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On the Manley rant

So, John Manley has decided to come out this morning in the Globe saying we Liberals should all just forget about any coalition with the NDP. One of my fellow Liberal bloggers seems to think this is somehow a case of sanity prevailing. I disagree.

First, the unified opposition and the threat of defeat is the ONLY reason Harper backed down from most of his provocative stuff in the now dead Economic Update. Mr. Manley seems to have forgotten that small fact. I believe that coalition needs to be intact come January 26th, or Harper will feel less pressure to revamping his Budget toward the Coalition’s position (the threat of defeat needs to be hanging over his head for Canadians to get anything close to an acceptable stimulus package, and if he doesn’t, then the government needs to be brought down).

Second, This is less a case of sanity prevailing then it is a case of Manley deciding to kick and dump on Dion when he’s down. This is not the first time Manley has parted public company with the Liberal Party’s official position on policy while Dion has been leader. I won’t include his backing away from being an adviser to the Coalition on economic policy, because for now, I don’t really know if the Liberals formally asked him, and he agreed initially, or whether they just threw his name out there as someone they intended to ask. Let’s go back a bit further then that; many Liberals, and not just those of us who are in the progressive side of the party, did not appreciate Manley providing cover for Harper in his Afghanistan panel report. It was used by Harper to go after the Liberal party’s position on Afghanistan at the time, and Manley was more then willing to participate in what was essentially a rigged panel.

As an aside, Andrew Coyne has been going on at Maclean’s about how Manley should be entering the race as a leadership contender as the “anti-Coalition” Liberal candidate, and how Liberals would flock to it and that the Liberals need a centre-right candidate. Well, there’s a reason Manley didn’t run in the prior 2 leadership contests, nor this one. He has no grassroots support, and he certainly won’t get any support from the “liberal wing of the Liberal Party” (with apologies to Howard Dean’s phrase). The example of Joe Lieberman providing cover for George Bush and then John McCain may not be quite the direct comparison, and Manley may not invoke the levels of vitriol from the liberal/progressive wing of the Liberals, as Lieberman has from the progressive Democrats, but I’d bet it’s not far off, if you were to check around.

This particular essay virtually eliminates Manley from running for the Liberals now or in the future, I daresay. He probably wrote it because he knows he’d come nowhere close to winning a leadership race if he were to enter the current one (I’d even predict he’d finish behind LeBlanc), or any other Liberal leadership race.

Quite frankly, he’d be a better bet winning a Conservative Party leadership race, post-Harper, at this point.

UPDATE @ 3:40 pm: CuriousityCat and Jeff don’t think much of Manley’s article either.


21 comments to On the Manley rant

  • Bob Rae made a strong case for the Liberal-NDP Coalition in his speech today in Winnipeg.

    Said Rae: “What I know in my bones is that if we give Mr. Harper a vote of confidence at the end of January we will live to regret it for the rest of our lives. The democratic rights that he wanted to take away with that economic statement – they are the steps that he wanted to take. Those steps are not gone. Those steps are simply sleeping. There is nothing in what he has said since then that leads me to believe that he is sorry, has changed his mind, or is prepared to mend his ways. And everyone here knows that those are the steps that are crucial before you can say you are on the road to recovery. This guy ain’t on the road to recovery; he’s on the road to ruin. And I don’t think we should be following him down that road.”

    He stressed the need for coalition unity, discipline, and remaining committed to defeating Harper at the end of January.

  • Jason Townsend

    Manley stinks; if he didn’t know what he was doing, he’s too stupid for the party, if he did, he’s a rat.

    Boot him to the curb and let him be the Tories’ embarrassment.

  • goldenhawk

    @roll tide – Yes, but James Webb and Jon Tester won in the same year running campaigns that played to populist Democrats in states that leaned Republican in the past as well.

  • roll tide


    “Triangulation” saved Bill Clinton.
    Harold Ford almost won a Republican state with 48-percent of the vote.

  • roll tide

    A voice of sanity in the Liberal Party. Manley as leader would remove the stench this coalition has left in the voters nostrils.

  • goldenhawk

    Manley = former congressman, failed candidate for Senator, and DLC bigwig Harold Ford Jr. A Democratic politician who ran as Republican-lite, in a state that would rather just vote Republican. They are still advocating “triangulation” strategies which basically sell out their base to chase voters on the right. The Democrats didn’t experience success until they abandoned that for the “50 state” strategy.

  • billg

    Sooner or later you guys are going to have to listen to someone who has a different opinion. You cant honestly say that the last 4 years have been great ones for the LPC. You must know that the Coaliton will almost destroy the once great party…and if you dont, then, Mr Manley’s words and passion for the Liberal party are lost on all of you.
    Ask yourselves this question…the Coaltion is a new formation that has great ideas and great policy and great vision..but…if you took it to the voters you’d hand the Cons a majority…so, how can Mr Manley be wrong?

  • Anon

    Manley gave Harper a way to put the squeeze on the opposition on the Afganistan issue. He has never told us how he arrived at the conclusion that 1000 troops would suffice. It is reasonable to insist that Dion should go, however, to do it in a national paper does not appear to be the best approach especially since he, as a Lib, must have open routes of communication without going public.

  • slg

    So, now the hero is being put in the dog house because he doesn’t agree with you.

    Grow up.!

    He had some very valid points, and face it, is much more in tune to the behind the scenes of politics than you people are.

  • Mark

    Good post. Manley’s flaw is that the title of his article describes one step, while his arguments describe at least two. Having Dion leave as leader is a reasonable suggestion. Abandoning the coaltion is premature. And it is a particularly stupid suggestion given that we still have seen absolutely nothing from Stephen Harper on the economy, and have no idea what he will try to force down our throats next. Rolling over for Stephen Harper may help John Manley get publiclity, but it just reinforces why so few liberals anywhere in the country support the guy.

