A continuation of an argument I have been making for years, this time with Thwap from a thread at Doctor Dawg's blog.
I just read through this thread and in the main I agree with ck's arguments, but then I have been saying since before Martin was beaten that Harper was the greatest threat to Canadian democracy out there because of his contempt for how we govern ourselves. I said back then that stopping him should be the most important thing for anyone of any progressive bent regardless of where they stood on the spectrum, but was I listened to? Nope, I was called a Liberal shill and flack by both right and left. I said back then that if the NDP really were a principles first party as they always had been prior to Layton's leadership they would have made common cause with the Libs to block Harper's rise to power and sustain Martin, that even a tired corrupt Liberal government under Martin would be less damaging than a Harper led government. Again, time proved me right in spades.
So now I see a lot of Ignatief bashing and you know what? That is EXACTLY what Harper counts on to stay in power. I don't like Ignatief, never did, never wanted to see him as Lib leader (I much preferred Dion in that role, and think that he got a really raw deal between the early on the job missteps and of course treachery by Ignatief partisans sticking knives in his back and the way the CPC attack machine went after him in the advertising manner they did destroying someone I think would have been a good leader of the country in policy terms as well as with a far less confrontational governing approach than what we have been forced to accept in the past several years) but reality is what it is. However, a major reason the Libs are still as politically weak as they are is that their opposition rivals are spending as much time as possible weakening them as they do attacking Harper. Which if we were dealing with traditional Conservatives in power I would have no problems with (as I have also been saying since Martin's days), the problem is Harper is anything but and I think most of you and the wider activist political community out there know this by now.
What made me so anti-NDP in recent years was the decision to place beating the Libs on an equal or greater footing than beating Harper. That to me betrayed all those principles the NDP stood for regarding progressiveness and social justice. The NDP could have gotten (and did get) more out of the weak Martin minority than they ever have with the Harper minority, and Harper has reversed a lot of what NDP policy has pushed for since the party's creation. If we want to see Harper lose, we need to see this pattern by the NDP stop. The Bloq will always go its own way, which is why I am leaving them out of this, but if the Libs and NDP were always in alliance politically against Harper instead of at odds for an extended time over most to all issues this would create a much larger voice of discontent against Harper, make it harder for the media to give Harper cover, and show the wider electorate that Harper is something so dangerous he unites those that normally do not stand together. Now THAT would make it more likely that Harper loses an election! I might add it would make the NDP look more like a responsible party fit to govern down the road as well for many soft Libs and swing voters that really don't like Harper that still aren't willing to trust the NDP with governing power, something the NDP has always had a problem with and still does according to all the poll results including the election results of the last few elections.
I have said this since Martin's minority days and I say it again! What matters most is stopping Harper if we want to have anything we recognize as Canada left! Therefore, the Libs and NDP need to stop this infighting and be mutually supportive until Harper is brought down. Then, once that happens then you can go back to the more usual distrust and sniping at each other and competing to win the same seats. For better or worse the electoral reality has been the Liberals are the more electable, even with the scandals that have weighed them down, so they are the party more likely to get plurality (I really don't see a majority as possible given the current political climate/dynamic out there) so work for that with a strong NDP contingent to allow for a Lib minority that must work in collaboration with the NDP to have a functioning government.
The Libs are in the bad spot they are politically speaking not just because of Harper and their own issues, but also because of Layton and the NDP too. Most Canadians that look up once in a while see this happening and figure that well if the NDP still sees the Libs as such a problem for them then Harper can't really be all that bad, it must be more rhetoric (this is btw a result of the principles first history of the NDP, people that don't follow politics closely are going to think that if he really threatened the principles the NDP stood for they would not be attacking the Libs so much but working together, which makes what the NDP says about Harper being empty political rhetoric) than substance. That is the perception this creates. Start actually acting like Harper is the far greater threat that he actually is and then it becomes more likely to defeat him. I would argue for Layton as leader/PM if I saw anything in the last few election results (the polls that counts and can be trusted most) that showed he had the better chance of being the plurality party of the two, but the results have NOT shown that no matter how well he polls as leader. Oh, one last point about leadership polling, go compare how Harper polled that way just before the election that gave him his first minority and tell me again how important that number truly is to electoral success.
