Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I’m already on the record with why I think we need to bring down the government over the budget, so I won’t rehash those arguments. But I will discuss another reason I’m annoyed with these comments from Stephane Dion over the weekend “hinting” the Liberals may let the budget pass and the government stand:

During a stop in Quebec City yesterday, he acknowledged he won't get what he wants in the budget and appeared to lower the bar for what he'd accept, saying he might let it pass if it's "not too harmful" for the economy.

"It won't be a Liberal budget. Unfortunately, the ideas I have put forward won't be in the budget," Mr. Dion said of the looming fiscal plan.

"But we also have to respect the decision of the voters in 2006," he said, referring to the Conservative victory in the last federal election.

"Therefore, if it's a budget that appears to us as being acceptable or at least not too harmful for the Canadian economy, we could let it pass and avoid $350-million in [taxpayer] expenses for an election," the Liberal Leader said.

Putting aside my desire for an election, even if what Dion is saying here is what he honestly believes, why is he saying it now? What’s the strategic benefit of showing weakness, and a willingness to settle for less, at this juncture?

If he is considering letting the budget pass, why not keep talking tough now anyways, say this is what we want, here’s our demands, this is what is needed for our support. If you want to later settle for less and declare victory, wait until we actually see the budget.

Showing weakness now only confirms to Harper we’re desperate to avoid an election. If Harper really wants a vote, he’ll do what he was going to do anyway. And if he wants to avoid a vote, he’s less likely to give in a little on our budget demands. We’ve caved already and shown desperation, so why would he?

So, while you could argue the timing of Dion’s comments is designed to temper the election drumbeat and soften the ground in preparation for a Liberal climb-down in the budget, I’d argue it’d bad strategy because showing weakness will only embolden Harper, and make any Liberal climb-down an even bigger fall.

Of course, we can get out of this hole if we just find our balls and vote the dammed thing down.

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Steve V said...

"Of course, we can get out of this hole if we just find our balls and vote the dammed thing down."

I'm in favor of putting this guy at the helm, plus he might have good appeal in the west.

CuriosityCat said...

I would vote for that guy.

Mushroom said...

According to Dion's quote, fiscal responsibility is avoiding an election.

If Harper wants an election over the budget, he can tell his backbench to not show up for the confidence vote. This can embarrass Dion even further.

Laurence Martin's article talks about the intricacies of caucus. It seems that Dion has Harper's disease. He is rumoured to spend most evenings in Stornaway alone, while his wife entertains Liberal friends and caucus members.

Demosthenes said...

The Liberals appear to suffer from the same disease as Dems: the tendency to shoot their mouth off for no good reason.

Reading that martin article, the bit that grabbed me was the phrase "caucus members report". WHY are they reporting? What reason could they have? Does it benefit either them or their party?

Clearly not.

But they do it anyway, because they somehow have no personal political discipline whatsoever.

Dr. Tux said...

Why we should go to an election

1) We're polling competitively with Conservatives and are ahead in key provinces (Ontario and Quebec). The governing party usually loses even more points during an election, and this governing party will most likely lose points because of their terrible record.

2) The Budget is the best place for Dion to knock the Conservatives off their stride. The recent book published by Jim Prentice bombed and this shows a major weakness for the Conservative party.

3) Going to an election on the economy makes the most sense for Dion. The economy is the single best issue for Dion to champion during an election because it comprehensively covers the other major pillars of his platform - the environment (Research and Development, knowledge-based economy) and social justice (sharing the wealth and taking care of all Canadians).

4) Not going to an election on the Budget brings us to another contentious vote - Afghanistan. The media have pounded Dion on the issue and tend to side with Harper's version of the story where we need to establish "command and control" in that country. Signalling that we are willing to capitulate on the budget means we're also willing to capitulate on Afghanistan.