Friday, September 04, 2009

The talking points, they are a changin'

There's been a lot of debate over whether or not Canadians want an election this fall. So, rather than give my take, I'll let Misters Harper and Ignatieff do the talking.

The argument against an election, usually goes like this:

"We need an election like a hole in the head. It is not the preferred choice of Canadians. We're in a recession (and) Canadians all know that an election is expensive."

With the argument in favour of an election, generally being advanced along these lines:

"In the past few months, and particularly over the summer, we have seen increasing signs that this Parliament is really not working very well anymore, it's becoming increasingly dysfunctional.


Two of the three opposition parties don't support the government and say [it] should be defeated. [The other] says he doesn’t support the government but won't say, you know, whether he will defeat [it] or not. I don’t think that’s a tenable situation."

Both Harper and Ignatieff make convincing cases in the quotes above. Both positions are perfectly justifiable. The only problem is, they're arguing against their current position...


  • I guess Harper's ready to go then. Let's face it -- campaigning is really the only thing that interests him anyway.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:53 PM  

  • Except this time, Parliament may actually be disfunctional. Remains to see if the BQ and NDP are willing to deal and if the CPC is willing to offer.

    By Blogger A BCer in Toronto, at 5:57 PM  

  • Obviously we need a majority government in Canada. How do we make that happen?

    By Blogger Joanne (True Blue), at 6:53 PM  

  • I agree Joanne, on the one hand we have competent leadership that has weathered the storm, on the other we have a "parachuted professor" who simply thinks he should be P M he was all for the "coalition" before he was against it, was for banning asbestos, before he was against banning it. Mr Ignatieff leads a 77 member "regional rump party of Toronto". He was installed not elected, continualy threatens elections. No Policies other than "Trust Me"? Not likely.
    To this Canadian the choice is very clear Conservative!
    Cheers Bubba

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:29 PM  

  • I don't know if I want an election... but I'm ready to love having one!

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 8:48 PM  

  • The Conservatives don't have a hope in hell of winning a majority. They will lose seats in Quebec and Ontario. The only question is how many.

    However, the results of a fall election may be unpredictable. What is clear is that we need a fundamental change in how this country is governed. Majority governments are, in fact, necessary, but they will almost certainly have to be composed of two or more parties. We need constructive votes of confidence, removal of power from the PMO and the party leaders. Electoral reform would not hurt, but is not as essential as these changes. Would that we heard anything about substantive reforms from any of the major parties (or minor ones).

    It is, indeed, time for a change, but it's as much away from arrogant Conservatives as it is from arrogant Liberals. Either way, this relentless and destructive partisanship must be excised from our politics.

    By Blogger Josh, at 8:48 PM  

  • It is, indeed, time for a change, but it's as much away from arrogant Conservatives as it is from arrogant Liberals. Either way, this relentless and destructive partisanship must be excised from our politics.

    I love this guy!

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 9:40 PM  

  • Me too, Ashley. I'm super keen to re-organize my society on the prescription of a med student.

    I don't believe children are the future, I believe students are the present. Let them lead they way.

    By Anonymous Justin Trudeau's Alter Ego, at 11:47 PM  

  • Unlike Harper who was all opposed to appointing senators, until he was for it; all opposed to taxing income trusts, until he was for it; all in favour of taking non-renewables out of equalization, until he was against it; against recognition of special status for Quebec, until he was for it, and so on, and so on.

    By Anonymous Heavin' Starper, at 12:48 AM  

  • Toronto has, what, 22 seats?

    Where are the other 55 Liberals? Sitting on the first 22's laps?

    By Anonymous Heavin' Starper, at 12:49 AM  

  • It is up to Layton and Duceppe now. I wonder how much Layton really cares about Khadr. The only party in the House of Commons that is opposing his return to Canada is the CP. The only way the GoC will fight for his return is by way of a change of government via an election. Will Layton trade having a GoC that fights for Khadr for a Harper promise to reduce bank ATM fees? It will be interesting to see what his priorities are!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:58 AM  

  • Hi,
    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. Great post,concise and easy to understand. I like this post..