DD, sorry about the rant, I know you are an honourable person with convictions, I don't mean to be derisive with this comment, it really is how this looks to me now and has all along and why. Do I want Ignatief as PM? Not really. Do I think he is fundamentally far less dangerous to the welfare of Canada as a progressive country and will do far less damage than the milder things Harper has already done? Oh hell yes! This is the problem I have with too many in the NDP about the Libs, they want to both defeat Harper and the Libs, and I simply don't see that happening, if it was going to it should have already happened, the Libs were as weakened as they could be post Adscam, yet they held on to as many seats as they did and likely will, nor did the NDP see a surge beyond their best ever seat count, which to me shows which party is the more likely to make the plurality and which is not, which is why I say the NDP needs to be the subordinate one to the Libs while getting Harper out of power, not because I inherently prefer the Libs to the NDP on any sort of ideological or partisan basis, a point I have made many times before alas to disbelieving ears too many times.
Yes, Ignatief sucks and is not a wonderful choice, but he is what we have and he is far less ugly than what we have now in that Office, and he would be far more likely to work with the NDP on progressive legislation in a minority than you will ever see out of Harper. That should be enough incentive right there to work together and stop the sniping, so why isn't it? The perfect is the enemy of the good, something I think those that bewail the state of democracy in this country and how bad the system is and how they must see a minimum commitment to reform before supporting someone could stand to remember. Harper counts on these divisions between Libs and NDPers, and it has gotten hims a few seats short of the majority he craves with all his being. We all thought he'd shown enough of his true colours when the last election came around to defeat him, instead he got more seats and almost a majority. And for those that say let him get the majority, the damage he will do with that power even for just one term will fundamentally damage the ability of any progressive agenda from being possible in the future, the cost is too high. You think what you have seen in the last five years is bad, it will pale to what a Harper majority will bring!
*prior was edited for spelling mistakes only from original post, no new content was added*
I really don't know where that came from. Do you not remember the 2008 proposed coalition? The NDP was more than willing to make common cause with the Dion Liberals to get rid of harper. It was Ignatieff who pulled the plug on that one.
And Layton took a lot of flak for the support to the Martin minority that he did give, both from the left and the right. Except for a few recent instances where Layton and the NDP showed that they were blatantly posturing, counting on Liberal cowardice to make their own rejection of harpercon evil irrelevant, has the NDP been unprincipled.
I rather think that Layton has been very mature regarding "making Parliament work," ignoring the idiotic harper/Duceppe rejection of the Martin government Throne Speech, getting concessions from Martin. All the while being accused of "propping-up the corrupt Liberals." Layton told Martin his price: stop the privatization of health care in this country. In his response, Martin showed everyone what he was made of. He rejected Layton's ultimatum, because he'd rather serve corporate profits, even at the expense of Canadians' health.
Layton was even mature and conciliatory to harper in the beginning, for which he received cat-calls from the detestable Liberals.
Nobody has come out of this looking good, but you've a hard row to hoe if you want me to believe that divisiveness among the opposition parties is all the NDP's fault.
I am not saying it is all the NDP's fault the Libs also have more than a little to do with their own problems electorally, and I never said otherwise as there is a difference between being a major factor and the only one and I said they were a major factor not even the single largest one just a major one, but reality is they are a major component to Harper's electoral success. BTW, the coalition thing is not a good example to use, and is not what I was talking about I might add, I was talking about once the Libs got plurality as has happened before in our history. I am talking about the near constant focus of the NDP to attacking the Libs at every turn to the same degree they do the Harper CPC, which helps make it look like to the less politically involved voters that there is little difference between the two when that is clearly not reality. Not to mention how much easier it makes media to present the CPC in that light as well, and not just the CPC supporting elements of media either.
We have seen time and again how our political media is far more interested in covering conflict than they are substantive issues, and the more between the Libs and NDP the more they focus on that rather than the issues actually involved, even the issues on which the sniping is based upon. Our current national political media is in large part not very good at doing much else from my observations (and others too I believe) which is another way the Harper CPC makes itself look less out of the mainstream of Canadian politics to the voters that do not follow politics as closely as partisans and those of us that are actually interested in politics for our own reasons (like process issues, thinking it is an important civic duty, that sort of non partisan person that follows politics closely).
Look, what I want to see is the two sides working together against Harper as much as possible, leaving the partisan sniping with each other at the door, until Harper is gone. I also want to see the same from the Libs, as I said before I am not a partisan of theirs and I have never liked Ignatief since he first showed up in our political scene and never wanted him as Lib leader.
