Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daily Digest March 26, 2011


The DAILY DIGEST: INFORMATION and OPINION from ST. JOHN'S to VICTORIA.
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OPINION AND INFORMATION

Harper on the defensive about his own coalition intentions

Stephen Harper's bid to stoke election fears about a Liberal-led coalition has been undermined by words from his political past when he joined other opposition leaders in urging the then-governor general to consider "all of your options." MORE...
Related
Sunday, March 27, 2011
  • A close election? Don't bet on it. MORE...
  • Layton and Harper miss the bus.  MORE...
  • Both Liberals and Tories have bargained for power. MORE...
  • Coalition of the losers. MORE...
  • Canada controlled by traitors of Bloc Quebecois.. MORE...
  • Making the election sexy.. MORE...
  • Stop complaining about the election and get ready to vote.. MORE...
  • Elizabeth May's Green Party on the fringe. MORE...
  • Our dance with Arab dictators MORE...
  • Modern living saves the day MORE...
Saturday, March 26, 2011 Sunday, March 27, 2011 Saturday, March 26, 2011
>>>>>>>>>>INFOS <<<<<<<<<<

SAMEDI 26 MARS 2011/DIMANCHE 27 MARS 2011
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Does this bother you? it does me and I wonder why someone might not be troubled.

Your thoughts on this and what Richard and A.N. wrote below can form the bases of dialogue.

Joe

Harper on the defensive about his own coalition intentions
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/962423--harper-on-the-defensive-about-his-own-coalition-intentions?bn=1
Stephen Harper's bid to stoke election fears about a Liberal-led coalition has been undermined by words from his political past when he joined other opposition leaders in urging the then-governor general to consider "all of your options."


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.From: "Richard Neumann"
Subject: Re: Daily Digest March 24, 2011

Joe:
 
Well, here we go again.  As much as I have a very strong desire to shout "I told you so" from the highest snow-covered roof top at the poor misdirected masses below, I shall do my best to refrain from patting myself on the back... OK... I can't help it.  My prognostications only failed insofar as I did not foresee which specific carrots would be dangled in front of Jack Layton's nose, although I did get the number of carrots and the length of the stick pretty much dead on.  Anybody who believes that this week was not planned in accordance with Harper's design better get off his playing field, because this PM knows how to manipulate events to his advantage.
 
Now that I've got that off my chest, we can begin the punditry process all over again, because elections live in their own bubble and if there is anything to be learned from past experience, it is that it is absolutely useless trying to predict an outcome on day one.  Having said that, I shall now attempt to predict the outcome on day one...
 
First, throw the latest Ipsos poll in the waste paper basket, but don't take the trash out as you might need it in a few weeks.  What I mean by this is that the poll establishes a Conservative lead and some budget momentum, but you can guarantee that the numbers will narrow significantly in the first week of this campaign.  If the Conservatives manage to get into the second week with a double digit lead, this election is over before it began, and the only thing they will be fighting for is a minority at least as strong as currently exists, or a majority.  So much for media inspired drama.  If, however, Canadians do hit the reset button and move from decided to undecided in the usual way, I would expect that the lead will narrow to a more realistic 6-8 points within the first ten days.
 
As the second week comes to an end, the media will be frothing at the prospect of a real race and questioning whether or not the ethics issue has finally come home to roost.  They will wonder quite loudly whether Canadians have once again backed away from the prospect of a Conservative majority, and will point to the NDP's drop in numbers and minor Liberal gains as proof that this might be the case.  Of course, none if it accurately reflects the actual fact that the average voter is merely keeping options open, becoming climatized to the prospects of actually having to cast a vote, and getting over their personal frustrations as to why their lawns are covered in signs again and how to deal with the fact they keep falling over as the snow banks melt away.
 
