Saundrie

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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Harper opens mouth to change feet

Now this is just arrogant presumption mixed in with a large amount of hubris and stupidity combined into one incredibly idiotic thing to be saying. Just because he can keep Cabinet meetings secret in regards to their occurring because it is Constitutionally permitted does not make it a good idea. This is especially true when you are a PM that campaigned on greater openness and access to information from government, yet during the first seven weeks of government have managed to look secretive and shifty and anything but open and honest. This though even for the stupidities I have been seeing from Harper on media issues is really astounding for its deaf ear to the politics of this for a man that is already still suspected of having a hidden agenda (which is likely why the CPC has such a weak minority) to be acting so secretive that he thinks it may be a good idea to conceal something I do not know when the last time was kept secret, that being when a Cabinet meeting is happening. Note I am not talking about what is said within Cabinet, that being secret is reasonable enough, the idea that keeping the fact that a Cabinet meeting is happening secret though can have only one purpose, to make it as difficult as possible for the media to be able to question his Ministers coming out of the Cabinet, especially when combined with the other restrictions related to the media and Cabinet in this post earlier today.

If he adopts this idiocy I think Harper will be shocked at the reaction it gets. Given the ground is already been tilled to accept the seeds of Harper as secrecy and control freak from his actions so far as PM I rather doubt there are going to be many outside the hardcore cult of personality of Harper and/or CPC partisans that see any sense in this action. It looks like a PM unwilling to face the media scrutiny prior governments of both Liberal and Progressive Conservative accepted as a part of being in office and especially when one is the government.

This guy is not playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers, this man is playing Russian roulette with his government and his future as a PM, let alone to have a chance at being a majority government PM. Has Harper forgotten that most of his new votes came from people throwing out the Liberals and willing to see whether the CPC rhetoric was matched by reality by giving them a chance or to prove that the hidden agenda claims with the CPC and especially Harper actually had merit. Harper's actions to date do far more to reinforce the latter perception than the former and this latest act of insanity will only further that. Harper and the CPC need to remember it is not their base they need to hold onto, it is the new voters they got last time, especially since they need to build on that number to have a shot at majority territory.

Harper is demonstrating one of my favourite Heinleinisms....Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Incidentally on Don Newman's Politics I have just heard this is not something under consideration but something actually being put into practice. Just because he has the right to do something does not mean he should do so, but then he doesn't seem to understand that the Emerson case exemplified that, which is no doubt why he dismissed from the outset the criticism/reaction as superficial and only felt by party partisans. Man that tin ear is just getting worse and worse.

17 Comments:

Anonymous john said...

If you don't get to know what is said at the meetings, why do you care if you know about them having them or not? How are you further ahead or kept more in the loop if you know there was a meeting but have no idea what it was about? They will discuss their secret agenda whether you know about it or not.

Tue Mar 28, 07:56:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Dave said...

You don't really mean that do you?

Tue Mar 28, 08:15:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Scotian said...

Dave:

Five gets you ten that he does. It would appear that this person does not understand too much about how our system has worked over the last several decades now does it. Let alone cares at all for accountability, transparent government and making sure the government is always being monitored by neutral to unfriendly examiners in the media. When any government only has favourable treatment, especially when it structures everything to maximize this from happening even at the brushing aside of the same harsh scrutiny his predecessors of both parties prior had to endure, well one is asking for trouble.

The more any government feels the eyes of the public and the media upon them the less likely they will be careless and/or irresponsible with the public trust they have been granted by all us voting citizens. Even if no answers are forthcoming the fact that the effort was made and recorded as were the rebuffs helps keep any government honest, and since power corrupts so easily this is not a bad thing, especially in a representative democracy like ours.

Wouldn't you agree Dave?

Tue Mar 28, 11:55:00 PM 2006  
Blogger HearHere said...

Cabinet meetings have always been private and cabinet ministers sign an oath to keep what is discussed in cabinet meetings private.

They CANNOT disclose discussions they have cabinet. They CAN and do make announcements on decisions made in cabinet.

The only change here is that the Press Gallery media can't chase them down the halls yelling and screaming for them to answer questions they are bound by oath not to answer.

Very unprofessional and I have always hated that. Nobody gets any real thoughtful information from those Gotcha antics. The media act like crazed paparrazi.

I prefer that when a minister or the PM have an announcement to make they go to a mike and questions are asked one at a time so we canadians can hear the questions and the answers.

