Thursday, December 18, 2008

Proof The Liberals Chose The Right Leader? Tories Pissed

There’s a lot being said and written about the manner in which Michael Ignatieff has ascended to the leadership of the Liberal party. Interestingly most of the negative commentary I’m reading and hearing is coming from Conservatives. In fact according to a Canadian Press/Harris-Decima survey, over two thirds of Liberals polled had a positive impression of the switch in leaders, whereas those most likely to disapprove reside in the west.

Why are Conservatives so worried about how another political party selects their leader? In an earlier blog entry I equated the struggle between Harper and Ignatieff to a chess game, and the analogy works equally well in this case. Liberals should be pleased to see consternation among Conservative ranks, it means they made a wise
decision. Like a chess player befuddled by a strong move, Tories are angry. Any chess player worth his salt knows the last thing you want to see from an opponent after you remove your hand from a piece, is a smile.

For those familiar with the publication, you may be surprised to find out I’m an avid reader of the Toronto Sun newspaper. Surprised because while my politics do tend to list to the left, the Sun is perceived to be very right wing. But you don’t learn anything by only exposing yourself to views with which you agree. And besides, I find the Sun far more balanced than publications such as the Toronto Star, which doesn’t even pay lip service to the Conservative point of view in my opinion.

Earlier this week there was a column in The Sun by John Snobelen, a former Ontario cabinet minister under Mike Harris. In it he derides the Liberals as undemocratic and expedient. How anyone can call a decision supported by more than two thirds of a party’s members ‘undemocratic’ is beyond me. If getting 38% of the popular vote is enough to garner a Prime Minister a strong enough mandate to govern, well then surely 69% support for the process of replacing a party leader is an overwhelming endorsement.

Its only logical to assume the Conservatives were hoping for a drawn out and costly battle between Monsieurs Rae and Ignatieff. And I’m quite certain that a substantial number of the Harris Tories in the Conservative party were licking their chops at the prospect of Bob Rae ending up on top. Rae may be a very skilled politician and an effective campaigner, but his name is still mud with many in seat rich Ontario.

The Conservatives are not in an enviable situation. In the just completed election they ran on a bare bones platform, one they didn’t even bother publicizing until after the closing of advance polls. In a booming economy many Canadians see government as intrusive, and are all to happy to see Ottawa take a hands off approach. But now with the economy in recession and even darker storm clouds on the horizon, many are looking for Ottawa to play a very active role.

Finance minister Jim Flaherty has already taken an inherited surplus in excess of 10 billion dollars and whittled it down to zero in just 2 years. How comfortable will Canadians be with a political party advocating less government intervention, at a time of deep economic trouble? And now with their chief rivals having rallied behind Michael Ignatieff, who certainly appears to be a strong and effective leader…I don’t blame Conservatives for being pissed. Instead of striving to achieve his elusive majority whenever our next election rolls around, Stephen Harper may just be fighting to hold onto the keys of 24 Sussex Drive itself.

Go To Canadian Soapbox Home

No comments: