Who's calling the shots for the Liberals

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NorthReport
Who's calling the shots for the Liberals

Linda always asks the interesting questions. A lot of Canadians would like to know the answer.

Who's calling shots for Liberals?

The full story of how the Establishment closed ranks against the fledgling coalition has yet to be told, but a small piece of it may have inadvertently come to light last week.

It was an unlikely source -- the controversial secret tape in which Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, speaking privately to an aide, describes the shortage of medical isotopes as "sexy" and muses about using it to her political advantage.

The media, apparently over the moon that a cabinet minister used the word "sexy" in a secret tape, had little time for another passage on the tape that was titillating in its own way.

Raitt describes how, at a closed-door meeting of politicians and corporate CEOs last January, bank presidents threatened to cut off funding to the deeply indebted Liberal party if Ignatieff voted against the Conservative budget:

 

"They did it at the Canadian Council of (Chief) Executives, there was three presidents of major banks who stood up in the room -- and this is not from cabinet so I can talk about it -- stood up and said, 'Ignatieff, don't you even think about bringing us to an election. We don't need this. We have no interest in this. And we will never fund your party again.'"

 

http://www.rabble.ca/columnists/2009/06/whos-calling-shots-liberals

Fidel

Quote:
Certainly the bankers were anxious to see the passage of the Conservative budget, which included a measure called the Extraordinary Financing Framework that provided the banks with up to $200 billion in loans and asset swaps.

Well it sounds like banksters and big business are running the Liberal and Tory parties nowadays. That's a switch, because it used to be that big business and the banksters controlled those two parties.

ennir

So who decided to run with the "sexy" story rather than this?

Whether or not it is true, it does give us a glimpse inside of politics today and the banter traded there.

RosaL

ennir wrote:

So who decided to run with the "sexy" story rather than this?

 

The "free press". 

ennir

LOL

West Coast Greeny

Ouch. Although it is hearsay.

That said, his party will do way better not calling an election, than forcing one with the opposition parties right now. He needs time to raise money to get out of debt in the first place. He also has momentum in the polls.

thorin_bane

IT's only hersey in it private taped discussion that was talking about an event that happened. Hell if we can get blasted by the "free press" for bringing down martin, or trying for a coup while the liberals walk merily sideways away from danger then have at it. Print the damn letter and let people see behind the curtain. How about some REAL TRANSPARENCY. Who runs the show that we all have figured out already.

KenS

West Coast Greeny wrote:
He needs time to raise money to get out of debt in the first place.

 

Thats going to be a pretty long time coming. [Stay tuned for details.]

 

West Coast Greeny wrote:
He also has momentum in the polls.

 

I don't know if you'd call it momentum: a quick jump out of the basement, to a plateaud tie with Harper.

 

[Not to mention: if they do move off this plateau, there is a down as well as an up. Iggy seems bent on making sure there is equal opportunity for the former.

Fidel

West Coast Greeny wrote:
He also has momentum in the polls.

And I'll say the same thing only worded a bit differently here:

They want to do better than they did than the historically low voter support for the Liberal Party achieved last October. That means they need a little more than just momentum. And it appears the banks have instructed Iggy in a closed door meeting to continue propping up the Harpers as usual. And Iggy has agreed to continue playing the role of lapdog for the banks and Harpers.

Liberal, Tory, it's the same old story.

Uncle John

The more the Liberals deal with the Conservatives, the further they go down in the polls in the long run. It started with Martin's minority government, and continued with Dion's voting with Harper many times.

Iggy's honeymoon should blow him up to 55%-60% approval, and he just isn't getting those numbers.

The Tories should be decimated like the US GOP and the UK Labour Party, and they are not.

Being out of power for a while is also going to negatively impact the Liberal Brand, which is starting to look like some old school shiznit.

Bookish Agrarian

Interestingly I posted rather innocuous comments on a number of media websites related to this issue and how it should be the real story investigated.  The never made the cut for being posted. 

I know I might ramble from time to time, but there was not really anything inflamitory in what I said, just the allegation itself.

