Saturday, February 12, 2011

Liberal problems run deep

The Liberals think that they can win the next election by rolling out a safe middle of the road platform. They are wrong. There is no push to throw the bums out and there is no evidence whatsoever the Liberals are gaining any traction with the public. The Conservatives have the advantage of being the party in power, they are better organized, their policies clearer, their messaging is generally better and they have far more money. If the electorate if given a choice of voting for middle of the road Conservative platform and middle of a road Liberal platform, they are going to go with the Conservatives.

So the question is can the Liberals turn things around. I doubt it. Igantieff is looking older and more gray by the day, there is nothing in the platform to hold the public's attention for very long and even though talk of fiscal responsibility and democratic institutions bore the public to tears, the party seems determined focus on them nonetheless. All of this is obvious.

What is less obvious is this. The Liberals seem blind to the fact that some of their core philosophy, viz., a commitment to equity and collective rights, is deeply unpopular with large segments of Canadian society. Weather it be the funding for religious schools in Ontario, or special treatment of Quebec many Canadians are deeply offended at the very suggestion that government monies and policy should be used to protect and or foster minority interests. Furthermore, weather one believes that employment equity, for example, actually makes the government less efficient is beside the point, a commitment to equity is incompatible with the liberal notion of a government built around merit. Hiring the best person for the job is far cry from using the government as a counterpoint to perceived and actual deficiencies in the private sector employment. So long as the philosophy of equity rules, conservatives will have an easy time claiming that government is the problem.

It gets worse for the Liberals. With the party long since having abandoned a commitment to universality it is not surprisingly that many Canadians believe that the Liberals are solely committed to using public monies to benefit minorities.

All of this is one more reason why it is vitally important that the Liberals recommit to universality and that the the party develop policies that offer a concrete benefit to Canadians -- all Canadians.

Childcare is obvious place to start. The problem is that the Liberal,s early childhood education program is unmediated disaster. The goal of the program was ostensibly to work with the provinces to set up an early childhood education program for children under 6. However, to the average voter this amounted to little more than a vague promise to provide more daycare at sometime in the future; they could not figure out what this would mean for their lives. To add insult to injury, the Liberals willingness to consider different deals for different provinces has muddied things all the more.

If the Liberals reintroduce such a program in the future, they need to present it in a form in which voters can understand, with a clear time line and that they make sure they offer parents a clear and tangible benefit. They could, for example, promise to provide all day preschool and kindergarten for every 3 and 4 year old in Canada two years after an election.

26 comments:

PD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tomm said...

Interesting post.

If the Liberal's use the next 18 months to build policy that both differentiates them from the CPC but also resonates with Canadian's, they will then find out fall 2012 whether their efforts have been worth it.

I kind of see this as a best option at this point.

They have gone through 3 leaders since 2006. Adding another to that list just further imbeds the "loser" stamp on their foreheads. What they need to do is build the narrative as to why people should vote for them when the time comes to do so. I know that is asking a lot from a party that has lived by its wits, but it has to build these planks none the less. Even Chretien gave us the "red book".

Some of those planks have to be innovative and interesting. They also have to be prepared to have a couple "borrowed" by other parties. It is the price of discussing good ideas.

Rotterdam said...

"Igantieff is looking older and more gray by the day"

I think he wants to head back to Harvard, it shows.
But I would let him have one kick at the can.

CanadianSense said...

The party is not united under his leadership.

Is the party prepared to fight a national campaign that lasts 36 days and have their message 'tested' through a ballot?

If the pollsters are correct the majority are not paying attention. When they decide to show up and cast a ballot will those 36 days be convincing?

Is the party stronger since Martin, Dion was in charge?

Anonymous said...

See? When you put out garbage, it's only the Conbot hyenas who come to feast. Instead of doing what they want -- giving into despair wrought by their dirty tricks & bringing out the long knives - redouble your resolve. Go see the Carville clip on Impolitical to help with that.

ridenrain said...

Everyone was saying their should have been a huge house cleaning after ADSCAM but they just slapped on a new coat of paint and got back into the race.
A strong, organized opposition with a pure direction is necessary to balance the powers of the PMO. Jeffry Simpson wrote about that during the Chretien majorities and it’s just as valid today.

Anonymous said...

right, ridenrain, so why do so many of you conbots keep doing your level best to demoralize supporters of the Lib. party in the effort to cripple it? Stand up for democracy by letting the Opp. get itself together instead of buzzing it like WW-II Japanese flyers & Tokyo Rose broadcasters every goddamn day?!

ridenrain said...

