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My take on the Dion leadership question, and the LPC.

It’s been quite a reaction today amongst Liberal bloggers. Most of them are reacting in fury at Joe Volpe going on CTV – and of all places Mike Duffy’s show – and basically saying Dion should leave. I’ll say this for Joe Volpe – despite my distaste for him being as great as anyone else who has commented today, at least he had the gumption to come out and say what he felt publicly.

The backstabbing and murmurs from more “anonymous Liberals” about trying to get Dion to quit or to force him out is appalling and cowardly, and it has spurred quite a netroots reaction amongst Liberal rank and file members and Liberal bloggers coming out in support of Dion. To be sure, there are Liberal bloggers wanting him to resign too, but so far those coming out in support of Dion has been bigger. (Steve has some of the list here at the bottom of his blogpost of those Liberal bloggers supporting Dion).

My particular opinion on this whole matter is this; I think Dion should be allowed to make his decision on his own terms either way. Cut it out with the Mutiny on the Bounty crap. Part of the reason we’re in this position we are in is that certain members of the party refused to accept a grassroots/rank and filemembers decision on who the leader should be in December 2006, and Dion has been dealing with a divided caucus and less then loyal foot soldiers who were former supporters of his rivals. It has made the LPC look bad in the past 2 years in the public’s eyes, and all of this “anonymous Liberals want to force Dion out” crap merely reinforces it (remember the 1960’s – 1980’s Progressive Conservative party?).

The other thing is stop blaming Dion and the Green Shift as the only reasons for the election defeat. He does have to bear and shoulder some responsibility for this, as do his staff and his strategists, but he’s not the full reason. You can read a couple of very excellent pieces by Robert Silver here and here to get my particular opinion on things, as he says it more eloquently then I what I feel are the cause of the problems as well as the solutions:

Entering into another costly, divisive leadership campaign is the absolute last thing the Liberal Party needs or can afford right now. Moreover, it will help ensure that the party’s needed reforms and renewal do not happen. The Liberal Party is caught in a vicious cycle: we do a terrible job engaging our members and reaching out to new members; this lack of engagement ensures that we cannot raise significant money under the current fundraising rules; this lack of funds makes it impossible for us to build a modern political machine that allows us to be competitive across this country and to effectively communicate our message to Canadians; which makes it even more difficult to reach out to existing and new members and voters. And on it goes.

And at his blog entry:

Just as GM now deserves what is happening to it because it refused to evolve and innovate, the Liberal Party of Canada deserves what is happening to it unless it realizes its real problems go way deeper than a face on a poster.

I will add this part. There is no magic elixir out there in the form of another leader that is going to magically make everyone want to vote Liberal again. We have organizational and messaging problems, and the party needs to still be reformed organizationally and with more emphasis on the grassroots and ENGAGING the grassroots and trying to get them involved.

For example, here’s a novel idea; instead of throwing those 1000$ a plate dinner fund raisers all the time that only the elites can afford to go to, how about a whole bunch of 10$ to 20$ BBQ’s that normal regular LPC members can, you know, actually afford? The Victory Fund is fine, but lots of people hate getting bugged in email and with phone calls. Throw those BBQ’s with high profile people, and get your funds that way. Furthermore, hold them not just in ridings we are strong in, but hold them in ridings where we want to win them back, or where we’ve traditionally have had no presence but want to build up the local riding infrastructure. We invited Howard Dean to the LPC Convention (in 2006), but we’ve done NOTHING to come anywhere close to implementing a “50 state strategy” – or trying to compete and win in every strategy. We need a 10 province strategy, or 308 ridings strategy implemented. Barack Obama embraced Deans efforts, and look what he’s doing competing in Republican states that haven’t gone Democratic in years. We need the same effort and plan up here. We’ve had a lot of lip service about that, but little as been done.

I’ll say again; we’re papering over the structural and organizational faults (such as lack again of fund raising within our own party) by thinking a new leader – even one with “star” potential – will come along and make all those problems go away, It is short-sighted and will get us no closer to getting re-elected to government.

In conclusion, I support Dion in whatever decision he makes. (Quite honestly, I don’t know why he’d WANT to remain leader with this bunch that has been throwing knives at his back). The Liberal Party backroom honchos are fooling themselves however, in thinking that all will be well again if Dion quits or is forced out. They have to engage the grassroots of the party and involve them more. However, the grassroots/netroots of the LPC need to let the head honchos/back room boys know that we’re not going to put up with this stagnation of reform.

UPDATE: For an excellent glossary of what an “anonymous Liberal” is, go check out CalgaryGrit’s definitions.

