Saturday, April 14, 2007

The "Backroom"

Everybody enters, but some like to pretend it doesn't exist. Case in point, the outrage coming from the likes of Layton, even Broadbent. Ed responding to May's rejection of the backroom:
"Did they have telephone conversations in front of the cameras?" former NDP leader ED Broadbent sarcastically asked.

I agree with the NDP, where is the transparency, why not have all this unfold in front of the cameras? When will Layton release the tapes of his phone conversations with Stephen Harper? When can we get a transcript of the discussion over sending the Clean Air Act to committee? I mean, the NDP is above such dastardly conduct, surely they wouldn't mind if Canadians had a front seat to any "discussions" with Harper.

I'm not mincing words here. There is no question in my mind that Layton has met with Harper and the Liberals have come up in the conversation. All you have to do is listen to the Harper and Layton rhetoric. Harper has continually tried to frame the NDP as constructive, the Liberals divisive and unhelpful. Given what we know of Harper's hyper-politicism, I submit only a complete fool, would take that assessment at face value. Clearly, the distinction is intentional, and when you couple that reality with Layton's early performance in Parliament, wherein he seemed to forget who the government was, you see the transparency.

I want to ask Jack Layton, have the Liberals ever come up in your conversations with Stephen Harper? Was there any talk between yourself and the Conservatives to undermine the Liberal Party, for your mutual benefit? It seems obvious from here, and that is why the last election was the last time I will ever cast a vote for the Layton-led NDP. The bottom line, these two weren't even very good at hiding their mutual intention, it was almost embarrassing on certain occasions. Two parties, who couldn't be farther apart on the political spectrum, enjoy a respect for each other, yet the one party that sits between them is the common foe. You do the math.

I want something done on the environment. I believe the revised Clean Air Act is excellent legislation. If there is any hope of those policies being developed, then the obstacle is clearly the Conservatives. With that reality in mind, any effort to come together to turf the Conservatives is welcome news, if you are pure in wanting action. Yes, the NDP did an great job getting the legislation to committee, and their role in that committee was paramount. However, small problem, until we have a government that favours the policies, the revised act is a practical mirage. The question then becomes, how to we get something done, that is real and progressive?

If May makes the call, you answer it. You don't ignore, you don't rebuff without hearing May out, you listen and see. If you conclude there is no commonality, then fine, but to put up walls and resist initially seems like pure partisan crap from here. I don't care about the past, I don't care what the Liberals didn't do anymore, I care about moving forward. One harsh fact, the NDP reactions confirm one problem, "getting things done" only seems to apply if it shines the light brightly on the anointed ones. Somewhere Stephen Harper laughs, as old tribal lines prevent a big picture approach- enjoy the purity.


Steve V said...

The above is a rant, and I don't mean to piss off NDP supporters, many of whom I respect, but that's how I feel.

Stephen said...

"If May makes the call, you answer it. You don't ignore, you don't rebuff without hearing May out, you listen and see. If you conclude there is no commonality, then fine, but to put up walls and resist initially seems like pure partisan crap from here."

Agree completely. It's Bush league not to take May's calls. For me, this is not about partisanship. I'm not a member of any political party, but I do think Stephen Harper has to be stopped. Whatever it takes is what I say.

Sheeple said...

I will not be supporting the NDP any longer under Jack Layton.

I say this as someone who: supported Olivia Chow during the last election, worked with her election campaign, and drank beer and played pool with Layton.

Over the past 7 or 8 months, I have decided to work to ensure that we will have a progressive politician who can bring a progressive vision of Canada to office in the next election. My heart belongs to Dion and I can't wait to beat Stephen Harper.

Scotian said...

You speak for me as well where the Layton led NDP is concerned. As I have said before it really pissed me off that because of his actions I had to vote against my NDP MP, a woman I have known from my teens and someone I have a high degree of personal and professional respect for. I am also getting very tired at being told my complaints are nothing but Liberal propaganda, especially since I formed them on my own from watching the actions in and out of Ottawa by all party leaders since Layton was elected NDP leader. Now, it may match what some Liberals are saying, but I did not get it from them, no I developed it myself, and I belong to no party, indeed have never belonged to a political party as an adult (it is possible a relative bought me a young Lib membership in my early teens, I can't recall for sure, otherwise I would have said ever in my life) and yet this is what it looks like to me.