Call it tough love. :-)
We were decimated under Mulroney and we learned a lot in that long time-out and I was hoping the Liberals would have done that after Martin. Clean out the crooks, get back to what the members wanted and come back renewed.

You haven’t “stood” for anything for a decade or more. It’s all been fuzzy “Canadian values” or scare mongering attacks on the others.
I don’t like them but I can respect the NDP because they have a direction and purpose. The Liberals just straddle between, throwing out poorly planned platforms like the gun registry, higher corp taxes, multiculturalism, human rights tribunals, etc. Even child care has been so slow and poorly planned that the smell of the Quebec program is just stinking it up.
Maybe the Libs need a coalition because new people will bring in a new direction. Let’s just hope management listens to them. Folks get into politics to make the country better and it’s not productive when one side holds dominance.

ridenrain said...

Remember this:
I believe that the Liberal Party has to a significant extent lost its way, at least in policy terms -- and of course, I mean particularly in my area of foreign policy -- and is in danger of losing its soul," he said.

"To this observer, it seems Liberals today don't stand for much in the way of principle. I have the impression that they will endorse anything and everything that might return them to power and nothing that won't, whatever the merits of either. It's all about getting to power, and it shows."

Anonymous said...

@ridenrain, well, sure, the Party flip-flops etc. -- but so does the CPC, which is going strong... on a whole bunch of issues. That doesn't explain the constant heckling; there's plenty of internal pressure from people like Kinsella & in caucus & in the media to hold their feet to the fire on that. But this business of trying to, basically, get all the young(ish) Libs who are blogging to give up & fold up their tents and crawl back into their caves to play video games or something is an anathema to democracy. Leave them / us alone in their own spaces: you, CanadianSense, Observant, etc etc -- it's pretty Soviet of you, to be constantly monitoring & wearing down the dissidents.

Koby said...

"throwing out poorly planned platforms like the gun registry, higher corp taxes, multiculturalism, human rights tribunals, etc. Even child care has been so slow and poorly planned that the smell of the Quebec program is just stinking it up."

Jesus H Christ' ridenrain, think about what you typing out and stop talking out your ass.


Human Rights Tribunals: There are provincial Human rights tribunals and then there is the federal Canadian Human Rights commission. The Canadian Human rights Commission dates back to 1977. The provincial tribunals, if memory serves, date back 1961 and the.Ontario progressive Conservative government of Leslie Frost. Anyway, The Canadian Human Rights Commission is responsible for enforcing the Canadian human rights act of 1977. In 1986 Mulroney passed the Employment Equity Act and since then the Canadian Human Rights Commission is also responsible for enforcing Employment Equity Act.

Corporate Taxes: the fact the Liberals under Ignatieff are opposing further corporate tax cuts, belies the fact that the Liberals under Paul Martin introduced by far the largest corporate tax cut in Canadian history and Stephen Dion supported the last round of corporate tax cuts.

Child Care: Child care has been on the political radar for over 40 years. In 1970, Trudeau promised a national day care plan, ditto Mulroney in 1984, ditto Chretien in 1993, ditto Paul Martin in 2004. Paul Martin was the only one to move on file, but after the 2006 election the Conservatives scarped the Liberal plan. Of course, Conservatives also had a plan. Having applauded Paul Martin's decision to abolish the baby bonus in 1995, Harper reintroduced the baby bonus in 2006 and called it childcare. He also promised to create a 125,000 daycare spots through tax incentives for businesses. To date those tax incentives have not resulted in the creation of a single day care spot.

A 2004 report found a critical shortage of available regulated child care spaces in Canada. Fewer than 20 per cent of children age six and younger with working parents at access to daycare. By comparison, in the U.K., 60 per cent of children find regulated child care; in Belgium, 63 per cent; in France, 69 per cent; in Denmark, 78 per cent. To add insult to injury not only does Canada rank last among OECD nations in terms of day care availability, what daycare is available is of poor quality and exceedingly expensive. That was 2004. Since then things have gotten even worse. Daycare costs have risen 3 times the rate of inflation, and the number of daycare spots created last year was less than any year since 2001. Of course, without Quebec, Canadian numbers would be much much worse. There is more daycare spots in Quebec than BC, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick combined.

Anonymous said...

(cont'd, to Ridenrain: that quote of yours from Robert Fowler is beside the point: I could quote you 'real' Conservatives like Coyne & Nichols & even the National Post saying, "What's so 'conservative' about Canada's Conservative government?" and charging them with violating almost all of their old Reform principles for the sake of pandering to the electorate & staying in power.

