Why we will have a Spring election (con't from earlier thread)

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ottawaobserver
Why we will have a Spring election (con't from earlier thread)

[The inevitable continuation of this thread ...]

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On the one hand:

Feds shouldn't foot bill for NHL-calibre arena: Iggy

From the very same event:

Ignatieff suggests he’s OK with funding for Quebec NHL rink

Multiply this times 4 times 36 days of the campaign -- with a bonus for the English and French debates.

Aristotleded24

So how do we win over support from supporters of other parties?

Liberal-point out how Layton is an effective leader. Talk about how the NDP is well-positioned to defeat Conservative MPs in certain areas. Talk about how the NDP has a plan for things Liberal supporters care about, like jobs training, health care, education, and the environment.

Conservative-hit Harper on how corrupt he is. The Conservatives basically got in on AdScam, and promised to make changes. Instead, Harper has betrayed these voters. Surely some Tories may switch their votes over the issue. And don't forget Harper's betrayl over the Senate, that will sting the Reform party base hard.

Bloc-talk about how the NPD represents the progressive values Quebeckers hold dear. Talk about how the BQ places sovereignty over progressive policy, and how the NPD's vision for culture and heritage will help protect Quebecois culture.

Green-talk about how the NDP has the environment as a central priority. Talk about the detailed plans for creating green jobs, and how the NDP was able to get C-311 passed in Parliament. Using dynamic, insurgent campaigning tactics, like we've seen with Obama in the US and Nenshi in Calgary will also help out. Also point out the NDP's plan for education, as Green supporters tend to be heavily weighted towards younger voters.

ottawaobserver

This all sounds very good, Aristotleded.

Frmrsldr

+_+

bekayne

ottawaobserver wrote:

[The inevitable continuation of this thread ...]

--------------

On the one hand:

Feds shouldn't foot bill for NHL-calibre arena: Iggy

From the very same event:

Ignatieff suggests he’s OK with funding for Quebec NHL rink

Multiply this times 4 times 36 days of the campaign -- with a bonus for the English and French debates.

Doesn't this say more about the National Post?

KenS

Its not a question of particular agendas or vendettas of particular media.

If you contradict yourself in a campaign, you pay dearly for it. And the standards for what is a contradiction are ruthless. As is his habit, not helped by the Liberal inclination to straddle on everything, Iggy said things in both directions.

And "4 times 36 days of the campaign" is bad enough. But this is going to be a much longer campaign. Once the media settles completely into the inevitability of the election, and we are almost there, the Conservatives will start throwing out traps for Iggy, aggressively capitalizing on his flubs, and attack ads looking to turn up opportunities.

They could do it aimed specifically at Layton and the NDP, but in practice that kind of aggressive differentiated two front attacking creates problems. They might try a lot anyway- its just the kind overplaying the Cons do- but I think its more likely to be just the kind of limited 'tag along' attack aimed at the NDP we're seeing now: "Jack Layton- he's done it before, he'll do it again."

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

ottawaobserver wrote:

[The inevitable continuation of this thread ...]

On the one hand:

Feds shouldn't foot bill for NHL-calibre arena: Iggy

From the very same event:

Ignatieff suggests he’s OK with funding for Quebec NHL rink

Multiply this times 4 times 36 days of the campaign -- with a bonus for the English and French debates.

 

 

It appears to me that the National Post story is simply an expanded version of what the first Sun link says, which apparently you did not bother to read.

In the same Sun article:

1. "Vague promises from millionaires" shouldn't get the feds to pony up cash for an NHL-calibre arena, Michael Ignatieff said Wednesday.

2. But a Liberal government wouldn't shut the door on forking over dough for a project with good business plan. "The issue is whether there is a well put together business plan to renew a public facility and make sure it has a cultural use, a sporting use, an economic development use," he said.

And, by the way, Layton is onside with Iggy (in the same Sun article):

NDP Leader Jack Layton agreed with Ignatieff, 1. noting tax dollars shouldn't go towards funding pro-sports teams, but said 2. money could flow if it served the needs of a broader community.

