Great moments in candour (II)

by Aaron Wherry

The NDP dispatches Charlie Angus, the party’s truthiness critic apparently, to comment on Tom Flanagan’s honesty.

“That’s as cynical a statement as I’ve ever heard about how the Harper Conservatives will fight the next election. Their contempt for voters seems to have crossed a line to where power means more to them than truth. Canadians expect leadership from political leaders, not manipulation. Canadians deserve better than toxic campaigns based on misinformation. Canadians are calling for real solutions,” Angus pointed out. “I don’t know why anyone would trust them.”




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Great moments in candour (II)

  1. Did Charlie (my MP) sign the coalition agreement?

    Yup sure did.

    I guess we can't trust him either (especially about the long gun registry)

    • Are you angling for a set of steak knives?

  2. Perfectly legit in a parliamentary system. Certianly Harper himself felt as much when he tried to form his own coalition with the NDP and Bloc to bring down the Liberals in 2005.
    And charlie, yer speaking to the choir…….

    • And of course they honestly discussed the possiblity of a coalition during the election, right?

      Or did they lie about the possibility, then try to sneak it in thru the back door?

      Trying to remember… was Harpers letter before the election of 2006?
      How honest of him.

      • No, I'm pretty sure Harper made no mention of a potential coalition during the 2004 general election, which didn't stop him from trying to cobble one together after the fact.
        Let's be fair, though, nobody likely foresaw a coalition during either the 2004 or 2008 campaigns. But circumstances later ensured that it be considered (well, okay, Harper's own brinkmanship brought on the coalition crisis of '08; in 2005 it was nothing other than Harper's own thirst for power that precipitated his letter to the GG. But let's not split those hairs.)
        Instead, with respect to coalitions in either Harperland and Everybody-else-land, is what's good for the goose, good for the gander?

        • Harper made no mention of a potential coalition during the 2004

          This is revionist history. There was never any attempt to cobble together a coalition by Harper, there was simply the notification that one could be cobbled together if required, should the governor general decide that was a better option. Nothing more happened. Next thing we know we'll be told Harper governed with a coalition the last 3 years.

          Every day somebody claims falsehoods like this to be true, and they become grander each time.

          • Oh, OK, so Harper's coalition was different because he only reminded the GG that, technically, it was possible for such a beast to be created. Not that he would ever have participated in one, mind you. Now THAT'S revisionist.
            This is simple: one's opinion can be either A: coalitions are a legitimate entities in minority parliaments (they are), or B: coalitions are illegitimate.
            If your view is A, then Harper is not justified in vilifying the coalition of '08 (my own view, btw).
            If B, then Harper has to explain his 2005 letter to the GG or otherwise square the round peg he himself was quite prepared to plow into the parliament at the time (otherwise, why write the letter?)
            But it cannot be A and B at the same: my coalition was category A, your was category B.
            Unless, of course live in StevenHarperland; when it's do as I say and not as I do: which I think was Angus's point in the article to begin with.
            But hey,

          • Harper would form a coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition?

            Oh, that's delish, scf.

        • I really did not emphasize the right part of the comment, the lie is here: which didn't stop him from trying to cobble one together after the fact

          What is most ridiculous is that we have commenters here claiming that politicians are not truthful, yet the commenters are lying just as badly as the politicians.

          • O, but I don't think there's a lie anywhere; Harper wrote a letter to the GG telling her that she should consider a coalition led by him should the government fall.
            There is no legitimate way that one can say that is conceptually any different from what happened in November and December. Harper was ready to participate in a coalition when it woudl have GIVEN him power, and thought it the most vile thing in Canadian history when was about to TAKE IT AWAY from him. That is the only difference, and someone ought to call Harper on it (add it to the list).

  3. Actually, I'm going to take the opposite position. It will be a refreshing change.

    Typically opposition leaders don't have a track record of anything to run on, so incumbents are forced to campaign based on scaring the bejeezus out of people into what the opposition might do if they were elected based on nothing more than innuendo.

    The coalition is something tangible that the opposition actually has a record on. It's much fairer game for the Conservatives to remind people about the coalition attempt because it's probably the single most unpopular, ill-advised thing anybody has ever tried in Canadian politics in recent memory. The opposition deserves to be held accountable for it, and now Harper will be able to scare the bejeezus out of people (because lets face it, that's pretty much the only way for any incumbent to campaign) based on actual history rather than innuendo.

    • To play devil's advocate, the coalition didn't have a track record either. The Conservatives now have to scare the bejeezus out of people into thinking what a coalition might do if they were elected/formed based on nothing more than innuendo.

