Friday, January 07, 2011

Fascinating Statement

The Ibbitson piece today is a good read, and it comes with a fascinating statement:
Consider this bit of evidence: The Tories may or may not truly believe they can take seats in the Greater Toronto Area from the Liberals in the next election. But the national media believe it, and that’s more important. Pundits universally agreed that Tuesday’s petite cabinet shuffle, elevating Peter Kent to Environment Minister and putting Julian Fantino in the seniors portfolio, proved that the Conservatives are on the warpath in the 905.

Isn't it a bit odd to say that the narrative everyone has bought into isn't supported by the source necessarily? Ibbitson basically posits a situation wherein the media has subscribed to a strategy where one might not exist, WORSE presented it as fact. Wouldn't one want confirmation from an "anonymous Conservative" or two who floats that the cabinet shuffle had this intended thrust prior to running wild, and frankly looking more ridiculous by the moment for buying in?

This whole thesis is pure bunk, that falls apart with the slightest inspection. I'm not saying the Conservatives don't have their eye on the Liberal fortress, only that to conclude these cabinet posts are part of that strategy is nonsensical.

I watched with great delight yesterday, Peter Kent fumble when faced with the slightest scrutiny relating to his newly landed albatross portfolio. I much enjoyed Rex Murphy savaging the shuffle, for the most obvious of reasons any informed person already well knows. Pick one cabinet post that most highlights Conservative vulnerability, that consistently makes the government look bad, that brings the most negative press, you'd be HARD pressed to beat out the Minister of the Environment. Now, with that "inherent truth" in place, please explain how putting a Toronto area MP onto to this dud of a file translates to "storming" the Liberal bastion?? If anything, Kent's stature is sure to take a hit (as has the stature of EVERY single Environment Minister under this government) with this portfolio, hardly a recipe for success.

People have already detailed the Fantino appointment, his post is hardly high profile or advantageous demographically, when one considers the desired ridings. If one wants to argue that Fantino winning in Vaughan is part of the strategy, then that is entirely plausible. But, to extrapolate to this inevitable cabinet position, this ENTIRELY underwhelming junior portfolio, demands a lazy co-relation. This cabinet position guarantees we will hear almost NOTHING from Fantino, apart from those occasions where he says something controversial. Explain to me how a tertiary seat at the cabinet table will lead voters to reconsider their traditional Liberal support?

You know how this narrative that everyone has bought into would make sense- if Harper actually gave these guys attractive, compelling jobs, THAT'S HOW. Instead, Fantino gets the blandest of vanilla for agreeing to run for office and Kent gets the most thankless job in this government, trying to make people believe the mirage really holds water. Where's the political upside here? Where do these guys get to shine and demonstrate to Ontario voters that they should vote Conservative? Will the Fossil Awards win us over? Will the two paragraph piece, on page 43, that Fantino's portfolio will generate tip the balance? What about the one question Fantino will get every Parliamentary session, will this exposure cost Mark Holland his seat? Will listening to Kent constantly defend nothingness and look comical in the process motivate key voters to ask for a Conservative lawn sign?

Good grief.


Gayle said...

What I don't get is even if Harper IS trying for seats in Toronto (and why wouldn't he be doing that?), why does that automatically mean he is going to get them?

Anne McLellan was a high profile minister in Chretien and Martin's government. And yet at no point did her appointment result in pundits going on about how the liberals must be about to make inroads in Alberta.

Harper had a strategy to take more seats in Quebec - spending all kinds of money there and cosying up to Charest, as well as putting Quebec MP's into Cabinet. Look how well that one turned out for him.

That this is actually a narrative simply amazes me.

Kirk said...

I'm surprised that putting Fantino in as Minister of State for Seniors hasn't been questioned by the media.

Other than pointing out that he is old, it doesn't highlight his police experience or his administrative experience running two very large police forces.

It seems like more of an insult to Fantino than part of a grand strategy to win over Toronto seats.

You'd think one journalist would question why an experienced police chief didn't get a justice or security related cabinet post.

The message to Toronto is that "he was good enough to be your Chief of Police but not good enough to be anything but our Minister of State for Seniors. we're not letting him near any justice/legal/security files!"

And then there's the idea that Minister of the Environment is a showcase portfolio for anyone in Harper's govt.

Steve V said...

"It seems like more of an insult to Fantino than part of a grand strategy to win over Toronto seats."

I agree, this is no prize posting. They promised him a cabinet seat if he ran, Harper is living up to the bargain, but this isn't a good portfolio. But, alas, nobody bothers to do even primary scrutiny, everyone just laps up the obvious. Honestly, the media were a combined disaster on this storyline.