Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall election or bust

I'm sorry, but Jason and Bryon Wilfert are wrong. Unless the speech from the throne includes something dramatically unexpected, like state-run day care institutions for all, then the Liberals are going to have to vote against it. And all our MPs had better be in their seats.

The Liberals are “never afraid of a fight” but should not pull the plug on the minority Conservative government to trigger a fall election, says Toronto-area MP Bryon Wilfert, a close confidant of Opposition leader Stephane Dion.

Wilfert proposes an unusual tactic of partial abstention by the Liberals if they have the deciding vote among the opposition parties on a confidence motion over the government’s Oct. 16 speech from the throne. “We could register our displeasure without bringing down the government,” he said.

I don't know if Wilfert, who was one of Dion's few original caucus supporters for the leadership, was freelancing here or if he was asked by higher-ups to float a trial balloon. I hope it's the former and not the latter, because I think this is a really bad idea.

It's time to fish or cut bait. The Liberals, at this point, can no longer afford to be seen as propping-up this Conservative government. Particularly if the NDP and BQ both vote no. We will be pilliored by our base and by the undecided/swing voters we need if we're going to gain seats.

It would be different if there were to be something substantial in the speech to support. But there's not going to be. Now, more than ever, Harper wants a fall election. If we vote for the speech only because we don't want an election now our credibility in the eyes of Canadians will be shot. It will be done.

The fact is, the Harper government no longer has a mandate, and to let it continue governing would be an abdication of our responsibility to Canadians. It's time for the Canadian people to have their say on where we go from here, and we can't be the ones to deny them that say.

And a partial abstention? Ludicrous. I don't care if the Cons have done it before. We're some 18 or 19 months into a rudderless Conservative government. The time for such tactical moves is early in a government, not this late in a minority mandate. Such a move would just confirm to all that we're weak, scared, in internal conflict, and willing to do or say anything to avoid going to the polls. Including abdicating our duties as official opposition to the BQ and the NDP. Who would, by the way, have a field day. Particularly Jack Layton. Get ready for round three of 'not a leader' ads, brought to you by the Cons AND the NDP.

A fall election isn't ideal obviously. And it won't be easy. However, we're backed into a corner, and we don't really have a choice. Also, it's the best thing for us. An election will force the party to stop this petty bullshit and come together, and I think with the exception of Quebec we are together and ready to go. We're in good shape in the polls, we have some good issues to hammer the Cons on, and we have some good growth potential across the country.

What we need is a strong push from the leader to rally around the standard, and a strong policy vision to articulate to Canadians, a different vision for the country, an alternative vision to the Harper lack thereof.

The fact is, there is going to be a fall election. The sooner we all accept that and get to work, the better.

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14 comments:

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

I could hardly have said it better myself...

SJ said...

Good post. Libloggers who care about the long-term credibility of the Liberal Party should work together to bring this government down in defence of liberal values and policies.

Oldschool said...

The best chance for a conservative majority would be a fall election . . . . lets face it, Dion is a lousey communicator, is void of ideas and would get smoked in a debate.
Dion is the "John Turner" of the new milenieum!!!
Libs make it up as they go along . . . have no new ideas, the last thing they want is an ellection now . . . look for Dion to support the cons next budget of tax cuts for Canucks.
Isn't it sad that someone, in Canada, making $89,000 is in the top 5% of wage earners in this country . . . this is the result of years of liberal govts driving out entrepeneurs and businesses to the US and elsewhere.

Lizt. said...

I think something has to be done about Dion and Quebec, if not,THERE is Harpers majority..... handed to him on a plate...and THERE goes the ountry as we know it.

bigcitylib said...

BCer,

I am mostly indifferent on this, because I think all the panicking aside, this is "inside baseball" stuff and is being ignored by the vast majority of Canadians (I will worry when I see a few polls that show otherwise). Sure a Spring election will allow the Tories to spread more goodies about, but that didn't work for them last Spring, did it? Why should anyone expect a different result this time?

Jason Cherniak said...

"The Liberals, at this point, can no longer afford to be seen as propping-up this Conservative government."

Because that's how people see the Liberals now? I don't follow that reasoning.

Woman at Mile 0 said...

Of course they will be paying attention. Why do people believe Canadians live in a bubble. If this loony idea was actually floated by Wilfret on behalf of the Liberal party then I am absolutely shocked and deeply disappointed in my party's thinking/planning and decision making processes right now.

wilson said...

And the reasons why Conservatives don't deserve to govern until Oct 2009 are
[ suggestions?]

1) Just ignore that the dollar, the economy and jobs are at a 30 year high,
because,
Harper has a hidden agenda, we don't know what it is because it is hidden, but it involves Bush who will be leaving office soon, so hurry and kick them out now so we never have to find out what it is?

-because the polls say Libs have a 50/50 chance at forming a minority government, and Canada should not take the chance that Libs will slip in the polls?

