Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anyone Else?

Is anyone else getting flashbacks to May 2005, after the past few days in Ottawa? Because, for political junkies, that was the last time we saw anything approaching this.

A minority government scrambling to survive. Opposition parties out for blood. Cancelled confidence motions. A Liberal-NDP budget deal.

And, now, we've got our very own Grewal-esque secret audio recording.

This thing just keeps getting weirder and weirder by the hour...



  • "Layton held a telephone-conference meeting with his caucus Saturday morning that was recorded by a Conservative member."

    This requires greater elaboration. Who? How? Legality?

    By Blogger Avnish, at 5:45 PM  

  • I just thank god I'm sober enough to enjoy all this amazing drama.

    And to think people pay to see plays!

    By Blogger Bo Green, at 5:47 PM  

  • As to the "secret recording issue" it appears that a Tory was accidentally provided the coordinates to the call by the NDP. Are you Liberals SUUURE you want to put these guys in power?

    Also, I know we like to talk a lot about what is good for the country. But isn't this whole affair AWESOME for political junkies? As a grad student that lives in the US for at least 2 more years I can't help but think I just got the best of both worlds... I get political theatre AND I have a government.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:47 PM  

  • Ignatieff (for the Liberals) and Dewar (for the NDP) each confirmed this afternoon that these political games being played out by the three opposition parties are all about the Party Funding issue (as they put it, "political games" on the part of the Government).

    Ignatieff displayed a worrying ignorance of Canadian Democracy by further suggesting that after defeating the Government, Canadians would then get to see what a Coalition Government would look like before deciding whether that coalition should form a Government. The simple fact is that there are only two options for the GG: call an election, or ask the Opposition to form a Government. There is no "review" in advance.

    None of the opposition parties have yet announced a single idea of what they believe should be done to resolve the crisis they claim is so dire in Canada.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 5:55 PM  

  • But according to Poilievre on CTV, this was never about party funding, it's a longstanding conspiracy between the two smallest parties in Parliament to seize control of the government and make Gilles Duceppe the Unity Minister!

    Ignatieff said that the government's needless provocation was stupid, but that their concern all along was the economy. Nice try.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 6:00 PM  

  • horse, I'm not sure I want people that secretly record confidental conference calls they're not authorized to be on to be in power, but that's just me. It will be interesting to see what legal actions follow.

    What are you talking about Paul? He said it had NOTHING to do with the political financing issue. Nothing does not mean "all about" it means NOTHING. So he said the exact opposite of what you claim. And in fact the opposition parties have outlined at length what needs to happen on the economy. This review period stuff is nonsense, and the only ones with no understanding of our democratic system is Harper and his Conservative brethren who are labellings legitimate constitutional procedures as a coup. At least you recognize that's not the case, but on the other items I recommend you pull the wool from your ears.

    By Blogger A BCer in Toronto, at 6:04 PM  


    Cons are going to jail.

    Cons will be out of power on December 8.

    Congrats to the opposition parties for preparing for this momentous event.

    The are making Parliamentary democracy work in the way it should.

    Live by the game, die by the game Mr. Asshole Harper.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:05 PM  

  • IL, can you back up your assertion with a brief outline of the economic solution the coalition will present after they defeat the govt?

    The country is waiting for specifics from a group of people that couldnt cobble together enough votes to govern legitimately and actually harboured a hidden agenda to seize power.

    This is all about the inability of the three oppositon parties to raise enough funds through donations from supporters.

    To deny this is the most egregious form of lying and canadian voters would see right through it if you had the courage to present this unholy alliance as the governing alternative in a general election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:08 PM  

  • This prospective coalition (which wouldn't formally include the BQ) is no different from the one your boss Steve was pondering in 2004 in his letter to Her Excellency.

    In general, one does not campaign on coalition; it makes people consider voting for the other guy. You campaign for yourself, and then take stock of the results.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 6:13 PM  

  • and if YOUR boss cant garner enough votes to even keep his job as leader you feel its legit to try to make him PM through back room deals and hidden agendas. Nice.

    Perfect world for the most morally bankrupt collection of cheats and liars known as the Liberal party.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:19 PM  

  • So you're not a believer in Parliamentary democracy, then?

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 6:22 PM  

  • Im a believer that you present yourself and your coalition to the voter in plain sight and take your chances, not cobble together some unholy alliance that was outrightly rejected by the voters just six weeks ago.

    Face the electorate with Dion and Layton together and lets see what happens.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:33 PM  

  • But they didn't present any coalition, by your own comment, so they were not "outrightly rejected".

    Faced with an unworkable government, the opposition has every right, being the majority, to install a new one. That's the virtue of a parliamentary government.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 6:37 PM  

  • BCiT, Mr. Ignatieff made it very clear that "this was precipitated by the political games being played by Mr. Harper", referring directly to the planned cuts to party funding.

