Friday, November 07, 2008

Pushing Back

I don't think it any coincidence that the tough talking Conservatives on Tuesday are now the conciliatory Conservatives on Friday:
Conservative government, which won re-election last month, plans to focus on the economy and avoid battles with opposition parties over its justice policies, a senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday.

The official suggests Mr. Harper isn't eager to immediately push ahead with a series of tough-on-crime proposals, including stiffer sentences for young offenders and reduced use of conditional sentences.

“We are focused on the economy,” the official told reporters at a background briefing. “We are not seeking confrontation in areas that are secondary to the economic focus of this government.”

Prior to the Liberal stance, the government was publicly threatening to make crime legislation an early confidence matter, that opinion from Harper's chief spokesman. Now, the crime legislation is on the back burner, the threats receding, which demonstrates clearly how you need to react to a bully, that the Liberals firm retort forced a reconsideration.

Setting the tone, letting the government know that the Liberals will not roll over, they are prepared to vote against legislation which comes without compromise or consultation, nothing will be jammed down our throats, is really what caused the Conservatives to sing a different tune. How else to reconcile Harper's mouthpiece threatening a mere three days ago, only to now hear Harper "isn't eager" for confrontation? The only thing that's happened in the intermediary, a largely defiant and united Liberal caucus sending a clear signal that this parliament it's a different animal.

The rhetorical revisions also confirm my belief that, despite the Liberals obvious challenges, the public is in no mood for any talk of another election, which means Harper will be on the hook, should he start the "matter of confidence" routine as a tactic. It was always bluster, but it was critical for the Liberals to appear firm from the onset. Force an election, you are essentially forcing yourself out of office, the Liberals can proceed with that knowledge, and today's development is proof that rhetoric aside, the Conservatives understand that too.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ya but Harper knew he was sending Moore to deep six the National Art Gallery in a press release late Friday.

Like Hansel and Gretel, off we go to grandma's house!

JSPS

Steve V said...

anon

It's pretty funny to hear the fiscal prudence defence. What about the bloated cabinet, that will costs millions and millions more?

RuralSandi said...

Harper, the never ending tactician. He's using the economy so that people won't have to deal with his right-wing policies - until the magic majority.

Hey, the arts and crime package lost him Quebec - so put it in the closet "for now".

Women weren't too fond of him - so, appoint the ladies to the cabinet - for now.

Climate change - Canadians love Obama - so cuddle up to Obama on the climate change issue - now how will that affect the tarsands?

Yup, stick to the economy and let the privatization of health care, crime package, etc. stay in the closet FOR NOW.

Anonymous said...

DiaTribes makes a good point comparing the Harper and Obama priorities. Use half your cabinet to protect the tarsands from U.S. regulations VS immediate stimulus package to help sectors hurt by financial crisis.

richard said...

do you honestly think that PMSH believes that Dion is prepared to defeat him?

the word delusional comes to mind.

Steve V said...

richard

Speaking of delusional, do you honestly believe Harper can get away with making everything a confidence motion, almost baiting the opposition with another election? Unless it's a economic matter, GOOD LUCK trying to sell the Canadian public on another 300 million dollar exercise, they would crucify him at the polls, Liberals can proceed with this knowledge. The fact everyone knows the Libs can't fight another election, means that Harper would wear the goat horns should on come to pass. Besides, I doubt the GG would agree, the next year is a non-starter.

BTW, please give me another scenario that explains the COMPLETE 180 over the course of two days? You conveniently ignore that, with your PMSH comment.

richard said...

I love reading your stuff here because you never lose your optimism, and we need more optimism in this world.

But c'mon, do you really think Harper got beat up for wasting that 300 mil for his "illegal" election last month?

Steve V said...

richard

It was two and half years after the last election, try it again, then get back to me. It has nothing to do with optimism, and you still haven't explained why the sudden change of heart.

Raphael Alexander said...

