Monday, December 6, 2010

Kinsella: "Liberals all the way, baby"

Kinsella's article in the Sun is an interesting, if somewhat bold given its environment, piece that, from his "admittedly biased Liberal and liberal perspective," comes out saying that, of the three by-elections this past week, Ignatieff came off the general winner, because of how he defied expectations, both in Vaughan and, of course, Winnipeg North.

In general, I agree with Kinsella's argument, though not necessarily about Iggy being the "big winner." I prefer to say that the by-elections resulted in a continued stalemate, with neither Ignatieff nor Harper gaining any sort of momentum from it. The fact that both parties received notable, loud, and cabinet-worthy members, without really changing the dynamics of the House, and as I'm predicting now, probably not the dynamics of national polling either, goes to show that Canadian politics is becoming more and more static, and that the likelihood of either party getting the fantastic showing they want next election a slimmer prospect than ever before. Until one party breaks the mold - much like Harper's Conservatives were doing back this time last year - then things won't change. Such is our modern politics.

Kinsella's article is also noteworthy for its pointing out of the flaws of both campaigns, particularly the general weakness of what Kinsella called Iggy's "A Team," as well as the Conservative's poor choices in the by-elections, especially the poor choice of candidate in Winnipeg North that probably helped the Liberal Party win over the NDP, is interesting. While I don't agree with the sentiment that the Liberal leadership didn't spend their own resources and time in Winnipeg North, he has a point that their own local ground game is what brought them the win, while in Vaughan, the local ground game there was either not enough to overcome the national Conservative powerhouse put behind Fantino, or that the leadership hindered them more than helped. It's difficult to tell, of course, but some sort of combination in Vaughan must have helped bring them as close as they were to a win. Maybe the Liberals should tinker with it more, and see what else may work. There are more by-elections due, after all.

Personally, I think these by-elections are a lesson for the Liberals on over at Metcalfe Street in Ottawa. The strategy for the next election, the next win, needs to address the fact that we can't always depend on our so-called "safe" ridings. Ridings like Winnipeg North, where everyone predicted an NDP win with a strong Liberal second, defied the odds because of its local team and the support it received from the OLO, and in the end it, quite literally, saved the Liberals from a very humiliating defeat. But the strategists, I fear, are more likely to pour over the results in Vaughan, pinpoint what went wrong, what went right, and what didn't go at all, and declare a new strategy based on that alone. I fear they're going to end up doing what the Democrats did down south after the Massachusetts surprise, when they scoured the results in their stronghold for what happened, what went wrong, and came up short in the end, while ignoring victories elsewhere to see what happened when things went right. If the Liberals do this, then we're not getting very far next election.

For a riding like mine, where it is winnable but there needs to be effort behind it, we lose out when this happens. Winnipeg North shows that with the right Liberal team behind it, even the most hopeless of ridings can be turned into a victory. The media may not care about Lamoureux's win, but Liberals should. When we miss the low-hanging fruit, but knock off one on a taller branch, we don't sit there and ponder how we missed one, we see how we got the other! A victory is a victory, no matter where it is, and let's not forget that. When the federal party goes for the low-hanging fruit, and ignores a riding like mine, then we all lose out. Sure, we may end up with 90 or so seats, but its the Winnipeg Norths, the Burlingtons, the Halifaxes, and others, that bring us to government. Remember that, everyone.

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