Monday, December 08, 2008


Political events in Ottawa are moving so swiftly that even political junkies can’t keep up. Just in the past few days we have witnessed the rise of a coalition movement, bare-knuckled political acrimony in the House of Commons and on the airwaves, direct emotional appeals to the country by national political leaders, demonstrations across the country for both sides, an unprecedented granting of a prorogation by the Governor – General to avoid a government defeat, and now, what appears to be a sped-up leadership resolution for the Liberals. All in two weeks. And all
because of Stephen Harper, and all because he can’t be trusted.

We need not review the reasons why all of the above is true. All of them have been reported, blogged, discussed in columns, talked about by television's talking heads, and bandied about our daily lives ad nauseum.

There was a time not long ago that Canadian political parties and their leaders, of all stripes in whatever jurisdiction or region, operated on a civilized basis. Politics in Canada had its own Marquis of Queensbury/Geneva Convention rules. Oh, there was partisanship and a competitive spirit to get this edge or that on an issue, or to try for an uptick in the polls with some decision or policy. There were uncomplimentary accusations hurled across the House or the airwaves by the contestants from time to time. Political discourse could get hot and votes of confidence could happen quickly which could end a government, and its leader’s career. But there were rules. There were no surprise attacks during leadership campaigns. There were no television attack ads when there wasn't any election going on. There was no effort to starve opposition parties when money was scarce. There was no kicking an opponent when he was down.

Until recently party behaviour in Canada most always fell short of meanness and bullying and wanting to do your opponents in forever. There was too much respect for our democratic institutions for that, even amongst vigorous partisans. Amid spirited and sometimes disrespectful debate, pre-Harper political contestants fell short of trampling their opponents into oblivion. There was a respect for political parties and a respect for democracy and a respect for fair play. There were some things that were over the line. It was always a matter of judgment as to what they were, but the contestants intuitively knew when they were nearing the line and almost always pulled back.

That changed with Stephen Harper. Harper's infamous attack ads, his accusations that the Liberal Prime Minister supported child pornography, his smearing a Liberal Sikh MP in the House, his relishing the scene of Liberals grovel to refrain from participating in confidence votes to avoid an election which they could ill-afford are just a few of his actions that were directed at changing the rules of the game. The list is extensive and well known.

And when Harper saw his chance to destroy the opposition by cutting off its money, he took it. To stop his abuse - and that is what it was, abuse – of the democratic process, the opposition did the only thing it could to try to bring him into line, they formed a perfectly legitimate and democratic coalition movement. The uproar about the Bloc agreeing to support the coalition is a red-herring promoted by Conservatives who can’t think beyond their expectations of their very own pork out of the barrel.

What will happen to the coalition between now and when the House convenes next month is anyone’s guess. But the reason it formed should be obvious to everybody. Harper cannot be trusted. He is a dangerous force in Canadian politics and his influence must be curtailed.

The Liberals now believe it is necessary to speed up their leadership process. They are confronted with the reality that Harper would likely take advantage of a longer leadership race by calling an election in the middle of it. It would be entirely consistent with his super-partisan, scorched earth philosophy of government - Destroy your enemies at any cost, even if you have to destroy your institutions. In fact, given his recent over-the-top statements about fighting the inclusion of the Bloc in the coalition, one can conclude he is even prepared to risk the survival of the country to attain his personal political goals.

This is a sad and dangerous time. Harper has got to go!


Patrick Ross said...


You're either hopelessly partisan, or simply ignorant of Canadian history.

Stephen Harper is not the one to blame for the current state of Canadian politics.

It just so happens that it's the Liberal party that is to blame.

Attack ads during a period when no election is going on, scorched earth politics and the trampling of opponents into oblivion is something that the Liberal party pioneered in this country.

We all remember the extended smear campaigns run against Preston Manning and Stockwell Day. We remember the attack ads the Liberal party commenced immediately following Harper's selection as the Conservative party leader. Some of us even remember James Gardiner and some of his dirty tricks -- such as hiding liquor bottles in hotel rooms occupied by his political rivals during prohibition.

As it stands, Stephen Harper is the first Conservative to survive the efforts of a political machine focused on personal destruction more than any other in the history of Canada.

If you don't like the new rules of the game -- and a great many Canadians justifiably do not -- then you need to take account of your party's history and realize that it was the Liberal party that wrote them.

Darryl Raymaker said...

OK, Smart Guy, tell me about the smear campaign conducted by the Grits against Manning and Stockboy.

Your story about Gardiner I have never seen anywhere until the crap you sent a few minutes ago.

And tell me how the Liberals have tried to destroy Harper personally.

You Conservatives seem to think if anyone publicly calls attention to stupid and extremist comments of your boy, they are trying to destroy him personally.

There has been no party or leader in the history of this country that has tried to trash democracy like the Harper Conservatives and you know it!

Oh, and thanks for reading my blog and keep the fan mail coming.

Miles Lunn said...

