Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why It Matters

I saw this post on Liblogs, lamenting the frenzy of "fellow" Libloggers jumping all over the RCMP raid:
Scream, foam at the mouth and point the finger of blame at the Tories all you like my Liberal friends. In the real world, Tories and Liberals smell pretty much the same.

That sentiment misses the point, but at the same time it nails it, if that is possible. All that matters, from my point of view, isn't scoring partisan points, but exposing these frauds for what they are, bringing them down to the level of the rest of us.

These Conservatives rode into Ottawa as the most sanctimonious, moral elitists this country has ever seen. Their entire campaign, or campaigns as the case may be, was predicated on this lofty notion of transparency, accountability, trust, honesty, a different breed, HOLIER THAN THOU. The sentiment trickled down to the supporters, so righteous in their tsk tsk, looking down on the government of the day, painting everyone with their white brush of purity.

When they came to office, what was their signature issue? Cleaning up government, campaigns, presenting Canadians with values, so lacking in those dirty Liberals. And, therein lies my joy, because it was always a lie, always destined to reveal hypocrisy, because it forgot a simple fact- we are all human. The Conservatives like to think they operate on a different plain, so squeaky clean, so above it all. I love watching them fall, because they were so deluded to place themselves in the rare air.

So, yes, in the end, voters will probably conclude that they are all corrupt, they "smell pretty much the same". But really, that's all I wanted anyways, the white knights in the muck, back on the ground, living amongst the "others". Eat the crow, Conservatives and their supporters, you're judgemental predisposition shattered. That is why these scandals matter, Canadians see the naked hypocrisy, the cheap rhetoric for what it always was, a perch of self-deluded arrogance. Enjoy the fall- popcorn anyone!


clh said...

Yes, there is the hypocrisy which distinquishes the Conservatives. There is also how many of these things are directly tied to Harper. This doesn't strike me as Harper simply looking the other way. It strikes me as a leader who actually stimulates sleazy and illegal activities, whether it is letting Reynolds do his dirty work with Riddell and others while lying about it or instituting what looks like an almost party-wide scheme to transfer funds in and out, even against the objections of some candidates.

The Grumpy Voter said...

Sanctimony isn't the exclusive domain of the Tories. I do recall two elections in a row where the Liberals basically tried to scare Canadians into voting for them. (Read: Scary Stephen Harper, Harper eats babies, Harper will roll back abortion rights, the list goes on.) Moral superiority is generally a bad place for any party and the point of my blog post is that Liberals are PREOCCUPIED with scoring political points than, oh, I don't know; showing Canadians that the party learned it's lesson over sponsorship and that it's actively committed to provide scandal free government to Canadians. So far, I haven't seen that from the Liberals, so while this is some nice schaedenfraude for Liberals to enjoy, the rest of us (read: voters) would like to know precisely how Liberals intend to provide scandal free government and that it's learned its lesson. Interestingly, whenever the subject of sponsorship comes up, Liberals are quick to dismiss it by saying "it was the Quebec wing of the party...not us". Well guess what? Voters don't see or believe in that distinction. Therefore, what the hell is wrong with simply fessing up to Canadians and saying, "know what? We totally screwed up big time and broke your confidence in our party. Here's what we're going to do to make sure it never happens again."

Red Canuck said...

Steve - CPC claims to some kind of ownership of morality have always been a farce. Thinking people must realize that no political party is morally "superior" to any other. The goal of every political party is to gain power, and then to keep it. It's only natural that liberties will be taken from time to time in an effort to further those causes. The Connies are no different than anyone else in that regard. CPC supporters who claim otherwise are either terminally stupid, or intellectually dishonest.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Hmm. I really want to agree with this:

All that matters, from my point of view, isn't scoring partisan points, but exposing these frauds for what they are, bringing them down to the level of the rest of us.

...but when I look at the kind of discourse that you and most of your commenters (as well as most of the other blogs I read) manage, and I compare it with the kind of discourse we see every day in Question Period, I have to admit I feel like they're all well beneath our level. You know? And unfortunately, that goes for all the parties in the House, not just the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Gayle said...

