Friday, February 24, 2012

Harper's "Climate"

There are many underlying objective truths that will hopefully remain in tact, as we enter the SPIN dome on the robocall question. No reasonable observer would dispute that these Conservatives have pushed the boundaries of acceptable political behaviour, a "nastiness" attached to the process that Canadian politics hasn't seen, at least in terms of frequency. The tone of the political debate has soured, the way people are attacked has intensified, the low road is now met with almost surrendering shrugs, we've become acclimatised to unseemly tactics.

Rewind a few scant months ago, and you'll see a DESPICABLE misinformation campaign in Irwin Cotler's riding. The formal Conservative arm will distance itself from the robocall question, but here we had a SANCTIONED campaign, with the sole aim of DECEIVING voters. You'll also recall when "outed", all we received from Harper Conservatives was bizarre rationalizations, a "run out the clock" strategy and the issue died, just another fluffed off example of dirty politics. I mention this example, in light of Harper's selective outrage yesterday and PLEDGE to find these unethical individuals and make them PAY! In reality, whether it is found to be a rogue partisan in this most recent instance, it really is the type of behaviour akin to formal war room strategy, as the Cotler example revealed in NAKED fashion.

I've followed the American primary system for a long, long time, and I believe this an objective truth: when it comes to nastiness, dirty tactics, a poisoned well, NOBODY does it better than the Republicans, the Democrats are amateurs compared to the cesspool that occurs when the GOP picks a standard bearer. Sure, you can highlight a particular example here and there for partisan counter, but when you pull back and observe the landscape in totality with any fairness, only a die hard bias would dispute a stronger correlation between conservatism and scumbag tactics. I mention this reality because much of the Conservative thrust is imported philosophy, there has been a concerted effort to adopt certain approaches. This robocall story reeks of American style politics, that type of nonsense is commonplace within their system, nobody bats an eye, it's accepted as part of the game.

John Ibbitson piece today touches on an similar theme:
It could take many months to get to the bottom of the case of alleged voter suppression during the last election. The larger question, though, is whether the Conservatives’ hard-ball tactics are encouraging some people to cheat.

If they are, then the Tories bear a measure of responsibility, even if they weren’t complicit in any unethical or illegal acts...

And they may have instilled such an intensely partisan anything-you-can-get-away-with mentality among their campaign workers that one or more of them concluded it would be okay to cross the line of legality.

Plenty of outrage last week at the idiot that started a twitter account and bashed Vic Toews. This individual had sullied our entire political process, to never recover, a sad indictment of eroding morality and standards in Canadian politics. Perhaps true, but let's hope the same outrage incorporates the wider climate we currently operate in, who sets the tone, who has the most power to change or elevate, who more times than not is at the center of low brow tactics, who sits in first class on Air Douche. See the forest from the trees, that's where enlightenment lies, that's where you start ascertaining and drilling down to find underlying realities.

I could care less if we find the firm tether in this particular instance that leads right to the official Conservative war room. What's truly instructive here is very much the political climate that these "hard ball" Conservatives have brought to Ottawa, how they do politics, this end justifies the means mentality. More concerning, a successful template, these Conservatives sit with a majority, formal affirmation of a strategy which others will surely adopt, in the name of perceived success. When we wake up one day and see little contrast between the way we do politics here, and how they do it in South Carolina, just remember who were the Right Honourable's when the gutter became the norm, because it isn't a coincidence.


ij said...

Two questions: 1) Could not Elections Canada post a warning on voter's cards about changes in polling station location ("if you have any doubts or are getting telephone calls of doubtful origin, phone us" followed by HUGE phone number impossible to overlook, and then make sure there are enough people to answer questions?) 2) What does it take to get the UN to observe elections in a country? Who makes the request?

sharonapple88 said...

Right now they're trying to pin the blame onto Mike Sona. Political outsider? Sure if you could call someone currently employed as Eva Adams' executive assistant and worked for two cabinet ministers, Rob Moore and James Moore, an outsider.

But really, he's better known to the public as the guy who tried to grab a ballot box. You'd think they'd distance themselves from him after this, but they kept the clown on the campaign and gave him a government job. He's a real product of their system.

Steve V said...

That is a key point Sharon, this guy was kept aboard, despite what happened with this ballot box, effectively sanctioning his behaviour.

sharonapple88 said...

