Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cause And Effect

"A pox on all their houses", the lazy verdict from those in the know, and the casual observer. What the hell is going on in Ottawa? In today's Globe and Mail, a call for Harper to resign, the pattern of laying blame, but then attacking the result, becoming standard fare. It is important to keep our eyes on the prize here, and people are irresponsible to speak of "banana republics", other flowery, provocative language. From the Globe:
Mr. Harper is ultimately responsible for this unhappy state of affairs. It is the byproduct of his machinations, and the product of a failure of his leadership...

he sent the message that even if he backs down in this instance, he has no interest in making the current Parliament work.

And there it is, so just STOP yourself within that clarity. Harper has shown that he can't make Parliament work, his "horrendous miscalculations of last week's hyper-partisan economic update" forever poisoned our legislature, he made it untenable and this is why we find ourselves here today. You don't accept where the fault lies, then suddenly pivot and throw a blanket of scorn on everyone. NO, people merely reacting to the cause, people with no option looking for alternatives.

If you accept the notion that Harper wasn't interested in the economy, but partisan politics, if you conclude that he has made the current Parliament dysfunctional, then the blame stops there. After that acceptance, you have two options, either another election or an alternative to keep the wheels of government moving in a crisis. Please explain how another election helps during a crisis, the distraction the last thing Canadians need or deserve? That objective fact leaves one option, and the punditry that heaps scorn on Harper should recognize, should applaud any attempt to salvage stability out of self-induced CHAOS.

It isn't a political power play, when the government has voluntarily ceded its authority, presenting something which everyone agrees was unacceptable, inappropriate, craven and unseemly. That's the bottom line, events move from there and too pass judgement effectively forgets the impetus, it has the effect of providing cover by characterizing responsible action as gamesmanship. Harper left the opposition no option, everyone agrees that he failed to lead in a critical time. It's simply unfair to extend Harper's failure to the entire process, because in many respects a necessity, given the circumstance.

It's easy to blame everyone, throw up your hands at the spectacle in embarrassment. Where you lose me, the idea of opportunism and cynical on the part of the opposition, because we've already concluded Harper left no options, he failed to lead, he failed in every regard. Remember the starting point, burn it into your brain, and then the rest isn't an insane affront to democracy, it's a responsible response to an untenable situation. Nothing more, nothing less.


Anonymous said...

Did you even read the rest of the editorial?

Gayle said...

The Globe endorsed Harper and slammed Dion.

They are still trying to justify that.

burlivespipe said...

Don't bother going through the canwest tripe. It's all about 'restoring Harper' despite that fact that his own act has created this farce. The end conclusion appears the same -- Harper has to go -- but by who's hands remains the answer. Do the CONs have it within them to see and understand the dilemma they've created and embarked on? By forcing Harper to resign, the party can still possibly maintain power. Certainly considering the results of the last election, they can see that he's hit the ceiling, and his disrespect of parliament and its members only cause everyone harm.
The editors, however, need to protect the centre of power. that's what is driving their meme.

Mark Richard Francis said...

Even the Globe's original endorsement of Harper during the election was well qualified, and partially prophetic. I summarized it like this:

"While acknowledging some of Harper's failings, the Globe thinks he can still grow into the job. Yes, he's a lone wolf. Yes, he's the one responsible for parliament not working. Yes, his climate change plan is completely inadequate. Yes, he distrusts the federal government as an force of domestic policy. Yes, most Canadians do not trust him. Yes, he is prone to savage attacks upon his opponents. But he's the best man for the job?"

The original G&M endorsement is here:


Anonymous said...

The right wingnuts always attribute to their opponents their own leopard spots. Dion was "not a leader". Yeah..right. Guess what, Harper, leadership is inspiration not intimidation.

Anonymous said...

Good observations, Steve. I do think this may well get much hotter before it is resolved. Unless Harper faces a credible threat from within his own party, I'm convinced Harper will play every move he can and escalate the rhetoric in any way he can to hold scratching to power.

We may all soon regret lamenting the nastiness of the accusations hurled at Obama south of the border as over the top. I expect bleeps and/or cautionary warnings on news reports at some point.

Through it all, it will be important for the coalition partners and their supporters to constantly remind the country calmly and directly that Harper and his party created the poisonous atmosphere that led to the loss of confidence in the House. They will also have to educate the nation on Parliamentary process from the sounds of things, especially in a chorus of false narratives.

Personally, I think the conservatives have to make this sound like a "coup" (which is just insulting - do Canadians really not understand their own Parliament? Too much US TV?). Otherwise, they are forced to admit the "great leader" exhibited a spectacular, historic, and very public failure of leadership.

And that, in full circle, is why I expect the worst behaviour you can imagine as they move desperately to turn the cameras from themselves.

Steve V said...

" is why I expect the worst behaviour you can imagine as they move desperately to turn the cameras from "

I agree, anything less than the gutter would be a surprise.

CuzBen said...

I agree Steve, once a gov abdicates responsibility to the public it gives the opposition no choice but to topple it.

It's easy to look at this as a power-grab by Dion et al., but unless critics can point to a more reasonable solution, they should shut up. In fact, I sense this coaltion is more of a reluctant alliance than "an over-zealous triumvirate of would-be despots." (actually read that somewhere - adds credibility eh?)

