Friday, December 02, 2005

Surprise over Hargrove comments ... surprising

The pundits and anchors on the television news channels are expressing their absolute surprise over Canadian Auto Workers union president Buzz Hargrove today.

Hargrove introduced Paul Martin at a CAW meeting, speaking with high praise for Martin's record in government. Though an NDP member, and traditionally seen as a strong ally of the NDP, Hargrove suggested that a minority Liberal government should be returned to power (though it is being played up as though Hargrove endorsed the Liberals wholesale).

The mouths of the talking heads fell agape. Much speculation and expressions of amazement ensued on CTV and CBC's election coverage.

But really, it shouldn't be so shocking.

To a certain extent, Hargrove has always been to the NDP what Ralph Klein is to the Conservative Party. He can usually be counted on to make a statement that is embarrassing to or critical of the party, and to do so at precisely the wrong time.

More importantly still, is that Hargrove's primary obligations are to the union members that he represents. With GM closing its Oshawa plant by 2008 and the announced Ford closings, he needs to push forward for legislative protection of the pensions for those workers who will be affected. Presently, such protection does not exist.

For this reason, the particular timing of this election must have him frustrated. He has been grumbling about the fact that he felt an election should not be triggered for some time now, and has been sharply critical towards Jack Layton for co-operating with the other opposition parties to bring the government down for weeks.

On November 7th, there were reports such as this:
One of the NDP'’s biggest backers, automotive union president Buzz Hargrove, cautioned Layton against bringing down the Liberals, saying the House of Commons still has lots of work to do and an election likely would result in another minority government.

"“I don'’t think bringing down the government makes any sense,"” the Canadian Auto Workers Union president told the Globe and Mail. "“We should try to make the government work . . . there'’s just too much to be done to force an election."”
He repeated a similar message as a guest on Don Newman's show Politics around the same time.

A Conservative government or a Liberal majority would make it much more difficult to get the protective legislation he is seeking passed. He has been open about this.

The perplexed commentators can kindly close their open mouths now, thank you.

[update 5:25pm] Hargrove was just on Mike Duffy Live, and made his position clear. Indeed, he suggested that he was concerned about securing pensions, and that he primarily supports the NDP. He wants to see a Liberal minority, and is thus suggesting to CAW members that they vote NDP in those ridings where the NDP candidate has a reasonable chance of winning, but is suggesting that they vote Liberal in those ridings where it is clearly a race between the Liberals and the Conservatives with the NDP as a distant third.
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At 8:17 PM, Blogger TomS said...

Until now, I have been caught between my unease over the social conservatism of
the CPC and the poor governance of Paul Martin. However, if a vote for the NDP
is somehow construed as a vote for the CPC, then using the same logic a vote for
the Liberals has become a vote for the NDP. No thanks.

At 6:24 AM, Blogger williamNPH said...

Luckily with the likelihood that the CPC wouldn't win a majority if they did come to power, the social conservatism would have to be reigned in or the opposition would pull the plug.

I can't see the opposition Liberals doing anything but trying to undermine the Conservatives, so it would be interesting to see Harper and gang trying to play ball with the NDP and Bloc (whose policies are not so different from the NDPs outside of the sovereignty issue).

It's a bit of an exaggeration, I'll admit, but it sort of seems like a vote for anyone right now is a vote for the NDP ;)


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