Actually, I am not sure how much voters actually care about "scandal free" government. It is not like the Alberta conservatives were scandal free. In fact, far from it.

Voters are jaded. They do not expect politicians to be highly ethical, even though we have a right to that expectation.

I agree with you Steve. This particular scandal simply puts the liberals on an even playing field in terms of accountability.

Now voters just have to decide which corrupt party provides the best government.

Frank Frink said...

Now voters just have to decide which corrupt party provides the best government.

Not quite. Most voters haven't a clue about who provides the 'best' government and don't really care.

It's more like the voters decide which corrupt party has the snappier slogans and the prettier wrapping paper.

(yes, I'm jaded and have been for some time. As in, before I was even old enough to vote.)

wilson said...

''This particular scandal simply puts the liberals on an even playing field in terms of accountability.''

Oh really.
Funds donated to the CPC, and distributed locally for advertising =
Stolen taxpayer money paid to advertising companies for doing nothing, then the heads of the ad company fills bags with cash and gives it secretly back to the Liberal party.

Conservatives appealing an Elections Canada ruling = Gomery

Yah. Run that by your Quebec wing.

Steve, Adscam is in the history books, biggest scandal of our times.
Multiply in&out by 100, and it still isn't Adscam.

Steve V said...


Here, I'll just post what I said in another thread, about how you would spin this:

"I guarantee it will have something to do with the Liberals."

Thanks for being so boringly consistent. Weak.

"It's more like the voters decide which corrupt party has the snappier slogans and the prettier wrapping paper."

Eventually we get past that phase. I think what is happening now is people are past it, which is why we have reached high water apathy, now it's time for the parties to catch up.

For instance, what if Harper just came out and said, they did push the margins, apologize, explain the competitive climate of a campaign, give the odd example of other party tactics, but ultimately admit a error in judgement. I think politicians would be surprised at the reaction, because after all the audience is flawed.

Steve V said...

Oh, this is just too priceless for words:

"One of the key players in today's raid on Conservative Party headquarters was a gentleman named André Thouin and who told reporters he was working with Elections Canada as he walked out of party offices with a brown cardboard box he said contained documents.

Could that possibly be the same André Thouin who once served as a chief superintendent with the RCMP before he retired from the force and whose testimony before the Gomery Commission helped convince Justice John Gomery that Liberal cabinet minister Alfonso Gagliano was indeed making decisions about what events should be sponsored. Gomery's inquiry into government sponsorships ended up playing a key role in the downfall of the Liberal government, much to the delight of Stephen Harper's Conservatives

Now it appears that Mr. Thouin is playing a key role in Elections Canada's probe into political party advertising violations by Stephen Harper's Conservatives, much to the delight of the Liberals.

What goes around......"

It's official, we have come full circle :)

Gayle said...

Oh wilson. At least you never disappoint.

I understand why you ignore the facts. It is so inconvenient when they contradict your argument.

The Grumpy Voter said...

Most of the commentary here confirms what I blogged about yesterday. Gee who should apathetic Canadians vote for... the party with the least scandalous scandal?

Dame said...

Being Grumpy /and always grumpy /is just Too easy.. Ah "You are all" bad is not really helping Your Cause If you have a Cause ???
In every large organisation There bound to be a few Not pure Character with Corrupt tendencies ..we have to deal with that FEW..
You need to see What The Liberals generally did and intend do to this Country and what The Conservatives are trying to do and add Your personal involment To that Party...
To reject all is not the answer it is Your Country work Toward To Build it the way YOU WANT .. Nagging Complainers are basically NOT DOING ANYTHING >>> and excusing themselves .
The world is less the pure deal with it..

The Grumpy Voter said...