    By Anonymous cari duit, at 1:25 AM  

  • Let the election begin already. Time to see what these boys are really made of. Time to see if last fall's Harpo (that pussy-loving sweater freak) is really anything more than partisan fluff, ideological anger and emotional emptiness - or can he take this opportunity to finally make an effort to speak to all of us?

    My bet- he fails!

    By Blogger Fat Arse, at 2:40 AM  

  • Gee Grit.....wheres the post about all Bob Rae's lies?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:37 AM  

  • Elections are fun.

    Yay, elections!

    By Blogger Ben (The Tiger in Exile), at 1:25 PM  

  • I'm super keen to re-organize my society on the prescription of a med student.

    Med students are people, too!

    Just the idea of women having such small roles in our political leadership means we are due for a major re-organization of our society. Add in gays and non-whites (especially aboriginals) and the poor and I think we should all be talking a lot about re-organization.

    That's just proportional and fair and equal representation.... add in the changing local and global cultures in the internet age, the rapid advance of technology, and the new means of human interaction, and I would say that a dramatic re-organization is beginning to take place already. Time stands still for no generation.

    If Josh prescribes taking the hypocritical spin and cheerleading partisanship out of our politics, that's a med student I want operating on me in any emergency! :)


    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 1:48 PM  

  • "Refoooorm!"

    Honestly, the following scenarios would likely restore majority governments to Canada (on a regular basis), or make minority governments workable. I believe all are preferable to the status quo.

    1. An end to party financing, donation caps and 20 million dollar spending limits in elections. Ever notice that everything fell apart in 2003 after Chretien's "dumb as a bag of hammers" move. The present system helps small parties that split the Liberal vote, while also enabling the Bloc to survive without fundraising. Kill the Bloc and Greens, and we will have majorities.

    2. Proportional representation would cause at least the Tories to split into a western regionalist party, and a more libertarian right party. Minority governments would result, but be stable. Under the status quo, coalitions can't last because small changes in the polls could yield major shifts in terms of seats (Iggy is ready to call an election because his party is at 2006 support levels). That would not be the case in PR.

    3. A supermajority set of rules like ranked preferences (the Australian model). The Australian system virtually guarantees a majority led by the least objectionable party (while keeping individual ridings intact). It is the most consistent with our Westminster political culture too.

    4. A triple E senate. Since senators are elected province-wide, they will almost always be from the Tories or the Liberals (expect perhaps in Quebec). This means that a majority is the likely outcome of senate reform.

    This won't stop an intransigent house of commons, but if it is possible to launch bills from the senate, our upper house could become the dominant legislative body, providing an island of stability.

    I suspect that options 1 and 4 would produce Conservative majorities. 2 and 3 would produce leftist coalitions and Liberal majorities, respectively. Perhaps some compromise model could offer the Tories and Liberals a 50-50 shot at a majority for either - a preferable alternative to a 50-50 shot at minority government.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:32 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 8:34 PM  

  • Bob Rae's lies?

    Let me state right off the hop that I am NOT a Liberal and this is not a defense of Bob Rae.

    However, if a previous writer was referring to what Bob Rae said in a radio interview with Calgary broadcaster Dave Rutherford, then I have a response.

    I have listened twice to the interview and find it an indefensible use of public airwaves. Rutherford kept asking Rae if he and Michael Ignatieff had not signed onto the coalition between the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc.

    Rae responded, "no, they had not."

    Rutherford then went ballistic and asked what planet Rae was on and that everyone knew that both he and Ignatieff had signed the coalition agreement.

    In point of fact, Rae and Ignatieff had signed onto a coalition agreement between the Liberals and the NDP. There was a seperate agreement between those two coalition partners and the Bloc in which the Bloc agreed to let the coalition govern for at least 18 mos.

