The Commons: The cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems -

The Commons: The cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems

The Liberals seek to prove “you can walk and chew gum at the same time”


Ideas are such mysterious and troublesome things.

Yesterday, for instance, the Prime Minister, penning an op-ed for the flagship newspaper of Canada’s liberal media elite, explained that, as part of hosting the G8 summit later this year, Canada will “champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions.”

This seemed almost impossible to quibble with. And yet, soon enough, people were asking questions, namely about what precisely the Prime Minister was talking about. How will he go about this? How much will it cost? What about Haiti? What about the deficit? Does this have something to do with abortion?

A reporter today asked Bev Oda, the minister for international development, which countries this country had so far discussed this proposal with. Ms. Oda declined to divulge specifics, but did assure that, in general, there was some interest in pursuing maternal and infant health in “conceptual terms.” “I can report with confidence that generally, all countries and all organizations we discussed with recognize the need and recognize that something can actually be done that will show results,” she reported.

So perhaps this is less an idea than a general notion. Still, it was enough of a concept for the nightly news to conclude this was somehow a setback for the Liberal side: the primary concern in any discussion of the world’s impoverished women and children being, of course, ‘how does this affect Michael Ignatieff’s chances of getting to be Prime Minister?’

Ideas, both his and others, have been the bane of Mr. Ignatieff’s existence for some years now. When he’s had them, he has been vilified variously as wrong and rash and dangerous and silly. When he hasn’t had them, he has been scolded for lacking that which he was supposed to bring to our sad, hopeless little capital. Attempting perhaps to split the difference, he has, for the most part, settled on speaking vaguely of unimpeachable generalizations: we should think about expanding trade with Asia, we should invest in education, we should get the unemployed working again, we should help old ladies cross the street, and so forth.

But in the absence of a functioning Parliament, the Liberals have been convening forums in Ottawa to hash out how to go about doing these things. And subsequently, perhaps unavoidably, Mr. Ignatieff emerged this afternoon with some ideas. Some proposals, in fact, for whatever everyone has decided to call this “jobless recovery.”

“Together we’re putting forward three specific proposals to get more Canadians working again,” Mr. Ignatieff said, standing behind a lectern in the House foyer, flanked by no less than seven Liberal MPs. “And we’re calling on the Conservative government to adopt these measures in the forthcoming budget. ”

A half-dozen reporters, who had already been handed a five-page explanation of these measures, held their collective breath.

“Our first proposal is a cash advance on the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturers,” the Liberal leader explained, stirringly.

“The second proposal is to create temporary financial incentives to hire young Canadians,” he continued. “This can take the form of an EI premium holiday for those employers who take on young workers. It could also take the form of a straight grant to employers to incentivize the hiring of young Canadians.”

Keen students of math will understand that Mr. Ignatieff was not done there. “Our third proposal,” he concluded, “is new tax incentives for investment in Canadian entrepreneurship in emerging sectors like clean energy and the life sciences.”

With all that said, the Liberal leader took a moment to congratulate himself. “We believe in being a positive opposition,” he said. “We’ve shown also that you can walk and chew gum at the same time. You can show up for work here and think of positive budget measures. Mr. Harper says he can’t produce the budget and run Parliament at the same time. That seems to me to misunderstand what democracy is all about. He shut the place down, but Liberals are still working and we hope our proposals will help this government to recalibrate as they call it.”

And with that clarified, John McCallum stepped forward to outline the cost of these proposals, figuring the total at somewhere between $125 and $270 million.

Asked about all this in relation to the treasury’s multi-billion-dollar deficit, Mr. Ignatieff deftly employed the phrases “fiscally responsible,” “highly targetted” and “Paul Martin.” And about a half hour after they arrived, the Liberal leader and his delegation took their leave, the whole presentation seeming to have been relatively painless and inoffensive.

A few hours later, as I type, Conservative Ted Menzies is on television ridiculing the Liberals as tardy and superfluous, while the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair is dismissing both the Liberals and Conservatives as corporate lapdogs. Mr. McCallum sits between them, seeming not terribly moved by any of it.