How else to reconcile Harper's mouthpiece threatening a mere three days ago, only to now hear Harper "isn't eager" for confrontation? The only thing that's happened in the intermediary, a largely defiant and united Liberal caucus sending a clear signal that this parliament it's a different animal.

All due respect, naturally, but I don't think the Conservatives backing down from harsh language on the crime bills is based on a "united Liberal caucus". To be honest I don't think the Liberal caucus could scare a crow from an ear of corn. But perhaps there's another reason out there. A poll, perhaps, that suggests Canadians have "war fatigue" from the constant election speculation, or something else as yet to be revealed.

But believing it's based on seeing some kind of "eye of the tiger" in the Liberals post-election is likely based on some very wishful thinking.

Steve V said...

raphael

Some poll? Are you for real with that weak stuff. You need a poll to tell you Canadians would go ballistic if we have another election in the next year? Hey, I'll save you some money, all you need is common sense. I believe the Liberals sent a message, and I know for a fact that many MP's refused to play the abstaining game this time around, so the Conservatives have reacted accordingly. It's not about the Liberals "scaring" anyone, that's just silly, but it's simply a case of a firm reminder that this isn't a majority, the government must work with other parties, and you can't expect to bully without a push back.

Again, if I'm wrong, surely you could come up with something better than basically nothing, with all due respect. The fact you can't, well...

Raphael Alexander said...

Steve,

I think the Conservatives rely heavily on public opinion polls, hence my suggestion. In fact I believe they've outspent your party's previous governments in that category. They constantly prod the public for perception of how they are performing. What can I say? They're insecure and control freakish.

Again, I caution that the government is legitimately deterred by some idea of a united front from the Liberals and their threat to refuse abstentions anymore. Everything Harper does is carefully calculated, so when it becomes clear why they're backing down, we'll know.

Just as we figured out why Harper called the election. He knew he was going to break his promises of no deficits, so he needed a new mandate to beat the heat. Now he's just been reelected, and the revelations and goobledegook of how "economists agree" with running a deficit, are coming to light.

Steve V said...

To clarify, the other opposition parties also came out this week, saying they would reject the crime legislation, so maybe more than a united Liberal position, it was a sense of a united opposition.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

If there is an election in the next year, the public won't be blaming Harper.

Unless you forget, Harper is running the GOVERNMENT.

Ralph is right. Dion is sabre rattling, when all he has is a baby's rattle.

I don't know whether Harper is going to make non-money bills confidence motions. He didn't last parliament, until the Liberal Senate used its MAJORITY to stop his legislation. The Liberal's should have learned something from that. But I digress...

If Harper does make any bill a confidence motion by announcing that it will be one, the Liberal's will fold. And if they don't fold, the public will have default blame ready for the Official Opposition.

The only hope the LPC would have is if the bill they defeat the government on is not supported by at least 30% of Canadian's, or if it is just really bad for Canada ...and they can sell that.

Because otherwise they will be severely punished.

Tomm

Gayle said...

"He didn't last parliament, until the Liberal Senate used its MAJORITY to stop his legislation."

What legislation are you referring to?

Steve - I think Harper wants to appear conciliatory because he is about to put us into deficit. He needs it to look like he has the LPC's support because he does not want to wear the economy alone.

Anonymous said...

Gayle,

Bill's held up by the Liberal Senate last parliament:

There were several.

The Bill's limiting terms in the Senate, several law and order pieces, I think I recall the youth justice, the gun offenses, and the 14 year old sex bills. There were a slew of others. (The Accountability Act?)

But you already know this. You know enough not to ask a question unless you already know the answer. So please enlighten me...

Are you going to say that the Senate didn't hold these up? but were "studying" them as the House of Sober Second Thought? Good for them. We need some sobriety in Ottawa. Ask these sober Liberal Senators how long they studied the average bill under the Chretien government? Ask them how long it took them to pass their new salaries into Law?

Ask them to quit obstructing the parlimaent of Canada.

Because if they don't the Government of Canada will likely do something they don't like. Just like last time, when they prorogued Parliament, brought in a new Throne Speech and made it clear that everything the flowed from the Throne Speech was a matter of Confidence in the Government.