 I'd have to give credit to Iggy for speaking in specifics, while Layton was giving generalities.

(bolding mine)

Life, the unive...

The point is Iggy contradicted himself one breath after another.  In the classroom a long list of on the one hand and then on the other hand might be fine, but in a national campaign seeminging saying things from both sides of an issue looks like you are clueless.

I actually think the Post has the more accurate story. 

 

Life, the unive...

On another note, I am convinced that an election is coming as the media is now starting to only report the Liberal and Conservatives as a false dichotomy.  I particularly like the stories around corporate tax cuts that pretend the Liberals and Conservatives are somehow on different pages about them.  My favourite oversight in those stories is the failure to report that in the last election the Liberals actually proposed deeper cuts than the Conservatives.  So if the Liberals had been elected the shortfall would have been even larger.  Running against their own policies- and we wonder why people are so cynical about politics these days.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Life, the universe, everything wrote:

The point is Iggy contradicted himself one breath after another.  In the classroom a long list of on the one hand and then on the other hand might be fine, but in a national campaign seeminging saying things from both sides of an issue looks like you are clueless.

I actually think the Post has the more accurate story. 

I think you're clueless, and you're trying to make yourself look informed, which you aren't.

Life, the unive...

Boom Boom wrote:

Life, the universe, everything wrote:

The point is Iggy contradicted himself one breath after another.  In the classroom a long list of on the one hand and then on the other hand might be fine, but in a national campaign seeminging saying things from both sides of an issue looks like you are clueless.

I actually think the Post has the more accurate story. 

I think you're clueless, and you're trying to make yourself look informed, which you aren't.

Nice personal attack.  The simple reality is that in a 10 second sound bite during a campaign you can't do what Iggy did/does.  It doesn't work.  When you do that you will look like you are saying different things to different people, will be spun by everyone in the media if they feel like it, and come out looking like you don't know what you are talking about.  It is communications 101 stuff.

KenS

Iggy did contradict himself Boom Boom.

If you an I were having a conversation, and you said that, I wouldnt say you contradicted yourself.

But its not a conversation. And in one speech, that will be reported, Iggy says no funding for sports stadiums. Then he says, under certain conditions...

You dont do that. He wont likely pay a price for that now, because the heat is not on yet. But there is no reason to think he will stop.

And even substantively speaking- I do think its fair to say based on his words, that Iggy wants to have it both ways.

ottawaobserver

A later story has written that Ignatieff first said one thing, and then clarified it to say another. My point was that if he was being so unclear as to be interpreted two different ways by two different reporters at the very same event, he's going to stumble plenty more times during a campaign.

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2011/01/27/17058546.html

Quote:

The notice comes a day after Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told reporters the federal government shouldn't pay for professional sports facilities.

Ignatieff later qualified his response, noting a Liberal government would pony up the cash for the arena if it was a multifunctional project with a national scope and substantial support from the private sector, backed by a solid business plan.

Also, as to the relevant details of what Ignatieff versus Layton said, I'd go to the original video footage before I'd ever rely on any news-source for a fulsome account of anything Layton says.

JKR

The upcoming election is shaping up to be the best election for the NDP since the 1988 "free trade election". This election may turn out to be the "corporate tax-cut election". If that turns out to be the case, the election will be very similar to the '88 election in that it will be fought over increasing corporate rights.

The '88 election was a lost opportunity for the NDP as they allowed Turner to become the champion of the anti-free trade side. That sort of thing must not be allowed to happen again. The NDP must be seen as the chief antagonist to corporate tax cuts. Fighting corporate dominance of our society is the linchpin of all the NDP's policies so an election fought over the Cons corporate tax cuts should allow the party to showcase almost all their policies together under a common theme of fighting for Canadians against big business.

During the next campaign, NDP'ers should be able to answer the following question in a sentance or two:

What is the NDP's theme?

