Monday, February 06, 2006

Political Tragedy

Well it didn’t take long for the game of musical political chairs to begin.

David Emerson, who a few weeks ago was ardently determined to stop Stephen Harper and his “scary” agenda, is now happily sitting in the Harper cabinet!

I guess Harper wasn’t so scary after all.

It just goes to show how politics has become like theatre and our politicians like actors.

As Shakespeare might say they strut and fret their hour upon the political stage, all sound and fury but in the end signifying nothing -- nothing but political opportunism.

Of course, I understand why the Harper Tories were willing to take Emerson in.

They now have a Vancouver MP in government; they bolster their minority in the House; they have a proven and experienced cabinet member.

But the Tories were supposed to put political principle ahead of political expediency.

What a shame.

This has all the makings of a Shakespearian tragedy.


Anonymous said...

You might want to give both Emerson and Harper a break. Politics is a shark-infested cesspool, and Emerson, like other good people betrayed by their Liberal overlords, was between a rock and a hard place.

We clamour for politicians who represent their constituents with common sense and decency. Many people in Emerson's riding, liberal and conservative alike, consider Emerson a good MP who works hard, and a man of integrity.

Why wouldn't Harper welcome someone like that? Rather, shouldn't we be glad he can rise above partisan politics?

Let's not get hung up on protocol and rules, and let our new PM do his job. He could use the support, or at the very least, lack of obstruction. He'll get enough of that from the loony left.

Anonymous said...

What a blunder!

Just sworn in and Harper shows his arrogance and political immaturity in these ways. It should not really be a surprise to us, though: he is used to running things “my way or the highway”, and this breathtaking arrogance in doing a 180 degree turn on parliamentarians who change parties, really takes the cake!

And to choose Stockwell Day instead of boosting the number of women in his first cabinet: what message are you sending to 50% of the population, Harper – that being a white male with outdated social views makes you far more qualified for office than being a woman does? Watch your popularity amongst women slide by a handful or so of points on this one.

And so much for your platform of an elected senate ... just a bit too inconvenient right now, eh? Besides, voters are cattle – they won’t remember what you said if you now start saying something else ...

These crass steps just confirm the views of the voters in Canada’s big cities: don’t trust a man who runs a stealth campaign, hiding many of his policies.

Going to be a very interesting 12 months!

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

I have no problem with politicians crossing the floor, but what I have a problem with hypocricy. Harper is the biggest hypocrit on wanting only elected senators yet appointing Fortier to cabinet and as a senator as well as condemning Belinda Stronach for defecting while doing the same thing with David Emerson. Hopefully the Liberal will use the next two years to re-build so we can defeat this government.

Anonymous said...

You're a good man, Gerry. A real man, by traditional definition, since you can be taken at your word.

Only fools would place their trust in someone whose (lack of) principles could be summed up thusly: "I meant what I said at the time."

Anonymous said...

I was upset when I first heard, but after seeing the interviews and reading some of the blogs, I understand what SH did. Yes, the optics look bad, but I think he was trying to ensure metro representation in his cabinet and acquire needed experience.

SH didn't betray his principles. He's on record as saying he doesn't think there's an effective way to stop MPs from crossing over. As for the senate appointment, during the election campaign, MSM asked if he'd do this if he didn't win seats in Quebec. He answered it wasn't his prefered choice. Well, he didn't win any seats in Montreal. So he appoints one for the senate and now, it's a problem? Give me a break.

For all of you bashing the CPC, and equating today's moves as being as corrupt as the Liberals, well, either you don't know the meaning of the word corruption or you're just trolling these blogs.

Anonymous said...

Harper’s One-Man-Band, and Pretzel Tories.

So, a little time has passed, and Harper’s daring moves to impress the electorate with his political acumen have now sunk in a bit. Reaction across the country to his cabinet appointments – and abandonment of principles espoused during the election – have varied from sheer disbelief, to shock, to amusement. Never has a Canadian politician fallen so far so fast. Usually it takes time for power to corrupt, but Mr. Harper is a man in a hurry.

Many Tories have had to swallow their tongues and bend themselves into pretzels defending the indefensible. Some MPs have said they fear going back to their ridings because they will have to explain to their supporters how the Harper crew did a sudden U-turn on the accountability issue, which, after all, was the Tory strong point in the election. Harper ran as Mr. Clean, and painted Martin as Mr. Corruption at every opportunity he had.

Even the rightwing press is stunned and disappointed.

Examples of press reaction:

The Vancouver Sun:

“"I expected some of the superficial criticism I've seen," Mr. Harper told The Vancouver Sun in an interview. "But I think once people sit back and reflect, they'll understand that this is in the best interests of not just British Columbia but frankly of good government." Mr. Harper referred to his statements on Monday, when he said he recruited Mr. Emerson to Cabinet to give Vancouver -- which didn't elect a Tory MP in five city ridings -- a voice in Cabinet. He used the same rationale to explain why he appointed Tory national campaign co-chairman Michael Fortier, a Montreal businessman, to the Senate and as Minister of Public Works. Montreal, like Vancouver, did not elect a government MP. "I think I was clear what I did and why I did it," Mr. Harper said yesterday.

