'You can vote us out of office' - Macleans.ca
 

‘You can vote us out of office’


 

Industry Minister Tony Clement runs into some protesters at York.

“Parliament is coming back in March,” Clement told the protestors. “We are in the midst of consulting with the people of Canada about their issues and concerns, primarily about the economy. So, there is no end of democracy. That is a fallacy”…

“We have a government that is focused on the economy, focused on safer streets and focused on research and development,” Clement said. “If you don’t agree with that, which is your right, then you can vote us out of office. That’s democracy.”


 

‘You can vote us out of office’

  1. I'm afraid I don't agree with that, Mr. Clement.. at least.. not that your government is focused on any of those things.

    To me it looks like your party is focused almost exclusively on maintaining power — regardless of the cost.

  2. Safer streets than what?

    • Than if the Government had not pole-axed its own crime bills.

      • For those that might otherwise miss Jack's brilliance, the tough on crime bills are sacred cows for the Conservatives and a poleaxe is used to slaughter cattle.

        • I just read aloud my comment and yours to my girlfriend and she accused us of ethnic stereotyping.

  3. Those pesky "elistists" asking stuff about democracy. The nerve. Stuff Canadians "don't care about", at least the 26% or so who say they don't care.

    I will give him some credit though. At least he is taking questions from us lowly citizens who pay his salary. Unlike a certain Prime Minister, bunkered behind a wall of staffers.

    • Was that elitists, or chattering classes? Behn, they all look alike anyway.

  4. Hopefully our heros in the Bloc/Lib/NDP camp can get enough of a backbone to vote non confidence in this government and let the people decide.

    • Yes indeed. And when the election is over, the 65% of Canadians who support those three parties plus the Greens will successfully ensure another Harper victory, by diluting their votes.

      • this is what Harper is counting on he is doing his level best right now to force an election and Iggy is falling into the trap!

        • but is Donolo?

        • I agree with you, psiclone, Canadians may not want an election, but campaigning is all our Prime Minister ever wants to do.

  5. Ah yes, the elected dictatorship. The opinions of electors mean nothing between elections, according to the Harper Conservatives. And once they've bought another election with their massive piles of money from their rich donors, they can go on with their elected dictatorship and continue to ignore the electorate.

    • Average amt. given per donor per party, 2008:

      Conservatives: $188.79
      Liberals: $188.14
      NDP: $182.06
      Greens: $93.80
      BQ: $95.78

  6. I was unaware that democracy only happens on election day … and is apparently optional between votes.
    Learn something new every day.

    • Democracy isn't optional between elections, it's prorogued.

      • No, no. As per Brent Rathgeber from Edmonton-St. Albert, democracy has only been suspended.

    • Election day is the only time ordinary people get to participate in the process. So in a way, yes, democracy in Canada really only happens on election day.

      • I would also suggest that democracy exists in Canada in spite of parliament. Access to education and freedom of thought and speech is real democracy.

        • And I would suggest that democracy is being thwarted in Canada why your government breaks records defying Access to Information orders, get report and complaint after report and complaint for non-compliance from the Information Commissioner, and then shove the Information Commissioner out the door because he keeps insisting you comply with the law.

        • Suggest away … but you are wrong.

          Like 'em or hate 'em, those 308 MPs are our representatives; Parliament is us, the wee folk.
          Absent a Parliament, you wouldn't have "access to education and freedom of thought and speech".

      • In a way… like in a way the hotdog I had at 3:00 doesn't count as a meal because it wasn't lunchtime.

  7. Interesting to see "research and development" in the same talking point as "safer streets". I hope this wasn't a fluke and that this will move more to the front of the government's policy agenda.

    • Yes, it would be great if the Conservatives actually strongly invested in R&D.

      However, putting up university buildings but not making new investments in the people who actually do the R&D in the sparkly, new buildings, is a rather ineffectual approach.

      • Where have they cut R&D?

        • Where have they used it?

