|What is YOUR plan to remove Harper?|
Standing side by side, Murray and Trudeau were dealing with a question from the audience on the topic of electoral cooperation.
Murray is the only realist among the nine contenders when it comes to assessing the ability of the shrunken Liberal Party to gain the majority of seats in the next election, and ensure the defeat of Harper's determined, battle tested, well funded and skilful Conservative Party.
Murray raised the issue of pre-election cooperation with the NDP party at riding level to ensure that enough Conservative MPs elected with low margins bite the dust and a new government is appointed.
Troubling questions about Justin Trudeau
Trudeau's reply during the debate, and answers to the media after the debate, raise troubling questions about him.
The issue that the exchange has thrown up is this:
Was Trudeau ignorant of the Murray proposal (which shows a lack of homework which is disturbing in a person who wants to defeat the toughest politician Canada has had for almost two decades),
Did he deliberately set out to distort Murray's position in order to score points (which raises other questions about him)?
If Trudeau did not know what Murray is proposing when she advocates one-time electoral cooperation with the NDP if ridings so choose, before the election, then this is very surprising.
Trudeau is in a race to become the elected leader of a party which was soundly whipped during the past three elections by a regimented, disciplined party lead by a highly professional tactician.
Anyone setting out to beat Harper had better be equally disciplined and hardworking, of he or she will be beaten by this wily gutter fighter before the campaign every begins. Ask Martin. Ask Ignatieff. Ask Dion. Ask all those Liberal MPs who were sent packing in 2011.
If Trudeau has not done his homework on his competition during this most important race of his life, what does this say about his preparedness to lead the battered Liberal Party out of its dark third-party-status corner, into the next government of Canada?
If Trudeau understood exactly what Murray's proposal is – the limits on it, as well as the democratic nature of it (decided by Liberal party members are riding level) – but decided to distort it so as to raise an easier straw man, that he could then set about destroying, what does this say about his personal political values, as compared to his stated policies of openness, a new politics, and a new generation of political players?
The importance of the Murray pre-election policy of one-time, limited cooperation:
Joyce Murray is showing a hard bitten, pragmatic, political realism in deciding that there are different ways to defeat a Conservative Party that achieved a majority of seats by the thinnest of margins in many seats.
In Murray's words:
In 2011, Stephen Harper took power with less than 40% of the popular vote — meaning the Conservatives were elected by less than one quarter of Canadians. Since then, Harper has inflicted long-term damage on Canada’s reputation abroad and democratic institutions at home.
Just to put it in perspective, consider these facts from the 2011 election:
Our party, LPC, was pounded, dropping to 34 seats with 43 seats lost; our share of the votes cast was only 18.9% (just over 571,000). We won only 11% of the total seats.
The Tories won an overall majority of seats needed, being 166 seats, with only 39.2% of the votes cast. They won 54% of the total seats, and 4.3 million votes.
The NDP won 103 seats (33% of the total number), with 30.6% of the votes, and 2.3 million votes were cast for them.
Harper's Lucky Break:
The margin of victory for the Tories was a razon thin one, and THIS is the factor that Joyce Murray's political instinct is driving her to take into consideration in her proposal:
22 of the CPC seats were won with a margin of less than 5% of the votes cast.
8 seats were won with 1% or less of a margin of votes cast.
Clearly, the fact that the NDP and the Liberals were fighting each other in many of those 22 seats gave Harper his majority government and unfettered ability to do as he wished to change our country into a neocon one.
That is the harsh, real political fact that Justin Trudeau seems to be ignoring in his race to fall into what Paul Adams' calls the Power Trap.
The Debate Tussle:
This is what happened, according to the CBC:
According to Trudeau, Murray's electoral cooperation plan would blur the lines between the values extolled by Liberals and the NDP. The Quebec MP added he wasn't ready to give up his Liberal values. Murray fired back saying, "if you want to replace Stephen Harper, where's your plan?"
This is a more detailed report on the discussion, by Ian Bailey – note the arguments used by Justin when he attack's Murray's proposal, which I've underlined in red because they are the foundation of his misunderstanding:
Ms. Murray, a former cabinet minister in B.C.’s provincial Liberal government, has been proposing one-off deals with progressive parties to run single candidates in ridings where Conservatives won with less than 50 per cent of the vote to avoid centre-left vote splitting that might allow the Conservatives to win.
But the other candidates were dead-set against any such co-operation leading to a rare moment of conflict in the otherwise genteel two-hour debate at a downtown Vancouver hotel – a first chance to underline differences in which frontrunner Mr. Trudeau was largely spared any attack from his rivals.
“It’s not enough to replace Stephen Harper. We have to replace him with a very, very clear vision of where we’re going forward,” Mr. Trudeau told Ms. Murray during a head-to-head exchange between the two.
The MP for the Montreal area riding of Papineau noted that the NDP would be against the kind of free trade he sees as necessary to create prosperity for the middle class. “What would electoral co-operation imply. What kind of values are we willing to jettison?”
