01.30.2012 09:00 AM

In today’s Hill Times: welcome back, MPs

There’s been a plethora of polls, in the past few days, and they tell us interesting things.

For the Conservatives, they’re down a bit, but not enough to relinquish the gold medal spot they’ve had for many, many months. For those of you who say the Harpies have become a Seinfeld government—a government about nothing—you’re likely to get the polls quoted back to you.

Staying out of the papers, the Harper folks will say, works. Canadians don’t like drama, at least when it comes to governing. Do your thing and stay out of our lives. Harper seems to be heeding that admonition, for now.

In second place, the silver medal spot, goes to the New Democrats. How they’ve remained there is, truly, an Olympian feat. It’s a mystery. They’ve done and said nothing—precisely nothing—for month after month. But in second place, they remain.

Sure, they’ve slipped a bit in Quebec and elsewhere. Sure, the media are grumpy about their boring leadership race. But—as a Dipper will no doubt tell you—they’re not a passing fad. Jack Layton put them in second place, and in second place they remain.

My beloved Liberals, meanwhile, have been maddeningly mired in third place—ignominious bronze medal status—for months. In the last couple weeks of the May 2011 campaign, we slid to third party status, and we’re stuck there.

Given how spectacularly dull the NDP leadership contest has been—and given how do-nothing the Harper folks have been, in the face of continuing economic turmoil in Europe and the U.S.—I find that frustrating as hell.

The Liberals have done well. They completely overshadow the NDP in media coverage, and the mid-January Ottawa policy convention—attended by 3,200 delegates—was a huge, huge success.

But here we are, still, looking down at the bronze medallions dangling from our necks. How do we get back to the top rung, where we belong?

I have some ideas, but I’m not at all certain they’ll work. But one thing’s certain: if we end 2012 where we started, Bob Rae won’t be leading us for long.


  1. smelter rat says:

    I heard a news report yesteday where Bob Rae was referred to as the leader of the opposition….that must sting. Gives you a sense of how invisible the NDP are I guess.

  2. Steve says:

    @Smelter Rat

    Or how the Ottawa media can’t adjust to the new reality because their long-cultivated Liberal Rolodex is suddenly not worth as much.

  3. Ed says:

    Are any policy options binding for CPC conventions Gord? WRP? No? Okay then.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      Bullshit…..its Mr Harpers cabal that calls the shots……no one else…..party policy is dictated by Mr. Harper…..and the rest of you follow like sheep…….

    • Michael says:

      The CPC policies are binding, but the party caucus can choose to not adhere to them?

      If the party caucus can choose to not adhere to them, doesn’t that by definition make them non-binding?

      Or do you live in bizzaro world. Oh scratch that, I have my answer.

  4. Lawrence Stuart says:

    I’d argue that it is the Liberal brand, not liberal ideas, that has lost public esteem. The NDP seem to many to be the better repository of those values at present.

    In darker moments, I wonder if the hardening of ideological positions arising out of economic uncertainties has simply polarized left and right in such a way that the Liberal middle cannot hold.

    • Lawrence Stuart says:

      Well, maybe. But really, I don’t see it as an internal party problem. I see a hardening of attitudes (ideological polarisation) in the electorate. The big tent idea works only when people are willing to come in and sit down with the other. When that desire to make common cause goes, the thing doesn’t work.

      For what it’s worth, I think Harper read this change and capitalized on it. He didn’t manufacture it down in the dungeons of Conservative Party Central.

  5. Jason King says:

    “You can’t have it both ways.”

    Please Gord you always try to have it every way when you make a less than solid argument and use anecdotes and “proof” without citation.

    Guess the bollocks are starting early this week.

  6. William says:

    Do nothing worthwhile government.

  7. Ottawacon says:

    The policy convention may have been a success for established Liberals, but I am not sure that it had any relevance whatsoever for most of the electorate, and cut both ways for those of whom it did. A big showing of 3.5k is all very well, but a national convention always gets the most motivated and committed to the party – that part of the Liberal party has not seemed to atrophy in any kind of proportion to the erosion of support.

    I believe the real story of any Liberal resurgence will come in Quebec. The NDP is in freefall there, inevitably, and there is new ‘political oxygen’ to be had – it is just a question of whether or not the Liberals can capture it, or we see Bloc 2.0

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