Friday, July 17, 2015

The Early Election Call and the Cowardice of Stephen Harper

As you know I'm deeply concerned by the horrible thought that Stephen Harper could ruin our summer, or steal it, as only Great Maniac Leader could.

By calling an election one month earlier than most people had expected. So he can use a longer campaign to bankrupt his opponents.

So I'm very glad to see that at least the NDP isn't worried. 

Canada’s federal NDP says it’s not worried about the prospect of an early drop of the writ or having to finance a possible extended campaign.

An NDP insider who asked not to be named said timing is not an issue as far as he’s concerned. He told Global News the NDP is focused on its strategy for Canadians and won’t be knocked off its game plan just because the Tories decide to go for a longer campaign.

Still, it must be said that if Stephen Harper does call an election as early as three weeks from today, it would be a sleazy move.

And as Alice Funke writes, it would make him look like a coward. 

The morning after he had won the last federal election, Stephen Harper was asked how people fearing a Conservative majority government could be re-assured. “One of the things I’ve learned is that surprises are not generally well received by the public,” he replied.

For having promised no surprises, only to spring an ambush on his opponents.

The parties have had four years to plan, fundraise and save the money required to wage a five-week election campaign, based on a five-week spending limit, taking into account the declining value of the now-eliminated per-vote subsidy.

But here, at the last minute, you want to surprise the parties with a doubly-long election campaign, that will cost them double the money to run? Based on a hidden provision in a humongous bill, that was dropped as a surprise on the opposition, with little time for advanced study, detailed consideration, or reasoned debate? 

And you want to call yourselves “cunning”, in a trial-balloon so obviously floated in the National Post? How about “cowardly”?

But then of course, we knew he is a coward...

He is desperate. It's all going horribly wrong. 

He's living in denial. 

It is true that Canada faces a challenging global economic environment. But simply closing our eyes and hoping that something will turn up hardly counts as an effective economic strategy on the part of the Harper government.

The canary in the closet is starting looking a lot like the loonie...

That he is demolishing for crass political purposes. 

Normally when the economy contracts, governments loosen up their fiscal policy to stimulate the purchase of goods and services. This is how western industrialized countries clawed out of a brutal meltdown in 2008.

But Harper is a dogmatic believer in the ideas of free-market zealots Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. So our prime minister would have none of that, especially in an election year. Harper is going to keep a balanced budget even if it busts the life out of the economy.

So he is capable of ANYTHING.

And since the PMO has just announced that Harper is cancelling his annual summer trip up north, you know the True North Strong and Free, I'll leave you to imagine what that might mean.

But the good news, as I pointed out last night, is that all of this is just making him look even sleazier. 

And too crazy and dangerous to be allowed to remain in office...

He really is a coward, a liar, and a cheater.

He really isn't a Great Economist Leader, or a political genius.

And his days in power are really numbered...

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Anonymous said...

You're really going to play the "He's a coward card?"

How many times did I tell you that if you want to win the election, ordinary people have got to put their money where their mouths are, something Conservatives do, while progressives always want someone else to pay for it? And how many times didn't you rebuff me with promises that the Canadian public would develop a strong anti-incumbency streak, and turf Harper out of ofice just 'cause?

And now, because you only ever seem to read articles from anti-Harper partisans you fail to see that the other shoe might drop and force the progressives to fight on Harper's terms.

So humour me, take five minutes and think through this scenario, because win or lose, Harper has you outmanouvered. Let's start by stipulating that there's going to be an extra-long writ period; I think the rumours are correct, with the "official" campaign kicking off in August.

Let's say that you're "analysis" is correct, and the anti-incumbency mood strikes and Harper is turfed out of power. Great, the progressives have won some kind of coalition. Maybe it fractures, maybe it doesn't, maybe it's even an NDP majority. Who's still going to be rich, and who's still going to be poor? Unless of course getting their hands on power just means that the NDP will use the opportunity to pay themselves out of public coffers, but that'd make all y'all hypocrites.... right? So, in four years, guess who's back, and flush with cash again, while the left is still divided, in the case of the Liberals probably still rudderless, and now, Canadians aren't happy as the leftist governments in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, and B.C. all continue to be a drag on the economy. Maybe it's not Harper four years down the road, maybe it's Jason Kenney, who knows? Point is, whoever they are, they'll be looking a lot better than Thomas Mulcair et. al. after that National Daycare program claws-back the cheques which Harper has been giving out, and, turns into a financial boondoggle, resulting in bitter fights with the provinces. You really think that another big government program is going to make things happen for the left? Do you really think that parents are chomping at the bit to lose money, and put their kids into a soulless, lifeless, unionized government daycare program? Because as a father of three, I'm much more likely to try to make homeschooling work than to trust my children to the government. You, a committed non-parent want to tell me how to raise my kids? Molon labe Simon.