Layton makes conciliatory moves when it suits his political needs to do so, but then he goes back on the attack, so don't try to make it sound like he has ever been serious at this beyond the same tactical approach Harper uses when he works with the NDP to attack the Libs. He has not shown from where I watch any serious desire to work with the Libs long term against Harper, because that would threaten his desire to supplant the Libs by letting them be seen as credible again. He has shown he does not want to give the Libs any chance to recover credibility as a viable choice, which under normal circumstances I would be fine with, but as I have said for years and years now with Harper and his CPC we are not dealing with normal circumstances!
Also, remember the timing that Martin was brought down? Kelowna had literally just been agreed to but not yet ratified, and if Layton had waited the three months that Martin had asked for Kelowna 's ratification would have happened, and instead he threw it all away. How can you argue that was anything good for progressives and aboriginals in this nation? Then there was the national child care initiative Martin appeared to also be implementing at the same time frame. But Layton could not let those happen because that might have allowed Martin to salvage some credibility and support for himself and weakened Layton's clear wishes to replace the Libs in an election. Not to mention the health care bit you mention was clearly aimed to be refused, this was noted at the time by most political observers when it happened, and it also showed Layton's unwillingness to accept that while he was in a position to make demands that didn't mean he could call all the shots, he placed Martin in a position he could not agree with at that moment, and also sold out child care nationally and Kelowna, the latter being particularly offensive given the long work that had gone into it not just by the feds but the Provinces as well.
Also, I was talking about how Layton made the Libs his primary focus for attack at the end of Martin's time (which since he was government is reasonable even if I personally think it was a bad call because of Harper in the mix, but the role of opposition is to hold government to account first after all so it was fair even if I think unwise this one time) and the first year or two after when Harper first came to power. You cannot tell me there was much basis for saying Layton was doing anything other than trying to discredit the Libs including siding with the CPC and having their operatives side with CPC operatives to trash the Libs at every chance he got in the various media forums, which I might point out also made it hard for Libs to trust Layton when the coalition notion was raised and attempted. Besides, the coalition was unlikely to have worked and clearly not going to have the support of the wider public (regardless of how well it was being trashed by the CPC, the reality is that it would have been hard to sell to the average voter that their votes didn't matter so soon after casting them which is why I believe Harper was so successful in trashing the concept and selling his misrepresentations of it as a coup when it clearly was entirely a legal option in our system), and that presupposes it would have happened in the first place, an assumption I have seen from far too many NDP partisans as a given when it never was.
Look, I am not saying the Libs don't have their own dirty laundry in all of this, that they too need to be more supportive of the NDP in this notion, but from where I sit as a partisan of neither and someone whose only concern is the removal of Harper (something I have been completely consistent about since well before he became PM, I am saying nothing I haven't said before on many occasions, as I am sure you know, and then to be dismissed as a Lib partisan as a rule too I might add) I see far more coming from the NDP side in terms of attacking their primary electoral competitor the Libs over the Harper CPC than the reverse, much of what I've seen from the Libs over the past few years has been in response to NDP attacks, not initiated by them (again, not all, but I would say the majority of as in more than half)
The reality is the NDP is not positioned to replace Harper next time out, but they are placed to split the vote enough to help Harper retain power or worse get that majority. You want to know where the comment came from, it came from reading the attacks on Ignatief and the Libs in this thread instead of keeping the focus on Harper alone, it is exactly the sort of thing that I say this nation cannot afford to have happening while Harper is in power, period. That all the evidence of actual elections shows that this is how he is hanging onto power, and *one* of the major reasons the Libs are not able to regain enough ground to actually replace him. As I have said every time I have spoken to this I am fine with business as usual between the NDP and Libs once Harper is gone, and if we were dealing with the PCPC of old I would never be making these arguments to start with, but that is my point, we are not and never have been, and the destruction Harper does to ALL of us Lib, NDP, swing centrists etc in the kind of Canada we cherish has been obvious to all of us that are politically aware and yet we still see the same old games from the NDP placing Lib Tory same old story ahead of the reality for far too long with entirely predicable results.Harper and company have said openly that they count on this dynamic Thwap, and the fact that it is that obvious and yet still going on really frustrates me beyond all end, especially when I listen to NDPers go on about how horrible Harper is. Bottom line is you helped him come to power and so long as you treat the Libs as equally threatening to you and yours as Harper and his CPC you continue to help him, that is the sad and ugly reality of the Canadian political scene. I would love it if it were different than this, but I deal with reality as it is, not as I would prefer it to be, and I wish more NDP partisans as well as the leader could do the same, which is why the frustration and yes the feeling of bitterness I have on this point.
