Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Clowns Playing Chess

From Jane Taber:

How not to run an effective opposition. “It’s raining frogs across the aisle,” Industry Minister Tony Clement said.

It was a gong show last night in the Commons for Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals; one Liberal MP is even calling it “clown city.”

First, the Liberal motion on the Harper government’s maternal health initiative, aimed at stirring up the Tory bench over reproductive issues, such as abortion, failed. The Grits lost the vote after three of their own MPs opposed it; others abstained and some Liberal MPs, who are pro-life, were told to stay away from the Commons, according to sources.


Now, before people get too worked up over this, let's get a little perspective. The number of Canadians aware of this vote pales in comparison to the number aware of this week's American Idol vote. And, for good reason. Unlike on Idol, this was a non-binding vote, so the end result would have been the same whether or not the motion was carried. The point of the motion was to get people talking about abortion and, for better or worse, the Liberals did just that.

But even though voters won't notice what happened, it was a bit of a mess-up, and it will push the media narrative against Ignatieff. It illustrates extreme disorganization and disunity, and it's another example of Ignatieff's willingness to get a little bit too cute at times - what with probation report cards and EI deals and the sort.

Everyone else is guilty of the same - the prorogation fiasco is an example of Harper falling flat on his face. Even Duceppe's opposition day motion on the Quebec nation didn't exactly turn out the way he wanted it to. And in fairness to Ignatieff, he's looking for a wedge issue, and Liberal strategists have dreamt for years about fighting an election on abortion.

But with all the talk of certain politicians "playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers", it might do some of these guys a lot of good to recognize that maybe, just maybe, they actually are playing a game of checkers. The ultra-clever strategy is fun to talk about over beers at Darcy McGee's but the point of the game is really just about giving people an easy-to-understand reason to vote for you and communicating that.

There's nothing wrong with keeping it simple. Especially when you have this much trouble with the complicated stuff.

47 Comments:

  • Why don't they just listen to you?

    We would all be better off.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 8:20 PM  

  • I quote Casey Stengel, "Can't anybody here play this game"?

    By Blogger Greg, at 8:22 PM  

  • Wouldn't it be nice if the point of the game was to actually serve the best interests of the people of Canada?

    By Blogger Rikia, at 8:45 PM  

  • Do politicians still go to Darcy McGee's? I know the Tories have been banned, but do the other parties show-up? Is that middle-aged guy who hits on every woman still there? How can he still have a job in Ottawa.

    By Anonymous Lance, at 8:53 PM  

  • Unlike on Idol, this was a non-binding vote

    ZING!

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:23 PM  

  • Talk to Liberals – office holders, party organizers, fundraisers – around the country and you will tap into a malaise that a good pollster could rout out with a single question: “What's happening?” “Nothin',” the vast majority would respond, with a margin of error of plus or minus very little.

    “There is no Liberal Party,” says one lifelong card carrier who has sat at cabinet tables.

    “It died a long time ago. It's not completely extinct yet, but there's no there there.” In this lifelong Liberal's eyes, the party has been stalled for years. No new energy, no new ideas, no vision of what it might like to do. The singular advantage of proroguing, this Liberal would say, is that it has put an end to the squirming every time the opposition pounces.

    “The ‘gotcha' stuff is out of control,” says the Liberal. “They bring in all these nerdy keener kids from campus and it's some kind of game to them. They're turning politics into pro wrestling.” The media concentrates on the top, Ignatieff, and on the Hill, but disenchanted Liberals say there is a story to be told far from the now-silenced sound bites of the Centre Block.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/prorogation/passion-over-prorogation-pales-next-to-political-apathy/article1442490/

    By Blogger CanadianSense, at 10:56 PM  

  • Nothing in Ottawa political circles happens by coincidence. This was a planned event. Maybe they just didn't want to be painted too far into the pro-abortion camp. Maybe they didn't like Rae sabotaging the agenda. Maybe they want Cuzner replaced.

