Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stephane Dion was the Best Thing to Happen to the Liberal Party

There were other men like King, Trudeau, and Chretien that brought the Liberal Party success, but it was Stephane Dion in the most recent election, that though he brought short-term drastic defeat, ensured long-term Liberal victory.

It was not Stephane Dion's loss that engineered an impending Liberal resurgence, it is the fact his tenure as Liberal Leader artificially deflated support for his party that, now well after his resignation, has created a hospitable environment for critical Liberal momentum.

The Dion defeat in the October election in 2008 was damaging but it was a continuation of a long slide of Liberal support. Ever since the Conservative Party was united under Stephen Harper, in every general election, the Liberals lost seats while the Conservatives gained them. In 2004 the Liberals lost 37 seats, in 2006 it was 32, and in 2008 it was 26 seats. In total, the Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper has gained 71 MPs while the Liberals have lost 95.

Though the Liberal Party's support had long been declining, with Stephane Dion's leadership the support dropped to an artificial level; that is, Liberal support was unnaturally low. At other elections the declining support was a reflection of infighting, changing attitudes, and scandal; however polling today, with its projections of Liberal gains, shows the drop of Liberal support associated with Dion was dependent on him and unlike other loses, almost instantly and completely reversible. A point that is critical for turning Liberal loses into Liberal gains, and Conservative momentum into Liberal momentum.

For the last three elections, Conservatives have built momentum, and in never decreasing their total seat count, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has become viewed as a strong leader. However after Stephane Dion's resignation, Liberal support has risen, and all polls project the Liberal Party to gain a sizeable portion of seats. This will mark the first time in ten years the Liberals will have increased their seats in a general election and will mark the first loss in total seats for this Conservative government.

If this is to occur, and by all accounts it will, Stephen Harper, who has only given his party a series of minority governments, will then after the next election be left with only an even smaller minority government. Faced with a history of inabilities to form a majority, Harper's future will be in question. Michael Ignatieff, on the other hand, though not forming government will gain seats in his first election as Liberal Leader and will have success to claim, much as was the case with Stephen Harper in 2004.

For years Stephen Harper had incredible momentum, with never decreasing his party's total seat count and in forming government multiple times, his momentum cannot be denied, but his momentum is coming to an end, and that's in good part because of Stephane Dion.

Stephane Dion is a great man, he drafted one of the most important articles within our federal system, the Clarity Act. With no intention to sleight the man, Dion was one of the best things to happen to the Liberal Party. In only temporarily decreasing Liberal support, the Conservative Party will suffer their first loss of seats, severely weakening the public perception of Stephen Harper while strengthening that same public perception of Michael Ignatieff.

Stephane Dion did not plan for all of this to occur, but from his 2008 election loss and the return of Liberal support after his resignation, the Liberal Party will build momentum and as a consequence will enjoy long-term victory because of him.


CK said...

Interesting analysis, except, almost every year end poll suggests Harper is teetering at majority territory.

Craig Oliver said recently that Harper will frame the election question as "Would you like a nice stable conservative gov't to continue leading us through the troubled economic recovery?" Many will swallow that kool-aid, sadly, especially when Harper puts up a doomsday alternative of the "evul coalition", which we've seen that most average Canadians don't like and turn sour toward at the very mention of it.

Ignatieff, I guess could surprise all of us and be a great campaigner, especially if he puts his team front and center. He's not so well liked, but many of his MPs are, and perhaps they need to be focussed on more.

However, barring that, it would be a mistake to underestimate Harper. As we've seen in the past, Harper produces one big shiny thing and the voters will eat it with a spoon. Perhaps a rock concert guest appearance with Nickelback? Or better yet, he appears on center ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Poor Dead said...

I like Dion. Ignatieff... let's just say I think the latest Mark Ames article went easy on him.

