Monday, November 27, 2006

Stevie Stalin

Chong is my MP, and by all accounts is a pretty stand-up, principled guy. I don't dispute that his resignation was a moral choice. However, there is clearly more at play here than a simple difference of opinion. A rising young star, with a plum post, jeopardizes his entire future over this question? In my view, Chong's resignation is an admission of complete frustration and a metaphor for the inner workings of our government.

Chong was not consulted, despite the fact that this whole issue primarily resides in his portfolio. Out of the loop, Chong's resignation is a combination of opinion and disgust at the process. Chong has come to the accurate realization that he is irrelevant, nothing more than a figurehead, who is mostly a waiter waiting to take an order. The Prime Minister who campaigned on free votes, greater representation, not only ignores his caucus, but takes it a step farther, in ignoring his chosen ministers. The symbolism of Stephen Harper speaking at a press conference on the environment, while Rona Ambrose said nothing, is powerful insight. We are starting to see the manifestation of Harper's apparent fascination with Stalin's management style.

All Chong did today was admit the obvious, he doesn't hold an influential post in the government. It was a resignation, but mostly in the sense that Chong resigned himself to his fate as pawn. Today showed us all, in stark terms, that we have a dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. How disappointing for the young Chong, who probably saw his appointment as opportunity, to learn that he is an afterthought. I suspect Chong didn't even know about Harper's resolution until after it was crafted. Stephen Harper's governing style should scare us all. Who would have thought Canada would have a totalitarian regime? The sad part, the term isn't even an exaggeration.


Olaf said...

Wow Steve,

That's quite a jump to make... and to say that calling Canada a totalitarian government isn't an exaggeration is pretty absurd.

General thrust of the post: reasonable.

Rhetoric within the post: unreasonable.

Steve V said...


totalitarian- Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority. One who imposes or favors absolute obedience to authority. The individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.

Now look at the way Harper cuts off debate, neuters free media and manages his caucus. Unreasonable, or just scary. Also, please cite one other democratic leader who's favorite historical figure is Joseph Stalin.

MAW said...

Like Garth Turner is about to do and Balinda Stronach did before him Chong is about to jump ship.

SouthernOntarioan said...

I don't think Chong will jump ship. In his own words he agrees with the majority of what the Tory party stands for. And according to press reports he is not making personal attacks on Harper.

He is simply and honestly standing up for what he believes in. If Harper boots him for that, I won't vote for him next election. Period.

Steve V, Harper rules the way Chretien did. And how did you manage to get into his head to figure out that his favourite (with a 'u') historical figure is Stalin? He never said so. He read Stalin's autobiography, oh horrors. (sarcasm)

The Liberals cut off debate just last year on a particular motion to defeat the government, badly embarassing the Tories. Its accepted Parliamentary practice not an abuse of power. Besides, Harper cannot cut off debate on his own since he only has a minority. Cutting off debate requires him to have support from members of other parties.

Neutering free media? Give me a break, how many papers has he shut down? How many journalists has he jailed? He won't speak to the the Ottawa Press Gallery but he still speaks to the media.

Steve V said...

The left-wing rag The National Post:

"But Harper's choice of reading material has disturbed even some of his own party members.

The senior Tory recounted being told Harper had "read and mastered" the biography and leadership style of Russia's Communist dictator Josef Stalin, and said the prime minister has adopted some of the same tactics.

"He plays people off against one another, he attempts to inspire fear rather than respect, he is unpredictable and he is 100 per cent focused on eliminating the opposition," the senior Conservative explained...

Olaf said...


Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority. One who imposes or favors absolute obedience to authority. The individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.

If this were descriptive, I'd say Chong would be kicked out of caucus, not just forced to resign from cabinet.

Look, the power of the PMO has been centralized since Trudeau. Every leader shows "totalitarian" tendencies if you include wanting to be in complete control of certain files.

Also, many leaders read and attempt, to some degree, to learn from The Prince. I mean, just because someones goals or may have been abhorrent, or what they would do to achieve those goals may be despicable, doesn't mean that their insights into management or the substance of politics are completely illegitimate.

I'm sure that certain management tactics employed by Hitler have been used by democratic leaders in the past. Does this mean that they're Hitler's moral equivalent, or that those tactics can be criticized based on the fact that Hitler used them, regardless of the ends which those means are directed?

Whatever you say about him, Stalin turned out to be a pretty convincing leader - what would be wrong with learning from his management techniques, so long as they weren't used to murder millions of people and subjugate an entire country?

Is Harper controlling as hell? Yes. Are most successful leaders? Yes. Are all successful leaders as controlling as Harper? No. Do some successful leaders use some/many of the same tactics as Harper? Yes.
Is Harper a modern day Stalin? Probably not.

Steve V said...


The real problem, the hypocrisy of campaigning on the idea of openness, greater democratization of parliament and a sense of representatives representing constituents and goverment. I don't dispute that others have shown authoritarian tendencies, and the PMO has become the defacto government, but Harper takes it too another level and completely contradicts the rhetoric.

Olaf said...


I can deal with that response.

knb said...

The power of the PMO may have been centralized for a long time, but we've not seen it to this degree before. Not recognising this will not make it go away.

The good news is, if he continues on this path, he'll make himself go away. Keeping people out of the loop never works, witness Cannon's idiotic comments yesterday.

I have a lot of respect for Michael Chong and given his age, I think he'll be fine.

What's really too bad, is the loss of another moderate voice.

Steve V said...

"Cannon's idiotic comments yesterday."

Amen. CBC Radio had a breakdown of his comments, ending with Cannon saying go ask the Bloc what Quebecois meant, because it was there resolution that used the phrase first. OMG.

knb said...

I watched that news conference, it was painful, BUT, it was a delight to see the media finally push back and not just lap up the "spin". Marjorie LeBreton also looked foolish. The "clean-up crew", made a mess I'm afraid.

I don't know if you heard Steve, but the Lib's have taken the nation issue off the table for debate at the convention.

willingdon said...

A little off-topic for this post but I'm happy to say that my Lib MP Don Bell (North Vancouver) was one of the 15 that voted against the motion.

Michael Chong expressed a point of view I share when he said this: "I do not believe in an ethnic nationalism. I believe in a civic nationalism."

What this parliament just did sounds like playing people off against one-another to me...