In weeks 3-4, the true picture will begin to form.  By this point the Liberal ethics campaign will have run its course and with a greater focus on their leader, they will release their own platform with all the goodies Red Book version 6.0 has in store for the average Canadian.  There will be an increased focus on social programs, most notably CPP reform for seniors, an end to phase three of the corporate tax cuts, axing the fighter with a promise to purchase another for an unknown cost through an unknown process (sounds like Seaking II, The Sequal), and of course they will include all the niceties of the Conservative budget as if written with their own hand.  The Liberals will spend the corporate tax cut savings about a hundred times, fooling nobody but everyone who was going to vote for them anyways before the campaign started.  What this will do, however, is reset the campaign back to the economy. 
 
For the Conservatives, they will have been running on the economy from day one, and ending every sentence with the word "coalition".  They will ask how the Liberals can pay not only for their increased social spending, but also the entire NDP platform, which will also have spent the corporate tax savings another hundred times.  They will then go into overdrive on what the Bloc will demand for their support, and how easily Ignatieff caved to them on arena spending.  Five Conservative seats near Quebec City will vanish in the wind, but it won't matter a hill of beans where the election is really being fought.  It will have been a coldly calculated sacrifice, and it has every chance of succeeding.
 
Somewhere along the way, Ignatieff will be forced to reckon with the coalition monster under the bed.  People will want to know.  If Ignatieff's team is smart, they will answer this question right out of the gate and state that he will consider any option that has the support of a majority of elected members (respect for democracy, parliament etc, etc).  If he isn't so smart and believes he might actually form a government outright without resorting to coalition (which might be the case when the polls narrow as they must early on), he will be forced to grapple with the issue later in the campaign, perhaps much later as the issue might serve to take any momentum away from the platform's release.   That would be indecisive, perhaps fatally so.  It is also precisely what I see happening.  As the Conservatives re-establish some momentum in Week Four, Ignatieff's waffling on this issue and a budget that looks a lot like the one just defeated will begin to take a toll. 
 
Heading into the debate, the race will again be the Conservative's to lose.  The economy and a general public relief over escaping the worst of the recession will provide an undercurrent of momentum and some of those Conservative voters in this week's Ipsos poll (the one in the waste basket) that parked themselves back into the undecided category in weeks one and two, will realize they fear the devil they don't know a lot more than the devil they know, and at least the devil they know isn't playing footsie with separatists and socialists and spending their hard earned dollars on hockey arenas suspiciously renamed "cultural centres".
 
In the background, Canadian fighters will be flying missions in Libya, while Liberals at home banter about not replacing the aging CF18's.  Somebody, somewhere, will also note the Seaking on the deck of HMCS Charlottetown off the Libyan coast,  and the ninety-six hours maintenance required to get it airborne for a three hour mission, if it is even flying at all, courtesy of the last Liberal election showdown over a major military purchase.  Not very good optics. 
 
Anything can happen in a debate, right?  That is what the Liberals are telling themselves.  But the only way Ignatieff scores big is if expectations are so low that he can't help but score big.  If that's the case, then we are talking about a Dion-like bounce of a couple of points before the final polls come out on the eve of the vote.  It that's the case, the Liberals will have already lost, and Canadians will be asking themselves whether they really want a majority Conservative government, or another minority which threatens to turn into another coalition drama and a repeat of 2008.  Speculation will run rampant, and that two point bounce will be gone in a heartbeat of Conservative "I told ya so's" mixed in nicely with that ever present sirens call of "coalition".  "You have nothing to fear", will be the Liberal and NDP retort (with Duceppe keeping his mouth firmly shut), but there will be both fear and anger at the possibility that an even a stronger Conservative minority firmly based in the West might be thwarted by those Toronto elites and their separatist-inspired hockey arenas. 
 
