One of Chris Alexander’s friends has a few things to say

As a follow-up on yesterday’s discussion—see here, here and here—of the F-35, what the Harper government once said about its procurement, Chris Alexander’s understanding of the public’s “misunderstanding” and what the Harper government now says about the procurement, here is more of the exchange between Chris Alexander and one of his Facebook friends that occurred yesterday.

Friend. It seems to me that Wherry is addressing the history of the F35 procurement process and communications strategy, not its current iteration as represented by the seven point policy. In this sense, the quotes ARE relevant if we are to properly evaluate your claim that the public somehow “misunderstood” the government’s intentions before April and the AG’s report. Based on the public record of high-level officials, it’s simply incorrect to suggest that the public misunderstood the government’s stated intentions before the release of the Auditor General’s report. Whether the public clearly understands the government’s intentions TODAY, and whether or not the government is communicating them with comparable levels of clarity and directness is another story entirely. In this case, I don’t think it’s fair to malign Macleans and Wherry for providing empirical context to a controversial claim about historical process.

Alexander. No, he’s not: he citing very selective quotes from 2010 and 2011 to imply that we have, in fact, signed, sealed and delivered a contract for new planes. This is entirely false. It is hardly fair to claim you are reporting on government policy (about which I was apparently “confused”) without anywhere citing the principal and most recent statement of that policy.

Friend. Thanks for engaging me thoughtfully on this issue. I understand that no contract has been signed, but I would respectfully argue that this isn’t the question at hand. The quote by you to which Wherry responds directly addresses the public’s historical perception of the process, not the contemporary one. Doesn’t it seem fair to question the reliability of current policy statements by contrasting them with those of the recent past? Should we have simply doubted the statements of the Prime Minister, Mr. Fantino, Mr. MacKay, as well as the official Press Releases when they were being made throughout 2010 and 2011? If they weren’t accurate then, how are we to judge the reliability of similar statements today? Surely you can see how this is problematic. Consistency is a requirement of credibility. Surely there must be accountability where consistency is absent? Is a 7-point policy plan so totalizing as to erase the recent past, rendering it irrelevant and beyond scrutiny?

Of course there is also a relationship between historical perception, and contemporary perception, and the statements on which they are based. It is precisely for this reason that Wherry contests your assertion that the public was “misunderstood” during 2010-2011. In fact, the government made itself perfectly clear. I understand the reason that the government now wishes to take control of the narrative by re-writing this history as one of “misunderstanding.” Such a revision will eliminate the contradiction between historical statements and contemporary policy, and shield the government from the embarrassment of having called an election to avoid disclosing cost estimates, only to have their hand forced by the AG after the fact. However, again with all due respect, such a revision is simply inaccurate.

John Geddes provides more context here.




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One of Chris Alexander’s friends has a few things to say

  1. Orwell ~ Doublethink:
    The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

  2. The perils of “friending” everyone you ever knew in high school….


  3. he citing very selective quotes from 2010 and 2011 to imply that we have, in fact, signed, sealed and delivered a contract for new planes

    OMG NO HE ISN’T!!!

    Is Alexander being deliberately obtuse, or is he an idiot?

    The question isn’t “Did a contract exist in 2010 or 2011?” the question is “Did the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, Julian Fantino, and several official press releases SAY there was a contract in 2010 or 2011″ and the answer is clearly YES.

    Wherry’s never argued, or even suggested that there WAS (ever) a contract. The controversy is that the government kept SAYING there was a contract, over and over again, for TWO SOLID YEARS. Now, Alexander is blaming the OPPOSITION for creating confusion as to whether or not there was a contract, and just conveniently ignoring statements from Harper and his Ministers referring to a “$9 billion contract” and a “signed contract” and the threat that the opposition might “rip up the contract” if given a chance.

    So, fine Mr. Alexander. Everyone in the nation agrees that there is not, and never was a contract. Now, can we get back to the question of why Tory cabinet ministers spent two full years telling anyone who’d listen that there WAS a contract???

    • Unfortunately I am only able to give a +1, I would have liked to give it +100.
      Mr Alexander’s arguments in this whole affair are farcical.

    • What Harper conservatives say behind closed doors about the people who vote for them must be awful indeed, if this is the bafflegab they expect to have a positive effect.

    • For all the original hype I’m beginning to think that Alexander is, in fact, an idiot.

    • The answer for Alexander is quite simple. If he thinks AW has provided only selective quotes he should come up with some quotes from that time frame that rebuts them. Put up or shut up Alexander – you’re only embarrassing yourself.

