Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stephen Harper - Sacre Bleu sweater! - blows the election and misses Conservative majority with 2 huge mistakes

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Wednesday October 15, 2008

Sacre bleu sweater - Harper blew it!


Politics is the art of the next best.

- Otto von Bismarck, German chancellor, 1815-1898

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper woke up this morning at 24 Sussex the first thing he likely said was: "Sacre bleu sweater! I blew it!"

And he did. Harper is stuck with another minority Conservative government instead of the majority he desperately wanted because he made two key mistakes.

It didn't seem possible early in the campaign. A relentless advertising attack on Stephane Dion had made the Liberal leader look hapless and helpless, certainly no choice for prime minister.

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe seemed equally inept, with nationalism a low priority in the province.

Meanwhile, New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton was aggressively chasing Dion for abstaining 43 times in Parliament to keep Harper in power, while nipping at Liberal heels in Quebec.

Harper did the math - make modest gains in la belle province and hold the fort in Ontario, the Atlantic and western Canada, let Layton bash Dion and merci beaucoup - four years of majority power.

But politics is more an art than a science and Harper made two disastrous miscalculations.

On Sept. 23 Harper attacked arts and culture after cutting $45 million in funding.

"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have actually gone up - I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people," Harper said in a Jeff Foxworthy "You might be a redneck if ..." moment the old Reform Party would have loved.

But not Quebecers. The incredibly stupid move galvanized the province's artistic community and kick-started the Bloc Quebecois.

The counterattack hammered the Tories in Quebec and any chance of more seats there.

Then came another huge error by Harper. The financial market meltdown terrified Canadians, who saw their retirement savings devastated and their jobs on the line.

So what were Harper's reassuring words of leadership? "I think there are probably some gains to be made in the stock market," he said.

Ouch! Mr. Compassionate strikes again. Harper's hopes that English Canada would reward the Conservatives disappeared, along with his majority dream.

But at least Harper still has the keys to his office. Watch for the Liberal bloodletting to begin as Dion's failure to communicate in this election leads to his swift demise.

And with a Liberal leadership review constitutionally required, Harper can safely ignore any threats that the Liberals will defeat his government.

It may be the Canadian Parliament but it's back to the Mexican standoff between political parties that has marked the last several years.


Anonymous said...

Are you going to talk about the mistakes that Layton made as well ?

Anonymous said...


I don't know what was the worse thing to happen to the Liberals last night, losing 20 seats or having Joyce Murray get re-elected. She was a strong supporter of the disasterous Carbon Tax as well as the Liberal decision to adopt quotas to run 33% female candidates. Which brings me to my next rant. How is it that the Liberals ran 37% women in BC and elected only 2 female MPs, while the Conservatives ran only 20% women and elected 4?

Bill Tieleman said...

To Anonymous 8:08 - sure I will. Jack Layton shouldn't have started the campaign saying he was running for prime minister - it simply wasn't credible. And the NDP advertising was poorly done throughout the campaign - the retro look, the foolish "new kind of strong" line - it just didn't work.

But Jack did have a good campaign despite that and increased his caucus by over 20% - his leadership is not in doubt. The Liberals were the only party to lose seats in Parliament in this election - and that means Stephane Dion is finished.

Grumpy said...

The big news is that Canada is turning into a mediocracy, where over 50% (counting those who did not vote, Greens, & independents) do not like or support the three major parties.

This is dangerous as it means half the population don't support the elite/status quo.

The same sort of thing happened in Germany in the 20's, where a nut bar Austrian chap took over an entire country. I'm not saying it will happen here but over half the country do not think the established political parties are worthy of a vote.

This leads the door open for a charismatic leader to sway the discontented to support a radical platform, what ever it may be.

This election was a wake up call for the Conservatives, Liberals and the NDP, if they care to notice, that the Canadian public are fed up with them, there policies, thier hangers-ons, and their elitism. Who is smart enough to understand this?

Justin Trudeau maybe?

Anonymous said...

Has Dion left yet? His two leadersip rivals must be salivating right now. They are more interested in his job than in the guy who beat them and who presently holds the job.

May did as expected, no seats but party funding so the greens can keep annoying people.

The NDP lost some close ones but their non candidate in Saanich and the Islands got a lot of votes , six percent, the greens did not support the greenest candidate in the race, and the slug Lunn got to keep doing what he does, so well. Nothing.

Jack Knox, Times Colonist, said it well today. "Here's the grim reality for the Liberals, New Democrats and anyone else with dreams of toppling the Conservatives in Saanich-Gulf Islands. If they can't win with these circumstances, how can they expect to win at all?"
The greens did not support the most green candidate in the riding and as mentioned above West the non NDP candidate got six percent.

The NDP breakthrough didn't, one more time, happen. Hope springs eternal.

The bloc running in one province gets more seats than the NDP

SteveBoy will keep running the store with his increased minority.
The opposition will go along as they have election bills to pay.

Voters sure are a weird group. But it's called democracy in action.
As in somebody telling the Saanich North Islands NDP to still vote for the absent West. Turns out the message did not come from the NDP. Nothing illegal says the cops.

Time to pull the covers over our heads and await Stevboys next attempt to gain a majority.

The STV folks will be active againa, and even this morning the old, unite the left talk is on the CBC radio.
I'm beginning to understand why so many Canadians simply ignore, at their peril, the political folks

Anonymous said...


Agreed, for the most part. The Tories had NO strategy in the margin--meaning no contingency plan for an unforseen the economy. The 'Safety Dance' that he was advised to follow was a HUGE mistake. He stuck to being formal enough in the last five days and the polling clearly showed an uptick. When he was glib, as you astutely point out, it spelled disaster.