This brings us to Election Night.  The Conservatives enter having dropped from 39 to 37 percent after the debate, the Liberals vaulting into the high twenties.  The NDP are holding their usual ground in the high teens, but perhaps showing some momentum as some begin to tire of a very nasty, negative campaign and look to Jack and his positive ads about helping families and being warm and fuzzy to everyone else.  As the polls come in from Atlantic Canada the Conservatives look to gain a few seats in Newfoundland, and a couple in the Maritimes, seats that look to be eaten up by losses to Nordiques fans in Quebec.  Then comes the hammer.  Eight new Conservative seats in Southern Ontario won by hard local campaigning, a focus on the economy, a weak provincial Liberal brand, an ounce or two of law and order rhetoric, and a stronger than expected ethnic vote having been courted vigourously over five years.  In Northern Ontario, another seat or two turn, for all the same reasons and the ever present gun registry (this time the election coming outside of hunting season when the gun owners might actually decide to go and vote).  Off to the West, where the half dozen seats remaining fall firmly into the Conservative camp, for no other reason than those Western candidates have been hammering the Liberals about coalitions and caving to the Bloc on arena funding, plus another touch of gun registry rhetoric never loud enough to be heard south of Sudbury lest those new urban ethnic voters have second thoughts.
 
Final tally:
 
Conservatives:  158
Liberals:  70
NDP:  28
Bloc: 50
Ind: 2
 
By 2012, Bob Rae leads the Liberals into a permanent coalition with the NDP, forming the Liberal Democrats.  Oh, and the Leafs win the Cup...
 
More serious discussion to follow in the weeks ahead.  But it is fun to speculate...
 
Richard
_______________
Subject: Day One

Joe:
 
Some thoughts on Day One of the campaign and the Leader's performances coming out of the block.
 
Liberal:  Ignatieff sounded firm and confident, and displayed some passion in his initial statements to the press.  Despite this, the failure to address the coalition issue prior to the writ has meant that Day One will be entirely dominated by the question.  Why is this important?  Because Day One will not be about contempt of parliament, an issue which has already taken the back seat.  This strategic error might go to the Liberal team, and not their Leader, or he may have had a hand in it.  Either way, it was the Conservatives defining the issue of the day out of the gate, and the Liberals responding to it first by waffling all day Friday, then with a totally insufficient press release, and finally taking the reigns before things got entirely out of control and making a more definitive statement this morning;
 
NDP:  Jack was the most organized from a campaign standpoint with an actual rally in the morning vice a press conference.  He projected confidence and most importantly, vitality, a necessary image for his campaign as he initially attempts to overcome concerns about his health.  Of interest, he chose to attack both Harper and Ignatieff, while at the same time keeping the prospect of coalition alive by making certain people understand he'd be more than willing to consider ANY type of arrangement.  This is because as long as soft Liberal/NDP swing voters believe that a coalition is a possibility, they will consider a vote for the NDP as a vote directed against a Harper government.  If the idea of coalition becomes toxic to the electorate, and in particular to Liberals, then it will become apparent that only a Liberal vote will directly affect whether or not the Conservatives can form a government.  If that is the case, the NDP fears soft Liberals and even some NDP support will go to the only party with a chance of defeating the Conservatives.  This reality is an issue for the Liberals, as much as the NDP, because as long as the NDP keeps alive the idea of coalition, it feeds directly into the Conservative narrative;
 
Bloc:  Duceppe came out swinging against the Conservatives, ignoring the Liberals entirely.  Why is this important?  It is not as important to the Quebec battle as it is to the swing ridings in the rest of the country, particularly in BC.  If it becomes apparent that the fight is between Harper and Duceppe with the Liberals on the sidelines, it suggests to Western voters that a Conservative vote is a vote for Canada and against Bloc blackmail and, most importantly, Bloc control of the next parliament.  Once again, here is an opposition leader playing right into the Conservative campaign narrative at the expense of the Liberal.  If Ignatieff can't inject himself in some way into the Quebec debate, the damage to him won't be in Quebec where the Liberals are only trying to maintain the ground they currently hold, but rather in the West where they hope to prevent Conservative gains in BC.  Picture, if you will, nightly coverage of the Quebec election where the fight is continuously Conservative versus the Bloc.  Picture a debate where Duceppe attacks Harper over not caving to his demands for funding for Quebec.  Duceppe has even gone so far as to put a pricetag on his support, $5 Billion! This might win the Bloc a couple of seats in Quebec, but it will harm the Liberals far more out West, where Harper will be portrayed in very simple terms as "standing up for Canada", and Ignatieff will be completely out of the picture;
 
