Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If not now, when? For the love of god, when?

So, as everyone by now knows, Stephane Dion has said, while this budget is "a mile wide and an inch deep" he's going to have the Liberals support it anyway, and let this government see another day. Or, at this rate, however many more days there are to the fixed election date in 2009.

Is it possible to be flabbergasted, and not be surprised, at the same time? Because that's my reaction. As much as I ridicule the NDP for deciding to vote against it before they've seen it, it seems clear the Liberals decided to vote for the budget before they'd even seen it. They were clearly signaling their intentions last week with the ridiculous "if it's not TOO bad for the economy" comment from Dion. So I'm not surprised, and yet, still, it boggles the imagination that, again, we're backing down and propping-up this government that doesn't deserve to be in power.

I could attempt to tow the party line and say there's nothing in this budget to get excited about, no big deal, let's just move on. And it is a rather bland, inoffensive document. It is, indeed, a mile wide and an inch deep. It has some positives and says some nice things, though it doesn't go near far enough in the right areas and goes too far in others.

I don't believe in that excuse, however. Because at this point in the life of this government we don't need a reason to bring it down. It needs to give us a reason to support it. And it has failed at doing that.

Canadians don't want an election, say the apologists. I'm not aware that they ever have. It's like going to the dentist: you'd rather not, but you don't want cavities so you go. There's nothing in here we could go to the people on, they continue. It's been my experience that two days into an election no one remembers how it was precipitated.

You want issues to go on though? How about squandering record surpluses with reckless spending over two years that has left us dangerously close to deficit? How about ignoring economic challenges in Ontario and Quebec? How about a billion-dollar softwood sellout? How about firing any bureaucrat or nuclear regulator that disagrees with the government? How about abandoning any action on decreasing wait times? How about taking no substantive action on the environment? How about abandoning the Kelowna Accord? How about doing nothing meaningful on childcare? And a million other reasons why this government, whose agenda is supported by only a minority of Canadians, should not be allowed to continue. How about hijacking the wheat board? It goes on and on and on...

There are plenty of good reasons to force an election. It seems however the Liberal Party is more interested in looking for reasons to not force one. My advice to Stephane Dion yesterday stands. This was an opportunity for leadership, and he surrendered. Why? I don't know, but it's a huge mistake, and I don't see how it recovers from it.

As for the majority of caucus that apparently was pushing him to lower our swords, what's their motivation? I don't know. Maybe Bob Rae's supporters thought Bob would be better positioned for his next leadership run if Bob was in caucus, and Michael Ignatieff's people wanted more time to get ready too, and pay off debts. Who knows. But its becoming abundantly clear that, whatever the agendas are, it has nothing do with what's best for the Liberal Party or, more importantly, what' s best for the people of Canada.

This is a caucus divided, and the only way Dion was ever going to force it to come together was to force them into an election. A common enemy, fighting for survival and what not. Now that's not going to happen, and the bullshit is only going to continue.

From this day forward, I'm going to find it very difficult to not laugh whenever the Liberals say something bad about the Harper government. I broke my no Mike Duffy rule tonight for 10 minutes, because it was budget day after all, and caught the end of his coverage. Liberal Steve MacKinnon was on a strategists panel, saying what he didn't like about the budget. And I said to myself who cares Steve, we're not opposing it.

How in the hell can we pretend any longer to have any credibility as the official opposition? Any time an MP or party official takes issue with something negative the government does, I'm just going to think yeah, but you still propped them up, so who gives a crap what you think. If you really cared, we wouldn't be here.

Two years ago I had such high hopes for my party. And again, I've come full circle. I blame Stephane Dion for not showing leadership and bringing the party together. I blame the party establishment and the caucus, for never moving past the leadership race and refusing to work with the leader we elected. There's lots of blame to go around.

And to those that say let's replace the leader, I say with who exactly? Soon the siren call will begin for another white knight, another savior to return the Liberal Party to glory. If only Iggy, if only Bob, if only Frank MacKenna or Justin Trudeau or Mr. Dressup, then everything would be peacky-keen.

It's bullshit. Stephane Dion failed to fix the problem, that's correct. But he didn't create the problem. We did, and papering it with a new leader won't change a thing.

The problem is, we rushed into a leadership race after the election defeat without ever really acknowledging the deep rot that has set into the Liberal Party, let alone doing anything to fix it. We created this rot, this sickness through years of Chretien/Martin civil war, preceded by years of Turner/Chretien civil war, going back who knows how many generations. A rot worsened by years of majority government with noses bellied-up to the trough, by self-important organizers that put winning and position before policy and what's right, by a deep sense of entitlement, by a bloated party machine dependent on big corporate donations.

