The devil made me do it -

The devil made me do it


Vic Toews explains why a four-year-old Liberal campaign ad (and our general notion of what democracy should mean and look like?) compelled to him spend more on security for the G8 and G20 meetings.

Toews said he would welcome any opportunity before the events to trim the budget without compromising security, but balked at the suggestion to use the army instead of the police to maintain security and perhaps save between $100 million and $200 million.

Toews said he was uncomfortable using the army in a civilian context unless under extreme conditions, and went so far as to blame the decision to not consider the measure on what he believed would be a negative reaction from the opposition. “You know of course what the opposition parties would say. The Liberals would say, ‘The army, in the streets, with guns?'” Toews said. “It’s exactly the kind of fear that Liberals want to invoke in terms of Canadians. Canadians understand that in a democracy, you have the police rather than the army in the streets. And so those are political decisions you make, but I think they’re from a perception point of view very, very important.”

The full interview is here.


The devil made me do it

  1. Has Toews gone off his rocker? I appreciate the honesty and all, but I thought there was an unspoken rule of Canadian politics that you don't actually explain to Canadians how you're boning them for your own political gain.

    • Sean….boning them? Until there is evidence that the Conservative party/government put the money in their pockets your comment is ridiculous.
      I doubt whether the real reason for not using the military was because of the Liberal propaganda machine but in any event have fun. If this is the worse thing the media and the anti Harper gang can talk about I guess the country is running ok. This is evidenced this morning by Stats Canada showing GDP grew at an annualized rate of 6.1%. Don't let reality get int he way of your partisan sniping.

      • I'm not a partisan, moron. I was just as critical of past Liberal governments when they stepped out of line. It might make you feel better to think any opposition to Conservatives is based on trying to advance some other party, but you're wrong.

        But apologies for forgetting that *only* Adscam type schemes count as abusing public funds for political gain.

        And you're right, so long as the economy is doing well, we have absolutely no right to criticize Harper about anything.

        Thanks for the clarity and objectivity of your non-partisan insights.

        • Sean….you are welcome. Glad to see you like to sit on the sidelines and snipe at all parties equally.

          • I don't give a rat's ass about parties. I care about the country my children will inherit. I care about my country as a partial extension of my own identity and values, and an expression of how they meld with the identies and values of my fellow citizens. We're in dire shape indeed if the sole measure of citizen engagement, if the only proof of dedication, lies in one's desire to join a team and wave the flag uncritically.

          • One of the sad and unfortunate things about the current state of affairs is that it need not have been this way. When Stephen Harper first assumed office, there genuinely weren't that many people who were viscerally opposed to the Conservatives – and those that were opposed were willing to give him a chance. He's a smart man, after all; maybe he will grow into the job. People were generally fed up with the Liberals; many still are.

            However, over time, it became clear that, for Harper and his Conservatives, consolidating their own power and petty partisan concerns are more important than governing the country. The last straw for me was the attempt to cut party political funding (along with axing things such as pay equity legislation) in fall 2008 – since then, I have long since given up hoping that the Conservatives will ever mature or change.

            The Conservatives' dividing the world into Themselves and The Enemy (aka Liberals, liberals, separatists/socialists) is a gross oversimplification. If it was really a case of Us versus Them, Them would have won long ago – more people vote against the Conservatives than vote for them, and that doesn't include the growing percentage of Canadian voters who are fed up with the whole process.

          • We're in dire shape indeed if the sole measure of citizen engagement…

            Don't worry, Sean, we'll be giving tax credits to voters soon enough…

          • I'm holding out for the 'happy ending' ballot.

  2. Vic Toews should buy Van Loan a beer. He owes him, otherwise Vic would be the dope of the week in Cabinet today.

    • No kidding – especially with Guergis gone and the position of Dumbest Cabinet Member up for grabs, Toews really should be keeping a lower profile.

      • Tony Clement is definitely in contention.

  3. This is a seismic shift in Conservative policy!

    After 4+ years in government, the Conservatives can no longer blame the way Liberals handled things before, so now they have to blame the Liberals for what they might do later.

