Harper on process vs. policy


Listening to Stephen Harper repeat his warnings against a rebel coalition today, I recalled a passage from one of the canonical texts of his rise to power: his 2003 address to Civitas, a private conservative club. The only full non-firewalled text of the speech I can find is here. It’s the speech where he mulls the advantages of social conservatism over fiscal conservatism as a vote-getter, but here’s the part I’ve been thinking about since the weekend:

“There are two ways conservatives can respond to the challenges faced at the national level. Our party has explored both over the years, in two important phases. These two phases were not ‘Reform’ and ‘Alliance’: they were not about name or organizational changes.

“Rather, our party underwent one period in which it was policy-driven, and another period in which it was process-driven. In the policy-driven phase, the party emphasized what it stood for. It took stands on a litany of issues, from its fight against he Meech Lake/Charlottetown constitutional agenda, to the battle for deficit reduction, lower taxes and fiscal responsibility. This was the period in which the party grew from nothing to become an important electoral and parliamentary force.

“However, for the past half-decade or so, the party moved into a phase in which it emphasized process. Specifically, the party focused its energies on a process by which it could garner greater electoral success. This was called ‘coalition building.’ In practice, it involved disassembling the party’s institutional structures in order to bring in new supporters from other entities. In terms of policy, conferences were held to create and sell a new ‘vision.’ In practice, this amounted largely to making existing policy stands vague or simply invisible. Whatever the electoral potential of this approach promised by the polls, the results were clearly going in the opposite direction.”

I thought about this because the Conservative leader sure has been talking a lot about process lately.


Harper on process vs. policy

  1. Surely then he must have policies rolling around in his noggin – why cant he share them with Canadians is the question.

  2. Good fiscal policies would sell, socon policies will not and that's the fundamental conflict in the party.

    They have to make up their minds whether they're a political party or a tent revival

    They need to be fiscally conservative but socially liberal to make it.

    The current incarnation is neither….so they just tread water.

  3. They'll only be good in the next 4 – 5 years.

    You know, after the deficit is slain – a year after they said it would be eliminated, after saying they wouldn't run a deficit but then did run a deficit to deal with the recession that wasn't going to happen because if it we were going to have a recession then we would have had it already.

    That's when Steve's policies will be good.

  4. Didn't there used to be another political party that met most of the those requirements?…what was it called again…PC something or other…wonder wherever they went too? [ they did at least make some attempt to be fiscally con on occasion, and where it made sense]

  5. Considering this 2003 Harper address was made prior the merger of two political parties and at the time when our country was ruled by the "little man from Swindel" I thought, why not have a look at what dear Leader Ignatieff had to say about policy versus process.

    And I have been looking and looking for the past days to find anything Ignatieff had to say on the topic but I couldn't find anything the man had to say.

    And I was thinking : this is odd. A man being the leader of a major Canadian political party, who has nothing to say about policy versus process? How could this be.

    But finally it became clear to me: Ignatieff wasn't even in Canada during all the years when the Canadian political landscape was unfolding. He was out of country and did have no ideas of his own of how Canada was being shaped, politically wise.

    Too bad. It would have been so nice to be able to read how an intellectual as Ignatieff would have responded to the Chretien-Martin years of infighting.

  6. Yup, there was. Two back-to-back majorities too. Only Refoooooorm didn't like it.

  7. Paul, if you get 420 comments on this thread, I'll send you fifty bucks.

  8. And so, I decided to look for general guidelines the members of the media are being guided by. I was thinking that surely, some guidelines must be posted, somewhere, sometime, about how time in history must be of the essence.

    Could I be wrong? Could it be that members of the media are not being guided by setting time frames in context?

    But I will do some further searching in that regard and report back to you, Mr.Wells.

  9. Here's my contribution to the Get Paul $50 Fund …

  10. So are you saying that Mr. Harper's values are situational?

  11. I promised to send Wherry $10 if he used the verb "ejaculated" (to utter suddenly and passionately) in a BTC sketch, and he still hasn't delivered…

  12. " … talking a lot about process lately."

    Interesting observation, Wells, but you are being rather generous with the 'lately'.

