Thursday, February 04, 2010

How ever will they escape this cunning trap?

We learn in today's Globe, that Stephen Harper has set a trap for Michael Ignatieff! No, no, he hasn't booby trapped a copy of Machiavelli's writings with electric shocks or anything - this is one of those master strategic genius traps, the kind that show Harper is playing chess while everyone is playing checkers:

Harper sets a trap for the opposition

After weeks of being pilloried for shuttering the Commons, Stephen Harper is trying to win back disaffected Canadians by adding extra House sittings in March and April to recoup some lost time.

The proposal sets a trap for opposition parties, which must consent to the move or undermine their complaints about Mr. Harper's Dec. 30 decision to prorogue Parliament until March 3.


Norman Spector jumps in:

By suggesting that the House sit an additional 12 days in March and April, Mr. Harper has badly outmanoeuvred Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff. With both gentlemen having been out of the country when the media-stimulated prorogation storm hit Canada, this is an offer that neither can refuse.


Well, yeah - of course this is an offer neither can refuse. That's kind of why this sucks as a trap. Harper has dangled the cheese, but it's not tied to anything. So the opposition will eat the cheese and go on its merry way.

Because, let's face it - this is obviously damage control. Even Norman Spector must realize this - God knows as Mulroney's chief of staff, he did his fair share of damage control.

Maybe it would have been clever if Harper had said they'd give up their summer break to make up for the lost time as soon as he announced the prorogation - but this is obviously nothing more than the grandmaster himself scrambling to dodge a checkmate.

And after listening to Tory MPs spend the past month talking about how Parliament causes market instability, how the real work happens outside of Parliament, why it's important to spend time consulting with Canadians...well, there are certainly some inconsistencies in Harper's rationale.

Don't get me wrong, I think Harper's a fairly smart tactician. But can we get rid of this notion that every move the man makes is a master stroke of genius? After the last month, I would have thought that was self evident.

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10 Comments:

  • Tres bien, Dan -- tu as raison, biensur.

    By Blogger Bo Green, at 6:42 PM  

  • Yeah, I am no Iggy fanboy, by any means, but it's really stupid that we've got news articles calling this a "trap".

    Here, I came up with another trap scenario, for comparison.

    GIRL: Mmm, pie!

    GUY: Let's eat pie after supper.

    GIRL: But I love pie! Oh, okay.

    [time passes]

    GUY: Okay Girl, once we start eating this pie we have to eat the whole pie.

    NORMAN SPECTOR, VOICEOVER: Guy has badly outmanoeuvred Girl. With both of them not eating pie for hours, this is an offer that she can't refuse.

    GIRL: Alright! I love pie.

    NORMAN SPECTOR: AHA. The trap is sprung.

    [pies are eaten, democracy is in jeopardy, Canadians hate Girl and she loses 5 points in the polls, Norman Spector is installed as National Soothsayer]

    By Blogger Mike, at 7:33 PM  

  • The Globe's labelling this a "trap" was one of the odder things I've read recently. *Of course* Ignatieff did what I expected and said, "Sure, let's cancel the breaks". Why anyone considered this some kind of "brilliant" move is beyond my comprehension. Spector was over-reading the situation as usual.

    By Blogger Josh, at 7:38 PM  

  • The Globe has to keep that fee-for-carriage thing in mind. That's in Cabinet's hands (i.e. Harper's hands) now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:45 PM  

  • I think someone forgot to look at the calendar when they announced the return date of March 3. With March 15 as the scheduled break, an even bigger uproar would have ensued that would have been hard to swallow by even the staunchest of the Con base.

    This will look like the damage control it is to all but the severely brainwashed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:34 PM  

  • The master tactician again.

    We should be nervous though. To change the parliamentary calendar requires a unanimous vote. Traditionally, the parliamentary calendar remains the same.

    Steve doesn't care about falling behind on work and staying caught up. If he did, he wouldn't have prorogued parliament in the first place or at the very least, he would unprorogue parliament.

    Remember one of his tactics that kept him on top: divide and conquer the opposition. He won't get that unanimous vote. The liberals will support it as they have been in Ottawa working all along. N.D.P. & Bloc Quebecois; not so sure.

    By Anonymous ck, at 10:13 PM  

  • The Bloc's the only party I could see objecting to this but, even then, I don't think it would be that big a deal if they did.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:02 AM  

  • They are all on board, apparently.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 10:58 AM  

  • Yeah, I really don't get the labelling of this as a "trap". Was Harper hoping that they'd say "no" or something? Because that's the only way this turns on the opposition at all and none of them are that stupid.

    Frankly, I think the only trap Harper put down was for himself. I'm sure the opposition parties are just crushed that during the "make up" weeks every media story involving the commons is going to mention that Parlement is only in session as a result of the proroguation that Harper forced.

    He's helping to keep the story alive by doing this not allowing it to go away.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:47 PM  

  • Still haven't seen anything in the press suggesting that any of the opposition parties agree with the proposal.

    On the other hand, every other day I hear stories about Iggy wanting an election.

    By Blogger Paul, at 12:27 AM  

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