Friday, December 10, 2010

On chosen goals

Susan Riley nicely points out why progressive Canadians have every reason to be frustrated with the continued ineffectiveness of the Libs:
(F)or many voters on the liberal-left, the situation is urgent. They watch Harper's various assaults on democracy, his secrecy, his benign neglect of the environment and health care and his hyper-partisan personality with mounting dismay. For them, the prospect of a Conservative majority -- constructed of scattered "clusters" of right-leaning voters -- heralds not a period of stable management in Ottawa, but a much diminished country.

Yet, when they look to the Liberals, too often they see Ignatieff nodding in agreement with Harper (on the Afghan extension, the budget, the primacy of the oilsands), or hectoring on lesser matters. This isn't a complete picture, but poll after poll suggests Ignatieff hasn't caught fire with voters, and, at worst, has been a crashing disappointment.
But let's not think that the Libs aren't focused on accomplishing at least something. After all, Chantal Hebert notes that the Libs are quite happy to play up their perceived success in achieving goals that don't actually involve doing anything to stop the Harper government:
(I)n the aftermath of the by-elections, polls show that the Winnipeg victory has had no impact on Liberal fortunes nationally while the Conservatives, on the other hand, have consolidated their lead, in particular in Ontario.

But then Liberal spin doctors may also be making the most of the smaller blessing of having continued to hold the NDP at bay in 2010.

At year end, the Liberals make up a more constructive official opposition than 12 months ago and — in case it is any comfort to them — the polls show that the second-place position in the House is very much theirs to lose in the next election.
Of course, the flip side to Hebert's point is that it's a real possibility that the Libs might well manage to lose the second-place position that they've all too often seemed to value more highly than the prospect of doing anything to change the Harper Cons' direction for the country. And that's all the more likely if voters happen to notice that the Libs' message about presenting an alternative to Harper isn't backed up by any meaningful action.

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