Friday, April 22, 2005

Weak Martin bad news for Gordon Campbell

VICTORIA - Poor old Paul Martin, reduced to asking us all to cut him some slack in an sad and uninspired TV sort-of address to the nation.
And poor Gordon Campbell, wondering how the fallout from all this will affect his campaign for a new mandate.
Martin's speech was a touch pathetic, the unkindest description of all. It will appear to many voters that he was either inattentive as finance minister and senior Quebec politico while the sponsorship scandal was unfolding, or willfully blind to events around him. Neither interpretion is appealing, or inspiring, or what he likely hoped for when he planned his TV chat.
The official provincial Liberal position is that voters know that the federal and provincial parties - despite the same name - are chalk and cheese.
The public perception is different. The Strategic Counsel poll released this week found that 37 per cent of voters said the sordid reports from the Gomery inquiry are causing them to question the wisdom of voting for the Campbell Liberals on May 17. That is a large block of potentially disaffected voters, in a volatile campaign.
Martin took to television Thursday night, but not that convincingly. He promised an election within 30 days of the report from the Gomery inquiry, a move intended to head of an election within the next two months.
But neither opposiiton parties nor Canadians will likely be prepared to wait until December, when the report is due, to force an election. Parliament does not appear to be accomplishing anything now. Why wait?
It is all bad news for the provincial Liberals.
Partly, there is simply the risk that voters get grumpy at all governing parties, and punish them without regard for their sins.
That would be unfair. There are lots of criticisms you can make about the Campbell team, but these are not people interested in feathering their own nests or rewarding supporters. They, like almost all the candidates I've met from other parties, ran for office to make life in B.C. better. But angry voters may not be so reasonable in their judgments.
Pragmatically, Martin's failure to rally support makes an early federal election more likely.
And that is a problem for the provincial Liberals. Campbell has pulled together a coalition, including pale pinkish federal Liberals and blood red Conservatives.
They are frequently political enemies federally. The supporters of Stephen Harper and Paul Martin share one belief in common, that the other guys represent the forces of darkness.
But they manage to bury those differences, mostly, when it comes to provincial politics in B.C..
That truce will now be tested. The people who have been working shoulder to shoulder to elect provincial Liberal candidates have already begun looking to a June - or earlier - federal election. And their provincial allies will be their federal rivals within weeks.
It is not a reality that fosters teamwork or commitment. In a couple of weeks these people will be competitors, slagging each other's candidates and competing for everything from big donations to campaign workers to media attention. (In fact, some are already drifting away from the realities of the provincial campaign, wondering where they can stick those federal lawn signs.) It will be hard for them to put those considerations aside as the likelihood of a federal election increases.
Meanwhile the New Democrats, and Greens, will be smiling. Two elections, one NDP worker observed, just means we can drop off federal and provincial party leaflets with one trip.
It is too early to figure out what it all means.
But the provincial Liberals have been running a massively controlled campaign - even the events a few hours ahead are a secret. The Martin TV speech, the likely federal election, they were never part of the plan.
And now it looks much like a June federal election, and a whole new batch of headaches for the Campbell team.
Footnote: It was striking just how remote Martin's TV pitch seemed from life in B.C. Our ad agencies didn't get the money, our concerns and grievances weren't at the heart of the issue. We are just here, the patient audience for the drama. The next step will be decided by Stephen Harper, who has to decid how Canadians would feel about a June vote.

8 comments:

Life in Victorola said...

"There are lots of criticisms you can make about the Campbell team, but these are not people interested in feathering their own nests or rewarding supporters."

Now that's a howler. You sir have not been paying attention. The "Christmas in July" tax cuts favoured who exactly, the Fiberals' single mom constituency?
The firesale on provincial assets to CN, Accenture, etc. This helps the Joe Lunchbucket Campbell constituency how again? The biggest tuition fee hikes in Canada, coupled with killing the BC grant program (which brought Quebec students to the streets forcing a Charest climbdown) helped students exactly how again?

It it is to laugh.

Anonymous said...

Chalk and Cheese or Birds of a Feather....