    What Rae was denying was that there was a coalition agreement between the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc. In this, he is correct. What I don't think Rae understood in the conversation with Rutherford is how rabid and partisan Dave Rutherford is and how he will manipulate facts to build storms of protest and anger against parties viewpoints other than the ones he supports.

    I used to be a Progressive Conservative and am still a small 'c' conservative. What hurts me today is how the dialogue of the country has become so angry and partisan, with manipulation the norm.

    Bob Rae is too left of center for me and I think Michael Ignatieff is an opportunist who changes points of view along with polls. So my point is not made to support them.

    What I want in this country is honest debate of facts and issues so voters can decide with dignity who to vote for.

    Let's demand politicians stop this attack mentality. Let's hear from them as coherent human beings. If they misspeak on a radio show or miss a question and have to ask twice for it, let's not convict them with manipulated, virulent propaganda.

    Shame on Dave Rutherford. Bob Rae is not a leader I'd vote for, but he did not lie in that interview.

    Sadly, you will hear that clip in western Canada from now until election day because it will work. The nastiest, loudest smudge will have an effect the way people view the Liberal Party. Instead, we ought to allow the Liberal Party to sink or swim based on the policies they bring to the table... just as we should the Conservatives, NDP, Greens and whoever else has the determination to enter the process.

    Shame... shame... shame.... Broadcasters and journalists should be leading us back to civil, coherent debate... not be purveyors of propaganda.

    Berry Farmer

    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 8:42 PM  

  • Berry.......I think you might have to listen to that interview again. There is no other word for it........Lies.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:33 AM  

  • "Let's demand politicians stop this attack mentality.""

    Hear hear!

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 10:17 AM  

  • Liberals: we lost badly not even a year ago. We want a do-over! Give us a do-over! We demand a do-over!

    We asked the Prime Minister to work with us on EI, he did, and now we don't even want to pretend to be interested in the outcome of that exercise! We raised some money and now we want to stop Parliament for another three months for an election!

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 2:24 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 4:03 PM  

  • Paul,

    Let's be careful about where we point fingers and talk about 'do overs.'

    The lack of quality of the December coalition notwithstanding, Proroguing parliament because the majority of the House was prepared to stand together to bring down the government is much the same...

    ... athough in this case I prefer the allusion,

    "Stephen didn't like the way the game was shaping up so he took his ball and went home."

    My point continues to be that the partisanship (even of our arguments here) prevent us from examining the facts dispassionately.

    It would be refreshing if Liberals could see the faults in themselves and Conservatives could see the same... and NDPers and Greens. This has to stop being about protecting our own special brands and about coming together honestly.

    It would make it much more difficult to 'throw stones' and much easier to work together.

    I go back to the electorate needing to demand an end to the partisanship... but we need to recognise first that we are perhaps just as guilty.


    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 4:03 PM  

  • Berry Farmer: You forgot to mention how Rae claimed that Ignatieff didn't say "coalition if necessary but not necessarily coalition." (2 minute mark)

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 10:11 PM  

  • Dear Invisible,

    Because I never heard the original comment about "coalition if necessary...." I don't really understand the reference... so I left it alone.

    What I'm still trying to say is that the over-the-top partisan "journalism" of people like Rutherford is an unfair (and dangerous) manipulation of what people are really trying to say.

    Look, I'm not going to say I think Bob Rae isn't guilty of trying to spin events to his own advantage. Contrary, that is what I am saying they all do. But I really think we have to begin accepting that when our public figures speak to us plainly, they are going to make human mistakes and we are going to have to learn to accept (and to encourage) explanations of what was really meant.

    Constantly putting people on the defensive will not get to the truth.

    I also recognise that we want our political leaders to be articulate enough and intelligent enough not to make many mistakes... but this expectation of perfection is what is causing all the scripted sound bytes.

