Saturday, August 29, 2009

Where has the summer gone?

Well, what summer we had here in Eastern Ontario (cool and wet, except when I took my holidays when it turned hot and muggy) will pretty much end with the young ones going back to school on Monday.

So how do we assess the summer from a political standpoint?

If you look at the polling, not much has changed from the beginning of the summer. The Liberals and the Conservatives are still very close to each other, some polls saying the Liberals hold a slim lead, some saying the two parties are tied and others saying the Conservatives hold a slim lead. In other words the polls can be ignored.

Not alot happened during the summer with regard to the various leaders either. Mr. Harper virtually disappeared until his great northern adventure. If you are to believe our MSM, Mr. Ignatieff did not tour the country talking to Canadians. Jack Layton did not show up until he had a little talk with Stephen Harper last week. Gilles Duceppe...?

The greatest events of the summer was the saga of Ms. Mohamed, the media's where's Iggy meme and the virtual begging by Mr. Harper, to Mr. Ignatieff, to not force an election.

The treatment of Ms. Mohamed by this government highlighted just how much this government believes there are two or more class of citizens in this country and it has not been lost on many immigrant communities that their members are not members of the first class. That perception will only get worse as Ms. Mohamed's lawsuit winds through the courts, although I suspect the government will settle just days before any election. The upshot of all of that is the diligent efforts of the Conservatives to court the immigrant vote these last three or so years has been destroyed.

The media's treatment of Mr. Ignatieff was predictable but not over damaging. Some would point to some recent polls to say he has faded in popularity but I would point out that always happens to opposition leaders during long Parliamentary breaks and I would also point out that he is much closer to Mr. Harper than Mr. Harper ever was to Mr. Martin, in between elections.

Mr. Harper's begging has been telling. Gone is the belligerent and arrogant Stephen Harper who made bathroom breaks confidence motions. Instead he has given us a very good demonstration that him and his government are vulnerable and afraid of the Liberals. That should make Liberals very happy and hopefully between now and the next election (June 2010) they can use that weakness and fear to their advantage.

So, no dramatic changes occured this summer. The government is still progressing towards the point where winning the next election will be impossible for them regardless of what they do, a process that started when Mr. Harper prorogued Parliament. The Liberals, who are still considered the only other party trustworthy enough to govern, continue their progression back to government.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Liberals are in the driver's seat

I should have bought a lottery ticket on the weekend. When I saw Stephen Harper stating that he "needed" a majority government to maintain some "stability" during the economic downturn (the same one many of his Members were saying was over just weeks ago) it hit me that Canwest and Ipsos would release a poll to support such a notion. Dammit, I wasted that moment of precognition on politics instead of choosing the winning 649 numbers on Saturday.

Anyway, the poll is useless like all polls are. Any political observer worth his salt knows to ignore the actual estimates and to instead look at the media frame for the poll. Doing so for this poll speaks volumes.

It was not too many months ago that if a poll indicated that the Conservatives were pushing 40% the media would be speculating on when Stephen Harper would be calling an election. For this poll the media frame is the poll will cause Michael Ignatieff to think twice about forcing an election. That is quite the change.

I said it after Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament to save his political hide that everybody in this city knows that he has won his last election. They know that, barring proof that Michael Ignatieff is a reptilian kitten eater, the Liberals will win the next election. The frightened and defensive media frame on a poll that should make the Conservatives and its shills at CanWest gung ho for an election just further demonstrates that belief.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sometimes I feel sorry for Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney has been given an almost impossible task. He has been charged with bringing the "immigrant vote" into the Conservative tent. Since most of them live in the three big cities their votes are imperative to the Conservatives attaining their much sought after majority government. Unfortunately, Mr. Kenney is a member of a party that has the reputation for being anti-immigrant, intolerant and bigoted

Such reputation is unfair. The Conservative Party is not any of these things but they do seem to have a fair number of prominent Members of Parliament, who are all of these things, who just cannot keep their mouths shut. As well, many of these Members have been re-elected numerous times so it would seem that at least a small part of the Conservative base is all of these things as well.

This background makes Mr. Kenney's job very difficult to begin with but it becomes impossible when his own government knocks the pins out from under him. They have done it to him twice in less than six months this year alone.

The first instance was the imposition of the visa requirements on Mexicans. That was just stupid. It is probably not lost on many of the Latin American immigrants to this country that the Canadian government does not seem to have any problem bringing in seasonal workers from Mexico, to work for low wages in the fields of many agricultural operations, while forcing others from that country to jump through hoops just to visit this country as tourists, or more importantly, as business people looking for business opportunities in a NAFTA partner.

The second instance was Ms. Mohamed. Although it has not been mentioned by anybody in the mainstream, many believe that if the person being held by the Kenyan government would have been white with a surname like, Smith, Michaud or Levine, no government representative would have been allowed to state that she was an imposter and they would have been returned to Canada within days instead of three months.

This has not been mentioned, except for some whispers, in the mainstream, but you can be certain that this idea has not been lost on many of the immigrant communities in this country. This government has shown them that if they get into trouble while they visit family and friends in the country of their birth they are on their own. The Canadian government will not lift a finger to help them and might actually help the governments in their birth country to make their trouble even worse.

Conservatives and their media apologists seem to believe that reaching out to and schmoozing with some prominent representatives of the immigrant communities will actually bring around the whole of the communities. They have no idea that the treatment that Ms. Mohamed was forced to endure, as a direct result of the Canadian government, will have a much more profound negative effect on their support within the immigrant communities than any positive effect any schmoozing Mr. Kenney has done in the last few years.

Like I say, sometimes I actually feel sorry for him.