West Coast Greeny

Well, the Liberals haven't done this well in the polls since the bump Dion got after his election to the liberal leadership in 2006.

KenS

Deja vu.

remind remind's picture

Not a word was mentioned of this in the final At Issues Panel last night, telling......

ottawaobserver

It's still only one day's worth of polling numbers.  But it was discussed at some length between Don and Frank Graves from Ekos earlier.

D V

Bookish said,

"Interestingly I posted rather innocuous comments on a number of media

websites related to this issue and how it should be the real story investigated.

The [sic] never made the cut for being posted."

Which sites?

What was funniest of all were (ex-banker) McCallum's comments, see from http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9012061.html ,
making bank influence seem worse, as in, they'd never do it like that!

Such influence doubtless is behind the current open rapprochement of sorts as well.

ottawaobserver

You're right, DV, I hadn't read his comments closely enough before.  Basically McCallum said that the banker would say these kinds of things in a much smaller meeting, not a larger one.  Interesting ...

KenS

Pshaw.

 

Raitt on tape:

"'We don't need this. We have no interest in this. And we will never fund your party again.' That was very powerful. So he heard it from very powerful people in the industry. He was definitely muzzled."

 

McCallum's comment:

"That's absolutely ridiculous," he said. "Can you imagine a bank president standing up in a room like that with more than 100 people in the room and saying something like that? It makes no sense."

 

Since election financing reform, banks and bankers as individuals now donate trifling sums of money to the LPC. And it would be highly illegal for them to even hint at withdrawing access to loan funds [not to mention someone would break ranks, as long as the LPC is creditworthy].

The CBA, and bankers in general, indeed has powerful sway over the Liberal party... but it is a red herring to see that operating at the level of purse strings.

More like a never ending dalliance in the same bed.

 

ETA: I'm not going to spend my time arguing the veracity of conspiracy theories, when bankers have more powerful and certain means of perpetually exerting influence. Their mere expressed dissaproval itself is sufficient at any time to give Liberals second thoughts about what they are doing.

ottawaobserver

It's not the corporate contributions of the banks which are no longer permitted, and not so much the individual contributions of the bankers (although I'm sure that's where a LOT of the money came from for the big Iggy dinner in Toronto on April 1).

It's the fact that the bankers are the ones who decide whether and how much to finance the Liberal campaigns.  That's where the influence comes in.

KenS

If by 'how much to finance the Liberal campaigns' you mean how much to loan them- then I was talking about that, and it would be highly illegal for them to openly apply such pressure. So its not going to be done where Raitt was talking about it. They cannot even make such threats to a businessperson- let alone a political party.

And I frankly think there is just about zero chance it would be done 'privately'- because that would take collusion between banks that would carry heavy penalties in the very likely possibility even one person talks about it.

Why would anyone risk that when just from threatening to speak out against the Liberal party, bankers can watch them backpeddle and fawn?

remind remind's picture

They needed to only have said something like;

"we cannot in good conscience, in anyway, support those who would bring down the stable government at this time of economic peril".

 

NorthReport

McCallum is an ex-Royal Banker isn't he?

ottawaobserver

Former Chief Economist of the Royal Bank, yes, I believe that's right.

Bookish Agrarian

There would be nothing illegal about it.  And they need not have made an explicit threat.  Simply say they don't approve of the government falling.  Everyone in the room would get the real meaning.  It doesn't even have to be withholding a loan, it could be as simple as providing one with very unfavourable terms, or with icky backing criteria.  Lord knows the banks have been screwing over the same people the Liberals do with those tricks for generations - ie average Canadians.

I still love McCallum's reply though.  It wasn't that the riot act wasn't or wouldn't be read to the Liberals, only that it wouldn't have happened the way Raitt describes.  There is a hell of a lot of wiggle room for implicit threats having been made in his 'explanation'.

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

Exactly, his "denial" consisted of saying "They'd never be so obvious."

NorthReport

Ignatieff Liberals Motto:

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we set out to deceive."

