Dion blew his chances

Flaherty today presented a ho-hum "thin gruel" budget, a clear sign that Harper is in no hurry to go to the polls, notwithstanding the fevered rhetoric of recent weeks. Harper's appetite for an election diminished when he realized that the parties were tied in terms of voter support and the best the Cons could hope for was another minority.

Harper gambled on Afhanistan by talking tough but then compromised on the Liberal amendment. When Dion allowed the Ignatieff and Rae forces to persuade him that he should not go to the electorate on the Afghanistan issue, he lost a major wedge issue on which public opinion favoured the previous Liberal position.

With respect to the budget it clearly was not designed to support a Conservative election campaign. There is no poison bill to force the Liberals to vote to bring down the government. And according to Dion's post-budget statement the Liberals have decided not to provoke an election at this time.

So Dion is left dangling in the wind. The public perception of him as weak and vacillating can only be enhanced by his recent decisions. He may well have blown his only chance to secure a minority government and helped ensure that Harper secures another minority when he finally goes to the polls. Should that occur, Dion will be swept aside and Ignatieff and Rae will tussle for the leadership.

I assume that the Ignatieff and Rae forces have been pivotal in these recent decisions. Certainly it's in Bob Rae's interest to get into the House via the impending by-election, where he can better position himself for a leadership campaign. And Ignatieff, given his stance on foreign policy issues, would not have wanted to campaign on a platform which involved pulling the troops out of Afghanistan in 2009, a platform which might well have led to a Liberal minority and strengthened Dion's position.

But, given the deteriorating state of the Ontario manufacturing industry and the lack of adequate provisions in the budget to address this, many Ontario Liberal MPs will have to hold their noses if the collective decision is to vote for the budget. If, on the other hand, the Liberals abstain (once again), how will they face Ontario voters come election time?


Anonymous said...

Dion is toast.As Shakespeare wrote, "There is a tide in the affairs of men which, if taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." The tide has passed Dion by. The knives will soon be out. Who will play Brutus?

Anonymous said...

Interesting and true perspective.

Anonymous said...

With a new leader, that’s how. After a non-confidence vote at the biennial convention this autumn and another leadership race.

cardinal47 said...

Ah, that's what you party partisans are scheming. You're going to vote Dion out and replace him without an election. Messy, given that he hasn't faced the electorate as leader. And what do you think Harper will be doing while they are up to these shenanigans.

The better option is to persuade Dion to step aside in advance thereby precipitating a leadership convention. But who will bell the cat?