Monday, April 14, 2008

The Dion dilemma

With polls showing the Liberals and Conservatives in an apparent dead-heat, it's disconcerting as a Conservative supporter to ponder what those polls might disclose if Dion was not the Liberal leader.

There aren't too many columnists out there still trying to paint Stephane Dion as being effective. Even the traditional left-leaning pundits seem to be jumping ship. I suppose you can only support an illusion up to a point.

Chantel Hebert thinks that Dion blew it when he sold out on the environment issue. And now Dion is facing an even bigger test, with the immigration bill being tied to the budget, and thereby forcing him to either take a stand or cut and run once again.

But the immigration issue is so entrenched in Liberal folklore that it would be difficult for Dion to sit this one out. In two different newspapers columnist Angelo Persichilli outlines the dilemma - and the hypocrisy of their so-called self-acclaimed title as Champions of Immigration.

In the Sun (Will Immigration Issue bring down the Tories?), Persichilli states:

Will the issue of immigration do what the environment, crime bill and Afghanistan failed to do? Will the debate over immigration help Canadians get rid of this dysfunctional Parliament?

The answer seems positive. However, it seemed positive in the past but, in the end, one opposition party or another chickened out. This time it looks like the Liberals are tired of their new bend-and-run fitness program on Parliament Hill every time there's a confidence vote and they may actually want to get rid of the Harper government.

So what they are talking about?

All of them know the immigration system is in a complete state of chaos. It's also clear this deterioration took place mainly under the Liberals' watch since 1993. They know what the problems are, but they don't know how to solve them.

They know Canada's economy needs tradespeople, but they don't know how to let them in. They know criminals abuse the system, but they don't know how to kick them out. They let highly educated immigrants in, but they don't know how to find them jobs other than driving taxis in Toronto. They want to help refugees from around the world settle in Canada but don't know how, forcing them to join the huge ranks of "undocumented" workers...

He goes on to point out that only immigration lawyers and consultants are benefitting from the present chaotic and sluggish system.

And then comes the clincher:

...In reality, the Liberals are not looking for a debate that would expose their shortcomings on this issue, but a platform to revitalize the myth about the Conservatives being against immigrants and them the champions of the poor and the weak. And, with this image in mind, throw (Dion) Quixote into the campaign.

Persichilli's Hill Times piece is even more revealing - Liberals now thing of June election:

..Last week, at a quasi-emergency meeting of the Liberal shadow Cabinet, the need to go to the polls as soon as possible was debated, recognized, and there was a general consensus that the Conservative immigration reform plan would be the trigger. According to Liberal sources, Canadians should go to the polls in June. This seems to be the plan.

After voting down the NDP motion last week to force the government to extrapolate the immigration issue from the budget bill, the bill will be debated in committee. At the Citizenship and Immigration Committee, Liberals are going to present their amendments to the reforms presented by Minister of Immigration Diane Finley. Liberals are very confident that these amendments will be approved with the help of the other opposition parties and sent back to the House for a vote.

Of course, the government could choose to accept them and change the budget bill in the House. If it does, the government is safe and the Liberals are stuck with Stéphane Dion for the summer, at least. However, in answer to a question asked by Mike Duffy last week during his afternoon Mike Duffy Live show, the Immigration Minister Finley said clearly that the government has no intention of changing anything and the Liberal amendments will be rejected. This means that the Liberals will vote the government down; at least that's what they were saying last week.

If the Liberal plan holds—and the "if" is necessary considering the twists of the last few months—the final vote against the budget will take place during the first half of May and Canadians would go to the polls in June.

"Of course the best for the Liberals," a party strategist told The Hill Times last week, "would be the removal of Dion before the vote and, even if this development is highly unlikely, it doesn't mean that some Liberals have completely given up their hopes..."

The Liberal party's biggest enemy is not the Harper government, but rather their own in-fighting and problems with moles, which are apparent with the Quebec wing's inner turmoil and with comments like this:

...Dion seems to be convinced that the only development that could save his leadership is a national election. However, even if an election was widely welcomed a few months ago by the majority of Liberal MPs and strategists, there are now doubts. The polls are so bad that many MPs, even in Toronto, are fearing for their own seats. Some are concerned that even Etobicoke-Lakeshore is not a sure bet.

