Iggy, the Liberal Party and the Politics of Rielle

Rielle HunterThe Liberals need to get a hold on Rielle Hunter!  What you say?  For those of you who have been under a rock when it comes to politics, Rielle Hunter was the woman who effectively took the US Presidential campaign on John Edward last year and thru it in the ditch.   John Edwards had been John Kerry’s running mate in 2004.  Fathering a child with Ms Hunter especially when your wife has cancer during a Presidential bid effectively eliminates you from consideration.  However, what do I know?

Ms Hunter has been silent about that whole torrid affair until her recent interview with GQ magazine.  Her three-picture shoot with only a shirt on won’t endear her to the Edward’s apologists.  However, it’s getting publicity.  Something tells me a book is in the offing.

Meanwhile our Canadian Liberal friends are holding a conference next month to flesh out some new ideas to run on.  You can bet Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff didn’t like all those free photo ops with Olympic athletes with Prime Minister Harper.  So he’s planning a conference looking for fresh ideas, hoping to avoid another carbon tax fiasco.  Maybe they should invite Ms Hunter to bash to learn how to influence the high and mighty.  At the very least it would get them some attention.

As it is now, I think it’s going to hard for our Liberal friends to get any attention.  Mr. Ignatieff is in a tough spot.  He knows the electoral numbers don’t look good, another minority in the offing.  Harper has tried to throw away votes with his proroguing and other dumbbell moves, but he’s still first in the polls.  Of course last summer we all remember, Iggy preaching about defeating the government when nobody wanted an election.  Despite all of this, it’s his job to oppose and lead the Liberal part back to power.  What to do?

Thankfully, our Canadian political leaders have been home with their wives.  So we don’t have to worry about any Rielles in our soup up here.  Still, Iggy must do something if he’s going to separate Harper from the mushy middle and garner votes for a clear Liberal win.  As we look ahead, minus any Rielles, the stars aren’t aligning for an easy Iggy win.

Case in point is the Canadian economy.  Ten years ago when Stephen Harper was solidly part of the reform camp, he talked about how bad deficits were and how the Liberals didn’t have a clue about righting Canada’s fiscal ship.  Of course now the Prime Minister that spent our way of the global economic recession pushing up a $50 billion deficit to boot.  Needless to say, the stimulus funding looks to have worked.  Canada’s economic growth rates boomed in the last quarter of 2009 to 5% annually.  Our American friends did even better at 5.9%.  Sometimes even the best placed economic plans work.

That’s the conundrum Iggy finds himself in.  When Conservatives get elected they act like Liberals and for the most part Canadians like that.  The Bloc Quebecois are the fly in the ointment now, and getting past that may surely be Iggy’s challenge.  As the stimulus funding dries up at the end of this year, you can bet there will be some hard economic restraint decisions to make concerning inflation.  That won’t be so much fun for Harper, and much more fun for Iggy’s Liberal friends to criticize.

Former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien turned to infrastructure funding as part of a Liberal platform that worked back in 1993.  That type of planning doesn’t have the same resonance it once did simply because the Harper conservatives have spend like drunken sailors on infrastructure.  Just think of the “home improvement” tax credits currently being figured into this year’s personal tax calculations.  That measure alone will surely cost the government millions.  Despite that it seems infrastructure spending always has traction even in tough economic times.

Still, having a Liberal conference on ideas dealing specifically with infrastructure isn’t going to cut it.  The Canadian public surely wants to hear something about health care, defense spending and the Canadian flag.  Just think about how much traction Stephen Harper gets from planting the flag in the Arctic by hosting the G8 finance ministers in Iqaluit!  Iggy, you’ve got to think about such things!

We’ll see, those of you hoping for a Liberal bash featuring Rielle Hunter, I dunno.  She’s got quite a story, but I don’t know if that’s the type of stimulus our Liberal party friends are looking for.  The challenge for Michael Ignatieff is to plan a Liberal ideas conference with all the buzz of Rielle and get a winning plan to boot.  We’ll see what happens.