    Harper's whole time as PM has been focused on process and not policy. I can't think of a single policy that Cons have that emphasized what they stood for. Cons have been policy-lite for years but doesn't matter, I guess, because of how weak Libs are. When Harper was making that speech in 2003, Libs weren't fourth place in Quebec and hurting badly in suburbs/region around Toronto.

    I think, ideally, you would combine policy and trying to attract new supporters and bigger successes. Governments can pass legislation that is supported by this group or that but you need a Kenney type to press the flesh as well.

    "In the policy-driven phase, the party emphasized what it stood for.

    Specifically, the party focused its energies on a process by which it could garner greater electoral success."

  13. I remember!

    To do my part, if Aaron uses "ejaculated", I'll subscribe to Macleans. :)

  14. Can somebody help me out here? Is that link a joke, 'cause I don't get it. And what the heck does this line mean: "Whatever the electoral potential of this approach promised by the polls, the results were clearly going in the opposite direction."?

  15. Thwim says: " So you are saying that Mr.Harper's values are situational?"

    Values are always situational; if one has values one always know how to deal with the situations.

    For instance, Harper's values are such that he regards the inclusion of the BQ in any form of coalition to be un-Canadian. His values have never wavered in that assessment. He has never signed onto a formal coalition agreement with the BQ and he will never, ever do so.

    Whereas Ignatieff's and Layton's values are as such that they, too, lend themselves to the situation. The situation presented itself for the loosers to form government with the help of a separatist/provincial party and so Ignatieff's and Layton's values followed the situation to a 't': they signed on the dotted line in 2008.

    I think Canadians value Harper's values above all else.

  16. Only Reform didn't like the Mulroney/ Campbell government? They ended up with 2 seats. In an election that Reform didn't run anyone east of MB/ON boundary line. What happened to them east of the boundary? Hardly Reform's doing.

  17. The link is not a joke, although it is a link to a fairly controversial magazine (that would not be on Harper's reading list). That said Paul seems to vouch for the accuracy of the Harper article, which was orginally posted to another site.

    In the article, Harper is talking fondly of Reform's early years, where it took a large number of controversial stands. In those days it was exclusively a western party. He is commenting on the great electoral success they had with those strong policy directions during the election that brought Chretien to power.

    In the late 90's, there was a strategic decision to make Reform a national party and many of their positions were watered down presumably to accommodate the sensibilities of Ontario voters. Harper notes that even with those changes, Reform's support stalled. (This is likely because although near-death, the Progressive Conservatives recovered (somewhat) after Mulroney's hangover ended.

    At the time he wrote this, Harper would have been feeling pressure to reunite with the Progressive Conservatives. This piece is essentially laying out his initial bargaining position, i.e. that the PC's had to become more conservative rather than Reform becoming more moderate. A sidebar is that he would then be the natural leader of the united right.

    The man is a very, very good politician.

  18. I'm sorry. Apparently my english was too complex for you. By situational I meant, varies based on the situation.

    As to your explanation, please. The only reason he didn't sign on to a coalition with the bloc is because Mr. Layton backed out before he got the chance to. This is attested to by Mr. Ducceppe, Mr. Duffy, Mr. Flanagan, and Mr. Layton. The preponderance of evidence is against you.

    But then again, you've never really had much truck with facts, have you?

  19. Tjee, must have hit another sore spot. No one even disputing this one.

  20. So the sentence you withdrew in haste (So are you saying that Mr. Harper's values are situational?) should have read:

    "So are you saying that Mr. Harper's VARIES are situational? "

    Amazing the lenghts of distortions you guys go through in order to try and prove a point which does not exists and has never existed.

    I can't wait for the one-on-one debates to start. Let get this media filtering stuff over and done with.

  21. I used "orgasmic" a couple hours ago. Perhaps it will inspire Wherry.

  22. The hell? That's not even a sentence. I'm starting to think you simply don't understand english.

  23. Nice dig. I'll have to pass it on to Professor Tremblay in Montreal. A couple of years ago I was looking for Civitas and didn't find it. I did manage to find the purported text of Harper's June '97 CSP speech that the Liberal Party briefly had up on a web page during the campaign prior to the Jan '06 vote, though. In late '08 there were still traces on Liberal sites and on Wayback: http://preview.tinyurl.com/4qoq8u6

  24. process vs. policy

    Flapjacks vs waffles.

