Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Like Father

Like Son

Preston Manning is after something. And what he is after, Steve Harper has got. Or at least he has control over it. And so what is young Manning to do? Well, just like his old man he’ll move heaven and earth to get it, and if it means having to stroke Steve Harper (a very distasteful exercise if you think about it), well, so be it.

How else can one explain the drivel of his column published in this morning’s edition of the Globe and Mail? See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/honesty-is-the-best-policy/article1413594/

Manning lauds Harper for his stands on China and the climate change talks in Copenhagen and says both were consistent with the desire of Canadians that Canada be “a moral beacon and . . to set an example on the global stage.”

He chalks up Harper’s tardiness in visiting China to the PM's concern about China’s human-rights violations (Wish it were that Harper would have the same concern for Canada’s violation of human rights abroad). He would have us believe that the four long years it took Harper to get through this little exercise of pique was fair and reasonable because the Chinese now know where we stand. He must believe that the Chinese are slow learners.

According to Manning, Canada's four-year long snubbing of China, is our message to the Chinese that Canadians have a different view of democracy and human rights than China, that we want more trade with China, and that we will not sacrifice one for the other.

As a further suck-up to Harper, he naturally lambastes previous Liberal governments as being hypocritical in their dealings with China – dealings which, by the way, were much happier and far more productive than anything Harper has done since he took power.

But has Harper's actions caused China to change its stand on democracy and human rights?
Not a whit.
Has Canada changed its stand on Canadian-Chinese relations? After four long years it has done a complete about-face. It is Canada that has changed its position and not China.

All of this Manning says shows that Harper has made the Chinese “realize they were dealing with . . . a leader who says what he means and means what he says on both human rights and trade.”

What a crock!

A better explanation for Harper's abrupt reversal of policy is that somebody (could that somebody be the only Conservative who knows anything about China, namely ex-Grit David Emerson?) convinced Harper that his ignorant policy of ignoring China and playing kissy-face with the Dalai Lama was leading nowhere in terms of economic benefit to Canada and that after four years it was bloody-well time it changed.

On Copenhagen, Manning again lauds Harper for being realistic in his commitments to greenhouse gas emissions – naturally condemning Chretien’s Kyoto position as being unrealistic and hypocritical. The point of Chretien taking a positive leadership role in Kyoto of course does not cross his mind.

Now don't laugh. Manning concludes that Harper’s “modesty, honesty and transparency . . . on these issues is preferable to policies tainted by hypocrisy if Canada truly aspires to be a ‘moral beacon’ on the global stage.”

Manning’s relationship with Harper has never been warm. In fact, the space between his shoulder blades still bears deep scars from Harper knives inserted while Manning was leader of the Reform Party and Harper one of his disloyal camp-followers.

See also,

Given that history it is striking that Manning should be so fawningly partisan in supporting his old nemesis.

It reminds me of his father, the pious preacher and former Social Credit Premier of Alberta, Ernest Manning. In 1968 and 1969 during the early days of the Trudeau government and shortly after his retirement from provincial politics there was no more vituperative critic than Ernest Manning of everything the federal Liberals were doing – whether it was Medicare, the Official Languages Act, energy policy, or anything else.

However, at the beginning of 1970, the elder Manning fell strangely silent. For several months nary a word passed his lips publicly save for his weekly Sunday Back to the Bible Hour broadcasts.

At the same time, some misguided Alberta federal Liberals who had old Social Credit connections were trying to engineer a merger of Liberals and Social Crediters on the provincial scene to help knock off the threat of Peter Lougheed so that Social Credit would support the federal Grits in the 1972 federal election. Given the history and make-up of both parties it was a stupid scheme that was doomed to failure. Nonetheless it was pursued.

Many blandishments were offered to leading Socreds by the federal Liberals during that process. But the big fish that these confused Grits were after was Manning. If they could do something nice for Manning, they thought, Social Credit would be theirs. In early October 1970 they landed him. Manning Sr. was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Trudeau - a decision Trudeau no doubt regretted until his dying day.
Alas, it was all to no effect. Lougheed won the provincial election in 1971 and the Alberta federal Grits were wiped off the map in 1972.

Could it be that this is another Manning manifestation of like father - like son?

Could it be that this fawning over Harper by Preston Manning, this unseemly brown-nosing and apple-polishing of one's former tormentor is just a replay of his father’s many months of abject silence in the lead-up to his coveted Senate appointment by the Liberals almost 40 years ago?

Could it be that Preston Manning is looking for something that Stephen Harper has the power to give him? Like a Senate appointment, for instance, or some other pensionable lofty post?

As Conservative icon Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha’ !”

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