Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Report of the Liberals Death Was Greatly Exaggerated

"The report of my death was an exaggeration" - Mark Twain

Everyone loves that Mark Twain quote in all of its variations.  It was prompted by the visit of a reporter, sent by his paper to investigate whether or not Twain (Samuel Clemens) had died after news of a lengthy illness.

Twain was very much alive and not even sick.  It was his cousin who was failing.

Chantal Hebert wrote a column this week predicting the death of the Liberal Party.  Her reasoning was that they are losing ground provincially.

What a silly assumption.

Provincially, the Liberal Party has never had a stronghold.  They haven't governed in Alberta since 1921, Manitoba since 1958, and Saskatchewan since 1971.  They now hold power in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and PEI.  And her comment that they almost lost opposition status in Newfoundland?  We are talking the difference between 6 seats and 5, and she fails to mention that the Liberals actually gained two seats.

Since she's moved to the right, she's really lost perspective.

In the words of Mark Twain:  "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please".
A few facts.  In 1984, the now defunct federal PC Party won a majority with a staggering 211 seats.  The Liberals were reduced to 40 with the NDP gaining and not far behind them with 30.

Everyone was predicting then that the Liberals were on their way out and that the NDP would take their place.  Yet the NDP at the time were losing ground provincially.  They were beat out in Saskatchewan in 1982 and would not rule again in B.C. until 1991, and Manitoba until 1999.

Ed Broadbent's popularity had no affect provincially.

In 1988, the NDP did even better with 43 seats, though the Liberals also gained with 83.  No provincial surge for either party,  though the NDP did take Ontario, based more on the popularity of Bob Rae, than his federal counterpart.   By 1993, the federal NDP was reduced to 9 seats, and everyone was writing their eulogy.

Recently, in Ontario, the Liberal incumbent Dalton McGuinty had been written off, but he campaigned well and beat the odds, finishing just one seat short of a majority.  NDP's Andrea Horwath had a good showing because she is smart and endearing.  She rode no one's coattails.

The federal Liberals were reduced to 40 seats in 1984 and less than a decade later won a majority.  The NDP were down to 9 in 1993 yet are the official opposition in 2011.
The Liberal Party is now the oldest and most experienced, and they will find their way back.  The NDP, the second oldest, will continue to be successful if they can move beyond the personal success of Jack Layton, who brought them to where they are, and define who they want to be.
I think if the Tories had held on after being reduced to two seats, they could have eventually beat out the Reform-Alliance.  In 1993, that fateful year, they still garnered 2,186,422 votes, a million more than the Bloc's 1,846,024, who netted 54 seats, and pretty close to the Reform Party's 2,559,245, who took 52 seats. 
In 1997 their vote count was 2,446,705 for 20 seats, to Reform's 2,513,080 (60 seats) and the Bloc's 1,385,821 (44 seats).
But Peter Mackay owed $500,000 and Stephen Harper found someone willing to pay it off ( MacKay's financial secret safe with Harper: No conflict, party leader says, by Stephen Maher, The Halifax Herald Limited, May 13, 2004),  and as the old saying goes, the rest is ... well you can finish that sentence.
The Liberals are not dead.  It's only a rumour.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." - Mark Twain 


  1. I am so glad you caught this one too Emily. I almost blew a gasket laughing. There have been so many important issues and events taking place during the past week and Hebert wasted her column taking pot shots at the Liberals. Me thinks she doth protest too much! Her agenda is showing. I think she should pay for advertising space if she keeps this up. This is not good journalism and she has lost the last smidgeon of credibility that she had left.

  2. Really enjoyed this today, Emily. Between you and Mark Twain, you made my day!