Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dear Liberals: It's time to lead

A Google search tells me it was Thomas Paine that gave us the expression "lead, follow, or get out of the way." I didn’t know that. I first heard it as a young air cadet; it made sense to me then and it still makes sense now. In the hours before the budget, it's a decision the Liberal Party needs to make as well.

We’ve been doing some following, and we certainly have been developing an affinity for getting the heck out of the way. But now, it’s time to lead.

I don’t know what will be in the budget; we’ll have to wait a few hours for that. I’ll still be working, so I’ll have to wait a little longer still. Barring major surprise, however, the Liberal Party will need to vote it down. No holding our nose if it’s “not too bad for the economy” which, frankly, is a ridiculous notion. If it doesn’t take the necessary steps to deal with the economic situation, and address the priorities of Canadians, we need to vote no.

And we need to come out with our position firmly, clearly and loudly. We can’t have a repeat what we saw after the throne speech, where Stephane Dion took the night off to think about it and sent out Michael Ignatieff to the cameras. Dion needs to be front and centre, and he needs to stand firm. Clearly state our objections, preview our proposed amendments, and make clear if the amendments aren’t accepted we won’t be voting yes. If that means an election, so be it.

For Dion particularly, it’s time to lead. What happened to the forceful debater I supported in Montreal? What happened to the Stephane Dion that stared down the separatists, who made his position clear and defended what he knew to be right against all comers? I liked that guy, anyone seen him?

Now, he has been in a tough spot, trying to play conciliator amongst a fractious caucus. Remember, he won the leadership with little support from caucus and the party leadership. By and large it was grassroots Liberals that put him into the OLO. It seems clear from the rampant media leaks that he still hasn’t won over much of the caucus, and the aristocracy. He needs to shoulder his share of the blame for that; so do they.

It doesn’t matter at this point though. It’s time for Stephane Dion to remember who gave him this job in the first place, and to remember why we gave it to him. Ignore the caucus factions looking to position leadership successors, the nervous nellies afraid of their own shadows and losing their cushy jobs, and yes ignore the hawks hungry for election blood.

Instead, ask yourself if this budget is really the one Canadians need, and if this Conservative deserves to continue to govern. If the answer is no, then it’s to the hustings we go. It’s the only consideration that should matter.

Enough is enough. It’s time to lead. Otherwise, just what the hell are we doing anyways?

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Steve V said...

I think if Dion just listened to his own counsel, then we would vote the budget down. The problem with his leadership style, while admirable, he is trying to be inclusive, responsive, a conduit. In the end, that honorable attempt has the net effect of creating a complete and utter leadership vacuum, because you appease factions, and in the end lack coherence.

I can't listen to the "if it's not to bad for the economy" crap. Up or down, good or bad, based on our positions, not some nonsensical sellout line.

I would add, this apprehension is starting to demoralize people in the local ridings, who grow tired of forever waiting, forever being told to man the battle stations, only to be told to stand down a week later. It's a rollercoaster out there in the hinterland, you have new candidates sitting in limbo, volunteers putting other decisions on hold, all of it is reaching a boiling point.

I'm not sure I can stomach the reaction after the budget is presented, I suspect it will be nothing but weasel words, that insult the senses.

Ryan said...

Well said.

Wouldn't you say that this stand on the war conflicts with the last 50 years of Liberal policy and ideology? If there's one thing I have always been fond of the Liberals for was foreign policy. Not so anymore.

northwestern_lad said...

Well said Jeff and Steve... I'm no fan of Mr. Dion's nor the Liberals, but in the past I had a much greater level of respect for their stances because, well, they took some. Even though I never voted for him, I liked Jean Chr├ętien's style and I had a great respect for his leadership. His actions brought on that respect. I also have that kind of respect for past Liberals like Pierre Trudeau.

It was that kind of leadership that really made the Liberal brand, and that's why I have said many times over that the Party of Trudeau is dead, because it's tilted more and more to the right, and as of recent, stopped taking positions. I don't have to agree with a party to be able to respect it, but I have a harder time respecting many Liberal MP's these days simply for that reason. I doubt I am alone in that feeling.

It's like I said over on my blog last night, Dion is allowing his party to be bullied, and it's showing. That's hurting the brand a lot.

tdwebste said...

Whatever, I am tired of the Neo Conservatives. It is obvious to everyone the Conservatives are a bad Government for Canada.

Well they are great Government for big Oil.

tdwebste said...


Dion to support Budget! losses the support of Canadians and destroys the Liberal party.

There is not much else to say, other than it is time to replace Dion with someone who will remove the disgraceful Neo Conservatives.

Good Bye it has been so said to watch Dion.

We need to take the leadership runner up and put him in charge. It is time for Dion to go. He has caved in so many times, I think he is a huge Harper fan.

susansmith said...

So some posters here are concerned that liberals supported the war extension again, remember this is the 4th extension, as it was suppose to end in 2003. Libs propping up the Cons.
In 2011, well, by the liberal record it will be extended again. Now, on the budget just like the fall budget, where Kyoto was trashed, they sat on their hands again.
Remember, Dion doesn't act alone, and so it blatantly shows the libs are leaning very much right of centre. Thus, its time to support Layton and the NDP.

MrvnMouse said...

You've gotta love the Liberal spin on their capitulation to the budget (From: http://www.liberal.ca/story_13624_e.aspx)

"The Liberal Opposition will not bring down the Conservatives based on their latest budget because it adopts many of the measures the Liberal Party has championed, Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion said today.


