Sunday, March 21, 2010

The harpercons CAN be defeated

Sentiments have been expressed numerous places that it would be unwise to force an election over the harpercons' complicity in torture and contempt for parliamentary democracy.

I disagree.

I believe that the Canadian electorate CAN be energized on these issues, if the opposition parties put them front-and-center in a campaign about the soul of Canadian democracy. I don't believe that the harpercons' rationalizations and lies can withstand lengthy scrutiny. Pretty much all their MPs are morons, as are their cabinet ministers. Contrary to the barking psychopaths of the "Blogging Tories," Canada is not a conservative country (at least according to their retrograde ideas about what "conservatism" means). Canadians are pretty centrist people, and things like torture and blatant contempt for democratic oversight wouldn't sit well with them were the opposition parties to hammer away on these issues consistently.

Some of the doubts among the Liberals (who constitute the bulk of the opposition strength against the harpercons outside of Quebec) about the defeat-ability of the harpercons stems from the disastrous results of Ignatieff's election threats in late-August 2009. But I can't emphasize enough that Ignatieff's gambit was the most ill-conceived, strategically-challenged political gamesmanship that we've seen in years. Ignatieff came completely out of nowhere with that election talk. Parliament had recessed at the beginning of the summer with no election threats from the Liberals. The farcical EI negotiations had sputtered to their unsatisfactory close with no outraged talk of forcing an election from the Liberals. A strategy session had ended with no enthusiasm for an election amongst the majority of the Liberals in attendance. And then Ignatieff emerged from some closed-door session telling harper and Canada that he was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it anymore. Clearly, Ignatieff was going to defeat the government and force an election based on NOTHING. Even I didn't think an election called under such circumstances could be winnable.

But now we have an issue. The second self-interested abuse of the power of prorogation. Contempt of parliament. Covering-up complicity in torture. These are issues that could bury the harpercons. Even the Canadian media, from Andrew Coyne on the right to all parts leftward find the harpercons' behaviour distasteful.

What of the economy? What of it? harper can't claim personal responsibility for Canada's financial sector avoiding the worst of the international financial crisis, because evidence shows that he was just getting started repeating the same disastrous policies of deregulation that sank Wall Street and London and much of the rest of the world. He can't claim any great management of the economy given that his lacklustre stimulus package, when combined with his and Flaherty's moronic tax-cuts have combined to produce still-high unemployment and relatively large deficits. A sensible analysis shows that harper has nothing to crow about regarding his economic competence.

The Liberals and NDP don't have to come up with some formal coalition platform to defeat harper. All they'd have to do is agree not to run competitively against each other. They should apply "strategic voting" to their own national campaigns. Stay the fuck away from ridings where the other is the incumbent or a strong second to the harpercon yahoo, and focus their campaign attacks on the pro-torture, anti-birth control, pro-prisons, soft-on-crime, contemptuous of parliament harpercons.

Defeat them as soon as possible and let's get this nightmare over with.


The Mound of Sound said...

Yes Harper can be defeated. He's run an absolutely awful government, rife with secrecy, abuse, betrayal and scandal. Harper can be defeated just as soon as the Libs give Canadians some reason to vote for them. That they continue to languish a few points shy of Harper's moribund numbers says more about the Liberals than it does Harper.

Right now the best thing Steve has going for him is Mike. And if Steve had to choose an opposition leader he couldn't come up with a better choice than someone who supports his dream of permanently shifting Canada's political centre to the right.

Harper can be defeated. No question. Just not by the clown car that is the opposition's front bench.

thwap said...

I thought about the fact that defeating harper would mean making Ignatieff PM, and i thought about the futility of it all.

But we have to take a stand on these issues of torture and contempt for Parliamentary democracy. We have to punish the criminals.

Whether Ignatieff is so incompetent as to even screw this up is something I do worry about.

Malcolm+ said...

Two not insignificant problems here.

First, as to the means. Electoral coalitions and so-called "strategic" voting DO NOT WORK. They are based on the manifestly false assumption that New Democrats are unanimously prepared to vote Liberal and that Liberals are unanimously disposed to support New Democrats.

Here in reality, voter behaviour is complex. Absent candidates of their own preferred party, a significant number of voters will simply stay home. The remainder will split (albeit unevenly) among most if not all the other parties on the ballot.

Using the last election results as a baseline, it would have taken an average 70% NET retention for a Liberal / NDP / Green deal to defeat a Conservative government. That's NET, not GROSS. If, for example, 10% of NDP and Green voters in a Liberal - Conservative marginal seat actually chose to vote Conservative (not an unrealistic possibility according to the Canada Election Stucies), the Liberal would need a gross retention of 80% (ie, the net 70% plus an additional 10%). If a further 10% of NDP / Green supporters stayed home (also more than credible according to the CES), that 80% net retention is virtually impossible. In Conservative - NDP marginals, it is even more dire since Liberals are more likely than New Democrats and Greens to have the Cons as their second choice.

Sorry, Thwap, but out here in the real world, voters tend not to "do as they're told."

Secondly, since Michael Ignatieff actually supports all the key policies of the Harper government (including a willingness to see people tortured), I fail to see the point of making a different right winger Prime Minister.

thwap said...


Thanks for the numbers. But 1.) I'm not recommending "telling" the voters to do anything. That's why I pointedly avoided advocating a formal coalition or an agreement not to run against the others' candidates. I simply said that both parties should not campaign AGAINST EACH OTHER.

Furthermore, while there's obviously some merit in looking at past voter behaviour to get a general sense of the Canadian electorate, I prefer to speculate based on ISSUES and actual STRATEGIES rather than robotically extrapolating past results into the future.

2.) Yes, Ignatieff as the most likely PM following the fall of harper makes one depressed about the futility of it all. But what you're basically saying is "They're all corrupt so let's just throw up our hands in despair."

harper needs to be punished. No ifs, ands, or buts. he needs to be punished for what he did and what he's doing. The Canadian electorate needs to be forced to weigh in on whether they feel their democracy (such as it is) is worth saving, or whether we'll resign ourselves to the complete sham that is USian politics.

Ignatieff has said many worrying things, but he hasn't had a chance to DO anything yet. And if he becomes PM and does bad things, we'll punish him like we should do to harper.

If this is all too much effort for Canadians, then we can stop right now i suppose and tell harper that he can shit on Parliament and that Canada can go down as a nation that tolerates torture and other war crimes because not enough of us give a shit.

I'm not that defeated yet to imagine that it's all a waste of time.