Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Harper Get Close but Can't Close the Deal with Canadians.

Congratulations to the Harper Party. The results are not what Harper wanted but he can claim a success if not a win. Harper’s goal in this early and unnecessary election was to get a majority and destroy Dion and bankrupt the Liberal Party. So, I wonder, do Canadians feel we did not waste $300,000,000.00 dollars that could have been spent for better purposes?

The Harper majority was close and yet elusive. Harper lost the majority himself due to his lack of deft about understanding the importance of arts and culture to Quebec. It is so weirdly Canadian that the country was saved from a Harper majority, and the consequences of his proven demagoguery, by a separatist political movement. Harper has been to the election well three times and can't finish the job even with the most opportune of times with the Liberals being so unready and unsteady to run effectively.

Dion was the least experienced leader in his first election and he and the Liberal party was not really ready to run when the Writ came down. He was defeated by his own lack of political experience, his platform and his party, especially in Ontario and B.C. The last figures I saw as about a 9% reduction of Liberal support in Ontario. One wonders if the old guard stayed home and did not engage in Dion’s cause.

Then there was the impact of the economic meltdown factor. The Nanos tracking over the Thanksgiving weekend showed a shift in Ontario on Sunday to the Harper party. Speculation is this shift if likely from anxiety over the economy and the normative default but unproven consciousness that Conservatives are better economic managers.

Layton did well but not up to expectations. His popular vote stays the same and he gained 8 seats. Go figure. He will soon quit bragging about winning a seat in Quebec because Mulcair will be groomed to replace Layton sooner than later. Linda Duncan’s breakthrough in Alberta is a personal victory for her due to a strong campaign and strategic voting - and not anything to do with the NDP.

So we are back to square one with no clarity of a political outcome and no public policy purpose beyond platitudes. We are fragmented regionally and at sea economically as the global financial turmoil washes over us and puts us into recession. We have no comprehensive or comprehensible environmental policy and as for progressive policies on social issues, forget about it.

May's is a story of hope over experience. The strategic impulse of Greens voting for the Liberals did not take off. The popular vote for the Greens doubled and most of that came out of the hide of Stephane Dion.

So now we have a strong right and a strong but crowded left but no progressive middle. Dion identified the progressives in the final days but not with enough time to catch on and coalesce as a consciousness never mind a movement. The social progressive/ fiscal conservative centre is wide open in the Canadian political consciousness.

The Harper Party has to learn how to govern effectively in a world that is extremely complex and in critical shape. Cute tactics like a GST tax cut will not be enough to instill confidence in the Harper Party. Harper will have to change his style and show us some substance. Layton will be caught in the Harper Party everything is Confidence motion trap in this Parliament. Dion has nothing personally to lose now. I expect to see him and his caucus voting against Harper’s trickery and skullduggery more often, especially if he trumps up phony confidence motions on ideologically driven bad legislation.

The future for the Liberals is clear. The Liberals have to return to their roots, put away their egos and get fiercely focused on finances and rebuilding a modern party. That will start with new leadership in the face of new political realities.

We need leadership that can articulate authentically on the real needs and hopes of Canadians.
We need politicians who believe in government and can present a proper role and responsibility for government as a force of good and not the enemy of the people.

I think it is time to reinvent the old federal Progressive Conservative party philosophy even if under the Liberal label. That is where the vote rich and disenchanted progressive middle is in Canada today.


  1. Anonymous1:33 pm

    Ken, you are truly delusional if you think Harper won with a right-wing agenda.

    For one thing, the Canadian right is barely right and so marginal one couldn't even get elected to official opposition status by catering to it.

    Harper has campaigned and governed firmly from the centre, and that is why he almost achieved a majority government.

    Your assertion that the political centre is there for the Liberals' taking is arrogant and wrong.

    The Conservatives have successfully supplanted the Liberals as the centre/moderate party, and the Liberals will be in for a fight, and not a coronation, if they hope to reclaim it.