So perhaps some of those NDP partisans that keep screaming Liberal propaganda/propagandist whenever I make this observation might want to consider that it is not Liberal partisans alone seeing this. It is swing voters like myself, like Steve V who have in the past voted NDP but cannot because of Layton's placing the Liberals as the primary opponent of the NDP instead of the Harper CPC. Worse though is the trying to equate the CPC and the Libs as Liberal Tory same old story which had merit when it was the PCPC but clearly is nonsensical when comparing the Libs and CPC. So either Layton is playing games or he is a fool/idiot and can't recognize the real threat to all progressives whatever their flavour in this country. Either way it makes him and the party he leads unsupportable on those grounds, and the NDP may well find itself getting a very nasty shock in the next election results thanks to Layton's gamesmanship AND the unwillingness of NDP loyalists and partisans to call Layton to account for his sleeping with Harper.

If this were the PCPC we were talking about and Layton was doing all of this I would not be making this complaint, as there really wasn't all that much difference between the Libs and PCPC. The CPC though is an entirely different breed of cat, it is blatantly obviously so to anyone with political insight/experience/background, and yet Layton instead thinks it is ok to let the CPC have power if as a result it means the NDP get to become the Official Opposition and then the new government after Harper.

Anyway, you know how I feel about this Steve V, I have written rather extensively here in the past about my issues with Layton and the ineligibility of the NDP as a viable choice for me while Layton leads it. Layton has made his bed and the NDP partisans allowed him to do so, nay even aided in that bed making, and now they are going to have to sleep in it.

knb said...

It feels good to rant from time to time doesn't it Steve? I agree with your assessment, especially at how obvious it all has been, which is the frustrating part for me.

Scotian: So either Layton is playing games or he is a fool/idiot and can't recognize the real threat to all progressives

I think he is simply craven and has adopted an incredibly stupid strategy, in an effort to grow his party. That he would be so blind as to risk the future of this country, makes me see red, (no pun intended).

politiquevert said...

Thanks for the tremendous commentary. I couldn't add anything more except to say I enjoy and look forward to reading this blog.

Steve V said...

"Liberal Tory same old story"

Scotian, that line looks more ridiculous everyday. I regularly read criticisms of Dion for moving too far left, ceding the center. Contrast that with a Republican clone Conservative Party and the gulf is so wide, the mere mention of the phrase will bring me to laughter.

I keep thinking of Nader, and his rhetoric about Gore and Bush being essentially the same. That comparison is akin to the left death match we are currently engaged in.


I've heard various dismissals, that all the talk of Harper/Layton as a concoction of partisans. In my mind, it is so obvious, as you say, and the media has just accepted it as a given. Layton has dialed it back recently, and I suspect it was because he was getting some internal heat.

Steve V said...

Hi vert, I read your entry on this as well :) We are on the same page.

knb said...

Layton has dialed it back recently, and I suspect it was because he was getting some internal heat.

I suspect you're right, but it was also difficult to maintain given the progress of the Lib's and NDP on the Clean Air Act.

It's going to be nasty next week, especially with the pundits and critics. Anne McGrath will be frightening I imagine, but this is where it always looks so weird. She, (or Heath or Lavigne) and thei Con counterpart in perfect sync.

The House of Commons, I'm not sure I want to watch.

A View From The Left said...

nice rant ;) It sums up nicely why I wont consider voting for Layton and the NDP again, it also sums up why I've been able to sell a Liberal membership to my father who up until recently had been a life-long NDPer.

knb said...

Good for you Miranda! That must be tough for a Dad to take, lol. A daughter to the right of him politically, interesting.

I'm to the left of my father, (though he's a Lib) and I often just get a lot eye-rolling, :).

I'd consider voting NDP again, though I am a Lib now, but never, ever, with Jack as the leader and only if it stood for what it once did. Not sure it will be there, or I'll live long enough frankly to see that.

I have a great deal of respect for Broadbent, but I was sad to see him come out with Jack's talking points yesterday. Ed Broadbent between Powers and Reid, I don't think that's where he wants to be.

janfromthebruce said...

