56

We have extended the sharp, pointed stick of friendship…

ANDREW COYNE


 

We have extended the sharp, pointed stick of friendship

… It is now for the opposition to run onto it.

Stephen Harper reached out to incoming Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff yesterday to ask for co-operation on the economy…

Mr. Harper, while unwilling to express regret for the recent political chaos, greeted his new opponent with an offer to be a “willing partner” on the economy.

“The government is willing to make changes to accommodate the opposition,” Mr. Harper said in a rare television interview with CBC anchorman Peter Mansbridge.

“I think the big national parties should be working together to fix the economy, and we’re more than willing to do that, and I hope the next Liberal leader, the first thing he’ll do is be willing to sit down with me to have that discussion.”

Mr. Harper said his Conservative government will return to Parliament in late January with a budget that will contain the significant economic-stimulus package demanded by the opposition.

But he rejected the notion that he stoked the crisis by placing partisan measures in his economic statement, arguing the opposition parties always planned to defeat him…

And his campaign team was more bellicose.

Conservative campaign manager Doug Finley sent an e-mail to supporters attacking the Liberal-NDP coalition as undemocratic, and warning they now want to install a prime minister, Mr. Ignatieff, who “might not even be elected by members of the Liberal Party (or any other party.)”


 

We have extended the sharp, pointed stick of friendship…

  1. Harper is a train wreck in slow motion.

  2. If Harper was so good, policies acceptable, etc. – he wouldn't need to be in constant attack mode – it's a sure sign of failure.

  3. Coyne – you're the editor of this magazine – why the unbalance? You have this extremely partisan kid as guest blogger (who rambles most of the time) – where is the Liberal, NDP and Green guest blogger?

  4. “The government is willing to make changes to accommodate the opposition,” Mr. Harper]

    He actually means "I am willing to …"

  5. Ah, the dance of death. Or is that with the Devil? Harper had his chance and showed his colours. It's up for him to make amends. Start by increasing the amount of money the political parties get, resurrect the Crow Rate as first step toward initiating FREE TRADE among the provinces (why can I get blueberries cheaper from New Zealand or S. Africa than from BC? Riddle me that one Mr Harper) and gifting Elizabeth May a senator in order to annoint her as his Environment Minister. That would be good for a start. Short of that, Ignatieff should pull the plug in January just to show TROC that we do NOT have an American System with a President (hell, not even a presidential) and how democratic cooperation actually works, and remind them Les Quebecois never told the Western Bastards to "Freeze in the Dark" (you think I forgot? That's chill, baby, chill). Keep the Rebel Alliance in his hip pocket, at the very least, and don't declare it a week ahead next time. Grin a lot at the PM, like a cocked and potentially loaded 44 magnum. Mention Balkanization a few times, and Croatia vs Serbia (not the soccer match).

  6. Ignatieff and Harper will have many discussions. If they fail, the winner of the next election will be determined by who is perceived to have thwarted compromise, as Canadians expect them to be able to work together. Given Harper's reputation, it may be difficult for him to win that battle.

  7. Sandi,

    I am, ahem, NOT the editor of this magazine. To your point, my understanding is that we will be featuring guest bloggers of other persuasions…

  8. Cute post, Mr. Coyne.

    I wonder if Macleans has thought to give us a primer of how a Parliament works in its next magazine issue?

    I'd love an issue where the FU was followed, beginning with the suggestions from the opposition. (Were the suggestions written down? Were the suggestions given only in private meetings with Mr. Harper? Was Mr. Harper alone, or was Mr. Flaherty at these meetings as well?)

    Then the FU is tabled by the Government (so a bill at first reading? What does that mean, practically, precisely) Because it is a 'money bill' it automatically becomes a confidence vote (what other bills become confidence votes? Can the Government choose any bill it wants to become a confidence vote? What does a confidence vote mean?)

    The opposition doesn't see the things it wanted to see, instead there are four objectionable items. What choice does each opposition party have? Can they vote it down at first reading and still move it into committee? Can they make amendments on first reading–before the vote–that would remove the objectionable parts and insert the stimulus parts?

    And so on into the coalition agreement, etc.

