Thursday, June 09, 2005

Time for a change - but not of leaders

Babble on.

I'm leery of letting snapshot polls drive my mood, but it's hard not to with the latest Decima offering:

The Liberals vaulted to a 14-point lead over the Conservatives in popular support, suggests a new poll released to The Canadian Press.

A Decima survey last week suggests support for the federal Tories crumbled, putting them in a virtual dead heat with the NDP.

The Liberals were at 37 per cent support, the Tories had 23 per cent and the NDP were trailing them closely at 21 per cent.

Most surprising were the numbers in the critical battleground of Ontario, where the Conservatives were running neck-and-neck with the Grits barely a month ago.

Decima said the Tories had fallen 26 points behind the Liberals and were in third place behind the NDP. The Liberals had 48 per cent in that province, the NDP was at 24 and the Conservatives held 22 per cent.

Of course, the Canadian political blogosphere, left, right, and mushy middle, has been abuzz with the news.

Mike Brock calls for Harper to resign for the good of the party, as does Steve at Angry In The Great White North.

The Hack is willing to give Harper some time at least partly because - let's be honest here - who can replace him at this point? "...I'm of the belief that there are no viable leadership candidates waiting in the wings right now that can win both the party leadership and the federal election. Many people can do one or the either. I'm not an "Anybody But..." supporter. Should Harper does step down - if he's pushed it'll create war within the party - we need to have someone suitable to pick up the torch. There are plenty of worst options than Stephen Harper."

Andrew at Bound By Gravity is hosting a most interesting discussion around the issue of "should he stay or should he go?" for Conservatives.

Alan at Occam's Carbuncle has given up entirely. I've been reading him for almost a year now, at his own blog and in comments at other blogs, and I doubt this change of heart is nihilistic in nature. But Alan, unless you spell out your alternative, it sure looks that way to the casual reader.

The funniest post on this - albeit from an unapologetically leftist perspective - comes from Skippy The Mangy Cur:

It is a bitter pill to swallow that a party run by a gang of slavering, half-rabid fools and employing a communications staff composed chiefly of baboons, a party which has embarrassed itself at every turn with its manifest incompetence, and a party which has snatched ignominious and final defeat from the jaws of victory with a few badly edited tapes is somehow neck and neck in the polls with the only party in Parliament that counts adult Homo sapiens among its MPs.

His advice to the NDP on how next to proceed is well worth reading. Let's all hope Jack! is still too enraptured by his own image in the mirror to listen to Skippy's barking. Besides, his advice is much easier said than done.

I think, in all of this, my namesake Mr. Penny comes closest to my own feelings on the matter:

The simple fact is, Canadians have grown numb to the Adscam revelations, and while the Tories have concentrated 100% on bringing down the this corrupt government, they have not shown what they would actually do if they won an election. And when we Conservatives aren't openly talking about our policies, people assume the worst about us. It might not be fair, but that's just the way politics works in this country.

It's also obvious by now that the Grewal mess has done untold damage to the Conservative Party of Canada. The Tories now look paranoid, incompetent and dishonest - and that's the worst thing that could possibly happen if we're savaging the Liberals for their corruption and arrogance.
I've been a Harper supporter ever since he won the leadership in 2004. But as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, he must be held accountable for the complete, utter mess the party has made out of what should have been a tremendous opportunity. I'm not calling for his head yet - but I'm a lot closer to doing so than I ever expected I would be.

I voted for Harper in the leadership race over a year ago. Simply put, he was the best option in a thin field. The problem Conservatives face, as The Hack so ably pointed out, is that he still is.

Over the course of the past year and a half, we've watched the Liberal brand lose all credibility, seen Martin and his gang in Parliament melt down on just about every issue imaginable, and in the midst of this we the Conservatives have made absolutely no headway at all with the electorate.

It's absolutely indefensible.

Harper can't be replaced at this point. But his advisors should be. The brain-trust running the CPC puzzle palace should be thanked politely for their past service, and asked to quietly step aside so the party can try another approach. I think a year and a half in these circumstances is long enough to determine the current strategy isn't working.

For the good of the party - hell, for the good of Canadian democracy - Harper should start putting faces other than his own in front of the cameras. We need to show Canadians our bench strength, and we need to see who's capable of taking the reins should Stephen Harper lose the next election. Succession planning is a difficult but necessary task for any organization that seeks long-term viability. Besides, this isn't the Harper Party of Canada, it's the Conservative Party of Canada, and there are a lot more Conservatives out there than Mr. Harper.

It's high time we started seeing more of them.

Babble off.


At 1:41 p.m., Blogger Mike Brock said...

What is an utter misconception, is that this Decima poll had anything to do with my position.

