Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ignatieff Rides Into Town And Makes Parliament Work

There's a new Sheriff in town.  After sitting in Parliament for just 14 DAYS since June, Canada's MPs WILL sit down and work on solutions to an economic crisis that has existed for well over a year (but which our Conservative government denied until a few weeks ago).

Mr. Ignatieff has shunned political games, and has forced Harper to can his.  Any "gamesmanship" by Harper, at this time, will be construed as a slap in the face of Canadian voters.

The "update" provision is VERY big.  While some say it is not much of a demand, they forget the media focus on this.  I personally feel that there isn't very much except for massive infrastructure programs which will revive the economy, and MOST importantly, put Canadians back to work quickly.  This plan doesn't do this - meaning the updates won't show Canadians getting back to work.  The recession is definitely longer than fiscal 2009, so the Cons will be wrong on that count as well.  

I Support the Liberal Victory Fund

The biggest factor pointed out by the updates is how the dollars aren't getting to municipalities in the new infrastructure plan.  Cities DON'T have money to chip in a third of all infrastructure costs.  Shovels will NOT hit the ground right away.  The first several progress reports will show this clearly - to the detriment of Harper and his Cons.

We need to remember, also, that Mr. Ignatieff listened to the Provinces - who were lukewarm but accepting of this budget.  One would look like a buffoon (a'la Layton) to outright reject a plan when almost all Provinces want to give it a shot.  One would also be silly to oppose something that sounds like a plan when Canadians don't want an election or more political games.

"Probation" sounds like a position of strength.  It is.  The leader's decision outlines, as well, that we Liberals can work "with" the government - as well as the other opposition parties.  This is good news for Liberals.  It makes us look like the "bigger person".  Certainly the Conservatives (Harper mainly) will try to play their games in a few months.  You can count on that...  But, we are much better positioned to slap them down.  We have a leader who is seen as a consensus builder - a great leadership quality.

I Support the Liberal Victory Fund

With a government on probation, we have served notice that we will topple them on anything that we find unpalatable.  This is brilliant tactics.  We have reserved the right to act, without forcing our hand right now.  Remember too, this keeps the updates and the "Harper solution" very visible in the public eye - which lets us "rub it in" every time it doesn't work.  In the past the Cons would "address" an issue with platitudes and angry rhetoric - then let it slip away from the public memory.  Any time it came up again, they would jump up and down and say the other parties were just being "partisan", and that they had "addressed" it.  No more of that now.  The public will expect the updates - and the Liberal reaction to it - all the time putting Mr. Ignatieff in the public spotlight.

Brilliant.  Not necessarily "accepting" the budget in full, but letting it move ahead on a case-by-case basis - while holding Conservative feet to the fire.  Sure Harper retains power (for now), but he will also "wear" the recession - without any opposition complicity.  

We Liberals can focus on fundraising (which has seen a marked upswing since Mr. Ignatieff became leader).  And Parliament gets to work again.  

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WesternGrit said...

... and if we defeat them early - it is our prerogative...

The Mound of Sound said...

WG, Iggy can't distance himself from this budget because it was his to make or break. It's now his budget just as much as it is Harper's. SHarper has just nailed it to Iggy's feet.

It doesn't help a lot that the International Monetary Fund just came out with a report stating that the economic assumptions on which the Harper/Ignatieff budget are wildly optimistic. They understate the recessionary impacts Canada will sustain by a full third - or more.

It's like kicking a soccer ball halfway up a steep hill. It takes a lot of effort but, when you're done, the ball is still right back at your feet.

This budget is flawed in every respect. There is absolutely no vision in it and, at the end of the day, one man allowed it to be foisted on the Canadian people.

penlan said...

And what excuse will Iggy use if Harper refuses to accept the "update" amendment? No matter what MI will prop up the Cons. It's so evident now.

rgl said...

Well, it looks as though we do see some things in the same light. Perhaps, it is because we are both westerners which allows us to hear rather than just offer knee-jerk responses. It isn't about seizing power at all, it's about governance and doing the right things. Liberals will come out the winners in the end.

rgl -

WesternGrit said...

With over 50% of Canadians supporting the budget (even though most don't have a clue what it will do to the economy, and are only mirroring media and "expert" responses), and even more Canadians wanting Parliament to work (according to a poll from today), I think the Ignatieff gambit is a good one.

We very publicly reserved the right to defeat the Conservatives. We can do so, even in March, if we wish. If we do shoot them down at the first update, or a subsequent one, we will have shown that:
1) We sincerely looked at the CONSERVATIVE budget, and considered it
2) We carefully monitored it's progress before giving it a failing grade
3) WE - not the other parties - gave Parliament to work, and WE tamed Stephen Harper for the time-being

I know - and most of you know - that the economy is going to get much worse before it get's better, and it will be for longer than Harper thinks, so there will be plenty of times to swat down his government - and to show that we gave him plenty of chances to "fix" the economy. By that time, the economy will be closer to an "upswing", and we can pull the plug. Imagine what Harper will look like if (when) his tax cuts do nothing to protect Canadian jobs. Job numbers will get worse in the coming months. WE will hold him to account for that.

I think it's pretty clear that this is NOT our budget - it has been publicly painted (by the media) as a Harper budget making concessions (by way of massive spending) to the entire opposition. I think the media reporting is clearly what the public at large believes - no matter what we partisans think or think we know. The media controls the message in this country - and "Joe Q Public" takes it's queues from them. Our senior strategists (and our leader) understand this, and we will be looking much better for it.

All the talk of the "Liberals caving" as per Layton is "old news". That factor was strictly tied to Mr. Dion (rightly or wrongly). Mr. Ignatieff has come on the scene like the ornery Sheriff from an old Western. He ain't takin' no shit from Harper, and he is "the new law in town".

Layton can squawk all he likes, but he's looking like all he cares about is power - ie, a cabinet post. It's already been stated by some in the media today - including CBC analysts. That's a real blow to him. We Liberals, on the other hand, look like consensus builders, at a time when that is what Canadians and the big media corporations want.

It would be great to be rid of Harper. Nothing I want more. But, when we see consensus building down South - and it will be flooding our airways all the way through this recession - we need to make sure we follow suit. Mr. Obama is working with Republicans, and even has them in his cabinet.

We can't lose sight of the big picture. I think Andrew Coyne put it best when he stated that Conservatism in Canada is "dead". Sure he can be a little melodramatic, but no matter what measures they screwed up on, this is not a "conservative" budget (when looking at the tradition world-recognized definition of "conservative"). Not by a long shot. If, however, one considers the record of Canadian conservatives, then it is completely in step with budgets of Mulroney, Diefenbaker, and (oh, God), Borden too.

"Tax-cut and spend" Conservatives are back! Can't wait to hear from all the "principled" conservatives when they realize that backing a Liberal Party will be far better for them in ensuring a sound Bay Street, and a sound corporate Canada.

Tom said...

Maybe you should have said Iggy rides into town on Stephie's horse!

Tom said...

This is the second time today I've seen a Liberal call this a Harper/Ignatieff budget. With respect, that's neither accurate nor fair. The Loyal Opposition's role is to hold the government to account. That doesn't mean it has to vote down everything the government puts up, particularly when doing so risks further uncertainty in a time of economic and financial crisis. The amendment is a neat and effective way of holding the government to account, but that doesn't mean the Opposition now shares responsibility if the Conservatives fail to deliver on what they say they will deliver. That responsibility rests on Harper's shoulders alone.