Monday, May 02, 2011


The Globe half heartedly endorses Harper, Coyne half heartedly endorses the Liberals, and the Economist calls Harper "the least bad option".

Even the Sun throws a dozen caveats at their endorsement of Harper.

The National Post is a bit more upbeat in their endorsement of Harper, as is the Star in their endorsement of Layton.

However, the Gazette makes it perfectly clear they have not come down with a case of Layton-mania.

A lot of these endorsements dwell on the negative, so let's take a moment to appreciate the positive for a minute.

In one corner, you have the incumbent. I certainly haven't hesitated to point out his shortcomings, but the man is poised to win a third straight election, so obviously Canadians think he's done a pretty good job at the helm. Harper has led a moderate government, and has made decisions that fall in line with the wishes of most Canadians. The economy is strong, the country is in fine shape, and Harper has shown the kind of focus, decisiveness, and determination most people look for in a Prime Minister.

The surprise challenger is Jack Layton. As I've said before, it's hard not to tip your hat to Jack and admire what he has accomplished after all he's been through over the past year. He's playing playoff hockey on one leg, and still scoring goals every night. He's certainly the best politician we've seen on the national stage since Jean Chretien, and that should count for something. Even though most of what he's saying doesn't add up, he sounds so gosh darn cheerful and confident saying it, it's hard not to be swept in.

Then there's Michael Ignatieff. Clearly, the campaign has not gone how he would have liked it to. But despite being the focus of a multi-million dollar smear campaign which has questioned his loyalty to Canada, he has shown passion at every stop on the campaign trail. The man genuinely wants to fix democracy in Canada, and has outlined a realistic platform to make the lives of Canadians better. If we truly want to be led by the best and the brightest, it's hard to find anyone who has accomplished more or experienced more in his life than Michael Ignatieff.

Rest assured that we have three competent leaders who love their country and want to make it a better place. We have over 1,000 local candidates who love their country and want to make it a better place. All of them have poured their soul into this campaign, put their lives on hold, and devoted hundreds of hours to meeting voters because they believe in what they're fighting for.

Despite what the ads might have you believe, nothing that happens tonight will destroy Canada.

You already know how I've voted, so I won't try to sway anyone any further. For the few out there who are truly undecided, read the party platforms, research your local candidates, and think about who you want leading the country.

Then vote.


  • so obviously Canadians think he's done a pretty good job at the helm

    Well, 36 to 38% of them.

    By Blogger Greg, at 8:39 a.m.  

  • All of them have poured their soul into this campaign, put their lives on hold, and devoted hundreds of hours to meeting voters because they believe in what they're fighting for.

    That should be *almost all*, unfortunately. I like your upbeat tone, but *all* isn't accurate.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:44 a.m.  

  • 36%-38% like him. The rest don't. But it is the system we have so, you know, suck it up.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:06 a.m.  

  • I really hope you don't believe what you've said about Harper.

    He was force marched into stimulus, inherited a surplus plus one of the best regulated banking sectors in the world, all the while in a resource economy where prices are skyrocketing.

    This is like the old myth that if Maratimers just voted for someone like Ralph Kline, they'd be inbetter shape. Just look at what Obama inherited vs. what Bush inherited. It does factor into the equation.

    Also, Harper's moderation is a product of the minority box he's in. If he gets a majority, I'll be back in the next year to resurect this post and see if you still think he's a moderate.

    Finally, if either the NDP or LPC put the stimulus in place, all we'd hear is shrieking from the CPC and corporate media about the deficit. Again reference Obama and the current Republican playbook.

    With all due respect, your post comes off as naive.

    Robert in Ottawa

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:13 a.m.  

  • Robert, it's done, already.

    Go express your violence at the ballot box and give us moderates a day or two before you jump back up with your partisan blather, eh?

    By Blogger lance, at 9:37 a.m.  

  • lance - I get that you disagree with Robert, however exaggerating his point does not make yours more persuasive.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 9:54 a.m.  

  • Let me get this straight CG. You are the partisan Liberal blogger, and Aaron Wherry is a journalist/blogger who covers federal politics for Maclean's magazine.