At 1:49 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

My solution:

The rapid and comprehensive retreat of the federal government from areas of provincial jurisdiction, so the country can resolve into areas of greater or lesser statism without the overweening socialist policies of the feds hindering the development of pockets of conservative and/or libertarian leaning jurisdictions, or, better still, the dissolution of the Political Abstraction Still Ironically Referred to as "Canada".

Take your pick, my friend. The first can't really happen except in my imagination. The second will be a distinct possibility after the next election, I suspect. It's not gentle, but it's not nihilism either.


At 4:18 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

OK, Mike, if the poll had come out with the CPC at 50% support across the country, including Quebec and Ontario, would you have still been calling for Harper to step aside?

The significance of the Decima poll is that for many, it's the latest straw on an increasingly shaky camel's back.

And Alan, I respect and agree with many of your opinions, but advocating the dissolution of Canada won't earn you my support or agreement.

At 4:48 p.m., Blogger JimBobby said...

Whooee! I reckon yer right. Ol' GreyWall pounded the nails in the CPC coffin. It'd probbly be a good idee fer Harpoon t' get sum other Big-C's in front o' the cameras. I seen ol' Deb Grey on the TV last night. She's a good voice an' folks respect a gal who can drive a Harley. Ol' Deb'd be a good replacement fer StevieWonderBoy.

The troublem ain't all Harper but, yer right, he's gotta take the blame if he's wearin' the leader's hat. There was another pinion pool a coupla weeks ago an' they asked if folks'd like the CPC better with ol' Petey Mackay or Bernie Lord (or was it Lord Calvert?). Anyways, it din't make much difference who's steerin' the ship.

Harpoon made a big mistake with lookin' all obstructionist when Canajuns was sayin' they wanted the remembers o' parliment t' get down t' bizness. Now that it's too late an' everybuddy sees him as a guy who wouldn't get down t' bizness, Harpoon's tellin' his MP's t' get down t' bizness.

Harpoon made another big mistake when he jumped on them GreyWall tapes. He had lotsa chances t' back off an' he kept pushin' an' now he looks like a dumbass fer either gettin' taken in by Grewal or fer gettin' in the middle o' the doctored-up tapes controversy. He don't seem t' have enuff polytickal sense t' run his own party. How in hell can he expect anybody t' vote fer him t' run the country?

Yores trooly,

At 5:09 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

JB, you've made a pile of points I'd take issue with: obstructionist CPC, nail in the coffin, it doesn't make any difference who's steering, not enough political sense to run the country.

But here's the thing: the fact you can make them with a straight face shows what a poor job of selling ourselves the CPC star chamber has done. I have a sneaking suspicion your opinion of my party and its leader is closer to the average Joe Canuck than most of my readers'.

At 7:59 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

"advocating the dissolution of Canada won't earn you my support or agreement"

That's OK, Damian, that process is self-sustaining. It requires no further stimulus, as far as I can tell, other than a couple more elections.


At 9:45 a.m., Blogger wonderdog said...

Skippy the Mangy Cur ... that's a good one.

You know, in Mike's defence, I think it was obvious Harper was past his best-before date before the poll came out.

He was looking shaky starting with losing the non-confidence vote, then with the Stronach defection, and then still more with the Grewal affair.

It didn't take a poll to confirm what people already know.

Problem is, of course, an election promised within a year. Yer stuck with him, for now.

At 4:15 p.m., Blogger Timmy the G said...

The housecleaning is good news. I'm not a Conservative supporter (I know, you're shocked!) but I've still been stunned and embarassed by the awful job they've been doing when the Liberals should be on the bloody run.

Harper must bear a big chunk of the responsiblity for the CPC's current malaise, not only for the many strategic missteps, but for his own angry rhetoric when he should have concentrated on behaving like the leader Paul Martin clearly is not.

Canada needs a viable alternative to the Liberals to shake those insufferable buggers out of their complacency, but neither the Conservatives nor the NDP have been able to present themselves as that alternative. It's not only frustrating for the right, my friend, it is frustrating for anyone who gives a hoot about democracy.

At 10:01 a.m., Blogger v said...

I think arguing over who should be leader or the Conservative Party of Canada is analogous to arguing over who should be leader of the Conservative Party of Cuba. It ignores the more pressing issue that we effectively live in a one party state. As long as you have a reasonably good leader then just get on with business. Despite Harper's baggage I would argue he is better than reasonably good.

In the very best case scenario the CPC can form a minority government with a shaky backing of whatever socialist party which will look to defeat them at the earliest opportunity. A conservative majority - and the ability to effect any mythical PaleoTheoNeoCon agenda - is a virtual impossibility under present circumstances.

Despite the perceived left wing media bias and a demographic breakdown that would seem to favour The Left, The Right keeps winning federal elections in America despite suboptimal leadership. I think there are some lessons for The Canadian Right here.

My solution is for the CPC and their supporters to just buy out The Liberals, but maybe that's just crazy tinfoil hat talk ;-)


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