Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Well Mr. Harper, you were denied yet another election

This is the third time that you have tried to engineer an election and failed. This is the third time that you have caused a media frenzy only to see it fade away into nothingness. This is the third time you have fired up that much ballyhooed "Election War Room", only to have to turn out the lights again.

This is the third time you have been denied. Which is interesting because many believe you to be a political strategic genius and you are supposedly up against a weak and bumbling leader in your chief opponent.

It kind of makes me wonder who is the superior political strategist.

With Mr. Dion deftly neutralizing Afghanistan and crime as election triggers your last chance was the budget. However, that budget is so innocuous that it will be forgetten by the weekend and Mr. Dion can safely prop you up until the time of his choosing. Although, this budget and your other budgets might come back to haunt you in the fall when your government is forced to post the first deficit in more than a decade.

You can take some solace in the fact the budget will be well received so you may see a temporary uptick in your support. However, it will be small and short lived and you will be in no position to take advantage of it.

You can also take some solace in the fact that some Liberals are upset that Mr. Dion has not toppled your government. You can find many of them right here on Liblogs. Unfortunately for you however, Mr. Dion has surrounded himself with experienced and hardnosed political operatives who realize that realpolitik requires political idealism and principles be tempered with political calculation.

Of course the usual suspects will say nasty things about Mr. Dion for propping you up. However, you know it will be quickly forgotten because it is the curse and the blessing of being the Leader of the Opposition that people will forget what you said or did and it will have no impact on the next election. You know this because you did exactly the same thing when you were opposing Paul Martin. You propped him up two or three times in order to wait for the time you thought was more advantageous to you.

You can also take some solace in the fact the media has still not turned completely against you. They will do so of course as they always turn against a government after a time. However, for the moment they have not done so. They are no longer doing the collective Lewinsky to you as they were doing when you first came to power. They have stood up and are now looking more critically at your government but so far it has not had much of an effect on their narrative. Of course that will really change as the economy goes into the ditch and the first hints of deficits appear in the fall.

So what now? You have blown your wad. You find yourself leading a government without much of an agenda and going into an economic slowdown. Your government will be slowly eaten away by events beyond your control (Hello Linda Keen!). You have lost the Afghan war and crime as issues on which to fight the next election. The economy is slowing down, particularly in the Canadian heartland, and you have put your government on the path to deficit. As well, the "prudence" of your budget will constrain you in doing what all governments do this late in their mandate; throw money around. It will undermine your credibility if you spend the next 6 months running around the country making funding announcements.

And that clever, underestimated, bespeckled man across the aisle now holds all of the cards with regard to when an election will be held. I can assure you that when he finally decides to topple you and your government it will be at a time that is most inconvenient for you and it will be on an issue on which your government will be loathe to fight an election.

All-in-all Mr. Harper you and your supporters will probably look back at February 2008 and realize that it was that time when you lost the last chance of fighting an election on your terms and you might even be doing that as you watch Stephane Dion being sworn in as Prime Minister.


Blogger knb said...

Well said! ottlib, you out-did yourself and I found myself applauding.

For the record, your converstional prose is really effective.

Thank you for this.

February 27, 2008 9:43 PM  
Blogger ottlib said...

Thanks knb.

February 27, 2008 10:57 PM  
Blogger lance said...

Heh, good for laughs at least.

....Or we could believe that Harper just wanted to get a deal on Afghanistan, finally get the Crime Bill(s) to the GG, and pass a modest and well-received budget.

Given the state of the house, he gambled that the only way to tie Dion down to any issue was make it confidence. Done, Done, and soon to be done.

Now we can all sit back and wait for 2009 . . . just like Harper has been saying all along.

But if you choose to believe that Dion is capable of dictating the kind of political subterfuge you allude to, have at 'er.


February 27, 2008 11:47 PM  
Blogger Tomm said...


I can't say I agree with you, but it is an interesting take on the situation.


February 28, 2008 12:01 AM  
Blogger Jason Hickman said...

So, let's review:

* Harper and Dion craft a mutually-acceptable deal of Afghanistan. Both get praise for acting like grownups, so that issue is a wash on that front. But it takes away an election issue from the Liberals where they were allegedly on the side of the majority of Canadians, and to the extent that the anit-mission-after-'09 side has an impact, it presumably would be for the NDP (in English Canada, at least).

