Thursday, February 28, 2008

Some more budget thoughts two days later

In the comments of my post-budget post I said things were getting entertaining, in a train-wreck kind of a way. And the past day-and-a-half or so in Liberal caucus land certainly haven’t let me down.

First Wednesday morning we were greeted by this headline:

'We'll find a way to not defeat the government': Dion

While it’s positively Obama-esque, isn’t it? Can we find a way not to defeat the government? Yes we can! Inspiring stuff.

We also had some interesting revelations yesterday from Jane Taber’s beloved anonymous sources:
St├ęphane Dion followed the script developed by his senior caucus leadership as he announced yesterday that there wasn't enough in the Harper budget to justify an election.

She goes on to write Dion apparently wanted to go but the majority of the senior advisors were strongly against it. Of note, she reports Michael Ignatieff wanted to go, so my apologies for assuming he was in the dove camp. I won’t belabour the point so I’ll just say again, if Dion wanted to go he should have gone, damm the torpedoes, particularly with Michael on board. Leaders lead.

Also interesting was this revelation:
But he was shot down, most significantly by national campaign co-chair David Smith, a veteran organizer and senator from Ontario. Mr. Smith said simply that the party wasn't ready to mount a national campaign, one insider said.

If this is true then we’re in even more trouble then I’d thought. How could we not be ready? We’re two years into a minority government, we should have been ready to go if need be for, well, dammed near two years! Particularly given that Dion was supposed to have already ordered the party to an election footing. Was that order ignored?

The implications of that are extremely troubling. Either way, I think that Gordon Ashworth, Mark Marissen and Nancy Girard have some serious explaining to do.

Today, the silly season continues in Liberal land as caucus debates just what form our surrender will take:
Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion is privately recommending that some of his MPs vote against the budget while most stay out of the House of Commons completely to ensure the minority Conservative government survives, sources say.

In previous key confidence votes, Liberal MPs have sat in their seats and abstained.

"Every Liberal in the chamber will be voting against the budget," Mr. Dion told his caucus yesterday, according to an insider.

Liberals are still debating their tactics, however, as there are divisions over which MPs would vote and which would stay away. These same divisions led the caucus to choose mass abstentions in the past as the least objectionable option for avoiding an election.

Privately? Heh. Anyway, very important and serious debates, to be sure. Do I shoot myself in the head or swallow the cyanide capsule … is this what it has come to? We’re not going to vote the dammed thing down, arguing over whether we should vote yes or abstain or vote no but keep enough people away so it passes, it’s asinine. Do they really think anyone outside of Ottawa gives a shit?

The decision has been made not to bring down the government. I think it’s a stupid decision, but c’est la vie. But just move the heck on already, this is idiotic.

Speaking of idiotic:
Some Liberal MPs are becoming increasingly demoralized over abstaining on important votes and allowing the government to stay in power.

The latest strategy allows MPs to save some face and show opposition to the budget. But yesterday, one insider said that MPs are lobbying the Liberal Whip to be among those allowed to vote against the budget so that their constituents won't criticize them for not taking a position.

Are you serious? Here’s how you can avoid being criticized for not taking a position. Grow a pair and actually TAKE A POSITION you chicken-shits! Pleading with the leader not to go to an election and then lobbying to be able to cast a token symbolic no vote so your constituents won’t make fun of you?!

Here’s an idea. No one who argued in caucus against voting down the budget can show-up to cast one of the token votes. The doves can stay in their offices and calculate their pensions. I’m sure Jane Taber can provide us with a list.

In other budget news

A few non-the Liberals are stupid budget-related thoughts now. I think it’s worth noting that it seems pretty obvious that, despite, all his tough talk of late and making everything a confidence motion, Stephen Harper didn’t really want an election either.

At least not on this budget. If he had wanted the government to fall we would have seen a much different budget, one even Bob Rae couldn’t have agreed to support. Instead we get this bland collection of half-measures designed to be just appealing enough to give weak-kneed Liberals an out.

Any why would he want an election right now? The polls show he might have lost, and at best would have gotten another minority. Better for him to appear hawkish and watch the Liberals implode. He gains Liberal votes on the right, the NDP on the left, and everyone’s happy.

Speaking of Stephen, I found myself nodding and agreeing with these comments from Garth Turner:
Liberal MP Garth Turner said yesterday that he would have liked the Prime Minister to be nicer to the Liberals in light of recent events.

"I thought that the Prime Minister's taunts [yesterday] were uncalled for and I think he's, you know, being provocative," Mr. Turner said. "It's unfortunate after he's had such a level of co-operation from the Liberals.

"So I think it was, you know, unfortunate, sad, a measure of the guy and he's certainly putting his stick in our eye."

I don’t think Garth really expects Harper to be nice to us. I think he better than most knows what a dick Harper is. Turner has a good point though, in that Harper’s poking with a stick here is curious.

There’s an old maxim of politics that, when your opponent is self-destructing, just stay out of the way. The Liberals are doing a good enough job of imploding all on their own, Harper’s help isn’t needed. By taking a few cheap shots he’s not going to gain any more than he already was; indeed, he only reinforces his own negatives.

I guess he just can’t help himself.

Anyway, looks like this Cadman thing may push the budget into the background for a little while anyway. And then there’s the Mulroney inquiry, the Dimitri Soudas investigation, the John Baird revelations, an appointment binge … at least its obvious why the Cons don’t want an election. The Libs, that’s another story.

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rufous said...

If, in Mr. Smith's view, the party STILL isn't ready to mount a national campaign, then it seems to me that the party should be looking for a somewhat more effective national campaign organization.

This party is being reduced bit by bit to a hollow shell of it's former self by what appears to be a totally inept national campaign organization. Canadian voters don't elect these power-brokers; how do they get to decide what's best for the country?

JimBobby said...

Whooee!Us treehuggers got a soft spot fer yer guy Dion but I run outta respect for him when he went alog with the Afghanistan extension. He's only goin' along so's he don't hafta go to the voters. The problem is, it's two more years of an unwinnable war where we're proppin' up one buncha terrists so's another buncha terrists don't come back.

Two years of senseless death and maiming so the Liberal Party doesn't have to face the electorate.

Where are all the anti-war Liberals? Us Greenies are more than glad to welcome any Grits who're as disgusted as I am with politics over common decency.


Mushroom said...

Bellevance had an article in French (no link, sorry) on a possible motion of non-confidence advanced on March 14 by the NDP. He also noted that Iggy refused to talk to the press at the Commons corridor after the budget presentation.

The optics are bad. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Finance Minister opposing the budget to be overruled by the Leader of the Opposition, Opposition House Leader, and the Shadow Foreign Minister. In this situation, Iggy and McCallum should have resigned their Shadow Cabinet posts on principle.