Tag Archives: Chantal Hébert

Mulcair to resign after election?

Chantal Hebert is suggesting this in her latest column.

I guess because I have always assumed that Mulcair would not win this election and that the Orange Wave was a one off election result, that he would hold on.  Then again, I am not a partisan New Democrat and kind of missed this.

If — as the polls are suggesting — he leads the NDP back to third place, Mulcair is unlikely to get another kick at the election can.

The New Democrats have a long and unbroken record of federal defeats and almost as long a history of giving their leaders a second or even a third chance. But a defeat this time would feel different to many party loyalists for they were asked to put quite a bit of water in their ideological wine on the way to their latest bid for government.

To make matters worse, if the NDP ends up back in third place, it will not be because it stood against the Conservative anti-terrorism act or opposed Canada’s military role in its mission against Islamic extremists in the Middle East, or even because it stood against a niqab ban.

From the New Democrat perspective, those would all be good hills to die on.

What has really ailed the Mulcair campaign has been an excess of prudence and a failure to cast the party as a compelling, convincing agent of change. On that score, the Liberals did not steal the ground from under the feet of the New Democrats. The latter left it vacant for Trudeau to occupy.

Whether Mulcair himself would want to stay on for very long if he is defeated in the election is an open question.

Over the campaign, the NDP leader has sometimes been hard-pressed to conceal his contempt for the skills of his Liberal rival. It is hardly a given that he would want to play second fiddle to Trudeau in opposition to another Conservative government or that he could be a happy camper propping up a minority Liberal government.

Also, if you are Harper or Mulcair, columns like these are the worst thing you want to read anytime but especially this close to the election.

Are Harper’s Allies Fleeing

There is this feeling that he will be defeated in 2015.

After nearly a decade as prime minister, Harper’s capacity to reward loyalty is no longer what it used to be; nor is his latitude to punish those who cross him.
The prime minister can technically still appoint senators but a lingering scandal makes that politically suicidal. And on the heels of a string of bad appointments his judgment has widely been called into question.
Meanwhile, the more ambitious Conservatives are looking beyond Harper’s reign. The more timorous are afraid he might take them down with him.
Harper’s approval rating has fallen below 30 per cent. So have party fortunes in voting intentions. This is not a passing slump. It has endured for more than a year. And that can only exacerbate pre-existing tensions within a jittery party.
The coming-together of the Reform/Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives was never more than a marriage of convenience. Now the Tory wing of Harper’s reconstituted party is reasserting itself.
Brian Mulroney — a predecessor that the prime minister declared persona non grata over his dealings with lobbyist Karlheinz Shreiber a few years ago — is back on the Conservative celebrity speaking circuit.
Last week droves of Conservative aides, MPs and ministers came out to hear Mulroney deliver a keynote speech on energy policy. They gave him two standing ovations. Ministers John Baird and Peter MacKay respectively introduced and thanked the former prime minister.
In Harper’s own Calgary backyard last weekend, Conservative members removed loyalist Rob Anders — a six-term backbencher — as their 2015 candidate for the riding of Signal Hill.
They selected former Alberta minister Ron Liepert in defiance of the recommendation of Jason Kenney, the jobs minister, who doubles as Harper’s most influential Alberta cabinet member.
Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe once compared leading his party to a devastating defeat in 2011 to being trapped on an elevator in free fall. It is time to put a safety warning on the door of Harper 2015 re-election ride.

Then the mother of all civil wars then the Blue Tories and the Red Tories will battle for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

Hebert: A Perfect Storm for Conservative Trifecta

From the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert

The fact is that, over the past three months, Harper’s agenda has featured more so-called distractions than anything else.

Creaky wheels in the PMO and in the cabinet; cracks in caucus solidarity and public opinion turbulence have become hallmarks of the ongoing federal season.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s 2013 budget played to tepid reviews. He has been battling a painful illness. In the lead-up to a mid-term shuffle there has been unprecedented speculation as to his future role in the government.

For different reasons, outgoing Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright — who both played strategic roles on Harper’s economic watch — are simultaneously out of the picture.

For the first time since Harper became leader, some elements of the religious right have waged open war on his leadership. That comes on the heels of a public collision between the prime minister’s parliamentary lieutenants and the social conservative wing of his caucus over the abortion issue. That clash has morphed into a larger internal battle over the democratic rights of government MPs.

An early attempt to clip the wings of Justin Trudeau seems to have backfired. Polls suggest that the latest Liberal leader is less vulnerable to the black magic of Conservative spin doctors than his predecessors.

In yet another first, the prime minister lost a seat to a byelection earlier this month and, in the process, his only Newfoundland-and-Labrador minister. Peter Penashue had initially resigned over 2011 election spending violations.

On the same general theme, a federal court judge found that fraudulent phone calls to non-Conservative voters in the last election were part of a systemic attempt to prevent them from voting. While last week’s ruling did not point the finger at the Conservatives, it did conclude that whoever was behind the manoeuvre accessed the party’s data bank.

If there ever was a time when the government needed to change the channel it would be now, but Harper does not have a lot of alternative programming to offer.

A superficial cut?

Chantal Hébert on whether or not Claude Patry’s defection to the Bloc Quebecois is a big deal or minor distraction to the NDP

Self-interest is almost always a factor in the decision to cross the floor but the Hill can also be a lonely place and more than one MP has become estranged from his party for lack of camaraderie or, in the case of French-language MPs, linguistic isolation.

It is too early to tell whether jumping ship will improve Patry’s chances of surviving the next election. By then, the Parti Québécois could be back in opposition in the National Assembly, or going through pre-referendum manoeuvres on the basis of a governing majority.

Jonquière—Alma has been out of the Bloc fold for the better part of a decade. The riding switched to the Conservatives before falling to the NDP. It can no longer be considered a sovereigntist stronghold.

What is certain is that Patry is going back to his comfort zone. His decision to run under the NDP banner in 2011 pitted him against the Bloc-aligned local union leadership and his spell under a federalist banner apparently did not dent his sovereigntist convictions.

Perspectives on the so-called unity debate are strikingly different in the federal capital and in the nationalist stronghold of the Saguenay. The transition from one venue to the other often involves a rude awakening.

In the immediate, Patry’s defection looks more like a paper cut than a puncture wound for the NDP. There is not currently on the Quebec radar a simmering anti-NDP backlash over the issue of referendum rules, or solid signs of an imminent revival of the Bloc Québécois.

But Patry’s move is still a stark reminder to his former New Democrat colleagues from Quebec that the luck of the draw has more to do with their positions in the Commons than their merits.

With only a few exceptions, there will be no safe NDP seats in Quebec in 2015 and indeed precious few safe seats of any kind at all.

While the NDP membership numbers improved to 12,300 during the federal leadership race, there are not a lot of NDP members in Quebec.  There are actually more NDP members in Saskatchewan than there is in Quebec despite the population difference which makes me wonder if the NDP can hold on to their gains in Quebec, especially is Justin Trudeau’s numbers hold and with a resurgent PQ holding power (and assuming providing organizational support).  My feeling right now is that you could see Quebec losing most of the seats it gained in Quebec in the next election and the reduced to third place in the House of Commons.

I don’t think Patry’s defection is a serious threat to Mulcair but the bigger problem for the NDP is building the political machine needed to hold these seats.