Here is a summary:

Which brings me to the body of the book, the “evidence” section, which makes for blood-pressure-rising reading. Michael Ignatieff: That’s a name I won’t soon forget. An entire chapter is dedicated to this human hagfish. Ignatieff, the director of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, was not only one of the most vocal pro-Lebensraum propagandists in the lead-up to the war in Iraq—in January 2003, he published a Times Magazine piece called “The American Empire: Get Used To It”—but also, and most hilariously, the following May he published a piece arguing for reasonable levels of torture. I say hilarious because his piece on torture was published on May 2, four days after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. It was too late for the Times to stop publication.

Glenn said...

Liberal momentum? LOL They are 1 for 7 in by-elections. How is THAT "mommentum"?

.....and all polls project the Liberal Party to gain a sizeable portion of seats.

What fantasy polls are those? You should listen to CK.

......it is the fact his tenure as Liberal Leader artificially deflated support for his party....

If people within the Liberal party, people like you, continue to believe that they are one messiah or one Tory scandal away from power, then you are in even worse trouble than you realize. Has nothing in the last five years taught you guys anything?

........that is, Liberal support was unnaturally low.

See what I mean? As long as this tendency exists that the Liberals are entitled to power and that this stint in Opposition is merely an articifical or unnatural anomaly, renewal, true renewal, will be impossible.

2011 will NOT be kind to Ignatieff or the Liberal party. When the forerunner to be Ignatieff's replacement is the second runner up in a long gone leadership convention and a failed former provincial NDP premier, how CAN it be?

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

CK I do not underestimate Harper. I hope it was conveyed that I have great respect for him. A few years ago (New Years always makes me reflective), I did quite a lot of reading on him, pretty much every Globe and Mail article on him since 1993, and he is remarkable. He united the Conservatives quite strategically and has planned a more pragmatic version of conservatism since almost day one.

I do know of the polls you speak of and am not ignoring them. Those polls though giving greater or lesser support for Harper nonetheless always end with Liberals winning more seats than they had and Conservatives losing some. When an election comes Harper may get a majority, but I think that is an extremely low probability.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Glenn almost every major poll has projected higher gains for Ignatieff, here is one http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/pre-christmas-poll-puts-pox-on-all-parties/article1832563/

Please advise me where did I suggest the Liberal Party was "one messiah or one Tory scandal away from power,"? I believe I suggested it was a slow process of building momentum, but I could be wrong, you are afterall a commenter and I only wrote the post.

I used the words unnatural and artificial to signify that Dion's decrease in Liberal support was temporary, and poll show that it was. It cannot mean what you suggest as I clearly stated that in my post. Unless of course you think your entitled to it... Watch out Glenn, ENTITLISTS ARE EVERYWHERE!

Please Glenn lay off the exaggeration.

ridenrain said...

Gome on Glenn. A stone rolling downhill has momentum too.

CanadianSense said...


you are missing the point.

It is not as much to do with our PM as it is to do with the Liberals.

What do the Liberals stand for today?
Has the public lost faith in the Liberal brand?
If nearly 50% of the Liberal voters don't believe in his leadership why do you think he can't do worse than Dion?
I don't believe Dion has numbers this low.
Some cheerleaders talk about progress and momentum. Do you care to examine facts like a balance sheet and donors that are necessary to a campaign?
Compare 2009 vs 2010. Up or down?
You can't paper over the loss of Toronto and the Liberal federal/provincial party attempt to elect Smitherman.
It also failed in Vaughan with the heavy weights brought in repeatedly.

CK is free to suggest voters are stupid for moving away from the Liberals. She represents the Liberals fortunes rather succinctly.

I remember many Liberals trashing those independents and tea baggers in the US.

How did it work out?

This is bigger than the Conservatives. There is no safe seat for the Liberals in the next election.

Scott the coalition parties have not faced the voters yet in a general election. In December 2008 John Stewart ran a clip and poked fun pointing to the poll of 46% for the Conservatives against the opposition.

CanadianSense said...