 --------


Interesting article on how to frame the debate regarding corporate tax cuts:

Deconstructing the corporate tax cut debate

Quote:

 Other progressives in Canada, outraged by the corporate tax cuts, have come out swinging with a stack of myth busting arguments – many of which provide instructive counterpoints but repeat the conservative frame in order to negate it. For instance: tax cuts don’t create jobs. By repeating the frame ‘create jobs’ we reinforce it in the public mind.

 

ottawaobserver

According to one Conservative party telephone fundraising worker, there will be an election on March 29. That would mean a call by February 22.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/930337--tories-planning-sprin...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm sure folks will be happy to be out canvassing and all that other election stuff in sub-zero winter weather across much of the country. March is usually our coldest month here, although last year we had an abnormally warm winter - no such luck so far this year. Windchill rght now is -29C.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I haven't seen a poll yet that puts the Cons out in solid majority territory, so why do they want an election now? Are they anticipating even worse polling results prior to 2012?

Stockholm

They may not WANT an election. But if they are smart they EXPECT one.

ottawaobserver

Well, Flaherty just confirmed on Question Period that the budget is planned for some time in March, so the only way there could be an election on March 29 is if Harper pulled the plug before then.

So, perhaps Susan Delacourt's source was speaking with a phoner who got the story wrong ... i.e., maybe they expect the government to fall on March 29.

BoomBoom's not wrong about winter: it's probably what hurt us the most on E-Day in Winnipeg North.

Stockholm

I find it very hard to believe that some low level grunt working in a phone room trying to get people to donate money to the Tories would have any access to "inside info" on what date the election will happen on. I think this is yet another example of "brain dead Delacourt" making it up as she goes along. I've always considered her to be the stupidest political columnist in Canada. If you want to now what's NOT going to happen in Canadian politics - read Delacourt's column.

Robo

Did no one notice that March 29, 2011 is a Tuesday?  Unless a Tuesday is following a Monday that is a public holiday, since when do Canadian federal elections take place on Tuesdays?

KenS

Dont take what some phone bank person heard too literally.

They probably heard something that is cat out of bag- but what exactly, who knows?

ottawaobserver

The folks on CTV Question Period were even confusing the concepts of the date the election would be called, with the date it would be called for. Tempest: meet tea pot.

bekayne

Stockholm wrote:

I find it very hard to believe that some low level grunt working in a phone room trying to get people to donate money to the Tories would have any access to "inside info" on what date the election will happen on. I think this is yet another example of "brain dead Delacourt" making it up as she goes along. I've always considered her to be the stupidest political columnist in Canada. If you want to now what's NOT going to happen in Canadian politics - read Delacourt's column.

No way on earth she is worse than Jane Taber. Nobody is.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

I'm happy to hear the Liberals are taking a stand on the Cons proposed corporate tax cuts and the billions in spending on fighter jets and prisons while sitting on the biggest deficit in Canadian history.

Mind you,the Libs should have taken a stand right from the get-go...They're hopeless.

But I hope the NDP and Bloc take the same stand and I hope 63% of Canadians who didn't vote for Adolf Harper and his minnions will take this oppurtunity to turf these pricks.

KenS

You are confusing taking a stand on issues, with taking a stand on whether there will necessarily be an election.

[And bearing in mind what Babblers seem ill disposed to remember- "taking on a stand" on whether there will be an election is 100% positioning. It's just positioning even in relation to the party's actual strategy, let alone in relation to substantive issues.]

Because the Bloc and NDP positions on those issues have always been clear.

Stockholm

The BLoc has been very clear that they support corporate tax cuts. Remind me why we are supposed to consider them a progressive party?

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

I can't argue with that,Ken.

The fact that the Liberals are only now publicly condemning Harper's corporate/military police state,instead of condemning these policies the minute they came to light (and they obviously played a complicit hand in these policies in the first place),makes the Libs disingenuous and dishonest.

