Thursday, March 06, 2008

Liberals, Bloc, Work Around The NDP

While Stephen Harper praises Jack Layton in Parliament for ignoring the Cadman affair, the Liberals and Bloc devise an alternate parliamentary route to delve into the scandal:
A motion that Liberal justice critic Dominic Leblanc worked out with the Bloc proposes "an immediate study into allegations that Chuck Cadman was offered financial inducements in exchange for voting with the Conservatives in the House of Commons."

Leblanc expects approval Tuesday of the plan - which could require testimony from top Harper confidants Doug Finley and Tom Flanagan - since the two opposition parties have a majority on the government-chaired committee. Extra hearings would be added to the committee's agenda so that legislative work would not be disrupted.

The motion proposes the justice committee determine whether Section 119 of the Criminal Code, providing up to 14 years prison for bribery, and Section 41 of the Parliament of Canada Act, providing up to a year in jail for illegal compensation to an MP, "currently serve as effective deterrents in preventing attempts to bribe members of Parliament."

The Liberals and Bloc turned to the justice committee after the NDP, which says the matter belongs in the hands of police and prosecutors, served notice it would scuttled a proposed a Cadman inquiry at the opposition-chaired ethics committee, where the NDP has the deciding vote.

Every NDP supporter should shutter at the thoughts of praise from Stephen Harper:
Notice of the motion followed a rowdy question period, during which Harper accused Dion of smear tactics and praised NDP Leader Jack Layton for asking about what he considered more serious matters - the leak of Canadian diplomatic information that has affected the Democratic presidential campaigns.

"I would point out to the leader of the Opposition that when he was throwing around wild accusations of scandal, the leader of the NDP was already on top of this issue," Harper charged, prompting an uproar in the Commons.

On hypocrisy:
"I remember in 2005 they (the NDP) didn't have the same view," Leblanc told reporters. "A number of people who were subsequently convicted following events around the sponsorship program testified at a parliamentary inquiry, so it's simply a facile and phony justification that doesn't hold up. Many successful criminal prosecutions have been held following witnesses coming to appear before a parliamentary committee."

It's a shame that these two opposition parties have to manoeuver around the NDP obstruction, but the good news, we will at least get an airing from the principles. So, while two opposition parties keep up the fight, on a critical point, the NDP seems content to use Conservative talking points and bask in praise from the Prime Minister. Where have we seen this act before?

A sidenote, the Liberals have been a disaster as of late, a fact which hasn't escaped many Liberal supporters. Despite apprehension about the Conservatives, despite issues which hurt the government, the Liberals haven't been able to capitalize, and I attribute much of this to their failed strategy of hiding, perpetuating weakness, reinforcing the challenges.

But, there is another storyline at play here, one that tends to go unnoticed. Despite the fact that the Liberals are wounded, in a precarious position, the party which should benefit, the NDP, has failed to do so, in fact the polling shows a situation where official party status is an issue, the unheard of scenario of a tie for third in Ontario. Disaffected voters aren't moved to the Liberal column, but they sure as heck aren't gravitating to the NDP either, despite favorable optics, relative to their old foe. I take this reality as a sign that the NDP's fixation on all things Liberal, forever calculating every position into an equation of Liberal benefit/Liberal harm isn't resonating with voters, in fact it's failing badly. The Liberal house is out of order, but maybe it's time for the NDP to reaccess their strategy, maybe it's time for NDP supporters to look with a critical eye, and take a swing or two, instead of echoing the leadership. It would appear, there is more than one party spinning its wheels.

It would be a pleasant surprise, if on Tuesday, when the Bloc and Liberals introduce their valid motion, the lone NDP member of the committee, Joe Comartin jumps on board.

Drop him a line:


Steve V said...

Adam Radwanski G & M (h/t Getting It Right:

In the same Question Period that Jack Layton calls for the head of his chief of staff, Stephen Harper praises the NDP leader for asking good questions.

Naturally, this was in the context of the Liberals not asking good questions. One is left to draw two conclusions:

1.) If the Prime Minister is enthusiastic about questions on the NAFTA leak, and angry about questions on the Cadman affair, that's a pretty good indication which topic the opposition should be focusing on. (Hint: not NAFTA)

2.) If you're the leader of an opposition party, and the Prime Minister is saying nice things about you in Question Period, it's pretty obvious you're not doing your job properly.

Couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Good. I want this investigated and not left just to the RCMP.

Gayle said...

I just posted this over at Jason's blog. It seems clear to my that the NAFTA leak is one where Harper can make someone else take the fall. Obviously that cannot happen with Cadman, because it's Harper's voice on tape.

The motion for the justice committee is pretty contrived, but it does the trick.

As for how the liberals are faring at the moment, I agree that this ill conceived motion attacking the Bloc and NDP is...well, ill conceived. They need to keep hammering on Cadman and NAFTA and leave the juvenile tactics up to the other parties. I certainly do not think abstaining is going to hurt them in the long run, but acting like they are in junior high just might.

northwestern_lad said...

Oh Steve... there is one major problem with the thesis of your piece tonight, and that is that it was Liberal Ethics Committee Chair Paul Szabo that ruled that the Liberal Motions were out of order, therefore the NDP didn't hold anything up in the Ethics Committee.