And that's what you'd call the GOOD scenario. Best possible outcome for you, worst for me, and the right is back in power in four years.

Else, Harper wins. That's what you'd call the BAD scenario. Nightmare scenario maybe? And given how hard the left might hurt themselves trying to make Harper look bad, it's not that much of a stretch to think that Harper might win again. When Harper can sit back and carpet-bomb the 'net, and legacy media, meaning television, while running a very-well organized ground-game (the Liberals STILL don't have one), while the progressives have to stretch every single penny making Harper look bad...?

And you're going to say, "He's a coward." That whole desparation angle you've been pushing? I don't detect it on the part of the Conservatives nearly as much as the left these days...

I think we call that "projection."

jrkrideau said...

I would wonder if Harper Would call an early election? As you say it would be as sleazy as most other things he does but even his increasingly isolated and delusional advisers should be able to talk him out of it though he has been known to do totally irrational things in the midst of a well working plan.

The impression I have had is that typically the Canadian voter does not like really crass early elections.

Also, while might cause a bit of a constitutional tiff the G-G does not have to agree with the PM. He could state that the law says October and state that he will pirogue (I think that's correct) Parliament 5 weeks before the set date.

Anonymous said...

Simon: Let us hope CPCJesus goes for the extended writ period in an attempt to bankrupt his political opponents. Since the strongest segment that supports him is the over 65 crowd, the longer the period before the election, the greater the probability that some of these people are either going to drop off (as in croak) or forget when the election date is, eh?

Seriously, though, I suspect the Ivison article is either a trial balloon (in which case, they must now be furiously polling their base to see how strong a support there is for such an idea or their aversion to his breaking the fixed election date again) or, quite likely, also a disinformation campaign to sow confusion among the opposition parties. As you know, disinformation campaigns are common during times of war, which is how the Cons view electoral politics, as you also know.

Thus, it is encouraging to hear that the NDP at least are unfazed by it. Especially since the more believable random polls of EKOS and Forum today both agree that the NDP is leading the field (by 7% according to Forum or about 3% according to EKOS).

deb said...

not sure if the comment went up, but the jist, cons have already started, and they are spending millions running that justin trudeau...."he's just not ready" bs ad:P

Noah Patterson said...

Let him call it early. Let him barrage people during the short summer with his bullshit. Then let the other parties campaign when they have people's attention in September and be fresher in mind come October.

Anonymous said...

You are sadly mistaken if you think Harper is just another conservative out to help the working Canadian by reducing the size of government, eliminating union pandering and cutting over the top social benefits. If that were the case I would likely vote for him but he is just so much more and exhibits the same traits as the neo-con war mongering republicans to the south of us. Its the same old game of population control by finding/creating external enemies push your values onto them and get all pissed off and double your efforts when they push back. He is not even very good at it!

Anonymous said...

Who says I'm not evaluating Harper as anything other than he is?

For the sake of disclosure I have a personal vested interest in his victory; I get to remain free, and out of jail. That's my overriding concern; everything else is secondary, including whether or not Harper is a faux-servative. Harper is the only politician promising this, and, who has actually followed through on keeping me out of jail, and not in more conflict with the government than really necessary. Want my vote? That's the price; keep me out of jail.

To respond to that allegation, that Harper is a faux-servative; I really don't care, see all of my previous.

The point here is, that maximizing his, Harper's advantages is appropriate. Calling Harper a coward for doing so is projection, and exposes doubt in the left. It's a demand that Harper fight on their terms. Why would he do that? So he can lose?

It's supremely arrogant to expect, to demand that the enemy not fight with everything they have. I have repeatedly said, on this blog, that if "progressives" want to win, they're going to have to pony-up the cash to do so. Thus far, their fundraising has been limp. I don't think it's because there's a disproportionate amount of wealth in the Conservatives, but because people who vote right-wing understand that if they want a right-wing government, they have to provide unflinching, unwavering support for a right-wing party, and that includes financial.

By way of comparison, progressives always seem to want someone else to do it for them. There's nothing stopping the left wing changing this reality, except the left wing. Who's fault is it that they're cash-poor compared to the Conservatives? If that's not the reality, then why isn't it showing up in the fundraising numbers? I suppose, it's possible that the progressives just don't have the votes, but the polls don't reflect that. Not enough memberships perhaps? Well, if your message doesn't appeal to enough Canadians to get them to join or support your party, then are Canadians somehow wrong to look for something that appeals to them personally...?

The Conservatives have become masters at getting $25, $30, from average Canadians maybe 2 or 3 times a year in a way that the progressives haven't been able to match. The accusation is that it's actually corporate donations, but that's smoke and mirrors because corporate donations are banned. Personal donations are limited to about $2000 per year.

