Columnist Don Martin (left) doing what he does best - schmoozing Conservatives (even the obscure ones)
Don Martin is not a bad columnist. He’s a lively writer, has some wit – unusual in the current CanWest Global organization - and, albeit rarely, takes a shot at the Prime Minister like maybe once a year.
He’s a conservative columnist to be sure. Federally, his political affections have drifted seamlessly from the old kinder and gentler PCs, to the hard-ass Reform, Alliance and now Conservative parties. He has hung out exclusively with conservative movers and shakers for at least a generation and then some, and has followed and supported their rightward twists and turns with the instinct of a loyal and faithful bloodhound following the scent of his master’s prey.
Martin swooned over Mulroney during his hey-day as Prime Minister, believed Ralph Klein was the funniest and smartest guy on the planet (he even guffawed at Klein’s dinosaur fart jokes) when he was Premier during Alberta’s dark ages, thought the rise of Preston Manning was akin to the second coming of Christ, viewed Stockwell Day’s charisma as right up there with Pierre Trudeau’s when Day was doing his thing in his wet suit,* and almost always speaks reverentially of Stephen Harper as being profound, deep, and a master strategist (tsk, tsk).
(*He did, I swear it! You can find it in one of his columns written when the hapless Day was coming to power as party leader)
Martin stays away from Grits and people of other political persuasions as though they carried some deadly communicable disease. In all my years of rubbing shoulders with Liberals in Alberta and elsewhere I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen Martin in their company. He is comfy with conservatives, and so he sticks to them and with them.
Naturally even if one belongs to some religious order, living that kind of a cloistered life can have negative consequences. One can lose touch with society, lose sight of reality, ignore history, draw baseless conclusions, and even become delusional – traits that frequently show up in Martin’s columns published in the various broadsheets that are part of the recently and mercifully defunct Asper press.
I was reminded of all of this when I read his recent column of January 21st, Recalibration Lost. See: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2010/01/21/don-martin-recalibration-lost.aspx#ixzz0dUqxYCMW
The column deals with the recent tightening polls between the Conservatives and Liberals as well as the negative public reaction to Harper’s second controversial prorogation of parliament within one year. Martin calls prorogation ‘a sleepy issue,’ believing it is of such little importance it can be blown off the front pages by some timely Harper generosity to the beleagured Haitians. He just doesn’t get it that Canadians have serious and distressing problems of their own that they want their government to solve – problems such as joblessness, soaring deficits, the continued sacrifice of lives and treasure in Afghanistan, and the detainee cover up. Canadians view prorogation as the government’s unnecessary and prolonged vacation from dealing with those festering problems. As a result, Canadians are angry and prorogation is no ‘sleepy issue.’
Martin really goes off the deep end with his next assertion about why the neck-and-neck polls are really of no concern to the Conservatives.
He writes that Conservatives know that three weeks from now there is “a firm end date to any real or rogue slide in their political fortunes.” Just what is happening three weeks from now that will save the Harperites? Why, its the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This is how Harper sees the Conservative universe unfolding:
“At the star-filled Feb. 12 spectacle in Vancouver, featuring the giddy hoopla of singers, dancers and athlete parades, the Olympic flame will fire up the sky and the word ‘prorogation’ will return to its natural domain in the vocabulary of parliamentary geeks.”
Apart from Martin’s staggeringly low and false opinion of the intelligence of the Canadian people and his failure to grasp their valid concerns or the dire straits many of them find themselves in, he has learned nothing from history during his professional lifetime as a Conservative scribe.
Twenty-two years ago next month Brian Mulroney had the chance to ride the coattails of Olympic ballyhoo into political popularity. The Calgary Olympics were held in February 1988 and the federal election followed November 21 later in the year. The result: Mulroney’s PCs lost 43 seats. Canada hosting the Olympics does not translate in support for the sitting government.
This is not the first time Martin has thrown logic and history to the winds in his exuberance while looking through rose colored glasses with his Conservative pals. He was so exhilarated by the last Harper victory at the polls that he was convinced Harper could get anything he wanted even though he had won only a minority of seats in parliament. With unrestrained confidence and joy at the Conservative victory he wrote on election night:
“The Conservatives have won a majority in political power if not in name” and that “. . . the Conservatives are now set to lead the an[sic] absolute-power minority, perhaps the strongest in history.”
Little more than two months later and about to be dethroned by a coalition as a result of his strategic excesses, Harper was on bended knee to the Governor General requesting a prorogation to save his skin.