    • Interesting and ironic too because we know from Harper's former chief of staff that they deliberately ignored the research on crime when they drafted their crime platform.

    • Also interesting just how many people will believe that Harpers minority Ottawa is actually improving our R&D based on just hearing or reading his (or Ministers) words. It would take up to 5 instances of this same person reading/hearing that the Cons are actually NOT improving R&D for the message to be reversed in said listeners minds. Even if the efforts (legislation/money) put forth by the CONs end up being shamefully ineffective. The Cons know enough also to be careful just how many times the words are put out there (when untrue), too many times and people start to get their spidey-senses or hopes up and actually look for Opposition comments or bills going through / coming out of Ottawa.

    • Facts. You gotta love 'em. The very best antidote to tedious partisan sausage-grinding.

    • Excellently disingenuous post, thanks. How many donors ?

  8. "Democracy is not dead,"repeated Clement, "It is just resting. Prorogation is like a catnap for democracy – and, really, who wants a tired and cranky democracy?"

  9. Disingenuous? He used cold hard facts to prove that you were the one being disingenuous.

    • Not at all. Still upset about Rights and Democracy, I see.

      • I'm not upset about anything. However, I do get annoyed when people refuse to back down after they make demonstrably false claims.

        • You must hate yourself.

  10. Obviously more donors. *That* is the issue – not the wealth of the donors (as you indicate), rather the sheer number.

    • Yes, it certainly is. The Conservatives have more wealthy donors than every other party combined. They bought the 2006 election that put them into power by fiddling their election expenses through the In and Out scheme.

      • "The Conservatives have more wealthy donors than every other party combined. "

        The Conservatives have more non-wealthy donors than every other party combined as well.

        If you can "buy" an election by having a 100,000 donors donate $200 a pop, doesn't that kind of discredit the entire concept of democracy?

        • Average is a missleading term. Not that i buy necessarily that there are more wealthy cons. Wouldn't it be better to show which party received the most full amount donations? Or am i missing something?

        • "If you can "buy" an election by having a 100,000 donors donate $200 a pop, doesn't that kind of discredit the entire concept of democracy?"

          The only thing which discredits democracy in this country is Harper's utter disrespect for it. Donors are only part of the story – fiddling their election expenses through the In and Out Scheme so they could spend more money than the rules would otherwise allow on national ad buys is the other half.

        • To be accurate, we have no idea how wealthy or poor Conservative or Liberal donors are. All we know is that they donated on average $188.

          The presumption is that they are not wealthy because the donations are small, but we don't know that. It is equally plausible that wealthy donors are contributing to the Conservatives but are just not impressed enough to donate the max.

          • "To be accurate, we have no idea how wealthy or poor Conservative or Liberal donors are."

            You're right, we would not be able to know this from average donation figures. What we do know, however, is that the number of Conservative donors is higher, and that they collect a lot more money than other parties. As a result, the number of donors with enough disposable income to donate to the Conservatives is necessarily higher. So they have more rich donors than the other parties. In addition, I am sure that a thorough analysis of their donations would show many more people maxed on their personal donations than for the other parties. But this is averaged out by many small donations they collect as part of their development program.

    • so… more donors, but a roughly equivalent level of 1) donation value and presently, 2) polling support.

      And we know that it costs money to run an election, and generally, the more money you spend, the more likely you'll be elected.

      So if you have people with more disposable incomes – who share your views, doesn't this skew the chances a bit?

      So, in a sense, isn't this an argument for per-vote subsidies to balance this?

      • Or limits on how much you can spend. Which we have.

        • Spending limits make no difference when the Harper Conservatives break the rules by fiddling their election expenses in the In and Out Scheme.

      • And we know that it costs money to run an election, and generally, the more money you spend, the more likely you'll be elected.

        I used to hold that principle as sacrosanct. But I over the last two years I have read a number of studies looking at presidential elections and governor elections in the US that show that that is not the case, just like spending the most on player salaries is no guarantee of success. You have to spend enough to be in the game and respond to the other side, but you don't need have to come that close to the other side in spending to still win on election day.