As to your point about getting compliments from the Conservatives, I was home sick watching CPAC today and some of the debate in the House and I counted no fewer that 6 different Liberal MP's who were complimented by Conservative MP's for their support of the Budget. That cuts both ways, and at least the NDP isn't getting complimented for propping up this Government by this Government like the Liberals were today.

Steve V said...

"That cuts both ways"

Yes it does, doesn't it? I guess the difference, Liberal supporters admit our embarrassing conduct, while NDP supporters ape what head office says. Just once, just one time, a note of criticism at the NDP altar would be NEVER happens.

northwestern_lad said...

Steve.... "Just once, just one time, a note of criticism at the NDP altar would be NEVER happens".... You obviously haven't been looking hard enough then.... here are some examples that I came up with in 4 minutes: (in this one I demanded an apology from NDP MP Paul Dewar)
(my critic of the NDP on the manufacturing aide package)
(my attack over Chalk River)
(Sean in Saskatchewan on MP Peter Stoffer)

And even just as early as yesterday...
(I critisized Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Martin for their comments)

The fact is that all sides have those that will admit to wrongs, and every party has their own Jason Cherniak's too. To try to paint this as anything else would be incorrect

wilson said...

Layton looked pretty good on CNNs Lou Dobbs tonite.
Sounds like Lou wants him back.

If you missed it, I'm sure it will be on utube or CTV or CBC, tonite.

northwestern_lad said...

Shit... okay, the links didn't work right... My quotes are all in my archive on my site and Sean S.'s was made today

Steve V said...


Fair enough.

northwestern_lad said...

Thank you Steve... I understand your frustration right now, because frankly I'm not liking where this whole discussion is heading either. To me, allegedly offering a bribe is as bad as it gets, and the police should be in there to investigate. The idea that we should even debate the idea of allowing the police to do there job is frustrating as heck to me, because it seems like a complete no-brainer to me. A problem like this needs the least political option out there to ensure that the investigation and findings are above reproach, and it's hard for me to accept being attacked for trying to take the politics out of this particular issue.

By the way, I saw Jack on Lou Dobbs... that felt really surreal seeing a leader of the NDP on a major American TV network and not being attacked as the second coming of Joseph Stalin. Times they sure are a changin'

Anonymous said...

Yeah I saw Jack Layton on Lou Dobbs and it's almost like they are good buddy.

I think it's time for non-confidence motion but Jack Layton unilateral motion is not the way to go. All three opposition have to come together. Layton does not seem to work well with the other two. I guess in terms of undermining Liberal, Layton and Harper share the same goal.

Harper is just too glad that Cadman scandal is being replaced with NAFTA leak where despite his chief of staff involvement, he can at least claim he was not directly involve. Layton is just happy to have a scandal he can call his own while totally ignoring the Cadman tape since Liberal were the one who initiated the questioning.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Harper seems very enthusiasic about the NAFTA probe. He proclaims a wide investigation, can fire someone at the end, and come out looking transparent and accountable. However, it seems that it can't be more than a temporary diversion. There is still his voice on tape in 2005 and it would seem that some day he will have to answer to that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Harper seems very enthusiasic about the NAFTA probe. He proclaims a wide investigation, can fire someone at the end, and come out looking transparent and accountable. However, it seems that it can't be more than a temporary diversion. There is still his voice on tape in 2005 and it would seem that some day he will have to answer to that.

Greg said...

Yes it does, doesn't it? I guess the difference, Liberal supporters admit our embarrassing conduct, while NDP supporters ape what head office says. Just once, just one time, a note of criticism at the NDP altar would be NEVER happens.

Steve, in a marriage prep course I took many years ago, the group leader gave us some valuable advice. Never use the words always or never in a fight. It is invariably wrong and just inflames the other side.

I am usually an NDP supporter and I slag them on occasion (particularly over veiled voting)on my blog. So please, rant if you want to, but don't make stuff up.

Sean S. said...

I am also an NDP member that regularly takes my party to task for some of their actions, there are many more examples on my blog besides what Cam has linked.

The last time I checked the NDP spends a good deal of time going after both the Conservatives and Liberals, but Liberals rarely take notice of the latter so I won't fault you too much. Though I wonder how one day the NDP is held up as being this all powerful party and the next it is a "Fringe" party about to be relegated to official status oblivion, which is it?

Wheatsheaf said...

Okay, I will out my self - I too am an NDP supporter. To be an NDP supporter you have to be self-critical. It is one of the hallmarks of the party - if you are successful, there must be something wrong.
That said, I see no reason why NDP supporters have to go easy on the Liberals. They are separate parties, and each party wants to gain ground at the expense of the other.
Harper is simply playing Layton off Dion for the benefit of himself. An old strategy called "divide the opposition". Judging from the number of bloggers willing to take up the mantle of attack Layton for being praised, I would say it is working.
As to the Cadscandal - what benefit does the NDP have in giving Dona Cadman more publicity? These are disreputable allegations that will not be solved by the Ethics Committee.

Anonymous said...

"disreputable allegations"

How so?
I would have classified Harper's responses, either the "no offer" or the "riding association expenses" reponse, as "disreputable" in light of his taped interview and the fact that Chuck Cadman was dying. Why do you think the Cadman families allegations are disreputable?

Wheatsheaf said...

The "disreputable allegations" refers to the actions that the allegations refer to as being disreputable. I would think that we can all agree that the idea of offering a life insurance policy to a terminally ill man for his vote could be considered disreputable.

Anonymous said...

I agree. thanks.