Thursday, October 7, 2010

Credit Where Its Due.

When the Coalition controversy was raging and the Media was saying Stephen Harper goofed up, I didn't buy it.  I was right. 

Do you remember how it all began?  Stephen Harper had just led the Conservative Party to victory for a second time.  A minority government, a greater minority, was just getting started.  Then seemingly out of the blue, the Prime Minister slaps the opposition with a motion to cut the $1.95 per vote welfare to the loser parties. 

Whah!  The audacity.  The brilliance.  A bold strike against the enemy right where it hurts.  I still chuckle when I think about it. 

The opposition went into a frenzy.  'To war,' they petulantly cried.  The Coalition was revealed, and the 3 socialist parties coalesced.    We didn't know this at the time.  The media just swallowed the idea that the opposition suddenly had to cooperate against a common foe.  They did of course, but they had a plan in place.

The people rebelled.  They thought they had beaten the green shift.  They were playing the old game of strategic voting and didn't realize the rules would change.  ABC, anything but conservative, turned out to be a vote for a socialist-separatist abomination that nobody had voted for.

Stephen Harper was roundly criticized for his "miscalculation."  There were even rumors that some insiders had cautioned him not to go ahead with it.  I felt it was out of character.  There were a bunch of niggling inconsistencies with the media story.

The first thing that had me wondering was Mr. Harper's bold attack in the first place.  I had always regarded him as a clever and cunning political genius.  Why then would he enrage the opposition?  My heart soared with the courageousness and boldness of it, but it seemed out of place.

My awareness was further pricked by the information that this vote , the economic update, was not only a confidence motion.  It was a bill pertaining to House Of Commons funds and therefore could only be passed unanimously.  Unanimously.  The motion was doomed to fail no matter what.  This was no miscalculation.

Then we had the NDP conference call.  That was great.  Jack Layton was snidely bragging about his coalition deal to party members over a conference call.  They hadn't changed the call in codes and someone else was listening in.   Conservatives obtained this recording.  It was taped before the fiscal update.  It was released to the public and the media played it.

Two years after the fact, Gilles Duceppe confirms that the Coalition existed before the fiscal update.  He even takes credit for most of the wrangling involved to put it together. 

Now reevaluate Harper's decision.  Remember that the great recession was just a few months old.  Nobody knew how deep it would go.  It was almost certain that an inherently weak minority government would slowly decline in popularity as times got tough and people got mad.  The opposition had their trap set, and Stephen Harper knew all about it.

An inherently weak minority government that is forecast to decline is strongest immediately following an election.  If your strength and mandate can only get weaker, the time to strike is immediately.  Stephen Harper sprang the Coalition trap and played those tools like a fiddle.

Oh he took all kinds of flak for it, but I knew better.  Still think he miscalculated?  He's been Prime Minister for 2 years since then.  He is the longest running minority Prime Minster in our history.  This is also the most dysfunctional and bitterly scheming parliament in our history.  He not only outed the Coalition, he beheaded the primary coalition member the Liberal Party, and replaced Dion with an even less capable and less popular Ignatieff.  

The skillful handling the Coalition trap saw the Conservative Party at popular heights unimaginable for conservatives in a recession.  This is no small feat.  The ballot question now is Conservative or Coalition. 

There is no one I'd rather have as Prime Minister than Stephen Harper.  He has won some spectacular victories, and there are still greater achievements to be had.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thesis. I too thought this from the get go. Stephen Harper is like a great General from times and wars past. Exploit your opponents weakness by having them think you are the weak one. Layton and Duceppe didn't even wait for Canadians to vote and they had their et tu Brutus ready... check and mate.

Anonymous said...

PM Harper knew the coalition was in the works, but the msm tried to make him out as the incompetent one. Guess what, the media was wrong.

gimbol said...

I look back and see what the media and the opposition prefer the voter to ignore. That their achille's heel is that $1.95 per vote theft of tax payer money courtesy of J Chretien. They know that in an election no party can campaign to keep it, Harper also knows that on that issue he has the high ground and its a fight the opposition will be on the defensive over, especially a certain party that refuses to organize outside of one province.

Anonymous said...

I would like to buy into the thesis presented. This is where I have a problem with the government and Harper. If he really did know about the coalition why would he not confide in at least one media outlet so they knew his side of the story and got it out. Rather we saw this terrible display of journalism which saw the PM being pillored in the media day after day. Even today the media refuses to believe the coalition is possible after the next election.

Anonymous said...

".... If he really did know about the coalition why would he not confide in at least one media outlet so they knew his side of the story and got it out."

Would you care to name one candidate in the MSM to entrust with this role, Anon?

Personally I can't think of one. The PM always handles himself well and with restraint when he has do the "obligatory" one-on-one's with guys like Mansbridge - but he is right not to trust the media - ever - with anything - because the MSM write and think for their peers and only their peers.

If the PM was aware of the building coalition he was right to let it develop and then "flush em out".

Michael St. Paul's

Jeff said...

To Anon 6:26, are you serious?

Alex said...

The only reason I know about Jack Layton's conference call is because Conservatives leaked it. Thier side of the story was out there but I can't help but wonder if they didn't push their case so that the horror of the Coalition could take center stage.

The_Iceman said...

I remember after the election a lot of pundits were saying that if Harper couldn't win a majority against Dion, he would never win one; as though being a dozen seats shy of a majority was a major defeat. This sentiment has been echoed by many in the 2 years since.

Does anyone else remember that there was a major stock market collapse right in the middle of the last campaign? In almost any other country, that sort of thing is devastating for the incumbent. All things considered, we have weathered the storm quite nicely.

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