Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Bush" League

I constantly marvel at the childish tactics employed by the Conservatives. Ignatieff is set to deliver an "academic" speech in Alberta, pretty benign stuff, and yet the soldiers are mobilized. It's disgraceful that a prominent Conservative is urging Albertans to "crash" the speech. In the grand scheme, hardly surprising, for this gang of paranoid adolescents:
A member of the Conservative national council is urging party members to attend a speech that Michael Ignatieff will give in Alberta on Friday so they can pepper the deputy Liberal leader with "skeptical" questions.

In an e-mail sent to the presidents of 14 Conservative riding associations in Alberta, Vitor (Victor) Marciano says the lecture was arranged by Anne McLellan, the former deputy leader of the Liberals who is now a distinguished scholar in residence at the same institute.

"We need a skeptical, questioning audience for this hypocrite - especially after his recent performance in Afghanistan," wrote Mr. Marciano, referring to the trip Mr. Ignatieff took this month to the war-wracked country with Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion.

"Hopefully many of you can make it out to this lunch time session. Please circulate."

Is this what it has come to in Canada? Can we now expect organized gangs of hecklers to follow leadership around, hyper-partisanship reigns? I'm pretty sure any Liberal MP would be subjected to a sceptical audience in Alberta, which makes this call to arms all the more unattractive.

There are constant discussions about partisanship in this country, and how it detracts from "good government". Conservatives often accuse others of "playing politics", and yet this government has set a tone which is unprecedented and regressive. My goodness, let Ignatieff have his little speech, that will be sparsely covered, in a region that poses no threat to Conservative fortunes. Instead, these rabid dogs are summoned to ensure an embarrassing spectacle, one that clearly does nothing for discourse. The brownshirts are coming.....


northwestern_lad said...

There is not much that these guys stoop to now that surprises me. As for the brownshirts, that was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read this article. I wonder if they're scheduling a book burning for the after-party?

Steve V said...

"There is not much that these guys stoop to now that surprises me."

The sad part, it's almost expected.

northwestern_lad said...

What's sadder is that not only is it almost expected, it's seemingly being accepted (if only by ambivalence) by so many Canadians. It's these kinds of tactics that give all good politicians out there a bad name and smear the whole lot.

Anonymous said...

When the only news that the main-stream media reports is sensationalist, the only way your party can get on the news (or news beneficial to your party can get on the news) is by doing sensationalist things.

Iggy talking at an institute would very likely barely make the Edmonton Journal, but a large crowd of hecklers could easily make it into the political section of all of Asper's media empire if it was done right.

Basically the Cons have learned that the media don't give a crap about telling news and only care about what fits the frame of the story they are trying to write. Having a bunch of brownshirts go and rough up a meeting would be a perfect frame for a story about how Iggy is a hypocrite (a very popular political storyline, see Gore.)

Steve V said...


You might be right, these kind of tactics only work if they're covered. How many times to do we see the media ignore a 30 minute campaign speech, only to focus on the crazied voter protesting the candidate. The media is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Can I use an example stateside? Anyone who watches CNN, will know that Lou Dobbs and Jack Cafferty are forever getting on the soapbox, lamenting the lack of substantive debate in American politics. The candidates aren't talking about the issue, blah, blah, blah. Yesterday, CNN's big political story was Huckabee supporter Chuck Norris commenting on McCain's age. Cafferty went so far as to make the Norris comment his question of the day. Who gives a flying *&^% what Chuck Norris thinks, especially on a day when the markets were in full meltdown mode? Lou Dobbs can go on his crusades all he wants, but his vehicle, CNN, is the problem. The candidates were actually talking about issues yesterday, but the media choose to focus on the opinion of a washed up karate master. The hypocrisy is just staggering.

Ti-Guy said...

Did Vitor Marciano include a list of "skeptical questions" to be posed?

Because if he didn't, someone at CPC Central is not doing his or her job.

Steve V said...


Such a spontaneous bunch aren't they?

Anonymous said...

Steve V:

It's the free market. When the media is concentrated in a few hands, the best way to make a ton of cash while offending the least number of people is to create artificial stories which people will forget about the following week.

A stock market crash is depressing and most people simply don't want to think about it. As well, it's hard to make a good movie based on a world-wide stock crash.

However, Chuck Norris has a fist for a chin. Now, _THAT'S NEWS_.

Somehow there's got to be a way to break the monopoly and actually get real news out again. Unfortunately though, I don't know how to do that. Especially since their income isn't from people buying the news, but from the advertising embedded within the news.

wilson said...

But Liberals are the master hecklers!
On the campaign trail, Jane Taber reports:
Taber says
'Immigration Minister Judy Sgro and Veterans Affairs Minister John McCallum -- (who) ambushed Mr. Harper at Toronto area events last week.

'Those jokes always get good laughs: "I was in Toronto last week and we got Judy Sgro hanging outside my hotel room for an hour like a groupie.
Then we went to Markham and we had John McCallum there waving a piece of paper like he wanted an autograph.
Maybe if we go to Montreal we can get Paul Martin to come out and start talking like a Conservative again."

Canajun said...

No disagreement with anything said so far except that this should be viewed as a Liberal opportunity. Let's say these mental midgets show up in force and heckle the hell out of Iggy. That will surely hit the news in a way that an un-heckled speech would not.
If he handles it right, these guys come off looking like a bunch of ill-mannered, uninformed boobs, who, as representatives of the Conservative Party, show them all to be as ignorant and unsuitable for power as they are.

Ti-Guy said...

I see Wilson's earning her keep.

What is the going rate for CPC trolls these days?

...or do you do it out of love, Wilsie?

Ti-Guy said...

If he handles it right, these guys come off looking like a bunch of ill-mannered, uninformed boobs, who, as representatives of the Conservative Party, show them all to be as ignorant and unsuitable for power as they are.

A lot of the media report that kind of thing as a vibrant, challenging, adversarial environment in which to conduct public discourse. And remember, being denied the opportunity to vent one's rage, no matter how enchoate, is viewed by quite a few people as an unconscionable assault on one's civil liberties.

I'll wait to see what happens, of course.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there will be a big tractor pull contest that day and nobody shows.

Steve V said...

I suppose you could look at it as opportunity for Ignatieff to get some exposure, for a speech that would otherwise be ignored.

ottlib said...

"Can we now expect organized gangs of hecklers to follow leadership around, hyper-partisanship reigns?"

Hollywood celebrities have the paparazzi so what are we going to call these wingnuts?

The wingnutarazzi? Not very original is it? If someone can come up with a better nickname for them go for it.

As for the speech, it would be kind of interesting to see how the audience will react to a bunch of partisan hacks disrupting an academic speech. I imagine it would not be positive for the partisan hacks.

Raphael Alexander said...

I don't see how heckling Michael Ignatieff will produce anything but the opposite of the desired effect. A good politician will turn a heckling gallery into a political advantage, as Hillary Clinton proves again and again.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

This is disgusting. The level of partisanship by the Conservatives and nastiness towards those with different opinions are disgusting. I don't agree with the Conservatives, but I will not demonize someone who is a conservative. I will be respectful of their views and would even be willing to listen to them as debate is an important part of a healthy democracy.