"I'm not saying that Michael Ignatieff is not going to win. I'm only saying that he has to work hard to keep it," a Liberal insider told The Hill Times...

And here's the conundrum:

...And that's why they are using immigration to defeat the government. They, the Liberals, created the mess, they failed to correct it, and they don't have a plan solve it. Still they believe that the old antics about this issue ("Conservatives are racist and we are the good guys") will be enough to bring them back to power or, as a Liberal strategist said half-jokingly last week, spare them the humiliation, 15 years after the Conservative experience, from becoming "the party of two."

L. Ian MacDonald points out the further hypocrisy of the Liberal's opposition to changes in the Immigration policy - Harper is playing truth or dare on the immigration bill:

...Then the Liberal deputy leader, Michael Ignatieff, turned to refugee claimants and determination, always a hot-button issue. Under the previous Liberal government, he noted, "the queue for refugee claimants had been effectively reduced to zero."

He continued: "Under the Conservative government, the backlog has ballooned to nearly 60,000 and is said to be heading to 100,000 by 2012."

Ignatieff concluded: "What does the government have against refugees?"

Well, nothing. The real question is the reverse of the one posed by Iggy. If there are 60,000 refugee claimants today, how come there were none two years ago?

The answer is that since there are 800,000 people lined up at the front door, 60,000 people are trying to get in through the back door of refugee claims. The system isn't working in the front, and has been systematically abused by lawyers and claimants in the back. And everyone knows it. Lawyers for Karlheinz Schreiber could file a refugee claim on the grounds he would be tortured by his jailers if extradited to Germany.

The Liberals are trying to whip ethnic communities into a frenzy largely over the discretion the bill gives the minister to instruct her department to give priority to immigrants whose job skills are needed in the Canadian workforce. "Cherry-picking," Dion called it. Imagine, prioritizing immigration according to the demands of our economy. Aha. Queue jumping. Putting the economy ahead of family unification and refugee claims, sensitive issues in multicultural communities....

In view of all this, it boggles the mind that Liberal brand continues to stay afloat nationally, and even be on top in Ontario.

All of which makes me wonder what would happen if the Liberals finally did somehow get it together? Would they be back in government?

I can only hope their problems last for a long, long time.


Gayle said...

"All of which makes me wonder what would happen if the Liberals finally did somehow get it together? Would they be back in government?"

Of course they would. Why do you think Harper started on the personal attacks almost the instant Dion was elected to the leadership? Anyone who pays attention knows that all the Dion quotes used in these attacks were taken out of context. Harper well knows he has to attack Dion because attacking the liberals gets him nowhere, as recent events in Ontario between the premier and the federal finance minister bear out.

I am not going to get into media bias with you, particularly in light of the fact that many people here actually think CTV is biased for the liberals (snort), but I would point out you rely on two OPINION pieces here Joanne. And look, at least Persichilli relies on those notorious anonymous liberal insiders for some of his opinions. He also relies on this little nugget:

"The polls are so bad that many MPs, even in Toronto, are fearing for their own seats".

which is kind of funny given your opening comments on this post. I think the recent by-elections put considerable doubt into his assertion that the liberals in TO actually fear losing their seats.

Of course, MacDonald is a well known conservative so his opinion must be considered in that context.

At this point in time Harper does not have to do anything to attack the liberals as they are doing that all on their own. All Harper has to do is float stories like reopening the constitution to flame the Quebec liberals unease with Dion and sit back and watch the fireworks. Once the liberals get their act together, Harper is toast. He has hit his ceiling. His only hope is to try to drive liberals to the NDP because they will not go to Harper.

Brian said...

Polls are polls and a lot depends upon how the question is phrased.

I think that part of the reason the polls are stagnant is because no one really wants or believes there will be an imminent election.

To date none of the ranting and raging from Dion has resonated with the the public.

On the immigration issue ... I doubt most non-immigrant voters are aware how the Liberals have put family reunification to the front of the queue and the implications for health care , social services and taxes. The only place the Liberal immigration policy sells is with the 83% of immigrant voters who consistently vote Liberal.

If the writ is dropped , Dion will become the Liberal front man , at which time many voters will become just a slight bit concerned about turning this guy loose on Canada.

Christian Conservative said...