    Did I get the above right? Are you sure I don't have the two of you mixed up? I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in thinking that Macleans would be a much better, more balanced place if your blog replaced his.

    By Anonymous john g, at 9:58 a.m.  

  • I despise Harper and think he is trying to wreck my country.

    he truh is thought that far from anything happening today to destroy the country, EVERYTHING that happens today is about saving this country.

    To steal from the West Wing, "It is the process that matters"

    Today we vote and that means we have one of the best countires in the world. Let us all wonder in amazement at the wonderful country we have where we can all go vote, safely and in peace and the votes really really matter!

    What a Great day in a Great country!!!

    By Anonymous Sane Liberal, at 10:25 a.m.  

  • I despise Harper twice as much as Sane Liberal. I'd rank Harper just below Hitler in terms of the people I despise. I don't despise any Canadian, dead or living, worse than Harper.

    I don't care if Jack Layton and his party are a little irresponsible and immature. I hate Harper so much, that's what matters.

    By Anonymous Twice as Sane Liberal, at 10:32 a.m.  

  • Yes, I'm not a fan of Harper by any means. You just need to comb the archives to get a sense of that.

    I won't vote for him, and I hope he'd defeated tonight.

    But I don't think he has destroyed the country. Sometimes we need a little perspective.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:33 a.m.  

  • Anon 8:44 am -

    True, "most of them" poured their souls into it. A few of them went on vacation.

    Hopefully those won't be the ones elected.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:35 a.m.  

  • You're wrong Calgary Grit.

    He has laid waste to this country like a modern-day Tamarlane. He has lamed the cripple and robbed the poor. He has handed our precious resources to planet-killing overlords from Houston. He is a parasite and contagion, a pestilence and scourge.

    Jack Layton is our last hope. Rise up, Canada! Vote NDP!

    By Anonymous Blood Orange Liberal, at 10:48 a.m.  

  • CG,

    I really liked what you wrote today. One of the reasons I like your work is that you don't wear partisan blinders. Consequently I trust and respect what you have to say.

    I suffer from no delusion that I'm without blinders. I can relate to these commenters - it's a struggle to put aside my own biases and hatreds and look at issues objectively. Thanks to you, and commenters like JBV and H2H, I think I've done that this election.

    Take pride in helping me decide to vote Liberal for the first time this century, and not because of some kind of blind hatred for the others, but because it is marginally the best of the flawed options available.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:59 a.m.  

  • Well said!

    By Blogger Brian from Toronto, at 11:10 a.m.  

  • Here's a thought:

    Previously everyone's assumed the opposition would be led by the Liberals. But it seems that's not going to happen.

    But ideologically, only the left wing of the Liberal party is close to the NDP. After tonight, that left wing will cease to exist - they've all gone over to the NDP.

    It may take the Liberals a while to understand their new position - and probably too long to adjust to it - but as of tonight, a Conservative-Liberal colation will make much more sense than and NDP-Liberal coalition.

    By Blogger Brian from Toronto, at 11:12 a.m.  

  • "He was force marched into stimulus"

    Uh no. Harper announced a stimulus on November 20th, 2008. He agreed to run a stimulus during the G-8 meeting as well.

    "Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he's ready provide further ``short-term fiscal'' stimulus to the world's eighth-biggest economy, if needed to counter the country's worst slowdown in almost two decades."

    As for resources and bank regulations - both of these are true. But I don't think you should take either for granted. What would the Green Shift have meant for the resource boom? What will come of PM Layton's fiddling with interest rates? I think it is worth giving credit to somebody for recognizing what works, and sticking to it.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 11:24 a.m.  

  • "a Conservative-Liberal colation will make much more sense than and NDP-Liberal coalition."

    I must say I strongly disagree. Polls show that the majority of Liberal voters list the NDP as their second choice. A coalition with the Tories would, in my opinion, mean the death of the Liberal party.

    By Anonymous MPAVictoria, at 11:34 a.m.  