Tomm

Gayle said...

Tomm - what you have done here is prove you do not think for yourself. You assume because Harper or his crew says something, then that is true.

Here are the facts on the justice bills:

The majority of those bills, including raising the age of consent, could have been passed in the HofC in March of 2007. The LPC offered to fast track them, but Harper refused. He did so because he was trying to time them to coincide with an election. The LPC brought forward a motion in the House to fast track them - a motion that was defeated by the CPC. Those bills did not pass the House until early June, 2007, just before the House broke for the summer.

The clever accounting by the CPC of the days the bills were in the Senate is really based on the fact the Senate did not sit to consider these bills over the summer break - the same time period that the House did not sit. Little did they know Harper was going to suddenly decide to prorogue parliament before the Senate would have a chance to consider the bills. By proroguing parliament, Harper killed the bills. He could have reintroduced them at the stage they sat at the time he prorogued, but he opted instead to reintroduce them in the House, thereby delaying them once again.

If you had bothered to do just a little research on this, rather than spout off the nonsense fed to you by Harper's crew, you would not have to now look so foolish.

As for the elected senators bill, as I am sure you are well aware (and if not, you should be), several provinces, inluding Quebec, have made submissions before the Senate committee that this legislation is unconstitutional. The Senate is doing its job by not passing this legislation until that question is considered - and in any event, Harper killed that bill with his unneccessary election.

Rather than ask me how long it took to pass bills in the Senate under Chretien, I suggest you do your own research and come back here with facts -preferably facts you have verified outside the PMO.

Anonymous said...

Gayle,

Thanks for the suggestion about facts, but I'm not making claims.

What I said is clear and true. What you said is also true.

So where does that leave us? Oh yes, it leaves us arguing partisan issues for partisan purposes.

This new Parliament has a chance to not have bills languish in the Senate. I fully expect the Liberal Senators to do their job of improving legislation and working with the will of the House. If they delay, obstuct or manipulate the House's bills, they can probably expect rough treatement from the Government.

Would you ask for anything less if the partisan shoe was on the other partisan foot?

Tomm

Gayle said...

Tomm - what you said was false. Stop trying to pretend otherwise.

Raphael Alexander said...

I think Gayle is closer to the truth here... it resonates better with my line of thinking.

Steve V said...

"If there is an election in the next year, the public won't be blaming Harper."

Yes, because they'll believe the leadership Liberals, with no money, forced their hands. Good luck selling that one.

Anonymous said...

Gayle,

This is getting too twisted. Let's go through your claims:

You said:

"Tomm - what you have done here is prove you do not think for yourself. You assume because Harper or his crew says something, then that is true."

...Thanks for the drive by smear.

"Here are the facts on the justice bills:

The majority of those bills, including raising the age of consent, could have been passed in the HofC in March of 2007. The LPC offered to fast track them, but Harper refused. He did so because he was trying to time them to coincide with an election. The LPC brought forward a motion in the House to fast track them - a motion that was defeated by the CPC. Those bills did not pass the House until early June, 2007, just before the House broke for the summer."

...Not my recollection. The LPC delays, than offers to selectively fast track, and then claims the high ground? Then the Senate promised to fast track bill "A" if the government would compromise on bill "B". That's what I recall. That sounds like partisanship and bullying. It does not sound like the Senate is trying to improve the bills, only manipulate the government.

"The clever accounting by the CPC of the days the bills were in the Senate is really based on the fact the Senate did not sit to consider these bills over the summer break - the same time period that the House did not sit. Little did they know Harper was going to suddenly decide to prorogue parliament before the Senate would have a chance to consider the bills. By proroguing parliament, Harper killed the bills."

...Yes the affect of proroguing Parliament killed those bills. In the Senate they still had a pulse. We agree.

"He could have reintroduced them at the stage they sat at the time he prorogued, but he opted instead to reintroduce them in the House, thereby delaying them once again."

