On Saturday, May 7, The Toronto Star, published a front-page “Exclusive” article entitled “What Really Sunk Ignatieff and the Liberals”, written by veteran reporter Linda Diebel. You can read it here:
Among the reasons it cites for the Liberal’s demise was the fact that during the April 12th leaders’ debate, NDP leader Jack Layton drew blood by calling out Michael Ignatieff on his attendance record in Parliament.
“Why do you have the worst attendance record in the House of Commons?” Layton challenged Ignatieff, adding the Liberal leader missed 70 per cent of the votes.
Diebel writes: “As (NDP) campaign director (Brad) Lavigne recalls: ‘At that moment we knew our guy had just scored a home run.’ The home run was what political junkies call the ‘pivot.’” The story details how the NDP, as early as January, decided to focus on the attendance issue as a way to attack the Liberals. They assembled a focus group in March and put this very issue before it. When it turned out to be popular in that forum, the NDP drew up the ads that highlighted Ignatieff’s attendance record.
What this suggests is that the NDP strategy, long before the election writ was dropped in late March, was to focus on the Liberals and Ignatieff in particular, whose inexperience and arrogance proved to be manna in political heaven. Those NDPers suggesting the party did not deliberately go after Liberal ridings and Ignatieff are clearly out of touch with what really went down.
In the same issue of the Star, columnist Thomas Walkom, in a piece entitled “Harper’s majority and the fitful economy” writes about how the Harper majority government is not going to make matters better for the Canadian economy. He notes that in February the economy shrank, that the manufacturing sector is doing poorly because of the high loonie, inflation is rising and, most ominously, the Tories plan to cut $17-billion out of the budget over the next five years. “That’s not Republican-style restraint,” Walkom writes. “But when so little else is going on, it promises to be extraordinarily counterproductive.” Indeed, in the UK, as the Tory government slashes its budget, unemployment is on the rise as a direct consequence.
Walkom’s column can be found here:
Meanwhile, earlier this year, TD Canada Trust published a survey that said 30 percent of Canadians do not have enough money to cover living expenses and 38 per cent had no savings at all.
While the NDP are obviously not responsible for the fumblings and missteps of the Liberals during the election campaign, they are responsible for deliberately targeting Liberal ridings as easy pickings, as opposed to fighting the Tories in their strongholds. The Tories have been clever in reaching out to the new immigrant populations and the Jewish community – traditional supporters of the Liberals – and attacking the Liberal’s poor leadership. The NDP has clearly benefited from the weakness of the Liberals, too. Which split the vote, and allowed the Tories their majority.
The alarming thing about this development is it shows how the NDP is really no different from other mainstream electoral machines. Like the Republicans in the US who obsess about whether Obama is really an American, or whether gay marriages will destroy the country, and ignore the enormous real crises cascading across the US landscape, the NDP risks embracing the trivial in order to score political points. Ignatieff’s record of attendance means very little in the grand scheme of things. At the same time, the working and middle classes are falling into dire economic straits and desperation, weighted down by debt, with good jobs being increasingly difficult to find, and the cost of living soaring. Let’s hope the NDP doesn’t forget that reality now that they are the official opposition.
- The Perils of Passivity (November 7th, 2013)
- This is Not the Saskatchewan NDP’s Official Position (October 9th, 2013)
- Economists for Linda McQuaig (September 3rd, 2013)
- Chrystia Freeland’s Liberal Use of Economic Platitudes (August 17th, 2013)
- What’s a Point of Corporate Tax Worth? (August 13th, 2013)