And, come on, apart from a couple of bureaucrats who lost their jobs & or faced jail time, "adscam" only involved a handful of low level, riding-level operatives in QC -- which the CPC is showing it has its own problems with, in Public Works contracts kick-backs & fundraisers. It hardly merits, what: replacing everybody in the party?

No, this isn;t "tough love," or doing anyone any good: it's just vindictive bullying for bullying sake, which is kinda sociopathic if they conbots are doing it on their own time, but downright pernicious -- of Watergate proportions -- if people like Observant are actually getting paid by the PMO for their trolling & agitprop.

www.nationalpost.com/Tories+true+name/4247803/story.html

ridenrain said...

"get all the young(ish) Libs who are blogging to give up & fold up their tents"

Are you mad? They're the only hope and saviours of the party. I want those people to rise up, be vocal and take power back from the kingmakers and party insiders. I have confidence in rank & file Canadians on all sides, not the career politicians or bureaucrats. The people can make better decisions for their future and politicians who insult them with “beer & popcorn” comments have no respect.

Anonymous said...

you do? but that's belied by your (trolling) actions.

then get the BloggingTories to stop ragging on them on those younger Libs own blogs. (do what you want, on yours)

and at least the Libs HAVE a youth wing. Harper disbanded & outlawed the Conservatives.

Koby said...

"Leave them / us alone in their own spaces: you, CanadianSense, Observant, etc etc -- it's pretty Soviet of you, to be constantly monitoring & wearing down the dissidents."

"right, ridenrain, so why do so many of you conbots keep doing your level best to demoralize supporters of the Lib. party in the effort to cripple it?"

The Liberals used to recognize that nothing boasted their numbers quite like various Conservative MP sounding off about things they knew nothing about. Alas, those days are gone. The Liberals brass now do not bother adopting policies that might elicit such comments for fear that such policies might prevent them from taking ridings such as Wild Rose in the near future. The Liberals now proclaim that they just want to rise above fray and accordingly have let their war room run down to the point that it is as menacing as a chained Chihuahua.

Now, what goes for population at large goes for doubly for Liberal bloggers. Indeed, there is nothing quite a like a conservative troll to wake up the passions of dispirited liberal. The notion that "conbots" could "demoralize" and yet alone "cripple" the spirits of Liberal bloggers is patently absurd.

The Liberal party is sad shape indeed. Trudeau used to lick his chops whenever an opposing MP said something stupid and famously said to this to press upon leaving "I'm sorry I won't have you to kick around any more." This is marked contrast to how things stand now. For Christ sakes the Conservatives literally shit all over Dion and the Liberals during the last election.

Anonymous said...

Whether it succeeds, or not, it's not "patently absurd" to point out that's what they're TRYING to do, Koby, and that it's pretty antithetical to their own professed love of democracy for them to be doing do. And despite your indignant claim, the tone of both your post, your comment, & your ultimate conclusion actually suggests that they ARE succeeding, or at least the Lib. Party has done that work for them, since you do sound pretty demoralized -- and uninspiring -- yourself.

CanadianSense said...

Koby,

Chretien-Martin canceled the Mulroney Daycare plan.(If you mean they moved on it)

Quebec is a financial basket case and comparing their social programs vs other does not make sense. If we eliminate the transfers can Quebec afford those programs? (No)

Chretien-Martin spent their term fighting Pay Equity in the courts. Our Conservative government ACTED with $ 3 billion settlement.

This Federal government is cleaning up the mess left by Liberals in neglect in our Federal-Provincial division of powers, infrastructure and military.

Koby said...

They can try all they want. There is no downside to their doing so. Almost by definition, a troll's arguments are not persuasive and often in fame. If one happens to astroturfing, even better. Find proof and spread the word.

As for my current level of dissatisfaction, Chretien's 2003 reforms and his decision to stay out of Iraq inspired me to join the party. So long as the party was willing to pursue moderately socially liberal policies and so long as their was no viable alternative, I was willing put aside my hatred for their neo liberal economic policies and their commitment to equity, asymmetrical federalism and collective rights. However, the Liberals have all but abandoned any thing resembling social liberalism and this has me rethinking my commitment to the party on ideological grounds alone. Of course, such ideological differences are acerbated by the party's many strategic shortcomings and by the fact the party continually portrays itself as something it is not, viz., the "party of Pearson", the party of universal health care and Canada public pension plan. Leaving aside the fact that such policies are 45 years old, having long since abandoned the principle of universality, the party's attempt to portray itself as party centered around such a principle is at best dishonest and worst affront to those who hold the principle near and dear.

Koby said...

"Chretien-Martin canceled the Mulroney Daycare plan.(If you mean they moved on it)"

Mulroney never did a thing on child care. The same holds true for Chretien. Martin started to go ahead with plans, but 2006 election but an end to that.