    I really don't think I'm alone in not understanding, precisely, how this works. And if the magazine ends up smashing Conservative (or Opposition parties) talking points in the process, so much the better.

  9. scissorpaws,

    Mention Balkanization a few times…

    Perhaps Mr. Coyne favours Maclean's as a Canadian version of Pravda Remind him it was banned by Yeltsin 16 years ago. Yeltsin was a man of acute perception, e.g., "he allegedly told his bemused audience that Swedish meatballs reminded him of Björn Borg's face. — unlike some Canadian journalists.

  10. "To your point, my understanding is that we will be featuring guest bloggers of other persuasions…"

    That will indeed be welcome Mr. Coyne.

    BTW, I very much enjoy reading Stephen Taylor and visit his blog often — even though I fundamentally disagree with him on much (but not all) of his opinion.

    This would be a sorry place without competing points of view.

  11. “To your point, my understanding is that we will be featuring guest bloggers of other persuasions…”

    As in "Oh, we got both kinds. We got country *and* western"!

  12. "But he rejected the notion that he stoked the crisis by placing partisan measures in his economic statement, arguing the opposition parties always planned to defeat him"

    Luckily I watched the Mansbridge/Harper interview and don't have to rely on the Globe for what was actually said. Harper pointed out that Coalition was formed well before the fiscal update and they were waiting for any excuse to attempt their takeover. Whatever Flaherty did/said two weeks ago, the Coalition was going to do what they did.

    Sandi and others

    Scott Feschuk is a former senior member of PM Martin staff and still does paid work for Libs, Kady posts emails verbatim from Lib war room and Aaron writes love letters to Dion. Stephen Taylor doing the occasional post does not come near balancing the overwhelming Lib/lib slant to Macleans blogs.

    I look forward to what Coyne mentions, guest bloggers of other persuasions, as long as they not more Lib/lib ones.

  13. He just keeps on giving the reasons to expect him to yank chain every chance he gets.

    get a clue, Steve. You're dead in Quebec. Nobody's afraid of you any more.

  14. I wish people would make up their mind. When the Opposition supports the government, they are called cowards (or was that just for Dion?). When the Opposition actually opposes the government, they are told that they are putting the country's economic future in jeopardy and that they must support the government.

    What gives?

  15. "Luckily I watched the Mansbridge/Harper interview and don't have to rely on the Globe for what was actually said. Harper pointed out that Coalition was formed well before the fiscal update and they were waiting for any excuse to attempt their takeover. Whatever Flaherty did/said two weeks ago, the Coalition was going to do what they did. "

    Sure jwl. I supposed you also believed Harper when he said he never made a similar deal with the Bloc in the past? And you probably also believe him when he said that we are going to have surpluses in the next 5 consecutive budgets?

  16. They hypocrites on the left just can't stand not wielding the power. It just isn't in their DNA not to have their hands in someone elses pocket. Go to election, Harper, don't suckhole to the power hungry clowns on the left. The Bloc aren't even worth talking about.

  17. PolJunkie

    My point was that Harper said some specific things and the Globe glossed over it. I wonder why the Globe, the paper that's happy to print Scott Reid's incitement to violence piece last week, doesn't print exactly what Harper said to Mansbridge instead of adding its spin.

  18. Is that a mendacious PM I see before my eyes?

    Canada's parliamentary budget officer is publicly questioning the projected budget surpluses of the Conservative government's recent economic statement and is asking for evidence to back up the predictions.

    While Canada's courtiers fop around in powdered wigs obsessed with the court gossip, we'd do well to remember that there are actual issues of substance.

  19. I for one welcome my new Coynian overlord.

  20. jwl: He said specific things that were lies or have no evidence. You're saying the Globe should report whatever comes out of his mouth, no matter how blatantly untrue it is? At a certain point that's no longer balanced reporting, it's, as Ti-Guy has said, stenography, nothing more.

    There is no evidence that the Coalition was formed before the FU to parliament. There is some illegally obtained evidence that the NDP were preparing with the Bloc to have support for a coalition should the opportunity arise. Remember, the coalition itself was between the NDP and the Liberals, not the NDP and the Bloc.