Conservative:  Gonna be a nasty and negative campaign.  Harper sounded combative, frustrated, and edgy as he walked out of the GG's residence.  But he was also in control of the agenda on Day One, exactly where he wants to be.  Although often portrayed as his Achilles heal, it is his ability to project control that equally defines him as the best Leader and the most able to handle the job in a crisis.  Every question asked of him was about coalition.  Not once was the issue of contempt raised.  This was a masterful start that can only partly be attributed to the Conservative campaign strategy.  It needed Ignatieff to go along with it yesterday, and he did.  Canadians should be prepared for the term "coalition" to be defined and redefined by the Conservatives daily for the rest of the campaign, whether or not the press actually remains willing to indulge them.  By stating it with regularity and continuity over the course of five weeks, the Conservatives will make this an issue whether or not it is a fair or accurate representation of our parliamentary tradition.  As with any good negative ad campaign, there is truth to the argument as well.  Ignatieff does not wish to rule out the possibility of forming a government even if he doesn't have the most seats.  Until he is willing to take that leap, it remains open season on this issue.
 
Summary of Day One:
 
The issue of the day was not contempt, it was coalition.  This was a Conservative victory out of the gate, at least in the short run.  Does this issue now go away?  Only if the Conservatives let it, and they won't.  They will continue to use the term coalition until May 2nd.  They will redefine the word to include anything that does not involve their forming the government, because they will also be implying it is only they who will have the most seats, minority or majority, after Election Day.  Ignatieff can say there will be no "formal" coalition.  Harper will say an "informal" coalition is still a coalition, whatever the Liberals want to call it.  The Liberals will point to Harper's own 2004 "arrangement", and Harper will say that was no coalition, and he'd negotiated nothing with the Separatists.  The NDP and Bloc will keep the prospect of any form of cooperation alive, and Harper will define cooperation with the NDP and Bloc as proof of coalition.  It ain't warm and fuzzy, but there it is.
 
The only way for the Liberals to avoid this narrative is to state unequivocally that they will "support the verdict of the Canadian people" and allow the Conservatives to form a government should they be the Party with the most seats after May 2nd.  They don't have to state how long they will "be prepared to support" them, but they must be prepared to concede that point and to do it now, not ten days or twenty days from now.  The downside is that it then sounds like the Liberals are conceding defeat already, and that is a very risky move.  It further gives the Conservatives a blank slate to do what they please for the first year after their election.  This is an impossible position for the Liberals to be in.  They either state that after an election that they lose, they will support the Conservatives despite having just engineered their defeat, or they allow the issue of coalition to remain alive and well throughout the entire campaign.
 
Why are we here so quickly with this type of campaign narrative?  It is precisely because the Liberal strategists decided to enter into an election while still more than ten points behind the Conservatives in the polls.  Were they much closer, nobody could argue that they were trying to win the election outright.  They could say that they were going to form the government and nobody would have blinked.  However by forcing an election when they were so far back, people have to ask themselves what could the possible motive be if not to take power from the Conservatives regardless of the outcome of the election.  Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella made precisely this point on Thursday. 
 
Will Day One define this election?  Perhaps, but much can happen in the course of five weeks and there will be much more to talk about moving forward.  However, what is clear, is that the Conservatives will use coalition as a key part of their narrative.  They will speak to the issues in terms of coalition politics at every opportunity.  When the speak of the economy, they will do so in terms of stability versus instability and Bloc blackmail.  When the speak of foreign policy, they will do so in terms of speaking with one voice, not three voices.  When they speak of social programs, they will do so in terms of stable funding and their own defeated budget, versus the unknown coalition of spending priorities.  They will say that paying for a single party platform stands a much better chance of keeping the country's deficit under control, then paying for three platforms.  And when it comes to national unity, they will simply say that Canada is not for sale to separatists.
 
On to Day Two...
 