    Who knows? And more importantly, who cares?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:44 PM  

  • "Clown City"...it has ring to it...

    The Canada at 150 conference should be fun!

    By Anonymous Joseph K. Mayer, at 12:08 AM  

  • "let's get a little perspective. The number of Canadians aware of this vote pales in comparison to the number aware of this week's American Idol vote. "
    You could be right. But every single Canadian woman I know, across the country, is absolutely LIVID about this mess which has given Harper carte-blanche to refuse life-saving essential contraceptive products & education to women in the developing world - thus condemning tens of thousands to death. This is not an exaggeration. Sure it was non-binding. And Harper would have tried to weasel out of it, to play to his evangelical choir. But with the big G-20 meeting & all, he would have had a MUCH harder time. It was essentially a confidence-type vote which was lost on the backs of women - both Canadian & in the Developing world.
    Maybe it's all a game to "The Boys on the Hill" But it's F#@g deadly serious to women.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:54 AM  

  • Thank goodness for Anon 12:54.

    "Who knows?", "Who cares?", "Checkers or chess"? Are you kidding me? Do you folks not see how absolutely horrifying it is that you think it's ok to turn the fundamental right of women to be autonomous actors over their own bodies and reproductive health into some kind of fun game?

    You don't want people to get worked up? Screw you. When a bunch of infantile banal asshats think it's perfectly fine to start tossing around what you can or cannot do with your body all behind some sick political agenda of one upmanship, then we'll see how 'worked up' you get about it.

    Countless women die every year around the world because of a lack of reproductive choices. There are people in this country who believe they should be able to determine what I can or cannot do with my body. I have always dependeded on the Liberal Party to act as agents in protecting my rights. Nice to know that it has been reduced to another example of Ignatieff being 'too cute'.

    I'm also deeply saddened to learn that not only:
    A) my reproductive rights and what I can do with my sovereign self are determined by Ignatieff to be a wedge issue and
    B) Liberal strategists for years have panted to use the same criteria as a great reason to have an election.

    Despite how I feel about his party and policies at least I know where I stand as a woman with Harper.

    Sadly, I'm beginning to see where my worth is as a Liberal.

    By Blogger Scooge, at 2:16 AM  

  • No money from me to them till they get their act together.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 3:05 AM  

  • "And in fairness to Ignatieff, he's looking for a wedge issue, and Liberal strategists have dreamt for years about fighting an election on abortion."

    After years of screaming "HIDDEN AGENDA!" It's good to see the over-used idiot Liberal tactic fall flat on it's face.

    The Liberals could run on the deficit as an election issue, except that they lost all moral authority when they tried to form THE COALITION (which was really a desperate move by Dion to usurp power, and Ignatieff failed to distance himself from it) on the basis that Harper wasn't "doing enough" (ie: spend even more money) about the economic crisis. The deficit could be a real wedge issue to peel off the fiscal conservatives away from Harper, but when your party cries and plays violin to the tune of "...the Conservatives aren't spending enough on XXXXX", you cede that ground.

    The Big Red Machine and the Kinsella book "Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics" were all based on sound, fury and bluster, signifying nothing. With a split in the conservative vote, the Liberals swept many Ontario ridings that they would have never won under normal electoral circumstances. This type of hubris made the Liberals lazy, arrogant with a sense of entitlement.

    You talk about fighting an election on abortion as if it was a good thing. Didn't your hero Chrétien say that the abortion issue was settled?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:16 AM  

  • Wouldn't it be nice if the point of the game was to actually serve the best interests of the people of Canada?

    Rikia - Presumably, the reason you give people to vote for you should have something to do with the best interests of Canada.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:17 AM  

  • You talk about fighting an election on abortion as if it was a good thing. Didn't your hero Chrétien say that the abortion issue was settled?

    Anon - Personally, I think that you be a nasty election and I can't really see Harper opening up the issue so I doubt it would happen.

