Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don Martin, Wild Roses and the Perfect Storm

I read Don Martin's column on a fairly regular basis, and while he is definitely pro-Conservative, every now and then he drops in a bit of balance.

I did deride him for the petty Ignatieff Me article that sparked the juvenile Conservative website of the same name; suggesting that he may have been having a bad hair day. It was horrible journalism and not up to his usual standards.

For some reason he really hates Michael Ignatieff, but then the National Post cutting up the Liberals? STOP THE PRESSES!

However, I wondered at the panic of a column he recently wrote for the Calgary Herald, suggesting that Stephen Harper is in a perfect position to get his majority.

One of the reasons was the EKOS poll that gave him a nine point lead over Ignatieff, but we all know those polls have a high margin of error, and the Ipsos-Reid poll showed that the numbers hadn't changed at all.

But why this sudden panic to suggest that "He has the winning conditions now--and he knows his opponents are off balance, underfunded and unprepared to argue the justification for a $300-million vote before outraged election-adverse voters."

C'mon Don. That's nonsense and you know it. The NDP are in tough straights, and maybe even more so if the Cons can successfully end their subsidies, but the Liberals are fine and their membership has tripled since December. Harper called an illegal election last year to halt (allegedly) investigation into the "In and Out". This one would be for a far more noble cause.

"The challenge for Harper now is to find a way to trigger an election without appearing to be the culprit." Do you honestly believe that we don't know how badly Harper wanted this election? His budget for Depends has doubled this week. Who knew that cozying up to 'separatists' and 'socialists', not believing they'd fall for it, would bite you in the butt? Maybe Jack Layton didn't catch Jason Kenney's Kool-Aid reference.

What I did find interesting though were the comments at the end of the article. Not the usual 'hyper for Harper' stuff that we normally expect from the Calgary crowd.

From BobbyB: "What is it that seems to baffle Canadians so much about federal elections triggered by a non-confidence vote? The Harper Conservatives do not build consensus within the Parliamentary structure. They then pose a spending motion which requires a vote and if they loose (sic) that vote then an election may occur (or the GG may ask the Official Opposition of they woyld (sic) be able to form a government with the confidence of Parliament), Harper and the Conservatives do not work with the other parties to seek consensus. ... The Harper Conservatives want to trigger an election. They try and fool the electorate to believe the opposition parties are the ones that want to spend the $240+ Million to have an election. The Harper Conservatives dare the other parties to not pass their spending and then label them as a coalition, or socialist, or separatists, or anything else they can think of to vilify the opposition, and then top it off with accusations that the opposition is triggering the election! The Harper Conservatives are acting childishly. They are like the fat school yard bully that sees a hornets nest, grabs a stick, bangs on the nest with it, and then screams and rants and raves that the hornets have no right to come after to him or be mad at him. This same bully then blames others for the fact this all took place. In my opinion we do need an election and we need to get rid of the Harper Conservatives that do not seem to understand how as the governing party of a MINORITY government they are supposed to work with others to build consensus and not drag their feet or taunt the opposition to needlessly force the disillusionment of Parliament.

And Phil: "Hmmm. The idea that voters punish the party that takes them to the polls is a myth. Harper wasn't punished last year. Nor was he punished the year before. Martin was punished but not for going to the polls. Before that Chretien was election happy but never punished."

However, I think this may be part of a bigger picture.

There could be a storm brewing in Alberta, stirred up by the arrival of a new party: The Wildrose Alliance. I've been following their story for a few weeks now, rather curious as to whether or not their message would resonate with voters, and how that would affect the sitting Tories.

Their platform is not unlike that of the Reform or Alliance federal platforms. However, they are just a provincial party now so not an immediate threat to the Harper government. Or are they?

I'm reading two earlier books on the creation of Reform Party, and see some parallels here. The success of Preston Manning and Stephen Harper, was based on two things; at least in the early days:

Disappointment with Brian Mulroney and the Meech Lake Accord, which they saw as pandering to Quebec; and dissatisfaction with their own Tory premier, Don Getty. The province was experiencing an economic slowdown and falling energy prices, which meant mounting deficits and rising unemployment.

Well what do we have now? For all of Don Martin's back slapping and glass raising, no one seems to be too willing to imbibe. Alberta is now experiencing another economic slowdown with falling energy prices, which mean mounting deficits and rising unemployment, and what is the federal Conservative government doing about it? What is the provincial Conservative government doing about it?

And we just learned of some more bad news: "Alberta is closing 300 acute-care hospital beds and another 246 at an Edmonton mental hospital over the next three years as the province's health superboard struggles with a $1-billion deficit."

Jim Prentice's little faux pas recently indicates that they do care about votes, but what about voters? Are they so confident that they can sweep Alberta that they no longer have to do a thing?

But back to the Wildrose Alliance. They recently won a by-election in a provincial riding that has been Tory for four decades. What I found interesting though was that the Liberals placed second. What should the Harper government take from that?

Maybe instead of pretending to be an Albertan (Stephen Harper was born in New Brunswick and raised in Toronto), he should start pretending to care about his adopted province.

Stop and smell the Wildroses Stephen.

More Postings on the New Wildrose Party:

1. Congratulations Danielle Smith on Winning Leadership of Wildrose Party

2. Are There Cracks in the Tory Armour in Alberta?

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