Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Earthquake Question

Considering an earthquake hit Toronto was a tsunami warning issued for the Fake Lake?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Perspective please

Two issues seem to have some Liberals a little miffed at the Liberal Party. The first is the Afghan detainee documents deal and the other is the foreign policy positions outlined by Mr. Ignatieff.

To the first point if this whole exercise was about Parliamentary supremacy then the Opposition has succeeded in making it so. The government actually argued that they were not required to release these documents to Parliament. They have been forced to reverse that position completely as a result of Parliament, in the persons of Opposition MPs, asserting that Parliament is supreme.

If this whole exercise was just a political gambit then I could see why some people would be a little upset with the agreement. After all, we will probably not see the quick release of these documents as a result of this agreement. Then again that was never going to happen anyway as the wheels of our Parliamentary system have never been known to turn quickly.

The principle of Parliamentary supremacy has been defended with this deal. If that is your main concern in this issue you should find this agreement satisfactory. If your main concern is using this issue as a weapon against the Conservatives then I guess you have reason to be upset.

As to the second issue I have to agree that I am not completely happy with all of the foreign policy positions outlined by Mr. Ignatieff but as a whole it is a damn sight better than the foreign policy being pursued by the current government. Since this is just a proposal it is not written in stone and it can be changed as circumstances dictate going forward, particularly when the Liberals become the governing party.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fox News North, whatever

I feel no need to worry about such a channel up here in Canada.

Looking down South, it has the genuine article but all of its efforts could not prevent the Republicans from being crushed in the 2008 election. They lost the Presidency, the House and the Senate despite Fox News' best efforts.

Looking in Canada, the current MSM has been carrying Stephen Harper's water for over half a decade and he still has not been able to close the deal with Canadians. Hell, he actually seems to be regressing.

What "success" the Sun papers have had has been the result of the fact they are easy and quick to read while riding the bus to work. Hell, I have even picked up a discarded copy from time to time to read the sports section. That will not translate in a TV news station.

The National Post is the self-professed Conservative newspaper in this country and it is losing money hand over fist. So much so that it might be purchased by the Toronto Star. (The irony is delicious)

In short, from a political partisan standpoint Fox North will probably not change the political landscape in this country and it will probably be as financially successful as the Sun papers and the National Post.

I have better things to worry about besides this.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Mr. Ignatieff, ignore the noise and focus

Modern politics seems to conspire to distract political parties from what is important. It is a function of a media that gave up reporting the news in favour of infotainment a long time ago and the fact most modern politicians are so bereft of ideas that they have to resort to hyper-partisanship to appear relevant.

Mr. Ignatieff you need to rise above all of this.

It is a reality that most people vote against something as opposed to voting for something. That is why negative advertizing works and that is the root cause of partisanship. If it were the other way around our Parliament would be a hotbed of debate about different ideas on how to make the lives of Canadians better instead of the juvenile crap we see there now.

However, despite this reality a political party still needs to be able to present ideas and, dare I say it, vision to really enjoy success. That is one reason why the Conservatives have never won a majority government. They have figured out the "vote against" reflex of the average voter but they have not been able to take it to the next level because they are a complete failure on the "vision" front.

The Conservatives have been presenting you with all sorts of ammunition for you to begin convincing Canadians that they need to vote against these clowns. I do not believe they have gone one week since Parliament resumed where they have not been defending some kind of bonehead decision, the Fake Lake being the latest in a long line. You and I both know that these are the kinds of things that plant the seed in the electorate that will germinate into a desire for change over time or during an election campaign.

However, you need to do more. You need to present a vision or at least an election theme. The campaigns of seemingly random election promises are not working. They have not worked for the Liberals in the last three elections and they have only been marginally more successful for the Conservatives.

You do not need to present individual policy proposal yet. The ground is not ready for that anyway. When the time comes you will need to present these proposals in the context of an overarching theme if you are to take increasing anger at the Conservatives and turn it to Liberal advantage.

Last Fall, when you gave your non-confidence speech in the House of Commons, you articulated just such a theme. I blogged back then that the theme you talked about was a proven winner in this country and I urged you to follow through on it. I am quite disappointed that you did not, however it is not too late.

You have a summer BBQ season coming up so you should spend that entire period talking about your vision. At every event talk to Canadians about how you believe government can be an agent of good in the lives of Canadians, using topical examples such as the oil spill in the Gulf to demonstrate your point. Talk about your vision for Canada and where you would like it to be in the next 5 to 10 years and beyond. In short, establish the broad objectives of a Liberal government under you so that when you begin to present individual policy proposals during the next election Canadians can put them into some context and see how they would achieve the objectives you have outlined.

The Conservative have been planting the seeds of their own defeat since Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament the first time. They will be ripe for the taking during the next election so you need to prepare Canadians to accept the idea of a Liberal government. Letting the Conservatives self-destruct will go along way in doing that but if you really want to seal the deal you will need to provide them with an alternative that they can like.

You only have the summer to do that so I would suggest you focus on that and not worry about the rest of the political noise out there right now.

Look past the next election

One thing about all of this merger talk is it is motivated solely by short-term considerations.

However, if you look past the next election there is no political logic to the NDP joining the Liberals and the idea of a merged Liberal/NDP Party should scare the shit out of the Conseratives. Such a situation would eliminate the NDP from the federal political scene and ensure the Liberals are the dominent party in this country for the foreseeable future.