        • To be relevant, studies on this subject would have to be done in Canadian advertising markets and in the context of Canadian elections, as both the markets and the polity are different.

          • It's not like there couldn't be loopholes thru the regulations, especially if a morally and ethically challenged so-called leader devised it. Take an industry that was particularly beholdened to having its agenda and interests protected. Said industry would have the money and clout to purchase the leadership of a political party for its chosen son, pay off the debt of his nearest rival/co-conspirator, and be powerful enough to have the right lawyers/accountants to make it almost untraceable.
            Said industry employs thousands of people across the country, not just one rich province. It could, if it wished, pro-offer hidden incentives to its employees, who are scanned and prescreened by superiors, on joining up with this program, knowing full well that it on the surface looks completely legal and will provide them with a nifty tax refund at the end of the year. It would also help prevent, as sold to the brethren, a relapse to some ugly NEP-like behemoth that some other political party would/could/should dream up.
            I don't say this is happening, because obviously, someone would have stepped forward somewhere. Unless the benefits were extremely cool – tickets to the gold medal game, perhaps?

          • I would love to know where all the people who work on Conservative campaigns draw their salaries from and whether they are on the party payroll or whether they work for private firms and are on a paid 'leave of absence' (only revealed when challenged, of course). On the other hand, everyone knows that the Dippers use union employees, particularly public employees, to do their canvassing.

        • Well some candidates are just inherently that much better for the voters than their competitors, and sometimes its obvious who will likely win in a given riding/state etc. And then of course sometimes there are candidates who can mask certain characteristics of theirs, maybe their leader is doing the same sort of hiding – and through outspending they can define their adversaries, embellish their own virtues, get the voters blinded by a carrot like say….GST cuts or $100/kid daycare "solutions" with repetition and saturation of populous media, and sneak in to a win. If you get grossly outspent, the odds of this happening to the better quality candidate go way up.

  11. Agreed. The only "wealthy donors" issue that has plagued Harper is from his leadership run. He continues to refuse to tell the public who is largest and presumably most influencial big donors were. He also refuses to tell Canadians who paid off McKay's $400,000 leadership debt.

    • He's under no obligation to list the names of people who donated to his leadership run. Why should he?

      Meanwhile, Stephane Dion, Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall-Findlay, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Joe Volpe are now in violation of the Canada Elections Act, because they have been unable to pay back "loans" from their 2006 campaigns, despite many extensions. Those loans will now be considered illegal campaign contributions.

      It's ironic, because the whole Lib leadership "loan" fiasco demonstrates that Liberals are the ones beholden to wealthy donors, not Conservatives.

      • "He's under no obligation to list the names of people who donated to his leadership run. Why should he?"

        What have Harper and McKay got to hide ? Why all the secrecy ? Don't their lists of donors stand up to public scrutiny ? What are Harper and McKay afraid of ? Who were they funded by ? Big oil ? Offshore money ? The U.S. Republican Party ? Who ?

        • What you just said is almost verbatim from the text of one of those discredited "hidden agenda" / "soldiers in our cities" TV spots that Martin ran in the 2006 campaign. Seriously – look it up.

          • And it didn't work well enough. Ahh well, there is much MUCH more material for Liberals/NDP/Bloc to work with for the next campaign ads. Maybe they can even make some with a regular toned voice as the script (with real Facts!) should be hard hitting enough.

          • Answer the question : what have Harper and McKay got to hide ? What about all that transparency they were talking about before Harper took power ?

      • "He's under no obligation to list the names of people who donated to his leadership run. "

        Technically absolutely correct. Just fortunate for him that the rules were changed after his leadership race. Point though, was that there is a "wealthy donor" issue that dogs him. If money equals power and influence, there are a number of people with big power and influence over him and we don't know who they are because he won't tell us.

        "It's ironic, because the whole Lib leadership "loan" fiasco demonstrates that Liberals are the ones beholden to wealthy donors, not Conservatives."

