Monday, December 04, 2006

"Nice guys finish first."

December 2, 2006 will go down in secondary history. This blog didn't pay much attention to the Liberal leadership race, because, well, in the long run it isn't going to matter who wins, Harper will win anyway. But tho'd a thought Stephane Dion and Ed Stelmach would have won? No one. I predicted Iggy and Morton, but it appears a couple things were on delegates/members minds Saturday. It also brings to my mind why Stephen Harper is prime minister.

1) Flare is out. Substance is in.
2) Hype is out. Steadiness is in.
3) Front runners are out. Quiet, second choice, third place guys are in.
4) Bad guys are out. Good guys are in.
5) Negative is out. Positive is in.

I met Ed Stelmach earlier this year. Super nice man. I haven't met Stephane Dion though and probably won't ever, but I always respected his style. I think the Liberals knew they wouldn't win the next election, but needed to unite the party, whereas in Alberta, the PCs were deeply divided between Dinning and Morton, didn't like the negative campaigning, and wanted to unite people.

I picked Morton as my #1 as I wanted drastic changes, knew we probably wouldn't get that, but would definitely be happy with Ed, so he was my #2 pick. I'm happy and will stay in the party for now.

At heart, I'm a pragmatist, but like to quietly push people toward my view. So think of a scale. Candidate Alpha who has lots of support is at -10 on my ideological scale which I completely disagree with but want things to go at +2 or 3. Candidate Beta is at +15, who I don't totally agree with, but know we need to move people away from Candidate Alpha. It's called polarization, which usualy ends up seeing someone shoot up the middle. It happened to Dalton McGuinty in Ontario, Stephane Dion, and Ed Stelmach.

Dinning tried to be the front-runner and everyone's second choice at the same time. It backfired as he got scared about Morton and went negative on him. Morton tried to go soft, went on the defensive, but it was too late. Meanwhile, Steady Eddie won the hearts of the entire northern part of the province.

What is clear is that the north vs. south, urban vs. rural divisions in Alberta are way more profound than anyone realized. Northern rural Alberta is sick and tired of Calgary running the province. Northern Alberta to Calgary is like Alberta to Toronto.

Back to the federal scene...

Here's what's going to happen in 2007. Harper will continue to paint himself as a soft-federalist in Quebec which will squeeze him more Quebec seats just over a majority. Dion is a hard-federalist, and I understand he's not all roses and sunshine with Quebeckers. Dion may squeeze NDP and Green Party votes away due to his stance on the enrivonment, but if left leaning voters don't see the Liberals winning anyway, they'll stick with their soft support.

That all said, Dion's poor English won't transcribe well in western Canada at all, or with middle class families. Harper has that vote locked up. One of Dion's planks is to focus on the economy, which paints him on the right side, and a good move. If Dion moves to the left too much, goes too negative on Harper, voters will get turned off. Likewise, the Conservatives shouldn't go too negative on Dion. He's likeable and it will backfire. I suggest the Conservatives and Harper stay positive, sell THEIR ideas, record, and new policies. Harper will have a much easier time communicating that instead of focusing on Dion.

Because it seems in Canada now, as Alberta's new premier said, "Oh and folks, nice guys finish first."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My two cents:

Stelmach was elected by a last-minute coalition of the "Anybody but Dinning" and the "Anybody but Morton" camps.

Sneaking in down the middle aside, since I'm Monday-Morning-Quarterbacking, I think that it was always a choice between Dinning-a career politician, and Stelmach-a nice but unknown choice. I know you like Morton, but really, the guy is an ivory tower Think Tank wonk. I just couldn't see him delivering anything resembling a credible or coherent policy.

In addition, I think the eleventh-hour backing away from his more extreme positions harmed him, making him look indecisive at best, and a fence-sitting politico at worst. If he had stayed the course, he might have done better, who knows?