Dearest Gordon

by Aaron Wherry

Again harkening to simpler times, the Liberal issue another open letter: this one from opposition whip Rodger Cuzner to government whip Gordon O’Connor, laying out all the Liberals have been doing while Parliament was on break and all the government should be prepared to do when business resumes.




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Dearest Gordon

  1. I like this; it seems strong and leadery. Good for Ignatieff.

    • I like the tone of the letter too… but you may want to reserve "leadery" for what Harper is doing out west.

  2. This is a much better open letter. It suggests that the Conservatives may not be able to get their extra sitting days if they don't prioritize the committee activity, and lays the ground work for why — "We've been working anyway, and without the committees being given as much time as possible, there's little point" which of course threatens any Conservative Bills yet again.

    • I think it's crazy to do anything that even suggests they want to take more weeks off after prorogue. Are they crazy? They have all the momentum on the prorogue narrative. Why in the world do anything to detract from it? Wow. Maybe I'm missing something.

      • I think it's more a shot across the bow. You'll note they explicitly say that Ignatieff has agreed to the extra weeks, and don't rescind that anywhere, but it's pointed out to Harper's party that if they don't place the committee work as a priority, then they won't be able to get an easy ride out of the proroguement issue by taking out the spring break.

        At the same time, if Harper's party is still into game playing, they may look at this as on opportunity to try to goad the Liberals into giving up the prorogue advantage by not prioritizing the committees.. which, if Canadians have started to pay attention, will now turn around to bite Harper's group in the rear.

        • I mean, it's all words and chest-thumping. The prorogation vacuum has been golden for them. Don't understand why you go anywhere near it, or even suggest that you won't come back afterward, which is apparently Jane Taber's take as well as at least one other poster on here.

          • You go near it to keep it alive. I mean here we are, talking about prorogation yet again.

          • No, we're talking about how Liberals are threatening not to work after prorogation, and making chest-thumping demands – at a time when saying nothing was working golden. Brilliant!

          • Golden for you, perhaps. I've noted that the talk about prorogation has died down considerably in the last few days. Insite, Olympics, Russell Williams, a bunch of other news.

            To say that the Liberals are threatening not to work after prorogation is a blatant falsehood. They've laid the groundwork here that would allow them to put out such a threat, but nowhere is the threat made.

          • Where do they say they won't work? Where do they retract Ignatieff's committment?

            Seems to me they are making demands – all reasonable, all about increasing accountability – that stand on their own.

            In fact, he is even more explicit than that and says the commitment to work those days remains. And then he goes on to call Harper on his further game playing by saying "in order to repair the damage" and lost time caused by prorogation, that extra time needs to be more than just for show and here is how we ensure they are productive. Moreoever, we demand that they be productive because you've messed up Parliament so bad.

      • Sure are missing something. The letter says they agree to sit during the two weeks as Harper requested.

      • Hmm, yeah maybe.

  3. Now THIS is how you counter games playing.

  4. If I read this correctly, the Liberals are attaching demands to their agreement in working through the upcoming Parliamentary break. What do they do if and when Harper says no? And here I thought they had all the momentum regarding prorogue. The more Iggy talks, the more he digs?

    • If Harper says "no" then the Liberals continue to demand the documents, demand the resumption of committees and move non-confidence at the first opportunity. I can't see why the NDP or the Bloc wouldn't go along, their only real influence stems from parliamentary committee work. But if either decides to prop up the Conservatives, then the Liberals have a lot of rich material about evil coalitions they can trot out.

      And if the government falls we have an election about how we would like to be governed. Again the Liberals are in great shape for messaging after their string of policy round tables while the Conservatives have spent the last month finding out that Canadians "want a brighter future."

      Unless they have recently recrutied Dr. Strangelove as their chief strategist I predict that Harper will give in like he did on the f/up last year.

      I don't see anyone digging but the Conservatives. At a certain point the foxholes will be so deep they won't be able to climb out.

      • Let me get this straight. The opposition had the government on the run on prorogue. Even I underestimated the effect that the attacks had on public opinion. The Liberals now offer to change that narrative by threatening not to come back to work, and maybe even having an election nobody still wants? This is what passes for great leadership and strategy from the Liberal party these days, is it?

        They didn't have to do anything! This entire period of Parliament's shut doors was proving golden for them. Don't understand why in the world you'd want to change that dynamic.

        • Kindly point us to the part where the Libs threaten not to come back to work.

          • These are demands they want attached to the motion to change the parliamentary schedule, aren't they? Again, what if Harper says no. Then what? Heck, Taber's talking about the threat, too.

            Again, why go anywhere near those Parliamentary breaks on this?

          • I guess you can't see it because you're assuming that Canadians had a problem with taking a break, when what they really had a problem with was proroguing to avoid accountability. You know, one of the Famous Five priorities?

          • Some of you lefties kill me. Harper passed most of those five priorities, including the Accountability Act, yet that's STILL not good enough. Nothing ever is.

          • He's passed one. The GST cut.

            Passing something called "the Accountability Act" does not count as cleaning up the government unless the act actually does that. I think the Fixed Election Date thing alone shows this hasn't happened, and that's not even looking at the 10%ers and the EA!P distribution.

            He hasn't passed any crime legislation, he keeps using prorogue to kill the bills before they get Royal Assent.

            He hasn't established any sort of wait times guarantee.. at all.

            He hasn't increased financial assistance for parents, as the cuts to child-care transfer programs in the provinces he made dwarfed his $100 tax break.

            Hell.. nothing would have been an improvement over what he has done.