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How to potentially pick a new Liberal leader (and still keep Harper accountable in Parliament)

Since it’s rather en vogue today to talk about a new Liberal leadership race with rumours and reports that Dion might announce his resignation, I have a thought or two on how the Liberals can pick a new leader, while at the same time not allowing Harper and the Conservatives to run roughshod by threatening non-confidence votes on every piece of legislation they bring forward, such as what they did while Bill Graham was the interim leader between Martin’s resignation and the the Liberal leadership Convention in December 2006.

In that line of thinking, I do agree with the suggestion from those famous “Liberal insiders” that if Dion does step down, he’ll stay on as leader until the new leader is picked. That means if something comes up in Parliament where the Conservatives are trying to forcefeed some of their odious rightwing agenda down Canadians throats by making it a motion of non confidence – particularly in the first 6 months of their new administration, in the hopes that the Liberals will fold once again at the fear of another election - their bluff can be called (I note they’re already backing off from promises made not 24 hrs after they were re-elected, so who knows what else they’ll now claim they need to do which they didn’t mention or claimed otherwise during the past election campaign).

I do not believe the Governor-General will be so willing to send Canadians to yet another election so soon after this one, and I think there would be a strong possibility that she would ask other parties if they can form a government and gain the confidence of the House before she sent Canadians back to the polls. That of course could lead to the rather awkward scenario of a resigning Liberal leader suddenly becoming Prime Minister of the country, but I’m sure the Liberals could deal with that.

Now, on to my thoughts for picking a potential new Liberal leader.

I like James Bowie’s suggestion that the cut-off date for Liberal membership should be this past election day. If you haven’t signed up as a Liberal by the time you’re supposed to vote, then you’re ineligible to pick the next Liberal leader – no more of these massive frenzied drives to sign up “instant Liberals”, or temporary ones just to get the candidate of your choice a boost.

I also will suggest that if the Liberals want to save money – both for their leadership candidates and the Party- to do away with the Convention and delegate system, at least for this particular time.

I advocate doing what the Alberta provincial Conservatives did – which is give a vote to every Liberal member, and have them mail it in to be counted. Make the ballot a preferential ballot, so that you have 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices, and so on. Keep the campaigning part of this much shorter as well; don’t drag it out until next May or June. Some people might fear this, but there should be no need. The Liberals need to get more in touch with their grassroots members, and this is one way to do it. Furthermore, with the membership freeze mentioned earlier, you will not have candidates supporters trying to skewer the vote by signing up all those instant Liberals. I realize that this last suggestion would require a change to the LPC’s Constitution, but again, that shouldn’t be a big deal, should it?

So, for what their worth, those are my suggestions. Pick a new leader in a way that doesnt impose more costly debt on the LPC or its leadership hopefuls, and do it in a way so that Harper cannot run the place like he has a majority – a la Joe Clark in 1979 after Trudeau stepped down.

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Harper victory not exactly reassuring the markets. And more copying from Harper.

It seems that the Harper minority victory which he promises to bring a “steadying hand” in times of economic turmoil isn’t exactly reassuring the Toronto stock market today, as it is currently down 518 points as of 3:30pm.

Meanwhile, Harper decides to do some more copying – this time rather then a John Howard speech, it’s of Dion’s economic 30 day plan that Harper just a couple of weeks ago was describing as Dion “panicking”. So, apparently Dion wasn’t panicking, but Harper decided to say so anyway for partisan political attacks. I’m sure CTV will get right on this contradiction. In a way, it sort of reminds of Trudeau attacking Robert Stanfield about wage and price controls, and then turning around and immediately implementing them after re-election. This is not dissimilar.

Well, as I said last night, we’ll see how much of a “steadying hand” Harper and his Cons. really are. Fortunately for us, Harper doesn’t have a blank cheque to do anything he wants, if he starts messing up, as I believe he will.

UPDATE: The TSX closes down 631 points. As Harper said last week, more great buying opportunities for Canadians.

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PPS – Kudos to Frank Valeriote in Guelph, and his team.

I’m pleased to see in a sea of 519 blue that in the riding of Guelph, which is where I went to University, Frank Valeriote held off Gloria Kovach and kept Guelph Liberal. There were fears that the Greens might split the vote, and allow the Cons to go up the middle and Mike Nagy did well, but I’ve seen Frank’s organization and ground game, and i know some of the people on it..and it ultimately was them and a very hard working and enthusiaqstic candidate in Mr Valeriote that got the job done there.

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PS – Glad to see Alberta isn’t completely blue

It appears Linda Duncan has won Edmonton-Strathcona, and given Rahim Jaffer more spare time to plan his wedding with Helena Guergis, so congrats to Linda and the progressive voters of Edmonton-Strathcona.

