Monday, August 31, 2009

 

THE GRITS AND THE HORNS OF A DILEMNA

In my west Ottawa Federal Parliament riding I suspect I am better known for more frequently disagreeing with our sitting Member. But: This time the Minister of Transport and my local MP, John Baird, is right - It would be irresponsible for the Liberal Party of Michael Ignatieff to topple the Harper Government when the House of Commons resumes after the Labour Day holiday.

To the extent that I wish it were not so; given that Mr. Harper and the Tories have just about abandoned every principle over which they were first elected in January 2006 and re-elected in October 2008: Including of note the P.M's own fixed-election date law, loading the Senate with partisan cronies, and a spending orgy which according to some sources tops $70-billion in the last 10 months. I just can't quite understand how seemingly intelligent well informed politicians and their strategists, starting with Stephane Dion and now Mr. Ignatieff have allowed themselves to be manipulated into corners from which they can't seem to escape unscathed.

In Sudbury this week the Liberal Party's national caucus is coming to grips with a reality of its own creation over the agreement reached last June that the Party would not defeat Harper's minority forces and provoke a summer election in return for an inclusive working group on reforming Employment Insurance...Or else!

So contentious an issue it was at the time that the Leader, Michael Ignatieff, virtually staked his leadership on the outcome. Guess What? - Employment Insurance it now seems is not an issue which is universally popular neither with members of the Liberal Party, and it is too complex for Canadians to quite understand why it should trigger an election. The Conservatives have known this all along, which is why despite several meetings over the summer of the bipartisan committee Ignatieff insisted on in June; it has had no success.

Don Drummond, the well respected TD Bank economist, told Ottawa's "Hill Times" just this week that neither Conservatives nor Liberals have enough popular support for their different positions on the E.I. debate to win an election. Little wonder that up in Sudbury the "Globe and Mail" quotes the Party's caucus chair that..."there is no real unanimous mood in there." To the extent that Members of Parliament from all political affiliations have been listening to their constituents over the summer hiatus, it is clear as someone in Sudbury pointed out that Canadians would rather hear about job creation than insurance for lost jobs.

At the very least; Canadians do not want to hear about another Federal Election this fall and Mr. Harper's increasingly vocal anti-election campaign...and it will get even louder as Parliament gets set to return...is a reflection of that sentiment.

Sadly though it will be difficult for the Liberals to extricate themselves from the corner of the seemingly ill conceived and poorly executed strategy they created late last spring. Similar options over past Party threats and ultimatums destroyed Stephane Dion's credibility and eventually his leadership. Without more concise, popular and effective strategies no one wants Micheal Ignatieff to be next, I suspect not even the Conservatives who are probably grateful to see their opposition faced with another embarrassing "back-down" from the latest ultimatum just as Mr. Harper's Tories prepare to take credit for Canada's economic turn around.

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