So Layton has been propping the feared Harper new govt, lefts put fact to fiction here.
Question 1. Which 2 or 3 opposition parties have propped up the Harper govt during confidence votes?
(confidence votes are where the MPs vote on matter of confidence and can make a govt fall if it does not get more than half the votes in support of the confidence motion)
Obviously, the parties that do this are ensuring the govt of the day remains in power, or they would not vote with the govt.
So again, which 2 parties have propped up this most 'feared' conservative govt?
In the vote that matters, not just political posturing, I am want you to think about this.
There have been only 2 parties who have done so since Harper's new govt was elected in a minority situation.
Clue 1: The NDP in every confidence motion put to the house of commons has voted against these confidence motions put forward by the Harper govt.
Clue 2: the bloc has supported the govt.
I think you have enough clues that would lead a horse to water. But can you make it drink?
So now that you know that the liberals have propped up this most 'feared' govt, and kept them in power, what are you going to do now.
Hopefully, you will rant about he injustice and unfairness of it all. How could those liberals do this?

Anonymous said...

"If May makes the call, you answer it. You don't ignore, you don't rebuff without hearing May out, you listen and see."

An fitting joke?

Question: What's the difference between Ms. May and the Taliban?

Answer: Layton is willing to talk to the Taliban.

Steve V said...


Actually, those confidence motions you cite are further evidence of political posturing. The NDP looks at the landscape, with full knowledge that other parties would support the budget, and then they vote against, for appearances. Layton has wanted to avoid an election like the plague, but he also wants to appear like the opposition. In my mind, it all comes down to one question, why does Harper constantly refer to Layton as "constructive", if he is forever leading the "bring down the government" charge. Those two angles don't jive, but they do tell us there is quite a difference between what Layton projects, and what really happens in the "backroom".

Scotian said...

This idea that Layton and the NDP do not play the same political games behind the scenes as the Liberals, CPC, BQ, and even Greens is absurd/nonsensical, and anyone claiming to believe this is the case has shown themselves to be blinded by their own party/NDP partisanship IMHO. I keep hearing about how the NDP is the only party trying to make this country/Parliament work, yet when I actually look at their actions (as opposed to their rhetoric) I am forced to conclude something quite different. For which I get branded a Liberal propagandist/operative (or worse, have my intelligence insulted by claiming I was brainwashed by Lib propaganda as if I were too feeble minded and politically ignorant to form my own opinions by myself) by NDP supporters I might add, this despite there being ZERO evidence I am a member of the Liberal party, have ever been a member of the Liberal party, and indeed my often stated history as a true swing voter until fairly recently when the actions of MacKay and then Layton limited my viable options.

If people think I am a bit touchy on this matter, they would be right. I know I am long winded, I know I can be repetitive, I know I can be a bit of a bore at times, all things I have never denied. However, I also take my politics and my country very seriously, and when I see a direct threat to it (as I do with the Harper CPC) and I do not see those that should most recognize that threat acting like they do, well then what else am I supposed to think?

Of all the respective party agendas the one the CPC is most opposite to is clearly the NDP's of the various elected national parties. Yet it is the leader of the NDP which has given repeated cover to Harper, spent much of last year in a de facto alliance with Harper to try and do as much damage to the Liberals as possible. What is worse is that Harper knows his best chance for majority is vote splitting in the majority progressive vote between the Libs and NDP, something that should be obvious to political leaders and strategists as easily as it is to so many of us out in the blogosphere and beyond. Yet Layton has clearly placed his interest of displacing the Liberals ahead of the threat posed to all progressives by the Harper CPC (which is not the old PCPC, as I said before, if this were the old PCPC I would not be making this argument since those two parties really were fairly similar, whereas the Libs and CPC are clearly not to all but the partisanly blinded) even AFTER the Libs are defeated from government and the Harper CPC becomes the government.