The Commons: The cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems

  1. "That seems to me to misunderstand what democracy is all about. He shut the place down…"

    What did Bob Rae do as premier of Ontario

    "As premier, he prorogued this legislature not once, not twice — but three times. And for much longer than Harper has prorogued the federal Parliament. Rae's NDP won power Sept. 6, 1990. On Dec. 19, 1991, Rae prorogued the House. They didn't come back until April 6, 1992. He then prorogued again, Dec. 10, 1992 — and didn't come back until April 13, 1993. …he prorogued for the third time on Dec. 9, 1994. The House did not sit again until the legislature was dissolved April 28, 1995."

    People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

    The boundless hypocrisy of the Liberal Party of Canada.

    • "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

      Don't worry no one is. Rae had a majority when he prorogued. As did Chrétien. And neither of them offered such completely ridiculous excuses for prorogation as Harper did (it's so wwe could do the budget…umm, no, it's so we don't miss the Olympics…ermm, no no, it's all routine….wait, I've got it, THE LIBERALS DID IT TOO AND THE NASTY LEFTIE [harper-endorsing] MEDIA SHOULD STOP PICKING ON US!

      • In fact other than the Chetien prorogation before the Fraser report, i can't think of a serious abuse of this part of our governing tradition. I keep hearing Trudeau did it upteen times, but no factual evidence. So they're forced to reach for provincial ones. I see J makes no mention of Kleins appalling record on this score. Which is pretty much par for the course for him.

        • Trudeau prorogued 8 times, kcm.

          Klein did too?

          Why is Harper singled out then?

          • Trudeau's prorogues were as eventful as Harper's were they? That's why Harper and Chretien are singled out. Klein was a complete joke as far as parliamentary accountability goes.

      • Rae had a majority. What an irrelevant talking point. As constitunal law expert Peter Hogg pointed out, Harper had the confidence of the House when he prorogued Parliament on December 30th: so it makes no diffrence whether he's in a minority or a majority. One can easily make the case that prorogation can be more easily abused by a PM wielding a majority government.

        On top of hypocrisy, one can add the charge of intellectual dishonesty.

        • Prorogation is not the cause of public discontent, but merely a symptom. It is the arrogance and contempt for democracy behind the decision to prorogue that is the cause. Remember that and you won't go wrong. Liberal or Conservative or NDP, it makes no difference. The moment you are seen as arrogant, you are done.

          • Prorogation was never a problem for the countless PM"s and premier's that have resorted to it.

            We know this is another manufactured left/lib "scandal". Harper's political opponents trying to make politcal hay.

            The Liberals would be much better off concentrating on putting forward policy alternatives to the Conservatives, if they have any. If they have any.

          • Nothing wrong with prorogation per se. Its intent is to use it to wrap up a parliamentary session once a government has achieved its legislative agenda. In this current situation we have a panicked government that is ready to throw a substantial body of (what they claimed was) high priority legislation, especially the anti crime bills. They half-heartedy claimed it was being obstructed or delayed in the Senate, but other have reviewed the facts at hand and have discredited that. So, now we have a government willing to throw it all under the bus . . . why is that?

            Not to say that the examples you cite might be abuses, but you'd bolster your argument by scratching beneath the surface of the other examples to see how mmuch of the government's agenda was enacted. If you find an example similar to the current, then there's cause for suspicion and further investigation.

            So, Jarrid, hit the books and report back to us when your homework is complete. And no Gamebuy for you until its done.

          • "Nothing wrong with prorogation per se."

            Agreed, and that's why this "It's the end of democracy" bs belies the hyper-partisanship at play here.

          • Ya, hyper-partisanship bugs me too. Thanks for keeping things objective.

          • Like I said, do you homework.

            No one said prorogation in and of itself is a bad thing. Prorogation just "is". What is the bad thing is the underlying motivation.

            How about an analogy: Sex is not a bad thing when its between consenting adults. However it is a bad thing when there is no consent, i.e. it is forced. Do you see? Sex is not the problem, the lack of consent is.

            So, the criticism of Harper's prorogation has been his fundamental motivation in doing so. Most of us strongly suspect he prorogues to avoid accountability for the detainee issue. Heck, even his former close associate believes that and freely says so.