-too many soon-to-be-announced tax cuts?

-Harper cut program spending on special interest groups and gave it instead to the people the groups were supposed to help rather than office space?

-Western farmers don't deserve to be treated as equal to Eastern farmers? long live the CWB!?

-NATO needs to know where we stand in Afghan by April 2008 and Harper won't tell them NOW!?

-Canada has lots of surplus, we should spend spend spend it meeting Kyoto
and
national daycare
and
on national what ever the Dippers want?

Steve V said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
burlivespipe said...

Hmm, Wilson, I could draw up just as convincing list as to why we don't deserve an election in Jan. 2006 but it seem moot.
Our system of governance permits the opposition to vote down the government in a minority parliament. Their job is also to propose and work with the government to try and make the system work. But guess who wrote a handbook on how to make minority gov't disfunctional? Well, it was your team.
Instead of pretending that only you guys know the rules -- as opposed to being hypocritical moral misers that seem to be your more suitable position -- why don't you agree that what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
In 2005-06, the economy was going great gang-busters too; the PM called an inquiry into a scandal (tho it dated back nearly 10 years), and had worked on 2 major national programs to address child/early learning and First Nations poverty.
Your CONs have raised taxes, bait and switched on your Income Trust election-ticket, and standardized the jelly bean.
Let's put this 'New Government' to the ultimate test. I'll live with the results like the rest of Canada.

A BCer in Toronto said...

oldschool said:
this is the result of years of liberal govts driving out entrepeneurs and businesses to the US and elsewhere.

wilson said:
Just ignore that the dollar, the economy and jobs are at a 30 year high,

Gee, you guys really need to get your stories straight it would seem.

Jason said:
Because that's how people see the Liberals now? I don't follow that reasoning.

If they don't, if we follow Byron's advice they very soon will. Let me lay-out what I see as the BQ and NDP strategy here.

First, the BQ. They have even less reason than us to want an election, and yet Duceppe is laying-down the gauntlet. Why? Because he needs to back the hell away from Harper, whom his party has largely been propping-up. With the obvious Con resurgence in Quebec, he needs to seperate himself from Harper and set the BQ up as the only real opposition to the Cons in Quebec. if you want to stop the Cons, vote BQ, only we can stand up to Harper, etc. The Liberals are going no where in Quebec, he'll say, only a BQ vote can keep Harper in line. Still, he really doesn't want an election. He's betting the Liberals will cave on the throne speech, letting Duceppe make his successful transition, have more time to prepare for the election, and cast the Liberals as the Harper proper-upers.

Then there's the NDP. I can hear the calls of Liberal/Tory same old story already. They want to replace the Liberals as the main opposition to the Cons, and this would go a long way. Look, they'd say, when push comes to shove the Liberals cave and prop-up the Harper Conservatives. You can't trust them to stand-up for Liberal values. If you want to hold the Cons to account, you need to vote NDP. The Liberals are in such internal disarray they can't stand-up for Canadians, only the NDP can.

me dere robert said...

Maybe if Dion knew that if he lost the election the party wouldn't get rid of him this wouldn't be such a hard decision.

Then if the Liberals do lose they won't be in a mess finding a new leader and "rebuilding" the party once again. Things could go on and improve until the next election.. especially with key liberals like Kennedy, Rae and Finley in the House.

This election is only bad if they make it bad for themselves.

James said...

Jeff,

My honest assessment of the current situation is that we need to play in order to win. If we call an election and lose, we lose big. Another opportunity for an election wouldn't present itself for at least another year and a half, perhaps longer.

What do you think the Canadian population would think if an election were called and Harper were returned to office under a minority government? What a waste of time and money that would be. How much of an appepite would we have for an election after that?
And what would happen to the liberal party with regard to infighting should Dion lose a snap election?

If, on the other hand, we wait till the winning conditions are at least more visible, we'll find a much more receptive electorate AND we'll be ready to turf this irresponsible government out on its ass.

I don't think that abstaining from a vote of confidence will necessarily translate into an image of support for the current government. In fact, such a claim would be highly dubious. Nor would it lead to a resurgence of the NDP or the Bloc.

If an election is called, truth be told, I'll be working my butt off to get my candidate into office. I want Dion as leader of our country.

However, sometimes its best to wait for a better hand before you put all your chips in.

Demosthenes said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't there some by-elections coming up in Toronto and Vancouver that should reinforce the perceived ability of the Liberals to win elections? And didn't Harper deliberately avoid calling those elections so that he could highlight the difficult Quebec election situation, instead of the mixed situation that actually exists?

Wouldn't having the election now just play into his hands?

When you go to war, you want to do it on YOUR terms, at a time and place of YOUR choosing. This really strikes me as Harper's time, and Harper's place. Why play his game, to try to avoid losing temporary "credibility points" that the public will have forgotten about after a few weeks?