  • "It may take the Liberals a while to understand their new position - and probably too long to adjust to it - but as of tonight, a Conservative-Liberal colation will make much more sense than and NDP-Liberal coalition."

    This is an interesting question, although I'm not sure I agree about where the Liberals are likely to go. Layton consistently beats our Harper on the second choice preferences of Liberal voters, by about a 2-1 margin. The party has lost both its orange and blue components. Also, how do you cooperate with a guy you called guilty of contempt/undermining the foundations of Canadian democracy (maybe if Harper stepped down, this would be possible)?

    And about half of the Grit caucus that is likely to survive will hail from the GTA (and more downtown Toronto than the suburbs). So there is compatibility with the NDP, which also draws much of its support from big cities on issues that break down along regional lines.

    Finally, there is the issue of who is likely to lead the Liberal party. Ignatieff has said he will stay on, but I don't think that is likely. He has never been elected leader, and I doubt he will fare well in a leadership review - and that is assuming he holds onto his seat (some projections have him losing it). Bob Rae would be an early front-runner to succeed Ignatieff. In 2008 he was a very public supporter of a coalition, and I don't think recent events have changed that.

    And the Liberals don't need to form a coalition with anybody. They can get by with an accord, or even supporting/opposing bills on an issue-by-issue basis. Indeed, they should go that route, since junior coalition partners tend to fare badly. They share the blame, but not the credit, and often lose support to the bigger party.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 11:45 a.m.  

  • HorsetoHossier,

    I think your observations make a lot of sense. I'm aware that most Liberals prefer Jack to Stephen. How could it be otherwise when Liberals have spent years preaching that Harper is a first cousin to Satan, set to undermine our democracy, etc, etc?

    But continuing to tack left has ceased to be a realistic option for the Liberals.

    Henceforth, the question is: What's the point of voting for leftwing Liberals when you can vote for the real thing?

    Especially, since the danger of splitting the leftwing vote lies in voting Liberal.

    Of course you're also correct that many of the Toronto Liberal MPs will survive for another season. But not all of them are dinosaurs. Some will be smart enough to see the party's survival lies on the centre-right.

    And you're also right that the Liberals don't need to enter a formal coalition with anyone. On the other hand, continuing to prop up the Conservatives for vote after vote while continuing to demonize Harper is a formula for extinction come the next election.

    And of course Iggy has to resign. There's no hope for the Liberals while he remains as the leader. But can you hold a leadership convention when the new Conservative government remains on the knife edge?

    No. The best hope for the Liberals is a Conservative majority, giving them five years to elect Carolyn Bennett as party leader and rebuild.

    Second best option is an accord with the Conservatives (i.e. a coalition-light) giving them a year to elect Carolyn and rebuild.

    Not that I think they will. Harper-hatred may be too deeply ingrained, and I don't think the party will be nimble enough to adjust to its new status.

    My crystal ball says we should look for an NDP-Liberal coalition underwritten by the Bloc, and then the Liberals going extinct in a new election this time next year.

    By Blogger Brian from Toronto, at 12:39 p.m.  

  • I think a coalition is out of the question - the Liberals have ruled it out and, truth be told, I'm not sure their pride could take being the junior partner.

    The best strategy for the Liberals is to take each issue on a case by case basis. Do what Jack has been doing for years and talk about getting "results for people". Say you'll support the budget if you get Home Care or a Learning Passport. Cut deals along the way with whoever is willing to deal.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:55 p.m.  

  • calgarygrit,

    Iggy ruled out a formal coalition, and in any case junior partner in a formal coalition is a losing propostion (as hosertohoosier pointed out).

    And I think you're right the Liberals need to steal Jack's line about working for results, etc.

    But how are you going to elect a new leader and rebuild the party while propping up the Conservatives on every confidence motion?

    And make no mistake - the NDP will vote against the Conservative every chance they get.

    Your best hope is a Conservative majority.

    Second best is an accord that spells out how the Conservatives and Liberals will preserve the country from another election for at least a year.

    Iggy deliberatly left himself wiggle room for an accord rather than a coalition. And in any case, everyone was talking about a coalition of losers.