* Harper gets the crime bill he wanted through the Senate, by the deadline he set, despite much talk from the Liberals that they'd do things at their own pace, thank you very much.

* Despite all manner of threats and promises of stiffer spines and "no" votes on the budget, Dion nearly breaks his neck running to the microphones as soon as Flaherty delivers his budget - to say that the Libs won't defeat it.

I'm having a hard time seeing Harper come out as the loser here, on any of these points.

Yeah, I'm sure he'd like the chance to win a majority. But you're forgetting (or discounting) a point that Paul Wells, among others, has made - the longer that Harper is PM, the longer he is PM 0 which means that it will be all the harder for the Liberals to scare people with vague threats of what he'll do.

Ottlib, all those predictions you make at the end of your post may come true - and maybe they won't. Anyone who bets on the outcome of the next election is a sucker, pure and simple.

But how many climbdowns will we have to see from Dion before you stop calling them strategic victories?

February 28, 2008 12:17 AM  
Blogger MississaugaJoan said...

March 17 will reveal how much truth there is to your post.

If Dion is only 2 for 4, I would say your post is quite not up to the high standard most of your other posts are.

If Dion is 4 for 4, I would say you have incredible insight.

February 28, 2008 1:32 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

"Harper gets the crime bill he wanted through the Senate, by the deadline he set, despite much talk from the Liberals that they'd do things at their own pace, thank you very much."

You mean the same crime bill he delayed for almost a year because he wanted it to be front and center during an election campaign?

It is going to be kind of hard for him to campaign that the liberals are soft on crime when they passed his legislation - twice. It is going to be kind of hard to campaign on the corrupt senate when they, too, passed his legislation.

Yup. Harper sure came out the winner on this one.

February 28, 2008 1:56 AM  
Blogger James McKenzie said...

Harper is winning here, he has consistently forced Dion into uncomfortable positions where Dion has to choose between two relatively bad options.

If he goes to an election now, there will be no change at best, and a Con Maj at worst. Dion would lose his leadership position.

If he supports the government, he looks weak, and lets the government develop an even more substantial record on which to campaign on.

Harper is comfortable with either option Dion has on the table, which is a sign that Harper is framing the debate, and winning the political battle.

February 28, 2008 1:56 AM  
Blogger TonyGuitar said...

Warning, try not to let the balmy warm breezes lull you into too much comfort.

It may be wise to ponder the other side of the coin at and then decide.

If you like making wise decisions based on solid facts and links to back them up, you may gain from knowing the full story.

If you want the Liberal Party to gain ground or indeed survive, I suggest a quick leadership review and get velvet tongued Rae as leader in as soon as you can. = TG

February 28, 2008 3:32 AM  
Blogger marginalizedactiondinosaur said...

Liberals are so scared of an election they will give Harper anything he wants,

February 28, 2008 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

spoken a like a true Liberal Kool-Aid drinker.

Harper plays you fools for the fools you are while Steffi "unites" your party into fractions & pieces.

Ohh its good to laugh at Liberals.

So good.

February 28, 2008 8:33 AM  
Blogger cdlu said...


I agree with you completely. Dion is being badly underestimated by friend and foe alike. I posted an entry to the same effect yesterday morning, at:

February 28, 2008 8:51 AM  
Blogger Platty said...

“We will find a way to not defeat the government..

That has got to be Dions best line ever.

And right after that Dion said,

"You just wait Haprer, I'm drinking milk now...."


February 28, 2008 8:51 AM  
Blogger paulsstuff said...

Wow, do you believe in Unicorns, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny too?

"You know this because you did exactly the same thing when you were opposing Paul Martin. You propped him up two or three times in order to wait for the time you thought was more advantageous to you."

Actually, Martin and the Libs would have been booted out far earlier, if not for the fact they kept cancelling opposition days to avoid confidence votes, not to mention the votes they lost but ignored. Not to mention giving Stronach a cabinet position to switch sides to save their asses from a confidence vote.

Hey, at least you are one of those glass half full people.

February 28, 2008 8:54 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

WHAT! I actually thought this might be a joke, but it appears that you really do believe what you are saying.

Which is really quite funny.

Stephen Harper has outmanouvered Dion at every turn and yet you are able to see the Liberals glass half full - well it is always good to be an optimist.

February 28, 2008 8:58 AM  
Blogger rabbit said...