Combine that with hyperpartisan Harper's often friendly comments about the NDP and how reasonable they and their leader are to him when their ideologies are damned near diametrically opposite speaks volumes for what his aim is. It also, as Steve V pointed out leaves many suspicious of a backroom deal between Harper and Layton to make the Libs each other's primary opponent/threat and focus and leave sniping at each other as a secondary and far less major effort. For me, anyone that is willing to aid Harper in gaining, maintaining, let alone increasing his power is part of the problem, not the solution. Layton is clearly willing to do so, or at least was until very recently when he finally seemed to be getting some heat for his proximity to Harper and how it made a lot of people uncomfortable. I said over a year ago that there were many swing NDP voters that Layton's sucking up to Harper was alienating, and the last year has only reinforced that. The NDP had better hope there is no election anytime soon, because Layton has a lot of damage to repair (if he can at all, something I am not convinced is possible by this point by anything short of his removal as leader) outside of the core base of the NDP which he needs if he is to gain seats, indeed even to keep the total he currently has in caucus I believe.

One last thing, I see a few NDPers comment that they (NDP) never supported the CPC government on a matter of confidence unlike the Libs and BQ. Strictly speaking that is wrong. The NDP, along with the Liberals, voted to pass the budget on third reading last spring. The fact it was not by design does not change the fact that it happened. Facts matter in the reality based community NDPers, you might want to remember that applies to you as much as anyone else.

Steve V said...


The NDP likes to claim the high ground, but the only reason it can fly is because of perpetual opposition. When you have no chance of governing, you are forever consistent and honorable.

The few examples of NDP governments provincially tell a different story, in fact they confirm that, despite the protests, all parties end up disappointing, breaking promises and never living up to the rhetoric. My only point, the pius posturing is just that, because we are dealing with human beings, and unfortunately the NDP is part of that species, not the uber moralists, operating within a different realm.

Layton is as partisan, his rhetoric as slanted, his duplicity as pointed, as any other politician in Ottawa. Accept it, and move on, quit pontificating from the pedestal of hypocrisy, it's a decided turnoff. Layton should have taken the high road on the Dion/May union, instead he proves my above point, with his transparent spinning. If had one adjective at my disposal to describe Layton, I would choose slick, well before principled.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

re: comment at 11:35 AM, April 15, 2007


For me though when Layton first came to national prominence when he won the NDP leadership race the thing that first came to me was that he reminded me of the same feel I got when I first saw Brian Mulroney. Now, at first I was willing to ignore that, as I didn't have much knowledge of his background, which was why in 2004 I was still able to vote for my NDP MP. However, by the time of the 2006 election I had come to recognize that my feeling had far too much substance to it. Mainly in that both men would deal with the devil (Mulroney with separatists to run as PCPC MPs in 84 and 88, Layton with Harper) to try and increase their chances at power even if it placed the nation in greater risk. Well, that is where I see things being at today, and I get to list another feeling as having been unfortunately being confirmed as accurate.

I dislike feeling like Cassandra, yet the last several years have left me doing a very credible imitation. I don't like being proven right on such things, I would be happier to be proven wrong. However, reality is what it is, and since I have seen a high accuracy rate to my instincts in politics I would be a fool to ignore them, and what they scream about Harper and his fellow Straussians/Calgary School adherents makes what they said about Layton look like fluff by comparison, which is why I am so passionate and intense on this matter of deposing and discrediting Harper and his kind of politics before it becomes seen as the only way to compete by the other parties. When that happens we all lose IMHO.

Steve V said...


I was genuinely excited when Layton ran for the NDP leadership. Layton was quite effective in Toronto council, and appeared a real champion, who spoke eloquently, with conviction. That person I remember shows no relationship to the partisan hack I see now. Ambition has gotten the better of Layton, as he takes on this seige mentality, as it relates to his party.

wayward son said...

Scotian said...
"You speak for me as well where the Layton led NDP is concerned. As I have said before it really pissed me off that because of his actions I had to vote against my NDP MP, a woman I have known from my teens and someone I have a high degree of personal and professional respect for."

As always, Scotian, I love to read what you right. I have an idea how you feel, as I have mentioned elsewhere, I started pushing for Layton to be the next leader of the NDP in 2000. Do I feel betrayed by him? Yes. Friends and family were absolutely shocked when I left the NDP prior to the 2004 election. I mean how could someone have been touting Layton as savior of Canada for so long and then not even vote for the NDP in the elections when he was leader.