The Calgary Sun – Roy Clancy:

“Stephen Harper must be breathing a sigh of relief today. Just minutes after being sworn in as prime minister, he relieved himself of one of the biggest burdens he had carried into the job. No longer must he live up to the impossible standard of political purity and ethical integrity saddled upon him by a naive electorate. ...But as widespread moans of anger illustrate, many Canadians took Harper seriously when he promised Monday to "begin a new chapter for Canada." No wonder they were disappointed when they learned within moments that this new chapter looks a lot like the old one. ...Harper's pragmatic moves may not have violated the letter of his promises to change the way government is run, but they shattered the spirit. .... Monday's manoeuvres quickly lowered the bar when it comes to public expectations of this new regime.“

The Calgary Sun - Rick Bell:

“See the Tories wriggle. Wriggle, Tories, wriggle. Ah yes, one party's turncoat is another party's principled politician. No anger now. No demands to step down and face the voters now. No nasty name-calling now. No sympathy for the poor electors of the riding of the quisling now. ... The trouble with talking about the moral high ground is you actually have to walk on it or, like the kid standing by the broken window after throwing the snowball, insist without shame you've done nothing wrong. ... So the rationalizations flow, the lame explanations are exhaled into the hot air and only those who have drunk the Conservative Kool-Aid will follow as good old ideological ants.”

So, what lessons can be taken from Harper’s first exercise of Prime Ministerial power? Here are a few for you to ponder:

• Just as it is unfair to accuse every Republican of having the same moral vacuity that President Bush has displayed, so too is it unfair to say that all Conservatives – and all voters who voted for the Tories – lack good moral and political judgment. It is very clear that there are a lot of people who voted Tory because they sincerely believed that it was time for the Liberals to mend their house, and for another party to bring in some anti-corruption measures. These people still have high standards; they are as bewildered by the events of this week as others are.

• Harper obviously believes he is above trifling things like having to take the feelings of others into consideration. This exercise of Prime Ministerial power shows that he will think things through – apparently mostly on his own – and then decide on the best way forward. If he explains his thought process, it is obvious to him that voters will then understand why he is right, and fall into line. There is a word for this: paternalism. Harper shows clear signs of seeing himself as the Big Wise Daddy of Canadian politics. His use of the word “superficial” to describe the reaction of others to his crass abandonment of some of the major planks of his election platform illustrates this very clearly.

• Harper is focused on winning a majority in the next election, to happen within 18 months. Everything he will do or say is geared to that. If lesser mortals within his own party do not understand this, that is their problem. They must suck it up and stay in line. Big Daddy knows best.

• Harper does not believe in a democratic party for the Tory government. It is his way or the highway (witness Stronach). This is perhaps the most worrisome aspect for many Tories: did they realize they were electing a dictator rather than the leader of a parliamentary party fashioned along the lines of a Westminster democracy? How many more decisions will be made by The Leader, and rammed down the throats of the caucus? And how can Canadians expect such decisions to be the best, if they are not tested by vigorous debate within the governing party before being made?

If Harper continues in the same vein for the next 12 months, expect him to join the ranks of the Clarks, Campbells and Martins as a short-lived blip on the Canadian political firmament.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about press reaction, I'm more worried about those who swallow the talking points. Gee, HOW many seats did conservatives get in Quebec? How many in Quebec City and Sherbrooke? And you're going to tell me with a straight face that we NEED a guy from Montreal-no matter what! Even if he wasn't elected, even if it involves a senate seat? That doesn't even get into the point that the guy lost every friggin election he's been involved in. What, he KNOWS everybody in Montreal, so we just HAD to have HIM. Get real.

THen how come nothing for Toronto, its the biggest city in Canada, far more voted tory than in Montreal, and they also have no representation. But there it was "well, we'll take Tony Clement, he's close enough" But Sherbrooke isn't??

Yet we're supposed to believe the massive increase in conservative MP's resulted in just a bunch more dimwits,none of which have the brains to be in Cabinet? Why not just put liberals in ALL the cabinet positions, after all, they have more experience. Or, gee, perhaps its supposed to be a democracy after all.

As far as Emerson and softwood go, its been clear for years who holds the cards, and a deal will be reached when the US says so.

What *&^^es me off most about all this is that I am FORCED to agree with "the loony left". Have you any idea what its like to talk to a pot smoking, union starting, big government implementing co-worker and saying "your right, your right, your absolutely right..."

Anonymous said...

I forgot my conclusion from above- if we don't see an elected Senator SOON, I'm going to take my first puff-and start a damn union! (I mean why not, apparantly being conservative nowadays means acting like a liberal!)