Friday, October 12, 2007

Stéphane Dion: Leader of the Artificial Opposition

Stéphane Dion and his Liberal MPs are plotting to let Stephen Harper’s agenda pass.

The incredulous, gob-smacked expressions from progressive people (and even those who just care about integrity in public life) across the land are entirely appropriate.

Dion’s plan is to give Harper’s agenda a pass when the Throne Speech comes for a vote next week by ordering all or some of his MPs to duck out on the vote.

As this CBC story says: “Dion can allow the policy-setting throne speech to pass and expose himself to taunts about having abandoned his principles by propping up a government that ignores Kyoto.”

Today, the NDP issued a challenge to Dion to have all of his MPs sitting in place and voting next week. As Jack Layton says “Throne Speech votes are a time to show leadership, to make a decision. You either stand with or stand against Mr. Harper’s agenda.”

The Liberals appear more and more the Artificial Opposition – pulling out their hair and berating Harper at every turn but then supporting his agenda.

A poll yesterday showed that 70 percent of Canadians don’t think Stephane Dion will ever be prime minister, and that a full 57 percent of Canadians think that the fortunes of the Liberal Party have either stalled or are in decline.

Their scheming around the Throne Speech demonstrates that the problem is more than just Dion; it’s about a Liberal Party that doesn’t know what it stands for. Dion’s weak leadership merely puts a fine point on it.

15 comments:

bigcitylib said...

Good old Jack Layton, fresh from "holding up his end" for the Harper Tories for two years.

Which end was it, though? I bet it was the smelly one.

Mushroom said...

What a taunt.

This is like saying "bring the government down so we can kill you at the polls"

If you are so interested in defeating Harper, then why are you not willing to help us?

Blogging Horse said...

BCL said: "Good old Jack Layton, fresh from "holding up his end" for the Harper Tories for two years."

That's 100% false. 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

Dion is leading the artificial opposition. Talk left, vote right.

The Jurist said...

Dion is leading the artificial opposition. Talk left, vote right.

Based on his stand today for yet another round of massive corporate tax cuts, even that's giving him too much credit. "Say anything, vote right" maybe?

Mushroom said...

The Jurist,

This is something most Libloggers failed to notice. Thanks to you for bringing it to my attention.

You can just as argued that Flaherty has removed many tax loopholes for corporations such as offshore exemptions and income trusts.

Blogging horse, the Dippers voted against Harper because they alone are not strong enough to prop up Harper. With Duceppe supporting supply measures, Layton was given a free hand. This will not exist any longer.

Hope you guys will be happy with a Harper majority, which will undoubtedly happen if you don't help us out.

Cliff said...

"Hope you guys will be happy with a Harper majority, which will undoubtedly happen if you don't help us out."

Ah, the classic tactic. "The Conservatives are scary and the only way to keep them from winning a majority - despite the fact that there is really no conceivable electoral math that could actually give them one - is to vote for us saintly Liberals."

I would rather have another Conservative minority than a Liberal majority indistinguishable in terms of policy but brimming with arrogant entitlement.

Remember anti-scab? Remember turning Kyoto into an unenforced joke? Remember years of unassailable Liberal majority full of goodies for their buddies on Bay Street, but somehow never able to get around to all those progressive promises they make during elections?

We do.

The path to the kind of effective minority Liberal government of the Pearson years is through the NDP taking seats away from Liberals not Conservatives. Don't expect any help from folks who know what to expect afterwards.

Liberals have lost the confidence of true progressives and we're tired of 'helping you out' and then getting kicked in the teeth after we do.

Mushroom said...

Cliff,

If the numbers for a CPC minority is inconceivable then the ones for a Grit majority are _________.

What I am suggesting is that you think a CPC minority is better than a rainbow coalition government with Layton as Foreign Affairs Minister?

This is the only viable option to defeat Harper at this moment.

The truth is that the Dippers have never helped us out, because the Grits have not been this desperate until now. This blogger is merely making a proposal and he is looking for traction. Unfortunately, none comes from my party.

paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cliff said...

The path to a real, effective minority Liberal government is one where the NDP don't fall into the same old trap of 'helping them out'.

We aren't after the same things, we don't have the same goals, and yes the idea of a Liberal Majority is just as inconceivable as a Conservative one, and that's a good thing.

As the Liberal Party leadership are going to follow a strategy of sniping at the NDP, scaremongering about the Tories and making progressive promises they have no intention of keeping no matter what rainbow nation gets wistfully discussed here, what incentive could Dippers possibly have for buying into Lib pipe dreams about respectful coalitions?

Libs respect Dippers when they need us. Losing a few more seats to the NDP doesn't help the Conservatives it helps progressive politics in Canada.

Would a Liberal minority government be better than a Tory one? Sure, but only with a strong enough NDP to force them to engage in the kind of progressive politics they avoid like the plague unless they have no choice.