Steve..."Layton was quite effective in Toronto council, and appeared a real champion, who spoke eloquently, with conviction. That person I remember shows no relationship to the partisan hack I see now. Ambition has gotten the better of Layton, as he takes on this seige mentality, as it relates to his party."

I agree - Layton making the Liberals "the enemy" was infuriating for me. I had been a hardcore NDPer for as long as I can remember, but I had always been appalled by the many other NDPers I know who constantly scream that there is no difference between the Liberals and Conservatives. There is a difference and that difference has never been more pronounced than it is today. It seems that wider the gap between the Liberals and Conservatives, the more the NDP charge the two as being the same.

On a separate note - I heard Broadbent on the TV regarding this issue. One of the things that he said was that the environment was the reason he came back and ran in 2004. Excuse me Ed, but I remember that time well, with the environment being my main issues I paid careful attention to what everyone said on the environment, and I can't remember you mentioning the environment (that is not to say that you don't care about the environment, I know that you do, but it wasn't your priority) - your priorities were inequality and child poverty (two worthy issues for sure). I went back and rewatched an interview with you regarding your coming out of retirement to run. You mentioned the environment zero times.

Scotian said...

Wayward Son:

No…! Broadbent lied to us in his defence of Layton in all of this?!? How shocking! I would never have believed it of him...oh wait a minute that was before his performance this week of indignation about backroom deals while defending the king of backroom deals over the last 2 years, Jack Layton.

One of the things many NDPers don't understand about my criticism is that they think I think they should not attack the Libs at all, which I have never said. My complaint is the priority of the targeting. While the Libs were in power one could make the argument that the Libs deserved to be the primary target, and indeed my main complaint in that election was not that the Libs were the primary target but that Layton was all but ignoring the Harper CPC or worse making them seem centrist when he had to know they are anything but.

However, once the government changed hands and the NDP still kept the Liberals as their primary target for most of the last year now it made it brutally clear what the true intentions of Layton were. It was not to oppose the greatest threat to progressive agendas and social justice and environment issues, no it was to deal with the greatest threat to the NDP gaining more seats/power, even if it enables the most hard core right wing government/party/leader in the history of this country to be PM. Worse, it seems he is willing to accept the idea of a CPC majority if afterwards it means he can be the new government cleaning up from them, the problem being with that of course is that much of what Harper wants to do will be very hard if not impossible to undo. It is far easier to give powers away than it is to reclaim them, and with the decentralization views of Harper that should also have been brutally obvious to Layton.

I am very disappointed in Ed Broadbent for his comments this week. That he is willing to repeat Layton talking points, that he is willing to make shit up about why he came into politics to aid that spin job, well that cost him plenty with me. Thank you for confirming what I thought was the case, that it was not the environment but social justice/welfare issues that brought him back. I thought that was the case, but unlike yourself I did not have on hand any of his speeches/commentary from the time to check, and then you posted your comment and saved me the bother of having to research that point.

Finally, I am always heartened to find others that appreciate my long winded rambling and somewhat repetitive at times commentaries. While I do this primarily for myself and not for the adulation of others it is nice to know from time to time that others do appreciate my work. I mean I know my critics for the most part see me as a threat, otherwise they would not come after me the way that they do. I think part of the problem for them with me is that I not only give my opinion I give what I am basing that opinion on, making it a lot harder to simply try and dismiss/discredit my observations. What really makes me laugh though are those that instead of dealing with my content harp about how wordy I am instead. As far as I am concerned anyone that uses that approach has shown they are incapable of refuting any of my content and are conceding such.

I know I am not the best writer around, but my views are mine and mine alone, not handed by political superiors, not provided by in taking what pundits are saying, but from my own observations using my own ability to examine and consider critically what I see. I am but one citizen raising his voice in our political process, nothing more, and I just find it hilarious whenever someone has to try and claim I am some sort of operative for a party of some kind, as if it is impossible for the average voter to be this interested/informed without being connected to a party/political operation. For me that is such an insult to the intelligence and importance most Canadian voters place on their votes and in voting responsibly instead of simply out of tribal loyalties as we have seen in the USA and that Harper's CPC are trying to replicate in this country.