The Commons: Tony Clement defers to the experts -

The Commons: Tony Clement defers to the experts

At least when it comes to website design


“Hostility to expertise in all of its forms,” an admitted sociologist ventured the other day, “is the closest thing that Canadian conservatives have to a unifying ideology.” This was not entirely fair. For instance, the Prime Minister’s first chief of staff was a professor. And that professor was very much interested in the study of winning elections.

“Despite economic evidence to the contrary, in my view the GST cut worked,” the professor once said. “It worked in the sense that by the end of the ’05-’06 campaign, voters identified the Conservative party as the party of lower taxes. It worked in the sense that it helped us to win.”

And the GST cut has worked to limit the ability of government and precipitate budget cuts and shackle the Conservative party’s rivals.

But if the concern here is the application of expertise for the purposes of managing the national interest in a manner that reflects rigorous consideration, there is good news for pointy heads this day. On this, the second anniversary of the Harper government’s majority victory, a new day was heralded.

“Mr. Speaker, Conservative mismanagement is out of control. The President of the Treasury Board failed to protect the privacy of over a million Canadians and lost track of over $3 billion in security funding,” the NDP’s Mathieu Ravignat had charged. “What was he doing with this time one might ask? Apparently he was rebranding Government of Canada websites in Conservative Party blue. As if using department websites for political attacks was not enough, Conservatives have lowered the bar even further. Why are they not going after the missing $3 billion instead of rebranding government websites?”

Here the NDP seemed limited by low expectations. At the very least, we should hope that our government should have the wherewithal to do both.

“Mr. Speaker, we have already answered that,” Mr. Clement explained. “In fact, the Auditor General has already answered the question about the funds in question.”

Technically, the Auditor General has done no such thing. But let us not let that tiny detail obscure the moment that next came.

“But, let me answer about website colours. I would be happy to do so in the Chamber,” Mr. Clement now explained, smirking a bit and then leaning forward to read the iPad on his desk. “Apparently, different colours were tested with web specialists and it was found that blue worked best as a contrast to other aspects of the site and therefore blue was chosen.”

The Conservatives stood to cheer this explanation.

So blue just looks nice. It is not about matching official government advertising with partisan colour choice. It’s science. Or at least the considered opinion of those specialists who are specially trained and practiced at these things.

There might even be psychological grounds for the decision. Indeed, if blue is the colour of intellect and reliability, then perhaps the Conservatives are to be commended for deciding to associate such competence with government.

It is, granted, possibly too late to change Mr. Clement’s mind about safe-injection facilities or the census. But perhaps this new openness to specialized knowledge could lead the government to consult with criminologists about whether this guy should go to prison for three years in the interests of deterring crime.

Or perhaps specialists are not to be trusted with anything more than colour coordination. And winning elections.


The Commons: Tony Clement defers to the experts

  1. “…chackle the Conservative party’s rivals.”???

    I bet that’s got a few spelling geeks shuckling to themselves.

    • Almost as much as I’m laughing at you – look it up, it’s a word and is meant as a blend of “chatter” and “cackle”

      • I know, I did check it out before posting – a handy new word for these boards. :)

  2. I really wonder if the PMO is happy with carefree Tony managing this issue. It is pretty hard to come across as prudent fiscal managers when the minister has a perpetual smirk on his face and answers questions like a clever 6 year old.

    • I’m not aware that anyone has EVER described Tony Clement as “clever.”

      • Well, the comparison is to other six-year-olds…

  3. What’s this about the pretence of some leftist academics that their ideology is expertise?

    Mom’s shared a lot of links with us kids over the years, it seems one I will remember the most. It was an open minded sociologist who was investigating the different moral values of conservatives and liberals. They noted that conservatives and liberals share the same values but conservatives also have a couple others which, they said, meant conservatives could better understand liberal political positions while conservatives baffled liberals. It was important to recognize these values so that liberals could tailor their messages to better connect and appeal to conservatives.