      It's really just adding a step to the exact same process.

      • It's not what the coalition does that is the issue. It's the fact that voters will get something they did not ask for. That is why Conservative popularity spiked after the coalition was announced at the end of last year, voters felt they had been duped. Dion achieved the worst Liberal vote total in decades yet somehow he was installing himself as PM.

        Not only that, when people vote Liberal, they don't expect their Liberal votes to be used to install NDP cabinet ministers and to adopt the BQ platform.

        • So by that logic, how was it fair for Harper to propose the exact same thing during the Martin minority?

          • I never said it was unfair, whatever "unfair" is supposed to mean. I just said voters don't want it. And in particular, they really don't want it immediately following an election, unless of course the parties campaign on it, rather than deny that it will ever happen in the campaign and then change their minds as soon as the election is over.
            When you have an election, the result is supposed to be something that is closest to what the voters asked for, not some strange contortion in which the party with the most votes is the only party shut out of the government, and the PM is least respected party leader.

          • You mean like what income trust holders didn't want when they supported a Harper gov't in 2006? Or more like what Chuck Cadman was offered in 2004? My guess it was more like what Michel Fortier prayed for and got on swearing in day in 2006… That's Harperville, Jake.

        • That's all beside the point.

          We have a representational parliamentary democracy. That means we vote for our local candidate to govern on behalf of our riding. Aside from elections, we get no direct say in what those candidates do while in office or how they organize themselves. We don't elect Prime Ministers – no one ever voted in an election for Harper to be Prime Minister. They voted for the Conservative candidate in their riding who in turn supported Harper, as leader of the Conservatives, to be Prime Minister. Likewise, Dion wasn't installing himself as PM, the majority of elected representatives were.

          No, people probably didn't vote Liberal expecting that they would support a cabinet comprised in part by NDP members. But, the fear of a coalition in power is the same as the fear for an opposition party in power – you don't have a track record of what they will do and neither do the incumbents. Again, it's just one extra step – you scare people into believing a coalition will be formed, then you scare them into believing a coalition will do unwanted things, both assertions based on nothing but innuendo.

          • Eh, gonna hedge my remarks a bit – the first assertion, that a coalition would be formed, would be based (in this case) on more than just innuendo.

          • yawn. If anything, your legalese and philosophical meanderings is beside the point.

            The point is, the result of the election should resemble what the voters wanted, no matter what type of democracy you're talking about.

          • Tell that to Harper — 55% of the ridings as voted by Canadians were not his to control.

          • As far as "you don't have a track record of what they will do", that's wrong. You look at the platforms of the three parties and you can assume that anything in those platforms can happen. The only exception is that you can be pretty sure that the BQ will not get Quebec separation from Canada. But anything else is game, that's the whole point, each coalition member will get some of what they want, that's why they're in the coalition..

        • But voters got a recession when we specifically stated we did not want one. Being in one anyway, the only people in the room who refused to admit it (also refused to admit the deficit WE WERE ALREADY IN) were the Conservatives, who gave us a Fiscal Update that was a pack of lies (see line above), then attacked women, political parties, and the civil service.

          I wonder how many Canadians thought if we didn't have a coalition, we wouldn't have a recession?

          • Awesome, let's vote to end recessions. Also, vote for sunny weather and lots of rainbows, an end to poverty and global peace. You're a genius.

        • Wait.. now your concerned that voters will get something they did not ask for? Like.. taxes on income trusts? No? Appointed unelected Michael Fortier? No? Paying off the US for softwood lumber? A non-fixed election date?

          I mean.. if that's going to be your metric, I think you'd have to go a helluva lot further to find Harper giving voters something they DID ask for.

          • Are you trying to tell us that it's perfectly fine for political parties to tell voters that they won't form a coalition, only to turn around right after an election and form a coalition? Otherwise, not sure what your point is, other than to suggest that only your preferred party can break promises, and a lot of them, too.

          • Nice ideological blinders. If only I subscribed to the party system you might have a point, but my party would almost assuredly not be the Liberals or NDP, so you'd *still* be pointless. Plus ca change..

            At any rate, my point is that scf has claimed that the problem with the coalition is that it might give something to the voters that they did not ask for. If this is the problem with the coalition, it is most certainly the problem with Stephen Harper's government which was quite clear about a number of things it would give them, and then turned around and gave the exact opposite.

            I'm not saying anything that anybody else did was better (though personally I feel the coalition would have been a great way to neuter the Bloc, since they were willing to hamstring themselves in order to get rid of Harper) but it really can't be claimed that Harper's party maintains any sort of moral high ground whatsoever.