The Broadway production number put on by Rick Mercer this week suggests that Dion has Harper right where Harper wants himself.

Dion can't keep talking like the Conservative agenda is an egregious affront to all decent citizens, and then go vote in support of the government.

February 28, 2008 10:05 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

For the record, your converstional prose is really deffective.

But hilarious!
Thanks for the laugh ottlib


February 28, 2008 10:46 AM  
Blogger Danté said...

Estimated survival time given to this Conservative government by political pundits in January 2006 - several months at maximum.

Current length the Conservatives have been governing: 2 years, 1 month, and counting. Unlimited, as long as Stephane Dion remains leader of the opposition.

Ottlib, keep on believing this was a victory for Dion and the rest of his surrender-monkies - you're only deluding yourself.

February 28, 2008 10:50 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Seems you hit a nerve ottlib. Nothing gets trolls out and foaming more than the truth.

February 28, 2008 10:53 AM  
Blogger John West said...

Half of the Liberals are scared to death of an election as it will spell the end of their careers.

Dion knows he will lose and that will end his career.

The battle between the Iggy troops and the Ray troops to replace the impotent Dion, will further fracture the already comatose and schizoid Liberal party and everyone knows it.

You have your illusion about why Dion is avoiding an election. I have just explained it. Now you can consider the reality. Majority or minority, Harper will be in power for many more years.

And FYI it is very likely that McCain will be the next president of the USA.

How's your tummy now?

February 28, 2008 11:20 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

"Nothing gets trolls out and foaming more than the truth"

Foaming? Geesh Jay, that isn't foaming indignation you are seeing from we "trolls", but incredulous sympathy that you and Ottlib actually BELIEVE this. .

February 28, 2008 11:53 AM  
Blogger ottlib said...


Most comments I have ever had on one of my blogs.

Most seem to disagree with me but none have really advanced arguments to refute mine that have not already been heard before.

You Conservative trolls are going to have to try harder.

Because the fact is Stephen Harper has tried to trigger an election three times and he has failed on all three attempts.

If Stephen Harper is such a great political strategist you have to be asking yourself why that is.

Hint: It was not by accident.

I could go on but I would suggest the trolls just read my post again but without the blue coloured glasses.

jay: I agree.

February 28, 2008 12:09 PM  
Blogger paulsstuff said...

"Most seem to disagree with me but none have really advanced arguments to refute mine that have not already been heard before."

Hey, don't believe we trolls. But apparently Dion is so brilliant he has even managed to outwit the media, including the CBC and CTV, not to mention the Toronto Star among other print publications.

Hey, when you've got Taber, Travers, Fife, Duffy, , Richardson, Newman and the like saying how Harper has outwitted Dion at every turn, you might want to believe it.

If your wondering why you have a record number of posts, thank Kate.

February 28, 2008 12:32 PM  
Blogger Concerned Parents said...


Take a brief respite from patting yourself on the back for your genius and insight to consider this:

You seem to have overlooked one critical point in your supposedly trenchant analysis: Steven Harper is entering his 3rd years as Prime Minister of Canada and the Conservative Party is well and truly in power. His recent budget will pass, and they will remain in power for some time to come.

Tell me again why this is yet another triumphant victory for Stephane Dion and the Liberals?

You can sugar-coat the situation any way you want if it makes you feel good, my naive friend, but at the end of the day, you're out, we're in. That's all that counts.

Get used to it.

February 28, 2008 12:42 PM  
Blogger Lord Omar said...

If not for George Washington's embrace of a series of 'strategic retreats' during the summer and fall of 1776, the American Revolutionary War could have had a very different outcome.
Carry on Mr. Dion.

February 28, 2008 12:56 PM  
Blogger simon said...

I find your political take on the situation most enlightening...which leaves me to ask just what is good partisan governing about except to further the party in power's adgenda.
Remember,the Conservatives are moving their adgenda forward and the Liberals ARE helping them do just that. This is a prime text-book example of a symbiotic relationship; with Canada being the end beneficial recipient.
However all that being said,if one is going to make faces at the lion it is advisable to do it outside the bars!
The fact that Dion and his Liberals do what they do begrudgingly in HoC shows to me that this is not protracted strategy towards the governing party but instead an act of desperation.
When the 'wash is off the line' meaning the next mandated election and the Conservatives have governed for their full term;it will be interesting to hear your take on Dion's strategy at that time.
Yes I am a Conservative, but I would like to think that being so doesn't afford me troll status.

