Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Manley Report

First of all, kudos to Stephen Harper for his wickedly brilliant selection of John Manley to chair this panel. I know, I know, the tendency is always to assume everything Harper does is some sort of evil strategic ganius coup de force but his time it really is, for reasons that a lot of other smart people have already mentioned.

As for the report...things like this take time to digest. John Manley's a pretty smart guy and my military knowledge is limited to Steven Spielberg movies so I'll try to focus on the political ramifications. And from a political perspective, the key recommendation is to extend the mission indefinitely if other countries pick up some of the slack. Presumably, this will be a big issue when NATO meets in Bucharest this April so one would think the vote won't come until after then...

...or not. If Harper's itching for an election, this might very well be the issue he uses to force it and, with the economy expected to stumble, it might make sense to get things rolling before the next budget. While I could see the Liberals abstaining on the budget, in the words of Stephen Colbert "we're at war, pick a side" - abstaining on this one just isn't an option. Siding with the government would mean the end of one of Dion's best wedge issues so this would be a very hard motion to support. (Then again...)

But let's assume for a minute that Harper takes Manley's recommendation and waits until after Bucharest to hold the vote. What happens if Harper can't talk NATO into ponying up the extra 1,000 troops? Does he pull out then? One presumes Harper's going to get that hypothetical question a lot between now and April and the bluff doesn't really work unless Harper's willing to go all in. Now on the flip side, if he talks NATO allies into picking up the slack and Canadian troops get rotated out of the hot spots, could the Liberals actually oppose it? Well...it'd be a hard vote for Dion to whip.

Interesting times ahead...

UPDATE: Radwanski hits the nail on the head with respect to vote timing:

What we've got is a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. Harper can't really go to other countries without first getting the Liberals on board, but if there's any chance at all of the Liberals coming on board it'll only be after those other countries commit to extra troops.

The obvious solution is for the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Official Opposition to sit down like two grown men and plot this thing out. It wouldn't exactly be unique; partisanship is supposed to occasionally take a back seat when your country is at war. But it remains to be seen if either of these two have it in them, let alone both at the same time.

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  • How credible can a report be, when it is supposed to be based on research, yet was pre-determined?
    Check out thescottross.blogspot.com.

    By Blogger thescottross.blogspot.com, at 12:09 a.m.  

  • This is why the Liberals won't force an election. Harper's tactically brilliant (one of the reasons for his high personal ratings as a leader),

    whereas Dion stumbles and fumbles in an attempt to form a coherent opposition (one of the reasons for his utterly dismal personal ratings as a leader).

    The polls are only close now because the populace is not focused on leadership of the country.

    With Harper and Dion both front and center, side by side in an election, Dion doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of beating Harper, and he very much risks handing Harper a majority.

    Dion with bluster here and there, posture about bringing the government down on this or that issue. But as he's done up until now, he will sit on his hands like a good little neutered leader and be thankful he's got a decent MP's salary until the next scheduled election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 a.m.  

  • Um... wait just a minute there, chuckles. "harper has high personal ratings as a leader"????

    Uh huh. Polls repeatedly suggest the ceiling for the cons is approximately 30-36 percent... hardly a ringing endorsement of your fearless leader. The useless oppositing not withstanding, the greater picture on the Afghanistan file is to figure out what exactly it is we are doing over there, one moment we're routing the Taliban, the next we're all for women's rights (though the con's extricated most funding for women within their own country), or maybe its rebuilding stuff, yeah that's it, don't you remember all of those pushpins on the map that nobody could articulate what they were for?

    This so-called report is pretty much closing the barn doors after the animals (and nearly 80 soldiers) have left the building. It was foolish to get into it without proper, measurable goals, and the Cons have simply continued the gong show, with even less competence and accountability.

    Harper may as you say have brilliant political strategy, but frankly, he's utterly useless at running a country. In the end, that is what will bite the guy in the ass. Personally, I can't wait to cast my vote, and the sooner the better.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:52 a.m.  