    We're entering a new era, folks.


    Sorry for the caps Aaron, and far being from me to teil you what you should blog on, but you have been missing THE story of the year for the last number of days. From Chantal Hébert's blog of this morning. Chantal Hébert, arguably the best and most informed political columnist writing in Canada today (with apologies to unilingual readers):

    "De plus en plus, ceux qui voient un éventuel arrangement avec le NPD comme une solution envisageable se demande si le depart du chef actuel n'est pas en voie de devenir une condition incontournable préalable."

    Maclean's readers shouldn't be the last to know about what's shaking down here.

    • While I too take heart in the slaying of the 'coaltion as bogeyman' in Canadian politics (in the more general sense), it's hard to see how polls and blogs on attitudes toward hypothetical outcomes would count as *the* story of the week.

      What's your thinking on the Conservatives' reluctance to ever 'man up' and take full responsibility and ownership of their own decisions?

      • Indeed. There are some credibility points up for grabs on this type of issue, points that can sometimes be redeemed for votes in an election.

    • Don't sprain your wrist trying to change the channel, jarrid.

    • Reads a lot like those stories about the replacement of Harper by Bernard Lord, when El Harpo was in opposition. The Liberals are never going to replace Iggy with Bob Rae, jarrid, no matter how many wet dreams you have on that possibility.

  5. Dear Vic,

    Actually, I don't give two hoots who's patrolling our streets, so long as my rights are maintained and the security of those you're protecting is maintained,in balance, at a reasonable cost. It used to be that the police were best equipped to do that, but if, all other things being equal, the army can do it at a lower cost, let the police do the policing, and let the army provide security.

    I think it's time you started looking at the forest as well as the trees.



  6. Can someone give me the one line recap on that Liberal ad from 2006 was it? I remember the ad, what I forget is what was the actual CPC policy that the Liberals had extrapolated into the ad?

      • Right, that helps…..the condensed CPC policy was that they wanted to increase the presence of the army in Canadian cities.

        I'm pretty sure that that didn't mean that entire army bases now located somewhat away from the cities were going to be relocated into downtown cores, or that armed patrols were to become a regular feature. But what was it actually supposed to mean? I assume the intent was just to raise the profile, and even give folks the opportunity to personally thank personnel for their service overseas, that type of thing.

        On that basis that ad was certainly one of the most boneheaded calls of that campaign.

        • I believe it ran shortly on the Lib website, but the ad never saw airplay on television. The Cons have dined out on it far too much, for far too long.

          Then again, Iggy's free to occasionally mock the Cons for referencing the actions of Liberals from two and three leaders ago. Like Dion, he seems comfortable with allowing them to drive the narrative and perception – no matter how facile yet damaging it may be.

          • but the ad never saw airplay on television

            Look at you, remembering all the details. ;-)

            I am guilty of not being as knowledgeable as I could be, although I'm fairly sure that it did get covered on national newscasts, no?

            Reminds me of the Paul Martin is in favour of child pornography press release from the CPC…

          • It did get coverage. And for even seeing the light of day, the Libs certainly deserved the short-term fallout.

            But it's informative that the Conservatives can keep making hay out of past Liberal leaders' actions, while the Liberals seem unable or unwilling to remind Canadians of the *current* Conservative leader's established track record of dishonour and duplicity.

          • Perhaps because it would add beef to the argument that Everyone Is Out To Get The Conservatives.

          • There's this thought in academia that one can hold a debate on the merits of a particular argument, and that reasoned individuals will be able to determine which argument is stronger based on the strength of the merits offered.

            While that may be an admirable goal for politics, a) our public is not engaged enough to judge debate on any specific issue (though they may do so, generally) and b) that doesn't do anything to address the "debates" that currently occur in politics – full of low blows, mudslinging, obfuscation, spin, et cetera.

            Ignatieff and Dion seem to be under the impression that they can raise the level of debate by simply not responding to that which they perceive to be base. That only works if you're in a schoolyard, and you're able to restrain the bully trying to punch you in the gut, by pushing against his forehead.