"Chretien-Martin spent their term fighting Pay Equity in the courts. Our Conservative government ACTED with $ 3 billion settlement."

I would have hit the roof had they ACTED. Anyway the pay equity case that you refered ended in 1999. The Liberals were right to fight but they lost. The settlment which you refer to deals with taxes owed on the 3.5 billion dollars given out.

"Quebec is a financial basket case and comparing their social programs vs other does not make sense. If we eliminate the transfers can Quebec afford those programs? (No)"

Quebec is not a financial basket case! If you look at gross net to GDP, Manitoba, NS, BC, PEI, are not far behind and Canada's gross debt to GDP is worse.

Anyway, all this is beside the point. If Feds chipped in money for such a program than Quebec's fiscal situation would be better.

As to how such a program should be paid for, cuts to military spending and corrections are a great place to start. As well the government should stop sucking up to the drug companies. Currently Canada pays 40% more for drugs than do European countries. Most health economists put the savings of national drug plan at 11 billion a year.

CanadianSense said...

• Mulroney promised a new day care policy after his previous $5.7-billion initiative, Bill C-144, was killed by the Senate in 1988.

Who controlled the Senate in 1988?

Daycare in not a Federal responsibility. The provinces or cities that want to provide it should step up.

Koby I respect the division of powers between the Federal-Provinces.

The Feds should exit and not stick their nose in where the provinces are responsible for delivery of their services.

I believe in a smaller Federal Government with a direct and more accountable Provincial government for Education-Health etc.

I am opposed to a large Centralized government in Ottawa regardless of which party is in charge.

camster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Koby said...

It was not killed by the senate. It died in the senate when the 1988 election was called. Big difference. The bill was not reintroduced after the 1988 election.

"Daycare in not a Federal responsibility. The provinces or cities that want to provide it should step up."

Do not be daft. Federal government is not responsible for administering and delivering health services either. However, it was well within its rights to model legislation developed by the province of Saskatchewan and pass the Medical Care Act of 1966.
As for your general attitude toward provincial federal relations, I know that like Harper you would like turn Canada second coming of Belgium -- generally and rightly regarded as administrative absurdity. However, what you continually fail to understand is that Canada by any standards is already a highly decentralized state and that we are all the worse for it. Having 13 health care systems, 2 different systems of law, 2 pension plans, 2 immigration systems, and yes 13 security regulators instead of just one is grossly inefficient and expensive.

CanadianSense said...

Koby,

You are entitled to your view of a large centralized Federal government as the best model. I don't agree with China, Cuba, Soviet Union, Eastern Europe 'central planners' or societal engineers as the models for success. (History has been clear)

I don't see any examples of this being in the best interests. I am clear in my view of the division of powers and respect for our differences-priorities.

I don't feel it is necessary to tell the residents in PEI they must provide abortions on their island. (This is a Liberal bastion still?)

If QC residents want to provide free daycare or post secondary education, NHL arenas they simply need to pay for it themselves.

We don't need to share or pay for the priorities-policies of those in Quebec or the Yukon.

One size does not fit all. I don't need "experts" based in Ottawa dictating their policies with the use of my taxes to deliver my priorities. (Universality concept of the 1970's was killed by the Liberals with Chretien-Martin)

I want my Premier and Mayor to be more accountable. (Full stop)

I don't share the PET 1970's view of the nanny state. Each province must live within their fiscal capacity.

Today we have QC dominating the landscape with each party paying for appeasement. It is time to cut that cord and ask Canadians that live in Quebec if they are interested in being a loyal and equal participant in our country.

It is time to for QC to pay their OWN bills for their own social programs. Dependency on the West has run its course.

It is time for the Liberals and NDP to stop their appeasement strategy with the radical left in Quebec.

The rest of Canada is not interested in having lower standards for keeping the separatist-left political forces in Quebec happy.

Koby said...

Do you suffer from tourette's syndrome?

In Conservative bloogers it tends to manifest itself as a tendency to bizarrely shout out something about communism and command economies when there is no occasion for doing so and a tendency to mention Chamberlian, and Appeasement whenever the subject of the Taliban come up.

Anonymous said...

People with Tourette's Syndrome blurt out obscenities and strange noises all the time when they aren't appropriate, so f*ck, Koby, WTF are you talking about shithead....whiiiirrrrrr

Anonymous said...

People with Tourette's Syndrome blurt out obscenities and strange noises all the time when they aren't appropriate, so f*ck, Koby, WTF are you talking about shithead....whiiiirrrrrr