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The oft-missed point

Why is it that every time the Conservatives bend to accommodate the Liberal position, it is portrayed by bloggers and the media as Dion folding?

Dion won on Afghanistan. Dion won on the budget. But in spite of this, people don't see it for what it is: a man of principle forcing his opponent's hand. I don't know if it is caused by too many latent leadership ambitions, or simply by people who think politics should be about adversity and about power rather than about policy or principle.

The Conservative party put forward a motion calling for an indefinite Iraqesque war in Afghanistan and asserted that the motion would be a confidence vote. The Liberals responded with an alternative motion and, after some deliberation, the Conservatives met them in the middle. How is the Conservative government backing down from its position and an assertion of a confidence vote based on that position anything but a win for the Liberals under Dion?

Similarly, in yesterday's budget, Flaherty offered nothing of substance to anyone other than one more gift to the well-off with the Registered Tax-Free Savings Account, only useful to those who don't need it. It is full of pitifully small short term investments, but it introduces little of any substance. If the Conservatives were confident that the Liberals were going to support the budget no matter what, it would have been a full-on, big spending, tax cutting, deficit-generating Conservative budget like their last two. The reality is that they did not have that confidence, and they were forced to provide a largely meaningless budget. How is it a loss for the Liberals when the Conservatives have to, yet again, bend to the Liberals?

I agree with the assertion that Canadians don't want an election, however people are largely misinterpreting this statement. It isn't that people don't want to go to the polls. Quite the contrary, I would argue. Many people are itching to give their party a majority. The problem is nearly everyone acknowledges that if we go into an election right now, the parliament we will get at the other end will be remarkably similar to the one we have, barring unforeseen RCMP investigation announcements, and so the question becomes: what's the point? There won't be a general appetite for an election until Canadians come to the conclusion that it will actually change the status quo in parliament.

In short, I think Canadians are tired of minority governments, but have not decided who to give the reins of power to. As long as Liberals continue to fail to recognise Dion's leadership for what it is -- true leadership, rather than dictatorship, a concept Canadians are so unfamiliar with that they no longer recognise it -- we will continue to be in this national political limbo.

Posted at 07:04 on February 27, 2008

This entry has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.

The probability of deficit | leadership politics | New Highway 7 a total misallocation of funds


Mound of Sound writes at Wed Feb 27 12:38:12 EST 2008...

Dion prevailed on Afghanistan? Read his principled policy speech just one year ago and compare that with the deal he accepted this past week. He didn't win, he folded. I think Dion is simply reinforcing his public image as a weak, feckless leader.


DLF (disgruntledliberalfemale.blogspot.com/) writes at Wed Feb 27 17:37:39 EST 2008...

This is the issue with the New Conservative Government. Politics in Canada has traditionally been about differences in policy, principles and uniting the center.

PMSH is interested only in ideology, us v. them and targeted and strategic vote plying.

I really, really don't understand why people in this country see compromise about any issue as capitulation. Its as if we've been drinking Karl Rove's Kool-Aid and believing CTV's lies about what leadership is. I don't know what M. Dion can do to change this, when so many of the party hacks don't understand the way politics are changing.

Liberals are talking to each other in unprecedented ways and once the baby-boomers start letting the next generation lead (Hello, Hillary Clinton!) they're going to see that the structures of power start to change.

I have a friend who was involved in university parliament, but quit because too many women got involved. I said to him, "Sexist, much?" His answer shocked me.

"Politics is no fun anymore with all the 'chicks' involved. They want to turn the cutthroat power plays of politics into a helping profession, like nursing or teaching. Where's the power in that?" He also added that he thought that was Dion's weakness; that he is too collaborative for politics.

And I think that's sad.


David Graham (cdlu.net) writes at Thu Feb 28 08:49:12 EST 2008...

Mound of Sound,

Absolutely he did. He forced the Conservatives to set an end date and back down on their position, approach NATO and generally change their tack.

DLF, I agree completely. Politics needs to be about policy not about politicking. We are in severe need of the very kind of leadership Dion offers, and people need to start recognising that.

ottlib has a similar and interesting take.

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