Heads up, Langevinians! Tom Flanagan is bored, y’all … bored, and apparently, just a little bit disappointed in your latest budget. But don’t worry – according to his op-ed in the Globe this morning, he has some great ideas on how to make Parliament more exciting and fun and unpredictable and totally dysfunctional, just like Canadians keep telling the pollsters that they want it to be:
Mr. Harper needs to show them that he’s still a conservative by pushing some non-budgetary initiatives in the House of Commons. He could start, for example, with the criminal-justice measures from the party’s platform in the 2008 election. Why not make these a matter of confidence and run them straight at the Liberals? Will Mr. Ignatieff force an election on behalf of criminals? I don’t think so.
Exactly! Why would the Prime Minister want to back away from the hyperpartisanship that made the last session of Parliament such a roaring success for he and his government — well, for the twelve days or so that it lasted — and deal with the Global Economic Crisis when he could start a new round of confidence vote chicken with those scaredy-cat Liberals?
Oh, and as for the opposition parties – don’t feel left out, guys. The always helpful professor has some advice for you too — yes, even you, Monsieur Duceppe! — which I’m sure you’ll all take in the spirit it was intended.
According to Flanagan, the NDP should ramp up its attacks on the Liberals in order to keep alive the sweet, sweet votesplitting that has historically been so beneficial to Conservative electoral fortunes “renew its play for for left-wing voters”, which he thinks could best be accomplished through more screechingly anti-Ignatieff radio ads, although with the I’m-sure-he-didn’t-mean-to-sound-patronizing caveat that the party probably can’t afford to make the jump to the “more effective” medium of television. (Maybe they could hit him up for a donation.) Oh, and you know what else would really get the Liberals’ goat, and bring in those left-wing voters in droves? Cosying up to the government by “look[ing] for points of agreement with Mr. Harper to achieve some legislative victories.”
By an astonishing coincidence, the good professor also counsels the Bloc Quebecois to redirect its “jihad” – his word, not mine – against the Tories towards the Liberals — a classic divide and conquer strategy of splitting the federalist vote, really, and as such, probably not really a revelation for the Bloc Quebecois, but still. The professor is here to help.
Finally, Flanagan offers somewhat muted advice to the Liberals — it’s like he suddenly realized he was running up against his deadline and hadn’t yet mentioned the party and leader with the best chance of unseating his beloved Conservatives next time Canadians go to the polls. The “imperious” Ignatieff should realize that he is in a “weakened” position now that he’s scotched the idea of the coalition seems to be the gist. Oh, and he should stop saying “I” and “me” so much.
Basically, his objective, neutral, nonpartisan, political scientist-y verdict is that the opposition parties should immediately begin attacking each other with hammer, tongs and cut-rate radio ads, while simultaneously either ignoring, or actively cooperating with the Conservatives, and ITQ hopes that all the parties are taking notes, because Harper’s former campaign manager isn’t doing this for fun. He’s only thinking of you, and the good of the country. Really.
UPDATE: Yes, I promise that’s the last time I’ll reread the original op-ed, but it just occured to me that the advice offered to the NDP is pretty much the opposite of what he tells the Bloc Quebecois. The NDP, according to Flanagan, should turn its guns on the “weakened” Liberals to back its claim to being the “real” opposition — but the Bloc Quebecois, having “so successfully” destroyed the Conservatives’ hopes in Quebec, should now walk away from the battered but still breathing blue heap on the battlefield, and instead focus its attentions on the Liberals, which now pose a greater risk to their electoral dominance. I’m not saying that both theories could be valid – or invalid, for that matter; I’m not a political science-y ist, after all – but it’s interesting in each of these two examples, the path that Flanagan advises is the one that leaves the Conservatives out of the range of attack.
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