Monday, August 20, 2007

Why it's hard to take the NDP seriously

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 St├ęphane 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 St├ęphane 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?

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18 comments:

Johnny said...

Jeff don't you love good old Jack Layton and thee NDP. How the left attacks each other. Mr. Layton if you read this please continue what your doing.;)

Now seriously Jeff its
easy to see why he attacks the Liberals more then he does the Conservatives. Its because he realizes that if he wants the NDP to have more seats and votes in the next federal election he has to attack
the Liberals,because the Conservatives will never
vote for him and you can't deny this can you?

A BCer in Toronto said...

I don't deny the strategy Johnny, indeed, I acknowledge it. Might not be the best thing for the country, but it is necessary for the continued relevancy of the NDP. In this instance, however, I question the implementation of that strategy.

Dr.Dawg said...

Funny. Last I heard, the Libs were doing the secret summit thing--in Ottawa, In Quebec, wherever--MAI, GATT, you name it.

Dion? Different captain, same old ship.

northwestern_lad said...

Oh Jeff... how you have missed the point, or just conveniently left out that one thing that seems to keep dogging the Liberals, and that is their track record.

The SPP didn't start with Stephen Harper, it started with the past Liberal government. What the NDP is point out is the hypocracy of the now Liberal leader speaking out against something that the government that he was a part of started. You can't escape your past and the hypocracy that shows in cases like these. That deserves to be attacked just as much as the Conservatives do for their stance.

And I think it's a little rich to say that this is necessary for the "continued relevancy of the NDP". The fact is that the NDP owes the Liberals no favours and has no reasons to go light on them. There is nothing wrong with pointing out a party's past and track-record. The fact is that if NDP members so agreed with the Liberals, there wouldn't be an NDP. But because the Liberals always "run from the left, and govern from the right", it's necessary to have a party that truly does stand up for the people and their rights on the left. The Liberals will be best served when they stopped point fingers at those for speaking the truth and just suck it up and come up with some real ideas. If the Liberals keep thinking that they will just naturally get back into power by bashing others, then that arrogance will continue to get them in the end.

Stephen said...

The NDP has been leading the debate on the SPP in Parliament, not the Liberals--and no surprise, since the Liberals were the ones to launch this integration initiative in the first place.

The claims that the Conservatives are 'taking it in a new direction' are no more credible than Liberal claims that the Cons have 'secretly changed' the Liberal-launched mission in Afghanistan.

Secondly, the NDP is even now carrying on a cross-country campaign of town hall forums on the SPP, as a further, extra-parliamentary dimension of their work on the issue: their strategy is clearly not limited to a "general, broad release."

Oh, and as for the more 'meaty' Liberal document: gloss isn't meat, and acres of white space on many of the "detailed position paper's" pages reveal its substance to be "paltry" at best.

Lord of Wealth said...

The way I see it Dion is only upset that Harper will get the credit and the under the table perks for selling off Canada lock stock and barrel. Dion's paper on SPP was weak, missed half the problems with it and did not deal at all with the fact Liberals signed it without debate in the first place. Where was his concern about being roped into a missle shield deal because of it, after all Martin wanted in on it.
Where was his concern about being dragged further into the war on terror, oh yeah , Martin and Iggy wanted that too, of course we never know that Dion wants he's too busy hidding from the press. Libs really want the same things the Cons do but pretend to be different until after the elections are over.

P.S. Layton is still a knob but at least he has Jack as compay .

Lord of Wealth said...

"P.S. Layton is still a knob but at least he has Dion as company ."

Opps too many benadryl

rabbit said...

I am always surprized that people are surprized that the NDP attack the Liberals more than the Conservatives.

Well of course they do! The NDP is not likely to woo many Conservative voters to their side - the philosophical chasm is too great. They might manage, however, to turn some Liberal voters a nice shade of orange.

In other words, the NDP is digging away at the most promising vein.

Ti-Guy said...

You don't woo Liberals to the NDP by launching nonsensical attacks. I'm among those Liberals who would vote NDP (the anti-democratic Liberal establishment, as opposed to the rank-and-file, has always set my teeth on edge) but this strategy is doing nothing for me. I've lost almost all respect I ever had for Jack Layton in the last year.

The NDP is becoming peevish and petulant and it's leaving me cold.

ottlib said...

The last time the NDP was relevent and worth listening to was when Ed Broadbent was its leader.

Since he left the helm of that party it has been in a slow but steady spiral towards irrelevancy. For awhile it did look like Jack Layton would turn that around but that is not the case.

If the Greens actually pick up seats in the next election and a reasonable chunk of the popular vote I expect we will see the beginning of the final act of the demise of the NDP.

Dana said...

Layton won't be attending any of the protests though. He's too busy, busy improving his french, according to CTV.

They don't say his french what though.

I'm thinking french braid.

Silly, inconsequential little man.

A Harper minority for the next decade if Jack gets his way.

I don't think there's anything these fools could do to win me back at this point.

Steve V said...

If you listen to conservatives, Dion is failing because he is taking the Liberals too far left, some even liken him to the NDP. Then you have the NDP attacking Dion at every turn, with the "Liberal, Tory, same old story" angle. I'm so confused, socialist winger, is that possible?

Johnny said...

I love the way the left is attacking each other.
Please continue i enjoy it
very much.;)

Mark Francis said...

"In other words, the NDP is digging away at the most promising vein."

And yet, the NDP sits at 13%.

They seem to be poor miners.

Ti-Guy said...

I love the way the left is attacking each other.
Please continue i enjoy it
very much.;)


How childish and predictable. Why don't you get hobby?

Johnny said...

Ti-Guy Its a little
humor are you always this stuck up enjoy life sir.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Dawg,

Last I heard, the Libs were doing the secret summit thing--in Ottawa, In Quebec, wherever--MAI, GATT, you name it.

Can't be secret if you know about it, can it? Who told you?!

NWlad,

Things change over time, often dramatically. A new government is taking the process in a new direction, and we have concerns about that. That's perfectly legitimate.

The Liberals will be best served when they stopped point fingers at those for speaking the truth and just suck it up and come up with some real ideas.

Given that this is a post talking about a whole lot of finger pointing by the NDP that's rather rich. But anyway, why don't you let us know which issues we're allowed to have opinions on, and which are the sole and exclusive dominion of Canada's New Democratic Party, and then we'll go from there.

Rabbit,

In other words, the NDP is digging away at the most promising vein.

And doing a great job at it too, judging by recent poll numbers. Canadians sure are responding to the strategy.

Jack asked Liberal to lend him their votes in the last election. I think those that did are feeling rather ripped-off.

Ti-Guy said...

Ti-Guy Its a little
humor are you always this stuck up enjoy life sir.


I'll try.