I get the NDP's e-newsletters each week, and not a week goes by without at least one item bashing the Liberals. Often they bash the Liberals more than they bash the Harper Conservatives, but that's just carrying-on the same strategy they adopted in the last election campaign, where they all but ignored the Conservatives, even as it became clear they were heading to government, to attack the Liberals instead.
Today, however, their weekly Liberal bashing is particularly amusing:
Liberal leader Stéphane Dion today showed an utter lack of leadership and contempt for Canadian voters by flip-flopping on deeper North American integration.
In a press conference in Ottawa, Mr. Dion came out swinging against the Security and Prosperity Partnership that will be discussed at the Montebello Summit from August 19-21.
They must be referring to this release and rather detailed position paper (pdf) that the Liberals released last week, outlining Liberal concerns about the SPP process and detailing six steps PM Harper should take to put Canada’s interests first at the talks.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion today released Strong and Free: The Liberal Blueprint for the North American Leaders Summit at Montebello, Quebec – August 2007, outlining a detailed proposal to ensure Canada’s interests are effectively promoted at the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) meetings in Montebello.
Given that the NDP is attacking Dion for raising concerns about the direction Harper is taking the SPP, you must think Layton and the NDP are in favour of SPP, and are angry Dion is attacking it.
Well, not quite. You see, the NDP also has concerns about the SPP. They’re just angry that…the Liberals have concerns too? That only the NDP is allowed to oppose the SPP?
Well, that’s not how they put it. You see, they point to the fact that the SPP process began under the previous Liberal government as some kind of smoking gun revelation. Now that the Harper Conservatives are taking the process in a new direction that is concerning to the Liberals, Layton’s NDP is pulling out the 'ol lazy political crutch, the flip-flop card.
The NDP says:
In doing so, Mr. Dion showed a level of historical revisionism unseen since Mr.Ignatieff’s mea culpa for supporting the war in Iraq.
When all else fails, play the blame Iggy card, it's imaginative. Maybe we should start calling him Taliban Jack more, that's equally creative. And yes, Liberals, how dare you agree with us! Shame on you for now having the same opinion as us, for shame!
What a load of poppycock. Here’s Dion addressing the point:
“The original spirit of the SPP was one all Canadians could embrace,” said Mr. Dion. “It existed to strengthen Canada’s national interest on security, trade, competitiveness, health, safety and the environment by working closely with our neighbours – to allow Canada and its friends to provide a better life for each nation’s people.
“But Mr. Harper is taking the SPP in a very different direction,” added Mr. Dion. “Under the veil of secrecy, he is blurring the line between partnership and imitation.”
I know Jack may not know this, but the Liberals aren’t in government anymore and frankly, I don’t trust the Harper Conservatives to run this process, nor do I trust the direction they’re taking it in. It is entirely legitimate for the Liberals to be raising concerns, and for the NDP to be attacking the Liberals for sharing their own concerns, well, such weird strategy may be why the last SES numbers looked so bad for them.
Now, I can see the communications strategy here by the NDP. Last week the Liberals came out with a detailed policy paper outlining concerns about the SPP process with specific recommendations for Harper to take in the negotiations. It was well received. The NDP, comparatively, came out with a more general, broad release just expressing their opposition with some broad themes sketched-out that looked a tad paltry by comparison to the meaty liberal paper.
Seeing the Liberals moving in and outflanking them on what they claim solely as one of their issues, and with a poll that puts the NDP at a paltry 13 per cent nationally, today the NDP rushes out a more detailed release opposing the SPP and throws in a larger broadside at the Liberals for good measure to defend their flank.
So, I can see what they’re doing, but I think the execution here was rather off. If I could make a suggestion were I the NDP (scary thought, I know) I might have taken a more sarcastic approach, thanking the Liberals for finally coming into the light, seeing the error of the ways, joining the NDP, following their leadership, yada yada… Wouldn't necessarily be accurate, but might have been more effective.
Because attacking someone for agreeing with you just seems kinda lame. But I'm sure the pros in the NDP know what they're doing...right?