And it also means that an election is coming in the not so distant future.

Sean in Ottawa

Likely the worker was stoked being told an election was coming in order to speed up and inspire.

It is the worst form of hearsay and quite meaningless- except to say that the Cons are mobilizing

The Cons think an election is likely and are trying to stimulate their workers to mobilize.

I think that is all it is.

Still, once the story is told to the journalist then there is no reason to criticize her for reporting it.

This story is not helpful in determining when there will be an election.

It comes down to the same old story--

All parties have reasons to avoid an election but they all have a bottom line in terms of what they will accept. At this point they are all exploring their bottom lines knowing only one has to make a deal with the Cons to avoid it.

I find it difficult to imagine the Cons budget passing because we have the certain of an election within 18 months and whichever party makes a deal now with the Cons is likely to suffer in that election making it hard to do a deal.

I suspect the aprty most able to do th deal would be the BQ but they would need so much in return that the Cons would pay for giving it to them in the rest of Canada. Again hard to see a scenario that allows the budget to pass.

The best thing the Cons can do is throw in the election financing changes and hope to get away with saying it is only the other parties' greed for why we are having a vote. I think that is likely what will happen. And I actually do not think it will work out as the Cons have planned. Instead the vote will be decided by other factors. Those factors are contradictory when it comes to benefits so no clear advantage. There is a slight advantage to Harper I think but enough downside risk to not want to go there.

 

Aristotleded24

Boom Boom wrote:
I haven't seen a poll yet that puts the Cons out in solid majority territory, so why do they want an election now?

Here's what I think:

We've been talking about the economy in the Land of Babble. The idea has been expressed that not only has the economy not improved, but it is about to take another downturn. That never favours the incumbent government. So Harper goes now on the off chance that he can get a majority, but if he doesn't, then the Opposition will be battered into allowing Harper's reign to continue.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

That actually sounds plausible, because if there is an election this spring, then Harper gets another 4 or 5 year term, unless he is defeated on something down the line, but certainly not in the near future - the country simply would not tolerate another election so soon.

David Young

Easy enough to me why Harper wants to go this spring:

Once the stimulus money runs out, unemployment rates will surely rise, and that won't make very positive headlines.  I.M.H.O.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Not sure what the government is getting in terms of economic advice but they are pulling back on real estate in apparent fear of a housing bubble. To do s now risks a dip back in to recession. Do they know we have a bubble?

Either way that gamble is based on a very negative outlook either way-- that interest rates are about to bury us , a bubble in the market about to shake the banking foundations or the corrective measures about to inflict a recession.

 

Then there is the dollar flying high enough to choke exports. If the US did come out of recession, they would bury us with an uncompetitive dollar.

 

Then there is the energy issue the cost of energy is rising faster than the economy can mend because it is a serious economic problem that could in fact swing us from one recession to the next with each recovery bringing energy costs beyond what that recovery can sustain.

Then there is the reality that jobs are not recovering as much as the government hoped and are held up only by the very spending the government vows to end.

Then there is the Federal finances, the lack of recovery is bad but a recovery that still leaves the massive deficit that everyone but the government recognizes as structural won't look good. For now while the economy is fragile the government can blame the deficit on something other than their overzealous tax cuts and military spending.

No, there appears to be no chance of sustained good economic news-- rather the optimism is based on propaganda and false assumptions.

KenS

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I find it difficult to imagine the Cons budget passing because we have the certain of an election within 18 months and whichever party makes a deal now with the Cons is likely to suffer in that election making it hard to do a deal.

I suspect the party most able to do th deal would be the BQ but they would need so much in return that the Cons would pay for giving it to them in the rest of Canada. Again hard to see a scenario that allows the budget to pass.

The Quebec HST harmonization deal is the ace that Harper holds for not having an election. But they can have the best of both worlds by not playing that ace now- holding it for later. They get the advantages of having an election now: another chance at a majority [albeit a longshot], another election is always good for cutting the Liberals down to size [which happens even if the Libs gain a few seats], and an election now means the reckoning date of an election where they are at great risk of losing power moves from October 2011, to a time they choose Spring 2012 or later.

