Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I wouldn't call it a great day, but it was a pretty okay day for the Liberal Party on Monday. When you get to add one great parliamentarian debater and two strong women voices to the team, that is a solid showing.
But it could have been so much better...
Definite winners were Bob Rae and Martha Hall Findlay, who upped the margin of victory and demonstrated why the self-made war on Ontario (and Toronto specifically) has done little for Stephen Harper's grand plans. I don't doubt there'll be a temporary cease-fire between he and McGuinty, at least until Harper lays out his next Acme-like trap.
Another big winner? Tory Rob Clarke, an aboriginal ex-RCMP officer who from all reports ran a decent race and made the most of liberal dissatisfaction. It was always a winnable riding for the CONs, and now Clarke goes from servant to the people to subservant photo prop for the always calculating hypocrite Harper. Expect a few weeks of front camera seating arrangements, replacing Wijad and Joe, before disappearing into the silent mob that is the CON backdrop.
I'd also like to give a tip of the hat to Joyce Murray, who brought home a well-deserved win in a tougher battle than normal in Vancouver Quadra. There are few campaigners as dogged and determined as Joyce -- I've seen her in action. This seat, while considered the safest Liberal seat in BC (though I'd give that designation now to Vancouver South), has a blue-blood tradition and was some 24 years ago a long-standing Tory post. That it was a tight margin reflects more a bye-election electorate's curiousity with the Green Party than a potential CON rising tide. The government side in fact didn't lift its numbers at all.
Perhaps the biggest winner? Elizabeth May and her Green Crew, which have made serious inroads on the NDP and even the Grits. Is there another reason why Harper should be seriously embracing May's demand that she be included in any general election TV debate?
Losers? Well, if finishing in a dog race with a party that holds no seats is any indication, you'd have to say it's Jack. The typical downplaying of these campaigns was acceptable under the pretense that none of these seats were seriously in play. However, to lose ground and tread water in the birthplace of Canadian socialism and the heart of Toronto means you may not be your buddy PM's favourite poker player much longer.
Harper? While his vote didn't rise in urban Vancouver and it took a tumble in Toronto, he added a seat -- so if he's a loser, it's in the 'Heather Mills' category.
Dion? It's not a serious blow but definitely he will feel some internal heat for having his second self-appointed candidate go down to defeat. Joan Beatty was a fine candidate, but an appointment was a slap in the face of the Liberal members of that riding. She needed to win them over honestly, not be handed a special pass. And now Dion will be hearing, at least from the media and the parliamentary cheap seats across the way, all about 'leader-in-waiting' Rae. I only see Bob Rae as an asset who'll ring up great TV moments of pressing this weasel government on topical and hot button issues when the house is in session. But others will see what they will.
But certainly there was reason for glee with the CON team, and I won't argue with the koolaid slurpers on that account.
Harper added to his seat total by taking a winnable seat back, which as sitting governments know, is usually a 50-50 opportunity at best.
He remains his own worst enemy, and this proves we've got a long way to go to capitalize on it.

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