A portrait of Canada's political culture (Part 3) - Macleans.ca

A portrait of Canada’s political culture (Part 3)


I don’t doubt John Williamson will do a fine job as the PM’s new director of communications. But how credible can he be singing the Harper government’s praises for its sterling record of fiscal responsibility, sensible tax policies etc given his many highly public criticisms of the same government on these and other counts in his time as director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation?

It’s one thing for a Prime Minister of Canada to go back on everything he’s ever said or believed in. But we expect more of our PR flacks.


A portrait of Canada’s political culture (Part 3)

  1. "I'd rather have him inside pissing out than have him outside the tent pissing in!" … LBJ

    • In conjunction with the new NDP ambassador it does contribute to the "promote all the dangerous people" theory… which leads to the obvious question:
      Whats does Jacques Demers have on Harper?

      • The ghost writer of his hockey book?

      • An anonymous source sent Demers a dossier containing devestating information on the Conservative Party which could destroy both Harper and his senior staff forever. The source counted on Demers, a Conservative but also a man of integrit, reading the dossier and lending his weight to the anti-Harper movement.

        Unfortunately… well…

        Anyway, Harper got wind of the dossier and gave Demers a Senate seat to ensure his loyalty.

        • I heard that Harper himself gave Demers the dossier for safe keeping. Knowing Demers couldn't read it.

          Oops. I went there.

  2. I am sure that John Williamson will follow the grand tradition of previous alumni of the "there are no good taxes" club.

    • "There are no good taxes" but spenders abound — all "conservative" and all of a piece.

  3. Finally! Criticism from within the craft.

    Step one is about inconsistency, next step will be the general criticism of there being a career path, any career path from journalism to government.

  4. "It's one thing for a Prime Minister of Canada to go back on everything he's ever said or believed in…"

    A portrait of Canada's Political Culture indeed!

    The Prime Minister has arguably gone back on everything he's ever said or believed in… yawn.

  5. I would like to see/hear Cons use more conservative arguments when presenting/defending their policies. It is very hard to distinguish between Libs and Cons at the moment and that's really not good. Political debate in Canada is rather stupefied and could use some shaking up. Liberalism has become too much of a shibboleth and some proper debates would be most welcome.

    • Jeepers jolyon — there you go again — hoping for an impossibility. Your passionate adherence to a bygone fairytale is quaint and charming here — careful though — it is a short journey to the dark side. You really need to first accept the world you live in, then offer to help us all move forward together.

      "The Ephraimites and the Gileadites, had a great battle. The Gileadites defeat the Ephraimites, and set up a blockade to catch the fleeing Ephraimites. The sentries asked each person to say the word shibboleth. The Ephraimites, who had no sh sound in their language, pronounced the word with an s and were thereby unmasked as the enemy and slaughtered."

    • I believe that for this to happen would require a significant loosening of party discipline. The reason is that a Canada is really a fairly liberal country, and with monolithic party positions both the Liberals and Conservatives suffer when they veer too far from the centre for too long.

      If both the Liberal and Conservative politicians were able to express a wider range of opinion without the fear of being whipped, ostracized or expelled, the quality of debate would rise immensely, and in cases where a conservative philosophy naturally leads to the preferred outcome it would stand a better chance of carrying the day.

      However it is not just the parties that are too blame. The Canadian press and that part of the public that follows politics (all 27 of us) jump on every substantive expression of diverse opinion that comes out. The most recent was the call for an asbestos ban by 2 Conservatives… not long ago some Liberals voting against a budget that attacked their province.

      Canadians do not get to vote for Prime Ministers, we never have. Since we don't have a presidential system, we should perhaps try to make the Parliamentary process work. That will require backbenchers who speak out on points of principle, work with fellow minions from the other side of house to develop common legislative agendas, and campaign on what they want to achieve in Ottawa.

      Just to be contoversial, I think that (with one exception) the recent floor crossing MP's are among the most responsible and valued members of parliament. They stayed true to the personal values they campaigned on, and when they felt their party wandered too far from those values, they stood up and did something. Compared to the legions of MP who apologize for their votes on a regular basis, the floor crossers demonstrate integrity and gumption.