  21. T. Thwim: Don't you just love having to revisit recent history over and over and over again? Wouldn't it be nice if certain people could simply acknowledge that this talk about plotting a coalition before the FU was mostly a lie (as if lying is so unusual for Harper) so that we could simply file it as a plot point in this story and move on?

  22. "asking for cooperation … unwilling to express regret." Harper is about as flexible as his hair, which moves not, through rain or sleet or snow. He needs to appear to bend, but since his whole way of dealing with things is to be in constant attack mode, his bend button is stuck.

    "rejected the notion that he provoked the crisis" – Notion, now isn't tha quaint? Many people, me included, firmly believe that he did indeed provoke it. The job of the oppposition is to oppose bills that are contrary to the interests of the Canadian public. That's what the opposition did, and for good reason. The bill contained no economic stimulus and the opposition parties were right to oppose it (we all know what the other objectionable parts were).

    "his campaign team was more bellicose" Oh dearie me and gosh darn-it-all. Why did those rascals do that? Because they were no doubt acting on Harper's instructions.

  23. "You're saying the Globe should report whatever comes out of his mouth, no matter how blatantly untrue it is?"

    T Thwim

    Yes, that's what I am saying. It should not up to the lib leaning Globe reporters to decide what's true or not, readers are intelligent enough to decide what they believe and what they don't. Opinion writers are an entirely different matter and are free to write whatever they want.

    'Balanced' reporting is one the things that's killing newspapers because you are treating your readers as infants who have to be told how to think.

  24. "Balanced reporting is one of th things that's killing newspapers"

    What a ridiculous statement! Surely you are being ironic?

  25. Except, jwl, as you yourself demonstrate when you swallowed whole Harper's line about the Coalition being formed before parliament had ever started, a lot of Canadians don't seem to apply critical reasoning to what comes out in the newspapers and Harper's mouth. As such, it is a necessity for the newspapers to avoid printing lies whenever they can avoid it.

  26. Point of order.

    An opinion is just an opinion.

    Opinions don't change the world.

    They only give insight to ramblings of a very few.

    They do of course show the the real color of people.

    Narrow minded, prejudiced, self serving, my way-not your way, not in my back yard, ect etc.

    But for one sure thing they are entertaining. Real people leading interesting lives?

    Oh for the good old days. Lol

  27. T Thiwm

    Please read write I wrote. I said Globe was glossing over what Harper said, I didn't offer an opinion on whether I believed Harper or not. And please point me to creditable articles that prove Harper was lying when he offered his opinion that Coalition was cooked up before the fiscal update.

  28. If Harper said unicorns flew out of his butt, would I have to find creditable articles proving they did not?

  29. I been watching this train wreck to long now,but I may have an explanation

    RepubliCon Harper love politics so much he get an erection,then the skin pulls down over his ears.

  30. "If Harper said unicorns flew out of his butt, would I have to find creditable articles proving they did not?"

    T Thwim

    That's about the quality of reply that I was expecting. You, Ti-Guy and many others just like to make assertions about 'lying' because you have no evidence to back up your claims.

  31. I watched the Mansbridge interview with harper: he didn't even raise his head properly for the camera or to meet Mansbridge's eyes, but rather seemed to be looking down at the table while he spoke.

    Harper has said he would work with opposition in the past — notably on election night, and also in the speech from the throne. He didn't. He just can't.

    In all of this dysfunction, I continue to be dismayed by the large number of conservative supporters why decry the coalition but are unable to say aloud that their leader is a dyckwad. They're all thinking it; they are just too skeerd to say it , I guess.

  32. Evidence: "There will be a surplus."

    Evidence: "Making a deal with the Bloc is treasonous."

    Evidence: "There was no Canadian flag."

  33. jwl: And that's about the lack of quality thinking I expect from you in return, so things seem to be proceeding apace.

    Harper says "There were plans for a coalition before," despite there being absolutel zero evidence that there was.

    I point out, "Uh, he's lying, there' no evidence there was a coalition before"

    Your rejoinder is, "Well prove that he's lying", or in essence, "Prove there was no coalition", which boils down to an impossible demand to prove a negative. When I point this out, you simply plug your ears and go along your merry way.

