So even at the risk of his own reputation, Harper has confirmed in the past few weeks what we've all known. His reason for being, well, being repugnantly surly, is the extermination of the Liberal Party.
It's been obvious for a few years now, but there's no doubt now how serious he is making that goal. An economic crisis? That he virtually ignored. A national unity crisis? If his slap to those who supported the Bloc during the last election didn't get the point (along with most other Quebecers, too), its that he will pay-back anyone who crosses his path, with ruthless abandon. So re-charging a situation that was essentially dormant for nearly a decade seems down-right destructive.
Yet, it also seems like he's got more markers with the media then any normal political party could counter. Harper may also have an inside man helping in his 'destroy the Liberal brand' mania. It's not like we've really put together a good counter offensive.
But there remains plenty of reasons why the Liberal Party can still pull out of this nose dive. However it will require some drastic actions, a little luck, and serious team work. Okay, the last part we may need to import.
I like the idea that Steve has come forward with (and even more so the one Olaf added to that post). We're so early into the leadership race that no one has had a chance to shoot their debt load, exhausted their sponsors, or established an unreversible course. It's looking very good for soMeone In caucus for a first-ballot victory, however.
I do have serious doubts that the people at the highest level -- a few whom seriously need to be ousted, especially for the lack of a serious fundraising drive over the last week -- can divest themselves of the romance of a convention. How about the idea that no one will be watching? Or that even the Liberal troops are seriously demoralized (and cash strapped)?
Well, if the idea of having the caucus (or an emergency membership vote) make the decision is unpalatable, I'm certain everyone can agree on this: we still need to say thank you and bon chance to Stephane Dion.
At this stage, we'd be doing the poor guy a favour.
In his stead, with an ongoing leadership race and serious issues to confront nationally, we have to rely upon someone who can command instant respect and calm, a presence that will imply that the Liberal Party is getting it's act together. That person, I believe, is Ken Dryden.
He's a compelling speaker, a great thinker who is well-liked across the spectrum (even a Les Habs disliker like myself), and also someone who deals from the heart, who's accomplishments will settle down the queasiness caused during the Three Amigos/Tres Stooges debacle. Dryden may not be as eloquent in the french language, but he can get by. However, the most serious damage done to the Liberal Party during this current blitz came in English-speaking Canada. Harper will continuously paint us as being in cahoots with the Bloc, ignoring his own history. So we need someone who can rise above that, but also go toe-to-toe when the talk about who loves their country more hits the fan. And besides, Dryden's legendary status in Quebec would provide a real positive force to counter the hubris of Harper. Plus, we have a number of excellent Quebecois MPs who would be suitable as second-in-command.
And we need to put the Coalition talk on ice, because it reduces the Liberal's ability to be the viable 'Next Government, current Loyal Opposition' force. There doesn't need to be an official break-up, but we need to signal that we will be submitting ideas for the budget, that we will look at it on its own merits, and act accordingly. It's also about trying to restore respect to the institution -- let the Conservatives wear their disrespectful, rule avoidance habits like a crown.
More to come...