Friday, December 05, 2008

What is the coalition to do now?

The coalition train has left the station. It was always a long shot that it would take over government and now even that long shot is done. So, what they should do is take up Mr. Harper's offer of consultation on the economy with the proviso that they include the Bloc and they should do this Monday morning.

Their argument should be that even if the Conservatives put forward a budget on January 26, with all sorts of stimulus, it would still need to be debated in The House, making the likely passing of it in February or later. They could argue that the government and the opposition could hammer out a deal before that so that when it is introduced there could be a minimum of debate and it could be passed much quicker. They could further argue that such an action is warranted by just pointing to the latest job numbers released today. Finally, they could argue that although they do not agree with the ideology of the Bloc, the Bloc does represent around 4 million Canadians and those Canadians need a voice at the table, to discuss the economic situation and what to do about it, as much as every other Canadian.

This would have the benefit of wrong-footing Mr. Harper. If anybody really believes his offer of consultations yesterday was genuine I have a bridge between Vancouver and Tokyo to sell you. Such an offer would put him into a tight spot because he would either have to agree, which will make his head explode, or disagree and appear to be uncooperative, undermining his argument. As well, it would short curcuit the upcoming PR campaign of the Conservatives. They can hardly attack the coalition if they are negotiating an economic stimulus package with them.

Of course, the Conservatives and the media will depict this as a climbdown by the coalition but as my last post points out they are going to find a way to depict the coalition in a way the best benefits the Conservatives anyway. So, the coalition might as well do something unexpected. It would wrong foot both the Conservatives and the media.

On a related topic I would like to mention that I am very disappointed with the PR strategy of the coalition. The only strategy they had was to release their agreement at a joint press conference one whole week before the confidence motion and nothing else. They did not seem prepared for the counter strategy, except to keep claiming that what they were proposing is legal and democratic within our system. Call me cynical but most Canadians are too stupid or too lazy to know the inner workings of our system. The Conservatives played to a simple concept. "We won the election and the coalitions is trying to steal it". The message resonated and I can guarantee that when they continue saying that for the next two months it will continue to do so. The coalition's counter: "What we are doing is legal and democratic". That argument went over like a lead balloon. Say what you will about them but the political right in this country and in the US have perfected the strategy of appealing to the "guts" of voters while the left seem to be stuck trying to appeal to their "heads". The election of George Bush, the two election victories by the Conservatives and the reaction of Canadians to the coalition idea should convince Liberals in this country to change their focus somewhat.

Of course, many are blaming Stephane Dion for this failure and he certainly shares some of the responsibility. However, it should be noted that the polls are telling us that Canadians have pretty well rejected the idea of a coalition. Very little is mentioned of the individuals in the coalition. So, I believe it is grossly unfair to only blame Stephane Dion for this failure. There are three political parties involved in this deal with their political strategy teams. There are three Liberal leadership contenders with their teams. Could not one person on those six teams foresee that the coalition PR strategy would be inadequate? Have they not been paying attention to how effective the Conservatives are in leveling attacks and producing a strategy to counter it as soon as the Conservatives unleashed theirs? Judging by the results the answer is no.

The coalition failure was a result of the coalition failing to develop a strategy beyond last Monday. That was a collective failure and not just that of one man.


Blogger wilson said...

2 things ottlib.
Firstly, the bloc already submitted their list of 20 demands.

Secondly, I think it was Layton or Broadbent that said they were going to take down the govt on the budget, but when PMSH put the poison pill in the update, they had to move earlier than they planned.

So they weren't ready, which is exactly why PMSH put a poison pill in the update, catch them unprepared. Layton did not know about the tape.

December 05, 2008 9:43 PM  
Blogger WesternGrit said...

Big miscalculation. When I heard talks were happening, I thought, hmmm... they should wait until vote day to make anything public. Canadians would not have time to formulate an opinion... I was thinking, "how stupid is this"? Basically showing the government that they WOULD get defeated? It should have snuck up on them... Like the past government was defeated. The government would have been defeated without any "hoopla" and ignorant, mis-informed, and rather uneducated bullshit.

This leads me to think something else. It was all a big bluff that went too far. Dion, Layton, and Duceppe wanted to show some collective balls, so they thought, let's roll this out and "have our way". They probably thought (stupid them) that ideas about the economy, jobs, and emergency action would resonate with Canadians, and it would bring Harper to his knees. It didn't... almost... but not. What it DID do was make Harper look like a dictatorial madman, pushing Canada to the brink.

No matter what polls right now say (they're just reacting to lots of Conservative organized yelling and screaming, and the loudest MPs in Ottawa). Now, slowly, the media is starting to realize what they've help "wrought". They may have created a horrible situation in Canadian politics - and all thanks to Harper. Imagine if PM Chretien had prarogued Parliament needlessly and repeatedly, just to retain power. No... he went to the people, in an election. Not millions in advertising - and certainly NEVER pre or post election...

Harper is permanently damaged by this. The Conservatives are the one's in trouble. The Liberals will dump Dion - perhaps sooner, rather than later, and will be like a Phoenix reborn. The convention will elect the next PM, and I have a sense, already, that this is going to be much more positive than the last go-around. It will most likely be Ignatieff, which will resonate well in Quebec, Ontario, across Canada, and with more "center-oriented" voters everywhere. There won't be any "surprises".

It will be a tough year ahead for the Cons, if they don't manage to keep Dion around and pull an election out before a new Liberal leader is in place.

December 05, 2008 10:44 PM  
Blogger wilson said...

''Imagine if PM Chretien had prarogued Parliament needlessly and repeatedly, just to retain power. No... he went to the people, in an election.''

And an election is what PMSH is asking for,
but that is exactly what the coalition wants to deny him.

December 05, 2008 10:54 PM  

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