  25. Check your history Jim—Reform did run candidates east of MB-ON border in 1993—-split many ridings in ON with Lib and PC and won one seat there.

    There was some large disagreements between Reform and PC in regards to both process and policy and it took them 10 plus years to unify.

  26. You seem to have gone to great lengths to make up a new word.

    And I did spend some time looking it up.

  27. Here's mine too. Although i think Paul has to agree to buy everyone a beer from the proceeds.

    Maybe HO oughta chip in a little more? After all, it is tax rebate time.

  28. Thwin, look back at the first time you wrote a response to my post:

    This is what you wrote: "So are you saying that Mr. Harper's values are situational?"

    In your next post, you try and change that to "By situational I meant, varies based on the situation."

    So either your first response was completely mis formulated as to the thoughts you wished to express, because when I insert the word "varies' instead of 'values' your sentence no longer makes any sense, or you are trying to alter the context of your first response question AFTER reading my response to your first question posed in which it clearly talks about values.

    If you had been a student in professor Ignatieff's class, you may have gotten a A- for trying to suck it up for the instructor, but by my standards you would have gotten an F for failing to stick to your argument. You wobbled and tried to recitfy such wobbling by altering your opening position. Weak, weak.

  29. Yes, one party got wrecked….ended up with debts and poor leadership and the other one grew for awhile….2 opposing points of view in the same party …and now it's damaged them both.

  30. Wells, I think you are being disingenuous here in terms of what Harper was referring to in that speech. Harper was referring to the period where Reform was trying to expand beyond its Western roots, and the means they were using were these grand overarching policy sessions where the thought was if we can all just sit down together and come up with some ideas, then we will all be a party.

    That flopped, he pushed through the merger and, aside from the merger vote itself, there has been no such sould searching nonsense. The Party, mostly from a top down and election oriented platform has put forward various policy ideas, probably the most important of which (and potentiallly the most misguided) was the GST cuts. That got the PCs elected and they have been riding small if noticeable policy changes since.

    The coalition stuff has nothing to do with party process to build an electoral tent big enough to win a majority. By comparison, how big a bump did the Liberals get from their most recent lip flapper in Montreal?

  31. I wish they would dig back as far as 1978 – the last time Iggy lived in Canada before coming back in 2007.

  32. Keep om goading her. This is getting entertaining. In fairness i supect English isn't her first language.

  33. Thank you Blue. You are correct, and I was wrong about candidate east of MB in 1993.

  34. Goading? Nah, that's not necessary. Questioning, clarifying? Absolutely appropriate.

    And I'm sure that English is NOT FV's first language. Full marks for trying to engage using the written word, though, much more difficult than the spoken word.

    OTOH, FV's higher volume of posts since the election call does seem to be correlated with a wider variation in quality.

    PS I verify that I, and I alone, inserted the NOT in front of "FV's first language".

  35. Emily, might I ask… were you one of the 12.19% of the 2000 electorate still voting PC?

  36. I took Arts in university, I don't have any real money.

  37. Except when I say "by situational I meant varies based on the situation" (incidentally, that's a pretty common understanding of the word "situational" but if english really is your second language, perhaps you were unaware of that) why on earth would you think to replace the word "values"?

    Did I somehow screw up and say, "by values I meant varies"? No, no, it doesn't seem that way. So what, did you just pick a word at random, thinking 'Well.. I don't understand what the hell all this gobbledygook means anyway, so here is as good as any other place, I guess."

    So, since you seem to be incompetent at dealing with colloquialisms (albeit widespread), I will retype my initial question in as simple english as I can muster.

    "Are you saying that Mr. Harper's values change depending on the situation he is experiencing?"

    Bleah, and now all the pith has been forcibly ripped from the initial comment anyway.

  38. Real soon now.

  39. It's like having an argument with a parakeet. It knows some of the words, and can even respond to certain specific phrases almost appropriately, but getting anything approaching sense out of it is just an exercise in frustration, really.

  40. Think about this: everything Harpy attacks Iggy on is something Harpy intimately understands. He's worried about coalitions? Because that's what he'd do. He's worried about Iggy's motives? He knows his own are suspect. etc. etc.

