Don Martin must be impressed by his own importance. He puts his name in the headline to his article. Notice the "ugly" spectre of the looming fall election. I am a bit bemused. Since Martin obviously is pro-Conservative or at least makes favorable comments on Harper, ignores Layton, and is quite critical of Dion why shouldn't he welcome the election and a Harper majority?
Martin's critique of Dion makes some valid points but the polls certainly do not show a majority government for the Conservatives if there were an election now. Even Harper noted in talking to the Council of Foreign Relations the other day that there could very well be another minority government. Of course Martin knows better than Harper. As for denouncing Harpers secret agenda, given Flanagan's recipe for success, Harper would indeed have a secret agenda or at least a right wing agenda that was played down in the campaign. Of course the Wheat Board issue and gun registry have not been secret but they certainly are undeniably part of the Conservative agenda, the latter a very popular one in many parts of the country.
Don Martin: Liberal help for Tory majority
By Don Martin, National Post
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
As the ugly spectre of a fall election looms larger with every bizarre demand by opposition leaders trying to dictate the government agenda from a position of weakness, there's plenty of advice on ways Stephen Harper can reel in a majority government.
The most insightful map to victory is a book written by University of Calgary professor Tom Flannagan, a friend of the Prime Minister's and Conservative campaign manager for a trio of elections.
His top ten commandments for happiness on the hustings include the need for party unity, policy moderation, ethnic outreach, show-no-mercy negative advertising, gagged-candidate discipline, baby-step policy changes, youth-friendly technology and improved communication.
But arguably the most surprising hints of a majority in the making come from the unlikeliest of sources. Enter the Conservative's most formidable campaign helper - Liberal leader Stéphane Dion.
Here, based on Mr. Dion's recent dismal performance, is a Top 10 list of ways he risks inadvertently helping Mr. Harper find that elusive holy grail of government - a majority mandate.
1. Defeat the Throne Speech and force a fall election over the government's refusal to order a 2009 military withdrawal from Afghanistan while shrugging off a Kyoto-imposed reduction in greenhouse gases. The Prime Minister has been deliberately coy on both issues, boxing Mr. Dion into strident positions while he seeks a temperature-dropping middle ground. Besides, the Conservatives have a fully-staffed computer-ready war room, money in the bank and buses ready to roll on a moment's notice. The Liberals have only debt and disorganization.
2. Keep promising Quebecers that this Liberal leader will renew his effort to know them, work for them and win back their love. With their poll numbers dipping to single digits in some Quebec areas, it's a wasted effort that merely gives the rest of Canada a case of the second-class sniffle. Mr. Dion should hunt for votes where he might win seats - specifically Atlantic Canada, Ontario and perhaps Saskatchewan.
3. Go ahead, Stéphane, keep flogging that hidden Harper agenda. He "denounced" secret Conservative plans to do away with the Canadian Wheat Board and the firearms registry on Wednesday, notions so well hidden they were included in earlier Conservative campaigns. It's tired bogeyman strategy, wearing thin on voters who see the tactic for what it is - desperate, alarmist and mostly untrue.
4. Release a long plodding cure-all list of election vows in yet another Red Book. It would be so Paul Martin to issue a thick document with promise after grandiose promise, most of them without a price tag. Mr. Dion needs a short, crisp, pamphlet-sized platform and those who have seen the preliminary version say that's exactly what he'll produce.
5. Let Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Gerard Kennedy run the Liberal campaign. Okay, so stories that the leadership runners-up were engaged in recent byelection sabotage lacked credible sources and probable foundation, but the trio definitely has a potential payoff if Mr. Dion flounders in the next election. A snap leadership convention could follow the post-election wake and one of those three would likely win. The last thing you want is a campaign in the hands of the people most likely to benefit from your loss.
6. Remain incapacitated by smiling, the notion of witty quips and self-deprecation. Aloof Dion has done the impossible - make ice-eyes Harper appear warm by contrast.
7. Keep ignoring star candidates who might win in Quebec (such as former astronaut Marc Garneau) in favor of wooing those who can't (recent Montreal byelection pick Jocelyn Coulon).
8. Deliver on that promise to visit Afghanistan. While it sounds politically correct to tour a mission his Liberals created, Mr. Dion in Kandahar would be a recipe for disaster. The welcome for a white-flagged politician urging a tail-between-legs retreat from the region will put the mess hall's overripe tomatoes to juicy-targeted deployment.
9. Visit the Council of Foreign Relations in New York. Any duplication of Harper's Tuesday appearance before this august body will only contrast Mr. Dion unfavourably to a prime minister who seems increasingly at ease and unflappable on the world stage. Having the confidence to face some of America's top political minds and emerge without a scratch was no mean feat for Mr. Harper. Put Mr. Dion under those bright lights and he would melt into incoherence.
10. Simply put - and this sounds mighty harsh - but if the current unimproved version of Stéphane Dion wants to hand Mr. Harper a decent shot at a majority this fall, two words should do the trick: Show up.