    How about we reverse the question, find some proof that Harper is telling the truth. That's at least asking for proof of a positive, something that can be done.

  34. No, Stephen, evidence suggests that the NDP and the Bloc were working together for a time previously, had you been watching the news, you would have seen that the primary stumbling blocks to the coalition forming were the Liberals trying to sort out what it would mean. This is actually evidence to the contrary.. there was no NDP/Liberal coalition previously. What the evidence suggests is that there was was a nearly complete NDP plan that got dropped in front of the Liberals and, with the urgency of the situation, they signed up for.

  35. "My point was that Harper said some specific things and the Globe glossed over it. I wonder why the Globe, the paper that's happy to print Scott Reid's incitement to violence piece last week, doesn't print exactly what Harper said to Mansbridge instead of adding its spin."

    jwl, if the Globe can allow Flanagan to use their paper to use words like "fortune is like a woman, one must take her by force to master her," Scott Reid's equally disturbing column should come as no surprise to you.

    And I'm not sure why you would mind the Globe's spin since you seem willing to accept Harper's bald-faced lies.

  36. "Please read write I wrote. I said Globe was glossing over what Harper said, I didn't offer an opinion on whether I believed Harper or not. And please point me to creditable articles that prove Harper was lying when he offered his opinion that Coalition was cooked up before the fiscal update."

    Well make up your mind, jwl. Do you believe that Harper is telling the truth or not?

  37. T Thwim

    I wrote that Harper was expressing his opinion and it's up to reader/viewer to decide if they agree with his opinion or not. You claim that Harper is liar and Globe shouldn't print his lies. All I am asking for is proof that he's a liar, like you claim.

    I have no idea if Harper is correct or not tho I have my suspicions. We know BQ and NDP were in talks before the fiscal update and Mitchel Raphael, about a week ago, did a post in Capital Diary that pointed us to Nov 6 issue that said there were talks of coalition which included Ralph Goodale taking over as PM.

  38. Thwim,

    So there was something forming…..I agree, to the cons it makes little difference since the Libs would eventually have to be pressed into service to make it work. But yes ti was an NDP and Bloc project at the beginning.

    So to be exact a coalition was being worked out prior to the FU, the Libs may or may not have been aware of the negotiations, lets give them the benefit of ignorance for the moment. Makes sense to me, coalition forming by the Bloc and the NDP and then Dion leads the Liberals into it without thinking through the consequences.

    There was no urgency, there was an opportunity. Sadly for the Liberal party they are going to have to wear the mark of the Bloc. That was the caucus' ultimately, letting a strategically challeneged lame duck leader trash the brand, unanimously no less.

    Anyway, iggy has a chance to extricate them, how much damge they have taken permanently is another question, may not be much.

  39. A lie the coalition wasn't forming before the FU? Evidence suggests otherwise

    Yet you provide no additional evidence to prove that claim. You just assert that it does.

    Please. The whole "subterfuge" propaganda is just Conservative spin to gull the rubes. It doesn't get any more credible with repetition. File it and move on.

  40. "I watched the Mansbridge interview with harper: he didn't even raise his head properly for the camera or to meet Mansbridge's eyes, but rather seemed to be looking down at the table while he spoke. "

    Patchouli, I disagree. Harper looked Mansbridge square in the eyes when he lied. In fact, I'm not sure what is more disturbing: Harper's incredible ability to tell lies that are so ridiculously easy to refute or the fact that a very small number of news reports/columns even bothered to do the refuting?

    Mansbridge asked him several times if he had any regrets to which Harper clearly said that he didn't.

    Why would he?

    Here you have a Prime Minister who shut down Parliament to avoid a vote of non-confidence, accused the Opposition of sedition and treason for aligning itself with the Bloc when, he himself (as PM and Opp Leader) sought support from that same party in the past. He also told Canadians that the coalition did not have the democratic right to take power knowing full well that it is an absolute lie. He then proceeds to insult all of the Quebecers who voted for the Bloc, resulting in Charest almost losing his much sought after majority and reviving separatist sentiment in that province.

