the NDP and Bloc just like they planned last December. Then they can go to the polls again while the Tories choose a new leader. It may be fantasyland, but there are a lot of people who believe this scenario.

    • And what an ugly mess this country would find itself in if your story comes to pass.

      • Democracy may be messy but I don't find it ugly.

    • That coalition would spell the end of the Liberal party. The last time talk of a coalition cam eup the Conservatives polled around the 50% mark.

      • I don't want to see the end of the Liberal Party – at least not entirely.

        I just don't think they have spent enough time in the wildnerness. Let's wait for ten years so they can finally flush out all of those MPs who feel a sense of entitlement to be the government even though they do not have any policies.

        In the meantime, I think most Canadians may not have warmed up to PM Harper, but they at least think that he's doing an OK job and deserves to stick around.

  32. OT Andrew, but I'm a bit disappointed that nobody has posted anything yet on the CHRT's incredible ruling today in the Lemire case that section 13 of the CHRA is unconstitutional and will no longer be enforced. Given what Macleans went through I thought you guys would be all over this. Looking forward to see your coverage.

    • But… they are an awesome military power. Even if they wield that power irresponsibly and without real precision doesn't change the fact that if they really wanted to, they could wipe most countries off the map.

    • Per year they spend more money on their Military than any other country and up until a decade or so ago, they spent more money on their Military than the rest of the world combined.

      http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-mili

      It may not be pretty but to deny its awesomeness is ludicrous.

  33. Andrew, the real question here is "When is the At Issue panel coming back?" Think you might be able to round everyone up for a season premiere tomorrow night? Please?

  34. So glad I got my image working before reading this story. Close enough to Dirty Harry for me anyway.

    I've heard that many Ontario Liberal MPs seem mighty nervous about this, and I think they should be.

    I understand the thinking that the Libs may be able to pick up some seats, or possibly win a minority, but I have a feeling this is going to backfire on them in a big way.

    There may be a great many on the left side of the spectrum who would love any chance to get rid of Harper, but I don't think there is a wave of discomfort among the electorate about how the country is being run.

    "The bums need to be thrown out" is a vital ingredient for taking power in this country, and I don't think it's there in enough numbers. Should be an interesting show.

    • "I've heard that many Ontario Liberal MPs seem mighty nervous about this"

      Heard from whom?

  35. Once again, Liberal stooge Andrew Coyne is standing up for his Boys in Red. Long known as one of the most blatantly pro-Liberal columnists in the country, Coyne's latest paean to the tactical genius of his fellow intellectual Mick Ignatieff is perhaps his most revolting yet. While throwing out glib references to National Post op-eds in the interest of "balance", Coyne spends the better part of the column praising Ignatieff's political acumen and his dexterity in forcing the NDP to make a decision on an election that Canadians Just Don't Want(tm). Andrew Coyne is getting coin, all right… and it's all red.

    Also, I don't believe a word of what I just wrote, but apparently bashing non-partisan columns by guys who've been in Ottawa longer than I've been able to ride a bicycle is cool now?

  36. “Even if Harper wins a minority, the LIberals will defeat it and take over government with the support of the NDP and Bloc just like they planned last December”

    if the ballot question is scary coalition vs. scary majority, Harper’s “the longer you’re PM the longer you’re the PM” strategy finally gives him that majority.

  37. Bankrupt the NDP. It's all a ploy in order to get the Liberal Party of Manitoba elected…

  38. I think that if the Liberals mess this up, i.e., trigger an election and essentially get nowhere, it will be because they've spent way too much time listening to themselves and their supporters (e.g., foaming-at-the-mouth partisans like W. Kinsella), and not enough time listening to the vast majority of Canadians who are not political partisans. I keep coming back to this: how many people in this country are either (a) Liberal, Dipper or BQ partisans, or (b) possessed of such a visceral dislike of the Harper govt that they're itching for a chance to toss them? I suspect the answer might be: not all that many. But I guess we'll see. I agree with the others who have noted that the Liberals, if they're really going to do this, need a compelling narrative, and so far I don't think they've come up with one. They seem to be trying a bunch of them on for size . . .

