‘I look forward to your clarification of these issues for Canadians’


Senator James Cowan cordially partakes of the ancient art of open-letter writing.

As Minister of Justice, and as a personal proponent of a strong law-and-order agenda, you have a duty, which I am sure you recognize, to uphold the truth and not mislead Canadians.  Accordingly, I am confident that you will wish to quickly correct the record, and agree that the Liberal opposition in the Senate has not in fact “obstructed” your Government’s anti-crime agenda.  To the contrary, the greatest delays to the implementation of your agenda have been due to your own Government’s actions in failing to bring bills forward for debate, dragging your feet in bringing legislation into force, and most significantly, proroguing Parliament.

The Canadian Press story to which Mr. Cowan elsewhere refers is here.


‘I look forward to your clarification of these issues for Canadians’

  1. Two political statements, both alike in dignity,
    in frigid Ottawa where we lay our scene.
    From 1867, a grudge that begets futility
    Leaves Senate and Parliamentarian hands unclean.
    From forth th'ill-fated bills of these two houses
    A pair of competing interests take their turn,
    and in misadventured piteous o'erthrows,
    Doth with their utt'rance annoy the Punditry.
    The fearful passage of the ill-fated bills
    And the continuance of competing parties' rage,
    Which, e'en prorogation's end nought could remove,
    Is now the four years' traffic of our stage.
    The which if you with patient ears attend,
    will soon now lose your patience too, my friend.

    • Very nice, Lynn!

    • Uh oh.. are we heedlessly plunging into a poet's standoff between Lynn and Jack M.?

      Just when we thought things couldn't get any verse.

    • Nice work!!

      You've done the hard part, the sonnet-as-prologue, so I'll keep going with the prose banter . . .
      <hr />
      SCENE ONE. Ottawa. A public place. Enter RUNCIMAN and DUFFY, of the party of Harpulet, armed with a cordless microphone and several bottles of champagne.

      Duffy, o' my word, we'll not delay the bills.

      No, for then we should pick up the bill.

      I mean, if we be full of bile, we'll pontificate.

      Aye, while thou sitst, get thy chequebook and we'll buy all.

      I act quickly, having been appointed.

      But thou were not appointed to act quickly.

      I have an appointment with a dog of the house of Iggague.

      To be well appointed is to look sharp; to be a Senator is to be dull; therefore, if thou art appointed Senator, thou art neither sharp nor dull.

      <hr />
      Hmm, that's harder to parody than I thought, since I can't really understand half of what they're saying in the original.

  2. The mew Conservative 10 cent-er pushes the same lie.
    The whole dastardly plot is disgusting says I.

    Aplogies to Jack and Lynn
    for committing a rhyming sin. :)

  3. "I am confident that you will wish to quickly correct the record"

    I'll wait right here for that to happen.

    (love the poetry! I'd take a crack but it would have to include the word "Nantucket")

  4. I am somewhat surprised – and dismayed – that this thread and the 'A free society requires access to the facts' thread have generated so little comment of substance.

    Have partisans of every stripe, nonpartisans as well, nothing to say about the government of the day – in the form of the Minister of Justice – misrepresenting the facts [Misrepresentation at best. Lying, even, at worst.] on the one hand and the office of the Minister of Public Works attempting to hide facts on the other?

    If one leans to the right are the actions of this government defensible? If one leans to the left are they indicative of a government, in essence, run amok with its own selfishness, self-interest and self-importance? If one is non-partisan or even disinterested in politics is it not evidence that these men have no honour and therefore must forfeit their right to govern?

    I put it to you all; a government or political party that finds it expedient to deceive its citizens for its own purposes has put a blot upon its own escutcheon that cannot be erased and the only remedy is for the people to demand the formal remedy; off with their heads. Politically.

    Or, are these insults from the government to the governed merely to be shrugged off as [political] business as usual?

    Small wonder CAPP is getting a real look over from Canadians disgusted and disappointed by the current brand of Federal politics.

    • I, for one, have believed for some time that the actions of this government are indefensible, and that the Conservatives have lost their moral right to govern. (This year's prorogation of Parliament was the final straw: it is reprehensible that the government can simply suspend the Canadian democratic process for their own short-term partisan benefit.)

      I also believe that the Conservatives' insistence on concentrating on gaining an advantage over their opponents is bound to have disastrous consequences. A responsible government would be focusing on trying to deal with the difficult problems that our country, and the world, face. What do we do about climate change? How do we ensure a stable and prosperous economy, given the changes that are sweeping the world? Our current government is doing nothing to attempt to solve these problems.

      However, it is equally true that Canadian politics is in a state of gridlock. For better or worse, pretty much all Canadians who are politically small-c conservative have lined up under the Conservative banner, as they are still the only right-of-centre alternative available. And there are many Canadians who are westerners or identify strongly with policies and viewpoints that are considered Western – and, again for better or worse, these people have closely aligned themselves with the Conservative party. For these reasons, and because Canada has a first-past-the-post system, the Conservatives have entrenched support that, even now, is probably enough to give them a minority government.

