Sunday, May 01, 2011

Get Out The Tar And Feathers

I was never an Ignatieff fan, even though I once argued that, under the circumstance, appointing him in 2009 was the best/cheapest option available at the time. Since I also don't like the recent LPoC habit of trashing their leaders after a single election loss, I've also wondered about what the minimum seat count would be for Iggy to stay on.  But if this poll is fact, if any of the recent polls are right...then Iggy, baby, this just ain't gonna work.

What is the way forward for the federal Liberals?  I don't know.  Appoint Bob Rae as (interim(?)) leader?  Assuming another minority government, is there time for anything more fancy? 

But putting the party (and therefore the nation) at risk to take down a government that was entirely incapable of passing any deleterious legislation--which is what Michael Ignatieff did in allowing this election to go forward-- is NOT the kind of behavior that should be rewarded.



Mark Richard Francis said...

THis election has turned into a referendum not just over the Cons, but over the Official Opposition.

Time for the NDP to have a go in that role.

L said...

The opposition has to help the governing party, not overtake them every 6 months. Committees must work!!! Dion started this trend to just oppose and it has to stop!

Canadians are telling you that we do like the Liberals as opposition members, as you are too partisan. Jack at least had a meeting with the PM on the budget and got a fre things; Liberals were so hungry for power that they rejected it without reading it.

Gene Rayburn said...

Correction for L. Harper started this nonsense

Reality Bites said...

Examples abound of successful minority governments at the federal and provincial level, almost all of them Liberal with NDP backing.

The one thing Diefenbaker, Clark and Harper share (apart from turkey wattle neck) is the inability to share power when in a minority government.

Marky Mark said...

The real issue is who the Liberals are going to support if Harper doesn't get his majority. It isn't self-evident to me that it will be the NDP. It may be wise to not agree to support either and to vote with the CPC on economic issues and with the NDP on social issues, thereby positioning itself for a comeback the next election. Harper may well step down without a majority and while I thought Layton would as well, obviously now that looks very much unlikely.

Reality Bites said...

Mark, the Liberals don't have the option of voting with one party or the other on a case by case basis. Only one party can form a government and if the Liberals hold the balance of power they're going to have to choose.

Both options hold risks. If they support the Conservatives they betray their supporters who, let's face it, did not want a Conservative government. If they support a successful NDP minority, they're rewarded by an NDP majority in the next election.

Marky Mark said...

But why are they required to choose? They don't have to enter into a coalition or any sort of agreement with any other party. That would mean that the party with the most seats would form the government--the same as now except the Official Opposition looks like it will be the NDP and not the Liberals. The CPC would know that certain items likely would receive Liberal support (such as a budget) and other items (proposed criminialization of abortion) would not.

If you're a Liberal you're probably actually hoping for a Tory majority to buy time to rebuild and so as to avoid the issue we're discussing.

sunsin said...

The Liberals will never have a majority again. Their best bet is proportional representation, which will also manage to keep the crazy right part of the electorate (between 25 and 30 per cent in all democracies) permanently out in the cold where they belong.

Reality Bites said...

They don't have to enter into a coalition, but they do have to choose who will form a government.

And whichever party they support, they're going to wear that support, regardless of how they vote on non-confidence issues.

I'm a Canadian before I'm a Liberal. And I don't hope for a Conservative majority under ANY circumstances.

If the Liberals and NDP have enough combined seats to form a government and the Liberals decide to back the Conservative instead, I can't foresee any circumstances that will have me voting Liberal again.

Reality Bites said...

To clarify, Mark, if (for example) the Conservatives have 130 seats, the NDP has 120 and the Liberals have 40, it by no means follows that the Conservatives form the government. They have the right to face the house, but if the Liberals and NDP command a majority they have the right to form a government, with or without a formal coalition.

Marky Mark said...

I agree with that. I'm a lifelong Liberal but if you made me choose between the Conservatives and the NDP there would be areas where I clearly prefer the NDP and areas where I clearly prefer the CPC. I thought a formal Liberal/NDP merger was the way to go to counter the Reform/Alliance merger with the PC's. If you add the Liberal vote to EITHER the CPC or NDP totals you have a winning majority. NDP supporters argue that the Liberals are the same as the Conservatives with one blogger even calling them the "LibroCons."