  41. So where're your initials?

  42. I was PC for over 30 years….good times and bad….because I'm fiscally conservative, and socially liberal.

    I also tried Reform for a few years….fresh wind from the west and all that….to see what it was like.

    I was, to put it mildly, appalled….so I stayed PC until Mackay sold us out.

  43. Ooops.


    Apologies for the lack of clarity.

  44. Note to Bev Od:

    See? Admitting that you made a mistake is pretty easy, and can save a lot of headache later on.

  45. Do you realize Thwim, that you have not responded at all to my core sentence in this debate, the core sentence being in response to your first response:

    I've responded : "Values are always situational; if one has values one always knows how to deal with the situations."

    So, rather than letting this conversation sit trapped wihin an argument about semantics, why not address the core concern you have with Harper as to values held and them being 'situaltional"?

    I'm ready to forgive either your or my oversight. Why use language skills as an excuse to not further debate this? I am ready. Are you?

  46. If people are averting their eyes and giving you a wide berth, that might indicate something other than capitulation.

    Just saying.

  47. Maybe, to be fair to her, she does not like to refer to herself as "BO".

  48. I hate to break it to you but, "situational ethics" is not a new concept and the meaning is well understood – by the vast majority of literate people – to mean ethics which are flexible. Thwim used the phrase in it's standard and usual sense and you are flailing around like a swimmer who's lost three out of four limbs in an industrial accident.

  49. LOL
    And you don't drink either, do you?

  50. Oh, I know why they're averting their eyes and giving me a wide berth. And I know it could very well be something else besides capitulation.

    I mean, who on these boards does want to discuss anything in depth? Do you, TJCooK? Can you believe some people are getting sick and tired of posting one liners only, in order to get real answers out of any one?

    No, it is easier to just post the one liners, do some quipping back and forth, all in jest, of course, while waiting for Wells and others to dig up some more Harper statements going back to who knows when.

    I think people on these boards don't care about election coverage at all. They're just socializing here. And you're right: then I am to be avoided at all cost, because I do question what the purpose would be in posting one liners all day long.

  51. So tell me, Igavin, which leader's ethics are most flexible when it comes to coalition forming?

    Are you ready to provide an answer my very clear posting in regards to value and situations when it comes to formations of coalitions in this country?

    Or are you, like all the other ones, just trying to prolong this argument by trying to sidestep the real issue under discussion, namely value and situations in regards to the forming of coalitions?

    I'm ready to debate anyone on this. But talking all day about semantics won't get us anywhere.

  52. i'd say,if only by accident,that FV has nailed Mr H pretty well.

    "Mr Harper's varies are situational" does have a certain resonance, no?

  53. Pure speculation.

    If you were to stick to the facts, you could not find one, and I repeat one agreement in which Harper has been willing to overtake power before going to the electorate for asking for such governmental powers to be granted by the electorate.

    The same facts, and only the facts, do not speak as such for Ignatieff, Layton and Duceppe.

    We can sit here all day and speculate, which is what most members of the media are doing as well in order to deflect our attention away from the Canadian problem, instead of urging us to so some reflecting. But it won't get us anywhere. Everyone can speculate- you , me and the rest of them, but those are not the facts, and you know it.

  54. Canadians are being lured into a new formation of our federation and who cares? Not many, by the looks of it.

    Keep dreaming up the one-liners and soon we will have a country in which the BQ will set the Canadian standard. An in hindsight, members of the media will wonder what the heck went wrong, back then during the election of 2011.

  55. Process isn't of much use without a policy to deliver. Just as policy will never become enacted without process. The Conservatives and current Liberals seem lost as to how to gel the two together into leadership.

  56. "So tell me, Igavin, which leader's ethics are most flexible when it comes to coalition forming?"

    According to things he's said and written, Steve Harper's.

  57. Imagine that. Before Iggy decided to become PM of Canada, the last time he lived here, disco was big. Not the retro stuff. The real deal.

    Many Liberal supporters (and the vast majority of NDP voters) were not even born yet.

    The repatriation of our Consititution, the Charter, the Meech accords had not yet happened.

    While Iggy was getting googly eyes from first year Harvard students, Canada was going through some very tough growing pains.

    Ahhh, but pointing any of those very true facts out is "off limits".

