Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The coalition needs to change the channel

Stephen Harper is finished. He in not a lame duck he is a dead duck. In all likelihood he will lose his job as leader of the Conservative Party before Stephane Dion steps down as leader of the Liberal Party. (And if anybody would have made such a prediction a few short weeks ago I would have suggested they seek professional help)

What that means is the coalition can throw him a lifeline in the coming days with very little risk. And the coalition will need to do that.

As expected the MSM has come out hard against the coalition and they are parroting Conservative talking points. These will resonate with Canadians. I have seen alot of Liberal and Progressive bloggers making all sorts of statements about how what the coalition is doing is legal and within the rules of the Canadian democracy. Well, that and a loonie will buy you a cup of coffee. Most Canadians do not know about the niceties and the nuances of the Westminster parliamentary system. They will not spend alot of time over the next little while to learn about them and their main source of information, if they were interested, is the MSM and they are not inclined to inform them anyway.

As a result, we will see a significant number of Canadians who believe the coalition is not legitimate and that it is just a power grab. Under such conditions the coalition would not last long and would probably do harm to the country. Not to mention the harm it could do to the Liberal Party.

So, the coalition needs to change the topic of conversation away from the "power grab" meme and the best way to do that is to throw Mr. Harper a lifeline.

Some time tomorrow the coalition should issue a joint statement to Mr. Harper, copying the media, that they are willing to talk to Mr. Harper about finding a solution to the current political crisis. They should state that such talks will involve implementing some of the policies outlined in the coalition agreement document. As well, they should state that if no agreement is in place by December 8, they will go ahead and vote down Mr. Harper's government and ask the Governor General to give the coalition the opportunity to win the confidence of The House.

The explanation that the coalition should give Canadians is they want to make this Parliament work. That they will do whatever they can to make it work but that it is up to Mr. Harper to meet them part of the way. Further they can state the disruption of a protracted political crisis in not in Canada's interest at this time so they are willing to take steps to resolve it. Again, providing Mr. Harper is willing to meet them part of the way.

This would have the advantage of pulling the teeth out of the "power grab" meme. It would demonstrate that the coalition is serious about removing the Conservative government but only if that government is unwilling to work with them. And most importantly it would put the ball firmly back into Mr. Harper's court, which is where the coalition should want it to be. Keep the pressure on him. He will either have to give in and the idea of giving into the hated Liberals in general and Stephane Dion in particular will virtually guarantee Mr. Harper's removal from the head of that party. Or, he will be defiant and the coalition can then claim that Mr. Harper was unwilling to work with them despite being offered the opportunity by them. Or he can try to end this session of Parliament, which will really look bad after being offered an olive branch.

There is still a long time to go before that non-confidence motion and we all know that a few days is a life time in politics. If the coalition wants to keep the initiative they had better be prepared for the possibility of not taking power if it will advance the greater cause of providing assistance to Canadians in tough economic times and removing Mr. Harper from the Canadian political scene.


Blogger onymity said...

That would kind of be like going back to an abusive spouse.

December 02, 2008 7:42 PM  
Blogger Steve V said...

Very interesting scenario, and one I've considered as well. It's imperative to separate our political junkie knowledge of the situation, from that of the average joe, on that score I agree, today was a bad day. Many people just see the Bloc, wonder how can it be good to be in bed with separatists, and that's the end of the analysis. It means the coalition starts at a disadvantage, better to recognize this fact, than pretend the Cons will just slink into the corner- they won't, and they'll use tertiary knowledge to full advantage.

Harper is forever wounded, so it is relevant to ask if Liberals long term interests aren't better served by allowing him to survive, rather than Prentice (who was actively, but shrewdly campaigning today) take the helm. There is a a scenario where prorogue is allowed, then the Cons dump Harper, install Prentice and come back with a fresh budget, which could diffuse everything. If it starts to look possible, then Libs would be wise to consider approaching Harper, he would give us the farm to cling to power and we get the leadership resolved, with the full knowledge that he is forever lessened in the minds of voters.

I'm proceeding with the coalition, but it's best to keep a parachute at arms lengths, this thing is way too fluid for absolute conviction.

December 02, 2008 7:44 PM  
Blogger saii said...

I agree. Where are the liberal and ndp strategists at this moment? A lot of people are confused about the situation in Ottawa right now. I'm hearing a lot of disagreement with the people that I talk to; and I live in Toronto.

December 02, 2008 8:07 PM  
Blogger David Wozney said...

Re: “I have seen alot of Liberal and Progressive bloggers making all sorts of statements about how what the coalition is doing is legal ...

Members of the coalition expressed allegiance to Elizabeth the Second.

Elizabeth the Second is not Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, contrary to the requirement in this Fifth Schedule, which states:

Oath of Allegiance

I A.B. do swear, That I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

Note. The Name of the King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for the Time being is to be substituted from Time to Time, with proper Terms of Reference thereto.”.

The provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick expressed their desire to be federally united into one Dominion under the Crown of the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”, not the Crown of the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, according to the British North America Act, 1867.

December 02, 2008 9:40 PM  
Blogger David said...

I couldn't agree more about throwing Harper a life line. I think this coalition will need to very quickly establish a reputation as being a nonpartisan body interested in compromise, negotiation and open debate. Its very legitimacy depends upon it. Offering Harper a public life line, with no partisan strings attached, would be a very easy way to make it clear what the priorities are for this new body. It would also defuse some of the negative media surrounding it.

December 02, 2008 10:40 PM  

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