Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Days of our Parliamentary Lives - Tuesday Night Edition

1. We have the first bit of national polling data which tells us...I don't want to say "nothing", but "inconclusive" would be a good way to describe it.

2. Andrew Potter on coalition governments. Also at Macleans, Aaron Wherry recaps today's QP session, which he aptly describes as "democracy thrown to the hyenas" - after watching the clips, that comparison probably hurts hyenas reputation more than anything since The Lion King.

3. One of Harper's claims in the hyena feeding frenzy was that the opposition party leaders refused to put a Canadian flag behind them at yesterday's press conference. Uh...no.

4. James Bow and Kirmalak give two well thought out takes on this situation. (Is "situation" the proper choice of words? Crisis? Brouhaha? Hullabaloo?)

5. Michaelle Jean's vacation has been cut short...again. Seriously, if there's one person who needs to buy flight cancellation insurance when she books trips, it's her. Regardless, the talk around town is that Harper will be asking her to prorogue later this week. Political historians (suddenly cool and in demand everywhere!) are divided on what the proper response to that request would be, but in my humble opinion the proper move would be to refuse him until he shows he commands the confidence of the House.

6. Finally, through all of this, I think it's important that we do not lose sight of the more important things in life. Such as voting my Calgary Grit in the final round of the Canadian Blog Awards.



  • Yes, new polling.

    So if the CROP poll with massive support for the coalition (like 70%+) in Quebec was accurate, what we really have is a unity crisis (thank god Charest is doing well in the election... it would be funny if our soon-to-be separatist federal government was more pro-Quebec than our federalist Quebec government).

    It also looks like Harper's stance on party financing is a winner. That really hurts the coalition's policy justification. Can Harper change the fiscal update at the last second to include a stimulus?

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 12:13 AM  

  • Dan without a doubt the most dishonest post you've ever put up.

    Its falling apart. Admit it.

    Manley- "WTF, I never agreed to this"

    McKenna- no idea where they got the idea he would support this.

    Parizeau- Bon Chance, vive le Quebec Libre...

    You are so screwed, round up the Libs and go door to door out west. I dare you.

    Oooh, better yet, phone poll Montreal with the A-OK from Parizeau.

    You guys fucked up. Admit it. Move on, start over. Iggy in 2020...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:15 AM  

  • Anonymous,

    I think CG's analysis is quite fair.

    Canadians are 50-50, which means the governor general may yet assent to the coalition (there isn't the kind of overwhelming support or opposition that would almost certainly sway her, and 24% are still undecided).

    If the coalition is in power, yes, it may crash and it may be massively unpopular. That will ensure an utter defeat come the next election, but it also means no party has an incentive to pull the plug. In fact poor electoral prospects may even encourage cooperation.

    That said, the French-English dynamic of opinions probably means that the NDP and Liberals will have little incentive for an election, while the Bloc will have a strong one. If the Bloc can score a massive win in Quebec, while the Tories do the same in English Canada we do have a crisis in waiting, as much as I like the Tories.

    I'll admit, this is a lot worse for the coalitionists than I thought it would be - I figured people would follow their partisan instincts and the media theme of blame Harper (that died down since the coalition became a reality).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 12:22 AM  

  • Or is it Dom vs Justin in 2015?

    Or is Martha Hall I cant find my personality going to go head to head with Gerard whatshisnameGreyfogMartinreduxtimes2...?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:25 AM  

  • Hoosier,

    the problem with 50-50 is dont vote on that basis.

    A 40 vote in this day and age can translate into a huge majority. The NDP and Libs hate each other viscerally, the left wing and childish aspect of the party has been squawking loudly lately, but has little voter support.

    The GG will not decide a 50-50 outcome and will demand a new election. BTW elections are a form of economic stimulation. Printers, sign makers and the other sundry employees do very well.

    Michaelle Jean will not decide this and will throw it to the electorate. Harper wins handily.

    Iggy hides come monday, the vote fails and Bob Rae is hooped.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:32 AM  

  • I'm not sure I buy the legitimacy of this poll. It's on CTV and just says it was done "online" with slightly over 1000 random Canadians. Who did this poll?

    By Blogger Ian, at 12:45 AM  

  • "Is "situation" the proper choice of words? Crisis? Brouhaha? Hullabaloo?"

    I suggest "rumpus!"

    By Blogger James Bow, at 12:48 AM  

  • 'Canadians are 50-50'

    Not exactly the 62% who didn't vote for Harper eh.

    Worse for the coalition if you take out Quebec's numbers. Crop had them at 75%.
    Big surprise eh, they would go from 10 Con MPs to 65 Coalition MPs

    By Blogger wilson, at 12:49 AM  

  • "I'm not sure I buy the legitimacy of this poll. It's on CTV and just says it was done "online" with slightly over 1000 random Canadians. Who did this poll?"

    Read 'em and weep. Angus Reid, the most accurate pollster (and the guy who used to run Ipsos Reid's precursor - he later sold it) in the last election did this poll.