        While it is pathetic that this debt can't be retired, I don't see how it shows they are beholden to anyone. If they don't have wealthy donors, then they can't exactly be beholden to them can they?

        • While it is pathetic that this debt can't be retired, I don't see how it shows they are beholden to anyone. If they don't have wealthy donors, then they can't exactly be beholden to them can they?

          The Lib leadership candidates couldn't raise enough money from individual donors to fund their campaigns, so they relied on wealthy donors to write them huge cheques as "loans", even though it was unlikely that the "loans" would ever be repaid. The deep-pocketed "lenders" are now considered illegal donors.

          • Let's follow this through.

            Ken Dryden owes by far the largest amount. All of it debt. He owes all of this money to himself. Because of the changes Harper made in the rules, he is not allowed to pay himself back. Worse, he must pay himself interest for which he has to pay taxes.

            Is this what we are so worried about?

          • I didn't even mention Dryden, for that very reason. All the names I did mention – Stephane Dion, Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall-Findlay, Maurizio Bevilacqua, and Joe Volpe – borrowed money from other people. Wealthy people. People I'm sure they feel beholden to. And as it turns out, they all did this illegally, because those debts now amount to illegal contributions.

            Also, I was under the impression that it was Chretien who changed the rules, not Harper.

          • Chretien capped donations at $5400 and prohibited corporations and unions from donating. Harper reduced the cap to $1000 and then, after the Liberal leadership campaign, added rules on loans (he tried to make them retroactive but, at least in this case, his advisors telling him unenforceables laws aren't good won the day; still, some of the loan rules did still apply).

          • Chretien's $5,400 cap applied to the 1996 Liberal leadership campaign. Nice try, but you can't blame Harper for the Liberal leadership debts.

          • I was not tryin gto blame Harper for the Liberal leadership debts. I blame the candidates themselves and the Liberal Party.

            Harper tried to make the $1000 cap retroactive. That didn't work. But Chretien's rules only applied to the year of the leadership race. Once it was done on December 31, 2006, contributors could only donate $1000. I.e. after the convention, in order to pay off the loans, they were subject to the $1000. In addition, because of the rules Harper brought in, no one could come in and secretly pay off a $400,000 debt.

            The only thing I said about Harper was how fortunate for him the rules changes after his leadership race.

          • Let me clarify one point. He tried to make the $1000 cap fully retroactive and only partially succeeded. He couldn't get it to apply to the leadership race in 2006, but he did make it applicable to general donations to the party meaning, when he passed that rule in November, all of those who had bought tickets to the convention (cost of $1000) were immediately maxed out and couldn't donate any more to the party.

          • Fair enough about Dryden. I didn't pick that up. But much of the "loans" include senior campaign staff who forewent salaries in the last month of the campaign and most of the rest came from small individual loans. So I really fail to see what worry over the influence the "wealthy" lenders of Maurizio Bevilacqua are going to have. If any of these guys had any wealthy lenders they would have made sure they organized enough fundraisers to make sure they didn't become illegal donors, don't you think? The fact that the loans are still outstanding kinda shows that they aren't so powerful or wealthy.

            More to the point, you initially were not talking about the leadership candidates. You used them as evidence of the Liberals being beholden to "wealthy donors". They just aren't wealthy and the link between them and the Liberal Party being beholden to them for a few thousand dollars here and there among dozens of lenders just isn't there.

          • If any of these guys had any wealthy lenders they would have made sure they organized enough fundraisers to make sure they didn't become illegal donors, don't you think? The fact that the loans are still outstanding kinda shows that they aren't so powerful or wealthy.

            Fortunately, I can rebut this with actual data. Here is the complete list of Stephane Dion's individual lenders.