AND, holding that ace back for later means the Cons can most likely get by the one otherwise compelling disadvantage of an election now: losing power because they probably will not get a majority and the Liberals are unlikely to pass again on the chance to govern with the NDP.

Harper holding that ace of the HST harmonization can reasonably be expected to seal a deal with the Bloc for support of Throne Speech and Budget after the election. Said deal also being to the strategic advantage of the Bloc and Duceppe's PQ leadership ambitions. 

 

Boom Boom wrote:
I haven't seen a poll yet that puts the Cons out in solid majority territory, so why do they want an election now?

The polls put them solidly out of majority territory. The difference can be made up in the campaign- but that would require everything turning in their favour. Since that does not usually happen for anyone, they would not risk the reigns of government just for the chance of a majority. Even if it is a better chance than 18 months from now. Becasue even assuming an economic worsening, 18 months is 18 months: that long you keep governing, and you are not just delaying the inevitable. Because it is 18 months for any number of other conditions that come to provide you breakthrough opportunities.

 

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Here's what I think:

We've been talking about the economy in the Land of Babble. The idea has been expressed that not only has the economy not improved, but it is about to take another downturn. That never favours the incumbent government. So Harper goes now on the off chance that he can get a majority, but if he doesn't, then the Opposition will be battered into allowing Harper's reign to continue.

He's not going to have to batter the opposition. That ace Harper Crew is saving should work very nicely.

Stockholm

I don't see why the possible HST deal is such an "ace" for Harper unless its something he brings out in the budget and gets the BQ to support. For one thing the Tories are likely to be shellacked in Quebec and after they are reduced to 4 seats in the whole province, they will be in little mood to give Quebec 2 billion dollars. Even if they did promise it in their throne speech - the BQ could still happily vote down the Throne Speech as long as the Liberals and NDP were prepared to match whatever harper waqs promising. There is still another elephant in the room too. The Tories plan to campaign explicitly on scrapping the federal funding of political parties and that would drive all three opposition parties into bankruptcy court - especially the BQ which has no fundraising capacity at all. As long as that remains on the table - no opposition party will let a Tory throne speech pass. Period. 

Sean in Ottawa

Ken, your theory about saving the deal with the BQ for after an election makes a lot of sense to me. Having read your argument, I can see why it would be wasted using it now and that since the Cons are likely to still hold the most seats and still meet the House after the next eelction-- whenever that is-- the fear should not be the timing of an election for them but the prospect of facing the House without this high card. What a wonderful analysis that was Ken.

I wonder if they have thought this through-- I suspect they have. If you are right, and I think you probably are, then the Cons will do perhaps everything else but this to prevent an election and use the card after the results are in.

I say they will still try to prevent an election because this is a rare card and only needs to be played after an election. The best strategy would be to try to make a deal with something else for now allowing them to govern as long as possible before an election and then use the card then. The card gives them another mandate -- and may last a while in to it protecting it. You don't want to use it soon and then not have it so an election now is not ideal either.

The best scenario for them would be to make a deal on something else if possible and delay an election effectively until 2012 while only talking about the deal and then put it on the table in November 2012 to keep governing perhaps until 2014, by which time things may change and a majority possible (if you are an optimistic Con).

Having an election now is still not bad, but not as good. If they have an election now, don't meet the House till September and use it then, they could govern with it till 2013 (one year less than if they could delay an election for another year).

The worst would be to use it up now and still face a vote at the latest only 18 months away without the card.

 

KenS

Putting the elimination of the subsidies in the campaign means nothing. Its a campaign wedge, not an ultimatum to the other parties. I dont think it will be in this Budget, but if the Budget is going down anyway, putting it there is not an ultimatum to the other parties, its a wedge for the campaign that follows. Positioning only.