      • Well said. I even agree with the floor crossers (except one)

  6. I love this bit from "Manbridge's One On One" with David Frum:

    "When my good friend Andrew Coyne and I were deciding how the World should be run…"

    • They're friends? This changes everything!

      • It's not that they're friends, douche. It's that actually discussed how they'd run the World.

        • It's not that they talked about running the world in a literal sense, bidet, it's a turn of phrase that's understood to be self-deprecating.

          • "It's not that they talked about running the world in a literal sense…"

            Yes, they did. Frum and Coyne talked about running the World in the literal sense. Frum even emigrated to service the Bush regime, for crying out loud.

            These people, Frum and Coyne..they're not democrats. They don't believe in democracy.

          • Oh my, you mean we are priveledged enough to have limited access to one of the illuminati??

            I guess we should all be more deferential and fawning…..nice shirt on you last appearance Andrew, and when you get around to running things, my daughter would like a pony.

          • Never change, Anon. You're always good for a chuckle. Coyne and Frum, scheming to control the world! You found a 3-second clip on "Manbridge's One On One" that proves it! Better file that one in your "Evidence Closet", right next to your tinfoil hat.

          • Never change, Anon. You're always good for a chuckle. Coyne and Frum, scheming to control the world! You found a 3-second clip on "Mansbridge's One On One" that proves it! Better file that one in your "Evidence Closet", right next to your tinfoil hat.

          • Perhaps we could make a cartoon about what goes on in Anon's head. To avoid litigation, we represent Coyne and Frum as mice… except Coyne has an enormous head….

        • It's not that they talked about running the world in a literal sense, bidet, it's a turn a phrase that's understood to be self-deprecating.

    • Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, perhaps? Both craving the devoted mothers neither really had?

      "I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion – a blind and aimless Fury. The Red Queen I pictured as a Fury, but of another type; her passion must be cold and calm – she must be formal and strict, yet not unkindly; pedantic to the 10th degree, the concentrated essence of all governesses!"

      — Lewis Carrol

      Sad really, to be governed by neurotic longing.

  7. Politics gets more like professional wrestling all the time. The theatre, the posturing, the good guys vs. bad guys, and best of all, the big twists in the storyline where one character turns into another character literally overnight, without so much as a a twitch or a wink of acknowledgment, and with no further comment. Very post-post-modern, requires very disciplined actors.

  8. Is there a word to describe someone who says and does things that conflict with their own fundamental beliefs which are rejected by most members of a society in order to have the power eventually to impose those beliefs on that society?

  9. Don't be so sour, Andrew. All of your dreams of fiscal rectitude and small government are about to come true. Williamson is the harbinger of this change in policy. It will start the moment that Harper judges the recession to be over. It will result in very deep cuts in federal spending. I would be very surprised if it didn't affect core social programs.

    • Y'know, I think I've heard about this, too – that conservative government from this Conservative government is just around the corner. And now that that one last piece of the puzzle has been placed, barring the need for any other last pieces of the puzzle to be placed, it could still happen. Very easily. Any minute now.

      Aaaaaaany minute now.

      What people like Andrew don't understand is that chess takes time. You think governing according to your principles is easy?

      Gotta love that conservative government, and here it comes! Any minute now.

  10. What it suggests is that Harper acknowledges the truth of Williamson's past criticisms, and may be trying to get back to basics.

    At least, one can hope.

  11. What has the Canadian Taxpayers Federation ever contributed other than being against spending? When did the organization ever contribute or even once, articulate a proposal for what we should spend money on as a country? I've always been surprised at the free ride they get from media, which never asks them whose money they are spending or why they don't have any positive proposals for policy direction.

    • I think they have put together such proposals, but you've never bothered to pay attention.

  12. "… John Williamson will do a fine job as the PM's new director of communications."

    Bob Fife must be pissed!

  13. Ex-director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation?
    Providing advice to an ex-director of the National Citizens' Coalition?

    Good lord, it could be a paradox! Evetbody down before the timestreams shift!!!