    If he believed this were about a perceived lack of stimulus, such a claim would make no sense, as the only games then being played would be those being played by the Opposition Parties. Your position would require Mr. Ignatiff to have claimed that this had nothing to do with any political games being played by the Government - and that is clearly the opposite of what he actually did say.

    Yes, Mr. Ignatieff tried to pin this on some perceived lack of support for auto and forestry workers whose job losses were announced before the current crisis arose, but his statements make clear what this is all about in his mind.

    IL, coalitions are routinely discussed during an election campaign, and in fact the Liberals campaigned during this past election on a promise to not form a coalition with the NDP. To approach the GG today and claim that they would implement some program other than what the voters rejected just a few short days ago would give the GG pause in asking such a coalition to form a government without a proper mandate from the electorate.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 6:49 PM  

  • Considering IL that Dion explicitly ruled out any coalition with the NDP during the campaign and that he did so to keep the blue wing of the liberals from abandoning him en masse, we can ask that you present your grand progressive coalition to the voters and take your chances.

    Or are you afraid?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:54 PM  

  • Anonymous,

    Obviously that didn't happen in an election, but there have been polls conducted to that effect:

    According to Strategic Counsel, 76% of Liberals, 19% of Conservatives and 68% of Dippers (and some proportion of those in other parties) would support a Liberal-NDP coalition (this is from the 2008 election).

    However, I will take another track in this - one that should resonate with conservatives. I am a Burkean believer that a parliamentarian is selected for their judgment (or their party's judgment), not to be a reed in the wind. If they decide poorly, they can be replaced - as Edmund Burke did when he went against his own constituency.

    I didn't vote for the guy who won in Parkdale High Park, but the majority of Parkdalers did. They elected him to vote as he chooses - well, he chose to join a coalition government.

    The notion that the last election was a referendum on whether Harper should continue to govern or not based on whether he increases or decreases his number of seats is irrelevant. Voters gave him an expanded mandate, but not a majority.

    The opposition is betting that voters will agree Harper's update overstepped that mandate, legitimizing them in taking power. There haven't been any polls, so it is hard to say how the public will react.

    My prediction... this has all played out just like Hamlet...

    The ghost of Chretien spoke to Hamlet Dion, calling on him to avenge his death at the hands of Claudius Harper.

    They both kill each other in a duel.

    Queen Gertrude Layton drinks a poisoned chalice (the economy).

    While Fortinbras Duceppe conquers all.

    Oh and Ophelia, (the Canadian people) jump off a cliff.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:56 PM  

  • Where's Logan Day?

    By Anonymous quame dickinson, at 7:00 PM  

  • hoosier, there is a reason we actually vote and not just award seats based on the latest polling.

    I too believe that you vote for a persons judgement and not just a polling company that then votes on your behalf.

    Dion and Layton could cobble together an agenda and head to the polls as a united force and take on Harper.

    As it stands they have fleshed out no reason for this power grab and cannot even decide on short term solutions like who is PM, who is finance and so on. They cannot present an economic plan and so this is nothing more than a power grab by the Liberals who can no longer get elected by conventional means

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 PM  

  • "I too believe that you vote for a persons judgement and not just a polling company that then votes on your behalf."

    Then why do you consider the judgment of the 114 MP's that are joining a coalition that can credibly get things done (I may disagree with those things) undemocratic? Why is the judgment of those MP's (which is informed by polls, in part) that their constituents will support such a move undemocratic?

    "Dion and Layton could cobble together an agenda and head to the polls as a united force and take on Harper."

    Canadians elected a parliament. We should see if some configuration of that parliament can work before having an election - particularly because the time since an election has been so short.

    "As it stands they have fleshed out no reason for this power grab and cannot even decide on short term solutions like who is PM,"

    They are working out a deal that will surely include that. Moreover, they have two reasons, one self-interested (the subsidy) the other stupid (which Tories should attack).
    -why launch into a stimulus before we know what the Americans will do?
    -point out that spending cuts in some areas can enable the government to have a bigger stimulus in areas where the effects will be positive (how would you rather stimulate the economy - public sector salaries or infrastructure spending).

    What I am suggesting is that the best tack for the Tories is to attack the substance, not the procedural appropriateness.

    Prime Minister Dion, Finance Minister Layton, all backed by separatists - THAT is the line, not "based on our interpretation of democracy that is not rooted in precedent, we think this is undemocratic."

    They got us - but we shouldn't lose our heads in anger or become a circular firing squad. The outcome is outside the hands of Conservatives.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 7:18 PM  

  • Undemocratic Mr. Harper? You did precisely the same thing in 2004, when it suited your interests. I would like to award Mr. Harper the "Hyprocrite of the Year Award, for what about the 5th straight year?".

    Sounds like the coalition prospect has "left the station" and the opposition will almost certainly defeat the government. What a great early Christmas present!

    By Blogger Scott, at 7:28 PM  

  • Scot,

    How is the glass house these days? The Liberals also attacked the Conservatives for planning to ally with the Bloc in the 2004 election.