Also, I am so incredibly sick of the hysteria surrounding BQ support. To me they are simply well-behaved communalists with confused ambitions and, relative to other separtist movements worldwide, they are just about the best (read: patient and peaceful) separtists ever. Bringing them within an arm's length of governance might quell their ambitions further and produce a long-term compromise. How many people really know any separtists? I know lots. They're nice democratic folks, just slightly misinformed about English Canada.
They're not the f*%#ing Taliban.

Steve V said...


One quick note on the Bloc, nobody seems to acknowledge that they've only signed on until 2010 because they got nothing on the "nation" question. In other words, they've agreed to participate with the explicit knowledge that coalition will offer NOTHING in terms of destabilizing the federation.

Beijing York said...

The coalition leaders have to continue with their brilliant tactic of calmly staying on point.

The Conservatives are in defensive mode and foaming at the mouth. Even Harper has peppered his statements with over-the-top and emotionally loaded phrases found in the talking points memo sent out by Guy Giorno.

I firmly believe that Harper believes the average Canadian to be stupid, much like Karl Rove does with respect to the US electorate.

The "Not a Leader" campaign worked because it was more subtle and internal LPC power struggles lent credence to that perception. They have resurrected this meme now that it has been announced that Dion would be MP.

But this time, it can't be a long drawn campaign. Patience is Harper's friend, not desperation. So attacks on Dion are being wrapped in the ignorant notion that he was not elected PM. LOL, wake-up, neither was Harper. We have a parliamentary system.

The more they resort to terms like:

"massive power grab"
"coup d'├ętat"
"Banana Republic"

the more they sound stark raving mad and out of touch with our system of governance.

Anonymous said...

I laugh at this power grab stuff - isn't that what Harper's tactics have been about all along? Attack, destroy, leave no opposition to my intended dicatorship.

Steve V said...


Mostly agree, except for that first characterization, because many people are buying the "powergrab" angle. People have such little faith in politicans, they naturally assume any move is purely an expression of naked self interest. This coalition has the inherent disadvantage of fighting against people's instincts.

I agree, so far they have conducted themselves admirably. I'm amazed at the speed, the detail, how well thought out, but it really starts from here/

Beijing York said...

A variation to "massive power grab":

"We will use all legal means to resist this undemocratic seizure of power," Harper said.

(From today's Ottawa Citizen, h/t to Impolitical.)

Steve, I see how the power grab angle could possibly work against the coalition IF they had calmly framed it as an opportunistic move. But coupled with other inflammatory language, it comes across as desperate.

Anonymous said...

All fury aside, I do think a wise approach is to simply, calmly, and repeatedly explain how a Parliamentary system works (ad nauseum) and clearly demonstrate again and again and again that Harper has lost the confidence of the majority of his fellow ministers.

In short, he failed as leader of the House of Commons. End of story.

The economic message, the way the coalition will work, structured, etc, can of course be answered as well. But the message has to start and end with the clear statement that Harper has lost the confidence of the House of Commons.

Steve V said...


Yes, in totality, it looks desperate. What I'm saying, voters are presenting the term on their own, completely unprompted, and it's dangerous to pretend otherwise. We need to address that perception.

Steve V said...



Anonymous said...

Beijing York Well Harper isn't to far of the truth with that statement. When you hear & read some of the comments posted on this or any other blogs, I tend to agree with him. The average Canadian are either stupid or bordering on
. They obviosly support liers & bullies & arrogance in the human race. If one cannot trecognize a blatant lie,it doesn’toesn't say much for us Canadians does it. Bully once too much & you eventually get pushed back. If you can't take the consequences, back off & accept your punishment. I don't feel sorry for him one iota. I think people need to open up their eyes, their ears & accept the fact that Harper is so full of himself he can't see beyond holding power. As for forcing a collation, didn't he try that himself in 2004. Yet he innocently stood before Canadians a few days ago & told us how wrong & illegal that was. Get the drift anyone here? He is noting but an opportunist & it doesn't seem to matter on who's toes he steps on. The Blocs were good enough for him then & you people too obviously. Get over it. If Harper was as smart as he wants us to believe he is, he himself threw himself to the lions. He needs to be squashed once & for all. Suck it to them is what I say. It is what he deserves. Even if he isn’t tossed out, he can kiss the idea of a majority government goodbye. Even his own government will be throwing him out. For a supposedly intelligent man, he sure proved himself & his ministers wrong & a lot of Canadians. He deserves to loose his job. He is doing nothing to stimulate Canada & everything he can to rsscalate a deep recession maybe even a depression. Not a nice man this harper guy.

ottlib said...

The Globe and Mail editorial is how they do mea culpa in the newspaper business.

The Mop and Pail backed the wrong horse a few weeks ago and they know it. However, they will never admit that so they write an editorial that trashes Stephane Dion (using old Conservative talking points) and quietly insert the call for Mr. Harper's resignation at the end.

And people wonder why I have such a low opinion of the Canadian MSM.

Steve V said...


If you want a good laugh, go back and read the election endorsement. It's amazing, given how Harper has acted, a misread of biblical proportions.

CTV was in full Con mode today too, Duffy went so far as to bring out a dinosaur former Lib MP to show how the Libs have betrayed their soul.