Monday, June 29, 2009

Liberals could have sat in cabinet -- instead they will sit with Pierre Poilievre

Every time you see him on TV, it's easy to remember that the only reason Stephen Harper is still prime minister today is because Michael Ignatieff left him there. Given the choice of Liberals governing in a legitimate coalition, or more of the same from Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff voted confidence in the latter.

The book end of Ignatieff's capitulation in January was the one earlier this month, in which Liberals patted their backs bloody boasting that their noble leader forced the Conservatives to agree to a "Blue Ribbon" panel to consider changes to EI for the fall.

Those fonder of reality have rightly pointed out that the "pound of flesh" Ignatieff walked away with was indeed far less than he said he wanted from negotiations: namely, help for the unemployed this summer and a 360 hour rule.

But none of this nonsense will move Liberals off their tales of heroic daring-do.

Well, this should: Harper's appointment to the Conservative chair on the panel? None other than Pierre Poilievre. That's right, the very same Pierre Poilievre whose singular role in the House of Commons and everywhere else has been to enrage Liberals by endlessly hectoring at them with mindless talking points about their leader's plans to raise taxes and his 34 year absence from Canada.

Far less than a victory, naming Poilievre is Harper's oh-so-subtle way of thumbing his nose (if not extending another appendage) at Liberals for playing politics for a week about a summer election they had no intention of forcing.

Well played, Iggy. Well played, indeed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


David Akin evaluates the comparative negotiation skills of Michael Ignatieff against those of Jack Layton:

"In 2005, Jack Layton won $4.6 billion in new investments in housing and transit in exchange for supporting the minority government of Paul Martin.

In 2009, Michael Ignatieff got a working group and an opposition day for supporting the minority government of Stephen Harper."

But it’s actually less than that. In exchange for voting in favour of the Conservatives' estimates on Friday, the Liberals have been given:

a) the opportunity to write a private members' bill on EI with the help of three Conservatives; and

b) An additional opposition day in at the end of September with which they can once again threaten to defeat the government, thereby beginning the ceremonial crying-of-wolf all over.

So, other than Stephen Harper, is anyone actually any better off today than when this soap opera began? Nope.

Even Michael Ignatieff can admit that:

“Let me be clear, we don't have an agreement here. We have an agreement to work hard, professionally, and seriously with top level officials to get a legislative proposal before parliament if we can. I give you no guarantees that we can get there, but I know in my heart I can look unemployed Canadians in the eye today and say I’ve done my darnedest for you.” – Ignatieff, CTV News, 17 June 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Michael Ignatieff is the new Dion

Yesterday's press conference by Michael Ignatieff was contrived by backroom Liberals to thrust their guy into the mold of "Big Time Leadership". The thinking being that if the coverage over the weekend and the remaining five days of this parliamentary session could be shaped by Ignatieff staring down Stephen Harper in a "just watch me" moment, Canadians may begin to visualize the two men as equals and rivals.

But instead of seeing a stand-off, most commentators are still stuck on just how hollow and irrelevant Iggy's press conference was. The result is that no one is saying the name "Ignatieff" in the same breath as Trudeau or JFK. Instead, he's being compared to Stephane Dion - and what's worse, he is coming up wanting:

“Stephane Dion may be gone from a leadership role, but his legacy of hysterical threats followed by ignoble climbdowns lives on, affecting our perception of his successor. This government is terrible, it is horrible, it is an abomination unto God himself – and we are totally going to do something about it, eventually, somewhere down the road, maybe spring-ish. But now we dance!”Scott Feschuck, Maclean’s blog, June 16, 2009

“Dion’s problem was that he had a vision; he just couldn’t find the right words to sell it. Ignatieff has managed to flip things around; time after time, he articulately ties himself into knots trying to get around the fact that he has very little to say.”Adam Radwanski,, June 15, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Premier Darrell Dexter

This, of course, is huge.

The first time a New Democrat government has been formed in Nova Scotia.

The first east of Ontario, and the first time a new party has had a breakthrough into government since 1990.

There will be plenty more firsts to come from Canada's newest government in the days to come.
For now, it’s time to congratulate Nova Scotians for their deliberate choice.

For weeks they were bombarded with baseless attacks about the "reckless" and "risky" New Democrats and warnings of doom, so often from come-from-aways.

Yet 46% of Nova Scotians put that garbage where it belonged to put their trust in the man and the party who had earned it.

Congratulations, Nova Scotia. Congratulations Premier Dexter.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How to build a structural deficit (or where will we cut so Suncor can keep another billion?).

This is a no brainer.

At some point - likely with little help for the Conservatives' stimulus - the economy will begin to show signs of stabilizing.

And when it does the knives will truly come out for the $50 billion federal deficit.

You can already hear Ignatieff Liberals chortling that Canadians are dying to give the Red Team another chance to re-live their dubious "glory days" of the 1995-98 era in which they brought down a $42 billion deficit by heroically slaughtering transfers to the provinces for health care, education and social assistance.

Canada has already lost $140 billion in corporate taxes becasue of an unprecedented reduction of the business tax rate from 28.12% in 2001 to 19% today. Incredibly, both the Conservatives and Liberals say they are committed to lowering it a further 4% by 2012!

A cut of that magnitude will cost the federal treasury another $8 billion a year. A hole that size would leave precisely the structural deficit every party says they don't want. This will put health care, the CBC and countless other Canadian institutions on the chopping block. This suits the Tories just fine, but there was a time when Canadains could expect better from the Liberals.

It's like volunteering for a pay cut while you are trying to pay down the mortgage and take care of a sick family member. No sane person would agree to it.

Enter the Harper Conservatives and Ignatieff Liberals.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Note to Chantal Hebert: Read your own paper.

For the past few years, Chantal Hebert’s columns in the Toronto Star have ranked among the better federal political opinion pieces on offer. While not all of her points will be agreed with, her argumentation has been sound.

That’s why her recent twaddle in the key of “Jack Layton is a has-been” is just so disappointing.

Her argument, that Layton “is being squeezed out of a Bloc Québécois-Liberal duel in Quebec” and “is also becoming a mere bystander in a Harper-Ignatieff election battle nationally” is the stuff of a Red Bull fueled imagination.

There is, in fact, zero evidence to suggest Hebert is correct. At all.

In fact, as if to make that very point, today’s Toronto Star also contains a story about this poll.

That’s right, according to a poll commissioned by the same people who employ Hebert, the New Democrats are within the margin of error of exceeding their results from the last election, AND interestingly, are also at an incredible 17 percent in Quebec, up (not down) FIVE percentage points from the 2008 election.

Columns are generally better when they aren’t disproven by the part of the paper that reports news.