Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Goodale has a melt-down explaining why the Liberals aren’t standing-up to Harper

Asked to list the hot-heads in the Liberal caucus, most would put Mark Holland, Joe Volpe, Mario Silva and even Ruby Dhalla close to the top.

But Ralph Goodale? Seems he’s due for consideration.

For a guy who has made a franchise of Ernie Eves’ hairstyle, the former finance minister made famous by his “I’ve learned nothing from Gomery” response to the income trust leak in the last election is considered generally unflappable.

But anyone who saw Goodale’s reddening, sweat-covered brow on CBC’s Sunday program this week would agree: Ralph had a melt down.

His troubles came in trying to explain why Liberals intend to prop up the Conservatives in the coming votes on the throne speech. He just couldn’t make the logic of not standing-up to a government that Liberals have called “Republican” and “extreme rightwing” work. His frustration built up to this foaming twaddle:

“Well, let me answer your question. The NDP are engaged in this short-term maneuvering and how is that standing on principle if, in fact, in the long-term it ends up playing into Stephen Harper’s pro-Republican agenda? That's exactly what happened in the last parliament when the NDP caused an election at that time and they ended up defeating climate change and child care and the Kelowna accord and they strengthened the hand of Steven Harper and they still finished last. How is that moving Canada forward? This is not the kind of game that the NDP want to play, there's serious longer term issues that need to be addressed. We are going to read that throne speech and make a judgment when we read it about what is good for Canada and not what's good for the NDP party.” – Goodale, CBC Sunday, Oct 14, 2007

In summary: Stephen Harper has a “pro-Republican agenda,” but Goodale still needs to read the Speech to know if it’s “good for Canada”. Er, o-k-a-y.

Ralph could have saved himself some embarrassment if he'd just said what we are all thinking: “the Liberal Party isn't standing-up to the Conservatives because we don’t know what we believe.”

PS: Ralph loves the bit about the NDP “defeating” climate change, child care, 25-cent pay phone calls, etc. But correct me, didn’t the Liberals have three majorities to get those things done and didn’t? And didn’t Paul Martin call an election that would have been only FOUR weeks after the one that actually came in 2006? If Liberals can't fake principle, they should at least muster honesty.


Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Oh, man. When I look at that picture, I don't think 'meltdown,' I think "Saturday Night Fever."


Blogging Horse said...


Besides interal warfare, the only thing moving the Liberals' dancing shoes is Stayin' Alive.

And in the role of Stephanie Mangano . . . Stephen Harper.

scoalegil said...

This one is truly hilarious! The Liberals are amazing. When they speak of looking out for the betterment of the party as opposed to the long term good of Canada, it makes me look forward to the vote on the Speech from the Throne. I wonder, will they stand behind Kyoto? Or will their inevitable defeat in an election see them working to improve their standings?

(I once had the joy of marching through the streets of Glace Bay, NS with a bull horn chanting "hey, hey, ho, ho, Ralph Goodale's gotta go!" twas on the heels of Mr. Goodale's announcement regarding the shut down of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, conveniently taking place a short tiem after the local electorate booted Dave Dingwall out of his seat ... today that memory brings a smile to my face)

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Unfortunately, as a party actually capable of forming the government, the Liberals have to deal with something called "reality". They have to worry about whether "standing up for Kyoto" by voting against the Throne speech will actually lead to the Tories having more power.

For the NDP it's easy. They can vote for or against anything they like, because really, it has no consequences. The NDP are incapable of stopping the Tories, so stopping the Tories doesn't need to even enter their minds.

Personally, I hope the Liberals DO vote against the Throne Speech. However, if they do, and the Tories win a majority in the subsequent election, I don't want to hear any Dippers complaining that the Liberals should have seen that coming. If "Principle over practical result" is going to be your rallying cry, you need to be prepared to live with the practical result.

I'm glad the Liberals are at least CONCERNED about what a vote means practically, and not solely about what it means symbolically. The NDP should feel free to fight everytime the Tories try to goad them into a fight, but at least the Liberals seem to realize they're being goaded. Perhaps they should fight, and perhaps not, but at least their THINKING about what they should do.

You can talk all you like about how much time the Liberals had to do X or Y, but Goodale's still right. If the NDP hadn't jumped when Harper said jump we'd have a plan for Kyoto, a national childcare program and the Kelowna Accord. So, was "standing on principle" worth it?

Cliff said...

“the Liberal Party isn't standing-up to the Conservatives because we don’t know what we believe.”

Or, because they're massively in debt, disorganized, demoralized from infighting and afraid to face the voters again. And they don't know what they believe - aside from power.

"If the NDP hadn't jumped when Harper said jump we'd have a plan for Kyoto, a national childcare program and the Kelowna Accord. So, was "standing on principle" worth it?"

Re-write history in your own head if you want Kitchener, the Liberals were going down in weeks no matter what. The NDP offered multiple opportunities to sustain them long enough to get a progressive agenda through parliament while they could.

Plus, they had years of unassailable majority to get stuff like Kelowna and childcare enacted.
That they only rolled them out in desperation when they were on their last legs is the clearest display possible of their real priorities. Why aren't you hammering them for wasting all that time?