            If you can make that mental leap, then we can all consider that some iota of progress has been achieved, and it will not have been a total waste of time reading your repetitive posts & responding to you.

            If not, I will ignore you and I would hope others do the same.

          • Chretien prorogued in 2002 so that the Fraser report couldn't be tabled in Parliament. That was a misuse. Rae also prorogued to buy time.

            So what's exceptional about this prorogue compared to these two: not much at all.

          • So you found two out of more than a hundred, keep going. You have a long way to go to make your case.

          • Funny that – I have some Conservative friends who are angry.

          • I don't believe that you have friends

          • Considering what you do believe, your comment means nadda LOL, I'm going to tell my Conservative friends this one tomorrow night at a get together (about 60 of us friends) to have a little wake for one that just passed away.

          • Conservatives are always angry, it seems. Witness Fred….

    • When will we all finally learn not to feed the troll?

      • The answer is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

    • It doesn't matter who prorogued before and how often.
      The point is Harper said he would be different. It was a centrepiece. He is demonstrating total hypocrisy. That's the difference.
      Same is true of this shameless pandering on poor mothers and children in the third world, which only Chantal Hebert in the punditry had the insight to say last night on The National, " no one could possibly take this seriously."

  2. Ideas? Proposals? Finally.

    • Hear hear. We can retire the "no concrete ideas" charge for now, I think. Next up: vision.

      • Can we discern a pattern yet? It takes a parliamentary closure to force these guys to come up with ideas. What will it take for vision? Six months of closure? And if we close the pace down entirely?…Hmm. I think i see the law of diminishing returns coming up real fast.

        • Seriously, and well put. The funny thing is I'd have thought "vision" was easier than devising tax incentives, at least for a humanist like Iggy.

          • i don't believe he believes in his own vision…if that makes sense? I'd love to be proven wrong. i don't particularly harbour the maan any ill will. You'd think the field's wide open for a man like him…and yet nothing…or nothing that resonates. I mean, he has a principle opponent, a man who seems to eschew vision, thinks it's some kind of cardinal sin. A man who specializes in making vice out of virtue. What more does he want? [Iggy i mean]

          • My impression is that everything Ignatieff does is meant to avoid the fate of Dion. Dion had a wild and crazy policy? So we'll have no policy for a year; and when we get some it'll be ultra-specific. Dion's persona was painfully earnest and deeply unsettling for many voters? So we'll look semi-cynical and wear our sweater-vests like a diaper. "Hey, it worked for Harper." Yeah, but Harper had ended vote-splitting and outright owned a third of the political spectrum; Iggy has played it so safe that he's always ceding the initiative — cf. the prorogation protests & his rather tardy response. Also, there's already one Norman Rockwell dad figure in town: if you try too hard to be the anti-Dion you end up looking a lot like Harper, image-wise.

          • I agree with your observation that Ignatieff is trying too hard to be the anti-Dion, and aside from his risky September Gambit he has also tended to play it too safe. Sometimes there's a "Stranger in a Strange Land" quality to things he says and does, but he's getting better. Hard-taught lessons have probably refined his thinking to some extent.

          • I do agree he's getting better — especially this last week. Goes to show that, as you say, leadership is an acquired skill.

          • One thing we may be overlooking, since we're outsiders, is the reality of Ignatieff's life inside the liberal family. We naturally tend to think the audience is us. But how much is he constrained by internal politics?

          • Good point! I'd bet it's a heck of a lot.

          • "…wear our sweater-vests like a diaper'…cute:)

            I see where you're going. Perhaps he better start worrying about who he is, or he may disappear up his own jacksy. I'm with Coyne on this point. Canadian's will tolerate if not forgive an awful lot, if they have a sense, the leader in particular, is authentiic, reasonably competent and sane. Witness jean,Brian, Pet and even Deif. Ignatieff has yet to find his voice. I just hope he's been hiding his light under a bush…cuz sooner or later Harper's gonna turn the lights out.

          • It's funny, but I really have no idea whether we're going to have an election within the next two years.

          • We probably will, but who really knows? A lot of people were absolutely convinced we'd have one this year.

