Saturday, June 16, 2007

Maybe try governing guys

As we head into the summer break it’s natural to get reflective. And helpful perhaps to look at the bigger picture, which can be tough to do during the day to day partisan cut and thrust.

Taking stock, no one has much to be happy about. That includes my Liberals although, as a biased partisan, I’d have to say I’m pleased to have avoided what could have been a deadly spring election, and at the heat Deceivin’ Steven has been taking of late.

If I were the Conservatives I’d be even more disappointed though. It wasn’t that look ago that everything was coming up Harper. High popularity for Harper himself, voter support numbers just shy of majority territory. The environment issue hopefully neutralized, gains in Quebec. Liberals stagnating in the polls, and the not a leader attack ads doing their job sapping Dion’s personal popularity. The budget would be their springboard to a spring election and at least a more comfortable minority, if not a slim majority or better.

Instead here we are going into the summer with the Liberals three points ahead (in one survey anyway), a siege in Atlantic Canada, sagging Con fortunes in Quebec and a chance for Dion to turn things around on the bbq circuit. Where did it all go wrong for Deceivin’ Steven?

It would be tough to pin-point just one moment. Whether it’s the fight with the Atlantic provinces, Afghanistan detainees, the Afghan war itself, an embarrassing performance at the G8, defence contracting, the RCMP, committee fascism, the Wheat Board battle, income trusts or a host of other screw-ups, it’s been a bad stretch for the Cons.

Part of it may be Harper beginning to believe his own press clippings and let his arrogance and controlling tendencies began to surface. Another major factor was also likely the fact the Cons ran out of script; they had no agenda left and started to ad lib. We’ve seen the pattern before, witness the Con rise and fall in election 2004. Nearly cost him in 05/06 too.

A very salient point is raised though in an article by the CP’s Bruce Cheadle, and it’s bang on the money. The Conservatives have been spending far more time attacking the Liberals than they have governing. And it’s just not working.

Really, just what did the Cons accomplish this spring?

Writes Cheadle:

If it's difficult to pinpoint Conservative advances this spring, it is in no small measure because the government is fixated with attacking Liberals.

The Conservative party web site, under the slogan "Getting Things Done for All of Us," is a daily barrage of attacks on Liberal Leader Stephane Dion personally and the Opposition generally.

The party spent untold - and undisclosed, non-reportable - dollars buying unprecedented attack ads outside an election campaign period.

Responses by government ministers in the daily question period sounded curiously like opposition harangues.

The prime minister himself set the tone with sharply partisan jibes that equated Liberals to Taliban supporters and smeared the father-in-law of a Liberal MP as being part of the Air India terror investigation.

And this exchange Cheadle reports between a reporter and a Harper minister really says it all:
Consider this end-of-session exchange with Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn:

Reporter: "Can you name two or three bills that were adopted by your government this session . . . ?"

Blackburn: "I would rather talk to you more about the bills that the opposition parties are often trying not to get adopted."
And that’s the problem. The Cons have succeeded this spring in keeping Liberal numbers stagnant. Call that 50 per cent mission accomplished, and we Liberals have our own not minor challenges there. But Harper’s other mission was to get his own numbers into majority territory. And not only has he failed, but his constant attacks and lack of agenda have caused him to lose ground, and put him in a statistical deadhead with the Liberals.

The Cons like to say Dion is not a leader, but Harper led his government from majority territory and expected strong gains in a potential spring election to a dead heat that has given Dion and the Liberals new life. Some leadership there Steven.

Now it’s anybody’s game. It’s going to be a long, hot summer.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


burlivespipe said...

It has really been a rotten spring for Harpor, but we should be more than disappoined that we are virtually deadlocked with them in most polls. While we can't afford the currency (both real and moral) to counter the negative ads, certainly the Liberal party can do better in framing Harpor... I do see some positive points in this past week, and I believe the bloggers like yourself with the 'deceivin' stephen' campaign, are giving it a boost.
Harpor has been fixated on stomping Liberals for a long time; he's risked his own credibility on more than one occasion (grewal tapes, anyone?) and gone in for more. As Cheadle points out, there is a vast amount of energy dispensed on this negative war, with very little payoff -- unless we're seeing the start of 'Rae election win' monumental and momentary shift to the 'other choice'. Add the fact that when he has governed, Harpor has doled out immense amounts of cash (either rebooting Liberal programs that he slashed or through his deep pockets habit of buying votes) to little avail. Their threat this weekend that "we'll have to go into deficit spending if the senate holds up the budget" isn't a fantasy. They have been cutting it so closely in financing and living off the avails of Martin's talent of underestimating the cash coming in that they could virtually sink our string of surplus budgets in another year. Harpor's hunger for that majority -- and bloodlust to deep-six the grits -- is looking more and more like an anvil weight around his Wile E. Coyote brain.

Red Tory said...

Given their obsession with “leadership” but evident inability to demonstrate it in governance, maybe we should consider their relentless attacks on Dion in this regard as being another case of projection, something for which Conservatives are rightfully noted.