Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Warren Kinsella: Out of Touch and Dated?

Last night was a big win for the people and conservatives of Toronto. Rob Ford after a long fight, and much mud slinging at him, won a very convincing victory over his rivals.

So today drinking my coffee, scanning the news and editorials I ran across Warren Kinsellas pieces in the Toronto Sun. Mr. Kinsella worked for Jean Chretien and other Liberal party members. He's been a strategist for many Leaders and ran for office once unsuccessfully. Unfortunately most are starting to realize that he's past his due date.

Reading his two commentaries this morning I am bound to agree. Let's look at them and see.

Stuck in the minority mentality


Was Jean Chretien the last majority prime minister?

On Oct. 25, 1993, historians will recall, Chretien did what no one else had ever done before – he reduced the once-great Conservative Party of Canada to two seats. All that remained, 17 years ago, was Jean Charest in Quebec, and Elsie Wayne in New Brunswick. Every other Tory, including then-leader Kim Campbell, was wiped out.

The Conservatives’ fall was stunning. That was particularly the case for Campbell – who, just a few weeks earlier, had been the most popular prime minister in the history of polling.

The lessons of Oct. 25, 1993 are two-fold. One, the current “anti-incumbent” mood ain’t anything new. Every so often, the people get fed up with what they’ve got, and they opt for change in a big way.

Chretien – for whom I worked, full disclosure, and whom I still admire a great deal – benefitted from a fractured conservative movement, to be sure. He also was a far more adept politician than his main opponent – and, throughout his lengthy political career, he had certainly benefitted from being consistently underestimated.

But, to many voters, Chretien represented change from the old way of doing things. That was the main reason he won so big 17 years ago.

The second lesson of that historic night is this: As long as the Bloc Qu├ębecois exists – and as long as vote-rich Ontario remains split between Tories, Grits and New Democrats – no party will be able to win a majority in the House of Commons.[SNIP]

He almost got it there, almost. The major reason that the Progressive Conservative party got dumped so badly was the conservative vote split that happened when the Reform party got started. I looked at all the vote data for the next couple of elections across much of Ontario after a Federal vote. In quite a few ridings the conservative vote out numbered the Liberal vote. But since the vote was split between two parties it enabled the Liberals to have monster majorities.

Now the Quebec situation. Most people forget that Lucien Bouchard, the Federal Separtist party founder and leader, was originally in the PC camp. When the Meech Lake Accord fell apart, because Quebec didn't get what they wanted as usual, Bouchard took a bunch of like minded individuals from the PC's and formed their own party. At the time, seperatist fervor was running high in Quebec so any seats that would have gone conservative, precious few, went to the Bloc Quebecois. As well, a lot of Liberal seats were lost to the Bloc as well.

It used to be the case that a majority government here in Canada required a large following in Ontario and Quebec. All other provinces were just the gravy. Since 1993 with the forming of the Bloc Quebecois and the splitting of the Conservative party, election dynamics changed.

Now with a resurgence Conservative party things are looking different. The Bloc are still fairly strong in Quebec, after all they are looking after their provinces self interest, and can and do play king maker. A lot of Canadians are getting irate at this.

In Ontario, most of the rural ridings are Conservative in orientation, which means that Toronto, with a large population and ridings, plays king maker or denier. So this leads to the next commentary by Mr. Kinsella.

Election night winners and losers: Kinsella

Ford simply doesn’t have enough votes at council to do even half of what he promised


Here’s what a Rob Ford victory is going to mean for different political players.

Ford ran a disciplined and organized campaign and he stuck to a simple message. George Smitherman didn’t.

But what of others? Who benefits from a Ford win? Who doesn’t?

n Dalton McGuinty — winner: Yes, you read that right. Ontario’s Liberal Premier wins because Ford will provide a living, breathing example of what will happen if Conservative Leader Tim Hudak somehow ekes out victory in next October’s provincial contest.

I anticipate Ford will be who he has always been: A politician whose mouth gets him into lots of trouble — and a politician who has a chronic inability to get along with others. “Gridlock” isn’t a word that was invented in Toronto, but gridlock is what all of us will shortly be experiencing with Ford at the helm: He simply doesn’t have enough votes at council to do even half of what he promised.

So who will step in to end the inevitable labour strife, and the gridlock? Dalton McGuinty, that’s who.

n Tim Hudak — loser: Hudak is a lifetime politician — he’s been in politics since he was in his 20s, in fact — and he therefore can be expected to know a thing or two about The Game.

Hudak knows, for example, that we have a national memory of about five minutes. He also knows fear-mongering about the Mike Harris era is pretty tough do, because a huge number of new voters were in nappies when Harris was in power.

Hudak knows, therefore, that every mistake Rob Ford makes — and he’ll make plenty — will be laid at the Ontario Tory leader’s doorstep.

n Rob Ford — winner today, but not everyday: Here’s the paradox about the Etobicoke-based mayor-elect: The very thing that won him the mayor’s chair is the same thing that will sink him.

For a decade, Ford’s brand has been that of the angry, fed-up City Council outsider — the guy who refuses to go along with the rest of council.

That “outsider” reputation obviously didn’t hurt him on Election Day. But it will hinder him in the months ahead — too many councillors just don’t like him. And the mayor always needs council to implement his agenda.

—Kinsella, an election advisor to Dalton McGuinty, blogs at warrenkinsella.com

It seems like a lot of sour grapes. Mr. Kinsella seems to think that a conservative win in Toronto will lead to a Liberal win all over. I don't think he really understands what happened last night. A municipal populace was finally fed up with a tax and spend government and decided to go with someone that promised LESS spending all the way around. A lot of the councillors that said they would fight him tooth and nail are no longer in office, some retired, some lost. It still won't be an easy road ahead for Ford, but at least he won't be cut off at the knees from day one.

One point of fact here as well. Kinsella was the campaign manager for Rocco Rossi near the end of his run. He took dismal numbers and ran then even further into the ground.

We shall see what happens next. Personally I think Kinsella is wrong on numerous counts. There's a strong conservative feeling rising in most Canadians, and the Liberals and other left wing parties aren't going to be able to stand against them.

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