I fully concur here. Mulroney, Clark, Stanfield, and Diefenbaker all disagreed with the Liberals, but they still saw them as a legitimate voice and as people with good intentions. On the contrary Harper hates the Liberals and wants them destroyed. He has absolutely zero respect for those who see things differently than him. He is not one who is willing to accept than in politics almost everyone wants to build a better country and the differences are how best to achieve this. We share the same common goals, just different methods. Harper on the other hand believes those who are not Conservative are truly evil and wants to destroy them. Finally, even within his own party his distrustful of pretty much everyone and rules with an ironfist. I suspect many Tory MPs privately would love to see Harper go and only won't publicly admit since they would be turfed from the party and never have a chance at leading it.

CityBrokers said...

Just had a quick look on Wikipedia for the Gardener info:

For someone who the commentor feels was such a dog, the man had quite a distinguished career.

Darryl Raymaker said...

You are absolutely correct. Until the Harper era, our political leaders were civilized and never attacked our democratic institutions. According to Patrick Ross (visit his neocon blog site - not for too long, you may get sick)Harper's rules "are the new rules of the game." He accuses the Grits of writing them, and that of course is pure bullshit. Harper has written them.

And CityBrokers, you are absolutely right about Gardiner's distinguished career. He booted out the Ku Klux Klan out of Saskatchewan while he was a Minister there and served as the Federal Minister of Agriculture for more than twenty years. He was so accomplished he was conferred the title of Right Honorable. And this turkey Ross tries to smear his good name. Boy, you can tell he's a Harperite, can't you?

Patrick Ross said...

If you're really this ignorant of Canadian history, and clearly intend to remain so, I have no burning desire to disabuse you of that ignorance.

If you're really going to pretend to be ignorant of the campaigns of personal destruction waged against Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper, you're either incredibly obtuse or incredibly dishonest.

Personally, I think it's a little of both.

But think hard, boys. Who was it who set the precedent of airing attack ads against their opponents when no election was in play?

Think hard. I know the answer to this, and I think you do, too.

I just don't think you're honest enough to admit it.

Patrick Ross said...

By the way, James Gardiner's efforts to get rid of John Diefenbaker by continually redrawing his constituency lines are a textbook case of a failure to successfully gerrymander. Really, look it up.

And don't rely on Wikipedia. Really, boys, that's just pathetic.

Darryl Raymaker said...

Just as I thought Ross, you have no evidence of attack ads and you're talking through your empty-headed hat. You are a typical neocon Harperite, using smear and innuendo tactics and hoping to hell some sucker out there will believe them.

Gardiner must have been a helluva lot better Minister of Agriculture than a gerrymanderer, because Dief won all of his elections. That fact alone belies your Gardiner smear.

Anyway, thanks for reading my blog and for your contribution.

Patrick Ross said...

Darryl, you insist that you're a longtime Liberal activist and former Liberal candidate.

You know full well about the ads in question. To try and pretend otherwise, you're clearly lying. There's simply no way around that.

And for someone like yourself, with your level of alleged experience in the Liberal party, to claim not to not know about James Garfield Gardiner and his famed bag of political dirty tricks you would either have to be a dishonest partisan extremist or a simple partisan neophyte.

You can call an account of historical facts that you don't like a "smear" if you like. That doesn't change that they are facts.

I invite you to look them up. I'd even invite you to investigate them at an institution so clearly alien to you as your public library. But I'm not going to invest any extraordinary amount of time in trying to disabuse you of the ignorance (or dishonesty) that you clearly hold so dear.

Frankly, I have to consider you to be a dishonest partisan extremist. After all, you seem to be one of these individuals who likes to fling around the word "neoconservative" not as a properly-applied political label, but as a slur.

But even as you do this you don't seem to be acknowledging the fact that your own party is absolutely crawling with neoconservatives -- of both the Straussian and Kristolian strain.

After all, when the Liberal party decided that it had to get the deficit that it itself originally ran up under control, it was the Liberal party that cut billions of dollars to health care and education.

But then again, I suppose you'll also be in a rush to recast these inconvenient facts as "smears" as well.

Darryl Raymaker said...

Ross, you must be a graduate of the Rob Anders Charm School. About the ads and Gardiner, you have your head up your ass and you know it, and no amount of rant changes that.
About your calling me "a dishonest partisan extremist," "simple partisan neophyte," "ignorant" and "dishonest," - well (to quote Trudeau after finding out Nixon called him an "asshole") I've been called worse by more important people, and so it doesn't bother me coming from you.

I do not know any Straussians or Kristolians in my party. Jerks like that wouldn't hang out with Grits. They would hang out with Harperites such as you.

As far as dealing with the deficit, that's for another blog and another day.

Anyway, Rossco, you snivelling pipsqueak neocon, thanks for reading my blog.

Patrick Ross said...

That's ironic, coming from a Straussian neocon such as yourself.

If you're going to lie about the ads in question -- which someone as "influential" in the Liberal party as yourself most certainly knows about -- then there's really no sense in continuing trying to squeeze some honesty out of you.

I'll just remind you of this:

Which party was it that suggested their opponents wanted to stage a literal coup d'etat in Canada?

Think hard, Darryl. This is an easy one.

Darryl Raymaker said...

Good night Pipsqueak!

Patrick Ross said...

Game, set, match, I daresay.