Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh Iggy, you sly dog

Iggy, it is people like you and those around you that made me give up being a "backroom" operative in the '90s.

When you put the Conservative government on "probation" in January and demanded a "report card" by June on their economic performance I felt it was just a good strategy for getting around supporting the budget. Support the budget with conditions, prevent an election and get your name in the media as someone thoughtful enough to Canadians to prevent an election just three months after the last one.

However, today I saw the real strategic brilliance of you and those around you. When you made the demand for the "report card" you knew that Stephen Harper would completely violate the spirit of what you were asking. You knew your man and he did exactly what you expected of him with that vague piece of fluff he peddled during that "town hall". When he did you brought forward the next part of the strategy your people hatched up over the Christmas break last year and asked for specifics. And we all know that this government abhors specifics, particularly when those specifics have the potential to hurt them.

Even if the Conservatives were operating from a position of strength this strategy would put them on the defensive and it would raise your profile going into the summer. However, with their weakness this strategy is even better. If forces them to comply and lose support or not and be largely blamed for causing an election. After all, the questions and demands you made are probably considered quite reasonable to most of those Canadians that do not live and breath politics. As well, you delivered this part of the strategy very well. I thought the offer to extend the session of Parliament a nice touch. The idea of our Parliamentarians delaying their summer break to work for them would appeal to many Canadian, particularly if they believe you are working on the issues you outlined today.

As an added bonus the NDP and the Bloc must be having kittens right about now. Both stand to lose big if the election were held this summer so they want to avoid one like the plague.

Jack Layton growled like a toothless hound today (predictably so) but I imagine the NDP brain trust is crapping their pants because they are left with a very stark choice. Stick to their guns, and hope you and Mr. Harper come to an agreement, and risk going into an election where they will lose many of their seats in Ontario, or do a climb down on Friday, making themselves look silly and weak. As the week goes on the NDP will be more and more on the spot and it will be fun to watch how Mr. Layton and his people react to that.

You see, their national poll numbers are not much lower than they were during the last election. However, their numbers in Ontario have fallen off a cliff. So their national numbers are increasingly made up by all of those voters in the West, who voted Conservative last time, switching to the NDP. Unfortunately, past patterns have shown that they cannot eat into the Conservative vote enough to actually capture many seats in the West but they can eat into the Conservative vote in a few pockets in Manitoba and Saskatchewan that would allow the Liberals the come up the middle to take those seats.

So, you and I both know that they desperately want you or the Bloc to support the government.

Speaking of the Bloc, they must be in a similar position. The last time the Liberals were considered by Quebecers to be the only federalist option in Quebec they reduced the Bloc to historic lows in the House. That was 2000, and the Liberals actually began that election with a double digit deficit in popular support not the statistical tie you enjoy.

Of course, you could not have known that the political chips would fall where they have fallen when you conceived this strategy over last Christmas but that does not take away from the brilliance of it now.

Well done Iggy.


Blogger √Čric said...

-- "Speaking of the Bloc, they must be in a similar position. The last time the Liberals were considered by Quebecers to be the only federalist option in Quebec they reduced the Bloc to historic lows in the House. That was 2000..."

No, that would be 2004, when Harper only got 8.8% of the vote. In 2004, the only federalist option was really Paul Martin, and he got 34% of the vote and 21 seats. The Bloc received 49%, one of their best results, and 54 seats, tying their best result.

June 15, 2009 8:32 PM  

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