    Online polls are not like those polls on cbc.ca that crazy nutjobs "freep" (biggest waste of time ever). They use demographic weights so their samples are reflective of the general public.

    Some other highlights...

    How you phrase the question matters. I note CTV left this one out:
    "Should the opposition parties get together and topple the Conservative minority government headed by Stephen Harper?"

    Yes: 36%
    No: 41%
    Not sure: 23%

    In English Canada (assuming Eng. Can is 75% of sample)
    Yes: 33%
    No: 45%
    Not sure: 23%

    That matters for Michael Ignatieff because he wants to win a federal election, and he likely can't get more than 20 seats out of Quebec.
    That also matters for the premiers.

    On the other hand, it suggests that Harper's call for a new election is not the best course.

    Also fun - apparently people are more scared of Dion than the Bloc. Dion's approval ratings are lower, in fact, than George W. Bush's. All of this is without the recession that is sure to ignite anti-incumbency sentiments when the coalition takes power.

    If I was Ignatieff, I would get whoever in my caucus would follow me, and broker a compromise deal with Harper. One that kept the public subsidy and maybe a 15 billion dollar stimulus (possibly Harper's resignation). They could call Iggy a traitor of his party for that, but the man would be a hero to most of Canada, and a surefire winner if he could win the leadership nod of his party.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 1:04 AM  

  • In other words, these numbers are the worst possible story for the coalition. They are just barely ambivalent enough that the governor general is likely to follow precedent. However they are bad enough that they translate to a weak government with a limited mandate, and doomed chances at a re-election that will come down to the economy and the dismissal (they will be on the wrong side, electorally, of both, but will split that vote 4 ways). And getting rid of Harper probably won't help either.

    My prediction: the coalition will come into power. It will probably last beyond expectations because it will be unpopular and nobody in it will have an incentive to go to an election. The Conservatives should do well in the subsequent election.

    *prediction locked in*

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 1:09 AM  

  • Any chance for Prop-Rep legislation to slide through from the NDP? That could cog the wheels.

    Also, I think a long coalition will bolster support for the NDP-Libs (provided it all goes according to plan)

    By Blogger Ian, at 1:13 AM  

  • "Any chance for Prop-Rep legislation to slide through from the NDP? That could cog the wheels."

    Yeah because the Bloc would LOVE to lose half their seats. The most likely scenario for PR is if the Liberals and NDP jointly had a minority, as they sort of did under Martin. However, when that happens the Liberals are generally close to a majority themselves and stop liking PR.

    PR will happen under one condition: the Liberals and NDP command a majority of seats jointly, but have roughly equal shares of votes and seats, and that state of affairs is likely to continue.

    If the Liberals ever regain their majority, they will be strongly tempted to bring in STV.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 1:21 AM  

  • I'll agree with James Bow and CG: rumpus or crisis.

    And "mayhem" fits what Harper did to trigger this rumpus, in an admittedly hyperbolic way.

    (Mayhem: the crime of willfully inflicting a bodily injury on another so as to make the victim less capable of self-defense)

    By Blogger - K, at 1:45 AM  

  • "In other words, these numbers are the worst possible story for the coalition."

    Which is why we should also consider the possibility of a backbench mutiny. Of course, one of the leadership candidates would probably pick up on that and broker a deal with the Conservatives and take credit for defusing the situation.

    "They could call Iggy a traitor of his party for that"

    He could simply fire back that it's better than being a traitor to what the party stands for (and we thought it was going to be a nice leadership race).

    Personally, I think it's probably in Ignatieff's best interest to break the coalition since his electoral chances would largely rely on people voting Conservative last time to vote for him next time. Jumping into a coalition with the NDP (leaving the Bloc's role out of it) to take control from the Conservatives is going to turn off a large number of potential Iggy voters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:49 AM  

  • I would vote for Ignatieff if he saved Canada. Hell, I'd campaign for him.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 2:00 AM  

  • Okay! Everyone has had their say. Here's my considered opinion.

    PMSH has to go. This is a nut who refuses to work for the citizens of this country. He gets another minority government, promises to work with the other parties, then immediately blows it.

    This is a man who doesn't respect Canadian democracy. This is a man who is totally ignorant about how a Westminster parliamentary system works.

    This is a man who is unable to work with Canadians of different political persuasion during a period of great crisis. How many more people will be unemployed each day. How many homes go into foreclosure?

    A harper minority government is unworkable. In the end, there are only two choices. Either a harper majority government, or PMSH has to go! It's an easy choice for most Canadians. I have been critical of PMSH for many moons. I am vindicated.

    Stephane Dion is the least likely person to be Prime Minister. I hope that Chretian and the old-timers will be there to 'guide' him till he steps down. The main leadership candidates need to stay engaged and to help shape the future.

    There are many uncertainties and risks to a coalition government. However, the die is cast. PMSH has to capitulate or the deed will be done. Hopefully, we will have a brighter tomorrow.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 3:14 AM  

  • "PMSH has to go!"