            Bronfman, Stephen R. ($50,000)
            Bryden, Roderick M. ($50,000)
            Carroll, James E($30,000)
            de la Bruyere, Marc ($100,000)
            Guerrera, Salvatore ($50,000)
            Hoffmann, Christopher S.L. ($25,000)
            Nault, Remi ($50,000)
            Stephanos, Mamdouh ($350,000)

          • OK, I'll give you de la Bruyere and Stephanos. They may have some influence over Dion when he moves to 24 Sussex… er, nevermind. What influence are you trying to claim they will have over the Liberals that Harper's secret wealthy donors won't?

          • You give me de la Bruyere and Stephanos, but not Bronfman? These people are millionaires. Some are worth hundreds of millions, yet in your previous comment you said "the fact that the loans are still outstanding kinda shows that they aren't so powerful or wealthy."

            I'm not suggesting that they have some kind of pernicious influence over their debtors. I'm merely pointing out that wealthy lenders and donors have played a significant role in financing Liberal leadership campaigns.

          • I don't know what planet you live on, but Bronfman would be influential with anybody in power even if he never gave a dime to their campaign. Really, CR, you need to grow up.

          • That's pretty rich coming from the guy who started this whole thread by claiming "and once they've bought another election with their massive piles of money from their rich donors…"

            It's ironic, don't you think? The evidence shows that not only was your original claim spectacularly wrong, but your gibe about "rich donors" would be more properly applied to your own party.

          • I didn't give you Bronfman on a $50,000 loan, especially when Dion had many of them and these were loans for Dion.

            Look, CR, you've argued part of your argument well. Problem is, you are arguing in support of the part of your argument I agree with. The Liberals are too reliant on too few donors and too many of these are big wealthy donors.

            I just don't think any of this supports your main point, that the Liberal Party is beholden to wealthy donors lenders who lent money to the loser candidates and to Dion (who's out). If you look at Iggy's donors, he had the most donors and the second lowest donation per donor ratio. Besides, no one is beholden to anyone for $1100 a year.

            More to the point, I don't for the life of me see how these known small lenders to also rans (including Dion now) could possibly have more influence of the Liberal Party than the large wealthy donors to Harper and McKay who remain unknown and so are much more free to continue influencing the Conservatives and to do so without that level of scrutiny.

          • So you can get Dion's complete list of lenders, and use that to suggest that democracy is being thwarted or bought.

            You cannot get Harper's complete list of lenders, but have no problem with that.

            Why is this?

      • It only does because the rules changed immediately after their leadership campaign.

        I await the day when Conservatives run a leadership campaign under the same rules.

  12. Another excerpt from the linked news item:

    “I am here because we made an investment in research and development for the students of York University,” Clement said. “I'm proud of that investment. But, what I'm not proud of are stunts designed to tell the people of Canada something that isn't true.”

    That's the way, Tony, you tell those lying stuntsers what's what! Call em names, that's the way to win hearts and minds over to your side.

    • I don`t see where Clement is calling anybody names. And if he`s pissed-off with disruptive stunts that are designed to spread lies, and he shows a little anger, that`s OK too.

      • Where's a good tofu pie when you need it?

        • That's not funny – it starts with tofu pies, then it's acid pies and before you know it BAM! Dirty bomb pies.

          • I flinched at BAM! :P

          • BAM! Dirty Bomb Pies! Coming soon to the dessert menu at an Osama's Family Restaurant near you.

      • When you put it that way, I suppose I can understand him being so PO'ed. If MY boss was pulling all sorts of disruptive stunts and forcing ME to go around and spread lies, then have to try and defend these actions to people as if they were perfectly legitimate, I guess I'd be pretty ticked too.

  13. I see Two Tier Tony has finally found his stride with the Harper Conservatives – as an apologist for elected dictatorship.

  14. Okay, I guess Clement is telling us that while Harper and he will take a lot of leeway in using or abusing their power, and they don't care what we think, at least they still allow elections. That's reassuring.

    • Did he say anything about fair (ie. not Iranian like) elections?? Please tell me he did!

