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DEN TANDT: “Conservative priorities will be the economy, the economy and the economy.” (National Post, CA)273 days ago by Emily.Thompson
With Parliament resuming today in Canada, Michael den Tandt, in his latest “Full Comment” in the National Post, discusses where he believes debates between the three major parties will be focused during this session. No shock to anyone—den Tandt believes that the Conservative will pick up where they left off with the economy with the opposition parties following suit, attacking them from left, right and center.
Like in the previous sitting of the House of Commons, Den Tandt postulates that NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair will likely stick to his “Dutch disease” theme, believing that the high Canadian dollar driven by strong resource revenue is to the detriment of most of Canada. Despite this disagreement, Den Tandt argues that the Conservatives and the NDP will co-operate in an attempt to sideline the third place Liberals. With the upcoming Liberal convention that will likely garner the party considerable media attention, the Conservatives and the NDP cannot afford to let the “Grits” capitalize on this opportunity to energy with a platform that is more conservative economically and aggressively progressive on social issues.
In the immediate future, den Tandt sees Harper and the Conservative party focusing on faster deportation of foreign criminals, modernizing the RCMP and pushing forward with an EU free trade deal with a Canada-Panama Free trade agreement to quickly be put in front of the House of Commons.
Den Tandt clearly, effectively and reasonable denotes the possible avenues down which each party may travel in the upcoming session of Parliament. While it would come as a shock to few that the governing and opposition parties will be focusing on the economy, Den Tandt presents a nuanced argument determining how the parties will work together or work against each other in the next few months.
GRENIER: “Attack Ads Poll Suggests Canada’s Liberal Voters Support NDP Over Tories” (Huffington Post, CA)296 days ago by Adam.Kingsmith
It has been two months since the Conservative Party reintroduced Canadians to one of its favourite pastimes, the attack ad. The launch of the new ad, covered by both The Globe and Mail and The National Post, attacked the NDP for its “risky theories” and “dangerous economic experiments”. However, as Huffington Post columnist Eric Grenier points out in his newest article, for one of the first times since 2006, the Tories’ new attack ad may be backfiring on them.
Political pandering at its finest, Harper has successfully relied on attack ads throughout his career to smear his top competitors and their respective political parties. Dion, Ignatieff, Layton, they have all fallen victim to the Tories’ superior utilization of negative propagation. Yet, as a new Angus-Reid Poll of 1000 Canadians reveals, Harperland’s latest barrage (aimed at the NDP’s newish leader Thomas Muclair), may not be going according to plan, for Muclair has released his own ad preaching the failures of Harper, and voters seem to be listening.
When asked to select a defining word for each ad, the Conservative ad was most described as “deceptive,” while the NDP ad was most described as “informative”. Furthermore, 46 per cent of respondents agreed with the NDP assertion that the Conservatives have “created the worst deficit in Canadian history”. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that much of this is driven by political support. An astonishing 73 per cent of respondents who voted Conservative in 2011 believe that the NDP means “risky economic theories,” while 72 per cent of New Democratic voters believe “the Conservatives are responsible for a historic deficit”.
Of course, party loyalties like this are to be expected. What may be more significant is the response of Liberal voters. A strong majority of self-identifying Liberal respondents agreed with the sentiments blaming Harper for economic stagnation. Moreover, 44 per cent assigned negative terms to the Conservative ad, contrasted with only 14 per cent assigning negative terms to the NDP ad. In short, while the responses to the ads appear to be split along party lines, it seems that Liberal voters are “aligned much more strongly against Stephen Harper than they are against Thomas Muclair”.
It is important to note that partisan alignments aside, the general current amongst all the respondents seems to be particularly unfavourable. Perhaps this is a sign that Canadians on both sides of the political spectrum are tiring of the low politics of attack ads that we have adopted from our American cousins. It is enough to make one wonder how an ad that employed respectfulness for ones’ opponents and a focus solely on the issues would test. With the way that Canadian politics seem to be going however, we will probably never know the answer to that question.
As a homage of sorts to Jack Layton on the first anniversary of his passing, rabble.ca contributor and former NDP national campaign director for the 2006 and 2008 elections Brain Topp, provides an extensive survey of gains accrued and challenges ahead for the New Democratic Party in the subsequent months and years to come, (although somewhat watered-down for the mainstream, a version of this piece also ran in The Globe and Mail and can be found here).
When it comes to hope and optimism, Topp illuminates three NDP successes. First, the remarkable gains made in popularity and polling under Layton did not succumb to stagnation, as was predicted by critics shortly after his passing. In fact, Topp testifies “the New Democrats have found a formidable replacement in Thomas Mulcair”. Second, the NDP breakthrough in Quebec continues to holdfast, meaning that Layton or no Layton, Quebecers “remain determined to rid Canada of its current government”. Third, in provincial politics, an instrumental cog in the machine of electoral change in Canada, the NDP has eroded many of the Tory’s regional strongholds, making tangible gains in both Alberta and Ontario.