NorthReport

Whoever is calling shots for the Liberals they made a huge mistake not forcing an election this spring as this article clearly points out. Those attack ads are paying off inspite of the BS in the Toronto Star, and Ignatieff's popularity is tanking. it was only a matter of time anyways. Bring on Trudeau next, as Ignatieff is toast.

 

 

Harper's next big chance

With Ignatieff cowed, the PM's brain trust plans the next attack

 

 

 

http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/06/27/harper%E2%80%99s-next-big-chance/

 

Debater

NorthReport wrote:

Whoever is calling shots for the Liberals they made a huge mistake not forcing an election this spring as this article clearly points out. Those attack ads are paying off inspite of the BS in the Toronto Star, and Ignatieff's popularity is tanking. it was only a matter of time anyways. Bring on Trudeau next, as Ignatieff is toast.

Ignatieff is hardly toast - he and Harper both have an equal shot at winning the next election.  He has lost some credibility in certain circles, but it's hardly time to start writing political obituaries.  Let's be realistic here.

The Liberals are ahead in the latest Nanos poll, and Harper has higher unfavourability ratings in the poll than Ignatieff does.  It's hardly time for him to pack it in yet.

http://www.nanosresearch.com/library/polls/POLNAT-S09-T380E.pdf

NorthReport

Ignatieff blinked, and showed his true cowardly colours.

ignatieff is devoid of chrisma and has barely lived in Canada.

How old is Ignatieff anyways?

Liberals have basically voted 79 times to support Harper, whereas the other opposition parties have not, so Canadians know who the true opposition to Harper is.

Harper will probably never get his majority, but Ignatieff will never be prime minister.

That's why the Liberals might as well get the Trudeau coronation plans going, as they have no hope otherwise.

 

ottawaobserver

I don't think Ignatieff could have won the election if he went now, but his performance just undermined his future chances.

Debater

NorthReport wrote:

Ignatieff blinked, and showed his true cowardly colours.

ignatieff is devoid of chrisma and has barely lived in Canada.

How old is Ignatieff anyways?

Liberals have basically voted 79 times to support Harper, whereas the other opposition parties have not, so Canadians know who the true opposition to Harper is.

Harper will probably never get his majority, but Ignatieff will never be prime minister.

That's why the Liberals might as well get the Trudeau coronation plans going, as they have no hope otherwise.

 

"Ignatieff will never be prime minister."

I wouldn't count on that if I were you.  Predicting Ignatieff's demise at this juncture is as premature as those who think Layton should pack it in before the next election.

As for Trudeau, he is a lot smarter than Ignatieff and he won't be running for the leadership anytime soon.  He will only do so when he has spent several years building up support and a profile and when the time is right.

NorthReport

Precisely.

The Liberals will be looking at another leadership convention right after the next federal election.

ottawaobserver wrote:

I don't think Ignatieff could have won the election if he went now, but his performance just undermined his future chances.

ottawaobserver

By the way, I just read the Wells' piece linked to above.  He certainly has the access to get people to say things like that, but I still don't fully trust that this is what the Conservatives' truly believe.

You remember during the last leadership convention, how a memo supposedly from Doug Finley assessing the Liberal leadership candidates' pros and cons suddenly leaked to the Star from the tightest shop in the world (and no heads rolled?).  They were trying to spin that convention, and I was later told by someone who might have been in a position to guess well, that really they were most afraid of Rae and his political skills.  Of course they couldn't believe their luck when Dion won.

I suspect that the point behind giving this to Wells was to try and set the cat amongst the pigeons again.

So the question is: do you think it will work?

Debater

NorthReport wrote:

Precisely.

The Liberals will be looking at another leadership convention right after the next federal election.

Are you predicting that Stephen Harper will win the next election?

KenS

ottawaobserver wrote:

I suspect that [for the Conservatives] the point behind giving this to Wells was to try and set the cat amongst the pigeons again.

So the question is: do you think it will work?

Or to rephrase the question, are the Liberals inclined enough to turn on each other again that this will find fertile ground?

And it is the same question whether the account relayed by Wells is or is not largely embellished.