One thing to remember... there's no way that the Liberal insiders will ALLOW Dion to win. Remember how leaky the Martin team was in the 06 eleciton? You can bet that Dion's campaign will be leaking like a sive throughout the campaign, and a large portion of his Quebec team will be sitting on their hands to ensure a loss.

In the immortal words of Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry", "So you gotta ask yourself, 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya... PUNK?"

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but there is no way the Libs will get back into power with Dion at the helm. Once an election is called, that's when most people start to pay attention. Once Dion is out there, I think most people would not feel confident in his ability to be a prime minister. Dion looks like a mouldy piece of cheese next to Harper. So, bring on an election and watch the Conservatives' numbers go up.

Barb in Wpg.

Brian said...

" ... In the immortal words of Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry", "So you gotta ask yourself, 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya... PUNK?" ... "

Another of Dirty Harry's comments really applies to Dion : "A man's gotta know his limitations".

Dion's problem is he does not seem to know his limitations !

Platty said...

Could the Liberals be back if they got their act together Jo?

Could be, of course, we will never know as long as Dion is leader of the party.

And Dions problems do not all stem from PMSH raising the question of his ability to lead the Liberal party, Dion has given Canadians more than enough reason all on his own.

..fact that many people here actually think CTV is biased for the liberals (snort),...

Only the knuckle draggers would think that Gayle.

Anonymous said...

I can think of one thing that would guarantee an election.

Propose a bill to do a full forensic audit on all Liberal payola scandals:
The Gun registry

Of course such an audit should also include a Revenue Canada Net Worth audit on all key liberal players.

That would trip a non-confidence motion in a heartbeat, because the libs know it would turn up enough dirt to kill the party for at least one generation.

Brian said...

Speaking of audits , most people are not aware that last spring , Harper introduced legislation which allows the Auditor General access to "off-book" foundations and Crown Corporations.

This is a potential "mother lode" of corruption and scandal.

It is interesting the Auditor General has been rather quite lately , and the longer the Liberals delay an election , the more likely something from the Auditor General may explode in the Liberals faces.

kursk said...

Anonymous..what makes you think that it won't happen, when the Conservatives get their much deserved majority?

I count myself amongst the millions of Canadians who would like to know where the money the Liberal Party of Canada stole whilst they were in govt.

..still waiting for the return of $40 million from adscam..

I never see Gayle post on the criminals in the Liberal party..any idea how many more of your heroes would go to jail if a proper investigation was done?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Only the knuckle draggers would think that Gayle.

Bingo! Well done, Platty.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

You can bet that Dion's campaign will be leaking like a sive throughout the campaign, and a large portion of his Quebec team will be sitting on their hands to ensure a loss.

Very interesting... So the best thing for the Liberals would be to go ahead and cut their losses by forcing an election, and then just spend money and effort in ridings that they feel they can realistically hold onto. Then Dion will be forced to hold a leadership review or convention, and the process of rebuilding begins. (?)

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that the Liberal
brand IS afloat Joanne.

I do believe that in fact that brand is being floated not by the Liberals but by their Liberal MSM friends.

I also believe they're hiding the truth...which is that Harper's way ahead of Dion.

Don't tell me you and your bloggers have fallen for the MSM hype?

Here's an idea how about we spend equal time talking and motivating folks on the merits of Harper's government instead of the continual drone and attention paid to the liberal lemmings?

The fact that we spend so much time on Liberals via conservative blogs really bugs me.

Anonymous said...

The KEY and most important statistic in the political opinion polls is the UNDECIDED or REFUSED TO ANSWER. Note carefully - this number is NOT revealed. And this is the only number that is important for political strategists and pundits.

The poll results they do publish are for DECIDED voters only. Let us say that there were 1000 interviews done. From past experience there would be at minimum 20% undecided or refused to answer (as in none of your business).

If the undecided is more than 20% that can be construed as flux or momentum one way or the other.

Until the undecided/refused statistics are included in any of these polls consider them as just headline grabbing media ploy tools and political/media/pollster shysterism.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

The fact that we spend so much time on Liberals via conservative blogs really bugs me.

What would you rather talk about?

Gayle said...

Oh yes, that horrible liberal media bias raises its ugly head again. Of course, that is the ONLY possible reason for the polling results. It cannot possibly be that people simply do not like Harper.