    He said and did all this and got away with it. After all of this, what does the press gallery focus on?

    Stephane Dion and his botched video (just the video, not the content).

    To add insult to injury, the new LPC leader has pretty much let on that he intends to support Harper.

    So I ask you, if you were Harper, would you express any regrets whatsoever to Mansbridge?

  41. Pierre Trudeau routinely infuriated the Separatists..oh sorry….the Sovereignists by pointing out that they had lost not won the 1980 Referendum and by dint of what logic should he perform the constitutional dance to their tune. He was right. We just had a national election in October and the public chose Harper to run things.Why in the world should Layton get massive bail out money to appease his union pals in a Conservative budget? It will take more than the usual back room cosmetic surgery to make the LIberals competitive again so Harper should pyut together the budget that he thinks will do the job and if the new version of the thres stooges isn't happy with it, I guess the electorate will have to decide again

  42. Canadians

    Ding Dong! Coalition is dead. Taliban Jack? Is off his track!

    Ding Dong! The Wicked Deal is dead.

    We woke up – our sleepy heads, rubbed our eyes, got out of bed.

    And now the Wicked deal is dead.

    it's gone where the goblins go,

    Below – below – below. Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out.

    Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.

    Let them know

    The Wicked deal is dead!

  43. " …. and how democratic cooperation actually works, and remind them Les Quebecois never told the Western Bastards to “Freeze in the Dark” (you think I forgot? That's chill, baby, chill)."

    I think you forgot. Eastern Bastards were invited to freeze in the dark, not Les Quebecois, as is implied – there is a difference. And one could only imagine how Quebec would react if the federal government told it that it had to sell its, say, hydro power, to Ontario at a deep discount and thus lose tens of billions of dollars in the process. Invitations to freeze in the dark would be the very least I would expect. More likely, Quebec would threaten to separate, and then quite likely carry out the threat if push came to shove.

  44. So, since we're talking about alleged coalition plans that predate the FU, does anyone know the status of the NDP lawsuit against the Conservatives for their alleged wiretapping?

  45. Ti you can ignore the NDP tape if you chose, but it is pretty clear the NDP Bloc plan was pretty well advanced, so it isnt an just an assertion.

    Covering your ears and humming is your choice.

    What is unknown and debateable is when Dion knew what was going on, when Harper knew what was coming and when did the Liberal caucus know what was coming, before or after the FU? How that answer changes anything I dont really know.

    Events have shown that the mistake was the association of the BLOC with Liberals and the NDP. Thats what a significant number of Canadians outside of Quebec have reacted to. There are lots of mistakes in this whole affair, but the biggest one, by far, was Dion allowing the Liberal brand to be drawn into relying on the Bloc for power. The video is the excuse, the link to the Bloc and the reaction it provoked is the reason.

  46. "Events have shown that the mistake was the association of the BLOC with Liberals and the NDP. Thats what a significant number of Canadians outside of Quebec have reacted to. "

    Not so Stephen. What people reacted to is the deliberate manipulation by Harper. Since it is now clear that a great many Canadians confuse our parliamentary system with that of the Americans, they all fell hook, line and sinker for Harper's lies.

    What Harper already knew is that such talks are nothing since he himself had been involved in them.

  47. nothing new

  48. Ian,

    No idea….hard to prosecute an invite. Ethics, totally different question and even then a worthwhile debate on both sides. Hardly illegal, but we will see what the RCMP says, waste of their time quite frankly, like any of these politically driven lawsuits.

    As for matters at hand, Jack was defintiely up to something with the seperatists/sovereigntists/Quebecers who hold alternaitve views of nationhood. Ultimately whether that was prior to the FU or after doesnt matter nearly as much as his out step views. The NDP has always been comfortable with Sovereignty Association…..it would be nice to see them campaign on it.

  49. Poljunkie,

    the deliberate manipulation by HArper…..what manipulation? He called the Bloc seperatists….thats their policy….unless I missed some major announcement where they renounced all of their previous pledges.