However, interesting challenges abound. The Harper government reigns over a stable Parliament, and when it comes to re-elective appeal, stability is a huge draw for many voting Canadians these days. Furthermore, Topp notes that while the NDP can be rightfully critical of the current administration to its heart’s content: dismantling Medicare, building pipelines that outsource resources and jobs, silencing our scientists, denying climate change, overly deregulating and warmongering, and so on, it also needs to offer viable solutions to these problems.
Wise oppositions may “make the government the issue and keep the focus on its failures,” nevertheless, to actually dethrone the ruling party, the NDP will eventually have to show what they are going to do to right all these wrongs, as well as how they are going to pay for it. Furthermore, “if you surprise voters with changes you didn’t talk about once elected, will they re-elect you to a second term – usually the necessary prerequisite to ensuing that change is here to stay?
With his juxtapositions completed, Topp addresses one final issue, that of the current federal government’s crisis of relevance. According to him, recent Liberal and Conservative governments have worked together on a common agenda to make Canada’s national government largely irrelevant to the daily lives of most Canadians. Hence the fundamental mission of the New Democrats: “to demonstrate that the Liberal/Conservatives are wrong”, and that it is time to reintroduce everyday Canadians back into the decision-making surrounding important projects and priorities.
While it is important to keep in mind Topp’s agenda thanks to his overt NDP partisanship, he paints an interesting picture of Canadian political spectrum in the years to come. However, the future of the NDP is plagued by a quintessential political problem, it is far easier to critique the party in power than it is to offer viable solutions. A tall order indeed, but one that the NDP might just be up for, with or without Jack. Rest in Peace.
IBBITSON: “Will Quebec’s economic woes help conservative ideas gain traction?” (The Globe and Mail, CA)322 days ago by Emily.Thompson
In light of the pending Quebec election expected to be announced later this week, John Ibbitson asserts that the results for each party may provide an indication of the Conservatives’ chances of boosting their seat count in Quebec during the next Federal election.
While the Conservatives have made several faux-pas against the Quebec population over the past year, Ibbitson argues that Conservative strategists believe they can use this provincial election to their favor. He posits that Conservative strategists believe many Quebeckers are reaching the limits of their tolerance for a province deeply in debt (55% of GDP in fact); perhaps altering their traditional left-leanings to that of a more conservative tone.
Ibbitson asserts that there is a small, but growing, minority that may be interested in seeing an alternative from the right that may have the capacity to solve Quebec’s problems. Pending the results of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) in this election, Ibbitson argues that the Conservatives will have a better sense of how they will fare on a federal level in Quebec. That being said, the Conservatives will still need to overcome the strong headway made by the NDP in Quebec during the previous election. Depending on the state of the economy during the next election, the Conservatives may still be fighting a steep uphill battle
Ibbitson provides a balanced analysis of the possible power struggle that may occur in Quebec. While it is very early to make any conclusions for where the Liberals will stand on voting day, Ibbitson highlights another facet to the upcoming election race that may have a large influence on future federal elections.
In his most recent article for the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson discusses Stephen Harper’s term as Prime Minister and the opposition party’s chances of dethroning him from his current majority status.
Ibbitson starts his article by highly commending the current Prime Minister; stating that “Mr. Harper is the hardest-working prime minister in living memory.” He notes Harpers humble beginnings as an inexperienced newcomer in foreign affairs to one of the developed world’s longest-serving heads of government.
Ibbitson highlights how Harper does not shy away from pushing his party’s ideology upon the citizens of Canada; entrenching the Conservative party as a political institution and making Canada a more conservative country. In order to do so, Harper has cemented a stable coalition of Westerners and suburban Ontario voters around conservative principles.
To ensure that readers understand the strength and transformation that Ibbitson sees Harper to be capable of, he compares the prime minister to the likes of Pierre Trudeau; remaking Canada in his “political image”. Because of Harper’s growing strength, Ibbitson argues that any other party risks a position like that of the Conservatives prior to Stephen Harper’s term in office. At this point in time, Ibbiton feels that the NDP and Liberal Party’s only hope is to reduce the Conservatives to a minority after the 2015 vote and then defeat the government on their Thone speech, allowing the second-place party to take power with support of the third party.
However, Ibbitson does not feel this would be an easy feat for either party. Success for said parties would be left to shaking the confidence of suburban middle-class Ontario voters who enjoy Harper’s economic position; however, a strong economic stance is lacking from either party. Taking a dismissive tone at the end, Ibbitson remarks that until then, Canadians will simply have to become used to being a more conservative people.
While Ibbitson may appear to be highly complimentary of Harper, it seems he is actually reflecting the sentiment of many in Canada: that we must settle with what we have as the alternative has very little chance of succeeding. The article captures the current Prime Minister and the current situation in Canada’s political realm concisely and is worth the read.