Owing to a ridiculously ill-considered act of hubris, [Harper] has laid himself vulnerable to his opponents. Their imperative could not be more clear: kill him. Kill him dead. Do not, whatever you do, provide him with an opportunity to extend his hold on power. Because you can be damn certain he will never again be so reckless as to give you a chance to finish him off.This can't be said often enough -- Stephen Harper needs to be defeated, and in particular needs to be seen as having lost because of ideological hubris. That will be good for Canada, and even good for the Conservative party once they nurse their wounds.
The first step in nursing the wounds is to stop the bleeding, and that means the Conservatives have to dump Harper. Any poor sucker can lose his government because of a calamity. A number of leaders in human history can tell you, when famine, flood, or fire strikes the people quickly find ways of making their displeasure known. This, on the other hand, is a mistake of such enormity somewhere Joe Clark is thinking "damn, he makes me look gooood." It takes a world-class bungle to lose your government over a trifle, and that's what this will have been. Harper has been relatively smart as political leaders go, but you simply cannot allow a fuck-up like this to be unpunished. And I would encourage any Conservatives to strongly consider dumping Harper even if he retains the Prime Minister's Office after Dec. 8th. To have even brought the government close to falling over such petty matters is itself an indictment of Harper's ability to govern.
Paul Wells has some of the inside gossip from the Press Gallery Dinner, and I was in particular struck by this, which I take as very good news:
Some Liberals say the Bloc will not accept Michael Ignatieff as PM and that the Bloc insists on Dion, who will do less damage to their long-term chances. Some Liberals say the NDP will not accept Bob Rae as PM. I spoke to an NDP negotiator who said the party does not care who serves as PM. “The Liberal leader will be PM. The Liberals get to decide who their leader is.” The Bloc does not expect cabinet seats. I’ve heard one report that the Bloc is insisting on a French-only requirement for public-service employees in Quebec. This was news to a Bloquiste I quizzed. The NDP does expect cabinet seats; a deal like the 1985 accord in Ontario, which sealed NDP cooperation for a Liberal-only cabinet, is unacceptable to the NDP, who see this as a chance to groom a young generation of New Democrats who are used to the compromises and disciplines of actually governing.Jack Layton's long-term project of making the NDP a party of government, not just a party of protest, is proceeding well. I say Prime Minister Dion and Finance Minister Goodale is a good start. If the point of this coalition is to give the country sane financial and economic management, putting a former Finance Minister back in office to get an effective budget out ASAP seems like a no-brainer to me. And the NDP and BQ have no business getting in the middle of the Liberal leadership race: let Dion sit until the leadership race is over.
But none of this will matter if someone defects. Already I'm seeing Liberals willing to make nice now that the most offensive parts of the fiscal update have been shelved. Aside from the fact that it would consitute a major defeat for the opposition to back down at this point -- forget what you've achieved, the story would be that Harper won the day by surviving -- this is about more than the details of the fiscal update. A supermajority of people voted for someone other than a Conservative MP, and it would be nice to have a government that represented most of the people of this country. Not that any of this matters to knuckleheads like Stephen Ledrew, who's on CTV saying that good Liberals are horrified at the thought of a coalition.
So: let's begin weak-kneed defection watch!