    Can you accept this then: that Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff did not sign onto any coalition that included the Bloc Quebecios? For my part, I will accept that I understand that Rae is trying to distance himself from any association with the coalition and the agreement with the Bloc in the first place, and that too is a problem.

    You know, I have this strange wish that we all just ditched the party labels and started listening to the women and men who enter into the contest... question them honestly (without trying to trip them up)... listen to their answers and let them know civilly when we think they are wrong and support them when we agree.

    Democracy requires that we treat those who are public leaders with the respect and integrity demcracy deserves. If we knowingly manipulate meanings to spread untruths... and I think that is what Rutherford did/often does, we create more division and anger... and that is not what this country needs.

    Do I think Bob Rae is without fault? No, of course not! Am I? No, I have my biases too, but all of us need to keep those biases in check as best we can and look for truth and integrity... encourage truth and integrity... and that is not going to happen with the continued emphasis on attacking people because they carry a different label.

    Happy Labour Day

    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 10:42 PM  

  • Berry, while you and I might not like the precedent, it was a precedent which was used and proven by Liberal PM Paul Martin which said that a Prime Minister is correct to rely on hundreds of years of Westminster precedent in not resigning immediately upon actually losing the confidence of the House (or, in the case of Harper, only presumptively losing the confidence of the House), as long as they can regain the confidence of the House.

    Be as mad as you want, just recognize that your anger is correctly directed at the Liberal Party.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 2:07 AM  

  • Paul,

    I don't think you really understand my point; perhaps that's my fault for a flawed explanation.

    I am not angry at some particular party. I am disappointed in the lack of integrity we have in the system. I don't believe the Liberals are better than the Conservatives... or Paul Martin was better than Stephen Harper.

    I believe they are all in a quest for power. That quest dictates reason over their ideas. I also want to believe that each of them... and most of the people who want to become members of Parliament actually believe they want to build a better country.

    That's why I want to give each of them a fair hearing, without the bellicose animosity they spew at each other and that we (the voters) spew at the party we don't like.

    You point to Paul Martin saying he did not have to step down after losing the confidence of the House. The fact is, once you lose the confidence of the House, you must resign. What would be the point of not resigning? There is no more legislation possible. Perhaps there was a conference Paul wanted to attend as prime minister... or maybe he was hosting a dinner for someone at 24 Sussex. Either way, it was a childish thing to say. I can agree with you.

    But in December, the difference was the Prime Minister Harper prorogued the House before a vote of confidence. In effect, he closed parliament to prevent democracy from taking place.

    The GG acceded to his request simply because she saw the coalition for what it was... a convenient power grab. I am still very dubious about her decision but I do agree that it was made to stablise the political situation in an economic meltdown.

    Yet when you think about it rationally (without the party baggage) what our prime minister did was suspend democracy (albeit through a loophole and not by violence and subversion).

    And why was that even necessary less than two months after he gained an increase minority in an election he himself called for? Because he still has not learned how to run a government in a minority situation.

    As a west central Alberta farmer, I was a rather lonely fellow trying to state this point of view back in the winter, but I still feel that the precedent of suspending Parliament because he made a mistake of judgement is one that will come around again to haunt this country.

    Please understand, I am not angry at the Conservatives or the Liberals or the NDP or the Greens. I am disappointed that Canadians have allowed the process of electing people so far out of our control. It is not only politicians we have to expect better things from; it is ourselves.

    To borrow from Michael Ignatieff... We can do better."

    AND... don't think that borrowing from Mr. Ignatieff means I am supporting him, but I will listen to what he has to say... read his book and come and hear him speak when he comes to my neighbourhood... just as I will Stephen Harper and Jack Layton.

    I don't owe any of them my allegiance but I do owe them my attention.


    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 11:10 AM  

  • Love your blog, but btw, "Mister" is pluralised as "Messrs", and pronounced "Mezzers".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:22 AM  

  • I consider everyone ought to browse on it.

    By Anonymous, at 4:28 AM  

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