So, the Tories managed to pass Bill C-50, the new immigration law bill, yesterday. Nobody outside of the Tories thinks this is a good bill; it doesn’t really do what it aims to do (increase skilled worker immigration to Canada), and it directly impedes reunion of immigrant families, which nobody thinks is a good idea outside of diehard nativists.
Canada’s immigration laws have problems, of course – the most notorious being the fact that wait times for immigration review are horrendous. Of course, the Immigration and Refugee Board is 35 percent unstaffed, and they directly attribute the largest part of wait times to that fact in their report on the matter, and you’d think that if the Tories were serious about improving immigration they’d appoint new people to the Board.
But this isn’t about improving immigration; it’s the same as everything the Tories do, which is to rubberstamp their vision of what Canada should be through legislation, be it “family-friendly” filmmaking backdoored into Bill C-10 or reopening the legal status of the fetus with Bill C-484. Now, if Canadians had actually voted the Tories into a majority government, I would be angry, but I’d have less cause to gripe; if Canadians desperately wanted the Tory way, that’s how democracies work.
But these bills aren’t passing because the Tories have a majority government. Because the Tories have a minority government. These bills are passing because the Liberal Party is abstaining on every single goddamned vote that has the potential to be even slightly contentious. This is because Stephane Dion is in charge of the party, and Stephane Dion is playing chickenshit politics. Every contentious vote becomes the same question: “can Stephane Dion win an election?”
And the answer given is always “no,” even though Dion – probably the least liked Liberal party leader of the last, oh, fifty years or so – at the helm of the Liberal party puts the Grits only three points behind the Tories in countrywide polling right now. It’s a death spiral, because every time Stephane Dion refuses to fight the Tories on a contentious vote, the public becomes increasingly more convinced that he can’t lead the country. Which is fair, because if you don’t think you can take on a dink like Stephen Harper, what the hell business do you have trying to run a nation?
At this point I think the Liberals have to pull the emergency play: boot Dion, put in an interim party leader that would scare the shit out of Tories trying to call an election while the Liberals are getting organized (Gerard Kennedy or Ken Dryden are good candidates in this regard), and then have their convention and immediately challenge the Tories, who honestly aren’t that popular at all any more in Quebec and whose support elsewhere in Canada outside of Alberta is mostly soft and due to Dion’s immense wimpiness as a party leader. (I’m already hearing from friends within the low levels of the Liberal party infrastructure that this plan is gaining popularity rapidly in the ranks; the MPs want to fight the Tories on these stupid bills and Dion won’t let them.)
Because right now it’s just Dion getting the bad press; soon, though, it’ll be the Liberals’ fault for letting Dion walk them down the path to electoral suicide, and then it’s real trouble.