With tomorrow being the day of the Throne Speech, here’s my thoughts.
Plainly, I don’t think the Liberals should be gearing up to go an election right now. And I think that goes for all parties. But the Liberals could use more time to organize to make sure they’ve got the best possible campaign plan ready to go when they have to go on the trail. Personally, I think the more time until an election, the more rope we’re giving Harper to hang himself, and today’s news that he’s creating some despotic gov't -propaganda newsroom paid for by tax payer's dollars boosts that view in my books. If Jean Chrétien had been made to lead the Liberals only one year into his leadership, it’s a pretty safe bet there’d have been no Liberal majority and they could have easily lost. It’s not to say the Liberals would lose if they went now, just that they would do better if they went later.
The Liberals need to make sure their organization on the ground is solid in each province and just as important they need to put forth a Red Book that is as good as it could be possibly be (from what I hear it’s not finished yet though so more time would be useful). Also the Harper government has had a free ride this past summer and once back in the House the heat will be put back on them over several things that have slipped under the radar. So the polls could easily be in our favour in a few months.
So I think the Liberals should do a coordinated abstention as floated about where the front benches vote against and the others don’t show up. Now I know there are many Liberals who feel that we have to always stand on principle and if it’s a bad speech we have to go to the polls. Well I would say that we should not let Harper pick the time to go to the polls by doing so. He’s gearing to go, let’s not do him any favours. Harper has been laying a few Liberal traps recently, and we shouldn’t fall into them.
The speech from the throne is just a symbolic speech after all. If it passes it has virtually no consequences for anything. Can anybody tell me the last time, Canadians went to an election over a throne speech?
Now if Harper puts forth bad legislation and makes it a confidence vote then I think there’s a real case to be made that it’s worth going to the polls over. But that’s not what we are looking at here. It’s just a speech and it’s much more important that we win the next election, so you have to weigh one against the other.
So if the speech passes so be it, not worth complaining about, and maybe a little bit of private relief should be welcomed. But if Harper then in turn wants to start making crime bills confidence votes then he’s the one that will look ridiculous as that’s completely unprecedented. So better we go to the polls over something stupid on his part then go on something he wants us to bite on.
Now it may in the end make sense for us to go before the next budget and there’s a solid case to be made on that, but that won’t be till February or March and the time spent organizing between now and then could make all the difference in a campaign. So I’d be much more in favour of voting down the government in January than in the current scenario.
Now of course the Bloc and NDP will hoot and howl at a Liberal absentia, but we shouldn’t be baited by them either. The Bloc has no arguments to make as they’ve voted for the last two budgets which were terrible. Meanwhile, the NDP may get to laugh now, but come election time, what argument will they bring to the people? “Lend us your vote just one more time and we’ll, um…complain some more about the Harper government!” The NDP have ZERO accomplishments to point towards in this parliament and have spent 90% of their time bashing Liberals instead of Conservatives (some “official opposition”). No one will believe that the NDP could form the government so what else could Jack say? People won’t forget that he asked them to "lend the NDP your vote" and that they got nothing for it other than a government diametrically opposed to the values of progressive voters.
Despite the NDP gloating now, come campaign time the Liberals will be able to argue that if you want a more progressive government you HAVE to vote back in a Liberal government (Elizabeth May will make the same argument) and that the NDP is actually much more effective with the Liberals in power anyway (just compare Martin Vs. Harper governments: something to think about Dippers). So there’s an even less compelling argument to be baited by the other opposition parties.
So Stéphane keep at it on planning the next campaign, pull your team together, and make sure YOU pick the time we go to the polls!
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