Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The chips are falling into place...

...for a fall election. At least on the Conservative side. Even though Harper, of course totally doesn't want an election. No way Jose...

The federal government has reached a deal with Nova Scotia over offshore revenue sharing, ending a politically damaging battle with the province amid talk of a fall election.

The new arrangement will provide Nova Scotia with a guarantee that it will not lose any royalties under changes made to its cherished offshore accord in last spring's federal budget.

A deal, or a surrender by Harper to pave the way for a fall election? I don't know enough about the details to say one way or another, so I'll leave that to the experts and the spinners. I do know this though:
A three-person panel will be set up to study the value of the complex cash royalty, which was part of the province's original 1985 offshore agreement...The panel is expected to report with a binding decision, which could mean a large cash payment to the province.
A billion here, a billion there, and just in time for an election campaign. Handy that. It will be interesting to see if Bill Casey now comes back into the Conservative fold. I imagine the Cons will be putting major pressure on him to do so. (Or not, see update below) One also wonders if it will be enough to save Peter McKay's seat.

Found it a little peculiar there were no comments from Premier MacDonald in the story, just Harper, as I was interested to see how Rodney would frame it. Maybe CP will add that in later. Also interesting was that this came the day after the Newfoundland elections and Danny Williams' landslide victory. Danny, by the way, called the Nova Scotia deal a bad one:
The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador blasted the agreement in St. John‘s today, saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper has gotten Premier Rodney MacDonald to take less than he would get under the Atlantic accords, adding that Harper has “a way of preying on the weak.‘‘
So, Newfoundland is still an issue to be dealt with for the Cons, as is Saskatchewan, who the story notes are still suing the feds over equalization. Between this and the Wheat Board brouhaha the Cons are in trouble in Saskatchewan. I'd expect the NDP to take some seats from them there at the moment, and maybe if we're lucky the Liberals could sneak-in too.

After the Nova Scotia deal, if we see a quick move to appease Saskatchewan it would be an even clearer sign (were it not blindingly obvious already) that Harper is determined to go to the polls this fall.

Meanwhile, in Liberal land, Stephane Dion had a press conference yesterday and announced...well, not a lot really. He shuffled around his shadow cabinet, made Bob Rae foreign affairs critic, gave Garth Turner a job too, and booted one MP from their critic portfolio:
Mr. Dion also stripped MP Raymonde Folco of her role as official languages critic — she had told reporters that Mr. Dion was not selling in Quebec and was too old to change his ways...
Good, this was very necessary. I would have liked to have seen some of the other people that broke confidentiality and ran to the press over the Carroll thing punted too though. Still, hopefully this sends a message. While debate is good, and changes need to be made, it's important for party executives and MPs to work within the system, not through the media. Undermine the leader in public and there need to be consequences.

On an unrelated matter, I would also have liked to have seen Denis Coderre moved out of the defence critic job. I admit, that was probably impossible after the whole Afghan trip thing this week, the timing and optics would have been brutal. But while I've defended Coderre on the trip issue because I believe he's in the right there, I still would rather see someone else in that role. Nearly anyone else, to be honest.

In other news from the Dion presser:
St├ęphane Dion signalled Tuesday that he will try to sidestep a fall election, and might even tell his Liberal MPs to sit out a confidence vote on the Conservative government's agenda.
Sigh. It looks like Bryan Wilfert wasn't freelancing after all, but was floating a trial balloon for the OLO. I've already articulated why I think this is an exceedingly crappy idea, and nothing I've heard since has served to change my mind. I'm not pleased to hear this. As I said earlier, we need to start standing-up for Liberal values again. Prop-up the Cons and I don't care how you spin it, it'll be bad. Jack and Gilles will be over the moon.

Finally, an example of really lame attempted Conservative spin:
Conservatives, meanwhile, scoffed that Mr. Dion has decided to avoid an election because his party is in disarray.

"The Liberals are struggling with a weak leader, thin bench strength and a tarnished brand," said Conservative party spokesman Ryan Sparrow.

Of course, the Conservatives (say they) don't want an election either. I guess that's because Harper is such a strong leader with strong bench strength and a shiny brand, right Ryan? Or maybe they're just lying when they say they want to avoid an election...

UPDATE 1: Via Garth Turner comes this exchange from Harper's presser on the Nova Scotia deal, and Bill Casey:
Question: Prime minister, now that you’ve got this agreement, are you going to welcome Mr. Casey back into the Conservative caucus?

Answer: No. Mr. Casey made demands that he knew were incompatible with our budget, that he knew that this government would not agree to and has not agreed to. Mr. Casey is not welcome into our caucus. Just so I can be as clear as i can be on it, there — when there is a next federal election there will be a conservative candidate in Mr. Casey’s riding, and it will not be Mr. Casey.

Well, I guess that settles that. As Garth says, vindictive, petty, spiteful, bully. To that I would add stupid. I could see Harper being enough of a dick to freeze Casey out if he wanted back, but what's the political upside to such a course. I've always maintained that, despite his being arrogant and wrong and all that, Harper is a smart strategist. He's lost me here though, because I don't get it. Neither does Steve.

Speaking of Carroll, something that was probably inevitable finally happened today. Since it seemed fairly clear we were heading this way, one wonders what the frick took them so long?!
Jamie Carroll has officially stepped down from the party's top administrative job and he has given up his role as deputy national campaign director as well.

The announcement comes after weeks of controversy over Carroll's allegedly dismissive response to demands that Dion include more Quebecers in his inner circle.

It's unfortunate, because I think Carroll is a good guy and that the infamous diversity remarks were blown widely out of proportion by people with their own agendas. However, I think for the good of the party and the sake of party unity he probably had to go. Rightly or wrongly, he had become a lighting rod for controversy. It dates back to his ill considered remarks in Diebel's book. It wasn't all his fault, but he had become a roadblock to progress.

Now, with Carroll gone, it will be interesting to see if the people who were calling for his ouster now get on board and start being team players working for the good of the party. Were their motives what's right for the party, or driven by their own personal agendas? With Carroll now gone, their reaction and behaviour going forward will tell the tale.

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1 comment:

Jay said...

Its a side deal which is something Harper expressed he would never do. Some principles. A full flip-flop again.