Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's Not The Economy, Stupid?

The Economist thinks were cool again. Okay, no cover story with a sunglasses-toting moose but still the Economist praises Canada for its economic resiliency. The Economist is right. The Canadian economy appears, pending more debt-crises in Europe, to be recovering well. This is unreservedly good news for our country. The recovery is not just occurring on corporate balance sheets as the economy unexpectedly added 109,000 jobs in April. While a lot of that work was part-time, it's better than a kick in the teeth. To put it in perspective, the Americans were positively giddy about adding 290,000 jobs in a country ten times our size. All this good news presents a challenge to Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party of Canada.

You can criticize me for making such a cynical statement but it is true. For the past eighteen months it has been fairly obvious what the major issue would be for the LPC should another election occur. The YouTube clips that appeared last year demonstrated the fodder the LPC would have in going after the Tories on financial and fiscal mismanagement. A picture of a government being on the one hand disconnected from economic reality and on the other hand squandering hard earned Liberal surpluses would have made for a great narrative. The question now, is what is the new narrative the LPC is going to craft between now and the time of the next election (at most 30 months away). Fiscal mismanagement is still an issue. The Tories ran a deficit prior to the economic meltdown of 2008 and their plans to get out of the whole they've dug is laughable. However, if this kind of job growth is sustained, the government coffers will have more money in them than would have been previously anticipated. More importantly, in order to criticize the Tory deficit plan, we would need our own real deficit plan. A real plan would involve either tax hikes (GST anyone?) or spending cuts neither of which the Liberals would want to run an election on.

Mr. Ignatieff faces the Afghan detainee document question this week in the House of Commons. It probably isn't the kind of thing you go to the polls on. It just isn't a coffee table issue. Going back to social issues is, as was infamously pointed out, good political ground for the LPC but it isn't without hazards. Many of the issues which break the LPC's way (abortion, gay marriage etc.) are, in the mind of most Canadians, settled questions. There's no currency to it. Harper's justice legislation is poor policy but once again mostly poor political fodder. Although I could see "Stephen Harper wants to put your child behind bars" coming out in a late campaign attack ad. None of these issues have really grabbed the Canadian public even if they have angered some people in the chattering classes. In general, the Tory government is not all that enthused about passing controversial legislation or really any legislation, which even in a majority government, presents some challenges to the opposition.

Ignatieff has piecemeal policy proposals which are supposed to be close to being a platform. That may be an even tougher road to hoe as Canadian opposition parties are rarely elected because they are merely preferable. Usually, the case has to be made that the other guys are incompetent, corrupt or both AND that the opposition is preferable. If the economic recovery continues, Michael Ignatieff is left with the unenviable task of making that case to the Canadian public without his economic trump card. Maybe that's why the Prince of Darkness decided he'd be better off helping defend Dalton McGuinty.


Anonymous said...

The prince of darkness said things about Ignatieff that would have made a tory blush. He couldn't work for him.There is no respect.

Don't forget that the Libs wanted a Carbon tax. Imagine as hydro rates set to go up 30% (in Toronto anyways with inflation,HST and infrastructure costs) telling them that it ought to have been much higher if only the Libs had won.

The Libs cannot avoid the economy.
It is the one thing that during QP they have not bitched about.

The miscues earlier about Vaccines, wafers and bodybags have hurt the credibility of the party.

It has been over a year now in a minority parliament and the "new" leader still doesn't have a platform or strategy? The answer is there. He should be replaced.

Anonymous said...

How does having a policy platform serve the interests of the LPC while they are in opposition.

How does having a policy platform suddenly propel us into an election?

You want a policy platform? Drop the writ.

CanadianSense said...

The disconnect is priorities. The opposition have chosen to push fake scandals and issues that have not materialized into real problems.

The opposition could have participated spent some money and done some research on those "hot button" issues.

Defending NGO's cuts, Union jobs, Taliban treatment in prisons are not vote winners.

The massive spending on the 6,000 projects may yield some real problems but what was needed was patience for the AG to present her findings after the projects were complete.

The opposition blew their position by chasing after power in 11.08 and not providing reasonable detailed alternatives inside parliament as part of their support.

This minority gov't exists with the confidence of the majority, they did not show patience in trying to take over the six week old gov't.

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