Richard

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A.N.Onymous

Here's my anonymous and humble take
on the 4th Federal Election since 2004 (just my Two-ney's worth).
I have been conservative since university days, back to Trudeau/Clark era. I am 57, father
of 2 daughters, and struggling (my fault). I was politically active 10 – 20 years ago… was
a riding president one term, only because no one else wanted the job.
I think we've been on the "right" track in most ways, not all, and another election was
not necessary at this time… but since the election is now a reality, it's time to pay
attention, even though I would rather not… yes $300 million could be better spent….
The "establishment" laments the low voter turnout… but truth be known it is in their
best self-serving & greedy interest to have us stay away and not pay any mind….the
lower the turnout the better for those playing the game, as long as they get out their
own vote (gotv), the rest can stay home… it's the math of democracy … it's sad but
true.
I don't have time for this… But do I turn away, not vote, not care, sorry to say like last
time? …or do I do my citizen's duty and figure this out for myself?
This time can be different. I used the CBC.ca's Vote Compass feature and created
several different profiles… this was very enlightening for me, a good tool, if you take
more than the 10 minutes they say it will take… the thinking time was excluded, if you
want to do a good job, one needs to think and question their positions to ensure they
are still valid for us.
Though this time, in 2011, I may be somewhat more inclined to vote NDP, or Green,
rather than Conservative, never ever Liberal, I think that would be a wasted vote for
where I am now… it could get the IGGY in through the side door. If i was in a riding
that could go NDP, I would reinforce that… if I was in Saanich, B.C, I would vote Green
Strategic Voting can make a difference if done properly.
I strongly believe that Stephen Harper should not, under any circumstance, receive a
Majority mandate.... remember Chrétien? it was a legalized dictatorship for a decade
in this country.... do you want the SHG to have that much unchecked power?
People, be very careful what/who you vote for…. I certainly am embarrassed by the
"contempt" or apparent disregard for democratic process and institutions that has
been on display for anyone paying attention…. Will it get better or worse if there is a
SHG Majority? HHHmmm, I wonder!
In general, if Liberals or Conservatives win... either way it's the same result... actually
we loose, since we would lose the current momentum in this recovery and it may set
us back a year or so and we'd have to start over with the other Guy IGGY, who is
equally "not to be trusted", at the steering wheel of power… we would get the same
BS and political games… the Libs and SHG parties are essentially the same…
entrenched in the old "system".
They are to be trusted with majorities at our own peril. It makes not sense to switch
governments now if all we do is go from the Harper or SHG regime to the Libs or IGGY
unknown.... that makes no logical sense… it is craziness, sheer lunacy….
Maybe, in another regard it IS time for a change, one more productive and good for
the people.
Maybe Jack Layton does DESERVE a chance to have more power, more say, but with
some reasonable limitations. One step at a time, right?
Maybe this could be a good result:
SHG to lead a strong Minority Parliament 148 seats (+5)
Layton leader of the Official Opposition 65 seats (+29)
IGGY Libs 3
rd 50 seats (-27)
Duceppe BQ 4th 40 seats (-7)
Elizabeth Greens 2 seats (+2)
Other 3 seats (+1)
My dream 41
st Parliament of Canada TOTAL 308
The SHG is correct when they say that this is not the time to make changes and this is
an unnecessary election call. But the smart and crafty SHG knows that this is the best
time, now for them, base on the polls and other circumstances, to strengthen with a
new majority mandate ... It is their best opportunity for that coveted majority….the
one that we give them free reign… I think this is strategic... the SHG wants to have an
election now, but does not want to experience any negative fallout for the call.
THINK.... why would we want that if we want change for the people? not for business,
the Capitalist Corporate Agenda (where Unfettered Greed is deemed Good, but very
bad, for the "greater good"... not good, except for the greedy individual taking with
the skills to take advantage of the "system"... hello, hello!!! Are you listening Kevin
O'Leary, sir? Not likely)...
Jack Layton deserves his big chance... not as PM, but as Leader of the Official
Opposition in another but more stable Minority government.
I would like to see smart and articulate Elizabeth May win... she deserves a voice on
the political stage, she deserves to win her riding, at least...so she has that voice on
the stage.
This was my Sunday morning musings… my political dream result…….now back to work… what more can be done?

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