          • One thing I like about Rae is that he's capable of simultaneously managing the bare-knuckle requirements of leadership *and* advancing larger ideas. I don't even know if Ignatieff is trying to raise the level of debate. His motivations are pretty hard to guess at these days, if ever.

          • IF history was identical except that Bob Rae had governed as leader of the provincial Liberals instead of the NDP, even with the exact same policy, he'd be prime minister right now.

          • He'd be PM right now if he had accepted any of Chretien's invitations to become a Liberal and run for the party in a federal election, instead of taking out his first Liberal Party membership a day before announcing his run for the Liberal leadership.

            I state that as a fact coupled with an opinion, and not a criticism. Rae was doing some very good public service work that, he decided, precluded him from officially joining.

    • IIRC, Phil, the CPC idea was to have small collections of soldiers to assist with civil defense and natural disasters, basically having them pre-deployed in urban centres where most Canadians actually live. That led to the Liberal "Soldiers With Guns" bit that was rightly mocked but actually never aired as an advertisement during the campaign.

      To those with better memories, how did I do?

      • You've sparked my memory, and I believe that you have it pretty well exactly correct.

        So the Liberal ad that didn't air was a stupid extrapolation; OTOH the idea itself sounds fairly dumb as well. Seems to me that the biggest delay between the occurance of a natural disaster (or civil unrest or whatever) and actual deployemnt of troops on the streets is not the transport time – which the plan would have addressed – but is instead the time that it takes to decide that the armed forces have a role to play.

        It's not like the military needs to respond within 3 minutes in the same way that we typically want police, firefighters or paramedics to be able to respond.

        • That may depend on the nature of the threat. Let's say you need to evacuate a major city in this country due to whatever disaster your horrid imagination can dream up. Your police and firefighters and ambulance drivers and public transit drivers and maybe the mayor are AWOLing en masse to gather their families and flee, or at least they are tending to the needs of their loved ones and kissing them goodbye before reporting back for duty. Might not be that bad an idea having a bunch of young soldiers, preferably with few or no family ties nearby — or at least none that couldn't be severed with "I said that's an ORDER, Private!" to help direct traffic or prevent looting or rebuild a temporary bridge or — snicker — shovel some snow…

          • LOL…….I was holding my breath…….and, then I was rewarded……shovel some snow indeed!!

            OK, so let's post 4 guys to Toronto City Hall and call it a day.

          • We are not making this up.

  7. Yeah, OK. So, we taxpayers threw out the Liberals because of a dodgy scheme that supposedly siphoned off $40M in taxpayers money. Liberals got what they deserved and were sent to the opposition benches.

    However, do we poor abused taxpayers deserve a $1B+ boondoggle like this? And, apparently, according to Mr. Toews, it is all because the Conservatives were afraid what the Liberals might say?

    I can't decide whether I should laugh or cry.

    • E.B. so it is a boondoggle because the media says so? Yes the costs seem excessively high but why not wait until the AG investigates the actual incurred costs. Or does it suit your purpose to slag the government based on expected costs that have not been incurred yet?
      I would remind you that Canada's growth in the first quarter of 2010 was annualized at 6%. Thats what Canadians care about. They didn't fire the Libs over the waste of the gun registry but for stealing their money. Try and keep that in mind.

      • "so it is a boondoggle because the media says so?"

        Um, it was Vic Toews that went down this road. Craig Oliver only asked a very good follow-up question.

        "You know of course what the opposition parties would say. The Liberals would say, ‘The army, in the streets, with guns?'"

        "It's exactly the kind of fear that Liberals want to invoke in terms of Canadians. Canadians understand that in a democracy, you have the police rather than the army in the streets. And so those are political decisions you make, but I think they're from a perception point of view very, very important."

        As you say, let's hear what the AG has to say on the issue. But if indeed large amounts of money were wasted on extra police overtime because the government is afraid of what the Liberals would say, that would be very troubling.

      • No G8 or G20 meeting has cost even half what the upcoming one is projected to cost.

