Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I'm not sure the Conservatives have thought this one out. First off, the incredibly poor optics of Con MP's AWOL from Committee- reduced to arguing that Christmas parties in their cozy ridings are more important than torture- does them no favors on the "hiding" front. Secondly, in their haste to obstruct, the Conservatives failed to look at the calendar, because now they've given Richard Colvin a free pass today (assuming Con MP's don't suddenly show up, as they realize their lack of foresight). The meeting today is set to be a "softball" affair, as opposition MP's allow Colvin to rebut all the attacks, without the Con spin coloring the water. As a matter of fact, it might just be one of the more constructive and substantive sessions to date:
Colvin will address the claims, both in testimony and in public statements, made by three cabinet ministers, three generals and former top civil servants involved in overseeing the mission in Afghanistan. The source said the statements include: "nobody told us there was a problem"; the claim that as soon as the government was informed they fixed the problems; and that there were no credible allegations of the torture of Afghan detainees until late 2007.

We'll have to see how this plays out, but if I were the Conservatives, I wouldn't be to comfortable allowing Colvin to have the stage to himself. Great strategy, you look like your hiding AND you allow you chief foe a free reign.


Ted Betts said...

I think all that can be done is for Colvin to deliver his written statement. Without the Conservatives, the committee cannot meet and ask questions.

No doubt, that is part of the point. They didn't want video of Colvin saying they are screw-ups who don't care about torture because they knew all along on the evening broadcasts.

Steve V said...

Can't he mention in the screw ups in his statement? You still leave his statements unchallenged by not showing up, which is a clear net negative in my mind.

Ted Betts said...

Yes, and he can release his whole statement and he can even read it at a press conference.

I think he won't though. I think he'll want to do it in committee and release the statement at the same time.

Why give the Conservatives time to plan further character assassination for the committee?

Steve V said...

I guess my point here, they've lost the ability to further the "character assassination", unless having Hawn on television, after the fact, in his riding, is positive optically. He won't even get to make the case, because of the "where are you?" sideline.

I think it's a boner strategy, but I also think the Cons have taken it into consideration. It tells me what a lose/lose scenario they've found themselves in.

Scott Tribe said...

Colvin's statement has been released to the public.

Northern PoV said...

I agree with Ted that they want as little exposure as possible, so not meeting yesterday and no meeting today for Colvin.

Steve, I think you identified their latest strategy the other day: No one cares about a few Afghans.

Wherry reports on an example of this .. it was just an insult:

and The Star reports the Cons talking points to defend their not showing up for work & their ultimate complicity in torture (the Cons NOT the troops are complicit in torture):
"Conservative committee members are back in their ridings this week meeting with constituents.
They are dealing with the issues that matter to their constituents such as the economy, which remains our government's top priority."

It hasn't occurred to any of them as yet as to how they are going to torpedo their own logic for the Afghan mission. If no one cares about the Afghans cause it is not one of the "issues that matter" then just what the heck are we doing there in the first place spending Canadian blood, honour and money?????

Steve V said...

"Steve, I think you identified their latest strategy the other day: No one cares about a few Afghans."

But, I think it moves to another level, if the impression of secrecy and obstruction take hold.

One of the more damaging statements in Colvin's letter:

"Embassy staff were told that THEY SHOULD NOT report information, HOWEVER ACCURATE, that conflicted with the government's public messenging"

That opens up a can of worms. Suppressing information based on political consideration, could ultimately become the main focus of this issue and it's death for the government.

Northern PoV said...

"it's death for the government"

one can hope

certainly in the recent and more distant past this would have been the case but in today's cartoon universe the Cons are betting they will pull this off and I for one think they will accomplish just that.


Mala Fides said...

Speaking of no shows, where the hell is the leader of the loyal opposition???

We have a potential constitutional crisis, an isotope crisis, an environmental crisis, our national unity is under threat, we have a Prime Minister who believes that he is not accountable to Parliament, we have billions of dollars being shoveled out the door.

Where is Michael Ignatieff???

I haven't seen him in the news for over two weeks!!

Has he taken an early holiday?

I am a loyal Liberal, but this is ridiculous.