My hunch would be that they do not turn on each other, that unless Iggy gets into successive stupid moves they will leave him be. They let Dion run his course even after they knew he was a disaster. I think there is even less interest in rocking the boat now.

There is a bigger qualifier coming, but sticking for the moment with the question of the possibility of an almost open brewing revolt [as with Dion]: I think its possible Iggy is chronically ill equiped for this. He knows now that its not a good ide for him to just bluster away. Problem 1: this is his way. He was like this before he became a politician. Thats how he ends up saying let North Koreans starve, and support the US in Iraq. He's entranced by the big gesture- especially when he can make it too. And that was in his field of academic expertise. Problem 1 is that if you take away something that core, its like cutting off a couple limbs- what is he going to do instead? Be even more off balance for one thing. And if he retreats to trying to play it safe all the time, what happened to Dion is a demonstration that isn't easy to be sucessful at. It wasn't only that dion was ill equiped- isolating yourself at the end of a cul-de-sac is not easy to get out of. And besides, there are signs that Iggy is just as ill equiped, even if it manifests differently. "Mr. Iggnatieff, people are wondering what role you actually play; what you are going to do." Well you see. Ramble, ramble. Etc.

So Iggy does have the potential to continue to unfold badly. And its not just his personal characteristics. The Liberals are in a demanding strategic fix. Getting out requires a leader that is good at it. And if he isn't, failure easily becomes rather spectacular.

But even without an unfolding spectatcular failure- a la Dion, the Liberals can ill afford any doubts in Iggy. Because they have filled their internal organization with a lot of hot air. All organizations plump themselves internally big time- especially political parties. But their is a more desperate necessity in the LPC- so much rides on 'Iggy the Saviour'. So even if he doesn't spin off into Dion type failure, the fact he has clay feet may be more deflation than this internal hype can handle.

Which is the backdrop for me to the question:

Debater wrote:

Are you predicting that Stephen Harper will win the next election?

NR said Iggy will never be Prime Minister. I think that requires a qualification. On the obvious level: anything can happen and 'never say never'. But more than that, if the economy gets considerably worse, then Harper is toast and Iggy is PM be default. Or the Cons could really badly shoot themselves in the foot right during an election or when one is unavoidable. The latter is not very likely, and the economy is probably going to go into slow recovery.

So yes, without being handed it gift wrapped, I don't think Iggy will win the next election- either by forming immediately a minority government, or by having sufficient strength to do so after after Harper failing a Throne Speech confidence vote.

The Liberals had some momentum to carry themselves out of the basement. You obviously see this continuing. But all the Conservatives have to do is stay in the range of the current stalemate and he remains in power, and able to actually govern pretty freely because the Liberals let him.

This stalemate has been on for months now- even before the recent sudden death of Iggy's honeymoon on which the Liberals upswing rode. The Liberals will be doing well to see that stalemate not turn a few ticks back against them... let alone they have to break right out of it to win the next election.

Stockholm

In many ways, the best possible outcome in the next election would be for the Tories to have the most seats, but for the Liberals and NDP to both gain some ground. If the Liberals are the second largest party then the NDP would have maximum leverage to demand cabinet seats and policy concessions (whereas if the Liberals were the largest party, I suspect that Iggy would just try to do what Harper is doing a government woith a minority with no permanent deals with anyone.). It was one thing for Iggy to turn away from the coalition last January when he figured that if he bided his time, he would win an election and have a stronger mandate etc... but if the Liberals don't overtake the Tories in the next election, Iggy will have to either make a deal with the NDP to become PM, or face up to the fact that he will NEVER be PM and that backstabbers will be out in full force within the Liberal Party.

NorthReport

Yes, there is a good likelyhood that the Conservatives will end up with the most number of seats. Harper is a good strategist and I doubt that the Ignatieff Liberals are any match for the current prime minister and his strategists. I think Liberal supporters will need to cool their heels until Justin is ready to assume the mantle, as he probably is their only possible chance of defeating the Cons, and that is several years away at least.

Ignatieff sees himself as being more of an ally to the Cons than the NDP, and the reality is Canadian right-wing voters will vote for the Cons, not the Liberals. 