Unless we ever get serious about reforming this party and returning (or, since they've never really had it, giving) power to the grassroots then it's hard to really care where we go from here. Dion will stay an indecisive yet willing captive to a divided caucus running its own multiple agendas until enough of those factions decide their interests warrant an election. We'll then finally have an election that, at this rate, we'll lose. We'll pin it all on the leader, he'll probably fall on his sword, and we'll have a leadership race. We'll look for the most messiah-like, crown them, the Conservatives will begin their predictable attack ads and the cycle will begin all over again. Remember, you read it here first.

As for me, I don't know. I'll keep commenting from afar, very afar, but I've lost my energy, and more importantly I've lost my passion. Right now baseball season can't start soon enough.

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28 comments:

Tim Webster said...

Sorry guys, most people don’t care about the exact issue on which the Conservatives are voted out on, because all the issues will come up during the election anyway.

So why does Dion just keep caving in?? It is really hurting the Liberal support. Do you really want a guy like this running our Country? He will cave in the same way to Bush or whoever else.

burlivespipe said...

So do you think the Jays can hold off the improving D*Rays?
I just hope Gibby gets fired. I hate his angry republican ass. But then again, I'm a Cardinals fan...

Tim Webster said...

Goodbye, Liberals I looked for you to champion the cause, but you never stood up for what even you, yourself believed in. You have great minds among you, dare you take action, dare you stand up for a single important cause. There are so many, but I am tired of you. You supported them all, how can I trust you? You won't take stand against them. First you were not ready, you need to select a new leader. Then you did not have enough cash in the bank. Now you wait for things to get worse and this government to show its true colours. That has been clear for a long time. We cannot wait for things to get worse! You have shown your true colour and it is YELLOW!!!

Goodbye, yellow loser!

Mushroom said...

Screw baseball. My focus is on UEFA Champions League and Euro
2008.

RuralSandi said...

It appears an election will happen when Bob Rae decides - he's a sore loser and not to be trusted.

Dion better watch his back with Rae.

ALW said...

Jeff, it's Dion. He doesn't have the nads - that and the singular obsession virtually everyone in the party has had with returning to power as absolutely soon as possible, rather than trying to rebuild properly, even if it meant taking longer. It's like the Toronto Maple Leaf approach to building a Cup-winning team: it never works because everyone's too impatient.

rufous said...

According to Jane Taber this morning (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080227.wbudgetliberals27/BNStory/budget2008/home), Dion and Ignatieff are among those Liberals who want to bring down the Harper gov. now. I think that Dion is getting a really bad rap by some progressive bloggers and some in the media - he's not the one who is 'chicken'. In fact, he represents the best kind of leadership, one who respects his team, who is not a dictator demanding unquestioning loyalty and obedience from his caucus.

It turns out that it's an unelected 'back-room boy' - national campaign co-chair David Smith, a veteran organizer and senator from Ontario - who doesn't want an election now. Well Mr. Smith, it seems you got what you wanted. I as a lifelong Liberal voter, however, did not, so I won't be voting Liberal next time. How does that work for you?

Greg said...

Nice spin Rufous, but sometimes a leader has to say no to the team, for the good of the team. Dion is the man who can't say no.

rufous said...

Greg, I can't agree.

I think that Dion is under pressure from the likes of Smith and as-yet-unelected Bob Rae to hold off on an election until the by-elections so that Rae can join the caucus. So it's not Dion's decision to make since the 'team' isn't standing behind him.

When push comes to shove, e.g., Dion's policy of appointing appropriate female candidates, he's stood his ground despite a lot of criticism. When he made the 'non-compete' deal with Elizabeth May, he was criticized by some in the caucus but didn't back down. He's resisted pressure from caucus members to de-emphasize his position on the environment. He's stuck by his principles.

Cerberus said...

Well said, Jeff, and welcome to the club. Flabbergasted and not the least surprised indeed.

Now you know why I stopped blogging. I mean, what was the point trying to prop up an opposition party that wants to prop up the government or opposing a government that the rest of my team doesn't feel like opposing.

The Grumpy Voter said...

>>And to those that say let's replace the leader, I say with who exactly?<<

Ralph Goodale.

Jason Hickman said...

Screw baseball. My focus is on UEFA Champions League and Euro
2008.


Mushroom, I can't even enjoy Euro '08, thanks to England choking their way out of it, and Scotland and Ireland breaking my heart again. Unless we get another out-of-nowhere story like we did 4 years ago, it's gonna be hard for me to watch.

Jeff, that's a well-written post. A lot of partisans - including me at times, I have to admit - aren't willing to shine the light that brightly on their own team.

Wilson said...

And a million other reasons why this government, whose agenda is supported by only a minority of Canadians, should not be allowed to continue.

Including firing the national science advisor. Argh!

