Monday, May 05, 2008

Perfecting Dishonesty

You know you have an incredibly weak argument, when your only resort is too misquote, or misrepresent "expert" opinion to support your policies. A couple of weeks ago Peter Van Loan used Democracy Watch to support his argument that the "in and out" was legal. This led to an angry reaction from the organization, because their actual view was the Conservatives had acted outside of the framework, they would lose their legal case. It's actually an admission of desperation, because generally, in most arguments, you can always find something genuinely supportive- the fact the Conservatives couldn't speaks to the unanimity of disagreement.

Today, Vic Toews and Stephen Harper pulled a "Van Loan" (formerly known as a "John Baird"), in trying to defend the government decision to end the information registry. Toews cited "expert" Alasdair Roberts to support the government action:
"a leading expert on access to information law,"

Harper then cited a 2003 report by Roberts on government secrecy.
"It (CAIRS) was called the product of a political system in which centralized control is an obsession and that is why the government got rid of it," Harper told the Commons.
Toews subsequently claimed the same virtuous high ground, citing Roberts verbatim.

Well, the "leading expert" isn't amused:
The Conservative party line backfired when Alasdair Roberts - "a leading expert on access to information law," according to Treasury Board President Vic Toews - trashed their talking points moments after the daily question period.

But neither Harper nor Toews mentioned that Roberts had recommended fixing the problem by making the registry public online - something the federal information commissioner reported in 2004 could be done "at virtually no cost" to government

"They really don't care what I think about CAIRS or any other aspect of ATI," Roberts said Monday from New Delhi, India.

"If they did they would have taken my advice about CAIRS a few years ago when I said they ought to switch on the capacity to make the entire thing publicly accessible."

This is how pathetic this government can be, they elevate people to defend their policies, people who actually VEHEMENTLY disagree with those policies. If that isn't the height of absurd, I don't know what is.


Scott Tribe said...

That wasn't the worst part of their defence, Steve. This defence by Harper was:

"Harper told the House on Monday that CAIRS — launched in 1989 — was a "centralized tool" created under the previous Liberal government and was decried by critics as "a product of a political system in which centralized control is an obsession. That's why the government got rid of it," Harper said"

The creation of CAIRS in 1989 was of course done by Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government... so he either forgot his history or is trying to mislead the Canadian public.

Ted said...

Deceivin' Stephen, at it again.

wilson said...

Libs changed the system in 2001, so they could red flag anything that might be embarrassing (Adscam).
You'll find in this very long article linked, that Roberts did say all those quotes, and more.

''The system, which has been around in a less sophisticated form for a decade, was upgraded by the
Liberal government in 2001 to allow “officials across governmentto review the in flow of requests to all major federal departments,
”says Roberts..

“My understanding, and the public’s understanding, is that this is not how it is supposed to work,”says Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper.
“This entire super-process . . .blurs the line between the statutory public service functions of the civil service, and political reporting. That to me is really wrong in principle and there is no doubt that this is not in the spirit of the act.”

“Media coverage concerning the federal sponsorships should be tracked for references by MPs to ATI (Access to Information),”reads one memo.

“What you are encouraging is an attitude that we want to cover up our legitimat emistakes.”Liberal MP John Bryden

p.s don't know how to do that tidy link thing, sorry,+product+of+a+political+system+in+which+centralized+control+is+an+obsession&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=ca

wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wilson said...

bad link, here's the pdf

title :Red File Alert, Public Access at Risk

wilson said...

end of link should read _Ann_Rees.pdf

Mike said...

Typical...Conservatives lying. They really take that whole Straussian "Big Lie" thing seriously don't they?

Steve V said...


Yes, you can pick and choose a quote, but you do so dishonestly, because the opinion of the author isn't what you present. And, the fact you have to selectively quote, and ignore the thesis, speaks volumes about your own lack of intellectual backing for the position. What Van Loan did with Democracy Watch was pathetic, and now they role out this "expert", citing verse in parliament, when in reality the man doesn't support what they've done. So, let's defer to the "expert", if the Cons were really interested in his opinion, they wouldn't have killed it, late on a Friday. Again, isn't it just amazing that the only person they can find to support them, DOESN'T.

Anonymous said...

For them, lying is an essential tool in creating the illusion that theirs is a defendable, mainstream position, hoping no one cares beyond the soundbite.
Doublespeak is also a weapon in their arsenal - accuse others of what you are guiltiest of:
"a political system in which centralized control is an obsession", "no accountability", etc.

Saskboy said...

As you pointed out, it's easy to see how the major names in the Conservative party keep shuffling around, so attention isn't on one flop for very long. Emerson, Fortier, Ambrose, Guergis, Baird, Toews, Liwkiski, Van Loan, Pierre Pile'o'crap. The list could go on...