    It's just always been a topic Liberals would dearly love to fight an election over (for better or worse).

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:21 AM  

  • The Tories would win an election on abortion. Over 40% of the population is pro-life, and with the rest of the vote split between the other parties, the CPC would take a majority.

    Like in the free trade election when the anti-FT forces had more votes but it was split.

    By Anonymous Hal, at 12:44 PM  

  • Calgary Grit

    You are one of the few progressive bloggers who does not delete Canadian Nonsense.

    Why is that?

    His posts are as worthless as shit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:02 PM  

  • 1:02 above - typical progressive - shut down opinions you don't like.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 PM  

  • Hey anon 1:11

    I don't mind dissent

    What I object to is incoherent, scatter brained nonsense.

    You BTs are sure busy today.

    Inflicting yourself everywhere.

    CPC brain trust all give you the same marching orders, did they?

    I would be surprised if we could find one brain between the whole damn useless lot of you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:17 PM  

  • I agree with my fellow womyn who say Stephen Harper wants to own my body and my reproductive systems. He is a fellopian facist!

    Don't we understand that this year, because of the Tories, millions of womyn will die across the planet because Stephen Harper denied them access to abortions?

    Only Michael Ignatieff has the courage to fight for abortions. Only Michael Ignatieff has the balls to lay off my uterus.

    When will the rest of you Liberals stand up for womyn's rights?

    By Anonymous Stop the Femicide - Elect Michael Ignatieff, at 1:31 PM  

  • Outside of the fact that this issue was not "about abortion", but the funding of "pre-abortion" care and, yes, sometimes medically necessary abortions where they are legal. Just like we do for Canadians already. What was complex about this issue?

    If this was a complex issue, what the hell is a simple issue?

    By Blogger PeterC, at 1:34 PM  

  • Conservatives believe in choice, and personal responsibility, but when a woman decides to exert control over her own body they go completely ape shit.

    They don't care about women in Africa, more than they care about anything.

    Thousands of women die every year in developing countries due to botched abortions, but you don't hear one word of acknowledgement about that out of their self righteous mouths.

    Stephen Harper is a pig, as are most of his caucus (actually an insult to the pigs)

    Conservatives should maybe try governing for all of us rather than catering to the lunatic fringe, which happens to make up most of their base.

    After that maternal health initiative and the lack of reproductive choice, and contraception Harper is DESPICABLE,
    and when a woman in Africa dies from a botched abortion, I hope that fat SOB is happy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:52 PM  

  • Totally agreed with anonymous.

    Afterall, why would Stephen Harper want more brown babies in this world? We all know Tories hate non-white babies. So shouldn't they double the funding for abortions of brown fetii?

    Harper is a monster and a butcher. if he had his way, Canada would be one giant Bountiful, BC.

    By Anonymous Save Canada from Reproductive Facism, at 1:57 PM  

  • "And in fairness to Ignatieff, he's looking for a wedge issue, and Liberal strategists have dreamt for years about fighting an election on abortion."

    Which in itself is sufficient reason not to vote for the Liberal party. If their strategists want to raise an exceptionally difficult and controversial subject for the sake of narrow political advantage then they are beyond redemption (no religious overtones should be read into that last phrase).

    And, no, I'm not claiming the Conservatives are any better.

    By Blogger John, at 1:58 PM  

  • Save Canada

    And I am speaking as a man.

    We have no business telling women what they can do with their own body.

    That fat SOB Steve does not give a flying fig, about women in Africa.

    I notice he only has 2 children.

    Gee I wonder if his wife uses birth control.

    It probably is good enough for him and his wife, but not good enough for one of the most impoverished areas in the world.

    He is DESPICABLE

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:07 PM  

  • Seriously, some of these posts are wayyy over the top.

    Anyone who thinks abortion in the last trimester is acceptable is a pig.