Okay, I wasn't going to comment on wording issues any more, but this mental image made me laugh:

with noses bellied-up to the trough

Wilson Fowlie

PS. Why is the blockquote tag not allowed? Who sets that option?

Wheatsheaf said...

BCer - in brief, well said.

The Right is Where its At said...

To all:

I am a Conservative supporter a right winger if you will. You people on the left have been criticizing the Conservatives attack ads that call your leader Mr.S.Dion he is not a leader.

Now I see here and other places that maybe the ads the Conservatives were right,right? If Mr.Dion cannot even control is own CAUCUS how well can he lead as PM of this country domestically and on the international stage?

What a kind of leader is Mr.Dion when the leader of the party has to follow the script developed by his senior caucus leadership as he announced yesterday that there was not enough in the Harper budget to justify an election.

Ah you got to love what is going on with the liberals. His own caucus doesn't believe that they could win with Mr.Dion has the leader. I love it.

Just take a look at this video from Rick Mercer Report,just go to the clip: MESSAGE FROM THE LIBERALS. This video sums Mr.Dion's liberals in a nut shell. You got to love it.Its very funny. I love it,I love it!!!

Kingston said...

BCer, You must have brain cells leaking out of both ears by now, not only is the LPC not going to bring the govt down, Mr.Dion is now saying they are going to expend the energy and effort to find a way that they sure they will not bring the govt down on their amendment. Come on Buddy admit this is getting pretty funny.

Gayle said...

"The problem is, we rushed into a leadership race after the election defeat without ever really acknowledging the deep rot that has set into the Liberal Party, let alone doing anything to fix it. We created this rot, this sickness through years of Chretien/Martin civil war, preceded by years of Turner/Chretien civil war, going back who knows how many generations. A rot worsened by years of majority government with noses bellied-up to the trough, by self-important organizers that put winning and position before policy and what's right, by a deep sense of entitlement, by a bloated party machine dependent on big corporate donations."

Yes, yes and yes. I have been saying this for a long time - though I am not nearly as articulate as you.

The Rat said...

"We created this rot, this sickness through years of Chretien/Martin civil war, preceded by years of Turner/Chretien civil war, going back who knows how many generations. A rot worsened by years of majority government with noses bellied-up to the trough, by self-important organizers that put winning and position before policy and what's right, by a deep sense of entitlement, by a bloated party machine dependent on big corporate donations."

And yet I can guarantee most of you'll still vote Liberal in the next election. What does that say about you? When my party was corrupt, snout-in-trough, arrogant and entitled, I left and supported another party. Do you have the guts to build, say, the Green Party into the progressive image of Reform? Because that's the only way you'll change the LPC: With your votes.

Gayle said...

"And yet I can guarantee most of you'll still vote Liberal in the next election. What does that say about you?"

It says that for all the corruption and rot in the liberal party, some of us still do not want to see this country and our traditions corrupted by a Harper majority.

I have never been a liberal and I am not one now, and believe me I am angry with what that party has done to itself, but I see Harper as a great threat. Because of this I support the only party that can bring him down. I do not really care about his useless little "tough on crime" games, or his rather shallow budgets and economic policy, because all that can be fixed - though it will cost us in tax dollars. What concerns me is his desire to decentralize this country and his catering to the nationalists in Quebec. I would rather have my money stolen than have my country destroyed.

The Rat said...

"I would rather have my money stolen than have my country destroyed."

And that says it all. Big drama "destroy the country", whatever, and the corrupt people who have ruined the Liberal party carry on as normal.

If you don't think small "c" conservatives thought the Liberals did a good job of destroying the country you're kidding yourself. If you really want change you have to accept some pain. Believe me, Chretien was painful. So if you can't take the pain don't whine about the fact your party doesn't change.

A BCer in Toronto said...

burlivespipe,

So do you think the Jays can hold off the improving D*Rays?

If we stay healthy. Read today the Rays might sign Barry Bonds though...

rufous,

In fact, he represents the best kind of leadership, one who respects his team, who is not a dictator demanding unquestioning loyalty and obedience from his caucus.

There is a medium between the Harper model (dictator) and the current Dion model (follow the tide of caucus). Leaders don't follow, they lead. Listen, build consensus, yes. But sometimes a leader has to make the call that he/she knows is right, even if it's not the popular or easy one. That's the essence of leadership. I elected a leader, not a caucus recording secretary.

When push comes to shove...He's stuck by his principles.

So he has it in him, which makes his failure to do so here all the more galling.

kingston,

Come on Buddy admit this is getting pretty funny.

In a slow-motion trainwreck kind of a way.

wilson,

Including firing the national science advisor. Argh!

I know for me, that was what pushed it over the line. No idea on the blockquotes, must be google.

Rat, it says that Stephen Harper must really suck.

When my party was corrupt, snout-in-trough, arrogant and entitled, I left and supported another party.

