After much prodding by other bloggers, I set this up for my own writings. The name is in honour of the two women that mentored me throughout my life on politics and intelligence issues, as well as being wonderful family members, now alas deceased. I hope to live up to their standards at this site.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Is this smart politics, especially after Emerson/Fortier on Day one?

Just a short thought on this. Meech Lake is not only tied to the memory of the Constitutional fights of the late eighties and early nineties, but the failure of Meech Lake is what directly led to the creation of the Bloc Quebecois. It is also tied in most people's minds with a PM that was willing to gamble the future of the country on what he himself described as a roll of the dice. That was a level of arrogance that truly infuriated many Canadians, and Harper is reminding Canadians of this two days after the Emerson switch and the Fortier appointments to Senate and Public Works on his first day as PM? I mean the hubris/arrogance of Harper to appoint a unelected party friend/worker to the Senate and then to Cabinet is classic patronage rewards in action, pure and simple. The Emerson thing coming right after the election as it did (two weeks for cripes sake) and Harper's embrace of the man after he spent weeks tearing Harper and the CPC to shreds in an election campaign also reeks of arrogance and ends justifying the means instead of principles and ethics. So what can Harper do to make this look even worse this week? He has the first Cabinet meeting at a place that has become synonymous with Mulroney/PCPC arrogance.

One cannot govern purely out of concern regarding optics, this is true. However, one cannot afford to ignore them either, especially if you are in a weak minority! I really do not see the wisdom in this, and the message it sends to Canadians about how different and better this government/party would be in power is that we only said this to get your vote, now that we have it we are going to do whatever we feel we need to regardless of ethical concerns and no matter how expedient it is. The last thing they should be doing is adding to the Emerson/Fortier scandals with a reminder of one of the greatest failures in Canadian history of an act of arrogance by the last Conservative PM, who reduced his party from a majority to two seats with these kinds of actions. All this in 48hrs from the moment we first heard about Emerson and Fortier to this. Seems very much like insult to injury myself.


Anonymous CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Why Harper’s Cabinet Matters – A Qestion of Trust.

Remember Nixon? Remember the question his opponents raised during an election: Would you buy a used car from this man?

Are we in the same territory now with Stephen Harper, the policy wonk with broken promises in his first day of becoming Prime Minister?

Harper’s Achilles heel over the past two elections has been the question of trust. Many voters examined his views, going back several years, and came to the conclusion that this leopard had not changed his spots. And when he tried in the latest election to sidestep the issue of his beliefs, by simply saying he had “evolved” but his fundamental philosophy was unchanged, may voters were stopped in their tracks. Had he changed? Can this man be trusted?

Then he ran an election campaign designed to focus more on the Liberal’s record – perfectly justifiable – than on his party’s platform. A tightly controlled election that even had some rightwing candidates hiding in kitchens to avoid interviews with the press about their social beliefs. And a leader who avoided questions, sidestepped some, ignored others.

The pattern of avoidance, selective discussion, and ignoring of legitimate questions by the fourth estate, raised yet more concern among many voters: Can this man be trusted?

Now, his cabinet, with surprising choices in at least two cases, and omissions in other areas. A Liberal is elected and immediately joins Harper when Harper asks him to leave the party that elected him and join the minority Tories, now in need of more votes in Parliament. Doug Beazley of the Edmonton Sun puts it in context:
“But political scientist David Taras of the University of Calgary warns Harper is risking the wrath of the backbench. "Two weeks ago, Emerson was saying the Harper Conservatives were heartless. Now they've got to work with them. How can they trust him?" he said. “
But it not just whether the Tories can trust Turncoat Emerson, but whether Harper kept the faith with voters, and honoured promises made during the election. So once more voters are asking: Can this man be trusted?

And Harper’s response to the justifiable outbursts – by Tories and others – simply underscores the concern. To brush the criticism aside as simply being “superficial”, implies the voters who now feel dismayed by the Harper actions, are not capable of forming rational judgments and should leave it to Big Daddy Harper to make those decisions for them.
So the question lingers in voters minds: Can this man be trusted?

Wed Feb 08, 04:46:00 PM 2006  
Blogger A BCer in Toronto said...

I'm getting annoyed with curiosity's rants accross the blogsphere too, he really should just get his own blog.