    Enough said!

      • That’s quite a good article, I really liked reading it. …I guess I’ll cut my comment over to there since it’s off topic here.

    • Strangley, your first sentence is very apt. ian brodie’s work is gold-standard Calgary school lunatic.

    • Have you ever heard of this thing called “empirical evidence?” Ah yes, I see that you have not.

      • I take it you have no argument with Hester Eastman’s comment.

    • “so, uh yeah, I read this thing, by this guy…can’t really remember who or where or exactly what it said but… enough said!”

      • You ask, I deliver!

        >He first plunged into political research out of frustration with John Kerry’s failure to connect with voters in 2004. A partisan liberal, the University of Virginia professor hoped a better grasp of moral psychology could help Democrats sharpen their knives. But a funny thing happened. Haidt, now a visiting professor at New York University, emerged as a centrist who believes that “conservatives have a more accurate understanding of human nature than do liberals.”

        Actually a psychologist rather than a sociologist.

    • I always wondered how Conbots were raised.

      • well, don’t read too much into that – my sister is on the left of the NDP and I never read most of what mom sent. She’s not much of a ‘conbot’ anyway.

  4. I would suggest that the lefties on this board and across the country read the book The Big Shift by Darrel Bricker and John Ibbitson. Read it and weep. You guys are so out of touch to the reality of the real Canada.

    • Rather than the Big Shift, I read the Auditor General’s report.

      For the record, I did read it then weep.

      • Really? You need to get a life.

        • And by your standard, reading Bricker and Ibbitson is getting a life?

          Get a life, Merv.

    • Your comments used to be fairly insightful and would never have hinged on the basic argument of “look at his other’s guy’s opinion.” What happened to you?

      • I simply wanted those on the left side of the spectrum to realize that their days have come and gone. The country has changed.

        • On the contrary, the left side of the spectrum is running the country. Hiking tariffs, supporting supply management, cumbersome and wasteful environmental regulations rather than a market-oriented carbon tax, no results in terms of finalizing and ratifying any trade deals.

          The left side is still running the country, hollinm, don’t kid yourself. They’ve just changed the colour of the websites to blue.

          • Actually, I’d say the current “Conservative” Party has taken the worst aspects of the “left” and the worst aspects of the “right” and combined them into an unholy terror of stupidity and incompetence.

            For them it’s all about pleasing their base, and in this case it’s far-right social conservative demagogues, giant multinational corporations and the ultra-rich.

        • Ψ There can be no opposition, the battle is over, the right has won.

          End all resistance and embrace reason.

          Send money and spread the word.

          There are no other options. Stop the madness.

          Resistance is feeble….. Ψ

          • How’d you do that pitchfork, I love it?

    • John Ibbitson is a career shill for the CPC. Haven’t you ever read his
      columns at the G&M? He is a propagandist, not an analyst.

    • I’ve read it … and, sadly, for many on the Least Coast who

      remain captive to the Appalachian Consensus ( Northen

      Variant) it amuses and bemuses.

      And Ibbitson … he’s scrambling for Ivison’s table scraps
      these days.

  5. “Hostility to expertise in all of its forms,” an admitted sociologist ventured the other day, “is the closest thing that Canadian conservatives have to a unifying ideology.”

    Weekly Standard – Fat City:

    According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Harvard, donating 4 to 1 in favor of Democrats in 2008, was one of the more politically diverse major American universities. Ninety-two percent of employees at the University of Chicago donated to Democrats …. Neil Gross of Harvard found that 87.6 percent of social scientists voted for Kerry, 6.2 percent for Bush. Gross also found that 25 percent of sociologists characterize themselves as Marxists, likely a higher percentage than members of the Chinese Communist party. I would guess that if Lenin were around today he would be teaching sociology and seeking grants to fund the revolution.
    Thomas Sowell – the most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

    • Poor analysis. In fact, conservatives by and large have no more than a high school education. More highly educated people tend towards liberalism.