Even then once you read the Q&A's in the press or see it on the news there is little resemblance to the real facts as these know it all media have to add their own opinions, spin, rephrase, misquote or somehow skew the message to their own liking-no matter what the politician says.

I think it is the media who have done a huge disservice to canadians - they, in essence lie to us or fudge the truth depending on their own medium's bias.

CPAC is about the most trustworthy media as you see the whole exchange. Also go right to the originao news releases - they are available on the internet.

Wed Mar 29, 12:01:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Scotian said...

Hear Hear:

I wonder how comfortable you would be if this was a Martin Liberal government doing this in a similar weak minority, why do I get the feeling that you would not be so complacent about it under those circumstances, hmmm?

The reality is that this is a part of how we hold our elected officials to account, and as messy as it may be it also allows for far better chance of an unscripted answer instead of the preferred talking points the government would clearly prefer, as would any government. I like the scrums for that reason and I also happen to have respect for traditions as well, I guess I am something of a conservative in that respect, especially where those traditions touch upon how we govern ourselves and how we chose to try to hold government accountable.

Harper is going well beyond what so many of his predecessors did, even those with strong majorities to start out with. What this looks like is Harper is afraid of the media, is afraid of being held to account by non-sympathetic questioners, indeed is the coward and control freak wanting to hide anything and everything he can so many have called him, especially in the last seven weeks.

No Hear Hear I think Harper should have to face what his predecessors had to accept as a cost of being a PM and the price of government being constant scrutiny. It is the responsibility of the free press in a democracy to always question the actions and decisions of those in power especially elected office so as to help the general public be as informed as possible. After all a democracy works best with an informed citizenry. Harper is going out of his way to prevent the citizenry of being informed of anything until after the fact, and this is not something that is an acceptable across the board approach to governing in this country.

For a man that called Martin and the Liberals dictators and tyrants he is certainly moving down that scale well past anything Martin pulled, especially where control of information release is concerned, and Martin had real scandals dropped into his lap like the sponsorship scandal. What is Harper's excuse aside from his cowardice to face the same kind of scrutiny prior Prime Ministers accepted as a part of the price of power? For a man that talked so noble and high and mighty about moral authority to govern he is going out of his way to destroy his, both with the media and over time with the wider public.

Wed Mar 29, 12:44:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Joanne said...

Scotian, I think Harper is a control freak and if he controls what his MPs and Ministers say to the media then there won't be any leak of information from his party. But he is making a big mistake because by banning the media from asking questions, he is keeping Canadians in dark about his agenda.

Wed Mar 29, 01:48:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Scott in Montreal said...

john and hearhere are both whacked. If reporters can't get access to ask difficult questions, then eventually the government is able to label every critic as a partisan flack. The free press loses its sharpest teeth and before you know it, they just become parrots of the government line, championing the most boneheaded of policies and not doing their jobs of keeping the public informed objectively as only they can. It's already happened in the States. Just ask Judith Miller.

Wed Mar 29, 01:50:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Dave said...

Wouldn't you agree Dave?

Absolutely!

The fact that a question does not get answered does not mean that there is no meaning in the asking.

I hate to admit this, but I was taught some very very effective interrogation techniques by a former brother-in-law (sister's ex) who was a TV news reporter then a producer and is now a communications consultant.

The presence and the questions can be enough to elicit an answer. That is Harper's problem. He knows if he doesn't insulate his cabinet from the media, they will eventually end up saying something dangerous.

Remember, some of those people are addicted to microphones.

Wed Mar 29, 02:19:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous john said...

How does saying you had a meeting add transparency if you cannot talk about what was discussed in the meeting? How does this add accountability. It would be like submitting an expense claim without the backup. Can't tell you what it was for but there it is. Please don't make generalizations about me Scotian. I could actually care less if the Liberals did this and in fact have commented many times that I think they way the press acts like animals after these things that it is any wonder at all that members even try.
Scott don't be so naive, the press is not interested in keeping the gov't honest, they are looking for their 10 second sound byte that they can run on the 6 o'clock news and they like the dirt more than they like the boring "we had a meeting and talked about business".
And when did Harper say he would have no access to the press? "If reporters can't get access to ask difficult questions, then eventually the government is able to label every critic as a partisan flack." This is not what we are talking about. Stay on topic Scott.
I am not advocating total isolation fromt the press, which seems to be the path you have taken here Scotian/Scott, but simply responding to this specific post. So again, how is there more accountiblity if you know they had a meeting but don't know what was said?