...Yes, we agree again, he could have. Please remember that the Senate did not want to fast track all the bills. They told Harper which ones were going to make it and what they would say if they did. That is partisanship and bullying from the Liberal majority in the Senate.

"If you had bothered to do just a little research on this, rather than spout off the nonsense fed to you by Harper's crew, you would not have to now look so foolish."

...I guess looking foolish is in my nature.

"As for the elected senators bill, as I am sure you are well aware (and if not, you should be), several provinces, inluding Quebec, have made submissions before the Senate committee that this legislation is unconstitutional. The Senate is doing its job by not passing this legislation until that question is considered - and in any event, Harper killed that bill with his unneccessary election."

...did you just say that because a vested petitioner to the vested Senate suggested that the bill might be unconstitutional, than the vested Senate was honour bound to make all necessary delays in moving it forward? Wow. Things are getting pretty twisted over there in SlamHarperLand. In my view, it is not up to the vested Senate to take the word of a vested petitioner to inordinately delay a bill on constitutional reasons. Did the Senate do that when Chretien enacted the Anti-Terror Act. No, it sure didn't. The Senate is well situated to point out their legal and constitutional concerns. At that point the PM has the right and obligation to thank them and ask them to be on their way. The government of Quebec could have challenged the legislation. Rather than Senators giving their viewpoint on some arcane Constituional argument, we could have had the Court actually tell us the lay of the land.

"Rather than ask me how long it took to pass bills in the Senate under Chretien, I suggest you do your own research and come back here with facts -preferably facts you have verified outside the PMO."

...Thanks for the advice. As I said, you're right, I'm right, but its partisanship from a previous Parliament. Harper wasn't the Senate villain, only in the eyes of those supporting the power of an un-elected Senate to delay and frustrate the will of the House.

...So you really think that the bills to create shorter and more rational term limits for New Senators was a bad idea?

No you don't. Its a good idea. The LPC forgot that little tidbit in all their shenanigans. Proving why they remain clueless to what Canada wants and needs.

Tomm

Gayle said...

"The LPC delays, than offers to selectively fast track, and then claims the high ground? Then the Senate promised to fast track bill "A" if the government would compromise on bill "B". "


This was your assertion from the outset.

Do you have a source for this? If so, produce it and prove it.

Gayle said...

"So you really think that the bills to create shorter and more rational term limits for New Senators was a bad idea?"

Part of the bill deals with senate elections, and that any bill that plays around with the make up of the senate could require a constitutional amendment, and that it is a very bad idea to start playing with the constitution.

Nice try though.

Gayle said...

You might want to start here Tomm:

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/CanadaVotes/News/2008/09/22/6844301-cp.html

Anonymous said...

Gayle,

I read Cheadle's opinion piece. I'm sure its accurate, for what it is trying to do. However you will note that at no point does he address any issues to do with the Senate, which was the chief assertion in my argument. So, although I can see that Comartin, Cheadle and Jenning's are all in agreement on what happened in the House, nobody is talking about what happened in the Senate.

Thanks for the read. I'd be happy to read more, if you find something.

Tomm

Gayle said...

Tomm - you are proving your argument is weak. Rather than prove your point, you are asking me to prove your assertion is untrue (which is what I did, despite your "head in the sand" failure to acknowledge same). I asked you to prove your point and you ignored that request. That is really all I need to know.

The fact you try to deflect this on me only proves you have no case.

You could start with when the CPC finally agreed to allow these bills to pass - and how soon after that the House broke for the summer - and how Harper prorogued before the House had a chance to reconvene.

The Senate never had a chance to consider the bills. Harper is a liar.

Of course, you could always just admit you were wrong and be done with it...

In the future, I recommend that when you try to make a point, you back it up with things like actual facts, that can be verified. Otherwise you look like what you are - a CPC puppet who never bothered to consider that his little hero Harper might actually be lying.

Anonymous said...

Harper, "the leader", will get his chance today at the premiers meeting. The lunch with no agenda will showcase Harper's leadership abilities on the economic crisis. I'm betting he will not enjoy this lunch.