    (apologies for the annoying step to the right crap at the beginning - Duceppe's cameo at 0:25 - great picture)

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 7:51 PM  

  • Interesting times, regardless of your political views.

    Though how long is a left-Separtist alliance going to last? When Stephanie Dion is on the verge of leaving >_>? A new government requires a guy who will be around for a while- what will happen to the leadership race, while the new Government deals with the issues of the day?

    People have been whining about the length of American elections for, say, 2 years now. But it feels like Canada has been campaigning for quite some time. I for one can't WAIT for the biannual election ceremony, when the Bloc Quebecois either loses greatly/provides the Prime Minister for the ruling Alliance!

    was that name trademarked?

    By Blogger The Internationalist, at 7:51 PM  

  • Harper may be forced to prorogue his way past this crisis. It'll be a Merry Christmas after all.

    By Blogger Raphael Alexander, at 8:14 PM  

  • Raphael,

    I think a prorogue would be a terrible idea. The problem is that it gives Harper a month of people attacking him for procedural issues. I would take my lickings, and then take it to the opposition.

    Advertise through December what the Tory approach on the budget is (make sure to get the Tory plan out before the coalition plan), while attacking the coalition (rather than its procedural tactics).

    A coalition of three parties is unlikely to last or succeed, because the electoral incentives of all three are unlikely to align perfectly. If say, the Bloc is up in the polls, while its partners aren't, it has a lot of chips it can use to demand concessions from the Libdippers.

    Harper can prorogue, STILL lose a VONC and look like Lady Macbeth, or he can not prorogue, look like King Duncan, and become a comeback kid when the coalition collapses in the middle of a recession.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:22 PM  

  • I see a flaw in your plan though:

    It leads to the coalition getting their grubby mitts on Canadian finances, even if it does only last a few months before the Bloc topple it for fun.

    I've no doubt Jack Layton could quite easily take Bob Rae's legacy in Ontario and best that disaster in a fortnight.

    By Blogger Raphael Alexander, at 8:26 PM  

  • "I've no doubt Jack Layton could quite easily take Bob Rae's legacy in Ontario and best that disaster in a fortnight."

    Why is that bad for the Conservative Party in the long run? The provincial NDP is unelectable in Ontario to this day. Unemployment is easily fixed anyway.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:45 PM  

  • (Plan B should be: a grand coalition between the Tories and whichever leadership contender has the lowest bidding price... with the contender or Jim Prentice as PM)

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:55 PM  

  • It would be exciting ... if it made any sense!

    Nothing will happen.

    If you're going to defeat the government, you have to have a damn good reason. "They refuse to spend piles of money and create a deficit" is not a good reason.

    Or is it about the 1.95$ per vote? On one hand, taxpayers should not be subsidizing political parties. On the other hand, everyone conducted the last campaign assuming they'd get that money, so the 2008 election should be excluded from any rule changes.

    I don't see how a coalition can be formed when the Opposition has a leader that just resigned, and just rejected the notion of a coalition 2 months ago. And I don't see the author of the Clarity Act aligning himself with separatists. No way.

    I also don't believe in the prorogue. The prime minister shouldn't hide from our democratically elected members. It was wrong for Paul Martin to do it, and it's wrong if Stephen Harper does it.

    Partisans on both sides are accusing the other side of being undemocratic and/or having a partisan desire to crush their political opponents at the expense of the country. Which, by the way, makes them all look incredibly ridiculous even though (guess what) you're probably both right.

    I also think we should ignore any comments that refers to "Cons", "Lieberals", or makes ridiculous comparisons between our prime minister and unpopular foreign leaders from the past.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:50 PM  

  • @HosertoHoosier: "Why is that bad for the Conservative Party in the long run? The provincial NDP is unelectable in Ontario to this day. Unemployment is easily fixed anyway."

    A few things.

    I'd like to think that what is bad for the country is bad for the CPC party, no? Letting Layton within 100 yards of the federal chequebook is a nightmare, for crying out loud. Take the # of months he has control, multiply it likely exponentially, and that's the number of decades it will take to pull us out of the ditch he drives us into. NEP, while enacted by Trudeau, was the brainchild of Broadbent. How long did it take Alberta to recover? And the rest of Canada, when they discovered the umbilical cord goes both ways?

    "Unemployment is easily fixed." WTF? How does one fix that? Shorten the term of EI so those no longer covered don't count?

    By Blogger Candace, at 12:53 AM  

  • The difference is that in 2005 we had an opposition that wanted to face the voters in an election and let them decide, and a government that wanted to hide. Now we have an opposition that wants to take power without an election, and a government that would be willing to fight one. Guess what, the same people (Liberals and NDP) are afraid of the voters now as were then. Let's have an election on the announced Liberal Bloc NDP coaltion, and then let the chips fall where they may.

    By Blogger MarkCh, at 9:43 AM  

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