Where is our Party's leadership?

Ted Betts said...

Where's our Party's leadership?

Don't you meant to ask: where's have I been? because he's been in the news and, for example, was yesterday from Edmonton attacking Harper on Copenhagen and detainees. For the last two weeks he's been in the House doing a sharp and effective job leading on the detainee issue. Last week he made a major announcement on pension reform.

I think the problem this fall, one of them, was overexposure, with the result that it was easy for the Conservatives to make Ignatieff the issue instead of Harper and government incompetence. Much better to have Ignatieff have a bigger impact with fewer but sharper attacks and leave the day to day attacking and scrumming to the team. It was Chretien's strategy and so I suspect this plan is coming from the new OLO under Donolo.

And we are already seeing the results: 14 point lead down to 9 in a month.

Steve V said...


First, don't respond to concern trolls please. Second, it's down to 7 in the last poll I've seen :)

Mala Fides said...

We have not had an effective opposition in this country for 20 years, and that includes all parties.

I am tired of apologists for the Liberals pretending that everything is okay and that the Party is doing all the right things. We aren't.

By the way, I hate to tell you that it isn't the Liberal Party that is turning the heat up on Harper, IT'S THE MEDIA, who for some reason decided to show up for work sometime last week for the first time in a few years.

The Rational Number said...

Perhaps its the issue of how to handle government secrecy itself, rather than its specific application to the Afghan detainees, etc.

If the government is forced to disclose one matter, the same tactic could be used on any number of other matters as well. And we can't have that.

Mala Fides said...

Hey Steve, you are calling me a troll?

I am a Liberal riding president and have campaigned for this party for the last 30 years.

This party needs to be built from the foundations up.

This last 2 years is the worst that i have ever seen.

Keep promise everyone that we are on the verge of a big breakthrough and that everyone should just keep lining up.

jad said...

"For the last two weeks he's been in the House doing a sharp and effective job leading on the detainee issue."

It may have seemed like 2 weeks listening to him, Ted, but it actually was only one. He had to come back to Question Period when Bob Rae took off on his Middle East tour.

"Last week he made a major announcement on pension reform."

That would be the NDP pension reform, right ?

"leave the day to day attacking and scrumming to the team"

You mean like posting photoshopped pictures of the Prime Minister being assassinated.

When even Warren Kinsellas criticises you, you know you've reached a new low.

Steve V said...

"you know you've reached a new low."

Almost where you clowns live on a daily basis.


No, I'm calling you a whiny baby. This issue is plastered everywhere, the Libs have been out front and continually, what Ignatieff does or says, isn't really a central concern. If we needed him to elevate the issue, then you might have a point, but you just read like a hysterical complainer IMHO.

BTW, I thought Ignatieff did a good job in QP, very effective and pointed.

There's nothing wrong with touring the country, talking to Canadians. You make it seem like that's a bad thing.

Steve V said...

"This party needs to be built from the foundations up.

This last 2 years is the worst that i have ever seen."

For the record, I don't disagree. However, progress has clearly been made on the grassroots front. Hard to argue it's now the "worst", unless you just want to ignore the facts at hand and just spew. Maybe we need some new riding presidents ;)

Gayle said...

"I think the problem this fall, one of them, was overexposure, with the result that it was easy for the Conservatives to make Ignatieff the issue instead of Harper and government incompetence. Much better to have Ignatieff have a bigger impact with fewer but sharper attacks and leave the day to day attacking and scrumming to the team."

I totally agree. The less we hear from Ignatieff the more the media focuses on the CPC, and we have seen the result of that focus. For the past two years I think the media have been more obsessed with LPC leadership issues than they have been with how this country is being managed.

I also think it is appropriate for the LPC to allow the media to carry the ball on the torture allegations.Doing so makes it less political opportunism and more about getting to the facts.

RuralSandi said...

Good grief, damned if you do and damned if you don't. In the polls people say they don't know Ignatieff - he's doing the circuit and they still do this unproductive bitching. Either you sit on your bums and keeping whining or you do something that will help

It's best for the committee folks to talk to the media - they were there and they asked the questions, etc.

Steve V said...

