Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bloc Quebecois: A terrible return on investment

With the French debate on my mind this morning, I found these scribblings regarding the Bloc by Tim Power, a proud Newfoundlander, quite interesting to say the least:
It was only a few months ago that Gilles Duceppe had announced he was leaving the BQ to try to lead the PQ. That journey lasted no more than a day. Also, the BQ - like the PQ - have for all intents and purposes put sovereignty on the back burner. With 18 years in Ottawa, and many healthy federal pensions built up for their MPs, the Bloc have only managed to pass four pieces of legislation. It is not for me or Rob to tell Quebeckers what to do, but if I were a Quebecker I'd have to give some long hard thought about what my voting investment in the Bloc is doing for my province.

I come from a place where nationalism is alive and well. We have a premier who has marshaled its forces to great effect. But even with Newfoundland and Labrador's growing wealth and sense of self-confidence, will you find anyone serious who seriously advocates a break from the federation or would be prepared to support a federal party that apparently lives for the federation's death? While the Premier may have taken the controversial view that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should not vote for one federal party, he has made it abundantly clear he wants the Canada-Newfoundland relationship to work.

At heart I am both a Canadian and a Newfoundland nationalist - they are congruent. We have had similar struggles to the people of Quebec and with Quebec. I respect and admire Quebeckers, but I am still stuck to understand the longevity of the Bloc.
Wow, four pieces of legislation in eighteen years (and fully sponsored by taxpayers to boot). The only other politician I know that could possibly meet (or surpass) that rate of unproductive absenteeism is MRD Liberal candidate Brian Murphy. A guy who missed over 43 votes in the House of Commons in just a few short years. To be honest, a record like that is something that voters in Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe should give some serious thought to when considering what their own voting investment in Murphy is doing for their riding.

A few things on Ken Dryden's speech in Fredericton

Though I wasn't as lucky as Rob to catch Mr. Dryden's "Mr. Nice Guy" speech live in the Restigouche Room at the Beaverbrook, I did catch it on CBC Newsworld this morning. And even though it was a little wordy, I found it to be very eloquently delivered. However, I can't say the same for the content contained within the speech as there was a little too much fluff in there for my liking. In it, Dryden attempted to paint Harper as a "not so nice" leader and listed a host of wasteful, statist Liberal programs that were cut as the reasoning behind his theory. He even went on to conclude (warning not verbatim) that from my experience "'not so nice guy's win" but "nice guy's win as well." I can only take that to mean that Dion is the nice guy deserved of victory that he is referring in that line.

Anyway, from someone who knows a little bit about playing sports for losing teams with a "nice guy" at the helm and winning teams with a "not so nice guy" as coach, I have to admit, if anything, Dryden's "Nice Guy" speech put into perspective why Dion's undisciplined, nice guy approach to politics is losing and Harper's tough, disciplined approach is winning.

Let's just say, nobody ever accused Trudeau, Mulroney or Chretien of being nice guys. Actually the former was decribes by his peers as "always combative, sometimes absurdly so" and the latter, Chretien, can be remembered for reducing the tough and rigid Carolyn Bennett to tears when she dared to cross him in front of caucus members at a cabinet meeting. Did Chretien hate her? Absolutely not. But he realized, as did other successful Prime Ministers, that to manage the egos within your own party, you had to be tough. Let's face it, anybody that I talk to who knows anything about federal politics, knows this isn't a business for "nice fellows". I think even Warren Kinsella would conquer with that, since he was the one that said Bob Rae would have never lived to see his 61st birthday if he had of tried to pull a stunt like this on his former boss. As the saying goes, "nice guys finish last."


henry j said...

The recent loss in Liberal support can mostly be attributed to a resurgence of the Bloc Quebecois over the past month:

* Bloc: 45 per cent (+11)
* Conservatives: 24 per cent (+1)
* Liberals: 18 per cent (-8)
* NDP: 12 per cent (none)
* Green Party: 1 per cent (-4)

As much as I don't like them, they are still a factor in Quebec.

bill said...

The problem with the debate format is that the expectations far outweigh the results. Don't expect Harper to land any knockout blows on Duceppe and Dion on Harper.

Anonymous said...

With the economy to be the focus of the debate tonight and tomorrow, the opinions of the Bloc will likely be irrelevant.