When are you people going to ask Harper and his cons to be accountable for their own actions? It never ceases to amaze me how some people demand accountability from everyone else, and yet give the cons a pass.

I will leave you to your delusions.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Shorter Gayle: Liberals good; Conservatives bad.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Amen.

wilson said...

The 'Cons are racist' theme won't fly.
Thru the Lib leadership campaign, Iggy and Rae both called for cherry picking new Canadians to fill worker shortages.
Libs walk a very fine line here, that IMO they will have trouble with, having to back track at most every turn.

IMO Dion's dilemma, is the numbers reflect an increase in support in ridings they aleady hold (Ontario) and support in the ROC falling off.
Yet the illusion that they are neck in neck may produce a net loss of seats, not a gain.
Go ahead, and say it ain't so Gayle; but the battle will be won or lost outside of Toronto and Alberta.

If the best the Libs can do is paint Cons as evil, and produce a campaign platform of stolen Dipper ideas from 2004 (Green Mortgages), it's over for the Liberals.

Liberals can huff and puff, but Conservative 'actions' speak louder than Liberal words:
recent examples of popular actions

-Saying NO to the US take over of Canadian space tec (something the Libs never did)
-Taking action against militant activists, standing behind sealers

wilson said...

''It cannot possibly be that people simply do not like Harper.''

That's right Gayle, because Libloggers and those in the media who have strong Liberal ties hate Harper, the whole world does too.

When people are polled on leadership,
their personal like/dislikes are a factor in their answer.
Dion polls behind Jack, what's that tell yah?
Why would a 'hated bully' get 3 times the approval numbers of Dion?

Alberta Girl said...

I NEVER read the Edmonton Journal as I don't get it delivered and being out in the boonies of eastern Alberta, it seems rather irrelevent when I can get news from other sources.

However, the other day, I happened to be in Edmonton and was reading the paper and the headline

"Tories, Liberals in dead heat according to new poll"

So I read the very short little blurb and find out the Tories are still at 35? and the Libs have dropped to 30...

Dead Heat.....hmmmmmm

And Gayle insists there is no left wing bias in the media, although this knucledragger would vehemently disagree. One just has to look at all the pseudo scandals directed at the Tories and the amount of play they have compared to similiar faux-pas by the libs and the NDP.

I agree with many of the commenters that Harper has way more support than these waffling polls suggest. The questions are never given and that arouses suspicion as it is VERY easy to frame the question to get the answer one wants.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I do agree with many people here that being polled in an election can elicit quite a different response from a non-election period.

Anonymous said...

Mik Nanos was on MDL last week and said the "refused to answer" group in polls was typically 80+%. The other consideration is when and how the polls are done. If its a phone poll done during working hours, then by definition you won't get many people with a job to respond. Likewise, street corner polls will be restricted to the daytime shopping set, and a small percentage of downtown workers who have a reason to be out of the office and are willing to stop to be pestered.
Polls generally represent the opinion of a definable subset of society, i.e. those people who are at home during the day or evening with nothing better to do than to talk to a pollster.

Chuckercanuck said...

what? what? what?

Let me tell you what happens here in Quebec.

CROP and Leger put out polls of Quebecker's voter intentions. They poll 1,200+ Quebeckers. Those polls have been largely consistent for the past year. They almost always differ from the nation-wide polls that have samplings of 200 - 400 Quebecers.

So what do Crop and Leger show? Tories between 26 - 30% (30% recently). Grits at 17 - 20%.

If you look at the others, the results are much more "dead-heat".

"Dead-heat" is only accurate because the Tories are hot and the Grits are dead.

I can't wait for an election - I have a whole grab bag of anti-Dream Team stuff to dump on the Grits the minute the writ is dropped.

maryT said...

How many MPs are in the HofC, for any party, that got more votes than all their opposition candidates together. Not too many of them are there because they got the majority of votes cast. Even Bob Rae didn't win the voters of his riding, when the majority stayed home. How safe is Dion's riding.
If the liberals would have defeated the govt 18 mos ago, we would now be into the last few months of a Harper majority and Dion would be gone. By abstaining and leaving the room the libs have made fools of themselves, and made Dion more pathetic.
Bringing down the govt over immigration is a no brainer. Liberal failures to make sure those promising financial support for family reunification and failing to provide it will come up.
I want dna proof that a person is family, taken at point of landing, not in some other country.
I want all those with deportation orders against them out of my country yesterday.
I want all those who have broken our laws out yesterday.
Anyone arriving without papers should be sent back the same day.
Lets go after the lawyers who manipulate the system, to keep their paycheques coming.
We need a law setting minimum and maximum payments for court appointed lawyers, and time allowed, to settle any case.
And I want legal immigrants granted some kind of protection for exposing threats, intimidation, and requests for money, to keep family members in their home country safe.
I think a majority of canadians are tired of the free ride these wannabe canadians are getting.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

"Dead-heat" is only accurate because the Tories are hot and the Grits are dead.