And now you're supporting a snot-in-trough, arrogant and entitled Conservative Party again, as Elton John would say the circle of life. When will Reform II launch?

liberazzi said...

Screw baseball? I can't wait for the season to begin. Very excited about the IRL/Champ merger also. Hopefully, T.O. will get their race back. Cherniak said that we should move on. I think I am...can't wait for the first pitch. By the way Paul Wells gave him a good burn on his blog today.

BCer has expressed what I believe most of us are feeling today, except Cherniak.

I also agree that this party, is not engaging its party members enough. Their decision not fight an election, demonstrates that point, when we are all basically screaming for them to go for it.

I came from the Ancaster riding where I was receiving monthly, almost weekly emails and notices about upcoming events etc. I am also pleased to see what Tyler Banham from Ham Mountain is doing with his Town Hall's etc, and how he is utilizing Facebook to keep his supporters involved. I was just at his Town Hall a few weeks ago, with Ignatief and it was an excellent event. I understand you tend to work harder when you are simply a candidate and not an MP. However, the riding I live in now, is quite dead. My MP has no events, does not keep its members involved or informed. This MP has an amateurish website, but I did manage to receive a lovely mailer the other day that went straight into the recycler. Moreover, it was addressed to the former owner of my townhouse, even though I am a registered member of this riding. This MP has simply been around too long and quite frankly is simply out of touch, such as not utilizing a professional website and not utilizing such applications such as Facebook or blogs. This is an example of complacency at its worse. The media is making a big deal about the various retiring members, but I think this party does need an even bigger purge with more new blood like Banham, Kennedy etc.

Gayle said...

rat - screwing around with taxes, and the economy, and crime bills, is one thing. These are things that can and do change with a change in administration.

Decentralization is something else. History has shown us that when a government caters to nationalists in Quebec, it can lead to a constitutional crisis.

You may not think that is a big deal, and that is your right. I think it is a big deal and is the main reason I refuse to support Harper. I quite frankly do not care if you do not agree with me, but characterizing it as "big drama" trivializes it in a way I will not do.

Further, I live in a province that is governed by the most corrupt government in Canada yet I am surrounded by people who will obediently vote conservative each and every election. I know the difference between voting for a party because "I always have, and my parents always have, and my grandparents always have. And by the way, liberals suck", and voting against a party for reasons that are based on principle. Again, you may not agree with those principles, but that is beside the point.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

First of all, I must say that this is a gut-wrenchingly honest post and congrats for that, Jeff.

Also, it's too bad you swore off MDL although I admit it's probably healthier to abstain.

However, Jean LaPierre and Joel Denis Bellavance have both been quite candid with their comments about how Bob Rae seems to be slowly but surely gaining control of the party. LaPierre in particular expressed shock at how Dion told the troops to get ready, and he's basically been ignored.

So I would say that an internal coup is being orchestrated and Bob Rae wants that by-election and some time in front of Parliamentary cameras before a general election.

Mushroom said...

liberazzi,

Tyler owes us a webpage design for our riding association. Know he is busy, but would at least like to hear from him.

Jason Cherniak said...

If you're right about a rot in the Liberal Party that goes back 30 years, how could you expect it to be fixed in one year by a new leader who was elected at least in part because he's not a standard politician? I can understand your disappointment, but I think that your expectations may have been unreasonably high.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Jason, I don't think it can be fixed overnight, and that wasn't my expectation. I would take some comfort in some sign of forward momentum. But I've seen none, no matter how small, nor much sign there's any recognition of the problem either. I think your expectations may be unreasonably low.

JimTan said...

Let’s be clear about why dion has to go. It isn’t that dion is the worse communicator in Canada, a poor leader, and doesn’t understand politics. I have said as much months ago.

It isn’t that the LPC doesn’t oppose CPC legislature or won’t fight an election. Dion is being logical. He doesn’t have the issues to take to the people.

Dion has to go because he is unable to create a winning edge. He has failed as a strategist to forge a green alliance with the NDP and Bloc. He could have given them Afghanistan to seal the deal. He has failed as a leader to create a new and better brand for the LPC. And, he has failed as an organizer to revitalize the LPC.

Compare with Barrack Obama. He started as the underdog, and hopelessly outgunned. In six months, he has gained momentum and a movement. He has out-organized the Democratic Party establishment.

He started as a brand and an idea, and firmed up his platform as he went. He started by marketing himself, and an organization now has life of its own. Is this a winning business model?

On the other hand, Dion’s brand and mini-movement evaporated after the Montreal convention. He has not been able to transfer the brand to the LPC, or create a new one.

He may think that he is conserving scarce resources for an election next year. The problem is that the LPC will be even weaker next year under his non-leadership.

Dion has to go.