You talk as if the Liberals plus the NDP was enough seats to sustain Martin - remember, once the Conservatives and the Bloc were determined to vote no confidence en masse - that was it. It was all over but setting the timing.

The votes simply weren't there, the public was furious at the Liberals and the government was going down no matter what. An election was coming no matter what. Choosing the time was simple tactical sense. The kind of thing that is always okay when Libs do it - and always perfidious evil when any other party does.

Make up your mind: The NDP are either holier than thou, principal before practicality wooly headed types, or we're calculating partisans more concerned with tactical advantage than the cause of progressiveness. Accusing the NDP of both is just cognitive dissonance of a truly stellar order.

The NDP offered an orderly productive end to a minority that was on its last legs. The Liberals turned it down multiple times. Liberals can keep telling themselves that the fall of Martin was everybody's fault but the Liberal Party, but history is too recent for anyone else to fall for it.

Blogging Horse said...

LKO said: "They [Liberals] have to worry about whether 'standing up for Kyoto' by voting against the Throne speech will actually lead to the Tories having more power."

Doesn't Harper end up with more power when the Liberals vote to prop him up? Pretty sure he does.

Liberals can't on one hand make a virtue out of keeping Harper and his gang in the PMO and claim to be doing it in the best interests of progressive Canadians. It doesn't make sense.

The only explianation is the Dion Liberals can't stand up to Harper because they are too weak to fight him. Which makes rubbish out of the claim that the Liberals are "a party actually capable of forming the government."

Jack Layton and the united NDP know what they are about and are acting on their principles. The Dion Liberals are too divided and too confused about what they believe to stand up to Harper. Canadians will be the judge.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...


Well on the "cognitive dissonance" bit I certainly have made up my mind. I'm on the "holier than thou, principal before practicality wooly headed types" side of the argument, and I'm certainly not arguing (at least, I didn't intend to) that the NDP were acting cynically or in some coniving manner for tactical reasons (I know others argue that, but not me). I also admire the "principle before practicality" bent (I really do) I guess I just get cranky under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

I'm also not by any means a Liberal partisan. I'm one of the (I think majority) of Canadians who wish the Liberals and NDP could play nicely together and give us some uninterrupted "red Liberal" government that (I think) most of us want. I don't think it does the country any good for the Dippers to view the Liberals as "Tory lite" or the Liberals to view the Dippers as "Communist lite", especially while the Tories are in charge. I really wish they could adopt an "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" philosophy and realize that they're combined "worst case scenario" (45-50%) is better than the Tories' seeming "best case scenario" (40-45%) and act accordingly, and work togather. I do realize however that this "work together" strategy of mine makes me a holier than thou, principal before practicality wooly headed type.

Oh, the irony.


Lord Kitchener's Own said...


"Doesn't Harper end up with more power when the Liberals vote to prop him up? Pretty sure he does."

And herein lies the problem. When the Liberals prop up Harper the NDP calls them on it. When the NDP props up Harper, the Liberals call them on it. Goodale complains that the NDP helped the Tories, Layton claims that the Liberals ARE helping the Tories, and the wheel spins round and round, much to the delight of... guess who?

The problem is, when the Liberals are strong the NDP drifts away from their "principle over power" stance, and when the Liberals are weak they turn awfully blue (politically, not just emotionally!). So, in a minority situation, the NDP saves the Tories when they're weak, and the Liberals save the Tories when THEY'RE weak, and the end result is that there's always someone around to save the Tories.

Of course, what we need is some form of PR to fix this mess, but I think we'll see Dion and Layton strategizing together before that, so I won't hold my breath.

Blogging Horse said...

The NDP hasn't "propped up" anyone. That's just a bogus Liberal talking point.

FACT: Up to the end of the session in June, Layton voted AGAINST Harper more often than either other leader: Duceppe or Dion. Source: http://www.ndp.ca/page/5471

Sure, Liberals pulled at their hair and accused Layton of "propping up" Harper when the NDP forced the clean air act to be rewritten in committee, but is making a bad bill more progressive propping someone up? No.

Is voting against your principles for no other reason than to keep Harper in power propping him up? Yes. Yes it is.

Canadians who are opposed to the direction Harper is going will judge the Liberals on this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks LKO for standing up to Cliff and Blogging Horse. When I propose some income distribution policies such as a Solidarity Tax on Wealth, they come and complain about lowering corporate taxes.

About Dion and Layton strategizing, I am waiting. So far there has been no offers and it seems they are not even on speaking terms.

Cliff said...

"When I propose some income distribution policies such as a Solidarity Tax on Wealth, they come and complain about lowering corporate taxes."

Gee Mushroom, I didn't know you were in a position to set Liberal tax policy. Since you're proposing this wealth tax it doubtless will become the policy of the party brass and Dion himself right?

I'm critiquing the actual stated policy of the Liberal party as stated in Dion's promises to Bay Street - historically the only promises Liberals seem to consider sacred - you're complaining that I'm focussing on what your party leader is proposing rather than what lib blogger Mushroom is offering.

Well, yeah.