We have had minority governments in Canada for 5 years now, and the sky hasn't fallen. Canadians prefer minority governments as well, so that no one party has too much power. It's too bad the Liberals are such cowards, and keep backing this right-wing Harper-led government, but of course the Liberals are only showing us their true colours. The Ignatieff-led Liberals are far from the party of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Debater wrote:

NorthReport wrote:

Precisely.

The Liberals will be looking at another leadership convention right after the next federal election.

Are you predicting that Stephen Harper will win the next election?

NorthReport

NorthReport wrote:

Yes, there is a good likelyhood that the Conservatives will end up with the most number of seats after the next election. Harper is a good strategist and I doubt that the Ignatieff Liberals are any match for the current prime minister and his election planners. I think Liberal supporters will need to cool their heels until Justin is ready to assume the mantle, as he probably is their only possible chance of defeating the Cons, and that is several years away at least.

Ignatieff sees himself as being more of an ally to the Cons than the NDP, and the reality is Canadian right-wing voters will vote for the Cons, not the Liberals. 

We have had minority governments in Canada for 5 years now, and the sky hasn't fallen. Canadians prefer minority governments as well, so that no one party has too much power. It's too bad the Liberals are such cowards, and keep backing this right-wing Harper-led government, but of course the Liberals are only showing us their true colours. The Ignatieff-led Liberals are far from the party of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Debater wrote:

NorthReport wrote:

Precisely.

The Liberals will be looking at another leadership convention right after the next federal election.

Are you predicting that Stephen Harper will win the next election?

Stockholm

That suggests that the only way Iggy can save his skin is by forming a coalition government after the election. I think that after the next election, the choice will be a very start one for Iggy - form a coalition with the NDP or die.

ottawaobserver

Or else I suppose it could send the Liberals back into a coalition with the Conservatives, and maybe even formalize it a bit more.  In fact, they might be in so much debt that the bankers might sorta drop hints about it being all for the best anyways.

NorthReport

So Harper's number one issue when he has enough clout is to end public funding for political parties. That's gotta be the end of the line for the L:iberals.

ottawaobserver

I suppose, but Harper needs a majority to do that.  He will run on it, of course, and will make the whole debate as ugly as possible, but raw voting power in the Commons is raw power.  Unless the Liberals roll over and cave on the vote after the election, Harper can only implement it with a majority in the House.

D V

Here ottawa' is observing well: to maintain banker & associated hegemony, in the face of a major crisis in the US as the dollar melts, or as gasoline is maldistributed or various other combo-scenarios generating possible civil unrest, even a little bit of which could serve as an excuse for some kind of clampdown,  a Cons-Lib national unity coalition could form, and the recently reformed parliamentary behaviour
might be indicative of both parties at the top knowing they'll have to toe a certain line.  Or even the imminent prospect of the above could force such a coalition.  That is when the three other parties should come into their own, co-operatively or not.

(Can someone tell me how to stop this new editor from double-spacing & line-extending things I ctrl-v into it?)

ottawaobserver

D V wrote:

(Can someone tell me how to stop this new editor from double-spacing & line-extending things I ctrl-v into it?)

Click on "Disable rich-text", and then click on "Enable rich-text" again.  It's the only thing that works ... so far as I've observed, anyways.

ottawaobserver

Although come to think of it, that could be why they're planting the "he's only in it for himself" meme now.

ETA: I should have indicated I was talking about the plan to run against the subsidies being why they're starting to plant that meme now ... the thread flow gets a bit disjointed when I forget others might comment in the meantime.  Sorry

adma

Stockholm wrote:

That suggests that the only way Iggy can save his skin is by forming a coalition government after the election. I think that after the next election, the choice will be a very start one for Iggy - form a coalition with the NDP or die.

And it could come easier and more "natural" if Liberal + NDP surpass 154 seats--a feat unaccomplished over the past three elections; which is why whatever happens in Quebec is critical...

KenS

If Lib+NDP seats are over 154 it may be all too easy for Iggy to govern largely on his own- only needing to concede enough to the NDP to bring down Harper in the Throne Speech. Iggy would know Jack would pay a steep political price to spurn a deal- even if it is evident Iggy is making only minimal concessions.