    Well, if you want to get rid of a politician, you want to involve the ballot box. Dion is on the way out because he couldn't deliver at the ballot box. The timing here, getting rid of Harper just after he increased the number of MPs directly loyal to him, means that getting rid of him at this stage creates all sorts of optics problems for the usurpers.

    If Harper wants an election here, and the GG refuses, it's a problem. Because Harper might well win if Canadians see the election as a clear either/or between a Harper majority and a Dion led NDP coalition govt with unprecedented Bloc influence. And if he loses then the coalition would have a much clearer mandate.

    By Blogger Brian Dell, at 3:46 AM  

  • After failing to get the support of a majority of our elected representatives only 6 weeks ago, the Harperites want another 300 million dollar election because they think coalition governments are "illegal". Did these guys pass grade 7 social studies? Angela Merkel didn't campaign with the Social Democrats, she formed a coalition after the results of the election..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:50 AM  

  • If Iggy followed your advice, H2H, and did a deal with Harper, betraying the deal he signed on to, and somehow became leader after that, I'd vote NDP or even Green.

    No deals with Harper. The man is a liar with no moral compass.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 7:02 AM  

  • "One of Harper's claims in the hyena feeding frenzy was that the opposition party leaders refused to put a Canadian flag behind them at yesterday's press conference. Uh...no."

    Right. The Cdn flags are pushed to the sides and the Quebec flag right smack in the centre.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 7:21 AM  

  • Should they topple?

    Yes: 36%
    No: 41%
    Not sure: 23%

    Yes, those aren't great numbers for the coalition, given the way the vote broke down last election...a lot of non-Harper voters don't want him done. However, the 23% shows a lot of confusion is out - people don't really know what's going on. The numbers for PM Dion aren't great either.

    However, these numbers don't indicate a unanimous public consensus on the issue. And I don't think the GG should be making decisions based on polling - it still comes down to precendece really.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 8:17 AM  

  • ChuckerCanuck, there were actually _three_ Canadian flags: one on either end of a row of provincial flags, and a stand-alone Canadian flag by the table where the agreement was signed.

    By Blogger James Bow, at 10:01 AM  

  • I watched the highlights of QP.

    Dion ought to stick with French. I can't understand a damn word he says, and it hurts to try.

    I know, I know, that's not fair. I hate to criticise someone over something like that. But he's just SO BAD at English. Stick with French!

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:28 AM  

  • I think the important thing about those numbers is that they're not that bad.

    Are swing voters particularly likely to stick the next Liberal leader with the fact of creating the coalition? That much more likely than they are to blame Harper? He's the "genius", they won't even have been in charge.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 10:46 AM  

  • Just see bourque on how popular the coalition is.

    The biggest problem is that crooks-commies-traitors need every MP to show up to EVERY vote. Blue Libs and seriously federalist Libs are key dangers, as are hardcore NDP and Bloc MPs (both parties being rather too pure for government). Whipping all of them all the time when it goes against the wishes of their constituents and their own politics is just slightly challenging.

    There's also the problem that this whole idea is completely dependent on the Bloc and sovereigntist Quebec voters. CPC has an immense absolute majority of seats west of Ontario (71-21, 7 LPC and 14 NDP). They have a very large plurality in Ontario (just 3 seat changes short of a majority: 51-55, 38 LPC and 17 NDP). In Quebec the LPC's 13 seats are in English Montreal and federalist beyond belief. They are going to be more than somewhat unhappy with their MPs and their party getting in bed with the Bloc. They're also not the most progressive of LPC voters.

    At the next election you'd look for near annihilation of the LPC in Quebec, with them transferring to CPC. Look for 10+ CPC seat gains in the West. Then 10 or 20 in Ontariariario - even in darkest Toronto the regular LPC voters aren't what you would call big fans of the Bloc.

    It would be fairly easy to run "money and the ethnic vote" mashups with Duceppe, Dion, Layton, and Iggy - which will cause some moderate challenges for LPC with Jews, immigrants, and base LPC voters. We could easily flip TC-Rosedale (immigrants + waspiest people in the world). All of Toronto will be in play, and I do mean ALL. Parizeau doesn't play well with anyone, and even the most NDP ridings are heavily immigrant, who will LOVE old clips from the Bloc braintrust. Add that with serious vote splitting as the NDP in their heart faction actually votes NDP. That would be a more than challenging election for the LPC, especially since the CPC wouldn't need to campaign outside of Toronto, Montreal, and the Lower Mainland.

    By Blogger Hey, at 12:57 PM  

  • Many have twisted Harper's statements to try to make them false - Harper correctly stated that there was no Canadian flag behind the trio (. Then the media showed several pictures taken from the side, which clearly show that the flags were off to the side.

    Go look for a picture straight-on, and you'll note that there are no flags behind Dion, Layton, and the Victorious Separatist.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 6:59 PM  

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