  15. Pundits' Guide has the data for 2009 1st-3rd quarter.

    Number of donations of $1000 and up:

    Liberals: 2605
    Conservatives: 706

    Number of donations of under $200:

    Conservatives: 105,436
    Liberals: 44,267

    • Wow. The numbers speak for themselves. The Conservatives have a broad base of small donors, and the Liberals have a narrow base of wealthy donors.

      • Would certainly seem that way. Again, I don't think you can equate the amount of a donation with wealth, but no question there would be a correlation.

        But I don't think the analysis ends quite there.

        Correct me if I'm wrong Mike, but that charts "donations" not "donors".

        In other words, you join the Laurier Club and pay the fee of $1100 and you are maxed out for the year. By contrast, most Conservative donors are on fixed monthly automatica donations so, for example, 12 donations of 110 and they are maxed out for the year.

      • Wouldn't it be nice if those numbers reflected an election year. Looks like the total contribution amount for 2009 is 40% less than 2008 while the # of donors remained the same. I don't think that drop came from the small donor category because its average is 30$ higher than Liberal doners in that category.

    • thanks…i thought that might be the case. thr libs need to widen their tent obviously.

  16. Tony: You guys have already killed accountability. No need to commit unspeakable acts to its corpse.

  17. “Parliament is coming back in March,” Clement told the protestors. “We are in the midst of consulting with the people of Canada about their issues and concerns, primarily about the economy. So, there is no end of democracy. That is a fallacy.”

    This is Tony being honest really. it's how cons like him think. Consult the people, listen to the money guys and screw the oppostion. Check out how it works in AB. I'm not saying the do it all wrong – they would have been thrown out long ago in AB if this were true. But nevertheless after a while it's how opposition and dessenting voices get marginalized…it's worked in AB! only tory voices get a serious listening to there.

  18. Democracy is suspended Mr. Clement when the government is no longer interested in being held to account by the system. Simplifying the argument of your opponent does not make your opponent nonsensical, it makes you nonsensical.

    • There's a lot more to democracy than free elections. Like transparency in government, accountability to the people, the right to give true and accurate testimony when called before Parliament (see Colvin in case I'm not obvious enough).

      Killing democracy requires a multi-pronged approach.

  19. “We have a government that is focused on the economy, focused on safer streets and focused on research and development,” Clement said. “If you don't agree with that, which is your right, then you can vote us out of office. That's democracy"

    Is that just specious reasoning or is a serious strawman?

    • can't it be both?

      • I can't quite make up my mind. what bothers me here is that he offers a false choice. What happens if i [ and of course most reasonable people] do like a focus on the economy,safe streets and R&D, but still don't like his parties methods? He's insinuating that you must not be for those policies if you choose to vote him out. I think's it's fallacious reasoning or pure sophism…but not i suppose a strawman. I don't know why that occured to me.

  20. He should have just said the "Go f*ck yourselves!" that was on the tip of his tongue. It would play well with his base and – hate him all you like – at least you could respect him for having a little courage.

    • Ha. Touché.

  21. You're too sexy for us, Two-Tier.

  22. I don't recall Mr. Clement's speech a year ago when the boot was on the other foot. Then, the mechanisms of our parliament were in cahoots with evildoers everywhere…

  23. Best hold off on the election talk. The weight of accountability is gonna drag team C down and you want that to settle in before you pull the plug.
    Patience

  24. What is the problem of Clement ? It is logic.

  25. Well if he is consulting with Canadians why has he not responded to my two emails that I sent him..oh right…I am from the elite chattering class group he speaks of with such love. Well he is right we will vote him out of office.

    • "Well if he is consulting with Canadians why has he not responded to my two emails that I sent him.."

      Did you send a small donation? Imply you'd like to volunteer to campaign in the next election? Include your CPC membership number?

      See, there's your problem.

  26. On the otherhand?…we need an expert opinion.

  27. Mr. Clement has missed the point: the government can't be voted out of office while Parliament is suspended. Which is precisely why thousands of people took to the streets in protest last Saturday.

    I stopped taking him seriously when he was quoted as saying, during a Toronto transit strike, that Torontonians were too dependent on public transit.