  • Not to mention the fact that one of the criticisms in the report is Harper's lack of leadership on the mission in Afghanistan.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 1:32 a.m.  

  • Yes, Harper's tactical brilliance continues to be mired at 31-36% for his party, which if anyone doesn't know is really Stephen Harper Party, minus the fun. Ol' Chuck forgets the factor of the CONs repeated drumming of 'not a leader, not a leader' into the skulls of ordinary (and in his case, thick skulled) Canadians. That never-before used tool in Canadian politics (without an election) has lowered expectations for Dion, as well. So while you're waiting for your so-called tactical genius to engage and deconstruct parliament, perhaps we should remind you that 4-out-of-5 dentists think wearing tinfoil on your head makes you look faaaabbbbulloouusss!

    By Blogger burlivespipe, at 1:44 a.m.  

  • "Um... wait just a minute there, chuckles. "harper has high personal ratings as a leader"????

    Uh huh. Polls repeatedly suggest the ceiling for the cons is approximately 30-36 percent... "

    Quit playing dumb. Harper has held 50+% approval ratings as a leader for a long time. Dion is somewhere in the 20%'s

    Elections are won and lost on the visible leader and you know it.

    "Yes, Harper's tactical brilliance continues to be mired at 31-36% for his party,"

    Seems the Libs can only hope to reach those numbers, and you guys claim to speak for 'Canadians'.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:22 a.m.  

  • Taking a step back and looking at the big picture, Afghanistan and the environment will not, not be the issues on which the election will be decided.

    The economy is what the election will be decided on and Canadians will have to ask themseleves which of the two main parties is better placed to handle those questions.

    I haven't looked at the Manley report but I don't think "the war" will be a deciding issue. It isn't in the U.S. primaries and they've got Iraq on their plate to boot. I think Dion had better start beating the ecomonic drum and put away the flowers in the guns and green towel photo-ops. People want to know that they are economically protected or as economically protected as the times permit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:45 a.m.  

  • Short memories eh? In 2004, between April and Sept Harper polled at 19% and 10%. The argument about his ratings as a leader really don't mean much. Trudeau, Chretien, for example, polled very badly in opposition as well.

    About the Manley report - I think we've been "had".

    One thing to remember here - Manley said if NATO doesn't co-operate, etc. we should pull out. So far NATO hasn't - therefore, Dion has been right all along.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:47 a.m.  

  • Fighting the Taliban and capturing Osama Bin Laden was a great idea. The Bush Administration screwed the pooch on it and then dumped it all on NATO, and Harper has always done an un-stellar job of building and maintaining support for the war.

    The war has never been a voter issue, not here or in the US, because our governments have fashioned it (and Iraq, in the US) as the government's war, and not the people's. Then they act all frustrated and confused when the people aren't passionate about it - gee, go figure.

    Personally, my opinion is that if we're not on the hunt to bring Bin Laden to justice, then I have to question just what exactly the point is. I supported a mission to apprehend him, but he's just not on the official radar, it seems.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 a.m.  

  • As far as I've ever seen, Harper has indeed scored higher, and often far higher, than his opponents on the issue of leadership. The CPCs ratings vs other parties are usually closer, though.

    Everyone knows that, though - they're just bullshitting for their favourite team, as usual.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:17 a.m.  

  • Instead of having a bunch of armchair critics, sitting in their warm coffeehouses telling everyone else what to do, why not ask the soldiers and their families what they think:


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:16 a.m.  

  • Harper has indeed scored higher on leadership, which is obviously why he wants the next election to be focussed on that issue.

    It is also true that when he was opposition leader he did not score so high, which is why a number of liberals are not concerned about Dion's numbers.

    Finally, it is also true that the Manley report questions Harper's leadership on Afghanistan.

    This report was Harper's baby, and he has to live with the results, good and bad. He is the one who has been harping about leadership so the fact that a so-called "non-partisan" panel has raised questions about said leadership may hurt him.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 10:19 a.m.  

  • Actually, being a reservist myself it's not up to us to tell the nation what we think governments should do in terms of foreign policy (although when it comes to geriatric or no equipment that's another matter altogether).