But on the point, far be it from me to defend the Cons but I wouldn't read anything into the Meech Lake location. There's symbolism, yes, but it's also just a picturesque spot with conference space not far from Ottawa.

Now, driving out there in a convoy of limousines and leaving the media on the highway...well, I guess the minivan from Monday is back at the rental agency.

Wed Feb 08, 07:01:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Scotian said...


If the Emerson and Fortier disgrace had not happened Monday then I would not think so much of the optics of Meech Lake. It is more having it come right on the heels of these controversial Cabinet picks that causes me to wonder if anyone in the CPC leadership is even giving a passing thought to how these things can look, as well as the additional ammunition it provides to all the opposition the CPC has in this country. It just seems to me like the media machine that the CPC had running so smoothly in the election suddenly vanished into thin air once the campaign was over.

I also would not underestimate the potency of Mulroney/Meech Lake reminders in the over thirty set, that left a real imprint on the older voters. I've always thought it was the Constitutional nightmares Mulroney dragged the country through that was the main downfall of his government and his party in 1993, although the GST certainly didn't help him any. I mean I am not saying I expect this will harm him, just that it seems like a risk to take that was unnecessary when there is already some real questions being raised about the Cabinet and who is in it and how they got there. It just brings up echoes of the past, and one the Canadian people soundly rejected, so why associate your first Cabinet meeting with it?

I do not know, I may well be overly sensitive on this, but given that politics is more about perceptions than reality for the most part it just seems sloppy.

Wed Feb 08, 07:44:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous GoodGrief said...

Scotian, you are not being overly sensitive. For the young voters, it won't matter, but those of us who lived through the Mulroney debacle remember Meech only too well. (That is the point at which I decided I could no longer support the PCs, and started voting based on the candidate versus the party.)
I'm just not sure that Harper realizes the potential implications of the optics, which either makes him stupid, or ignorant. As one knows he's not stupid....
Ignorance and Arrogance - what a combo. Does it come with fries?

Wed Feb 08, 08:28:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Dana said...

What are the odds he chose Meech himself and not some member of his staff?

His rumoured control freak tendencies would likely dictate that he made it himself.

Would he have made it in full knowledge of what he was planning on cabinet day?

If he did make the choice himself in full knowledge of what his plans were for cabinet day then it speaks to two levels of his incapacity to think beyond his own perceptual boxes.

One being that he completely missed the uproar over his cabinet choices.

The other being the resonance of Meech in the context and aftermath of arrogant, out of touch leadership from the right side of the spectrum.

If it was a staffer that person should be thanked.

Wed Feb 08, 09:21:00 PM 2006  
Blogger JD said...

Harper is providing us with campaign material extraordinaire. Can you imagine how "roughed up" Harper will be once parliament opens and the experienced "out for revenge" Liberal opposition gets revved up attacking the "scriptless" and "teleprompterless" Harper? His political moves so far (especially the O'Connor move) seems very "Bushie". Having O'Connor in his new role is equivalent to what happens in the States whereby the vested interests basically write the laws. I can't wait until the Liberals "get their act together" and start their "counterattack".

Wed Feb 08, 09:27:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Dave said...

I noticed the Meech Lake thing too. I'm in agreement that Harper is doing a very poor job at recognizing the optics of his moves.

But then, he isn't really very good at optics. Never has been.

His election campaign was as tight as a drum and neither he nor his candidates were allowed to go off message or answer questions. However, he wasn't running the campaign. His campaign team were managing the optics and look how well they did.

It'll be interesting to see how he handles parliament since he'll be on the defensive from the get go.

Wed Feb 08, 10:49:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Dana said...

I have a question regarding the power of blogs vs the power of traditional media and I might as well put it here.

Blogs in Canada are interesting and I participate in many. But at least to date they have no discernible effect. Including the Conservative blogs. Witness the exquisite agonies they are currently undergoing as regards their dear leaders capacity for ignoring their concerns.

I post multiple times daily in the G&Ms comments sections.

How many bloggers do? Do you Scotian? Does Dave or Cheryl over at gallopingbeaver? Does anyone know?

That's an available forum that's much more widely read I suspect. (Not that I have the remotest idea what anyone's hit numbers are, mind you.)

Wed Feb 08, 11:05:00 PM 2006  

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