Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why the NDP Filibuster Could Help Liberals in the Long Run

The NDP has dropped their filibuster, and naturally the Conservatives are rightfully claiming a resounding victory.
The Conservative benches erupted in cheers and backslapping as the final vote was held Saturday night, signalling that the official Opposition New Democrats had folded their tent on a decision the party's deputy leader called "preordained." Prime Minister Stephen Harper emerged from the chamber with Labour Minister Lisa Raitt to say his government had prevailed in the court of public opinion.

"We know what side the public was on and I think today members of Parliament on the other side finally started to get that message," said Harper. Calling the three days of round-the-clock debate in Parliament "a completely unnecessary delay," Harper said he was "nevertheless pleased that soon Canadians will again have access to their postal service, particularly small businesses and charities."
I was pleased that the NDP had gone back to their roots, standing with labour, but once you start something like this, you have to finish it, or appear weak.

I think this has definitely weakened them. Not that we shouldn't applaud their efforts, but by sticking to "charities" and "small business" as those the Conservatives were fighting for, they gave themselves leverage, while the NDP appeared to be backing self serving unions. Very sad, but Jack Layton should have known that you can't fight the right-wing noise machine by keeping it oiled.

Or by what Bob Rae called "shambolic behaviour". The ritual pawing of the ground, while unable to add bite to your bark.

Rae saw the standoff as a battle between two ideologies, and while the Conservatives were able to massage the public with the careful crafting of their message, the NDP were not, which will remind those non-conservative supporters that Layton is not a viable alternative to Harper.

This was his first real test.

After some NDP members arrogantly tried to pass a motion, banning any merger talks with the Liberals, but instead saying that the door was open for us to join them, the NDP dropped two points in the polls (Nanos). Their loss was divided between Conservatives and Liberals. They continue to remain strong only in Quebec.

Layton may have joined forces with Stephen Harper to destroy the Liberal Party, but he is instead destroying us. This country fared better when Liberals and NDP worked together. An NDP/Reform-Conservative alliance will never work, and I think Layton may finally be realizing that.

Because not only did his machinations give Harper a majority, but this latest drama, that played so well into Harper's hands, will hurt his party's integrity, while boosting the Conservatives in the polls.

They will continue to play the "socialist" card and within four years I see the NDP crushed by the neoconservatives. The plan all along if Layton had only put his ego aside for a minute and reminded himself of who Stephen Harper really is, and what he stands for.

He has only himself to blame, and posturing over the Sponsorship scandal, just won't cut it in the long term. He'd better develop a strategy quick.

In the meantime, the Liberals can continue to promote themselves as the alternative this country needs. The Conservatives won this one, but we will indeed see more clashing of ideologies.

And the Liberals must continue to provide a voice of reason.


  1. My thinking is that we need more items for people , the Liberals and I was one , saw the party as too much in favor or the corporate welfare bunch by allowing the tax breaks to stay in place , the NDP asked for value I.E demand that our jobs stay in Canada first , why let our tax $ go to fund call centers overseas. As well nothing for the people , working poor , disabled or impoverished. Now that party subsidy is gone I fear way more given to wealthy or corporations to get support cash. Why is there a fight for the right when it is time for the "left " the rest of us left with little consideration policy wise ~!

  2. I was glued to CPAC throughout most of the filibuster (well, I did take breaks to sleep and eat, of course). I observed another thing throughout the whole thing. Remember Gerry Nicholls' G & M column last January? The one where he told us about Harper's goal of destroying the Liberal party?

    Here's a quote that particularly stuck out in my mind from this article.

    His theory, as explained to me, was that conservatism would be better served in this country if Canada had a two-party system, one that pitted right against left, free enterprise against socialism, Conservatives against New Democrats.

    He (Harper) believed that, in such a polarized political environment, a conservative-oriented party would have a huge advantage over its left-wing rival. When given a clear choice, voters will usually pick conservatism over socialism.

    This polarization, however, could not take place as long as the Liberal Party – with its chameleon-like ability to change ideological colours – was around to muddy up Canada’s political waters.

    What we saw over the week-end was Gerry Nicholls' prophecy come to light, at least the beginnings of it.

    The arguments between NDP and Harpercons were clearly polarizing. Every time I heard a Conservative MP use words like "Communism", "socialism", "Marxist"(I believe that Lizon from Missisauga-Cooksville, who is from Poland had the nerve to compare the NDP to a communist pogrom), we'd all be dead from alcohol poisoning if this were a drinking game.

    The Liberals were literally squeezed out, looking pretty irrelevent. They didn't help themselves by not having all hands on deck for the votes and the cotW, yesterday afternoon. A sleep deprived Elizabeth May (who was up for over 34 hours straight), too, who was also pleading for compromise. That too, seemed to fall on deaf ears.

    My point is, I know the Liberals have a small caucus, but they really should've made more of an effort to show up for the votes and the committee of the whole yesterday afternoon as mentioned yesterday. Whether or not they agreed with the filibuster. Whether or not the pleas of compromise from the few of their colleagues who did show up fell on deaf ears or not, by not showing up, they made themselves look more irrelevent, as Harper wants.

  3. I agree with you. Even though I agree with what the NDP was arguing for, strategically this whole was not a good move. I do think it's early to start saying how they're going to fare 4 years from now because of this though. 4 years is a looonng time and the only thing that we really can be sure of is that Stevie's gonna screw it up majorly (I think!)

  4. Emily, you should be teaching a course in Canadian conservative movements and origins at Queens. Why haven't they hired you yet?!

    I say this because I have just clicked on your links, and the wealth of information you provide astonishes me. I hope some journalists read your blog... it would help them in their coverage.

    The Liberals are, and always have been, the voice of reason in Canada. Sadly, through clever media manipulation, the Cons and Dippers have been able to convince Canadians otherwise, and have soured them on the party, distracting them away from the many significant achievements the Liberals have wrought.