          • You're comparing a lack of mandate to govern with some broken election promises?

            And, just out of curiosity, what is your preferred party, if it's not the four currently in Parliament?

          • You're comparing a lack of mandate to govern with some broken election promises?

            Yeah, I noticed the same thing. I'd say apples and oranges, but it's more like comparing a raisin to a watermelon.

          • You're right, it is. But I expect we assign the roles of which is the raisin and which is the watermelon differently. They're both a bit fruity, but one's a lot harder to swallow whole.

          • Sorry, I don't subscribe to the party system, remember? I realize it's difficult to do so since I wrote that in the second sentence and there's two more paragraphs you have to be able to recall at the same time, but it is in there. You may want to read it again.

            As for the mandate to govern, here it is: 143 to 77 + 48 + 36

            The mandate was provided by the voters in the ridings across Canada. If Canadians don't like that mandate, we have only ourselves to blame. I'm one of those weirdos who believe that I go in to elect the best MP in my riding — the one who I think will represent my personal interests the best. Party stances makes the general research easier, but if all a candidate can quote is the party line, then they're not in it to represent me, and my vote goes elsewhere. Always has, always will. So I see a coalition as a reasonable alternative because it is the PM's job to maintain confidence. If he/she is unable or unwilling to do that, they need to be replaced so our government can function, and none of that affects the job my MP is supposed to be doing.

            So yes, I'm comparing not just "some broken election promises" but rather an ongoing pattern of complete reversals on the majority of election promises with a coalition that never campaigned what it would be governing for. With the coalition I'd be getting an unknown. With the party of broken promises, it's even worse, I'm getting an unknown that was willing to decieve me to achieve whatever ends they may have.

          • Sorry, I don't subscribe to the party system, remember? I realize it's probably difficult for you to recall since I wrote that in the second sentence and there were two more paragraphs after that, but it is in there. You may want to read it again.

            As for the mandate to govern, here it is: 143 to 77 + 48 + 36

            The mandate was provided by the voters in the ridings across Canada. If Canadians don't like that mandate, we have only ourselves to blame. I'm one of those weirdos who believe that I go in to elect the best MP in my riding — the one who I think will represent my personal interests the best. Party stances makes the general research easier, but if all a candidate can quote is the party line, then they're not in it to represent me, and my vote goes elsewhere. Always has, always will. So I see a coalition as a reasonable alternative because it is the PM's job to maintain confidence. If he/she is unable or unwilling to do that, they need to be replaced so our government can function, and none of that affects the job my MP is supposed to be doing.

            So yes, I'm comparing not just "some broken election promises" but rather an ongoing pattern of complete reversals on the majority of election promises with a coalition that never campaigned what it would be governing for. With the coalition I'd be getting an unknown. With the party of broken promises, it's even worse, I'm getting an unknown that was willing to deceive me to achieve whatever ends they may have.

          • Wow Thwim, you've managed to conflate a government policy with the government itself. Very clever, almost as clever as Jenn.

          • And if you were as clever as Jenn you might have been able to keep up and understand that what I'm conflating are governments that give you no indication of how you're going to be governed.. as it stands though.. it seems you missed it.

          • And if you were as clever as Jenn you might have been able to keep up and understand that what I'm conflating are governments that give you no indication of how you're going to be governed.. as it stands though.. it seems you missed it.

            BTW.. who's Jenn, I don't hang out here as much as I used to, I'm afraid.

  4. “I don't know why anyone would trust them.” Also, anyone doesn't know why anyone should trust them, or anyone else. This is why the country has become so cynical, and all parties are guilty.

    Here's how it looks in equation form:

    lies + half-truths + spin + manipulation = voter apathy

      • Jeffrey Simpson is correct to take Michael Ignatieff to task for inaccurately claiming that the Liberals did not raise taxes in the 1995 budget. As Simpson points out, the Liberals raised taxes in a wide range of areas in that budget.

        What Simpson does not point out is that Liberal government was also aided in its efforts to reduce the deficit by the huge revenues flowing from the GST. This was a tax increase introduced by the Mulroney government, which paid a high political price.

        The political lesson that we have here is that raising taxes is OK as long as you can find a way to blame it on the other guys. In this case the GST had such a high profile that most Canadians do not remember the Liberal tax increases as clearly.

        • Revisionist history from Mao. Great work Yen…

      • Yeah, it's a pretty good piece. Makes me wonder why exactly politicians would fear voters' response to serious measures. It's kind of a chicken/egg problem. I think that if you treat people in a way that shows you think they are intelligent, they will act like intelligent people. Maybe if they all tried proposing and debating serious measures, instead of playing their little games, they would see there's nothing to fear.