We don't know what to think because our Inquiry by Smith regarding diversion of public funds was shut down in 2001 before the 650 page draft report could be released.
If we got to see it, ex-Commissioner Smith said in his 5 page news release from June 29, 2001 we might have learned the other half of the story. The part that took place in Victoria. And then there's still those raids in the legislature........

Anonymous said...

Chalk and Cheese or Birds of a Feather....

We don't know what to think because our Inquiry by Smith regarding diversion of public funds was shut down in 2001 before the 650 page draft report could be released.
If we got to see it, ex-Commissioner Smith said in his 5 page news release from June 29, 2001 we might have learned the other half of the story. The part that took place in Victoria. And then there's still those raids in the legislature........

Anonymous said...

Carrying on where nevin left off...

Open net fish farms killing off wild salmon stocks (that will destroy hundreds, if not thousands of jobs if left to continue)...are you saying that helps all BCers and not just the International Fish Farm Corps (that created a handful of jobs) that paid the Liberals upwards of $70,000 in campaign contributions?
Not interested in feathering their own nest indeed.
Are you completely blind Wilcocks???
Carrying on where nevin left off...

Open net fish farms killing off wild salmon stocks (that will destroy hundreds, if not thousands of jobs if left to continue)...are you saying that helps all BCers and not just the International Fish Farm Corps (that created a handful of jobs) that paid the Liberals upwards of $70,000 in campaign contributions?
Not interested in feathering their own nest indeed.
Are you completely blind Wilcocks???
Carrying on where nevin left off...

Open net fish farms killing off wild salmon stocks (that will destroy hundreds, if not thousands of jobs if left to continue)...are you saying that helps all BCers and not just the International Fish Farm Corps (that created a handful of jobs) that paid the Liberals upwards of $70,000 in campaign contributions?
Not interested in feathering their own nest indeed.
Are you completely blind Wilcocks???
Carrying on where nevin left off...

Open net fish farms killing off wild salmon stocks (that will destroy hundreds, if not thousands of jobs if left to continue)...are you saying that helps all BCers and not just the International Fish Farm Corps (that created a handful of jobs) that paid the Liberals upwards of $70,000 in campaign contributions?
Not interested in feathering their own nest indeed.
Are you completely blind Wilcocks???
Carrying on where nevin left off...

Open net fish farms killing off wild salmon stocks (that will destroy hundreds, if not thousands of jobs if left to continue)...are you saying that helps all BCers and not just the International Fish Farm Corps (that created a handful of jobs) that paid the Liberals upwards of $70,000 in campaign contributions?
Not interested in feathering their own nest indeed.
Are you completely blind and deaf Wilcocks? Give your head a shake!

Anonymous said...

Federal Liberals and B.C. Liberals will be forever linked by the names of David Basi, Bob Virk, Aneal Basi and the others.

How on earth can anybody write a column about Prime Minister Martin and Premier Gordon Campbell's political fortunes without mentioning the criminal charges hanging over these very things!

It's so dishonest.

Anonymous said...

they are all the same.. milk the cow.. and collect the cash..if your a liberal, ndp, or the pc crooks or canada..your party has one thing in mind.. do the time.. and collect the golden handshake. We in the end pay the bill..go figure ..

Gazetteer said...

C'mon folks, slow down a bit and think about what Mr. Willcocks is carefully suggesting here - that the carefully constructed obfuscation that the BC Liberals really are liberal could actually blow-up in Mr. Campbell's face and not because the electorate suddenly wakes up and smells the coffee, but rather because just the opposite occurs.

Imagine being smacked down because your own propaganda worked too well.

Ironic or what?

N said...

"There are lots of criticisms you can make about the Campbell team, but these are not people interested in feathering their own nests or rewarding supporters."

I just about spit my coffee on my monitor when I read that one. There isn't a political party in the history of this country, let alone this province, that couldn't be accused of doing just that. To read it said about the BC Liberals is just so over the top. I have a hard time believing Mr. Wilcocks could be that naive, so I have to assume his bias showing.