      This will only change when enough of the Conservatives' core base becomes disgusted enough with them to be willing to consider political alternatives that are not aligned with their regional or ideological preferences. CAPP may be a sign that this is starting to happen: one thing I noticed when I attended the CAPP rally was the large number of ordinary Canadians who were present – ordinary Canadians who, under other circumstances, would be willing to consider voting Conservative.

    • Well, if we're just commenting on the article, there's not much to say that we haven't already said before. And so, maybe in an effort to "put it another way" as it were, we turn to co-opted prose in mild mockery.

      Yes, a free society requires access to the facts. It's one of those statements that's akin to "puppies and kittens are cute".

      This is by no means a defense of the government's actions, but: the nature of self-interest is that you don't reveal anything that will lead to a net loss for you, and the structure of the institution is that our Attorney General (the "independent part") is the same person as our Minister of Justice (the not-independent part). In this case, I'd say that there is a clear conflict of interest that must be resolved – either with the appointment of an AG, or the stepping aside of the Minister for the purposes of having a house debate.

      Oh wait, we already had a house debate, and a vote on this issue. Oh wait, the house is prorogued.

      All I'm left to conclude is that eventually, this government will be hoisted by its own petard. Indeed, we're already seeing examples of petardery (yes, I'm now making my own words) as CPC backbenchers start to say "well, I guess we'll have to work through the Olympics." They wouldn't have had to do such things if they'd come back to work on January 25 – rising for the Olympics could have been easily framed, if they'd sat for a few weeks first. Instead, they're dealing with a record-breaking FB "movement" and a 15-point drop in the polls.

      For those keeping track, that means that the CPC hasn't been playing chess well (if at all). It's more like Homer Simpson trying to jump the Grand Chasm on a skateboard to prove a point to Bart.

    • I am actually optimistic about where things are headed on the honesty front. I get a sense that the press is becoming more activist in calling out demonstrated liars. A few years ago, I had the sense that every member of the serious press wanted to talk about both sides of each issue at the same time. Largely but not exclusively the Conservatives have abused this balance to go well beyond spin to outright lies. First mulroney-esque lies that convinced no-one but could not be proven out and now beyond that onto fabrications that contradict facts that are readily confirmed.

  5. I confess I've become desensitized to obvious lies of this sort since that''s about all I expect at this point.

    Increasingly the Conservatives behave like small town junior hockey stars who have begun to fade but still trade on their once glorious promise.

    They have been forgiven so many small indiscretions to this point in their political lives, they believe that will always be the case. They lash out at even a timid suggestion that they might be responsible for the team's declining performance, and gradually the whole town realizes the promise has gone, and nothing is left but the boorish behaviour.

  6. This letter was released Feb. 4 I think and Akin blogged about it on the 8th. I'm surprised Aaron didn't post about it sooner. It fits quite well with 'building a wall around the truth'.

    Remember, now, the CPC doesn't really want to pass these bills to quickly, its their favourite campaign chest thump.

  7. The good Senator doesn't understand what he has brought upon himself. Expect to see a Conservative fundraising letter along the following lines arrive in mailboxs across the country next week:

    Liberal Senator James Cowan recently sent a letter to Conservative Justice Minsiter Rob Nicholson stating that "I was puzzled" in regards to why the Liberal dominated Senate delayed the Conservative crime Bills for so long. Senator Cowan went on to say, "The Senate's amendments… weakened it (the Bill)"

    If you are tired of unelected Liberal Senators like James Cowan allowing criminals to run wild in the street of your neighbourhood, send $50 to the Conservative Party of Canada today.

  8. I don't like to blame the media for stuff generally, but on this, I'm blaming the media. The Conservatives have made two major claims which in my view have generally been repeated by the media without some independent analysis.

    (1) The senate is obstructing crime bills

    (2) The opposition is obstructing senate reform.

    Which bills have been held up in the senate on crime? And which senate reform motion was defeated by opposition?

    • Yes, and the larger picture is that this has allowed the Conservatives concept of governance by stamping your feet to stand unchallenged.

      The Conservatives core supporters believe that their guys have won and never mind the legislation they should just be able to tell the bureaucrats to change what they don't like. Don't like veils in voting booth or the way wheat is marketed? Just tell the Chief Electoral Officer and the CWB what to do. Just write angry letters to the Chair of the CNSC. Just don't reappoint the MPCC Commissioner or that guy at the RCMP Complaints Commission.

      That's at the core of what is wrong here: the Ministers of the Crown don't accept that they ought to be the first and fiercest defenders of the legislation we have in place at thsis time (as should their successors) rather than petulant, passive aggressive scofflaws uninterested in bringing improvements forward.