Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If he can’t run his own affairs, why should anyone expect Iffy to run a government?

Just when you think the Ignatieff Liberals can’t possibly stumble any further, they find a way to tear the floor out from under them and go crashing down yet another flight of stairs.

First, Ignatieff said EI reform was his top priority. But now that it appears that $1 billion in extra help will happen thanks to Jack Layton, Liberals say they want an election instead.

Iffy bragged he would go to China to fix the relationship Harper had messed up. Then he cancelled that because he wanted an election instead.

Then Iffy said he didn’t want Martin Cauchon to run in the NDP’s Outremont riding. Now he says he does -- and has lost his Quebec lieutenant amid charges that Ignatieff is being manipulated by the party’s base in Toronto.

Now Liberals have had to cancel a much ballyhooed $1.6 million Toronto-area fundraiser because it falls on the same day as their ill-fated vote of non-confidence.

Canadians were told in May that the Liberal Party was more united than it had been in history. Ignatieff along with Alf Apps and Rocco Rossi were the managerial dream team who would make the other parties tremble.

Instead as Jane Taber reports in blistering terms, the Liberal Party under Iffy is the one doing all the trembling -- still favouring its divisions and sorting out which end is up.

And we are supposed to believe these guys are ready for an election … let alone be able to win one? Get real.

Monday, September 28, 2009

More on the “media correction”

Sometimes it happens that the punditocrisy over-indulges on spin. In doing so it loses perspective and with it a certain amount of credibility. It’s easy to do so. Spin is often made to be more interesting than the real story.

When investment advisors and the market pundits on TV oversell a particular stock or fund only to have it bottom out on them the next week they call it “a correction”.

Siminarly, there is something of a “media correction” occurring right now, as pundits and columnists are being reminded – by each other – that they collectively over-bought and over-sold the Liberal party’s spin on the NDP of late. Columnist Ralph Surette makes such a case in the Halifax Herald ...

"The scorn heaped on Layton’s head, mainly by national media pundits, especially those on those TV talk panels, has been gleefully relentless. According to the narrative, Layton, the sanctimonious pinko and prototype of his ilk who was always berating the Liberals for propping up the Tories, is exposed as a hypocrite at last. The guy who piously preached making minority government work but two-facedly voted relentlessly against the Tories, is now back to co-operating because he’s freaked by the prospects of losing seats in an election. How juicy. But second thoughts have kicked in about the worth of Layton and his works, showing that maybe even the media are marginally redeemable. There’s the obvious, of course: that Layton spared the country an election it doesn’t want, and that there will be some improvements to EI."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Layton Unplugged: "It's not about us"

There are times when doing the right thing isn’t enough.

As Lawrence Martin reflected upon intelligently this week, nobody knows this better than New Democrats. Indeed, if political success was measured by how often our political leaders demonstrated sound judgment, New Democrats would be peerless.

However, the party’s decision to support $1 billion in new support for 190,000 unemployed workers has been different. Unlike in the past, the initial canned criticism from the Liberals, the elites, and the punditocrisy has been muted and short-lived. Indeed only the Liberals are still left griping.

The reason: unlike some other decisions the NDP has taken in recent years, the vast majority of the public is already on-side with what Layton and his MPs are doing. What the NDP has done in this instance is another demonstration of what makes Jack Layton the best leader Canadians have at the federal level. Better than any other leader the country has seen in a generation, Layton has a real passion and ability to bring people together to get results. At a time when name-calling, silly games and brinksmanship dominates our politics, genuine pragmatism right now is deserving of respect.

Layton provides some from-the-heart insights into his way of thinking in today’s Star:

In the end, as we debated whether we would support the $1 billion for the unemployed or give Harper the election only he and Ignatieff seem to crave, I kept coming back to the faces of the many people I've met who asked me to help them. For them, the financial support will make a big difference.

I feel anguish right now, but it has nothing to do with the criticism that has been levelled at us. No, it is that we haven't been able to help more hard-working Canadians who are in need. It's going to be a hard, hard winter for far too many of them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Liberals default to backstabbing and infighting

It may be time to update the old joke - something along these lines: “Conservatives come together to drink, New Democrats come together for pamphlets, and Liberals? Liberals come together to beat the living snot out of one another.”

Despite every real piece of evidence showing the contrary the Red Team persists in saying they have never been happier. All the while they are reaching towards Dion-era levels of discord and malice:

Leading Liberals openly praise the NDP and Bloc for crushing Ignatieff’s election strategy.

One-time Liberal strategist
Warren Kinsella goes berserk over “unnamed Liberals” for daring to tell journos that all is not well in La-la-Liberal land.

And now, because they’re getting rather good at it, Liberals are in
open revolt against Ignatieff for decreeing who shouldn’t run in the NDP riding of Outremont.

Less than a month ago, Michael Ignatieff boasted of how the party had turned a corner under his leadership …

“We’re more united than we’ve been in a generation. We’re ready to fight in every riding in the country.”

In less than 22 days, events have completely swamped his boasts of unity. Liberals are now literally on their way to fighting each other in every riding in the country.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Absent-Positioned Professor

It has been a bad week for the Ignatieff Liberal Party.

In a span of seven days, Michael Ignatieff has absented his MPs from ever casting a deciding vote on any matter in the House. Absented the Liberal Party from ever making parliament work for Canadians. And now, most stunningly, absented himself from the obligation to ever have a position on any matter of public policy.

In relation to his inconstant stance on the HST, Ignatieff told reporters that he, as leader of the opposition, “doesn’t have to have a position”. The implication being that if we lowly Canadians ever want to know what Ignatieff would do as Prime Minister, we would have to elect him Prime Minister first. (Fortunately, most aren't that interested.)