PS to the last posting.. only 55-60% national electoral vote turnout? That is appalling.. and it’s no wonder Harper won. His followers were motivated to come out and vote.. a lot of other Canadians apparently weren’t however.

UPDATE: I believe this would be the worst election turnout in Canadian voting history.

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The ultimate irony: The BQ saved Canada from a Harper majority.

Well, the election voting results are now almost over, and obviously it’s not an electoral map that I like – the only consolation for me is that the Harperites weren’t given the keys to the car to drive around at will, but still have a licence to govern with adult supervision (terrible analogy, but that’s the best I can come up with). The funny thing about Quebec is, the Conservatives didn’t lose any of their seats, as it was first thought they might, but the BQ was still the party that stopped the Conservatives from running completely roughshod over the country for the next 4 years. That’s rather ironic, and Gilles Duceppe is making sure everyone knows it.

Congratulation to Mr Harper and his supporters – the demonization of Mr Dion for 2 years obviously got partially the desired effect; still, a minority is a minority is a minority. I don’t expect to see any less “dysfunction” on the committees and in Parliament which is the reason Harper went early on this election in the first place.

As for Harper, I guess we’ll now see what he does if the economic slowdown and recession that some predict will still happen (in spite of the large bailout the world is doing with its financial institutions) occurs. He claimed to be a “steady hand” for the economy… now Canadians will see whether that’s true or not.

And with regards to the environment, the Conservatives should not think this renewed minority means Canadians are giving them a blank cheque on this issue. The world demands action; Barack’s Obama’s chief environmental adviser is on record as being critical of the Alberta Tar-Sands and hinting that the US will not trade with countries -even those with large oil reserves – that do not have credible environemntal plans in place. Harper and the Conservatives must recognize this – if they don’t the decision may be made for them from external sources.

As for the Liberals, we are the Official Opposition; our job is to oppose the government. I hope that fact is not lost on those who may call for abstaining of votes again in the new parliament, because I think that was what partially led to the results we see tonight. If they are bad bills, vote against them – particularly if it’s early in the mandate.. don’t shirk your duty.

And as for the leadership of the Liberal Party, obviously there are going to be questions about whether Dion should stay or not. In his initial speech tonight, he made no mention of resigning, but we also hear that there are already mutterings in the background about forcing him out. Paul Wells for one, thinks that is suicidal and playing exactly into Harper’s hands, but that may not stop some.. because as you know, Dion has had a fractured caucus since he won the leadership.

Anyhow.. it’s late, and I’ll have more thoughts later today.

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Not to be redundant.. but Ontario and BC are the key tonight.

You’ve probably heard that a million times already, both from bloggers and election pundits and mainstream media types, but the ridings I will be watching in particular tonight are the 905 ridings – the suburban ridings outside of Metro Toronto – and the lower mainland and island ridings of BC. The key to who wins the election and/or by how much are in those belt of ridings.

Election Prediction Project , which had a 91% accuracy rate last federal election in predicting what ridings would go to which party, currently has predicted the 905 ridings as ending up with 16 Libs, 12 Cons, and 3 NDP.

Greg Morrow’s blog also is running an election projections site. It is so popular as a matter of fact that he’s currently having server issues to his blog, but his predictions are still accessible here. His predictions for the 905 are a bit more confusing, optics wise, as his “905” seats don’t include all the ridings that actually use the 905 area code (he’s put the Durham riding into “Eastern Ontario” as an example, and taken out the Hamilton 905 ridings and lumped them into a “Hamilton/Niagara” section, that includes some 519 ridings), but if you putter around and find all the ridings that use area code 905 at his page, his blog is predicting (with some “too close to call” caveats): Libs 17, Cons 11, NDP 3.

If the Liberals are going to have a good election night, they’ll be winning seats like Conservative held St. Catherines and Burlington.. and they need to hold their close seats like Oakville and Mississauga-South. If it’s the other way around though, a long night is in store – for Liberals anyhow. Some believe Ontario may have started to shift toward the Liberals in the past day, (and you see a hint of that in the last Nanos poll yesterday) but we’ll see if that really happened or not after the election results roll in tonight.

BC is the other battleground to watch. Initially, there were whispering that the Liberals might be reduced to a couple of seats, but polling there seems to have indicated they have recovered. I know some of my NDP blogging colleagues are predicting losses there for the Liberals (and rather gleefully too, I might add, which is a tad appalling to me, considering that if those losses were to occur, they’d all be going to the Conservatives, not the NDP, which gives you an inkling that some in the NDP camp and blogging community consider the Liberals worse enemies then the Conservatives).