You may think Layton has been very mature on all of this, I don't. I think he has been more opportunistic than any NDP leader I have ever seen on the federal scene and not by a small margin either, and at the worst possible time for that kind of conduct too. Part of the problem with partisans is that they always see their side/leader in the best light and those they are against in the worst light, this is as true of CPC partisans as NDP and Lib partisans too. I have watched your leader spend as much time working to discredit the Liberals as I have seen him attacking Harper and the CPC even recently, and it was worse during the first year or two of Harper's reign when it was obvious Layton had placed killing the Libs as more important than removing Harper.
He has turned the NDP from a party of principles before all else to one that places seats before all else, and it disturbs me greatly how many NDP partisans and supporters are blind to this reality or worse excuse it by saying well now they are playing the same way the Libs do and that is why Lib supporters are crying unfair (which regardless of the truth of it depending on whom it is said to misses the point, that was never the policy of the NDP federally until Layton came to power and it was never actually discussed at any NDP convention I ever saw to make that fundamental a change to the nature of the party). Yet Layton and NDP partisans still claim to be the party of principles and different for that? That hypocrisy and holier than thou attitude is not only irritating but it is also one of the reasons many swing/soft centrists are unwilling to trust the NDP with power.
I used to trust and respect the NDP for that Thwap, even voted for them more than once for that very reason, but since watching the way Layton works and how he has been able to make this change without much of a peep from within the NDP leadership nationally to this change of fundamental approach that has gone away. In many ways the past 7 years has cost me two parties as a viable choice for me to vote for. I can't vote PCPC, they no longer exist thanks to traitor MacKay, and I can't support the Layton NDP for the reasons I have already cited. The Harper CPC is anathema to me so they are right out, leaving me only the Libs or the Greens in the riding I live in.
While under other circumstances I would probably have voted Green (like many I think the Libs deserved to be reminded that they cannot act as they did under Chretien and not pay a political price for it, which is why I said under normal circumstance I would be fine with what I see Layton trying to do with the Libs), they also are not positioned to have a shot at replacing Harper and his CPC, so that leaves me only one place to vote, Liberal (I really do not like feeling I have no opetions I might add, that *REALLY* rankles me personally). That does not mean they are my actual preference currently (as I said I am a swing voter, my support changes from election to election depending on issues and people and circumstances involved) on a political philosophy basis, leadership basis or indeed any other basis than the one I have already stated, that they *are* the most likely party to replace the Harper CPC given their seat numbers and the political dynamic we have seen to date.
One more thing, I would note that the NDP under Layton have yet to come close to beating Ed Broadbent's seat count, and he got that 43 versus the current 37 in a Parliament with 295 seats versus the 308 currently in place, and Layton has not exceeded either Broadbent's voting percentage or even raw number of votes cast. That shows me Layton is not seen as a preference for PM despite his good personal leadership numbers, for that matter the fact he tracks well ahead of the support for the NDP itself speaks volumes about the actual chances they currently have to even replace the Libs as official Opposition, the odds are better that the BQ would do that currently. So this is why I see what Layton and the NDP have been doing as ultimately a major assist to Harper and as one major component for the Libs to be as weak as they currently are in popular support.
Sorry about the length and the moving this to here Thwap, I wanted to give you a proper (in my case that means detailed) comment to my thinking and reasoning, and the character limit at DD's place made that more difficult. Please understand that while I may strongly disagree with you about this that does not take away one whit my overall respect and regard for your writings and beliefs. We do after all tend to agree on a lot more than we disagree I would say given what I have seen you write over the years, and I would hope you would agree that the same is true for you with me aside from this area of disagreement. The fact I think you are wrong on this does not mean you are wrong on most things, unlike some I am well capable of separating one area of disagreement from others nor to assume that because I think someone is way wrong on one important matter means they must be flawed in their thinking in all. I am not a member of the CPC partisans in the blogosphere after all...*weary chuckle* I hope you are able to accept this in that spirit even if as I expect you think I am quite wrong about it and where we do agree do so without this being in the way. I know I can and I have no reason to believe you can't either, any more than I have of DD where he and I have disagreed on this argument (which we have on more than one occaison in the past).