          • Nor i. It could be a year or two off. It could be as soon as the house returns. Who forsaw this prorogation and its consequences…and we haven't seen all of them yet. I wouldn't die of shock if we saw a co/lib coalition eventually…i mean, we are in the end times,right?

          • You've got to admit, following Canadian politics is fascinating. So many twists and turns, better than any soap opera on TV (even though it sometimes goes into really unbelievable story lines like the R&D thing). For sheer entertainment value, most Canadians don't know what they're missing!

      • I don't believe that arguing Ignatieff has not put forward a vision is really fair. Early on Ignatieff gave a series of long interviews ( I recall one with Enwright on CBC) in which he put forward nothing but vision. He clearly believes in a strong, centralist federal government that takes on big challenges and does so in a strategic fashion. The weakness was that he really didn't have a lot of content save for the train thing. (I think that may have been put in just to bait Coyne.)

        On a vision front, it would be interesting if someone could enlighten me as to Harper's. I expected when he came in he would advocate a "Community of Communities" ideas such as Joe Clarke but that has not really been put out there.

        Early on it seemed they were pursuing the Kumbaya vision of never-ending harmony with the provinces, that feisty guy out East put an end to that. Since then it has be a reworked version of the "Land is Strong" of late Trudeau.

        • "On a vision front, it would be interesting if someone could enlighten me as to Harper's."

          From the evidence available Harper's vision of Canada is, "Whatever gets me to 155 seats." It has nearly worked for him too.

          However, I suspect that his latest initiative – "Harper is trying to drum up Group of Eight support for a "major initiative" to improve health care for moms and kids." – has the appearance of him lurching from the right-hand ditch into the left-hand ditch and will do little to endear him further to any Canadians that still pay some attention to his twirling, twirling, twirling . . .

  3. Who got all wound up about Harper proroguing Parliament for 5 weeks?

    Left/lib partisans, even though many, like Jack Mitchell, were professing to be "non-partisan". Mitchel Raphael's picture post of last Saturday afternoon gave us the flavour of this apparently spontaneous grassroots protest. It had left/lib selective outrage written all over it.

    Funny how the orange-signed-littered crowd didn't March on Queen's Park in defence of democracy in 1991,1992 and 1994 when Bob Rae was proroguing the Ontario Legislature for a much longer period.

    Who else is wound up by the Harper prorogue?

    The left/lib msm media.

    Too bad about the blogosphere and the internet guys. It makes selective outrage so much easier to call out.

    You're all a bunch of hypocrites, sad to say.

    • Maybe what I object to is the sheer sterility of your "left/lib" adjective.

      Anyway, I think you're missing the point about what makes this particular prorogation so heinous. I honestly can't speak to Bob Rae's long prorogations in 1991, 1992, and 1994, as I was 14, 15, and 17 years old at the time; if they were heinous, I denounce them retrospectively as heinous.

      What is particularly heinous about the current prorogation is that it was invoked suddenly and with the manifest intent of avoiding Parliamentary scrutiny — on the issue of whether a Minister of the Crown blatantly lied to the House or not. I'm sure you appreciate that we can't have Ministers of the Crown blatantly lying to the House. Being evasive, being metaphorical, being bland, being non-committal, sure, that's just the dark side of ministerial accountability. But blatant lying is something else entirely. "Lying is an accursed vice." So if the House is unable to determine whether or not a minister blatantly lied, the whole commandment of "thou shalt not deceive the House" is trod into the dust: and prorogation has in this case been invoked precisely to stop the "detainee torture" headlines, dodge the will of the house, and — worst of all — get Peter Mackay off the hook where he belongs.

      • They know this. They just think that by continuously repeating "the liberals did it too", people are actually going to believe that.

        It is what most of the blogging tory blogs have been spouting for the past several days too. I think they were given their marching orders and told to normalize this prorogation, pronto.

        • Yeah Jarrid's one auto redial. Sometimes i don't think there's any one there at all. But he's switched from Chretien to Rae now. So he must have been in recently for reprogramming.

      • Why do you leftists always end up with a grand conspiracy theory?