    Seems to me, Ignatieff is the one who wants less brown babies in the world - he's the one pushing abortion in third world countries.

    Love to hear your opinion on sex selection. Since it's a woman's body, I guess you're ok with choosing to abort female fetuses?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:10 PM  

  • You've got me steamed, anonymous.

    It is my body. I can fucking abort a fig if I want to and your precious totalitarian can't stop me!

    If I don't want daughters, I'll hoover them so fast you won't notice what splattered in your face you germination Gestapo!

    Stephen Harper can dream of putting his hands on this uterus, but it will be over my dead body.

    I'd sooner have civil war than any restrictions on my access to government-funded abortion.

    Wake up Liberals! Michael Ignatieff is the only one who can make this world a place where getting an abortion is no more unusual than getting a shirt dry cleaned.

    By Anonymous Yes I will have a side order of fries with that abortion, at 2:20 PM  

  • Anon 2:10

    That's right

    Lets push women in Africa having more children.

    That is the correct and moral thing to do.

    Even if they can't feed the ones they already have.

    Let's force women in having children they don't want. Any guesses as to how some of those newborns will end up?

    Lets deny women the right to have a medically necessary abortion, even if it means she loses her own life in the process.

    Lets throw contraception out the window, and have a return to the day when women gave birth to 12 or 13 children.

    Lets make abortion illegal, so that women are forced to use a coat hanger, or have a botched one in some back alley, and then she either bleeds to death, or dies of an infection.

    Lets have women barefoot and pregnant all of the time.

    Lets tell women they do not control their reproductive choices, or have control over their own body.

    You are a stupid twit,who can not even debate an issue with any sort of finesse or intelligence.

    FYI Stephen Harper believes all of the above.

    So get your facts straight about who is endangering women's lives.

    You are a pathetic CPC apologist, who does not seem to understand the realities of the world.

    For your own sake pull your head out of your butt, and let what little is left of your brain have some air.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 PM  

  • I wish that useless sack of shit Harper would stop letting his religious idealogy, get in the way of good public policy.

    All good moral christians like him, believe in the death penalty, want everyone to have a gun, and throw 12 year olds in prison.

    They also believe in waging war in a country, on a people who have done nothing to them.

    Iraq ring a bell, he was one of its biggest supporters.

    He even went on Fox news to promote it and lament the fact Canada wasn't there.

    All you F g conservatives can they the hell what you want about chretien.

    We DO NOT have troops in Iraq.

    We also did not have $60 deficits, and deficits with no end in sight.

    We also had respect in the world rather than scorn and ridicule.

    That Fat bugger couldn't even make it to a group photo at a G20 meeting, because he had his fat ass in the bathroom.

    That received a lot of laughs.

    Copenhagen meeting was also priceless for the lack of respect Harper got.

    He is pathetic and disgusting

    And he is dragging down Canada

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:35 PM  

  • This is awesome. I was so depressed this morning but now I see we Liberals are getting the fight back in us.

    We are the party of Abortion.

    We are the ones who will save African womyn from having babies. And, if they accidentally slip a kid or two out, we are the party that will adopt those kids so their mothers never have to look at them!

    I want to join Abortions-sans-frontiere right away. But first, I'll wait for an election where I can vote for our Abortioner-in-Chief, Michael Ignatieff.

    By Anonymous Liberal Womyn for a Fetus Free Worl, at 2:42 PM  

  • Liberal Supporters

    All that long winded stuff by me Anon.

    That is written by a man.

    It is high time we stood up and fought for the things we believe in.

    Start to stand up to that fat bully Harper, and let the chips fall where they may.

    I am so sick to death of self righteous conservatives infesting every damn blog with their filth.

    And it would be nice if conservatives would start to worry about the children that are already here, and stop worryin about women's reproductive choices.

    I notice they never do say what we should do with all these unwanted children they want to force women to have.

    I have a brilliant suggestion.