  50. Stephen, it is manipulation because Harper had plans to form a coalition govt with the NDP and the Bloc in the past when he thought that the Libs would end up with a minority government.

    Seems to me like it is you who is covering yours ears.

  51. PolJunkie….

    I am not covering anything….I think the facts of the matter are that they sent a letter to the GG asking her to consider all options, who isnt supposed to read those things anyway, she only ever has one formal advisor and can seek other expertise at her discretiton. My guess is that the cons, should they have gone through with it, would have suffered the same fate.

    I fail to see the manipulation since the two things arent the same. There was no formal agreement, no splitting of cabinet seats and no long term arrangement. There might have been, but I would have opposed that as well.

    I dont see how this is manipulation. People got riled because there was a formal deal that included the Bloc, the Bloc may not have been government but they offered long term support. There are some things you just shouldnt do, and thats probably at or near the top of the list.

    Sorry, Libs and NDP have gotten burned…..I am sure they'll get over it….eventually.

  52. Norman

    Your linking of the 1980 ref with the election of a MINORITY Harper gov has no basis in logic that i can detect. If you are somehow attempting to imply that H 's has equal electoral authority you are sadly mistaken. Harper, a man who went from claiming credit for Dion's clarity act to the nation within a natin nonesense has no right to be mentioned in the same breath as a man who fought like a lion for the unity of this country.

  53. Song for Dion

    Sha na na na, sha na na na na,

    Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip

    Mum mum mum mum mum mum

    Get a job

    Sha na na na, sha na na na na

    Get real

    Sha na na na, sha na na na na

    Tell Jack

    Sha na na na, sha na na na na

    No deal

    Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip

    Mum mum mum mum mum mum

    Get a job

  54. A lie the coalition wasn’t forming before the FU? Evidence suggests otherwise, the tape and the speed with which it happened, but having a Liberal leader with a double jointed spine and a sense of aggreivement helped smooth the way, but it doesnt really matter whether it was or wasnt in motion anyway. The error, as seen in public reaction, was the inclusion of the Bloc, not a pre planned assault.

    I am sure if the Liberals and the NDP had to replay it all over again they would have found a different way to do it, de-emphasize the Bloc’s role etc, but they couldnt since it wouldnt have given them the math to make the ATTEMPT to get the non election handover.

    Ignatieff, has to be careful with the coalition…he is implicated yet everyone seems to understand he gets a do-over on it. He signed as a member of caucus but he is leader now so he gets to rethink and re-engineer. Right now he has the room to do a graceful back away, whether a fast or slow one works better for him is up to him.

    If there is a defeat it will come down to who looks like they killed it. An obstructionist opposition or a partisan government. Even then, a defeat this soon is not in the Libs interest, since it is even less clear now that the GG would hand over the keys over the PM’s advice…too many things have changed.

    IMHO, the tories dont need to worry about one years worth of subsidy, the Liberals are in a significant hole to begin with, one year of subsidy barely keeps them breathing, they still need to fix their fundraising move from animated undead to to simply comatose. So no need for the PM to include the proposal, this year.

    My suspicion is the opposition was eager to take power because they believed the economy was going to be better in 18 months anyway, and they saw a crack in the wall, why else would you want to take power now rather than wait a year and get the government after it pees into the wind for a year to no apparent effect. Despite their wailing the opposition knows that a spring or summer recovery or respite is an increasing possibility….how long that recovery lasts is is another matter, think of the short bounce between 79 and 81, but you cannot pump as much money into the system as has been done around the world with no effect, it just might not be a long lasting one. Remember the cause of this was easy money in the US, we have easy money, in terms of cost, right now. As time heals the balance sheets, that will turn into easy/easier money by way of quality. Then we have a totally different problem on our hands.

  55. Michael Ignatieff thinks he has the right to demand that his main political oponent has no right to criticize him now that he has replaced Dion.

    I do not disagree with the suggestion that both major parties should set aside their boxing gloves and work on economic policies in the national interest. But that's not what Ignatieff wants. He wants Harper to lay down his gloves while Ignatieff continues to punch away.

    That's what they call arrogance in my book.

  56. well I call it justice and fitting punishment for a bully

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