Chucker, I might borrow that one sometime. Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

"what would you like to talk about?"

Do you really have to ask?

Is there nothing of value to talk up with the CPC? Nothing at all?

How about all of the stuff the MSM is missing? The stuff you say is biased...well, unbias it and start promoting...why leave it up to the MSM??

Joanne (True Blue) said...

How about all of the stuff the MSM is missing?

Here you go. Harper's accomplishment's by Sandy.

Anonymous said...

"there you go?"

Yep, Joanne I've seen Sandy's list of the Harper government's accomplishments.

It's deserving of one or two lines on your blog and Dion gets how many?

Either you've fallen for the MSM spin of the "neck and neck" polls or you really don't think the Harper accomplishments are discussion worthy?

Remember that the polls and pundits were all WRONG last election and re: the by-elections.

How about we spin Harper into a majority instead of wasting time in lemming land?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

How about we spin Harper into a majority instead of wasting time in lemming land?

And how do you recommend we go about doing that? Do you have a plan or a list of topics you wish to explore?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

O.K. How about this:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper used an unexpected stop in Winnipeg to announce that his government is targeting car thieves in new legislation to be introduced in Ottawa on Monday.

Under the current Criminal Code, auto thieves are usually charged with theft over $5,000. But car theft is not a specific crime under current laws. The prime minister said he hopes new laws will impose harsher penalties on auto thieves and give prosecutors the tools they need to charge individuals and organized criminals specifically for crimes related to vehicle thefts. ...

More here.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Harper said the total costs of auto thefts to Canadians is more than $1.6 billion dollars a year, including policing and court costs, accident-related injury costs, and higher insurance premiums.

"So even if you've never had your car stolen, you are paying for cars that are stolen," Harper said.

Gabby in QC said...

"Do you have a plan or a list of topics you wish to explore?"

Joanne, I admire your patience and forbearance.
If Anonymous has a list of topics s/he does not find being discussed here, there are some alternatives:
1. start her/his own blog
2. visit other blogs
3. "get stuffed!" as the Air Farce character Jock MacBile played by John Morgan used to say.

Don't you just love it when guests come over and try to rearrange the furniture in your own house?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Don't you just love it when guests come over and try to rearrange the furniture in your own house?

Ha-ha! I guess I always like to keep an open mind regarding topic ideas, but yes, I do have a say where the furniture ends up. ;)

Anonymous said...

The poll numbers HAVE been cooked,
but not for the reasons bandied about here.
Bob Rae now has his seat in the house, the scandal a week campaign, promoted by our un-biased MsM, has run its course.
(and failed miserably I might add)
The problem for Libs is..DION..
he has a large debt, and has stated LOUDLY he won't go quietly. The liberal party structure, allows "the leader" to do, just about anything he wants, including staying on as leader INDEFINATLY..!
Remember the fuss when insiders thought it time for Chretien to retire, and he didn't...!
The polls are for DION's consideration, if he can be convinced to force an election, and lose, then, and only then can Liberals DEMAND a leadership review leading to a convention.
The MsM are showing their true colours, and who they really work for...that being the Desmaris clan
(Mcguinty brothers, Rae brothers, Cretien, and daughter, Pm Martin and his father, Mulroney, Moe Strong)and a legion of others from all political parties, all with their hands in the pocket of Power Corp.
When Dion flops and Rae takes over all will be well in Liberal land again.

Möbius said...

I think we need more discussion on:

1) cats, spawn of Satan?
2) why Harper hates cats so much?
3) why are Cylons so hot?

OK, so my cat has been pissing me off lately.....

Gabby in QC said...

"2) why Harper hates cats so much?"
Nah ha!

I hope this is not your cat