I agree that the BQ could get the same thing from the NDP and Liberals. So this ace is not a guaranteed get out of jail free card for the Cons. But holding it is a pretty solid gamble. For things to go wrong in expecting to use it after the election all of these things have to go against them:

1] they do not get a majority

2] neither the Liberals or NDP are wounded enough from the campaign and election to be too gun shy and/or internaly divided to go into a governing agreement

3] the Bloc prefers a deal with the Libs and NDP over the Conservatives.

#1- the Cons are not at all likely to get a majority. But it is highly likely that one or the other of the Liberals or NDP will come out of the campaign too bloodied and divided to want a governing partner.

And for the Bloc... if they support a Harper Throne Speech, the election will be far enough away that they can recover from any blowback it causes them in their Montreal seats. So it comes down to their strategic interests. If Duceppe is not going to make the jump to the PQ, then maybe they'll like their position with the Libs and NDP governing. But only maybe- especially since Duceppe might leave the BQ anyway in the chance that he does not make the jump. But odds are he is going to make the jump. And if he does, the stability and opponent Conservative government they like having will give them a couple years until they need to be looking at another election. The Libs/NDP government of some kind, if it got off the ground, would have less stability, and could easily be popular in Quebec.

As to the Conservatives getting a shellacking in Quebec if the election is now- there is no reason for them to expect that to better later, so if the overall picture looks better for an election now, then that isnt going to stop them.

Stockholm

KenS wrote:

Putting the elimination of the subsidies in the campaign means nothing. Its a campaign wedge, not an ultimatum to the other parties. I dont think it will be in this Budget, but if the Budget is going down anyway, putting it there is not an ultimatum to the other parties, its a wedge for the campaign that follows. Positioning only.

I wasn't referring to the budget, I was referring to what happens after the next election. If the Conservatives campaign on a platform of driving the other parties into bankruptcy court - then the opposition parties would be committing suicide if they let the Tories forma new minority government with the Tories claiming a mandate to end all funding of parties whenever they feel like it. I suspect that for the BQ to agree to let Harper form a new minority government - there would have to be some sort of explicit agreement from Harper not to reintroduce any cancellation of the funding for the entire life of the parliament.

KenS

I cross-posted with Sean.

"Wonderful analysis"? Sobering, when it ocurred to me.

Worse than sobering it would be to the folks aroung here who think that Harper always has a way to beat the opposition. I dont think it means that, but that is another discussion. Suffice to say that is neither that Harper is sharper, or "the opposition" stupid and/or cowed. Its just that having 4 major parties, and one of them being the Bloc with its narrow agenda, is guaranteed to deal Harper a lot of good hands to play.

But the trend is that options are nonetheless narrowing for Harper and Company. This ace or trump card held in reserve is a particularly lucky one time break. And I dont think they can hold it back very long. But I think that question is moot- they are going to need to play it soon, because there are no other deals with the opposition parties they are willing to even consider. Not unless either the NDP or the Liberals wants to accept almost any fig leaf for avoiding an election. And I cannot see either doing that. The Liberals in particular are up against the wall, such that they need to let the train out of the station even if things dont look very good for them.

But even if for some reason they wanted to, I dont think the Cons can keep dangling this HST harmonization card until next year.

KenS

Stockholm wrote:

I wasn't referring to the budget, I was referring to what happens after the next election. If the Conservatives campaign on a platform of driving the other parties into bankruptcy court - then the opposition parties would be committing suicide if they let the Tories forma new minority government with the Tories claiming a mandate to end all funding of parties whenever they feel like it.

I dont understand what you are saying. Because they campaign on ending the per vote subsidy does not mean they are obliged to table legislation to make it law. [And its not going to be a main item of the campaign either.]

If they were to include that in a new Budget after the election, it's very simple- they are gone. And that would not change even in the unlikely event that 60% of voters were strongly in favour of ending the subsidy.

How do you see this working?