  2. Anonymous1:40 pm

    How long will the Conservatives allow the Reform rump to lead them to non-victory? This is Harper's third trip to the well and the third time he has come up with less than half a bucket. The Reformers in forums across the country are already pointing the finger at Quebec, blaming them for Harper's dismal performance rather than his paranoid delusions of grandeur where attack ads focussing on Dion's accent pass for policy discussion, where revenge is his substitute for justice and where Taliban-like fundamentalism poses as culture policy. This is not a win for the Conservatives, no matter how they try to dress it. And if the Libs had any sense, they'd work at making Dion more palatable to the general public -- perhaps by putting Kennedy, Rae and Dryden front and centre during question period -- rather than continually rising to the Reform's franco-baiting.

  3. Anon @ 1:33 - can you please show me the policy pronouncements or platform planks where the Harper Party was socially progressive at anytime since he took power?

    He dropped the Censure Bill C-10 in the platform but to have it in the policy in the first place is on the point.

    Tax cuts, punish crime, demanding obedience to his authority, not responding to the market meltdown impact relying on the marketplace when it was proven to be dysfunctional.

    Harper made up the idea of a dysfunctinal Parliament but was wilfully blind to the real dysfunctionally in the financial markets.

    He eventually changed to enable government interference in the financial marketplace in the face of his mantra of the fundamentals are sound.

    He has been stripping out government capacity to respond to meet people's needs to "save money." Look at his reducing food inspectors and firing a whistleblower on the issue. His far right approaqches abetted 20 deaths in the process...hardly progressive.

    He finally found it was difficult to set priorities when you actually try to govern and not just dictate "reality."

    If he is actually progressive in any way please provide details. He is not as radical right-wing as the Reform/Alliance in the Stockwell Day regime but he is nowhere near the middle in his policy approaches and agenda.

    Republican George Bush has recently spend a trillion of taxpayer's money to nationalize the American financial sector. Bush came to as a social conservative and is leaving office as a conservative socialist. Will Harper go that far? Please tell me he won't.

    Looking forward to your reply.

  4. I essentially agree with you Ken except for one thing. I don't think the Liberals should change leaders right now. Dion's performance in Parliament was dismal at best but I think he surprised many during the campaign. He needs to ignore those back room advisers who are actually trying to defeat him from within.

    As for Harper's relentless attack on Dion's leadership qualities, the media certainly tried to fuel that impression but people on the street was through that bullshit and hated Harper for his bullying. Harper often forgets that people are not stupid.

    But Dion needs to take an attack approach this time round in Parliament. He needs to step up and fight back Harper at every opportunity. He has to become a rat packer and find some allies to do the same.

    I am not even a Liberal supporter and traditionally a Dipper but Harper has changed the political landscape and is playing the opposition leaders like marionettes. Duceppe was smart enough to capitalize on Harper's true intent and had nothing to lose (and much to gain). Other parties should take note of this. Canada wants politicians who will attack and defeat Harper. They just can't seem to find anyone willing to do this.

  5. Anonymous9:00 pm

    George Bush deserves the nobel peace prize for being the best leader of the last 100 years.

  6. "His far right approaqches abetted 20 deaths in the process...hardly progressive."

    The use of the vert abetted is utterly disgraceful. You should be ashamed of yourself. There was no change in food inspection since Harper took over from the liberals.

    It it outrageous comments like these that result in you losing any credibility on issues...but at the same time, it makes for an interesting read.

  7. eric - the Harper cutbacks and policy changes did not allow food inspectos to do thier jobs. They did not actively inspect - there were relgated to religated to reviewing and auditing company reports - way after the fact when the damage is likely done.

    Inspections are about prevention not just detection. The profit motive cannot trump public safety -otherwise we are on our way to becoming the worst of the Chinese market.

    This is no way to protect Canadians and I stand by my comments - Harper's policy to reduce the number of food inspectors and to limit their roles abetted the deaths from infected meat products.

    I didn't say it caused them. That is not yet proven. But if Harper has a full and honest review like he promised in the election - we may find out differently. In the meantime we need to stick to the known facts.

    When will Harper organize the promised independent inquiry - and when will he get the Mulroney/Schreiber inquiry going?

    We Progressives have not forgotten those promises made by Mr. Harper and will be watching and commenting accordingly.

    We have a right as Canadians to expect more from our government as it serves us its moral-actor responsibilities. Saving tax money should not cost lives.