So at the end of the day, The Liberals and the NDP will be attacking Mr Harper on an issue that he clearly is stronger then his opponents.

That said, will the debate actually help define the platforms of the various leaders? Not likely!

Rob said...

I think there's a big difference in public portrayal of a leader, and their actions in public.

Like you said on my blog, Trudeau and Chrétien had very different public and private personas. Mulroney had a tough time getting his massive charisma and charm to work as well in a large rally or on television as he did in smaller, less scripted settings. That's all inside baseball stuff, irrelevant to the general public.

The point of Mr Dryden's speech, IMO, was that the Conservatives are spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to paint Stephen Harper as a sweater-vest wearing, piano playing nice guy. So far, less than 4 in 10 Canadians are comfortable with him, so maybe the Tories thought playing the nice guy card would work. Mr Dryden's correct in showing that the PM's actions don't necessarily match the marketing.

The Prime Minister can be a tough bastard in private, and not many Canadians would lose much sleep over it. But if he doesn't come across as a "nice guy" in public, he might have problems winning a majority government. Thus the sweater vest ads while my better half watches wedding shows on the women's network.

nbt said...

Very different public and private personas? How's that? They both showed irritability and angst towards non-political people outside the house and their own caucus within. Chretien choked a guy for god sakes!!

And for your "less than 4 in 10 Canadians are comfortable with him." I guess you forget that numbers can grow, but in any event, just remember that just 4 out of every 10 voted for Chretien, the Liberals most successful Prime Minister.

rick said...

When it comes to economics, Harper will destroy Dion. Dions platform is based on big business not reducing carbon. If they do reduce green house gases, his whole platform fails. What will he do, raise taxes and the GST. Dion will have no choice. Duceppe who cares he only has on thing to say, and he has failed at that for along time. Layton will do well, May will fall hard. Lets take a look at the situation. Harper has been watching the World economy for yrs. He made tax cuts, that helped Canadians spend money. Why you ask, he knew the WAR in Irag and the Sub Prime in the US was going to be a problem. Why do you think he says stay the course; because he predicted this, and if we make stupid changes; the economy will be affected. If Canadians do not spend money, manufactory, investment, housing is all affected. Interest rates are good in Canada, business is stable, not great, but we are still growing. I want a majority; if not, this country is in trouble.

iain g. foulds said...

... Mr. Harper should just relax, enjoy himself, and present his solid position in his clear and thoughtful style.

... How the high-maintenance drama queens of Quebec voters will react will be beyond any rational understanding anyways.

... You can lead a horse to water....

Rob said...

Very different public and private personas? How's that? They both showed irritability and angst towards non-political people outside the house and their own caucus within. Chretien choked a guy for god sakes!!

But, for the average Joe on the street, what's their opinion of Chretien or Trudeau? Chretien is the aw-shucks "little guy from shawinigan" who ate at Harvey's w/ Rick Mercer. For a lot of people (exc. out west of course), their image is of Trudeau is of 1968 Pierre, not 1984 Pierre.

Of course, political geeks like us know the difference, but like I said, that's all inside baseball. Pierre and Jean aren't the point though, the CPC is trying to portray Stephen Harper as the "nice guy". Dryden called them on it.

nbt said...

So you're saying he's not a nice guy? There's absolutely no proof of that, both publically or personally with Harper?

Although, I'm not sure you could say the same with regards to Trudeau, who flipped Canadians the bird and told protesters to shut up and get back to work. And Chretien? Do I even have to explain? Just glad it was two Liberals that did those things b/c if it were Tories the press would try to have them locked up for life. Either that, or we would never hear the end of it on the fifth estate.

Anyway, I guess I'm not buying into this whole left-wing rant about the sweater vest. Harper is a good guy, he is a good family man, and he does what he thinks is right for the country in an honest fashion.

Anonymous said...

In my neck of the woods in Ontario I've heard that many of Harper's MPs are not even allowed to talk to the media. It just shows how much of a control freak Mr. Harper is.

nbt said...

Laurie Hawn said it best when he noted "that it's important to disagree and battle when behind closed doors (at caucus), but we leave united and as a team. That's why Garth Turner is no longer with us, he breached that trust (and let down the team) by airing unnecessary dirty laundry."

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