Sean in Ottawa

Two things:

Ken I meant wonderful in thinking not in result. But there is an advantage in understanding what can be at play and having the chance to prepare for it and defeat it.

As far as the bankrupting of other parties-- they would be wise not to make this the issue. After allowing the Harper cons to steamroll over the public to stop them on a point of self interest (even rightful) just will not hold up in the court of public opinion.

The opposition better pick from some of the other 99 reasons to defeat Harper otherwise they will get their rear ends handed to them on a plate after the next election. That has nothing to do with what I think of the financing proposals and more to do with electoral reality.

Stockholm

The opposition has only ONE CHANCE to get rid of Harper after the election without causing a snap return to gthe polls that only the Tories can afford. That is to defeat the first Throne Speech post-election. If the BQ let's Harper form a new government - then the genie is out of the bottle and then if six months later Harper wants to bring in a bill to gut the opposition parties - he can do it, call it a confidence measure and tell the opposition parties to either let it pass or a face a new election that would likely lead to a wipeout of the opposition which woudl be flat broke after the election. 

Stockholm

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

 

As far as the bankrupting of other parties-- they would be wise not to make this the issue. After allowing the Harper cons to steamroll over the public to stop them on a point of self interest (even rightful) just will not hold up in the court of public opinion.

The opposition better pick from some of the other 99 reasons to defeat Harper otherwise they will get their rear ends handed to them on a plate after the next election. That has nothing to do with what I think of the financing proposals and more to do with electoral reality.

Sean, I think our signals are getting crossed. I am NOT referring to this being an issue that brings down the government next month and i am NOT talking about this as an issue in the election campaign. I'm talking about what happens AFTER the election if the Tories remain the largest party with no majority and they start trying to survive by getting a Throne Speech passed. Why would the BQ pass a Tory throne speech - knowing that six months later Harper might can easily bring in a bill to end the funding and there would be nothing the opposition could do about it at that point. I think that the level of mistrst that all three opposition parties have for Harper is so intense that they will never let him form a new government.

Sean in Ottawa

Stockholm, I see your logic but I don't presume that all the opposition parties will reliably follow your advice.

I am also making the point that they should not make this an issue as they did the last time it was raised. When the opposition spoke of it it sounded like they were more indignant by that than they were about the lack of economic response to a recession. I saw that in their speeches and we know the Cons will exaggerate from there. The issue is a trap to avoid discussing anything else.

If the Cons put this in the budget bill it is to answer every other complaint about the budget with the same refrain: "you are just concerned about the subsidies for yourself not this." The Cons are trying to build a workable scenario to deflect all attention from everything else wrong with the budget and we better make sure we don't walk in to that trap.

That was my point-- it was not even addressed specifically to you so no signals crossed-- I just want to keep getting this point out there as an entire election can turn on it. If people think someone's motivations in politics are selfish they stop listening and that is the frame the Cons are trying to build.

Stockholm

I don't see this as an issue in the election campaign. I see it as an issue AFTER the election when the Tory campaign promise to gut the opposition parties will be hanging like a sword of damocles over the Liberals, NDP and BQ when they decide whether or not to let Harper form a new government. It maybe not even be openly discussed, but I'm just saying that all three opposition parties have a vested interest in ditching Harper after the election because there is a huge risk that if he forms a new government at the earliest opportunity he will try to suspend the funding and drive the other parties into bankruptcy. Why would they take that chance.

I think there is almost zero chance that the Tories would put the ending of public funding of parties in the March budget. It would instantly bring back memories of Nov. '08 and would be such an obvious poison pill that it would be obvious to everyone that Harper was purposely provoking an election. Its also worth noting that Harper explicitly promised in Dec. 2008 not to revisit the issue of public funding of parties in this parliament.

Sean in Ottawa

Stockholm wrote:

I don't see this as an issue in the election campaign.

the Cons have promised to make it one so how do you figure we avoid that?