While anything less than that majority for Lib+NDP, and Harper is free to make deals with the Bloc. [And that seat breakdown continues to be the outcome most likely by a considerable amount.]

Since Iggy would govern without much substantive change from what Harper has been doing, doesn't look to me like a lot of difference.

Debater

KenS wrote:

While anything less than that majority for Lib+NDP, and Harper is free to make deals with the Bloc. [And that seat breakdown continues to be the outcome most likely by a considerable amount.]

It's too soon to know what the breakdown of seats is going to be in the next election - it hasn't even started yet.  The Liberals may end up with more seats than the Conservatives.

NorthReport

Regardless of who gets the most number of seats in the next election it's not too soon to know that no one party will get a majority.

 

Ignatieff's big political mistake

 

 

 

http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Ignatieff+political+mistake/174630...

 

 

ottawaobserver

That author's thesis was that Ignatieff made a mistake in not pulling the plug back in January, and now claims Iggy made the same mistake again in June.  I'm not sure I totally agree, and I think it's a bit of retrospective rewriting of history to match his January column for the National Post online.

It would have been pretty bold for Ignatieff to dump the coalition and go to an election with no budget passed at the bottom of the recession (at least the market bottom) and the height of the anti-coalition fury, although an adroit politician might have made it work.  He didn't have a compelling reason to go at the end of March when the first "report card" kicked in, and honestly he didn't really have one in June either.

To think that Iggy could have assumed the role of PM, and then after six months or so dumped the NDP and gone to an election saying he needed his own mandate ... for a man who's terrified of making bold but risky decisions, it would have been the safer route, and they could have been raising money for themselves as a government with the Conservatives in a complete uproar.

I think Robin Sears assessment of Ignatieff in the May edition of Policy Options as someone who lacks strategic courage is more and more being proven correct.  Perhaps we're lucky in the end not to have tied ourselves to him this time.

RobinSearsinMayPolicyOptions wrote:

With the passage of months, however, the limits of this wafer-thin political resumé have begun to emerge. The academy is about the balanced consideration of evidence and options with a rare requirement to make a painful choice. Leadership politics is about instant decisions, often taken with inadequate information and under ridiculous time pressures. Those hasty judgments are hostages to fortune for a leader. Their impacts ripple across supporters and enemies immediately and then echo well into the future. Academics can muse, as Ignatieff was famous for observing about human rights, about choosing between "the awful and the unacceptable." Leaders must frame their choices in far more appealing terms if they are to survive.

In a lifetime few intellectuals are called to make existential choices. Leaders of countries at war - or those fighting a major economic collapse - face them daily. Prime ministers of minority governments anxiously face career-ending decisions several times a month. There are more than a few members of Ignatieff's caucus and one or two in his inner circle who believe that his decision to walk away from the coalition was more about angst at making a fateful decision than it was about strategy. Those doubters cast worried glances at each other over the new leader's climbdown days later in the face of a revolt by his Newfoundland caucus.

The Harper government is hoping that with every rattled but never unsheathed political sabre, Ignatieff's mostly invented leadership credentials will begin to fade. After he attacked, then passed the Harper government's budget, then howled about and voted for the curious $3-billion stimulus "petty cash box," then gave the government a pass on its first quarterly "report card," the inevitable grumbles have begun to emerge on blogs and in private conversation at spring fundraisers.

....

Troubling for some veteran strategists, those more impressed by real numbers and riding level data than by the sycophantic celebrity coverage lavished on the new leader by the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, is how modest the growth in popular support has been since the Ignatieff coup. While Liberal numbers in Quebec continue to be stronger than at any time since Jean Chrétien's departure, most months the national totals still bounce between level-pegging and leads within the margin of error for Ignatieff or Harper. Given that the Bloc owns more than half the seats in Quebec for the foreseeable future, and the Conservatives own Canada west of the Lakehead barring a handful of competitive seats in three provinces, Liberal ridings are at a premium.