Pretty much. It's just a side-way step from trying to stop people from voting at an university poll, to misdirecting them via a robo-call on election day.

The Winnipeg Free Press notes that the voter lists used in the scam are just available to local and national party campaign headquarters. This might go up higher than Sona....

Steve V said...

Absolutely, I said that yesterday, there is no way a rogue local guy gets his hands on calculated voters lists for swing ridings across the country. Come on, it defies believe. That doesn't mean we will se a smoking gun that leads to a higher up, but someone provided and guided, common sense dictates that assumption.

sassy said...

Perhaps this question has already been asked and answered, and I missed it.

Q. How did they know who the non conservative supports were when they decided who to robocall?

Steve V said...

Bingo. Yes, some rogue putz has the detailed voter records for dozens of swing ridings, which target identified non supporters. Makes no sense at all, clearly had some direction, some sophisticated co-ordination.

sharonapple88 said...

Q. How did they know who the non conservative supports were when they decided who to robocall?

The person involved in the scam probably got his/her hands on the party's polls. During elections, to help with the GOTV, volunteers call people up and ask them whom they'll vote for. Some people don't give an answer, but some do.

Bingo. Yes, some rogue putz has the detailed voter records for dozens of swing ridings, which target identified non supporters. Makes no sense at all, clearly had some direction, some sophisticated co-ordination.

And for news that just broke yesterday, they found the culprit fairly quickly. Found and fired him.

rockfish said...

I know our courts and justices prefer to eliminate prior history when considering many accusations; however I think its instrumental when we are discussing Harper and his cronies.
-The Cadman affair - Harper is on tape as saying yes he knew the men who approached Cadman in trying to 'acquire' his vote;
-The In-and-Out scandal, which involved RCMP raid of Conservative head office, over overspending election limits thru a intricate scheme to move funds and expenses from local to national campaign;
-The 2008 robo-calls to Gary Lunn's riding during the election, telling voters that the NdP candidate was still running when in fact he had withdrawn;
-The Irwin Cotler robo-call telling constituents in his riding that he was resigning and asking whom they would support;
-and this...
I'm certain this list is short of other vote and election issues. I think it would be instructive to have as comprehensive a list as possible... the mainstream media's memory is shorter than mine!

Scotian said...


Don't forget the Grewal fraud which at the minimum Harper covered up after the fact if not was directly involved with from the start. I won't rehash the details here but they are still up at my blog Saundrie, just search it for the Grewal fraud and it details how it is impossible for the LOO under Harper not to have been aware of the edits and the subsequent efforts by Harper to make it appear it was all made up by the "Liberal media" and Liberal War Room. Seriously, that was the first flare lit tip off about just how far into criminality this Harper CPC would be willing to go and at the minimum Harper himself would cover up and excuse when exposed. That was why I made such a stink about it then and for years afterwards, it was something unheard of in our system and showed a level of comfort for tactics and tools that border the criminal in truth such as we are used to seeing from the worst of the US right wing.

Steve V:

Remember, back when Martin was still PM one of my core arguments for stopping Harper then and there was to prevent this race to the bottom in terms of political process tools being used, because I said if Harper showed he could win with them it would inevitably force the other parties to have to embrace them to the detriment of our political culture/environment for all.

I opposed Harper on the process side far more than the ideological/policy side, which was not because I agreed more with him on the ideological/policy side but that as much as I disagreed with him on the policy side it was the process side that he truly terrified me for what he would do to our political institutions, both the formal governing ones AND those in the very election process itself. I repeatedly made this point feeling more than a little like a voice in the wilderness then and I said I felt like Cassandra and now that the reality I saw so clearly has arrived there is little else for me to say except I told you so and while some people might find that a satisfaction of some sort I don't, all I really can do is look at the reality and weep.

These are dark times for the Canadian political world, and I am not sure whether it will be recoverable from in the end, too many people never understood how fragile our systems really were/are in this respect, and I fear that by the time this becomes obvious too much damage will have been done. Yes, I know that is a very bleak outlook, I don't like feeling it but it is what I see. I can only pray that this time I am wrong as I was not wrong all those other times when I predicted the future where Harper and his supporters were concerned.

sassy said...

Remember this video from 2009

Listen to Harper's words again - little did most Canadians know when that came out just how far he would go for HIS majority.