And it is so obvious a ploy fitting in the kind of dirty politics they like...

KenS

Stockholm wrote:

The opposition has only ONE CHANCE to get rid of Harper after the election without causing a snap return to gthe polls that only the Tories can afford. That is to defeat the first Throne Speech post-election. If the BQ let's Harper form a new government - then the genie is out of the bottle and then if six months later Harper wants to bring in a bill to gut the opposition parties - he can do it, call it a confidence measure and tell the opposition parties to either let it pass or a face a new election that would likely lead to a wipeout of the opposition which woudl be flat broke after the election. 

That is a possibility. But if you can read it, so can the Bloc, and they would just make elimination of the possibility a condition of support for the Throne Speech. I'm sure they can design a poison pill to make sure the agreement is kept.

Stockholm

Well we've come full circle. That was my point right from the start. For the BQ or the Liberals or the NDP to even CONSIDER letting Harper pass a Throne Speech after the next election - there would have to be some sort of a guarantee from Harper that ending federal funding of the parties would NEVER be reintroduced.

KenS

Stockholm wrote:

I see it as an issue AFTER the election when the Tory campaign promise to gut the opposition parties will be hanging like a sword of damocles over the Liberals, NDP and BQ when they decide whether or not to let Harper form a new government. It maybe not even be openly discussed, but I'm just saying that all three opposition parties have a vested interest in ditching Harper after the election because there is a huge risk that if he forms a new government at the earliest opportunity he will try to suspend the funding and drive the other parties into bankruptcy.

You are forgetting one thing.

You and I have both long figured that the Conservatives know that in the aftermath of the next election, the Cons are very much at risk of losing government. It will not be like looking from before the 2008 election, where thay had absolute confidence in governing even if they did not get a majority. They've played their cards well in the last 2 years, but before they did they permamently torched the possibility of walking into reprise minority governments.

The Conservatives know this risk, and the two of us and others have agreed that because of it, they will not take risks with the next election. The appearance on the scene of the Quebec HST harmonization deal gave them a buffer. That is what alows them to let this situation unfold where an election is almost inevitable. Because they now have an escape hatch card.

So the Conservatives have an abiding interest in making sure the Bloc will deal with them. They arent going to go torching that.

JKR

Stockholm wrote:

Well we've come full circle. That was my point right from the start. For the BQ or the Liberals or the NDP to even CONSIDER letting Harper pass a Throne Speech after the next election - there would have to be some sort of a guarantee from Harper that ending federal funding of the parties would NEVER be reintroduced.

All the parties have learned from what's happened in the UK and Australia. After the next election, if no party gets a majority, no party will be given carte blanche in forming a government. If no party gets a majority, there will be a lot of negotiating after the next election. That includes the parties negotiating with the Cons.

In the UK the government's ability to call an election before the fixed date was taken away. I expect the next minority government in Canada will also have to give up that adavantage over the other parties.

ottawaobserver

I haven't thought my way through all of this interesting conversation yet, but there are three relevant points to make:

 * for what it's worth, Harper has explicitly said that axing the public subsidy will NOT be in the upcoming budget, that that it WILL be in their platform for the upcoming election

 * late this weekend it was reported that Flaherty and Bachand have agreed that if the HST were to be harmonized between Canada and Quebec, the federal government would not insist on collecting it as it the case with the other provinces

 * we learned today that Guy Giorno's new job, now that he's left the PMO and been replaced by Nigel Wright as Chief of Staff, is as the Conservative Party's National Campaign Director -- i.e., replacing Senator Doug Finley who is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

Giorno's influence would certainly explain those frat-boy "yes-yes-yes" ads against Ignatieff, from what I know of his past. His plays are pretty predictably and mean-spiritedly over-the-top, and are believed by some to have been the downfall of the Harris government in Ontario.

Also, I'm not even half-way through Paul Wells' latest tome on Harper, but can already tell that it's absolutely required reading for anyone trying to figure any of these tea-leaves out.

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