As I stated in my previous blog the Liberals have dominated the Canadian federal political scene for more than half a century despite the centre-left being divided between two parties. The simple fact of Canadian politics is the progressive habit runs deep and there has not been any signs that it is changing.

So, imagine what would happen in the Canadian political scene if there were only two political parties, one a conservative party the other a liberal party. Liberal dominance would be virtually guaranteed.

I know many would dispute that assertion but just look at the last 60 years. In all but two cases the Conservatives only won government because the NDP siphoned off enough votes from the Liberals to hand them victory. The two exceptions are the first election of the Chief and the 1984 election. However, you only need to look at the 1988 Free Trade election to see what I am talking about. The Conservatives won that election with 43% of the vote. That leaves the remainder voting against them. Fortunately, the NDP took enough of that 57% away from the Liberals to deny them government. Just imagine if that election would have been fought between just the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives. Joe Clark's experience really sheds a light on that dynamic. Then there is Stephen Harper who has only won his minorities because Jack Layton has managed to increase his seat count in Parliament to the detriment of the Liberals. Again, imagine if the NDP did not exist.

Of course, you cannot just add up the Liberal popular vote and the NDP popular vote and think that they would mesh perfectly. Some Liberals would go to the Conservatives, but not that many, and some Dippers would refuse to join the new party but enough of them would put power over principle to make the new party the dominent party on the federal scene.

I am certain that some NDP supporters would disagree with my assertion that the NDP would be eliminated but you only need to look at the two "partners" in the proposed merger. Despite its current problems the Liberals are bigger, better financed and they have the better party apparatus than the NDP. We only need to look at the "merger" between the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance to see what happens to the smaller party in such a situation. A merger between the Liberals and the NDP would be a takeover and nothing else. The NDP and its ideals would cease to exist on the federal scene, much like old time Toryism has disappeared from federal politics.

Looking past the short-term a political merger between the Liberals and the NDP makes no sense from an NDP point-of-view. It would be political suicide for them. That is why you can probably believe Jack Layton when he states that he does not want to merge the two parties.

As for Conservatives you had better pray that it does not come to pass if you are entertaining any ideas of becoming a more competative political party in the 21st century.

For the Liberals, such a merger would be advantageous to you in the longer-term but not so much in the short-term. I would wager a sizable chunk of money that you will be enjoying majority government status by the middle of this decade without a merger so you have no real need to make it happen at present. Who knows, once the dynamic I described in my previous post re-asserts itself, and the NDP is struggling to maintain official party status, maybe then discussions can be opened up to take over the NDP.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Why would any Liberal suggest a deal with the NDP right now?

The short answer is fear. They believe it is the only way to defeat Stephen Harper. The logic of those making this suggestion is the centre-left is divided so it needs to be united in order to take on the big bad Conservatives.

The biggest hole in that logic is the centre-left in this country has been divided for over 60 years. With the exception of the 1990s, the centre-right in this country has had only one party to represent it for the last 6 decades yet in those 60 years the Liberals have dominated the Canadian federal political scene.

You see, the pattern in this country for the past 60 years is the Liberals govern, often for long stretches at a time. As usually happens, with long standing governments, they get tired, they run out of ideas and the electorate decides it is time for a change. At that point Liberal support tends to bleed to the NDP in sufficient numbers that the a conservative party forms a government. Then when Canadians grow tired of that government those that lent their votes to the NDP go back to the Liberals, often in very big numbers. In short, Canadians believe there are only two parties that can be trusted to govern. The Liberals and their conservative alternative.

We have seen no evidence that this pattern has changed. Yes some would point to the polls indicating that Jack Layton is the most popular federal leader right now but one thing about respondents to polls is they know that they can answer the question any way the like without consequences. No government has fallen and no party ever formed a government based on a poll from Nanos, Ekos, Strategic Council, et al.

It is only the ballot box, where the decision of a voter has profound consequences, where we should be looking and it you look there it is as plain as Stephen Harper's hair style that the decades old voting pattern is still alive. Despite Adscam, the Liberals came in second in the 2006 election and despite the worst showing of the Liberal Party since 1984 the Liberals still have double the seats of the NDP after the 2008 election.

The spanner in the works is the Bloc. It is a big enough force in Quebec to be a problem. However, twice in this decade it looked like their grip on Quebec was loosening only to have the two big parties give them another lease on life. The Liberals did it with Adscam in 2006 and the Conservatives did it with their policy proposal of locking up 14 year olds and attacking the arts in 2008. Long standing stalwarts of the seperatist movement have called into question the whole concept so if the Liberals can exploit that and provide Quebecers a reason to vote Liberal again they should be able to whither the Bloc.

The other argument is Canadians are becoming more conservative. Again the ballot box proves that argument wrong.

A third argument is Conservative voters are more motivated while progressive voters have washed their hands of politics. Again, the ballot box prove that argument wrong and when Canadians finally decide to rid themselves of the Conservative government they will come out to vote to do so. It is funny, whenever Canadians become motivated to get rid of a government voter turnout goes up. We saw that with Brian Mulroney's, Jean Chretien's and Stephen Harper's first election victories.

There is no reason for the Liberals to make a deal with the NDP right now. The current Conservative government has passed its best before date. There is a malaise in the electorate right now that will change into a desire for change. Once that happens many voter who deserted the Liberals will come back to them. Liberals should be patient and not let fear cloud their judgement or make them do something that would be counter-productive in the extreme.

If after the next election the Liberals are in a position to form a government and they need help from another party to do so then seeking that help from the NDP should be an option. Until then just focus on being an effective opposition and winning the next election.