To Dame:

You miss the point and you also seem to forgive the scandalous activities of federal political parties by blaming it on "the few". I'm sorry, but even if it is "the few", then it's a "few too many" for my liking. What have the Liberals or the Tories done for that matter that can show Canadian voters they respect our right to scandal free government? Given that I am a man in my forties, I know the records of both the Tories and the Liberals. I know that I am probably more engaged than most Canadians and it's for that reason alone that I am pointing at both federal parties with the capacity to form a government and saying, "a pox on both your houses."

Look, even without this scandal (and I am not yet convinced it is one) the fact of the matter is that both Liberals and Tories have been engaged in partisan sniping, one upmanship, and spin. I know the natural inclination for both parties is to blame the other guy for our current bout of "gotcha" politics and I am imploring, no, pleading with loyal members of both: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop the bullshit and lead the effing country! Is that too much to ask?

Finally, kindly don't blame people like me who are fed up - it's insulting. It's the same thing as blaming the victim and it shows just how bad things have gotten here in Canada. It is not my fault that the actions of the people in Ottawa generally turn my stomach rather than enlighten or engage me.

Responsible government, regardless of which party wishes to offer it and regardless of their blueprint for Canada's future is my effing right as a voter. If we cannot have a debate on any issue of national importance without that debate turning into a game of spin or damage control, then what precisely has our country become?

clh said...

Grumpy, I've never belonged to any party and although I voted Liberal in some federal elections more than a decade ago, I certainly never voted Liberal when any of the noteable scandals were going on. With Harper in power, Dion leading the Liberals, and the NDP turning me off, I plan to vote Liberal in the next election.

I simply cannot imagine voting for a federal party where the current leader is surrounded with multiple current scandals that point directly to his own lack of ethics and honesty. I place a lot of emphasis on the leader in such matters because an unethical leader can actually stimulate MPs who would otherwise act honourably to behave in an unethical way. Perhaps you don't place as much emphasis on the ethics of the leader or you see some similarity between Dion and Harper which I don't?

As to the focus on scandals from all parties, yes I agree that is a turnoff. On the other hand, I see that Harper actually leads with a style that seems to purposely cut very close to the line and often crosses it. His strategy when caught is to fillibuster, deny, counter-accuse, sue, all of which make it difficult to determine the truth. However, Canadians should know the truth on whether Harper encourages unethical and illegal behaviour because he is our sitting PM. Riddell, Cadman, election financing, cover-up for Mulroney, O'Brien,... to simply ignore all this would be to accept corruption in our highest office. That doesn't seem like a solution either. Obviously, the best thing would be if Harper would simply allow investigations when serious allegations with substance came to light. But that simply isn't going to happen. So what do you suggest?

The Grumpy Voter said...

I suggest the same thing I suggested when it became clear the Liberals had a leadership problem: be the anti-Harper. Engaging in gotcha politics is Harper's bag, and the Liberals have for too long now, been engaging in the same kind of strategy. Liberals need to steal a page from Obama's campaign and rather than use this issue as a wedge which will do nothing more than make Canadians hate ALL political parties even more, they should start peddling a message of hope. They should stop engaging in partisanship and should start a campaign of respect for the voter. Instead of pointing at Tories and shouting "see! see!" the should start making Canadians feel good about themselves again.

Do that, and the Liberals might earn my vote. Rise above the partisan fray and start giving Canadians a reason to believe again.

How does that sound?

clh said...

Grumpy, it sounds wonderful. However, would it work? How would Obama have fared against Bush and his tactics in 2004?

Bush was elected twice, Mike Harris was elected twice, Harper has been elected once so far. All these share common tactics that are very effective. None of them faced off against an Obama. What would they have done to an Obama? Plenty, I suspect. Would he have prevailed? Not so clear to me.

I consider not having Harper re-elected to be a huge challenge. The damage Bush and Harris were doing by the end of their first terms, seemed completely obvious to me, but not so to voters who responded positively to their tactics. I currently don't see any senior MP in any party with Obama's gift. Yet, Canada should still be able to have good governance without a current Obama to inspire. Given Harper and his tactics occupy the PMO, how will one achieve that? I think you underestimate the challenge.