“Justin that all sounds very good,” Ms. Murray said in response, but asked for specifics of his plan to replace Mr. Harper, averting multiple scenarios across Canada akin to the recent by-election in Calgary Centre some have said went to the Tories because of vote splitting.
“My plan is about reaching out to people across the country who are not polarized, who don’t want to be voting against, who want to vote for by proposing a powerful option in the middle,” said Mr. Trudeau.
Murray's Policy versus Trudeau's Misconceptions about it:
Trudeau seems to be totally muddled about what Murray is proposing with her one-time, riding-driven, pre-election only cooperation plan.
Trudeau is confusing her very clear, limited one-time and one-purpose plan, with some concoction of his own, involving some kind of post-election cooperation.
Trudeau is setting up a straw man to represent Murray's one-time, pre-election, riding-driven cooperation plan.
He seems to be misrepresenting her plan as being an agreement between the Liberal Party and the NDP, seemingly similar to a coalition agreement of some kind, which results in an agreement that governs the parties post-election.
That just is not true.
Murray is very clear on several points, none of which Trudeau seems to understand, or, if he does, which he is misrepresenting:
1. Her plan calls for Liberal ridings where a Conservative was elected with less than 50% of the total votes cast, to decide by themselves if they want to talk to the NDP ridings to see if they can agree one one candidate running (either for the NDP or for the LPC), instead of both the NDP and LPC fielding candidates and splitting the votes.
2. This is a one-time deal, valid only for the 2015 election, and does not in any way involve any commitments between the two parties that bind them after that election.
3. If the NDP candidate wins, he or she enters Parliament as an NDP, sits in the NDP caucus, votes for NDP policies and owes nothing to the Liberal Party. The same applies if the two ridings decided that only a Liberal would run, and he or she won.
Murray's plan is a ONE-TIME, ONE-ELECTION ONLY, RIDING-DECIDED plan.
It does not create obligations by the winning NDP or LPC MP towards the other party, or the voters of the other party. They enter parliament as an MP of their own party and vote accordingly.
It is unlikely that the Liberal ridings in all those seats where theTories won less than 50% of the votes would consider such one-time cooperation.
Many would prefer to run their own Liberal candidate for MP and risk vote-splitting. The Murray Plan gives them that democratic choice. Trudeau's plan does not.
If only a dozen or so ridings did do so, Harper would definitely not achieve another majority government.
And then, with no majority government, the LPC and NDP can decide, after the election, what kind of cooperation (if any) they might enter into to govern the country.
Just to be clear, here is Joyce Murray's plan from her website with my red underlining (just to help those Liberal candidates who have not taken the time to understand the policy of one of their opponents for leadership of the party):
That’s why I support a common-sense, riding-by-riding approach to electoral cooperation among opposition parties in the 2015 election. The majority of Canadian voters hold progressive values, but our values won’t be reflected in government unless we figure out a way to overcome our dysfunctional electoral system and win.
I’m proposing a one-time agreement with the NDP and Green Party to give Canadians the government we deserve — not a merger between our parties.
As Liberal leader I will empower individual riding associations to assess our situation on the ground and determine if cooperation makes sense. We will focus on ridings where incumbent Conservative MPs won power with less than 50% of the vote. Where appropriate, Liberals will cooperate with local NDP and Green riding associations to put forward the strongest candidate — the one best able to take that seat from a Conservative.
Now read Trudeau's "reasons" for disagreeing with her plan.
Trudea thinks the LPC needs "a very clear vision of where we're going forward".
So does Joyce Murray.
Trudeau thinks the Murray Plan means the LPC is committed in some way to the NDP vision of opposing free trade agreements.
That is nonsense. Nothing in her plan says or implies that. There are NO post-election commitments under her one-time, one-purpose electoral ceasefire plan.
Trudeau thinks Liberals have to "jettison" some values if they adopt Murray's one-time plan.
That, too, is nonsense. There is nothing in her plan that requires Liberals in those ridings that agree on such cooperation, or the party as a whole, to change in any way Liberal values.
Trudeau needs to do his homework and rethink his response:
This issue of pre-election cooperation with the NDP and Green Party will come up for discussion in the remaining debates, as well as being raised by the media with the nine candidates.
Given the muddled response of Justin Trudeau to a very serious, very credible, carefully thought out, and very effective proposal to ensure that the two parties do not split the vote in those ridings where the Tories squeaked into power, he should revisit her policy.
Then he should think about the realities of the 2011 election results, and come up with a better response than his confused fumbling in the first debate.
That is, if he is seriously preparing himself to take on Stephen Harper and ensure Harper's defeat in 2015. A smile and some vague repetitions of sound bites will not cut it against that gutter fighter.
And Joyce Murray needs to continue to forefully propose her realistic proposal to ensure the defeat of Harper's new Tories.
As for Canadians who feel that Harper and his party have taken Canada in the wrong direction?
They should repeat to themselves this powerful mantra when they talk politics for
the next 3 years, and enter the voting booth in 2015:
Remember Calgary Central