        Yes, it pure fairness, we should wait for the report, but in what conceivable way is a past-doubling of expenditures compared to similar conferences not at a minimum highly suspicious? This is especially true in light of the fact that we could have saved on the order of a hundred million dollars simply by calling in the military to serve in a temporary security role. We could fund the long gun registry for over 20 years with that kind of money!

        Toews defense that the Liberals could attack the Conservatives for such an action is astounding. For one, when have the Conservatives ever cared about what the Liberals though, and secondly, why should we be happy about a government that is more concerned with looking good than saving taxpayer money?!

      • so it is a boondoggle because the media says so? Yes the costs seem excessively high but why not wait until the AG investigates the actual incurred costs. Or does it suit your purpose to slag the government based on expected costs that have not been incurred yet?

        That certainly is how it worked under the Liberals. The Reform/Conservatives demanded and got a cabinet minister to step down, ran ads about it, even printed up t-shirts about the "Billion Dollar Boondoggle". To this day they continue to refer to it, as does the media, as the "Billion Dollar Boondoggle".

        Except that… it wasn't. The AG said she wanted to know what happened to a billion dollars or so and, late but delivered nontheless, the Liberals were able to trace almost every penny.

        • I've lost the thread here…what is the Liberals Billion Dollar Boondoggle to which you are referring?

          • He means the HRDC (now HRSDC) grants. Reporting from the myriad of agencies and companies that received grants was poorly handled and couldn't easily be tracked to the actual spending. In the end it was shown that the grants were used for the intended purposes.

            Btw … the actual long term result of all this is that HRSDC got the message that more reporting = better reporting, and they imposed all sorts of unreasonable reporting requirements in contribution agreements along with approval processes that are so convoluted they routinely delay the start of projects by more than a year. (And typically projects can't end later than the grant period).

            It was internal reporting that was the problem, but HRSDC reacted by making grant recipients jump through more hoops.

          • Thanks for the info…much appreciated!

      • "Yes the costs seem excessively high but why not wait until the AG investigates the actual incurred costs."

        Yes, let's all sit and wait for the Harper government to release all relevant documentation to the AG. Except, of course:

        – Anything related to solicitor-client privilege (hey, just copy your lawyer on everything and it'll never see the light of day!)
        – Anything related to national security (according to the government's own criteria)
        – Any testimony by political staffers (who are now, apparently, a separate class of Canadians and can't be summoned by Parliamentary committees)
        – etc
        – etc
        – etc

        Does anybody have comprehensive information on how and where the stimulus money was spent? I've been waiting for that for quite some time. I'm sure *this* billion-dollar spend will be much more transparent.

  8. How long until we see a Conservative Party fundraising letter urging the grassroots to donate money so that Stephen Harper can fight Liberal waste like the billion dollar G20 boondoggle?

  9. @hollinm and jarrid:-

    Obviously Minister – "I don't have to scuttle off and be a provincial judge now because the MSM has forgotten about my forgetting about Family Values and begetting offspring with my staff" Toews doesn't have the "Just watch me" gene in his soft Tory body!
    And clearly he didn't talk to Mayor Mel Lastman – who was glad to have Canadian Forces on the streets of Toronto.
    Maybe he talked to his colleague Minister MacKay – who pointed out to him that "his forces" are stretched way beyond their limits already – and anyway – most of then are out of the country – or readying themselves for the process of moving an army back from…Afghanistan!

  10. We don't know which friends, if any, Harper is paying with our money. The boondoggle reference here is to the unbelievably escalating costs without explanation. From $100M only 8 weeks ago to $1.1 BILLION for a 72 hour event, an event that cost Pittsburgh $13M and bomb-ravaged London $30 million.

    And Toews only response is to blame the Liberals. What a typical abandonment of leadership and responsibility.

    But I admit I'm having trouble placing this on the DefCon alert (DefendConservatives). It's kind of a combination of DefCon1, DefCon2 and DefCon6 all in one.

    DefCon1 – it's a non story
    DefCon2 – blame the media
    DefCon3 – blame the Liberals
    DefCon4 – blame a bureaucrat or provincial premier
    DefCon5 – blame a staffer
    DefCon6 – start talking about Adscam, coalitions, broken GST promises and the NEP

    • Erm, if he's blaming the Liberals, wouldn't that make it a DefCon 3, by your scale?