Wed Mar 29, 10:39:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Scott in Montreal said...

I have a BA in Journalism from a Canadian University, john. I studied the discipline as a history and have several friends in the working media from whom I get first-hand accounts. Don't lecture me about the mechanics of the free press. Instead, stop talking out of your ass and get informed yourself. May I suggest you start with checking out what Paul Wells had to say about it.

Wed Mar 29, 11:30:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous john said...

While your credentials are commendable I have read the article and I am not really sure are what your point is. Obviously I have hit a nerve here but there is no need to get all revved up. I also have friends who work in journalism and guess what, they tell me that yes, they were taught to go after the story, but now that they are working, they tell me they are mostly directed to go after the story that sells (ie. scandals, dirt, etc...).
And I would think that with all your training, you should be able to notice that perhaps those in the media might have a bias in the way they are reporting a story about themselves????
So calm down before you split your head pops and maybe answer my original question (which again was all this post was about). How does knowing about a meeting but not knowing anything about what happened at the meeting provide more accountability and transparency?

Wed Mar 29, 01:46:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous john said...

While your credentials are commendable I have read the article and I am not really sure are what your point is. Obviously I have hit a nerve here but there is no need to get all revved up. I also have friends who work in journalism and guess what, they tell me that yes, they were taught to go after the story, but now that they are working, they tell me they are mostly directed to go after the story that sells (ie. scandals, dirt, etc...).
And I would think that with all your training, you should be able to notice that perhaps those in the media might have a bias in the way they are reporting a story about themselves????
So calm down before you split your head pops and maybe answer my original question (which again was all this post was about). How does knowing about a meeting but not knowing anything about what happened at the meeting provide more accountability and transparency?

Wed Mar 29, 01:46:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Scott in Montreal said...

This just tells you that this government is not interested in answering to the public for their actions john. That's what accountability is, and that's all you need to know about it. They're scared of the media catching them as they run away scared from any questions that the public wants the answers to. It's an authoritarian attitude that belies a distinct lack of respect for open democratic debate. Anyway, that's all I'm saying on the matter. If you still don't get it that's just sad for you.

Wed Mar 29, 02:38:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Mike said...

As a follow up to what Scott says, this is more than just cancelling scrums after Cabinet meetings (where questions are asked about subjects the Ministers are responsible for, NOT about what happened in the meeting, hearhere), this is about only allowing pictures to be taken by goverment employed or party employed photographers, about only sanctioned, press releases being the only source of information to the press.

Sound familiar? Shucks I though a government so totalling controlling access to information on what it is doing was bad, what the Soviets did, and something Conservatives were against.

All this tells me is that this government has something to hide. Funny for a party that got elected on a platform of transparency, ethics and doing things different.

Wed Mar 29, 03:40:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous john said...

Scott, you certainly are an arrogant one aren't you? You and Scotian share the same infliction whereby if somebody disagrees with you, they are just too stupid to get it. But that is neither here nor there.
" This just tells you that this government is not interested in answering to the public for their actions john.". I don't see it going that far. I see it as they are going to do it in a way that is not totally pleasing to the press, which explains why you are so offended by this policy. I don't see them cancelling access all together but that is all you can see and I don't understand the reasoning behind that. It just seems like it's more of doom and gloom and you will pick at whatever policy the CPC puts into place.
All this being said, I don't know that I support these moves but I think it is important to take them in context instead of always taking the result of your slippery slope.

Wed Mar 29, 05:53:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Scotian said...

John:

You are certainly free with those moral judgments of yours with people that disagree with yourself you know. Indeed, one can make a good case that you are projecting your own faults onto others, You seem to think that just because people like Scott and myself disagree with you that it means we are closed to different opinions than our own, as if yours were so inherently superior that to not at least recognize its worth demonstrates the inherent inability of those not seeing it to see things beyond their own narrow perspective. This is something you have been accusing me of pretty much from the outset and now you are doing it to another.

Yet through all of this you fail to see that it is yourself that is demonstrating their arrogance, their hypocrisy, and their own inability to accept different points of view as valid. It is for this reason that I have generally stopped responding to you, it is this reason why so many of my commentators here find you irritating and not worth their own effort, and yet you still take that as proof of your own superior position, especially on the moral level.