        They did it to avoid detection….blah blah blah.

        You're nearly as lame as Anon Liberal above with his stale, pointless " but Chretien/Rae had a majority" talking point.

        In a month the opposition can continue to flog the Afghan detainee issue to their heart's content. Heck they can bring the government down if they want.

      • And of course the first time to avoid a confidence vote he would lose which sets a terrible precedent. That was worse. I don't think too many people have really thought through the possibilities the GG decision a year ago will open up for future prime ministers.

        • I agree. Daily accountability is important, but confidence votes are fundamental. If that happens again there will be hell to pay.

    • Don't be sad, jarrid.

    • "Who else is wound up by the Harper prorogue?"

      Umm the Canadians who have provided polling data since it happened?

    • Okay Jarrid – name ALL leftwing media. I can only think of one – the Star

      • CBC, Globe and Mail for starters…

        • Didn't the G&M endorse the Conservatives in the last 2 elections?

          • "The left/lib msm media. "


            It doesn't have to be true, it's merely important for Harper, the CPC and the Conbots to repeat the canard at every opportunity.

          • Thanks for the link
            Sure is a lot of SUNshine on that list

        • The LBC( CBC ), its been known that for years, years !

        • Whoops there, you made a boo boo Jarrid. Globe and Mail are leaning right (as admitted by Jeffrey Simpson) and they are part of the CTV/Globe media…..FOX news of the north.

          CBC? Na, I don't think so. Harper appointed a right wing supporter as president and just take a look at the "regulars" on Evan Solomon's Power Panel – John Ivison, Tom Flannigan, Don Martin and that other nerdy guy (can't think of his name, but is with the firm Cosgrain…..).

          Better start paying attention there Jarrid before you step in more poop.

  4. Funny to see that no one took the bait the first time, so the troll just posted the same garbage again. People, people: Don't feed the trolls!

    It would be fascinating to know how many posters on news stories and blogs were employed by political parties and special interests. Or is their propaganda so effective that fools do it for free?

    • I honestly think they do it for free. The free that has a nudge, nudge, wink, wink behind it, perhaps thinking they'll get a Senate seat or some other perk down the road.

      Jarrid is repetitious and boring, but at least he's around here all the time. He's not one of the masses that show up with ridiculous pseudonyms to hack a thread with the exact same talking point, then are never heard from again. Which might make him a "senior troll," and that much closer to whatever the prize is.

      • Jarrid's the house troll…he's our troll. So we [ i anyway] feel a certain paternalistic pride in, and affection for him…Biff too! I would have liked to have sent them both a christmas card.

        • Don't forget Dayton and Wilson, their feelings would be hurt

          • I suspect they can easily share any mild praise bestowed upon jarrid.

      • Jarrid is in the tough spot of knowing his team has dropped the ball. He is flailing (as are most Conservative MP's) and though he scores some points, the bottom line is still that Harper fugged up.

        The inability to admit mistakes is going to absolutely haunt Stephen Harper

    • Apparently all of the party's are awash in cash, especially the Conservatives. If they are paying they should increase the rate to attract a better quality of troll. (Perhaps throw in a generous pension scheme.)

    • So which one are you? employed by a political party? employed by a special interest group? or a fool? Those are the only three choices you gave.

      Me, I'm neither. I'm simply an informed and opinionated citizen, wise enough to see through the hypocrisy and pandering nature of the Liberal Party. They like us to believe that they stand for something. Unfortunately that changes as the wind blows and the opinion polls change.

      • LOL, this is getting funnier and funnier – what does Harper stand for? He twistes and turned and lied about everything he supposedly stood for.

        Fred – you informed? I don't think so. If you were you'd have something to offer other than PM approved talking points.

    • Because he doesnt agree with you, and your ilk, he becomes a troll.. I thought this country had freedom of speech, I thought we could debate, at least thats what it said.Throwing out troll is demeaning, it makes you look bad, not the person you are calling a troll.But, if that is what makes you feel somewhat better in your life, have at it.

      • "Because he doesn't agree with you, and your ilk, he becomes a troll.. I thought this country had freedom of speech, I thought we could debate, at least thats what it said, when I joined"

        Been on the internet long? He's a troll.