      • Yeah, it's a pretty good piece. Makes me wonder why exactly politicians would fear voters' response to serious measures. It's kind of a chicken/egg problem. I think that if you treat people in a way that shows you think they are intelligent, they will act like intelligent people. Maybe if they all tried proposing and debating serious measures, instead of playing their little game, they would see there's nothing to fear.

  5. These comments by Angus are horse manure. The opposition formed a coalition that was not installed as the government. It was only 8 months ago that the affair ended, for 2 months the opposition threatened to take down the government so the GG would install themselves as government..

    It happened just after an election in which there was no mention of a coalition, and in fact Dion rejected the idea during the campaign. Later, Layton claimed to have hatched the idea long before the campaign ended, yet said nothing about it to anyone.

    Now we're supposed to pretend it never happened, according to Angus. What a crock.

    • Jeebus Cripes. Parliament is The Government, all 308 members of Parliament are the Government. Whatever party holds a PLURALITY *leads* the Government, but IS NOT THE GOVERNMENT!

      Be a Canadian.

      • Wrong. In Canada, after the election, the winning party is asked to "form a government". Maybe you've missed that.

        Here's how Wikipedia puts it:

        In Canadian English, the word government is used to refer both to the whole set of institutions that govern the country, as well as the current political leadership, although with the latter usage the word is usually capitalized to make the distinction.[2] Thus, Canadians would say that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Government is currently administering the Canadian government. Contrasts can be drawn with the British usage, where the government is referred to as the state, and the American usage, where the Government is referred to as the administration.

        You can just shut up now.

        • Hint: Party != "current political leadership" there is no requirement that the two terms be synonymous.

          Take your own advice.

        • Wait! wait! they can't both be right! oooooh! my brain hurts!

        • Wait! wait! they can't both be right! oooooh! my brain hurts!

          Whatever party, or arrangements of parties that can command the confidence of the house can form the government. Simple Canadian civics.

  6. Square this round peg, would ya please?
    ""We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority…". "

  7. [youtube 70Rbv5Sckcw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70Rbv5Sckcw youtube]

    September 9, 2004

    Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
    C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
    Governor General
    Rideau Hall
    1 Sussex Drive
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1

    Excellency,

    As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government's program.

    We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice
    has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

    Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
    Leader of the Opposition
    Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

    Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
    Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

    Jack Layton, M.P.
    Leader of the New Democratic Party

    • This emphasis on the so-called coalition of 2004 looks like an attempt to validate the Bloc ads that say Harper and Ignatieff are two peas in a pod. That doesn't sound like smart positioning for the Liberals so where is this coming from?

    • That's not a coalition. That's not a contract. That's not an agreement.

      That's a letter posing the suggestion that in the future a coalition could be formed.

      Anyway, regardless, I fail to see what the point is.

      • It doesn't even suggest that a coalition could be formed. It just states that negotiations were underway, negotiations that never bore any fruit.

        • So what you're suggesting is that because Harper's party was incompetent and couldn't even get it done, we should say they never intended to? Interesting.

  8. Can the trolls get back under the bridge now?

  9. Good thing we don't have Paul Martin still kicking around to blame dying homeless people on.

  10. Why are Tom Flanagan's comments being represented as belonging to the Conservative Party? The NDP is doing it. A Maclean's blogger seems to be repeating the message. And numerous posters on here seem to be suggesting it, too. The man is offering his current analysis, which has nothing to do with the party he once worked for.

    Besides, I think Flanagan was being diplomatic when using the term "plausible" in describing the possibility of a coalition. If Harper gets a minority, the prospect of an opposition coalition is very real. Isn't it?

    • "Why are Tom Flanagan's comments being represented as belonging to the Conservative Party?"

      Because he's the imminence grease of the Conservative Party of Canada. Without his bred-in-the-USA haute wingutterie, the Conservatives would have nothing.

      • When was the last time he actually spoke for the Conservative Party? Thank you. Next.

    • I just noticed that the Liberals are spreading this falsehood, too, on their Web site. I guess this must be a part of Iggy's "Big Canada."

      • Check our Your so-Called leader's website. That's a big Canada? While you can pretend Harper isn't a soiled hypocrite when it comes to coalitions (among other things), I dare say posting negative ads 24/7 outside an election cycle and then using taxpayer subsidized 10percenters to paper the country with more crap makes all this talk about 'an unwanted election' and 'coalitions' a ton of turd. Parliament is ruled by the majority. If your so-called leader can't cobble a majority of MPs to support him, he can be ousted. It worked for a lot of leaders before yours.

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