  • Dion must step down and a new leader chosen by mid January. That is, if the Liberal Party wishes to remain and not be beaten to oblivion.

    On November 22, 2008 I posted to your Blog regarding the leadership race and allowing people to vote directly, that “Where there’s a will there’s a way. It’s that simple.”

    Here is the E-mail to Doug Ferguson and Greg Fergus, of the Liberal Executive in the morning of 5 Dec. regarding this issue – I have just posted the full E-mail: (once again no response!)

    . . .

    Electing a New Leader of the Liberal Party Immediately

    I am sure that many people feel that if there is a showdown with Harper and the Conservatives, if Dion is leader of the Liberal party it will be a disaster. This is especially true if there is an election called in late January.

    If Dion remains leader, there will, obviously, be a very strong motivation for Liberal MP’s to abstain from any confidence vote until May when the new leader is elected. . That would be a path disastrous to our country and the Liberal Party.

    For these reasons, and as suggested by David Herle, yesterday, we must have a new leader by the time Parliament is reconvenes at the end of January.

    It is not feasible to move up the convention to mid January, obviously.

    That is why I am proposing that the Liberal Party hold a general vote, by all members. This, it is submitted, could, especially given modern technology, quite feasible to arrange by mid January. If a Canada wide general election can be held within 35 days of being called, so too, can a Liberal Party election.

    If the Liberal Party Constitution cannot be satisfied within this kind of time frame; then, certainly upon the vote being tallied Mr. Dion could step down as leader and the Executive appoint the person elected as “interim” leader until that person, man or woman, can be formally confirmed as leader in satisfaction of the Liberal Party Constitution.

    [Clarification: The mechanism for this – the choices in this vote would be from the existing candidates in the leadership race and when one is “elected” in this fashion, the other would withdraw from the race. Then, the convention would be an “Acclimation”.]

    I would certainly be quite willing to pass up my Christmas and News Years to assist in this.

    Lloyd MacIlquham

  • mississaugapeter


    The Coalition did not trigger an election. The Coalition caused a bully to retreat. The Coalition almost got rid of the egomaniac (and may just do that in 50 days).

    Public opinion has not solidified either way yet. Early polling was done after early, effective misinformation by the Conservatives.

    The Coalition survives only if they are able to explain to the general public that it is not a Liberal/NDP/Bloc Coalition, but a Liberal/NDP Coalition that will not be voted down by the Bloc for 18 months. There will be no Bloc ministers or Bloc members around the Cabinet table. The Green also support the Coalition. The Coalition received 62% of the vote in the October election. The Coalition received the majority of seats in the October election.

    Manley was wrong on Afghanistan and is wrong again. He is no Liberal leader.

  • Dennis H.

    Your synopsis is on point.

    Manley’s rant reminds us that earlier this week distinguished Canadian Ed Broadbent said outside the H of C that : “the Conservatives lie AND they pay others to lie for them”… I see a direct correlation for Manley here.

    Manley is a light-weight wannabee statesman. Along with many other loyal Liberals, both Chretien & Martin are probably disappointed with this flakey Manley behaviour.

    Manley (like Bob Stanfield, Dion and to a lesser degree Joe Clark) is another example of a bright federal politician almost totally incapable of articulating any message in a compelling manner … zero charisma. He possesses the personality & excitement of an empty potato jacket.

    Harpie shill Andrew Coyne suggesting Manley as liberal leadership material is a most laughable oxymoron.

    My only disagreement with you Scott is your suggestion that comparing Manley to Joe Lieberman may not be the most direct of comparisons. For all intents & purposes, Manley has clearly shown himself to be no better than an equivalent to a modern day nazi collaborator.

    The only thing dullard, klutz Manley has to say in the Globe piece that resonates for me is his suggestion to : “choose a new leader immediately, one who can take charge before Christmas and get the caucus ready for the resumption of Parliament”.

  • Quite frankly, he’d be a better bet winning a Conservative Party leadership race, post-Harper, at this point.


  • jason bo green

    You raise an excellent point, that Harper backed down. However, in truth I don’t feel Dion has enough support and respect across the country to work out as PM. There are several Liberals who could lead this coalition and be received alright — I like Dion personally, it was nice to see him win, but very few Canadians share my and your view on him, is my sense.

    But, we’ll see what we will see soon……

  • CuriosityCat

    Manley has once again demonstrated why he is a failure as a leader. We do not need defeatist appeasers at the head of our centre-left parties at this critical juncture, nor do we need such advisors.

  • Besides which, Manley just reminds me of Beeker (from Muppet Labs, where the future is being made today.)
    Seriously, I do feel now that because the coalition with the NDP was based on an argument of urgent economic necessity, it is basically inoperative now until we see what the budget has to offer. That said, I agree it needs to be clear that the coalition WILL be back on if the budget is insufficient or ideological.

  • @kitteie – Uh, unifying the Liberal and NDP? That’s not what the coalition is about You either need to re-think that, or you’re here to cause mischief, and I apologize for being suspicious, but that’s what I feel when I see a comment like that coming from someone with a Calgary IP.

  • JAWL

    Hence the humorous propaganda in the CTV title “Liberal Heavyweight”

    Give it up Manley, you are more conservative than liberal, more saboteur than statesman.

  • kitteie

    Manley is not a Liberal or he would be keeping his mouth shut and his opinions to himself instead of trying to sabotage the chance of uniting the NDP uner the Liberal party.

  • […] a brief follow-up to my previous post; If John Manley ever DOES get brave and actually decides to run for the Liberal leadership […]

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