The Grumpy Voter said...

You sound like you've given up! Good God, don't give up. The last PM we had in Canada who made Canadians feel good about themselves was this guy. Half the time I didn't even know what the hell he was talking about, but he appealed to Canadians on enough occasions to win the most majority governments in our history. He was "one of us". Harper and his ilk are "one of them." By engaging in Harper tactics, Liberals become "part of them."

Chretien understood that Canadians want leaders who are a reflection of themselves, that's all. Who the hell else could take a complex issue like national unity and draw an analogy along the lines of rocking a car back onto the road that is stuck in a snowbank? He made Canadians feel good about themselves. Got that? It's recent history too... he's only been gone for a few years.

The point I am making is that Liberals can draw upon the kind of politics he represented and give Canadians a reason to vote Liberal again. It ain't that hard.

MarkCh said...

I don't know how this will play out. The alleged misdeeds aren't really a big deal (I mean, if they had more "local content", everyone agrees that it would have been ok, so the real question is "how much local content is enough?"), and corruption may turn out to be one of those issues where one party has the narrative and it's hard to hang on the others. The Liberal comments here sound a lot like Conservative comments about the Liberals' various homophobic/racist MPs. It is also tricky to accuse a party of being ideological fanatics and unprincipled grafters at the same time. Anyway, let's have an election and put it to the test.

clh said...

Okay, Grumpy, I'll try not to give up. I lived through all the Harris years and many of my close friends are living through 8 years of Bush, so I may be a bit paranoid.

Markch, I'm not sure this is simply a matter of "how much local content is enough", when one has Conservative candidates saying “I swear on the Bible that I never received that money for local expenses. It was for the national [campaign], not for me. The money returned automatically into the Conservative Party account.” and one has emails from Conservative officials stating that the money will not be transfered to the riding until the candidate signs the statement approving the transfer of the money back to the national party. It is more a question of can the national party convince candidates to go along with money being transfered in and out of their accounts so that the national party can run more advertising than is allowed without such in and out transfers.

If you have ever had a boss who tried to make you go along with unethical behaviour as a condition of continuing employment in a career you were dedicated to (I have) then you would understand that having just one or two conservative candidates publicly speak out about what they were being pressured to do is significant, even if there are a hundred others who went along with it.

Gayle said...

"It is more a question of can the national party convince candidates to go along with money being transfered in and out of their accounts so that the national party can run more advertising than is allowed without such in and out transfers."

This is about more than the national campaign spending limit. The local candidates claimed a refund for that money by claiming it as a local campaign expense. So not only is the national party exceeding their spending limit, local candidates are funding their next campaign through these refunds paid by our taxes.

clh said...

Good point, Gayle. To get a massive buy-in, these things typically are presented as a win-win situation. And, yes, they are trying to get public reimbursement.

Anonymous said...

Harper lacks ethics and has a passing acquaintance with the truth. Dion, any Canadian would admit, is ethical and honest. Gee, Canada, hard choice for our top leader.

MarkCh said...

Here is the Act.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes things dont stick that should.

I wouldn't bet on this being a huge issue in a six week long election campaign.

They didnt take any tax payer money, just used their own improperly.

I dont think it will matter that much to voters.

Gayle said...

Anon - the reason they did not take any taxpayer money is because EC refused their refund. They certainly TRIED to take taxpayer money.

Clown Party of Canada said...

Just courious ... Didn't the LIEberals spend money the same way that the Con's did during the last election? If this is true, when is Elections Canada going to the LIEberal headquarters? They should also get ready to charge DeYawn with not payong thousands to the LIEberal Party leadership race.

Steve V said...

"Didn't the LIEberals spend money the same way that the Con's did during the last election? If this is true, when is Elections Canada going to the LIEberal headquarters?"

See, that's the thing, EC isn't visiting Liberal headquarters, because they didn't break the law.

Keep flailing. LOL