The Conservatives have adapted to the new reality; it's not a big secret that the CIMS has proven to be a very valuable tool. Why can't the left do the same? Maybe, just maybe, it's something about the left-wing ideology which makes them, the average "progressive" Canadian reluctant to give financial support to a political party.

As much as this may seem like blowing the horn for the Conservatives, it's not supposed to be; it's supposed to be about a sober assessment of the facts on the ground. It's supposed to expose the fact that leftist fundraising is weak, and the Conservatives are going to exploit that to their advantage.

Simon said...

hi anon 9:20 am...thank you for that interesting comment, although I would point out that it's Alice Funke who is calling him cowardly, I think the move is just sleazy. But I am glad to see that you seem to accept that Harper might be driven from office by the desire for change. Because I do think that the way he has handled himself, has only made that desire even stronger. And you also seem to think that the Conservatives will survive his departure, when as you know there are deep fractures inside the party and they could become unglued after he leaves, like Iraq did after the fall of Hussein. Also remember that the demographics don't favour your party. It is still very much the party of older Canadians, so that future is doubtful. And of course if the NDP and the Liberals do agree to replace the FPTP system, that will be curtains for the Cons. My prediction is that in time, if the left doesn't unite, the Liberals will become the centre-right party with the NDP becomes the main party on the left. We'll see in five years what you think of that prediction...;)

Simon said...

hi jkrideau...I think it's very likely because Harper does believe that with enough money and enough ads you can make anyone believe anything. But as you say, and as I pointed out in my post, forcing what can easily framed as a totally unnecessary early campaign upon Canadians in the precious summer period could be costly. Especially since he has been in campaign mode for months. We'll see, the speed with which the Cons move to complete the nominations should give us a clue as to what they are planning to do....

Simon said...

hi anon...I am pretty sure that the Ivison article was trail balloon, and as you say they are now polling furiously to find out how Canadians would react. I don't think that will be easy not at this time when most Canadians are tuning out and focusing on summer. So an early call could come as a nasty surprise to many, and the Cons could pay a heavy price. When somebody is already viewed as past due by so many, the last thing you want to do is shove yourselves in their faces, and remind them why they want to get rid of you so badly. And yes, the NDP support seems to be firming up, and that's bad news for the Cons, because Mulcair won't be as easy to attack as Justin has been. We live in interesting times....

Simon said...

hi I've told others, I am at the point where just hearing the opening line of the ad makes me run to change the channel, or curse loudly. And I don't normally swear. It's absolutely abominable, and I find it hard to believe that it isn't backfiring against the Cons, as their cruder ads did about a year ago.

Simon said...

hi Noah...I am as I have pointed out conflicted. On the one hand I don't want anything to ruin my summer, but on the other hand I think that an early call could damage the Cons, so it's a difficult choice. But as others have pointed out, blowing a whole lot of ads out in August could very well be a waste of money, and progressives could probably afford to wait until later to start attacking the Cons....

Anonymous said...

Simon - I've always accepted the possibility, six months ago, the polls weren't reflecting it. Now they are reflecting a reasonable possibility of a change in government. No sense getting bent out of shape with regard to the evidence. That said, it's not over yet! Surely we can agree, campaigns do in fact, matter, and the campaign proper is yet to come.

Yes, some of Harper's actions have definitely created anti-incumbency feelings in the electorate, no sense denying that either. Will it be enough? A lot of people dislike C-51, but I'm not sure it's enough. Maybe. I'm not sure the alternative to Harper is particularly attractive in comparison, or at least, attractive enough to pull away a sufficient proportion of the electorate to change the government, but we will see.

Fractures in the party? Maybe. First, I'm not sure they exist. Second, I doubt that they will sufficiently manifest as to pull the party apart from within.

Demographically, you're correct, most Conservative voters are older. That said, there's two facts you seem to be overlooking which don't support your overall criticism. First, the proportion of older voters is much higher than younger. Saying that the party is skewed towards the elderly is certainly true! But it's much less important when there's perhaps a 2:1 ratio of older voters to younger. And second, related, younger voters aren't known to vote in significant numbers. Perhaps this election will be different, but we won't know until after the polls close.

The NDP and the Liberals haven't got a realistic chance of changing FPTP. First, their appetite for doing so will change the moment it starts to work for them, and not their political opponents. Second, though I stand to be corrected, I think needs a constitutional amendment. And a constitutional amendment is a political quagmire of such proportions that unless the support was overwhelming, to the point where voters would be willing to turf anyone who opposed it, someone, somewhere with the power to do so, is going to oppose it. Common, that's just smoke and mirrors, and you know it.

Well, if you are correct about the Conservatives, you might be right. I doubt it; too many of us will *never* trust the Liberals again. Too many will vote Conservative first.

Much more likely, the Liberals will, assuming they don't get their act together, split, maybe 70-30 going to the NDP - Conservatives. I'll check with you in five years on that one.