Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The amendment might be a mistake

So the amendment just demands progress reports. That seems like an offer the Conservatives can't refuse, and the budget will pass. How could the Conservatives justify NOT giving these reports?

If the implementation falls short (I'm just speculating ;-) the opposition will beat down the Conservatives with each report. If a report is bad enough, a confidence vote will trigger an election. Sounds great for Iggy and the opposition, right?

Unless the reports are good.

If the stimulus works, then this is great campaigning for the Conservatives that could deliver that majority and rescue Mr. Harper. What am I worrying for, anyway - if the stimulus worked we should all be happy.

Although... what if the reports are good, and the economy isn't? What's the chance that Mr. Flaherty would deliver misleading numbers? I mean again, having been caught already?

This ploy to force Mr. Harper to expose any gaps in implementation of the budget may work. I hope it does. As each report comes out it must be scrutinized and verified. The Harper Conservatives have been less than truthful in the recent past, and it doesn't seem to hurt them at the polls as much as I'd expected. So, I wouldn't expect the Conservatives to lose much support if they exaggerate success in forthcoming reports.

The only good side to this amendment is a possible 'out' for Iggy to avoid responsibility for the budget, e.g. "I wouldn't have taken these chances, or screwed up the implementation," etc. But the NDP and BQ will (rightly?) point out the Libs had the chance to vote it down and didn't. It may work, it may not - it'll all depend on the mood of the swing voters when the time comes.


  1. "What's the chance that Mr. Flaherty would deliver misleading numbers? I mean again, having been caught already?"

    I think we can count on more misrepresentation from Flaherty. Sure people who are paying close attention have 'caught him' but the media hasn't really held the governments feet to the fire on this. The media did not focus on this aspect of their economic update, more on the removal of political party funding, pay equity, the birth of the coalition etc. I suppose a detailed look at the balance sheet doesn't really make a great byline.
    So I don't feel like the electorate as a whole has 'caught' the CPC in their book cooking because they haven't really been informed of it. They have heard about it from opposition party rhetoric but there hasn't really been a lot of objective reporting on this.
    As we all know that when faced with the truth Harper turns to spin and propaganda campaigns to shape conventional knowledge to his liking. So while they have been confronted with the truth about their budgetary lies, their approach has always been to drown out the truth rather than alter the position, I don't see them changing their 'winning' strategy.

  2. This is a comment I posted on another blog, but it fits well with your post as well so I am just re-presenting it, with an additional note:

    I expect the amendment to be voted based upon support by the Liberals and the Conservatives.

    I’m not enthusiastic, but I appreciate the stance politically, given the current political context.

    I do think any election at this point would be regarded by the public as more political games, which Ignatieff and the Liberals could be labeled with in addition to Harper (especially when the ads start flying). And the Canadian public would never hear the end of the griping about a coalition should they be granted the government, and I suspect the coalition might not prove to be stable for long (I’ve long suspected that, btw, not a new thought).

    The one positive aspect I see in this response is it does provide a lever for renewed pressure on the Conservatives to deliver and can be used to keep their efforts in the spotlight as the economy continues along. People will debate its effectiveness, but the reality is it will more than anything else the Liberals have done recently drive a media narrative that otherwise would not exist. I can imagine the lead-in and follow-up reporting now as every progress status date comes and goes.

    Note: This strategy also focuses the efforts of the Liberals and the media. It will make it much harder to lie and distort the picture, as Flaherty loves to do. Money is either released or it isn't. And if it isn't, it will be reported.

    And - addressing your main point - it might actually work, which is what government is supposed to be about at the end of the day. I believe, political cynicism aside, that Ignatieff may actually want to make government work as intended with one government and a vigilant opposition. That speaks volumes in itself.

    Moreover, it speaks to a leader and a party confident they can prevail on their ideas and policies in the next election, regardless of whether it comes during a recession or after the worst of the economic downturn has passed. More than anything, that is the tone that is projected these days. And I like that tone.

    I just don't think one should consider it a mistake if the budget works. It would be good for Canada to get through this economic roughness in good shape, and that is what it is all about ultimately. I think Ignatieff understands that, from what he said today. That is an attitude of confidence.

  3. I don't think there is any risk of the economy getting better. Whatever the worst case scenario is that you've heard, it will be worse than that. (5-10 year depression, at least)

  4. There isn't any need to worry, the amendment is a no lose situation (Electorially/Politically) for the Liberal party, It provides a quarterly opportunity for the opposition to...

    1: Point out how awfully the Tories are implimenting the stimulas. Even if it works there is a zero % chance that it'll work perfectly and I've yet to see a politician of any ideological stripe that couldn't find some way to turn a molehill into a mountain, and

    2: provides quarterly opportunities to potentially dump Harper from power, and

    3: allows them to wear the "accountability" cap.

    The worst case scenario is that the Conservatives (undeservingly or otherwise) use it to try and say "look how great we're doing" in which case any opposition parties can just say that their lying in the update.

    Even if it fails to pass (the amendment) it's a club that the Liberals can use against whomever voted against it as that party then becomes "The Party that voted for less accountable government".

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