On the issue of Joyce Murray, I think it's wonderful that she will be an easy pick for the Conservatives next time around, since she is such a dimwit. However, the Tories in Quadra will have to give their heads a shake and lose the idea that they can run anybody other than a young, energetic RED TORY. The riding is a conservative riding, small "c". Murray won last night because Meredith was so very underwhelming. Bless her, nice lady, but not a good candidate...unless you like sandpaper responses on everything from Afghanistan to the economy.

Harper has a new lease on life...9/10ths of this country voted for a majority government last night. He will have to craft a plan for Quebec.

So, all the baseless Bush comparisons, etc are now deflated. Abortion was never on the table and gay marriage is in the rear view mirror.

The PM, otherwise, is his own worst enemy, when he gets off message, as Bill pointed out.

On the issue of Layton, my pal Bill, his campaign mirror Harper's...when Captain Jack came off message, he blew it--huge time.

On the issue of taxing banks and raising taxes on business, and certainly, tearing up the softwood lumber agreement, which would kill thousands of families' livelihoods on the B.C. coast, reverse course on illegal U.S. tariffs, and tank the lumber business struggling to survive--Layotn was a MORON.

Bill Tieleman said...

NOTE: Comments with obscene and/or unfair derogatory language will not be posted here. If anyone want to anonymously post attacks on individuals involved with the Liberals or any other party - find somewhere else.

I have no problem with tough comments - I do with language unbecoming a civil political debate.

Anonymous said...

Re: Deborah Meredith

During the election campaign, Deborah Meredith's campaign office closed at 6 pm on weekdays, 4 pm on Sundays. There is no way you can win a tight race when you keep "bankers hours" like that. Joyce Murray outworked her, pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

If people can't restrain themselves from acting in an inappropriate manner, you should not allow them anywhere near your blog/website--period.

Robust discussion, even exceedingly robust discussion, is fine, but crapping on someone because you've got nothing better to do is just plainly, dense.

Anonymous said...

The Dion Carbon Tax plan just is plain dumb.

The question remains as to how the Campbell Carbon Tax will hurt the provincial liberals in 6 short months.

I heard that the Campbell group will be positioning themselves as the "Strong leader for a tough economy" line.

Let's see how that works in the by-elections.

Anonymous said...

In regards to Joyce Murray, it should be pointed out that she got re-elected with fewer votes than Conservative Stephen Rogers received in 2006. 13,000 Quadra Liberals, 3,000 Quadra Conservatives, and 5,000 Quadra NDPers who voted in 2006 stayed home yesterday. Talk about voter apathy in one of BC's best educated electoral districts.

Anonymous said...

I think the worst NDP moment during the campaign was when Vancouver Centre candidate Michael Byers said he would shut down the Oil Sands. No wonder he finished behind the Conservative in Centre.

Anonymous said...

The biggest winner around here could be the BC NDP, and their future campaign against Campbell's Carbon Tax.

However ....
As someone who supports Tax Shifting, Polluter Pay, et al, where do I go ... ???

BC Mary said...

Did anyone else have the problem of thinking that a Conservative win in BC meant a boost for Campbell's Gang?

... and that the slipping Liberal fortunes had nothing to do with Campbell's BC Liberals?

I guess that's what the name-changes are all about, really. Harper's Con-Men aren't the old Progressive Conservative Party. Harper started out in left field with the old Reform Party alongside Preston Manning, then they thought they'd like a better name and they chose Canadian Reform Alliance Party for a few happy days before Presters or Harper realized that they had invented the C.R.A.P. party and settled for the Alliance Party (taken from their U.S. affiliated church in Calgary).

Next big change was when Harper bamboozled David Orchard with a promise that he'd never so much as discuss merging with the honourable old Progressive Conservatives ... then merged with the Progressive Conservatives ...

only he felt another new name was needed for that ... and so it became the Conservative Party of Canada, or C.P.C., which enraged the honourable old Communist Party of Canada which figured it had first dibs on C.P.C. But no, the judge in that lawsuit ruled that both parties could use the acronym C.P.C.

So, viewed in perspective, this unnecessary Oct. 14 election does make me think of the Campbell Gang as a C.P.C. first and foremost.

As for the LINO (Liberal In Name Only) Party, they're not Liberals at all, are they? They're made up of retread Socreds, old BC Reform, old CPC (both kinds, I bet), with a whole lot of baggage too. So there was no connection with the LINOs in the Oct 14 election, was there?

No darn wonder we got confused in this recent unnecessary election.


Finian said...

I think the whole Reform / Canadian Alliance then back to bed with Mulrony’s Conservatives was a factor was well. It was at least for me:

When Harper says he wants to govern it sounds like Mulrony when he stacked the senate.

Anonymous said...

The difference between the federal and provincial political scenes is that federally there were two anti-carbon tax parties, the Conservatives and the NDP. Provincially there isonly one, the NDP. British Columbians who don't like the Carbon Tax will have to vote NDP. There is no other choice.

Anonymous said...

If only the unions had not SHUT UP we'd have seen a different outcome here. The gag law does not take effect 'til Dec. The Municipal Elections come next. Why are they putting up with 27% pay increases for Gordo's chosen few when they were conned into settlements until 2010?
Did you know the BC gov't lost $56 million on the Canada Line by investing in sub-prime mortgages?
Contact Susan Heyes at Hazel & Co. for details.

Have a nice day. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

If the Liberals are lucky, Joyce Murray will pull an Emerson and defect to the Conservatives with all her dumb ideas.

Anonymous said...

Joyce Murray is the Liberal version of Nina Grewal. Deborah Meredith is Conservative version of Brenda Locke.