To avoid all of this if you're a Liberal strategist and believe the polling is accurate, you're really hoping for a majority so this doesn't become reality.

bigcitylib said...

As someone who typically votes Lib., I would not have any problem with the Libs teaming with and getting a consensus budget out of either the NDP or CPoC. I think either party would probably have its first goal being to survive the budget, so concessions could be won and ideological hard edges scuffed away.

CK said...

What was the opposition supposed to do? Harper was found in contempt of parliament. The first PM in Canadian History with this dubious distinction. Was the opposition supposed to give him a free pass?

And what if they did? They would've been accused of whining, but doing nothing about it or been seen as further endorsing Harper's further erosion to democracy.

WhigWag said...

re: being unwise to bother "tak[ing]down a government that was entirely incapable of passing any deleterious legislation" --

come on, the CPC is doing harm to Canada in a whole lot of ways -- in its (de)funding decisions, its appointments, its NOT pursuing needed leg., its promoting & running interference for instead of regulating the dirty oil industry, etc etc -- that it's very short-sighted to just look at its leg. And besides, it DID ram a bunch through in its omnibus bills and gun-to-their-heads-when they were broke confidence votes.

Unknown said...

I am an Ignatieff fan, his biggest problem was
embracing the Martinites. It was Paul Martin and his minions Mike Robinson, Scott Reid and David Hearle that started the Party down the slippery slope by prematurely ousting Jean Chretien

Gayle said...

I'm afraid I am not on your side on this one BCL. I agree the opposition had no choice but to bring him down.

There was never ever going to be "winning conditions" for the LPC. As soon as there was a whiff he was going to be brought down Harper spent 24 million tax dollars on an ad campaign, and even spent some of the CPC's money on his attack ads.

This is exactly what will happen no matter who is the leader. Harper cannot do any more damage to Ignatieff than he has already done. I don't like him either, and frankly I admit to even being a little smug about the fact that Ignatieff is floudering in the polls considering the fact he turned a blind eye while his supporters were stabbing Dion in the back, but if the LPC is going to let Harper chase away every single leader they will never rebuild.

Ignatieff has done a good job during this election.

Unknown said...

I am an Ignatieff fan, his biggest problem was
embracing the Martinites. It was Paul Martin and his minions Mike Robinson, Scott Reid and David Hearle that started the Party down the slippery slope by prematurely ousting Jean Chretien

Sir Francis said...

BCL is right. Ignatieff’s timing was disastrously off.

It’s illogical to say that he had to go to an election when he did, that CPC turpitude left him no option, when he had just finished propping up a thoroughly unacceptable Harper ministry for over two years and had watched Harper request (and receive) two barely constitutional prorogations without feeling the need to make him accountable on the hustings.

For the six months leading up to the writ, Harper had spent all of his time knotting his own noose, and Ignatieff should have let him finish the job before dropping him through the trap door. At minimum, the Liberals needed to let the Carson story play out (ensuring that the words “Harper”, “influence peddling”, and “former call-girl” appeared together in as many headlines as possible), to let the contempt motion become official (instead, the writ prevented the committee from moving its report on to the House), and to let Fraser’s G8 report, and its apparently withering denunciation of CPC corruption, be properly and widely publicized. If he had done that, Harper’s current circa 36% national support would have been closer to 28%.

We’ll never know, of course, whether Iggy or Jack would have been the main beneficiaries of Harper’s collapse, but taking Harper on prematurely might yet become the worst Liberal electoral decision since David Peterson’s opportunistic and catastrophic call in 1990.

sharonapple88 said...

I'm not looking forward to what's going to happen next. There have been three leaders since 2006 if you count Paul Martin. We're going to get a repuation of churning and burning them. At the sametime, I have the feeling that the next parliament is going to be a minoirity, and an unstable one too. (Minorities last on average for 18 months.) If Ignatieff decides to stay on as leader, he's going to have to kick it up and work overtime to fix the mistakes. (Some of the information in the wikileak cables on the leaders, though, depress the hell out of me.)

kitt said...

