Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A New Strategy

It was very interesting to see the opposition parties react to today's budget. In the past you could count on the "Progressive Reform Alliance of Conservatives" to scream the budget was too far left and the "Nouveau Bloc Democratique" to complain the budget was too far right. The end result? Everyone sees the Liberals as the party in the middle. This time, the story was completely different.

You had Stephen Harper coming as close to happy as he's physically capable of looking. "A marvelous budget! Just smashing!" he gushed. "Monte couldn't have done a better job himself!"

Then, Gilles Ducceppe and Jack Layton got up and huffed and puffed about the Liberals not working with them. Now, Gilles Ducceppe hates Canada and would scoff at the budget if Goodale announced a 10 billion dollar transfer to Quebec. But Layton's talking points were very interesting. He talked about how Martin convinced left-wing voters to vote for him last election and that he's now betrayed them.

So what does this all mean? Well, to me, it looks like an absolutely brilliant strategy from the opposition parties. I think we can all agree that Martin "won" the last election by convincing voters that Stephen Harper was a scary, scary man. I think it's also not a stretch to say that the few times the Conservatives have had success since World War 1 has been when they've offered "Liberal Government without Liberals". With Martin set to move left on Same Sex marriage and Missile Defense, it's imperative that the opposition parties convince Canadians that there's no difference between him and Stephen Harper. The Conservatives need this if Harper ever wants to become Prime Minister, and the Nouveau Bloc Democratique needs this so that their voters aren't scared into voting for Martin to stop Harper.

When the attack adds against Stephen Harper start next election, Jack Layton will be able to stand up and say that the Liberals gave Canada a Conservative budget and that there's no difference between Martin and Harper. Harper meanwhile will be able to subtly imply that there's little difference between him and Martin. I think voters are looking for an excuse to boot Paul, and if Harper doesn't look too scary, they'll make the switch.


  • I doubt it.

    The Liberals have been borrowing from the Conservative/Reform Economic Platform for quite some time.

    It wasn't the "Scary Economizing Conservatives" that the Liberals painted, it was the "Scary Social Conservatives".

    Far as I can see it, both opposition parties are screwed. The Liberals are stealing the NDP social platform (gay marriage, missile defense, marijuana, daycare, etc.), and stealing the CPC economic platform.

    So now the NDP will have to distinguish themselves by highlighting their economic left and the CPC will have to highlight their social right. Historically, neither of those has been very attractive to Canadian voters.

    By Blogger Sacamano, at 7:41 p.m.  

  • While I agree that to some extent the opposition's reaction is based on politics, the sad fact is that it's also grounded in reality. This was an incredibly right wing budget. Corporate tax cuts, meaningless tax cuts for the poor (that don't even happen now), massive military increases, meaningless tax cuts for the middle class ($400 a year), it's all a slap in the face.

    Jack had it right, there is a feeling a betrayal setting in...

    By Blogger Gracchi, at 12:43 a.m.  

  • Honestly speaking I don't know much but I hope that what Jass said is right. If that is really happening that it is best for the country we do need some discipline on economic front without giving into conservatism on social front.

    By Blogger aangil, at 12:57 a.m.  

  • I hope jass is right as well. Though, it would be nice if the Liberals didn't borrow so heavily from the CPC's economic policy. Then again if the Liberals didn't borrow from the CPC they'd be the NDP, though that might not be a bad thing.

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 1:56 a.m.  

  • Harper will pick what it is he wants to differentiate himself on before the next election. No one wants an election yet, so each is giving the other side what they need to keep going.
    Each thinks they're recovering faster than the other, so neither wants to re-engage in the fight. When the advantage becomes clear, someone will move. The conservatives will refuse to support something, or the Liberals will propose something they know they can't get passed.
    It's just not happening yet.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 10:51 a.m.  

  • It had to be a right-wing budget. When you have the opposition agreeing with the government, the immediate PR can only be good. This was the first true test for the minority and it did what it had to do.

    The previous poster was right, Harper will seize his opportunity when it comes.

    By Blogger reporterbrock, at 5:12 p.m.  

  • To a certain extent, I agree on the social/economic split, but we still saw a lot of talk about Conservative military spending and tax cuts while campioning Kyoto and the environment.

    And, my point is, the CPC don't have to distinguish themselves. They need to look as much like the Liberals as possible. Obviously Martin will try to exploit the social issue gap and he'll likely have fairly good success with that.

    You are right that the NDP does need to distinguish themselves from the Liberals which is why they couldn't vote for this budget in a million years, especially after losing Star Wars and Gay Marriage as election issues.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:24 p.m.  

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