Greg Morrow’s site has the Liberals only winning 5 seats in BC, while the Election Prediction Project has them winning 6. Some Liberals in BC I’ve talked with this past weekend dispute both prediction numbers, with some predicting their internal numbers showed they would hold their 9 seats from last time (though they may not be all the same ones) and were even close to picking up a seat or 2. The NDP is forecast to pick up 9 or 10 seats, but they have a chance in Kamloops in taking a seat against the Conservative incumbent, and if they can hold seats like in Surrey North or Vancouver Island North, they too have a chance to pick up a seat or 2 from their current totals.Again, we’ll find out election night who was right.

These 2 battlegrounds are the ones I’ll be focusing on – because I think they will be an indicator of how the night goes for all the political parties fortunes.

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Comments disabled (update: er.. moderated) til voting ends

I’ve decided to disable all comments until approximately 10 pm Eastern — 7 pm Pacific — when the last polls close in British Columbia and the Yukon. This is to comply with broadcast rules, and to avoid getting me in trouble over someone blurting out results or a rogue poll they saw or whatever. That is also the reason I took down the Youtube Liberal ads. I don’t know how you can regulate Youtube.. but since I’m a Canadian based site, I may fall under the “no broadcasting” rule with regards to those.

Talk to you folks after the blackout period ends.

UPDATE: I’ll be on Skype, so if you wanna discuss the results in “real-time” as they come in, feel free to give me a Skype call.

UPDATE 2 @ 10:39 am: Hmm. Comments are still getting through even though I turned comments off – or thought I had.. so while I figure that out, I’ll just invoke full comment moderation. If the comment has nothing to do with a poll or such, I’ll let it go through.

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Strategically vote strategically

Try saying that title 5 times in a row fast. My point behind it though is this, and will be the first and last post I do on the topic; I fully endorse if you’re going to do some strategic voting to stop Harper, but be smart about it.

I’m a Liberal supporter as most of you know, but I’m not going to say what some of my fellow Liberal bloggers (and politicians) have been saying when they say “the only vote to stop Harper is Liberal”. In a fair # of ridings out west for example, such as in the Prairies, I’m not going to tell you that you need to vote Liberal to stop Harper. The fact is, our Liberal candidates in many of those ridings finish a distant 3rd, and aren’t going to come near the sitting Conservative MP. The NDP candidate on the other hand in a lot of these ridings are a very competitive 2nd. So, despite some annoyance at how they’ve acted and some irritation at some of their partisan bloggers on here, if the NDP were to win some of those seats out west, I’d prefer that result over the Conservative MP getting returned. One example of that would be Linda Duncan in Edmonton-Strathcona, who has a good chance of unseating Rahim Jaffer if the progressive vote coalesces behind her. So, to the Liberals in those seats where the NDP is the best shot at unseating the Conservative MP (ie. Saskatchewan, outside of Goodale’s seat and the seat where David Orchard is running, as well as in the BC interior) I’d encourage you to think about supporting the NDP candidate to unseat the Conservative MP.

I’d also say to both the Green Party and NDP leaning folks that if you’re in a riding where the incumbent MP looks to be safe, regardless of what party it is – then vote for your party of preference. But, if you’re in some strategic battleground ridings where a split of the progressive vote may send the Conservative to Ottawa, either by them retaining their seat or by upending the Liberal incumbent, then think hard about supporting the Liberal. This is particularly true in the 905 area code, in ridings like Burlington and Oakville and Mississauga-South.

To the Greens in particular, it appears Elizabeth May has more or less said to vote for either the Liberal OR NDP in the key ridings where it will defeat a Conservative candidate. Think about that when you enter the polling booth.

The polls are still fluid enough (though close), and people still indicating they are making up their minds to end up with almost any result. Let us at least make sure Harper doesn’t get his majority; because his “base” from the extreme right-wing grassroots of the Alliance-Reform base will be expecting payback from Harper. Here’s an example of that; Conservative candidate Peter Kent saying he wants more private health care clinics in Canada, which is a step toward two-tiered healthcare if implemented. That is one possible result of a Harper majority; it would be the worst possible outcome for all concerned progressives.

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Contest: Vote for the new CTV Logo!!!

Seeing as CBC held a contest for the new Hockey Night In Canada anthem, and since CTV has made it abundantly clear they’re all Conservative cheerleaders over there, they might as well openly declare it, so what better way then to pick a new logo for them to reflect that reality?

The snarky folks at A Creative Revolution have come up with 2 such designs for you to choose from. Let’s see which one is more popular, and may I suggest the winner gets forwarded to the CTV brass?

First one:

Welcome to ConTV. We will do whatever it takes!

Second one:

Welcome to conTV! With more fleecing!

[…]

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