"Mr. Colvin’s letter makes it essential that we have a public inquiry," said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. "All roads lead to the Langevin Block and the Prime Minister’s Office. Mr. Colvin informed the Clerk of the Privy Council, the highest civil servant directly responsible to the Prime Minister. The Clerk must have informed the Prime Minister – and yet no action was taken to stop the torture of detainees handed over by Canadian forces."

Michael Ignatieff, Dec 16, 2009

Mala Fides said...

No Steve, maybe we need more people who think they are changing the world by pumping out daily Polyanna blogs and attacking people who have actually spent their lives on the ground, raising funds, building the membership, coming out to events on their weekends rather than spending it with their family.

From the comfort of your mother's basement, you have the audacity to say maybe we need a new riding president!

I have watched over the last year while you, Impolitical, Jedras and the panda bear blogger have ingratiated yourselves into what you see as the circle of influence. You've created a nice kool aid drinking echo chamber, just like your Martinite predecessors did. I am not surprised, because as you peck away at your keyboards and post cute photos of German polar bears, you are not witnessing the actual on the ground despair that has set into this party.

Steve V said...

My moms basement? Get a clue. I will leave this pathetic tirade up, only because your own words highlight the WHINY BABY opinion. Sounds like mom didn't give out enough hugs to BABY.

Anonymous said...

Off topi, but wanted to let you know I sent you a personal email. Just wanted you to know who it was ;)

Steve V said...

Will check now :)

Mala Fides said...

I'm sorry, you were right, he was in the news in the last two weeks.

Steve V said...

You're a useless lightweight. That's all you can come up with? Too funny dimbulb.

BTW, which riding you FRAUD? Come on??? If it is true, I'll put it in my "no chance in hell" column for the next election, because if you're heading the party, we have NO grassroots or talent available there.

Steve V said...

Dan Ashman ;)

Mala Fides said...

I have to say that I really expected more from you.

You immediately attacked my person.

I didn't attack you. I set out a few simple questions . . . Where is our leader? Where is an effective Liberal opposition? What do we have to offer the country?

I have been a Liberal my whole life.

I have seen Ignatieff's group of useless supporters undermine the Party's interests for the last few years.

I really don't understand why it was so important that we went through the whole "leadership" exercise in Vancouver. What vision for the country has been developed or expressed? What policies have been established? What opposition has been effective (save for Gerard)?

At least Dion had ideas and at least a couple of positions on some important issues.

You are probably a nice guy, but this is not about me or you on a personal level. This is about the viability of the Liberal Party and having a legitimate opposition to Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party.

I do agree with a few of the previous posters that the Liberal fortunes have improved since Ignatieff has stepped out of the public spotlight.

BTW, with regard to my riding and Ian Davey and his merry band made sure that we are behind the eight ball. Thanks for the help! Keep it coming and we will see a completely blue Ontario.

Steve V said...

You attacked others, spare me the passive aggressive routine.

Whatever dude, I just don't care.

Marx-A-Million said...

I agree with you 145%. You are brilliant beyond any imagination.

Gayle said...

The leader was in Edmonton a few days ago. I wanted to attend but am horribly sick right now. Sounds like the event went well and they have been contacting me to ask me to participate in some grassroots stuff. I am not a member of the party though, so I find that a little funny.

Steve V said...

Nice to hear of some outreach.

Gayle said...

That's what he needs to do.

Frankly Canadian said...

I have to agree with you Steve, about the Liberal party possibly needing new presidents for some of the ridings. When I attended Mr. Ignatieff’s town hall meeting here in Kelowna, the riding president introduced him as the environment critic rather than the deputy leader that he was at the time, I can assure you by the look on some of the peoples faces that Mr. Ignatieff was not the only surprised person there. As a matter of fact one of our more recent candidates here decided to run for a civic town councillor and was beat rather badly by a 19 year old college student. I have to say that it is no surprise that this riding hasn’t been held by a Liberal since 1971, however I am enthusiastic about Ross Rebagliati running next door to this riding, but it will be an uphill climb for him. Again, maybe it is time for another look at each of the ridings and their respective presidents?

Steve V said...

I heard Rebagliati on the CBC, found him very refreshing.