As Paulstuff can thank Kate for increased exposure.
I'm not normally here but will thank you for your hospitality in advance.

February 28, 2008 2:20 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

"Because the fact is Stephen Harper has tried to trigger an election three times and he has failed on all three attempts."

Please, please explain HOW he has tried to trigger an election. He is simply trying to get legislation passed and if he has to use the "threat"of an election to do it, well as you can see, it seems to work.

political strategy...Stephen Harper has it in spades over your boy Dion who threatens then backs down, treatens, then backs down, threatens, then backs down......

February 28, 2008 4:48 PM  
Blogger John said...

This is one of the best examples of spin I have ever seen! I salute you.

February 28, 2008 4:50 PM  
Blogger paulsstuff said...

"If not for George Washington's embrace of a series of 'strategic retreats' during the summer and fall of 1776, the American Revolutionary War could have had a very different outcome.
Carry on Mr. Dion"

Actually, this is more comparable to that Monty Python bit where the knight has both his arms cut off, and says "it's only a flesh wound", and wants to keep fighting.

February 28, 2008 5:08 PM  
Blogger Baheera said...

What kind of drugs are the liberals smoking these days? To think that they are somehow winning is delusional at the best, insane is more like it. They have a weak kneed leader who should be turfed for the way he’s acting and they are proud of him? What a pathetic excuse for an official opposition. The Monty Python analogy is an understatement.
I used to have respect for the liberal party but not anymore.

February 28, 2008 10:25 PM  
Blogger Notlib said...

That Dion is so clever that if his plan had a tail you could call it a weasel!

If he keeps winning these strategic victories over Harper that prevent elections, Harper will be PM for ever and Dion will go down as the most brilliant strategist never to attain power.

Super Duper, Ottlib! Like that Iraqi propaganda minister

February 28, 2008 11:50 PM  
Blogger TonyGuitar said...


The first rule that will increase your blog following is simply never refer to anyone with a label or name like *troll*.

It shows that you prefer to pout rather than think and offer good argument.

In my 3:32 comment, I have given you the *cure* for the Liberal Party.

Bob Rae. He is a contender and Harper will certainly snap to attention when he has to duel with Bob.

The best thing for Canada is a strong opposition.

While I back Harper, I want you guys to keep him sharp. = TG

February 29, 2008 2:09 AM  
Blogger arctic_front said...

Tony Guitar has it pretty well nailed down. A strong opposition is a good thing in a minority government. I'm just waiting until we see one. ..... Crickets......

...... more crickets.......

Dion is the leader of a political party that has absolutely zero vision, or at best, any kind of platform to offer Canadians. No policy, no new ideas and the only reason they have the polling numbers they do is because the 'average Toronto voter' still thinks Harper is hiding his famous HIDDEN AGENDA they keep talking about.

The hidden agenda is what we are seeing in this 3rd budget, responsible government, fair, inclusive and innovative. It may not be what special interest groups are used to, but it is not pandering to them either.

No single party can make everybody happy, There is no need to try. That is WHY we have different parties to begin with... Ideology is what separates them from the rest. It seems obvious to me that as elections go, the conservatives won the last one, and in the next one, they will do the same. it may still be a minority, but the resident of 24 Sussex isn't going to change for the foreseeable future...... unless Dion and the Liberal Party stop trying so hard to get back power at any cost, and start to offer a viable alternative and new ideas in which to capture the imaginations of 'not-Toronto' Canadians.

If you draw a circle of a hundred-or-so miles around the 3 biggest cities in this country, you'll see the power the conservatives wield outside those circles. Within those circles, you have a denser amount of seats in the HoC. They represent two things: A distortion of the mood of the country as a whole, and similar distortion in the policies of the Liberals. They don't care much about any other parts of Canada as a whole, but pander shamelessly to urban-only concerns and special interest groups. In other words, they can't govern the country in its entirety, balancing the needs of all Canadians, but prefer, instead, to only those in voter-rich urban areas. They forget that what is good for Toronto is not what is good for BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan or PEI.

Is Canada a reflection of both rural and urban? Or just urban Toronto? Liberal party ideas seem to spite most of the geography of Canada in favor of the heavy concentrations of seats, NOT people.

February 29, 2008 4:48 AM  

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