An Ipsos-Reid poll suggested that if an election had been held on December 5, the Conservatives would have received 46% of the vote, enough to have easily formed a majority government. The poll also showed Liberal support had dropped to 23% from the 26.2% they received in the election, and New Democrat support fell to 13% from 18.2%. Also telling was that 56% of those polled said they would rather go to another election, rather than let the coalition govern.


Many in the left did not a deal at any cost. Remember those corporate cuts and now Afghan mission?

Look at the political Map in 2008 and the LGR vote in 2010. Two or three of the largest cities make up the Liberal Party. It is not a national party like the Conservatives or the NDP.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

CanadianSense, first can you please shorten your responses? This is a comments section, not a post-your-own-blog section, unless you want to put your blog here, thescottross is a big tent.

Second I don't want to waste my time arguing against online polls that have no history of ever being accurate, I'll stick with real surveys that are recognized by all parties and media.

Third I guess we'll have to wait for an election to see whether you're wrong or I'm right.

CanadianSense said...


Your are missing the obvious. You cite the same polls in claiming a bump.

I point to MI is more less popular than Dion and ask you to compare the balance sheets in 2008 vs 2010.

Dion ran on a platform and Liberals believed him. Ignatieff is simply not credible in pushing the NDP policies.
Montreal was ABI.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

CanadianSense please do not mislead. I cited a poll recognized by every credible spectator as legimate while you point your finger to some online outlier poll that no one thinks is credible.

Dion never proposed a platform a majority of Liberals supported. I do not take you seriously in your line of argument that you know what Liberals wanted or did not want under Dion.

I am a gentleman, and I imagine so are you. Let's say we make a bet. I bet that the Liberals will increase their total seats in the next election while the Conservatives will have a decrease in their total seats, care to accept?

CanadianSense said...


Disclosure I have no ties formal to party or any inside information. Everything I read is public information on the web, newspapers etc. No communication or back channels.

I have been clear and on the record did a blog post on December 23, 2009 (Predictions For 2010: Blue Wave Pt. II) I anticipate MI will do worse than Dion if he survives until a general election.

I have bandied a 1-2% drop in pop for the Liberals from 2008 results that would put them into 25.2-24.2 range.

If Liberals pick up 2% in Alberta it won't help in adding seats. Nik Nanos has talked about the cluster strategy and voter dispersion may work against the Liberals in stopping a CPC majority.

I am not talking about a single "outlier" poll from IR in 12/05/08 to base my analysis.

Scott I accept your bet. I don't think this will end well for MI and like GWB many miss him for comic relief.

I share the same trepidation my blogs have my humour at Liberal expense.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

CanadianSense, okay, loser has to put up a post, without sarcasm or any added negative criticisms simply stating they were wrong, and in the future they will be more moderate in forming their opinions.

CanadianSense said...

My magic 8 ball is better than yours!

Scott the first half of your proposition is realistic (admitting a mistake).

Here is a freebie I am not a graduate from the Oracle of Delphi. I had predicted Bob Rae (team Rae) would have already dumped Ignatieff by summer 2010 if MI did not trigger an election. As both are 60+ their best before dates are factors.

The second half is unlikely as we both suspect each other of channeling some other reality.

My feet walk on terra firma and I suspect you and CK are being held hostage by the lollipop guild based on your narrative of a Liberal victory. Scott, I am not wearing the ruby slippers. I dumped the "Red team" a long time ago.

There is hope across the land by the left our PM will have a DNA test confirming he is GWB's clone.

If my electoral predictions takes place I don't think many Lib blogs will qualify as "moderate" for a long time to come.

My POP prediction is another slide in 1-2% from 2008 results. Based on actual General Election results from 2000-2008 the math is p.o.p. is well within acceptable parameters.

The power of spandex latte sipping bike lane enthusiasts is waning. T.O. must fail. (See Rob Ford)

Scott, I did not see 2008 results as the bottom because Toronto did not fall.

Apologies for the lengthy rebuttal but the bet for the first half is acceptable. I don't hold hope for the 2nd half on your part.