People that know me personally (which probably means everyone reading this) have likely heard me rant about “opposition thinking” amongst politicians, where they take easy, populist shots at those in government and disavow that they will ever do the same. You see it a lot with the tories: take, as an example, the Prime Ministerial plane. It was atrocious when Paul Martin paid more than he had to when flying to Morocco for vacation; it’s apparently very different when Stephen Harper goes to a hockey game at the ACC. I usually end this conversation by pointing out that no democrat will seriously question that the President gets to fly whereever on Air Force One, as they are pretty sure at some point in the not-so-distant future, one of their own will reap the same benefits.
But what’s really weird is that the Tories seem to now be doing the inverse: where government derides opposition. In this case, they’re suggesting that the opposition Liberals intend to do something scurrilous with electoral financing and are “owned” by those whom hold their leadership debts. We’ll ignore for the moment that the Tories first piece of legislation extensively modified the Elections Act, and they did not remove this provision. We’ll also ignore that they have subsequently introduced a number of pieces of legislation, none of which seem to directly deal with this either (though one does look at how you can be loaned money). We’ll also ignore that the only time the House of Commons is more grating than question period is when we get Members Statements like this immediately before (Poilievre had one today, he cutely used Dion’s name).
Here’s the important things to remember: right now, the Conservative party is unquestionably dominant: it is in government, it leads in fundraising, and, even if the polls have them in a dead heat with the Liberals, other polling indicators (trust, leadership, etc.) are well in their favour. The Liberals, meanwhile, languish in fundraising (though they might be experiencing donor fatigue) and can’t seem to articulate anything.
But it’s not always going to be this way. Eventually, the public will get sick of the Conservatives and toss them to the street. It might be in 6 months. It might be in 12 years. Its going to happen. And when it doesn, there will be a leadership race, and they have made sure that it will be especially difficult to raise funds, meaning that almost certainly some future Tory leader will be in the same place as Stephane Dion is now. And when that comes, they’re gonna want to be able to get that extension.