          • He's also diminished Canada's standing worldwide:

            http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNe

            A new poll says the world thinks a lot less highly of Canada than last year, thanks in large part to our poor showing at the Copenhagen climate change conference and a problematic prime ministerial trip to China.

            A BBC World Service poll of public opinion across 18 countries released this week found that people's view of Canada's influence has worsened during the last year, particularly in the U.S., Britain and China.

            etc.

            But the killer is the Economist:

            http://www.economist.com/world/americas/displayst

            Whether Mr Harper gets away with his innovative use of prime ministerial powers depends largely on whether the protest spreads and can be sustained until Parliament reconvenes in March. Mr Harper is doubtless counting on the Winter Olympics to reinforce Canadians' familiar political complacency. But he has given the opposition, which is divided and fumbling, an opportunity. It is now up to it to show that Canada cannot afford a part-time Parliament that sits only at the prime minister's pleasure.

          • It doesn't matter what you "pass" if you don't actually achieve anything by doing it and actively work to thwart transparency every step of the way. I include stonewalling the PBO on budget projections, resisting transparency on stimulus spending, picking and choosing who the Official Secrets Act applies to and what can and can't be redacted from documents. More like the Conservatives passed up the opportunity to make an improvement to our governance that Canadians wanted.

            Or are you actually going to claim success on the accountabilty front?

          • Oh, well, if JANE TABER is reading the letter the same way as you then you MUST be right.

            Frankly, whenever Jane Taber says "the issue is X" that's usually all I need to become convinced that the issue is almost certainly Y.

          • Problem is, Dennis not only totally misread the Liberal letter but he also totally misread what Taber writes. Nowhere does she say that the demands are a condition to accepting the break. Like the letter itself, she confirms just the opposite.

            Damn that reality. Continues to demonstrate an undeviating Liberal bias.

    • "If I read this correctly"

      You did not.

    • That's a pretty good analysis actually. Ignatieff is not known for following through on his ultimatums. I presume they would take it to the people with some advertisements, but so far they haven't been so hot at that either.

  5. Just curious. How does a private letter addressed to a Conservative MP from a Liberal MP end up on the desk of a MacLeans columinist ?

    I`m going to ask this question one more time Mr. Wherry. Are you now or have you ever been an agent of the Liberal party ?

    • What part of "open letter" is so mystifying to you?

      • LOL. Exactly. Funny thing about "open letters". They tend to be open.

        • And written in letters. That my be the part that c.m. is having such difficulties with.

    • Are you an agent of the Liberal party?
      by aaronwherry at 2/5/2010 7:51:47 PMFriday, February 05, 2010 12:51:47 PM

      Yes.
      by aaronwherry at 2/5/2010 7:51:48 PMFriday, February 05, 2010 12:51:48 PM

      -link

    • Hey McCarthy: Taber has a copy of it too.

      • Settle down guys. Just having a little fun with Mr. Wherry. Sean, being the sharp guy he is, picked up on the McCarthy connection.

        • Trying to use humour to deflect from the fact that you make a silly accusation?
          the joke has to be better

          • Jeez, some of you guys take yourselves so seriously. Fortunately, we all know Mr. Wherry has a sense of humour.

    • I read it on the CBC website before seeing it here, as well.

  6. Well, they want all these demands attached to the motion to change the parliamentary schedule, don't they? Jane Taber's blog is already characterizing this as a threat not to come back, as is at least one apparently liberal poster here.

    • Read the friggin' letter!

        • Who cares what Jane Taber says.

          It is pretty black and white: "As you know, our leader, Michael Ignatieff has already agreed to these extra sitting days; in fact he suggested that you not wait until March, but return Parliament to work immediately. So our support in working through break weeks is not at issue”.

          And later, the list of demands is explicitly "In addition to the additional sitting-days".

    • Who's Jane Taber?

  7. Now that's a letter I could have sent to my mother.

    • You've got an odd family life.

    • Admit it LynnTO, if you sent this to your mom, I think she might begin to worry about you.

      LynnTO's Mom: "Why doesn't Lynn get out more and meet some nice friends who don't spend all their time arguing on the computer? I mean it's good they are engaging in respectful debate, but surely there is more to life … "

    • Dear Mother,

      I write in response to your email last Wednesday evening, which I received after the subject matter had been released to the news media. You proposed that the family should have dinner on March 15. That request begs the question: Why does this issue even exist? Why are we not sitting down for dinner right now, as scheduled?

  8. I'm also not sure about the strategy of listing all the things you've been doing during prorogation. First, if you think that's going to excuse you from taking another break, try again. Second, why emphasize doing things during the stoppage? You should be emphasizing all the things that aren't getting done because Harper won't let you, then pursue doing it when you get back – without break.

    Again, having a golden narrative going for them wasn't good enough. They had to get cute, didn't they.

    • I think it's only cute if one reads "our support in working through break weeks is not at issue" to mean "at issue is whether or not we'll support working through break weeks".

      • How about we leave Dennis alone for the rest of the day. It is quite a shock to the system to have a real opponent after 5-6 years who outmaneuvres you three or four time in a two week period.

        Besides, the PMO hasn't come out with any talking points in response yet, as they've been too busy recalibrating and focusing on the stuff that really matters to Canadians, not Parliament which only causes instability in the markets, but attacking the personal credibility of the head of a leading Canadian bank and making stuff up about Libby Davis and smearing other civil servants (former or otherwise). .

        So many people to attack and so little time. It's not eezy making priorities about who to attack personally, after all.

  9. I'm getting Weary of you Wherry. Surely you can come up with better stuff to post. Tell us something we didn't know. Journalism man – we want journalism.

    • Do yourself (and the rest of us) a favour: stop reading him and then stop with the useless comments.

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