    All the unwanted babies can be delivered to 24 Sussex Drive and Steve can look after them all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:53 PM  

  • I'm going to contest whether using this as a wedge issue was a good idea at all.

    I've only seen one poll on the matter, but 48% of Canadians support Harper's position, versus 46% that oppose it.

    Even within Canada, the numbers actually favour a moderate line on the funding of abortion. 43% support funding abortion whenever requested, 41% only in the event of a medical emergency and 7% say never.

    http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/funding_for_abortions_splits_views_in_canada/

    The bottom line is that abortion isn't just a divide between pro-life and pro-choice in Canada, or even in the US. You have a large number of people that support no restrictions, a large number that support some restrictions, and a small number that support banning abortion.

    If Ignatieff wanted to campaign on abortion, he would have to take a no restrictions standpoint, lest he alienate himself from at least half of Liberals. However, that is a position that splits the pro-choice vote between the Libs, Greens, NDP and Bloc.

    Harper could take a position of very moderate restrictions (or even disingenuously claim he didn't want to impose restrictions), and, in theory, win enough support to give him a majority.

    What kind of restrictions? A late term abortion ban could easily have the support of a majority of Canadians (I haven't seen Canadian polls, but 70% of Americans support such a move). Indeed, I suspect most Canadians assume that we do have a ban on third trimester abortions already. Some limitations on funding of abortions, outside of medical emergencies would have the support of 48%, versus 43% opposed.

    I say in theory because there is always a slippery slope effect - if Harper takes even a minor action on the abortion front, people might interpret that to mean he supports an abortion ban. However, if it is Ignatieff who is framing the election as one on abortion, it gives Harper a lot more plausible deniability.

    My point is that an abortion election would not be the slam dunk you assume it to be. It might even put the Conservatives in a position of strength. It will almost certainly not aid the pro-choice cause, either, because Canada has the most pro-choice set of laws imaginable (zero restrictions plus public funding).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:08 PM  

  • I thought Peter Donolo was hired to look after all of this "stuff". Wasn't he supposed to be the great fixer of all things Liberal?

    As unfortunate as it is, once the Canadian press sees weakness in a leader (of any party), they're toast. Think Joe Clarke. Think Stephane Dion. Think Paul Martin. The press has a way of forming the character of those we elect. Whether that character reflects reality rapidly becomes a moot point.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

    By Anonymous Viable Opposition, at 6:00 PM  

  • The comments here are a good example of why the Liberals don’t deserve to lead, and I’m not referring to the abject incompetence on display. Do none of you give a thought to what it means that the party, which likes to trumpet itself as female-friendly, can’t get behind the most basic right imaginable: jurisdiction over your own body? Women die through much of the developing world because they don't have it, and some Liberal MPs would clearly be happy if women here didn't either.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:21 PM  

  • Anon 8:21

    You are a stupid twit.

    It was the conservative who brought forward a maternal health initiative, with no reproductive choice options or contraception.

    Even if the motion had passed, it was non binding.

    The CPC would have ignored it.

    It is Fat Steve who does not care about women dieing in developing countries because of botched abortions.

    You jackass get your facts straight.

    There are 3 or 4 pro life liberals. It is a big tent party and they are in the minority.

    Liberal policy is to ensure legal safe abortions.

    Why don't you take your concerns and lay them at the doorstep of where they belong.

    CPC does not deserve to lead.

    Go read some of the conservative nonsense here.

    You have made a fool of yourself

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:56 PM  

  • Actually, while I agree most voters won't notice what happened within the context of the vote itself, they will notice how it's reported. On that front, Ignatieff is being reported as a disorganized twat and in some cases, he's being written off entirely. (Don Martin's observations are in the latter category.)

    I think, personally, that Ignatieff ain't the guy to lead the party.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 8:20 AM  

  • Guys guys guys ...

    At least one of the anonymous progressives is obviously actually a conservative troll trying to make progressives look like idiots.