As Hill watcher Kady O'Malley rightly concludes:

Really, when you get down to it, it goes to credibility — Ignatieff’s, that is, and not just on the HST, but in general.

Who's got the hidden agenda now, Mr Ignatieff?

Friday, September 18, 2009

EXPOSED: Rift grows over Ignatieff’s puerile election posturing

The whispered suggestion that the Liberal caucus is fracturing over Ignatieff’s “show down” strategy is no longer a whisper.

Sources close to your favourite equine-themed politics blog report that Martha Hall-Findlay, for one, is quite pleased that Ignatieff’s stratagem has failed to produce the threatened election.

Following an Ottawa fete this week for the Hill Times newspaper at one venue, the high-ranked Liberal MP and one-time leadership aspirant, it is said, was heard at Hy’s restaurant praying with colleagues and hangers-on that Ignatieff’s scheme would fall flat.

Attendees to the impromptu after-party report Hall-Findlay telling assembled guests that she was praying there would be no election – loudly thanking the NDP and Bloc for standing up to make parliament work instead.

Shouldn’t the Ignatieff team be concerned that elements in the Bob Rae camp are publicly rejoicing in his first big strategic misstep?

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Jane Taber’s column in today's Globe confirms both the soiree at Hy’s (evidently it was in honour of MH-F’s 50th … er, happy birthday, Martha) as well as their being much rejoicing that the Ignatieff team failed to precipitate an election.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On “propping up” ...

If you go to the store and pay the $1.99 posted for a loaf of bread, are you “propping up” the store or just getting the bread you came for?

Similarly, if the NDP supports the EI reform don't they get something in return ... something called EI reform?

Most would see it that way, but it’s clearly in the interests of some to see it the other way.

It’s not propping up if you get what you came for. It’s not propping up if you make parliament work in the same way that parliaments work in every developed legislature on Earth: through principled pragmatism and collaboration to improve the lives of Canadians.

Jack Layton said it best on Monday: he spent the summer listening to the people for whom an extra five weeks of EI is the difference between losing their home, car and dreams. Not helping them if you can is irresponsible.

There is no parallel to what the Liberals did since the January 2009 budget. Under the questionable leadership of Michael Ignatieff, they passively handed over the votes of their 77 MPs for a shopping cart full of nothing.

Layton's caucus is making parliament work by getting results: $1 billion worth for the unemployed. For their part, the Red Team is buying time for a Liberal leader who still doesn't know what he's doing (see: Iraq, torture, Employment Insurance and Harper's HST on Ontario and BC families).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Say, does this looking like "propping up" to you?

Jack Layton weighs the second election in two years against $1 billion for the unemployed as depicted by the deft eye (and pen) of Globe cartoonist Brian Gable ...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

If Elizabeth May still mattered ...

... the overwhelming response to this story in the MSM and the alt-media, would be howling cries of hypocrisy based on this ...

But to be fair, it's not that May is entirely irrelevant. Clearly people voted for her and her party in the last election. It's just that her inexplicable antics, propensity for internal scraps and unsubstantiated claims have alienated many of those voters as well as many respected GPC stalwarts.

On that basis, the need to hold her to the same standard of seriousness and consistency as the other leaders is just not there. And in politics, that's as brutal a condemnation as you're likely to get.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Liberals put a man on the moon … and left him there.

Is an accomplishment still an accomplishment if you have to promise you will never, ever do it again? Federal Liberals are saddled with that question today, given John McCallum’s sharp repudiation of his party’s record on fiscal responsibility.

Since the late 1990s, the Liberal Party has hung their vaunted fiscal credibility on one thing: having eliminated the $42 billion deficit left to them by the Mulroney-era Conservatives. No matter what criticism they faced, Liberals could (and continue to) boast that they brought Canada’s fiscal house in order; and for that, we should be grateful.

But as accomplishments go, slaying the deficit the way Jean Chretien and Paul Martin went about it, is roughly equivalent to boasting of having put a man on the moon -- with no way of getting him down.

That’s certainly the way provincial premiers remember it. They (including Today's Bob Rae) remember the federal Liberals unilaterally hacking $25 billion out of transfers for health care, education and welfare beginning with the 1995 budget. Cutting these transfers had catastrophic impacts for provincial budgets which were still struggling from the recession of the early 1990s. The response in many provinces was to reluctantly pass Chretien and Martin's cuts along to hospitals, universities, colleges, and municipalities, who in turn passed the cuts along to patients, students and taxpayers through tuition fee hikes, hallway medicine, co-payment fees, municipal downloading, property tax hikes, and increased homelessness.

Happy to have enjoyed the parade, but ignorant of the mountain of tickertape in their wake, it has been the consequences of their having “slayed the deficit” which Liberals have steadfastly refused to acknowledge.

That is until now. By finally denouncing their having savaged provincial transfers as “a mistake,” Liberals are a decade later, a bit closer to finally recognizing that the way they “brought Canada’s fiscal house in order” was a hollow accomplishment.

As for their promise to never cut provincial funding again? It should sound familiar. Try page 80 of the Liberal Platform that preceded the 1995 budget.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Adding to Iggy's list of failures

So, yesterday Ignatieff told Stephen Harper: "You’ve failed to protect the most vulnerable. You’ve failed to create jobs. You’ve failed to defend our health care. You’ve failed to restore our public finances."

It's all true. But that's because Liberals failed to force him to.

"On probation" turned out to be "on vacation".

Liberals owe it to themselves, and the Canadians they are elected to serve, to examine closely why their strategy to prop Harper up in exchange for nothing but a set of worthless reports and a Blue Ribbon panel with Pierre Pollievre on it was such a failure.