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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Not surprising 

Well, I can't say I'm surprised at this news:
The Strategic Counsel poll done for The Globe and Mail suggests a majority of Canadians preferred keeping a Conservative government over getting a new Liberal-NDP coalition with Bloc Québécois support.
Steve V thinks that Liberal supporters need to face this reality:
the coalition [is]losing the frame
and we should deal with it.
The coalition began losing the frame war when they spent three days yelling about separatism during Question Period -- ask Howard Dean how well screaming works as a public relations technique! -- instead of keeping their focus on the economy and their good economic ideas. The final straw was that awful tape fiasco. Both played precisely into the Rovian Conservative frame that it was the coalition, not the Conservatives, who were secretive, incompetent and untrustworthy.
In the EKOS poll which Steve references, the numbers indicate the public is just as concerned about the economy as the Liberals and NDP are, but only one in three were supportive of a coalition government led by Stephane Dion. EKOS concludes:
• The Conservatives are winning the initial public opinion war.
• There seems, however, to be a modest night-to-night trend that favours the oalition on all measures (i.e., vote intention, three-partner coalition).
• While too early to say, it may be that the public are digging into deep and irreconcilable differences on this issue.
• What started as a political skirmish over the economy now has the potential to produce deep wounds to national unity.
• Bottom Line: Despite initial favourable response to the Conservatives, the public are flummoxed and angry. Dispute seems to be aggravating existing national fault lines.
Over the longer term, I wouldn't be surprised if the Canadian public found itself nostalgic for what the coalition wanted to do. They had some terrific ideas:
We'll protect good jobs by supporting key industry sectors. The auto sector will get credit guarantees and low-interest loans, tied to producing low-emission vehicles Canadians want. Forestry companies with good business plans and a viable future will qualify for credit guarantees.
We'll create jobs straight away. Ready-to-go infrastructure projects will be fast-tracked. Retrofitting homes and building affordable housing can begin right away. Then there are jobs in renewable energy and expanded public transit.
We'll invest in families through EI reform, skills training and help for older workers moving to retirement. And we'll help seniors through pension protection, reform to mandatory RRIF withdrawals and increased Old Age Security.
We'll work closely with the new Obama administration on fighting climate change with a cap-and-trade system. And we'll work for fairer trade to make sure there are healthy markets for Canadian goods.
Compare these to the Conservative brain trust, who wanted to abandon pay equity and break the civil service unions. What century are these guys living in? Even in Harper's speech last night, he seemed to think that indirect measures like "injecting liquidity into financial markets" and reducing taxes and "undertaking due diligence on any further requests for assistance from the auto industry" would be sufficient.
The sad fact is that the Conservatives just do not know what they are doing with the economy. Harper won't have the flexibility to just steal some of the coalition's ideas -- his usual ideological filter would label these ideas as just too "socialist" -- and he doesn't have any ideas of his own, just slogans and name-calling.
Sigh.

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