    Don't argue with trolls!

    (P.S. Or it could actually BE an idiot, either way - don't argue!)

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:35 AM  

  • In all fairness many of these comments don't need any help in looking idiotic.

    By Blogger CanadianSense, at 11:38 AM  

  • anon 8:16 The Liberals could run on the deficit as an election issue, except that they lost all moral authority when they tried to form THE COALITION (which was really a desperate move by Dion to usurp power, and Ignatieff failed to distance himself from it) on the basis that Harper wasn't "doing enough" (ie: spend even more money) about the economic crisis. The deficit could be a real wedge issue to peel off the fiscal conservatives away from Harper, but when your party cries and plays violin to the tune of "...the Conservatives aren't spending enough on XXXXX", you cede that ground.

    I hate to burst your bubble anon but goggle up the coalition attempt in 2004 with jack Layton and Deuceppe. Signature Stephen Harper leader of the Con Party. Their is a paper trail and one can't deny that your dirty rat harper didn't go there too. Stop blaming and spinning because your line only makes you and the Reformers loob really really bad.

    In other words, you don't know beans so take a course or something.

    By Blogger marie, at 12:23 PM  

  • A few typos but one does get blinded by these no brain morans.Yep! you and your reformers do look really really bad.

    By Blogger marie, at 12:25 PM  

  • Calgary Grit

    You are one of the few progressive bloggers who does not delete Canadian Nonsense.

    Why is that?

    His posts are as worthless as shit.


    This week's theme is free speech. And I generally don't have a problem with it.

    And the article CanadianSense linked to above about some of the problems facing the Liberals is very apropos I think.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:21 PM  

  • The comments here are a good example of why the Liberals don’t deserve to lead, and I’m not referring to the abject incompetence on display. Do none of you give a thought to what it means that the party, which likes to trumpet itself as female-friendly, can’t get behind the most basic right imaginable: jurisdiction over your own body? Women die through much of the developing world because they don't have it, and some Liberal MPs would clearly be happy if women here didn't either.

    Anon - There are 10-20 pro-life Liberal MPs, hardly any of whom would ever make it into Cabinet.

    Almost the entire Tory caucus is pro-life.

    If you have a problem with pro-lfie MPs, I'm not sure how this means the Liberals are the ones who shouldn't be in power.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:24 PM  

  • H2H - If Harper ever proposed a ban on abortions, then I think the Liberals would have their wedge.

    But, for the life of me, I just can't imagine him doing that. So, really, I can't imagine this motion doing a heck of a lot of good for the Liberals other than firing up their base a bit, and getting some fundraising dollars out of it.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:25 PM  

  • We have no business telling women what they can do with their own body.

    That fat SOB Steve does not give a flying fig, about women in Africa.

    I notice he only has 2 children.

    Gee I wonder if his wife uses birth control.


    I dunno. I could see how Harper's wife wouldn't want to have sex with the man more than she had to...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:27 PM  

  • Calgary Grit
    Re 3:27 post

    LOL great point.

    The mind boggles how he ever got a woman in the first place.

    She is attractive, an seems like a nice lady.

    A case of opposites attracting perhaps?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:36 PM  

  • could see how Harper's wife wouldn't want to have sex with the man more than she had to...

    3:27 PM



    Le sigh... I know how he feels...

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 1:03 AM  

  • Reading these comments disgusting. You people need to step back and take another look.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:00 AM  

  • At least half the anonymous ones are people funning with the left...

    Look, if the Liberals want to fight with the other left-wing parties over the 45-50% of Canadians who are for state-funded abortion-on-demand, and leave the rest for Harper -- well, that's an interesting wedge strategy. :p

    But maybe it does just come down to having fun annoying Harper -- the moderately pro-choice PM at the head of a somewhat pro-life caucus from a party that voted at its policy convention not to take up the abortion issue.

    By Blogger Ben (The Tiger in Exile), at 8:26 AM  

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