Ignatieff is receiving praise from pundits and the media on how well he ran his campaign and what a great speaker he is, how great his campaign is... And then we have idiots who want to throw him under the bus without there being anyone waiting in the wings. This action would pull the Liberal brand down even further. But then I guess that is what some are trying to achieve....

I was a Dion supporter but he could never have accomplished what has happened this campaign, with the very large crowds, the excellent funding increase, people writing cheques, etc, etc, etc The Liberal party is in it's way back and soon will be on top again making Canada the envy of the world.

Ted Betts said...

MacGuy: What "embracing Martinites" are you talking about?

Iggy surrounded himself first with John Manley/Alan Rock/Sheila Copps organizers, all very non-Martinites.

Then he kicked them out and put in a whole bunch of Chretienites.

One of the problems the Liberals have is the number of people who invent issues out of thin air instead of dealing with real problems.

Ted Betts said...

First, I think we should wait until the results are actually in before doing post-mortems. Reform used to win more seats that the Progressive Conservatives, even when the PCs got more votes.

Second, we can't forget what damage Martin did to the party by quitting so quickly. It left the party completely impotent in being in opposition and a huge leadership hole that only got bigger over the course of a too-long leadership campaign. Dion doomed himself to failure, but he would have been doomed anyway. The organizational mess that comes from no one being in charge and new hands coming into the leader's office cannot be underestimated.

Third, Turner did the party a great favour by staying on and righting the ship after he lost in 1988, clearing the deck so a new captain would have smooth sailing.

Fourth, I think Iggy is smart enough to know that if the party has hit an all-time low, and he is 65 or so, that his time is up. I think the rest of the party realizes that as well which is why we've heard from more "anonymous senior conservatives" about infighting and leaks than Liberals.

Iggy has done some very good things for the party. The platform and the ideas behind it are actually very good. The fundraising machine is now well and good in place (Liberals have raised more money this campaign than ever). The Liberals are no longer fighting strongest against themselves (Mr/Ms "Anonymous Liberals" has almost completely disappeared). Internally, the party is still a bit of a mess but a heck of a lot better organized and focused.

We're where we should have been about a year or so after Martin stepped down. Which is still far from where we need to be, but at least a lot of the fundamentals are there as building blocks.

crf said...


See this article on MMP from during Ontario's last go-round on this issue.

Parts of the various provincial and federal constitutions, other than the charter of rights, can make other forms of PR (ex: STV), that don't suffer from the party membership constitutional issue, problematic.

Electoral reform on a federal level is a dead issue. Not in the sense that discussion isn't valid or useful, but because the legal barriers in front of it are too immense.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ L "Committees must work!!!" Really? Why then did Harper's PMO produce a 200-page manual instructing Con MPs how to sabotage committees? You're talking utter rubbish.

It takes a strong, forceful individual to lead the Liberal Party. When you're in the middle you're going to be squeezed, from the left and from the right. The Libs made it convenient for Harper to move to the left and Layton to move right. That left the Libs fighting for air.

As campaigns go, Ignatieff did pretty well but not nearly well enough to overcome a two year leadership/policy vacuum. When Libs kept asking for "policy, policy, policy" their demands were met with facile claims that it was too risky to unveil policies before an election. Too little, too late.

Tof KW said...

"I think Iggy is smart enough to know that if the party has hit an all-time low, and he is 65 or so, that his time is up"

Well Mr Betts, agree with everything you posted, but this I think is wrong. Regardless of what happens, I think the party should give him another chance.

Dumping your leader after every election loss doesn't help you the next time around. Harper and Layton have each fought 4 elections now, and Duceppe has been around even longer.

And yes the CPC smear machine has successfully damaged Iggy, but he will no longer be their focus if the LPC ends up the #3 party after tonight. Also, if the Grits let him stay on to fight another day, he will have successfully shaken off the 'just visiting' meme.

Funny, I though Ignatieff a poor choice for the Liberals in the '06 leadership convention and the '08-09 prorogation crisis. But he's shown himself to be an excellent leader this campaign, just too bad Canadians would rather be lied to by Harper's every changing budgets, or Layton's uncosted platforms.