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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Be careful what you wish for 

This election is happening because Harper wants his majority government and he thinks he's going to get it.
While adopting the appearance of supreme confidence, the Harper Conservatives are throwing money around like drunken sailors and making promises to leave Afghanistan. They're so desperate to get Maple Leaf foods off the front pages that they're promising an inquiry -- yeah, I'm sure that'll happen, just as soon as they finish the Mulroney one. And their website is chock full of stories about how awful they think Dion's green shift is.
But they shouldn't underestimate Dion. Though Harper is more popular than he was, and than I think he should be, Canadians still just don't trust the Conservatives.
We trust Dion and support Liberalism in general. At today's Liberal town-hall campaign opener in Edmonton, Dion came out swinging:
"We are all playing, all of us, we are in the game," he said. "If we fight, and if we fight well, with Ken Dryden as our goalie, we will win....
"Don't waste your time looking at polls going up and down."
After a town hall-style meeting - in which he went to work on explaining how the green tax shift will benefit Canadians in general and Albertans in particular - Dion said he envisions the Liberal campaign as a series of such meetings with Canadians across the country.
"We are everywhere, as you have seen," he said.
And, he slipped in references to the way Prime Minister Stephen Harper has handled the media since coming to power in 2006.
"I am here, working without a safety net, answering any questions Canadians have to ask," Dion said. "I want this election to be a big town hall where we will discuss what's best for this country."
He also questioned, again, Harper's decision to call an election short of a fixed date in 2009.
"He gives a bad example to Canadians by not respecting his own law," Dion said.
Boris went to see Dion and gives us this report:
Dion spoke for about an hour, beginning with a short and clear campaign type speech to much applause, followed by a long question and answer period with the audience. The prelims introduced the Edmonton area Liberal candidates, and Dion's opener was all about the Green Shift. This is clearly the major policy issue they'll run on.
Overall, he appeared confident, well spoken, most definitely passionate, and approachable. I'd say handled himself very well, standing in utter contrast to the character assassinations coming from the Cons, let alone Harper as a person dead fish crooked pine 2x4. Definitely an A grade on form . . .
I made the comment to a friend afterwards that I was left wanting to corner Dion and pick his brain over coffee or beer. If he can stimulate that sort of interest in the broader public, perhaps he's on to something.
Harper has been listening to the polls telling him how popular he is, but as Jack Knox points out, the public mood isn't particularly positive for this election -- in fact, people are annoyed that Harper is pushing it:
...an election now is like going to the mailbox and finding a notice from your dentist saying it's time to get your teeth cleaned. You look at the notice and go, "Already? I thought I didn't have to go again until October 2009." That's when we were supposed to vote under Harper's fixed-date election legislation, the law that was supposed to free the process from political manipulation.
But the Conservative guy on the CBC show said no, no, another election campaign might be like going to the dentist, but we have to do it because Parliament is so dysfunctional. I guess he's right, if by dysfunctional you mean no one party having enough votes to do anything wingnuttish without the others taking away the car keys until the government sobers up.
Indeed, the Conservatives keep repeating to us that Canadians seem to like minority governments and that the forthcoming election is likely to breed another one. Super. Then let's keep the one we've got. It's only two years old, barely has the motor broken in, doesn't even have a dent. (Don't worry about that Bernier-Couillard business; it will buff right out.)
But since we're being forced to make a trade, maybe we'll go for a different model.

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