Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Dion probably did the smart thing

As I've suggested before, I actually think that Stephane Dion did the right thing by allowing the throne speech to pass and live to fight another day.

Take the political hit now, but wait for a better opportunity to bring the government down when you're in a stronger position yourself. It's probably smart politics and helps you develop a thick skin while you're at it, too.

Yes, it betrays everything the Liberals have been saying about Harper since the second he came into office. Yet, they're never going to learn any lessons from the last election, and bottom-line politics is what Canadians have come to expect from Liberals anyhow. Why change now?

However, there are two problems with this strategy.

The first is that Dion has set himself up to swallow a whole bunch of confidence items in the next few weeks. I also don't think he'll receive any help from the opposition parties in stalling these for too long.

Both the NDP and the Bloc will not be afraid to vote up or down on a lot of these measures, so Dion will face the same dilemma he did today on an almost weekly basis.

There is some room to wiggle here, which is why we'll see just how good he and his team are at parliamentary chess. Needless to say, I haven't been impressed so far, but we'll see.

The second problem with Dion's strategy is that it assumes things can only get better with time. I know I have my own doubts about that proposition.

So far, I have not seen any indication that he understands what it means to be a leader of a national governing alternative. If it hasn't happened in a year, why would it happen ever?

Having said all that, he does live to fight another day. He can try to pick and choose his battles. He can hope to stall until a more opportune time arrives for an election.

There are worse things to face in politics, like an election you'd lose badly.

In politics, you really can't go wrong in choosing the better of two bad alternatives. I think it's as simple as that.

I would wonder if Dion really does live to fight another day.

The Liberals have framed this Parliament, essentially, as a life-and-death struggle against Harper and his "unCanadian" values, especially since Dion's come into power.

When everything is life or death, you die a lot of times. I suspect this'll be Dion's predicament in the coming weeks.


Hi Patrick,

Well, I think this is where we're going to see just how strong Dion's parliamentary strategists are.

Unless Dion's decision to accept the throne speech was a complete act of desperation, I suspect they have some thoughts as to how to tackle the legislative agenda.

Alternatively, they have a different vision of how an election will be forced.

We'll see.


To some extent I agree that Dion did the smart thing yesterday, but the problem is that he clearly couldn't leave well alone.

By introducing the extremely self-serving amendment and the convolutions that he is prepared to go through, he has now shredded the one thing that (some) people could still respect in him, namely his principles.

He has reinforced the stereotype of the wimpy professor in his ivory tower. You can just imagine him going over the language of the amendment, and the contortions he has proposed and convincing himself that he had outsmarted Harper.

I think L. Ian Macdonald put it best yesterday when he said ,"Would you like to go door-knocking and explain this to someone in 30 seconds ?"


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