Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Tory Offers Some Advice

From his September 27th column, Tory whip Jay Hill offers the Libs some advice:

The underlying myth in this debate about whether there will be an election this fall is that the Conservative Government must attract the support of at least one of the opposition parties to survive. They’re wrong. There is another option.

Conservatives set an historical precedent when we abstained from voting on the Liberal’s 2005 budget, allowing Paul Martin’s minority government to survive. At that time, our leader Stephen Harper said there were many aspects of that budget we fundamentally couldn’t vote to support. Yet, we respected the will of Canadians which strongly indicated they didn’t want an election.

Mr. Dion, as leader of the Official Opposition, could take the same, responsible course of action now. Canada’s economy is performing very well. Unemployment is at its lowest in 32 years. Taxes are down. Consumer spending remains robust and Canada is regaining its good reputation on the international stage thanks to the strong and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Harper.

Instructing his Liberal caucus to abstain from the vote on the Throne Speech is a lifeline that Mr. Dion may wish to grasp … and, more importantly, one that will save Canadians from an unwanted, unnecessary and expensive trip to the polls.

Interesting in that he got there a day ahead of this guy.

I am still torn on the notion of Dion's bringing down the government over October's throne speech, and the fact that the "enemy" is suggesting an abstention does not make this idea any more palatable. But, on the other hand:

Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the Liberal Party at the moment, I suspect the outcome of a Spring election will be another (probably Tory) minority. There is nothing in the polls that makes me think that the Libs have plunged in support among the general populace (outside of Quebec) to anywhere near the extent that the morale of their hard-core supporters has suffered. And there is nothing to suggest that the Tories have suddenly become more lovable. Furthermore, since last year's budget was as goody filled as a Spring budget will likely be, and it got them nowhere, there is no reason to think that a replay will give the Tories their "winning conditions".

There is also the fact that it will look as though the Liberals have dropped another election into a busy election season. It will not play well in Atlantic Canada if Dion forces Newfoundlanders to pay attention to two elections simultaneously and it won't play well in Ontario if we have to start thinking Federal election a week after the Ontario version has wrapped up. The accusation will be (as Hill points out) that the Liberal party is putting its own best interests ahead of the nations'. And in this case the claim will have more than a bit of truth to it.

Yes, an abstention will look bad and will attract negative media coverage...for a couple of days. But the situation right now is the political equivalent of trench warfare--it takes tons of effort to gain you an inch. My instinct at the moment is to duck and cover and wait for the latest bombardment to end, which it surely will.

12 comments:

Ben said...

This article, you mean? (The link is wrong right now.)

Tough call for your guys. Which is worse -- a potentially winnable, potentially disastrous immediate election, or a pause that gives time for even more trouble to start up?

Gut check time -- which sounds like it's more likely to go to the better case scenario?

Funnily enough, as much as I'm enjoying watching the Liberals in spasms right now, I do think that your leader has it in him to do a gut check and pull things together, perhaps even well enough to beat my party's leader. That's why you picked him, I imagine -- the man who had the courage to take on the separatists solo, in public, when everyone else thought it was hopeless.

bigcitylib said...

That's for the correct link. Its fixed now.

Anonymous said...

Harper wants to go after the budget after spending weeks announcing goodies. Why on earth would Dion want to give him that chance?

Why would anybody pay any attention to a nervous nellie like Wilfert?

Ti-Guy said...

Maybe the Harper non-government needs a bit more time at non-governing before it sinks in with Canadians that Conservatives (being disaffected miseries and dishonest dullards) really don't have any ideas and that all the "successes" they're bragging about really are the result of the previous Liberals regime (as Jeffery Simpson noted in his G&M column yesterday. Then again, all of this will depend on whether the media intends to inform Canadians about what the Harper non-government is doing, or whether it really wants to distracts us.

Hard to tell. Journalists are really stupid these days.

Anonymous said...

"Furthermore, since last year's budget was as goody filled as a Spring budget will likely be, and it got them nowhere, there is no reason to think that a replay will give the Tories their "winning conditions"."

The Tories already have their winning conditions. If you think that the Tories got nowhere over the last year then you apparently missed the Quebec byelections. Are there enough seats in Quebec to give the Tories a majority? Probably not. But there are more than enough to keep the Liberals in opposition. And if Dion loses the next election and comes third in his home province, he'll have bigger problems on his hands than the Conservatives. He's probably best to wait it out a bit and hope something controversial comes up.

bigcitylib said...

Anon 3:59,

So you are saying that the Tories want an election, not to win a majority, but to make things harder for Dion? Sounds like bullshit to me.

Ti-Guy said...

If you think that the Tories got nowhere over the last year then you apparently missed the Quebec byelections.

Keep telling yourself that, dear.

...God, they have short memories. Remember how conditions were so winning back in the Spring?

I think rapid-cycling manic depression is an essential quality of Conservatism these days.

Gayle said...

If Mr. Hill wants to avoid an election, perhaps he can suggest that Harper compromise on his budget so as to mollify the opposition.

Anonymous said...

There may be two reasons for Wilfert's (pronounced 'will-fart') planned (and authorized) comments. First, they do not want voter turnout or choices in the Ontario election to be affected. Second, they may feel it better to slap Harper around a few days in the Commons, drive his negatives up, before voting him down on an opposition Day.

Hill's commentary, also certainly authorized, is puzzling. Why on earth did Harper schedule a Throne Speech if he did not plan to launch a campaign around it? I mean, what was the point? Are the internal polls that bad? Were the Quebec by-elections a mirage?

Puzzling. Strange.

Ben said...

Re why Harper decided to do a Throne Speech if he didn't intend on having an election -- possibly just to take back the initiative. The opposition was pushing him around on certain issues. Now he's pushing back.

Also never hurts to toss the Liberals back into introspective mode...

Ben said...

But we still don't know whether there'll be one or not -- that's in Dion's hands.

Anonymous said...

"So you are saying that the Tories want an election, not to win a majority, but to make things harder for Dion? Sounds like bullshit to me."

Where in my post did I say the Tories want an election? I said that they would win an election, nothing more. As for Dion's troubles, I wrote that from his perspective. I don't think the Tories have anything to worry about from him anymore.

"...God, they have short memories. Remember how conditions were so winning back in the Spring?"

They probably would have won back in the Spring as well, just not a majority. Why force an election if you're not convinced you can win a majority? There's a difference between winning and winning a majority.