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Rona to king-4

There is much chat on the blogs the last day or so about the Rona Ambrose affair. That she is a disaster as Environment Minister is difficult to dispute, from cutting environmental programs like the One-Tonne Challenge to not appearing before the Environment Committee. And that is not even mentioning her stand on Kyoto, but since she is simply following party policy on this one, it's unfair to say that she's not performing her duties as minister. Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) being minister means being a meat shield.

What really interests me here is not so much the fate of Rona Ambrose - the ministers in this government largely are interchangeable drones with a hole in the back for Edgar Harper to use when statements are required. Replacing her solves nothing and might serve as a moral victory for the Opposition, but the policies would remain in place. It might provide a little fodder come election time, but nothing that Harper couldn't avoid by simply dismissing her over the summer before it came to a Commons vote. That this is so easily dodged by Harper and instead he chose to play this little game has me intrigued. What interests me here is not Rona Ambrose, rather the political game being played out behind.

Harper responds to the threat by threatening to make the vote in the Commons a confidence motion, thereby triggering an election on the fate of a relatively minor minister. The gambit is obvious; the NDP have a lot to win and nothing to lose and the Liberals are forced to either back down with tail between legs and hope that everyone forgets this over the summer or risk going into an election with an interim leader. The situation is even worse for the leadership candidates - they would be forced to fight an election campaign looking as leaderly as possible, win their own seat in the House, and run a leadership campaign at the same time. (All this without mixing up the leadership campaign money and the election campaign financing - good luck with getting out of that without a bandage or two!)

The NDP certainly don't owe the Liberals any favours, but this was really a set-up from the beginning - a pass thrown just a little high and a little fast; one of those open-field ones where the Liberal receiver gets cleaned from behind by the Tory fullback as soon as he touches the ball. I don't mean to imply any collusion between the NDP and Tories, though they have been a little too cozy for my liking the last couple of months, but collusion would not have made this scenario any harder on the Liberals.

Brave faces and bravado aside, the Liberal party is in a heap of trouble right now, as this incident demonstates; trouble that they have brought on themselves, largely. They didn't need to declare a ten-month long leadership race, but they did. And all then needed to do in February was say that they were going to "try and make this government work", but no, Bill Graham had to show his big, brassy, pair and come out guns a'blazing. So now they still have six months before their leadership convention and they are pinned between Bill Graham's early bloviation and the reality that they would be screwed if an election actually was called. It puts them in the unenviable position of continually backtracking when they need to present a credible alternative to the Conservatives - they are the Official Opposition after all. What will be the next thing the back down on? Daycare?

Next time around, if the Liberals are not careful, they stand to lose a lot of credibility over the next few months. And when the election does come, the electorate might swing wildly and one of the possible outcomes would be a Tory majority with the NDP as Opposition. I am not sure how likely this is, a lot hinges on the competence of the new Liberal leader, but I'm sure that this very scenario is high in the minds of both Stephen Harper and Jack Layton.

I'm surprised that there has been little or nothing said or done by the NDP that would indicate the groundwork for a compromise like C-48, just as an example. The dealing is going on behind the scenes, with the NDP being as carefully stage-managed as the Tories.
From Parliament to Star Chamber in one easy election.

The Liberals are just all over the place with this Leadership convention it would be an electoral victory for Mr. Harper to go to the polls this autumn

There is always politicking surrounding these issues, but Flash, there need be none with the Liberals right now - that's the message here. They are completely stalled until this leadership contest is over with, and it is going to cost them.

I'm aware that they wanted to take their time with this contest, they are in debt and they wanted lots of time to sign up new members, but ten months is foolish, and it has paralyzed the Opposition.

Francois - you're absolutely right, they would have the keisters handed to them if an election was called this fall.

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I take issue with your assertion, beginning with, Replacing her solves nothing because it would, indeed, be more than a moral victory for Canadians. Or are we worried only about the Liberal Party?

A victory like this could have been with Chicken Liberal support would have charged the masses. And the masses are again ready to be charged. I can feel it in my bones.

The Liberals (and the NDP in many instances) are being absolutely foolish by not capitalizing on each and every opportunity to ignite the grassroots into a firestorm of political will.

Unless they're scared, that is. Or, unless what The Party needs means more than what Canadians need.

I am not sure that replacing Ambrose would mean much of anything in the long run, but it might prove useful in a campaign. It might not be as meaningless as I suppose, I have a tendancy to underestimate things like this. Who knows?

What exactly do you mean by victory? If Harper didn't blink and pulled the government down, magic would have to happen for the Libs to fair well. Personally, I don't really think that is a bad thing, but I don't think that there is enough NDP support to prevent a Conservative majority should the Libs take a kicking.

The Liberals (and the NDP in many instances) are being absolutely foolish by not capitalizing on each and every opportunity to ignite the grassroots into a firestorm of political will.

I agree to a point, but the political reality is that the Liberals are really vulnerable right now and everyone knows it.

unless what The Party needs means more than what Canadians need.

Of course what the party needs means more to these guys - they are party apparatchik. The only reason our system works at all is that they perdiodically get tossed out.

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