    Not our job to dictate foreign policy. Soldiers do what they're told. There are admittedly some places in the world where governments do what the soldiers tell them.

    However, I'm not sure you want to live there.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:23 a.m.  

  • Oooh, a warm coffeehouse - I wish I could be in right now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:54 a.m.  

  • Harper took out the dream Liberal PM Martin.

    Dion looks and talks like a (l)user.

    IF the opposition wants an election, Harper will give them lots of opportunities (Afstan report, budget, crime bills, etc.)

    OTW chill till Fall 2009.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:19 a.m.  

  • I think we've been had by both Harper and Manley. Manley has become a real piece of work.

    I suggest you read The Scott Ross blog, which Kady O'Mally has read and checked out the facts.

    Then, read the blog "Far and Wide".

    Hello Canada, we've been lead down the garden path.

    Where in hell is our MSM on this - about facts I mean, not their never ending opinions.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:21 p.m.  

  • 3,500 US Marines redeploying to Kandahar and Hellmand. Hmm, sounds like Harper already has the extra 1,000 Manley is asking for. All he needs now is some loaned or expedited helicopters and drones.

    By Blogger The Rat, at 12:54 p.m.  

  • I think the reason Harper and Dion can't sit down together could be answered by simply reading the comments to this blog posting. Most of the comments are about whether Harper's approval rating is higher than Dion's, yadda yaddaa, nothing about the Manley Report of the mission in Afghanistan. In short, partisanship has taken priority over foreign policy and ultimately, soldiers lives. (Okay staunch defenders of both Mr. Dion and Mr. Harper... this is where you blame each other as being the source of partisanship cuz, you doods are sooo fookin predictable it makes me want to puke.)

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 3:54 p.m.  

  • I guess we will know the answer when (and if) one of them extends an invitation to the other.

    Last night Dion was saying the liberals' position has not changed. The other day Jaffer told Duffy that the conservatives will work with the liberals, but that the report will be tabled and the conservatives will not agree to any amendments.

    We can theorize all day about what might happen. How about we wait and see what WILL happen.

    What I am also interested in is if one of them "blinks", will the other be able to restrain himself from arguing the blinker is showing weak leadership, flip flopping and otherwise being ineffective?

    By Blogger Gayle, at 4:34 p.m.  

  • Wow, GREAT Radwanski quote, I would've totally missed it without ya, nice one!!

    Whenever I think of politics these days, I usually think, "Like, where did all the grown men disappear to?" The partisan divide in the country is so silly.

    Why can't we all just get along?

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 5:29 p.m.  

  • Fundamental differences of opinion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:41 p.m.  

  • I think Jason Cherniak has a crush on Krista Erickson, he's started a "Support Krista Erickson" facebook page and disagrees with her employer the CBC that she breached journalistic standards.

    Maybe someone should tell Jason to move on, I'm sure even Krista, reassigned to Toronto, has.

    Only Love could explain Jason flogging this dead horse.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:49 p.m.  

  • sooo fookin predictable it makes me want to puke

    Damn, you must be half-Irish too!

    I'd be happy to see a negotiation of the terms of Afghan engagement, between equals. I suspect the new left-leaning LPC can't do this without losing votes to the NDP.

    By Blogger Möbius, at 9:28 p.m.  

  • Nah, I think we can understand and respect our fundamental differences of opinion. Someone may have had a bad experience that makes them feel differently than I do about any number of issues - abortion, homosexuality, Iraq, etc. I think if the "left" and "right" would sit down and listen and talk rather than just beat each other down, we could really get a lot further a lot faster.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:44 p.m.  

  • Actually, those 3500 marines are only there for Spring/Summer (7 months) not permanently.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:23 a.m.  

  • I think if the "left" and "right" would sit down and listen and talk rather than just beat each other down, we could really get a lot further a lot faster.

    So, basically, you'd like to buy the world a Coke?

    By Blogger Möbius, at 7:29 p.m.  

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