I think one of the reasons you have such a hard time dealing with me is that unlike yourself I do not need to feel like I have proven my superiority, I simply accept I am a human being with various strengths and weaknesses, various understandings and flaws, just like everyone else. I am comfortable with who I am, what I believe, and why I believe it. I do not define my sense of self worth by the opinions of others, I define it by my actions and inactions in the world. I will admit that those I love and/or respect can have an influence on that opinion, but you are neither. You are an anonymous person that for whatever reason of his own has chosen to take it upon himself to what humble me or something.

You just do not get it do you. I do not claim to be anything other than what I am here, someone that was raised in a very political family and thanks to the access into both the PCPC and the CLP I was able to gain great insight and understanding of the inner workings of politics. That is why I chose to comment on them and feel I can do so with some confidence in knowing of which I speak. Now, if I was writing a blog on say cars and the subculture surrounding it I would be making a fool of myself with my abysmal ignorance of most things and superficial understanding of the rest. It is not something I understand like so many other things in the world.

I wonder if you ever heard the expression the more you learn the less you know and if you have did you understand it? So far from your actions it does not appear that way. Incidentally, I thank you for proving such a wonderful example of someone too full of himself and too willing to set himself above others as a self appointed moral authority, which is after all what you have acted like in your confrontations with me and even by your own words why you are doing so. This is why you are welcome to continue posting, not because of your dazzling intellect and ability to make solid arguments but rather your self righteous attitude and your willingness to set yourself above others so easily.

Oh yes, before you claim I am a hypocrite for doing the same to Harper and company again keep one thing in mind. I am a voting citizen and the elected officials work for me as much as anyone else. When your party is a government they represent and are accountable to all Canadians and not just the ones that voted for them. It is perfectly appropriate and arguably my civic responsibility to continually examine and judge their actions. However I am a private citizen as you are and it is not inherently the place of one private citizen to appoint themselves the moral authority and judge of another. This is something you clearly do not grasp.

You are too busy being that kind of judge and not someone actually offering constructive criticism of what I write and apparently what others have written here as well. This is another reason why I said you were not presenting honest disagreements early on. Aside from a couple of commentators who already didn't agree with me politically that I had encountered before you that dropped by you have managed to convince everyone that comments here of your failings and your problems with honest disagreement, yet you still continue to believe that instead you have done the opposite.

You will also note that at no time have any of your comments been deleted, edited, nor have you been banned. Why should I do so when your own words are what show exactly what you are for all to see, and for anyone to go back and see which one of us truly is being the more honest. It is a pity you waste so much time on such an unfulfilling and soul damaging effort to show me the errors of my ways, you would be far better served to do that for yourself as all individuals should be doing. Now you have included several of my commentators in this and only further discredited yourself.

While I am grateful for the example of a particularly personality type you come off as, I am saddened by what it says about you. I do not like profiting from the misery of others and what you have shown us all and my willingness to use it so feels far too much like that. I suppose I should comfort myself with the knowledge that you think this is all rubbish and that I am just another windbag disconnected from reality and "real" people. How little you truly understand your fellow human beings it seems. The only thing it surpasses is that of your clear lack of understanding of politics beyond a very superficial level.

Thu Mar 30, 05:45:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous john said...

Scotian,
We could go round and round about dishonest arguments but that is a waste of time. Sort of like you, I don't care what others think of me, including yourself. I enjoy debates and discussion but am just tired of all the rhetoric and false accusations. I am simply trying to hold those that make them to account. Unlike you, I don't think that average joes (that would be you and me) can say whatever they want and feel that they have no impact or responsiblity to society. I believe we don't just hold our elected officials to a high standard but that we must hold ourselves to that high standard as well. It is hypocritical to "do as I say, not as I do" regardless of whether you are elected or not. Your own moral code, whatever it may be, cannot be turned on or off at whim. What you do for a living should never have an impact on that.
Words can be dangerous and even if that is not the intention. That's the double edged sword of free speech. I have never judged your values, I have however, judged your methods and simply asked you to back up what you say (same thing with Scott). It has never been my intent to make you and Scott "agree" with me but to understand why you have the opinion you do (becoming more informed) and I can't do that when you won't support the argument you say is the basis of that opinion. It is not your civic duty to attack those in power but to ask questions and challenge the answers/non-answers.
There is a big difference between "it could lead to" and "it will lead to" and I don't think you make that clear in your writings.
Of course your other posters don't agree with me on principal but that is because I am in foreign waters here. It would be foolish to assume that this blog is a fair representation of how society views and thinks as a whole.
Yes you are long winded, my god are you ever, but that is cool. You keep posting and I will keep reading and responding.

Thu Mar 30, 11:18:00 AM 2006  

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