  39. An interesting speculation on motivation to say it is to pressure the NDP, but I would argue that is a hard card to play as evidenced by the 3-way chicken argument; already, Harper and Layton say they will not swerve to avoid an election, so much for pressuring the NDP. Voters understand why the NDP wont work with the Conservatives on simple ideological grounds…but the Liberals? They can be outflanked on both left and right unless he withdraws in humiliation.
    The announce was fumbled, sudden, and just before Labour Day weekend, suggesting an unplanned emotional reaction to something seen and heard during the Sudbury Love-in. This is more revealing of Ignatieff emotionally than tactically. He was faced with defeatists, i.e., realists. He wants passion and verve. Maybe a purge is in the works.

    • Yes. Who's kidding who? If there is an election call, any real fallout will land at the Liberals doorstep.

    • Yes. Who's kidding who? If there is an election call, any real fallout for forcing it will land at the Liberals doorstep.

    • Yes. Who's kidding who? The public is not so easily fooled. If there is an election call, any real fallout for forcing it will land at the Liberals doorstep.

      • Norman Spector is suggesting Iggy is following Iffy advice from potential leadership rivals, and that this is a rookie mistake by a neophyte. Bob Rae could not win against Ignatieff, so it now remains for a failure of leadership to give Rae one last shot at the scepter. I agree that it was a rookie mistake but revealing of a passive-aggressive leadership style, a penchant for sudden and uncharacteristic behavior, as if he just confronted by a log jam and in frustration decided to dynamite it. Or at least hold up a stick or two and wave around an eddy match. which he will put away. once Harper et. al. do the hokey pokey.
        passive aggressive.

  40. Ignatieff, the Chris Osgood of politics, is looking like he'll be pulled from the game early. I wonder how giddy old back-up Bob Rae is?

  41. Iggy trying to make up for being a wimp in the spring. He knows people saw how little lead he had in his pencil.

  42. Good observation that part of Ignatieff's plan might have been to put the onus on the NDP. Fair enough.

    But really, what bargaining power does the NDP ligitimately hold? If you say that it is the role of the opposition parties to oppose, one might as well throw any parliamentary seat-count out the window.

    In many respects the Conservatives have come a long way toward satisfying the opposition parties. If the NDP (and entourage) believes that 36 seats out of 308 can dictate what direction this country should take, then, by such reasoning, the political parties might as well aim for opposition status when in minority status polling territory.

    What this country needs is some basic understanding of what has expired over the last few years.

  43. The current Conservatives aren't right wing. As a former Liberal who watched his party move to the left to I suddenly realised that the Conservatives have taken over that space. I call all other middle of the roaders to come on over. The weather is fine.

    • I agree, the current government is not a "Religious Republican Right Wing Party with a hidden agenda. I just don't drink the Kool-Aid from any party.

      I have been unimpressed by the minority parties trying destabize the government or threat an election every few weeks.

      They were right to jump on the Economic Update. They overplayed their hand when the CPC backed down on all three conditions and they componded their arrogance to form a Coalition Government six weeks after a general election.

    • I agree, the current government is not a "Religious Republican Right Wing Party with a hidden agenda. I just don't drink the Kool-Aid from any party.

      I have been unimpressed by the minority parties trying destabilize the government or threat an election every few weeks.

      They were right to jump on the Economic Update. They overplayed their hand when the CPC backed down on all three conditions and they componded their arrogance to form a Coalition Government six weeks after a general election.

    • I agree, the current government is not a "Religious Republican Right Wing Party with a hidden agenda. I just don't drink the Kool-Aid from any party.

      I have been unimpressed by the minority parties trying destabilize the government or threat an election every few weeks with the support of a separtist party.

      They were right to jump on the Economic Update. They overplayed their hand when the CPC backed down on all three conditions and they componded their arrogance to form a Coalition Government six weeks after a general election.