      • Absolutely.

        But he's also saying a sudden huge escalation from $100M to $1.1B in 8 weeks is not really a story (DefCon1) AND harkoning back to a scare story about Liberal problems 3 leaders and 2 elections ago (a quasi DefCon6).

        So it sounds more like shotgun scrambling to pass the buck and deflect attention from them regardless of the logic.

    • What I love is the $50 million that went to Clement's riding to spruce the place up so the international press could spread the word about how wonderful Canada is. But now, the press is to be bunkered down in Toronto the whole time.

      • Are you saying the Convention Centre lacks the charm of the Muskokas? Because I'm agreeing, if you are.

  11. Considering the Liberals didn't put that ad on TV, I doubt they will ever be using that phrase again.

    But Toews knows that. He is just trying to deflect meaningful discussion.

  12. So, wait, we're going to spend $900 million more than London did on security because of an ad the Liberals produced several years ago that never even aired on T.V.?

    The Tories are really going to pivot from "we're wasting money because the Liberals insisted that we waste money" (a la the stimulus) to "we're wasting money because a Liberal ad from uder a previous Liberal leader, that the party never aired, suggested that the Liberals might suggest, in some hypothetical future, that we SHOULD have wasted money"??? That's just awe inspiring.

    What's even more hilarious is that we're talking, apparently, about an option that might have saved us $100-200 million. So, fine. Let's say I buy that this $200 million could have been saved were it not for the dastardly Liberals and their ability to make the Tories dance like puppets. I will therefore no longer complain about how no one in the government can explain how it can possibly cost us more than 30 times as much to secure this event as it did when London hosted.

    Now, can someone explain to me how, even with the savings of using the army in place, this summit could POSSIBLY cost us more than 23 times as much as London to secure?

    • I think your first problem is you know how to add. Then you've compounded that by looking for common sense.

      What will it take for you to realize common sense doesn't live here anymore? Or better question, what will it take to get it back?

    • Don't know if I am adding to your thoughts or not, but I heard on the radio that the quotes for Pittsburgh and London are CITY costs only (police, closed roads, diverted transit, etc.), and that regional and national authorities never acknowledged their own costs. I do not claim to believe this as truth; only that the quoted figures for security at past events MIGHT not be accurate totals.

      • If you are referring to the interview this morning on the Current (I think the fellow's name was Alcock?), he was completely incoherent, reminded me of Jeff Lebowski

        • No. Not CBC. Although the message source may have been the same, for all I know. I am not comfortable offering up any authority on this point. Only that I heard some argument to this effect.

  13. On a lighter note, I hope some enterprising soul will be selling "Don't Toews Me, Bro!" T-shirts on the streets of Toronto during the summit.

    • Funny – but it doesn't work visually. Now as a ring-tone…

    • I just hope that Jonathan Toews is not a relation

  14. I agree with Toews – putting the army on the street is something you only do in an emergency. The army is a fighting unit: they are trained, equipped, and prepared for operations in hostile territory where the solution is generally to kill the opposing force. They are not trained, equipped, or prepared for operations in Toronto at a G20 conference where a single death would be a catastrophe. For that mission you use the police if at all possible.

    • The army is a fighting unit: they are trained, equipped, and prepared for operations in hostile territory where the solution is generally to kill the opposing force.

      Hasn't the Canadian Army done a lot of peacekeeping over the years?

      All things being equal, having the police in charge of security is better than having the army in charge of it – but a billion dollars is a lot of money. What programs will the Conservatives have to cut to pay for this?

      • I'm not terribly keen on using the Army for "peacekeeping" either. But even in such missions there is a lot more latitude to use lethal force than there is at something like this.

    • So they shouldn't have sandbagged the Saguenay floods or helped out in the ice storm or (snicker) the Great Toronto Snow Accumulation of the Century?

    • They were used during the Olympics. The Americans use the National Guard at these kinds of things.

    • The

      It's not like the RCMP have ever carelessly killed a visitor – oh wait…