However, Mr. Dion expressed concern that the Conservatives’ projected surpluses of $2.3 billion for this year and $1.3 billion for next year are well below the $3-billion contingency fund that Liberals consider the bare minimum to cushion against unanticipated economic shocks.

“This budget shows the Conservatives are adopting Liberal ideas, including bolstering the economy so it can weather a possible slow-down, but their actions over the last two years have left them virtually no room to maneuver should the economy continue to falter,” said Mr. Dion."

What a load of tripe. Basically it's a variation, we're going to bend over and take it in the hopes that things will eventually get worse for the country and thus somehow miraculously good for the Liberals. On top of that, we are also going to tell the Cons "Thank you, can I have another." Heaven forbid the Liberals gain a backbone and actually go to the polls.

After all of the press about how tough the Liberals were getting and how they were going to stand up to the Cons eventually, this is going to burn them hard. The Liberals are basically their own worst enemy.

Thanks to their spinelessness with regards to going back to the polls, we're probably going to end up with a Con majority in the next election.

Greg said...

Sorry to say BCer that Dion has kept his record perfect. He has backed down again. Your party is now in the hands of that political genius, Bob Rae. Take it from an NDP supporter, good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

From the CBC report. H/T to Tim Webster:

Dion called it a "grab bag" that accomplishes little but goes in the "general direction" the Liberals had sought in recent months in areas such as investment in infrastructure, policing, public transport and making the gas tax permanent.

Another thank you letter from Flaherty is in order. Lower corporate tax, check. Restoring the tax cuts to lower income families, check. Revival of Chretien's 1993 red book, it's getting there, but not quite.

A budget that accomplishes little, but it goes to the general direction. I know what general direction the Liberal grass roots are going to. We will march like river rats down to the river bank and, who knows what will happen there????

Jeff said...

Re: Libs supporting the budget. I'll be swamped with work for awhile yet, but my short-form reaction: oh for f*ck's sake! And a few other profanities. More later.

Anonymous said...

"I liked that guy, anyone seen him?"

Hall Findlay told us over the weekend that he is still the same guy. She still believes that we should let the budget through. I still need some further explanation.

tdwebste said...

I can understand thefrustration. It is easy to hid yourself in work, when you force to deal with crap, like another year of bad fiscal planning. And the fact that those trusted to stand up don't, doesn't help.

The grass roots Liberals should boot Dion from the Liberal party, because he is an obvious Harper supporter within the Liberal party.

It won't be hard, I expect a few thousand letters from across Canada should do it.

Not much to say in the letter.

Dion must be removed from the Liberal party for destroying the Liberal party and supporting Harper.

liberazzi said...

I am so pissed off with these guys, so disappointed, so disenchanted, they deserve every bit of bashing they are going to get for being a bunch of pansies! Dion's leadership at this point is a bigger disaster for this party than Turner. The idea for a leader is to LEAD! Now they are trying to spin that this is really a Liberal style gov't. Please.

liberazzi said...

I meant Liberal style budget (David Mcguinty). I'm so pissed that I cant think straight.

wilson said...

CTV commentors are calling it a Progressive Conservative budget.

It's the Afghanistan motion all over again.
How can Dion vote down something that is 50% Liberal content?

Very crafty of Flaherty.
But then this is nothing new, Liberals always stole Dipper and Reform ideas and presented them in a budget, to neutralize the opposition.

MrvnMouse said...

I haven't posted about Canadian politics to any depth in a long time, but this was enough to bring me out of the woodwork for one more post: http://www.1337hax0r.com/?p=650

liberazzi said...

It really didn't matter what was in the budget, even though it is a joke. It was an opportunity to vote non-confidence in the gov't as a whole. I have been geared up to be a volunteer based on the info that this was going to be the time. I have been putting off going on holidays waiting to see if and when the election would come. Now screw em! As I write this Ralph Goodale is trying to spin this mess. Don Newman is perplexed by the Liberal position, oh wait they don't have one. Perhaps, the Liberals should have listed what their priorities are, instead of simply reacting to what the Cons are doing, then that would give them a reason to vote against the budget. For instance, the Cons are about to blow the surplus within a year. Is that not a reason to vote against them?

Anonymous said...

"Now screw em!"

In a month or two, we will see the fundraising figures for the first quarter of 2008. Will our numbers continue to be poor, as the NDP and the Greens have more small donors than us?

rufous said...

Regardless of what's in the budget, as long as Harper is in power he'll keep on throwing money around until there really is nothing left.

The reason for voting against the budget is simple - they don't have a clue about about fiscal responsibility...or they do and are deliberately risking financial disaster for this country.

Steve V said...

"In a month or two, we will see the fundraising figures for the first quarter of 2008. Will our numbers continue to be poor, as the NDP and the Greens have more small donors than us?"

Nothing fires up the rank and file like capitulation and fear. Somebody get me away from my wallet, lest I do something crazy.

Blogging Horse said...

Good advice, BCer. Shame it wasn't followed.

The good news is that there is still a national party that is prepared to vote against Harper's agenda.

Anne McGrath has a message just for you: http://www.ndp.ca/page/6195

And Liberals upset with their party needn't worry about not knowing anyone in the NDP, either! Tens of thousands have already joined, as of course, has Francoise Boivin.