    Oh sure, making up a lie that the Conservatives will install militaristic rule in our cities is just the rumble and tumble of politics, but pointing out very true facts about Iggy is an affront to our democracy.

  58. So why are Harper's alleged values so different in similar situations?

  59. So tell me, Igavin, which leader's ethics are most flexible when it comes to coalition forming?

    Well, let's look at the options.

    Elizabeth May – obviously ready to participate in a coalition if given the opportunity – has not wavered in that willingness at any point to my knowledge.

    Same goes for Layton, same goes for Duceppe.

    Ignatieff – signed a coalition agreement in 2008 – reportedly did so reluctantly but, when push comes to shove there his signature sits. When chosen leader of the Liberal party repudiated that agreement – and his own signature – to take his place as Leader of the Opposition. Has made no move to form a coalition since and has specifically ruled out a coalition with the Bloc Quebecois. Verdict – somewhat "flexible" – degree of flexibility still to be determined.

    Harper – In 1997, while a "citizen" expressed the opinion that the opposition must form a coalition to defeat the Liberal hegemony and argued accurately that such a coalition would be legally, morally and constitutionally justified. In 2004, initiated discussions with other opposition parties and communicated with the Governer General to remind her Excellency that an election was not her only option should the sitting government be defeated. In 2008, prorogued parlimanent to forestall a coalition which – in all aspects – matched the criteria that he himself had set out in 1997. In 2011 – after his own government was defeated on a charge of contempt of parliament – launched into an hysterical & irresponsible screed about the illegitimacy and *the danger* of a coalition structure that he himself had described as legally, morally and constitutionally justified only 14 years previously.

    The clear winner in the flexibility contest would be Mr. Harper. Mr. Ignatieff comes a distant second. Mr Layton, Mr. Duceppe and Ms. May did not register a score on the flexibility scale.

  60. If Wells literally gets "420 comments", I'll send him a baggie of weed.

  61. Also to be fair, she probably did not have the option of admitting a mistake.

  62. How about Harper has plainly shown more than willing to bring onside the Bloc in order to relieve Martin of the PMO, and now we have the Harper Govt. yelling "anti-democratic", "coup" and "coalition of losers". How about we have election campaign speeches extolling the virtues of their predisposition to "accountable" and "transparent" governments that they would operate for Canadians, and then a contempt motion over not being willing to share how they would be spending our money? I'd say those are prime example of a (false)value held, that after the situation (election), was slyly shed.

  63. The article he wrote with Flanagan, the interview that recently came to light, and his letter to the GG all contradict you and Harper, FV.

    The fact is that he was willing to form a coalition or working relationship with the Bloc as long as he got to govern. Now he's claiming that the Liberals can't do the same. Harper has been caught in his own web of lies and you are doing yourself a disservice by blindly parroting those lies.

  64. I can't wait for one-on-one debates as well. Briiiiiiiiiiinnnnng it on. People will see Iggy isn't some importo-matic foreig-tomaton and will see Harper is as wooden as birdhouse.

  65. In 1997, when the Liberals were hatching the Sponsorship scandal, did Chretien think about doing the tax payer in for a couple of billion or has he always envisioned to stick with merely one hundred million? Who knows?

    Exactly, this has nothing to do with the core of my argument and neither does your post in regards to flexibility and coalition forming.

    We KNOW that one hundred million was stolen by the Liberals, such has in fact been documented, but whether Chretien or Martin, or anyone else had envisioned stealing way more would be pure speculation. Proper debates do not fall back on pure speculation to back up one's argument.

    Facts. Stick with the facts. Ignatieff had been willing to form government without going to the electorate by signing on to a formal coalition agreement with the NDP and the BQ.

    Nothing of the sort had been produced in 2004, and neither was an attempt made to take over government without going to the voters first.

  66. Hey hey heeeyyyy! Flapjacks, being fried up on a skillet, are American my friend. Waffles, being baked on an iron, are clearly more Commonwealth-Anglo inspired. Are you trying to subvert Canadian culture with your flapjack-waffle moral equivlalence? ;^)

  67. For some perspective, here's an interesting site: The History of Canada from 1980 to 1999. To think Iggy was gone for all of it.