And frankly, that means convincing progressives that Liberals are not on their side and taking seats away from them.

Which gets easier to do all the time.

Blogging Horse said...

Cliff said: "Would a Liberal minority government be better than a Tory one? Sure, but only with a strong enough NDP to force them to engage in the kind of progressive politics they avoid like the plague unless they have no choice.

And frankly, that means convincing progressives that Liberals are not on their side and taking seats away from them.

Which gets easier to do all the time."

Well said, Cliff. Well said. The Liberal Party can't fight Harper, precisely becasue so many Liberals agree with him on things like corporate taxes, Afghanistan, pesticides, and workplace fairness. Now they are going to prop up his throne speech. That's what artificial opposition looks like.

Mushroom said...

"what incentive could Dippers possibly have for buying into Lib pipe dreams about respectful coalitions?"

Having a say in government for a change. Changing the discourse to make sure a more pacifist foreign policy and social inclusion targets are kept. We can't do it alone and Harper avoids these issues completely.

"but only with a strong enough NDP to force them to engage in the kind of progressive politics they avoid like the plague unless they have no choice."

What can you guys do with 30 to 43 seats? You are like the British Liberal Democrats, the social conscience of a country but sandwiched between two kahunas.

Once the election is called, all bets are off. It is every candidate for himself/herself and the old script is being rehearsed. I am sick and tired of this old way of doing politics. Progressive politics loses, patronage and political favours win out most of the time.

We need to change the political dial at this very moment when progressive politics is being threatened. Not by Bush's neo-cons but by the global Christian Democratic movement. The centre left is in trouble all over the world, and it is only by working together and building coalitions that we can gain political power again.

Cliff said...

Nope. It's by getting past the illusion that the Liberals are in any way...liberal.

With 30 to 43 seats for the NDP we would either be the whip hand in a Liberal Minority, or on the way to supplanting them altogether - maybe both. Works for me.

Only in Canada is the dominant paradigm and so called only choice right wing or mushy middle. Time to rethink our options.

I repeat: We'll get a say in government by taking seats away from Liberals. The myth of the tight race where the NDP costs the Liberals the power they deserve is predicated on the idea that they deserve power.

Ideas of Liberal inevitability need some reassessment, they've lost Quebec, the last eight straight elections and will be rebuilding there for a generation - assuming they ever can at all. They never had the West, largely lost the Maritimes after they gutted and looted UI and its really only in Ontario where it seems like they are the only viable 'progressive' option.

The NDP now have a beach-head in Quebec and you can tell how terrified that makes some people by how loudly they insist it means nothing.

Dion thinks he can spit in progressives faces with anti-scab and his recent Bay Street genuflection to corporate interests - and still demand their fealty to protect them from... what? Harper?

How would a Liberal majority be substantially different from a Tory minority on pocketbook issues except that even more of the tax burden would be passed from the boardroom to ordinary Canadians?

Afghanistan? The backpedaling has already started. The environment? Dion has made it clear Bay Street comes first in all his calculations. Human rights? The Liberals resisted gay marriage for years, had it forced on them by the courts and were still fighting pension justice for gay survivors to the bitter end. Plus they hope you've forgotten they supported the panicky curtailment of legal rights after 9/11.

The party of Tom Wappel and John Manley and Paul Martin wants me to believe they're the progressive alternative? Get serious.

Mushroom said...

"With 30 to 43 seats for the NDP we would either be the whip hand in a Liberal Minority, or on the way to supplanting them altogether - maybe both."

This means the Grits will get 38-39 seats and Harper wins 200. No wonder you guys laid off on Mulroney in the 1980s and this was from Gerry Caplan when I last spoke to him in 1990.

Hey, don't lump me with the other Grits. I support a Solidarity Tax on Wealth.

Tom Wappel and Paul Martin have been consigned to the dustbin of Liberal history. Time for progressive policies.

Blogging Horse said...

Cliff said: "We'll get a say in government by taking seats away from Liberals. The myth of the tight race where the NDP costs the Liberals the power they deserve is predicated on the idea that they deserve power."

Jack Layton's $4.6 million budget amendment in 2006 was a great accomplishment, but it needs to be remembered that Layton had to FORCE it on the Liberals.

A Liberal Party that actually beleived in investments in the environment and reducing tuition instead of corproate tax cuts wouldn't have to be forced. The whole notion that the Liberal Party is interested in progressive policies is bunk. The NDP budget ammendment proved it.

Cliff said...

"Tom Wappel and Paul Martin have been consigned to the dustbin of Liberal history. Time for progressive policies."

Anti-scab.

Stephane Dion describing himself as an 'economic right-winger'.

Offering huge tax giveaways to Bay Street.

John Manley giving the Tories bi-partisan cover to keep us in Afghanistan.

And now, the coming support of Stephen Harper and his 'neo-con', 'Republican style' right wing government.

You're right, it is time for progressive policies. IE: NOT Liberal ones.