      “Totalizing!” Shudder…what makes me think friend works in govt com, corporate PR or advertising?

  4. And this guy was once entrusted to understand the nuances of foreign policy? He digs himself into a hole then, stubbornly, keeps looking for a bigger shovel.

  5. Someone should tell Alexander that speaking fast in order to confuse your adversary does not work in print.

  6. Soon Alexander will learn that to “win” these debates you will have to shout and point and make accusations about the patriotism of his “friend.”

  7. 20 years after Chretien cancelled the helicopter purchase and had to pay a large fine for that bit of pettiness, people are still talking about it.
    I can assure you that in 20 days the only 20 people talking about F-35`s will be Wherry and gang.
    Here`s the difference:
    Chretien walked away from a signed contract and we had to pay for his stupidity.
    Today`s government are moving on to a better proposal after it was found that the original one started when the Liberals were in office is not working.
    Canadian voters have no interest in nitpickin bloggers playing with words.

    • You’re pathetic.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • You can be pathetic and an “a$$hole” too you know?

        • Probably… but i don’t lie and try to intentionally mislead people, so at least i’m an honest ahole.

    • Thanks for providing a good example for Tony’s quote.

    • Today`s government are moving on to a better proposal after it was found that the original one started when the Liberals were in office is not working.

      Well, I guess you can spin it that way, but technically the government are abandoning their original “proposal” after doing everything humanly possible to convince Canadians that it was a done deal, including lying in public about the existence of a signed contract, mocking the opposition for wanting to rip up said contract, and insisting that the F35 was not only the only plan they had, but the only plan that made any rational sense whatsoever, and nothing and no one was ever going to sway that position.

      Few people have a problem with the government changing course, the problem is with the government’s initial insistence that the course would never be changed, that anyone who even suggested changing course was a troop-hating idiot, and that even if they wanted to change course, the “$9 billion contract” that the government had “signed” prevented them from doing so (despite one pesky fact: IT NEVER EXISTED).

      I don’t have a big problem with a government insisting that they’re going to do X and nothing but X, and then changing their mind to do Y. I can even handle a government doing so after being vociferous in their criticism of anyone who even SUGGESTED maybe not doing X. I’m less comfortable with a government who lies to the public to make them think that X is a done deal, and then decides to do Y. And I CAN’T STAND a government spending TWO YEARS insisting that X was a done deal, and then retroactively blaming the opposition for creating somehow creating the impression that X was a done deal.

      The flip flop is to be expected. The hypocrisy is par for the course. However, the LYING is unacceptable, and the cognitive dissonance is SHOCKING.

      • I’m also concerned about how easy it was to NOT lie on this matter and yet they chose to do so for no good reason. It would have been perfectly acceptable to spend the last two years saying “we are aware of the spiralling costs of the F-35s, and it’s definitely a factor we will keep in mind before making a final decision.” Nothing at all. Yet they went all half-baked, seemingly because they thought it would be, i dunno, FUN to do so?

        • It would have been perfectly acceptable to spend the last two years saying “we are aware of the spiralling costs of the F-35s, and it’s definitely a factor we will keep in mind before making a final decision.

          Sure.

          However, if you admit that you haven’t made a final decision yet, and that there is no contract, then you can’t spend two solid years attacking the opposition for wanting to hold off on making a final decision, and accusing them of wanting to “rip up the contract”.

          • That’s a logical conclusion and I would tend to agree with it in theory, however past history shows you can do exactly that!

  8. I truly think that Harper and Co are making it up as they go along.
    They appear to be so far out of their depth that I am actually starting to feel embarrassed, nay pity for them. They remind me of a small company who has placed a tender only to find that they have won a contract which they have no hope of completing. Unfortunately this will cost us dear in the long run and not the neophytes who are making every mistake possible.
    This is what comes of electing a group of folk who, on the whole, have run nothing of importance in their lives with the biggest rookie of them all at the helm.

    • “They appear to be so far out of their depth that I am actually starting to feel embarrassed…”

      Starting???

      • Thick skin and a total unwillingness to believe the evidence because I never believed that people could be so unbelievably incompetent.
        Its’ the reverse of Clarke’s third law, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
        I just never thought anyone could be that incompetent and still be breathing

        • One can only hope that harpo and his Cons will forget how to breath and just keel over, dead.

  9. Another Con being a con.

  10. When you sign on as a Harper enabler, you enter a world of doublespeak and deception. I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s a full-fledged minister.

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