    All of it:

    – O' Canada was officially adopted as National Anthem
    – Canada boycots Moscow Olympic Games (after Afghan invasion)
    – Terry Fox dies
    – Canada signs the Charter
    – Canada starts fight against "acic rain" and reclamation of Great Lakes
    – Canada and US reach Free Trade Agreement
    – Canada replaces dollar with the "Loonie"
    – Meech Lake Accord
    – Somalia Inquiriy
    – Swiss Air disaster

    Iggy missed all that, and much, much more.

    Tell us Iggy. Tell us all about what Canada needs. We'd love to hear your oh so learned impression of what's good for us.

  68. Such as??? What situations??? Put some meat on them bones.

  69. We need to decde if that's subject to the same conditional rules for the beer[ above].

    Man i love this coalition stuff.

  70. But that's exactly what Harper has been saying and is saying consistently.

    In fact, in 2008, when the coalition forces threatened to take over the government, Harper stood in the House defending our Canadian federation by insisting that any coalition inclusive of the BQ is unCanadian because it is!

    And if you are still not clear on what the purpose was of the 2004 signed letter, than please, take the time to watch this CPAC video. No interpretations, just visions and statements coming out of Layton's, Duceppe's and Harper's mouths directly, unfiltered.

    And if you pay close attention to Duceppe and his vision expressed at the 27:35-ish minute mark, you will get a taste of how Canada will be governed with BQ holding onto the balance of power. Enjoy! http://cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp=template&a

  71. This was all pre-TV eh?

    And pre-Wright brothers?

    And certainly pre-visits to family and friends….

    Even though during that time he was able to get to work in BC, France, California, UK etc…Canada was an unknown wilderness no one travelled to?

    chet…why do you post silly things on here?

  72. Wow!

    That's really … something.

  73. So my one liners[ yours actually] are somehow empowering the BQ to set some new Canadian standard? Of what? What new form of federation? Has M. Duceppe stolen the constitution?Run off with, or inserted a NOT in the charter? You exaggerate both the influence of one liners and the Bloq.

  74. He's an arts grad. Why do you think the 420 reference?

  75. The article he wrote with Flanagan specifically says that conservative parties could form a coalition with Quebec Nationalists…the Bloc…if the Liberals won a minority.

    The interview that surfaced shows Harper saying much the same thing.

    The deal he sought with the NDP and the Bloc was another instance of it.

    Now Harper says that coalitions, even loose arrangements are not legitimate. Clearly his ethics when it comes to coalitions depend on whether he gets to be PM or not.

  76. The only thing I've witnessed from the CPC process is how incredibly reactive it is. This is not a criticism, by far, because it's a very impressive apparatus that puts all other parties to shame when it comes to rapidly addressing constituent concerns.

    However, that needs to be balanced with long-term vision. This is where they've really fallen down in the past few years. I have a really hard time identifying what the CPC brand actually stands for. I know what they 'say' it stands for, because I hear them saying it all the time, but that's not supported by the party's actions.

  77. "Ahhh, but pointing any of those very true facts out is 'off limits'."

    Not off limits. Not in the slightest. If you think those points can win the CPC a majority, by all means…run with them.

  78. Right. There's no in-depth discussion anywhere here, nobody cares about election coverage and we're all just socializing while the blog authors dig up gratuitous dirt on their despised Mr. Harper. Sorry to have interrupted you.

    backs away slowly…

  79. Want to bet Harper's burnshing that old chestnut…you had a choice sir?[08]…to which Ignatieff may reply: so did you in 04…thankfully neither of us took it.

    At worst it might go…you formed a coalition in 08; and you'll do it again!
    …i did NOT! and no i will NOT.
    Yes you will…
    no i wont…
    yes you did…
    so did you…
    no i didn't…
    Yes you did…

    Moderator shoots himself…

  80. Now we're getting somewhere.

    What new form of federation, you ask?

    What about this sort of federation: The BQ, by their very own admission and intent, state that they are a separatist/provincial party, so there has to be no doubt about that. And so this shaping of a new federation has already allowed to let a separatist/provincial party, the BQ, run within federal elections. Whereas the nature of federal elections are to be about federal issues which we as Canadians hold collectively, the BQ will address provincial issues only. Again, not because I say so, but because the BQ mp's say so and do so.