      • I called him a troll because he posted essentially the same post again after the first time got no response. It had nothing to do with his viewpoint. He is also a troll because, in my limited time here, I have yet to see him respond to the content of what someone has posted. He just repeats the same talking point that the person responded to, and he's been posting essentially the same argument in almost every story or blog post on the subject, despite it having been clearly refuted numerous times by folks with more patience than I.

        Furthermore, I haven't supported any of the parties here, nor have I elsewhere. I have a political orientation, but none of our political parties consistently support it, so who I vote for varies based on their platforms and previous performance.

        Nothing about trolls – not even insulting them – gives any positive feeling, though I did enjoy some of the replies to my original post :)

      • "I thought this country had freedom of speech, I thought we could debate, at least thats what it said, when I joined."

        What? Isn't that what's going on here?
        As often as jarrid seeks to paint all "left/libs" with the same brush, I would hope that his skin is thick enough to withstand the occasional charge of "troll."

  5. "A few hours later, as I type, Conservative Ted Menzies is on television ridiculing the Liberals as tardy and superfluous, while the NDP's Thomas Mulcair is dismissing both the Liberals and Conservatives as corporate lapdogs. Mr. McCallum sits between them, seeming not terribly moved by any of it"

    Do i sense a certain ennui, a slightly jaded sigh here? Maybe not. If it were me i would long ago have turned to beachcombing on the Island, cultivating my beard, reading Wordsworth, and covering the annual daffodil count by way of excitement. Daffodils do not toil, harbour no ill will, neither do they live to slag each other.

  6. So Mansbridge bought it. Guess being guillible in this day and age — and maybe he wanted to out-Ron MacLean Ron MacLean? — is a virtue. Doesn't anyone remember Harper and his commitment to accountability? His desire to attack the hospital wait list issue, which was quickly segued by solving terrorism plank? Giving MPs more power, fiscal responsible governance, eliminate partisan federal spending, establish non-partisan appointing system, addressing climate change… all were toys that Harper brought out when numbers said he needed them. They were then abandoned post-haste once his reflection said everything was hunky dory again.
    I don't know if women are going to be as guillible as Peter Mansbridge. Hopefully the Dale sister he married will sit Peter down and explain to him that Harper has a plan, and it isn't to end poverty and establish maternal rights to all those no matter their income level, need et all. I'm sure Jarrid's having difficulty swallowing this latest incarnation, but give him time.

  7. Bonne continuation

  8. Harper will not be hosting the G8 or the G20 summits. So this is moot.

    • Yes, he will

      • Well played frenchie101. Your move Anon001.

    • I think you need to pay more attention ….

  9. the primary concern in any discussion of the world's impoverished women and children being, of course, ‘how does this affect Michael Ignatieff's chances of getting to be Prime Minister?'

    That's hilarious. Thanks for the laughs.

  10. I'm amazed to see so many poking at Ignatieff for his ideas, but completely overlooking the dearth of detail or even concept to Harper's undercooked strategy to "look after the health of women and children in poor regions."

    How about starting at some Canadian Indian Reserves, harp?

    Also…face it: he knows we get all mushy about "sending Afghan girls to school" and are willing to fight in a longstanding region of war for years in the ultimate act of futility. It's PR, not policy!

    • The reserves already extort more than enough zillions to cover their health and welfare needs. Perhaps a little more prudence while 'self administering and self governing' might be in order.

  11. iynsho! BTW yes, I have been on for sometime.I stand by what I said- lets hope you feel better now.If one needs to constantly put another down, he or she must feel very bad about oneself.(imho)
    good day

    • I understand the bully dynamic.

  12. We never know what one has to deal with in life.I have a brother who has had a a lot to deal with in his life, obviously we wont go into specifies.People would say 'pretty' much the same about him, that you have about Jarrid My brother overcame a brain injury some years ago, and now has certain difficutlies.I myself have dyslexia, I guess what I am trying ,/i> to say, and not well. Is that we dont know if he is just repeating, or if there is more to it. Thats all – end of sermon :) wider grin than ours.
    keep well