    A pact between the Liberals with the party with the most votes and the most seats in order to preserve the stability of the country doesn't have the same stink.

    By Blogger Brian from Toronto, at 1:14 p.m.  

  • I hope Ignatieff stays. He's good.

    Why elect someone new? They'll just get destroyed by another set of Conservative ads.

    Give Ignatieff time. Build the party back from where it's at. Let people really understand the consequences of a Harper/Layton combo. By the time they scurry back to the Liberals, the house will hopefully be clean.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 1:23 p.m.  

  • Robert,
    You're dreaming. Have you seen the ad in which Iggy refers to himself as an American?

    More to the point, the voters aren't going to scurry back to the Liberals unless you give them a reason.

    Just saying "We're not Harper" isn't going to cut it. You're not the natural governing party anymore.

    But Robert, I fear you speak for the party - as I said above, I don't think the Liberals are going to adjust to the new realitiy in time to save themselves.

    By Blogger Brian from Toronto, at 1:39 p.m.  

  • It doesn't matter whether the Liberals move right or left - they will be squeezed out if the basic question moving forward is one of left vs. right. The Liberals need to create or accentuate another cleavage amongst the electorate - one where the NDP and Conservatives are on the outs.

    The national question is one such question. The NDP and Conservatives have both taken positions advocating increased decentralization of power and money to the provinces, in what is already one of the most decentralized countries in the world. Since Martin's leadership, the Liberals have largely joined in that trend - from the appointment of Jean Lapierre as Quebec lieutenant to Ignatieff's concoction of the nation motion.

    While a majority of Canadians probably prefer decentralization, there are significant constituencies that do not. Minority groups want a strong Ottawa that upholds the charter. The employment and income of federal civil servants depends on a strong Ottawa. Poor regions need a strong Ottawa to provide strong national institutions, and to redistribute wealth in their direction.

    And there are a lot of things that require a strong Ottawa in order to get done - whether they serve people on the right or the left. We need a strong Ottawa to enforce the Canada Health Act. Business interests have been crying out for a national securities regulator for aeons. If we leave climate change to the provinces, each will pass the buck, hoping others pick up the costs. And most importantly, when national unity is imperiled we need a party that is able to make the case for Canada.

    In a world where the activist bases of each party are increasingly important (mostly due to fundraising changes), product differentiation becomes critical. The Liberals cannot survive as a milquetoast compromise between the NDP and Conservatives. Rather, they need to re-emphasize a core element of their brand, and become the party of a "big Canada". Will it piss some people off? You bet. But in politics it is better to have the votes of 36% and the hatred of 74% than the votes of 20% and the respect of 80%.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 1:48 p.m.  

  • I agree with you Brian, I just think you should give Ignatieff a chance to be that man who can rebuild the party and give voters a reason to come back.

    And so what if he's part American? Our first several prime ministers were British. America is our closest friends, allies and partners, it's not like he's part North Korean or something.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 1:49 p.m.  

  • Robert,
    I don't mind if at one time Iggy thought his future lay in America - but I do think it's one factor that makes him a leader who will never be elected Prime Minister.

    I think in theory you're right: the left-right distinction isn't that useful and a Liberal brand that's just Conservative-light won't sell better than an NDP-light.

    The party of one strong Canada is something I'd go along with, but it would have even less traction with voters than Iggy's noise in the current campaign about fighting for democracy, blah, blah, blah...

    And maybe that's the real problem with Liberals today. Other than winning, what do they stand for?

    Iggy's ideas conference should have been a good move toward renewal, but I fear what it exposed was the absence of ideas.

    By Blogger Brian from Toronto, at 3:36 p.m.  

  • Interesting points about a Liberal-NDP (or should I say NDP-Liberal) merger/coalition. I am however reminded of the expression "all things being equal" (which they never are. Would a NDP-Liberal coalition pull the NDP more to the centre? What happens to the left of the NDP - do the Greens see an opportunity to latch onto them.

    Only thing for certain is that it will be interesting tonight.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 p.m.  

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