  81. Feeding the trolls with the pretzel the con bots have contorted themselves into rationalizing such a non-issue.

  82. I hear that. And I'm so glad I'm not alone.

  83. First three paragraphs….how are they related to the very tight question that you posed and/or the on topic answer that lg provided?

    Seriously, take a breather, get some sleep, something. I am genuinely concerned.

  84. Sadly that seems all too probable.

  85. I get that you feel Michael Ignatieff's having lived outside the country makes him an unpalatable choice for PM.

    Stephen Harper having never left Canada makes him no less palatable to me.

    Which is worse?


    Let the people decide based on policy and vision.

  86. If you show me the link, I will read the article. And the link to the interview please.

    Would you be willing to provide them so I can read and watch them?

  87. Jenn, are you willing to debate me on this, or is your answer always in the same mode. When it comes to debating anything you just aren't in.

  88. I'm pretty sure Dion could clean the floor with Ignatieff in a debate about politics and policy. In those fields specifically the guy is an international veteran compared to Iggster.

    Yet somehow during the televised debate of 2008 it looked as though he was trying to ignore the opponents and the debate and sell the Liberal party directly though the camera lenses. All his skills and experience were wasted. I hope Iggnatieff won't be a repeat.

  89. Surely you can appreciate the distinction between "leaving Canada" which is common place, and taking up residence outside Canada for three decades and for the majority of one's adult life.

    We've all had ice cream cones. Most of us have not eaten thirty at a time.

    We've all owned or leased cars. Most have not owned or leased thirty cars at once.

    We've all "left Canada" on some trip or another, or perhaps for a few months or so for an education or job stint. Most have not left for three decades.

    Notwithstanding the attempts to normalize the highly abnormal. It is utterly unprecedented to have a leader of a national party (annointed no less) imported into Canada after decades of abscence.

    Or put another way – stuff matters.

  90. TV? Really? You think Boston carries Canadian news? I take it you've never spent any material time in the US. Canada doesn't exist in the US media. Not in the newspapers, not on TV….and of course there was no internet back then.

    Sorry, but Iggy was busy with much more important things….like wowing adoring first year Hahvaaad students with his intellectual brilliance.

    Canada? Well he told us what he thought of Canada, now didn't he. Something about being good for the parks and that's it.

  91. I find it appalling that Stephen Harper likes to wrap himself in the flag and also portray Michael Ignatieff as being less Canadian, but has (when it suits him) little regard for the processes and institutions that form our government.

    Conservative senators have voted down legislation passed by the elected MP's.
    The Conservatives have defied the will of Parliament.
    The Auditor General has failed their record on FOI requests.

    How the hell are these the actions of Captain Canada?
    Wouldn't you expect this kind of behaviour from the guy who hated Canada so much he left?

  92. Taking pages from Goebbel's playbook the CPC is I says…

  93. chet…he was only at Harvard for 5 years…it's a global university, and right across the border.

    I realize you're trying to make us out to be the deepest darkest Africa of Livingstone….but we're not

    Don't cherry-pick, especially when you're in an apple orchard.

  94. And yet it is Mr. Ignatieff who holds a Governor General's Award for a work of non-fiction about Canada.

    Perhaps he didn't live through it, but I think the evidence shows he certainly hasn't "missed all that"

  95. Thwim's sentence makes perfect sense. The problem seems to be your unfamiliarity with what the term "situational ethics" means. Try here for one definition – <A href="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/situation+ethics&quot; target=_blank&gt <a href="http:// <a href="http://;http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/situati…“” target=”_blank”>;http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/situati…“ target=”_blank”> <a href="http://;http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/situati…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/situati

    The definition gives the denotation; the connotation, for many, implies a certain amount of shiftiness and a lack of a moral absolute; even a degree of amorality and a "what's best for me" approach in most situations.

    Which, from where I sit, is a fairly apt – even kind – assessment of Harper's moral fibre.

  96. Canadians will get what they deserve in this election. Watch all the crying as your rights erode, your tax money is given to the rich and you are all working for 5 dollars an hour. We will own you soon enough! hahahahahahahaha

  97. When are you canadians going to get a real political system? Obama says we are getting your oil pretty soon and we already have your water…we deserve it for protecting your sorry ass. eh!

  98. by some measures we own you right now…don't knowwho owns us any more though…perhaps it's still you…this is all too much for me. Economics was never my strong suit.

  99. Harper has made it obvious that he has no desire to share the policies of the "Regressive" Conservative Party with the Canadian public. The PMO known as "The Center" controls every message which excludes any explanation of their policies. Try, as I have on several occasions, writing to Harper or his Ministers asking for an explanation but at best you will get an automatic response.
    Harper is only interested in enhancing his ego by controlling and manipulating others and the Canadian people be damned.

  100. It isn't at all difficult to imagine having a PM who has actually seen something of the world and worked in an academic environments, especially when compared to Harper who's academic and work history are so limited,

  101. Well, the other guy was calling us a socialist backwater and trying to build a firewall around Alberta.

  102. Dude, your're lying. Flat out lying.

  103. Why not provide the links to the articles and thoughts of Harper you are quoting so liberally.

  104. I have a really hard time identifying what the CPC brand actually stands for.


    And that is just how they like it, esp. with a minority,

  105. And yet when the western world wanted to know about Canadian affairs, who did it turn to? Michael Ignatieff.

  106. It is acceptable when Quebec has such 'firewalls' constructed, but Alberta does not have the same rights???

    Do you even know what the firewall comments were about?

  107. So you want to ban or limit the BQ to Quebec do you? and pray tell how do you then propose to force Quebecers to vote for a federalist party? Or, is it your plan to have them run candidates in say AB? How bout St Paul? There are still a good number of Franco Albertans living there.Perhaps they can form a coalition with some nearby Ukrainian communities?

  108. You're probably right. He probably got some bad advise back then. I remember that Dion is said to have bested Bouchard in a letters to the editor duel. But this isn't an academic debate; it's a dog fight. I really liked and admired Dion. But he wasn't that good a dog fighter in a debate. Perhaps i'm wrong. It would have been interesting to see how he would have done against Harper one on one. By most accounts he said to have won the French debate; which is to be expected.

  109. It was legit to question a guy who's been away so long and who now wishes to be PM. It was not legit to insinuate that he only came back for himself and is only in it for himself; in fact it is disgusting, and any morally consistent person knows or should know that. On top of that to question a man's patriotism for political gain is beneath contempt.
    And let's not even get into the trolling for dirt on the guy; the selective parsing and intentional deletion of context; the deliberate lies and distortions – you proud of that. are you?

    You're a troll of low virtue chet, no matter how well mannered.

  110. I majored in Philosophy, which contractually obliges me to drink.

  111. Interesting highlights of a growing country from an astute observer.

    I guess Canadians are truly fortunate that we had another great leader to guide us successfully through repatriating our Constitution and crafting our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is a little unfortunate that Brian screwed up his shot at Constitutional greatness, but still 2/3 ain't bad.

    Actually the last 5 years have been largely screwed up by a government that politically screws around more than it governs. Perhaps it is time to return to a winning formula.


  113. Try to find some videos of him outside of his parliament duties, he's a whole different machine. You have to remember that he's the guy who made the US, Russia, and China change their position Global Warming.

  114. it's been all over the media for days….google it

  115. and the Chinese own you……..this is fun

  116. People seriously need to tone down the idiotic mudslinging. Here's a hint. IF YOU'RE USING ALL CAPS, YOU'RE NOT HELPING.

  117. Yes. Very mature of you to say so.

  118. I'm enjoying that Wells is enjoying what he enjoyed so much when P Martin was around. Just sittin back and, you know, pointing out inconsistencies and hypocrisies and moments where people insist or spin that 2+2=5. The good times are back.

  119. I'm sure you're right, and it's disappointing how the libs seem to be treating him like a pariah. He's given a lot to this country. But he wasn't without faults. Faults that can be deadly for a leader – a tin ear for instance. I don't think he was cut out to be 'the" leader, particularly not in this day and age. But he would be in my govt in a heartbeat.
    If he's running again i hope he's offerd something worthy of his talents again.

  120. I didn't. Which oddly enough had exactly the same effect on my alcoholic requirements

  121. Michael was off exploring the world, getting educated. Oh yeah, that's a bad thing, sorry…forgot!

  122. thanks paul. we all promise to be good.

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