Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Academics and short-term memory

Our beleaguered environment minister Rona Ambrose is getting a rough ride over in Kenya for her government's abandoning of the Kyoto Protocol and lay-away plan for climate change.

It addition to being complimented on her hair (which is just pathetic [the insult, not her hair]) and winning "fossil awards" from environmental groups, opposition MPs have traveled to the conference to remind her of how badly she sucks.

Here's a snippet from the Globe:

Liberal MP John Godfrey and Bloc Québécois MP Bernard Bigras openly mocked the minister, laughing out loud as they quoted her recent defence of the government's policies. Claude Béchard, Quebec's Environment Minister, was not as critical of Ms. Ambrose as the others were, but said he wants the minister to reverse herself this week and commit to the Kyoto Protocol.

Oh, the humanity. This drew some tut-tut ting from Ambrose spokesthingy Bob Klager, who called the comments "highly inappropriate." He went on:

"The minister invited them to come over here, so the fact that they're going out and doing that is only going to undermine Canada's position here," he said. "It's not helpful at all."

You might say what's not helpful is Conservative inflexibility and their joke of an environmental plan, but that's a story for another day. What I found interesting was the following passage in the piece:

Political observers called the press conference a precedent of sorts. Political science professor Jean-Herman Guay from the University of Sherbrooke said he can't recall an example where opposition MPs or provincial leaders were this "explicit" in their attacks on the government while abroad.

Unprecedented? Not quite. Let me provide an example, professor, and I don't need to go back far. Just over three years ago, here is then opposition leader Stephen Harper talking to U.S. television network Fox News (as reported by CTV):

In an interview with the American TV network, Harper said he endorsed the war and said he was speaking "for the silent majority" of Canadians. Only in Quebec, with its "pacifist tradition," are most people opposed to the war, Harper said.

"Outside of Quebec, I believe very strongly the silent majority of Canadians is strongly supportive," the Canadian Alliance leader says.

In a segment to be broadcast across the U.S. and in 41 countries Friday night and repeated on the weekend, Harper says Ottawa's position on the war is hypocritical.

"We have a government here that says Saddam Hussein is a war criminal and maintains diplomatic relations with him during the conflict," he said.

"We have a government that says they're not supportive of the conflict but it becomes more and more obvious that we have Canadian soldiers and sailors involved in the conflict."

He went on to say:

Harper told the House that Canada's position "diminishes only us,"

How's that for precedent?

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knb said...

Well done.

I wonder if Mr. Harper will now use that same logic re' lagging support for Afghanistan. Ooops, of course not, he needs seats in PQ.

Saskboy said...

I wonder if Fox News has covered the lambasting of Ambrose?

Anonymous said...

When they were in opposition, the Alliance/Conservatives undermined the Canadian government (and lied about Canadians) in full view of foreigners all the time on matters quite a bit more trivial than the Iraq invasion. They did it gleefully. In the blogosphere (which isn't really serious media, but reflective nonetheless of a certain mentality among Conservative supporters) they couldn't help but lament the mediocrity of Canadians to American rightwingers who lapped it up. How rich for them to be whining about it now.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Jason Hickman said...

How's that for precedent?

Lousy, unless Harper was tagging along with Chretien to some foreign summit somewhere when he gave his thoughts on Iraq. Was he?

Regardless of that niggling point, if the Libs want to go on US TV and gripe about the government, which is what Harper did, let 'em go to town. It'll probably work out about as well, i.e., badly - I don't think many sane people are saying Harper won the election because of his FNC interview. But I don't think that's the same thing as what the Oppo MPs are doing now.

But on the other hand, foreign correspondents may be less likely to ask the Libs awkward questions like "So, what the hell were you guys doing ratifying Kyoto without a plan, anyway" and "how in God's name did you folks do a worse job than Bush on this issue?", so maybe it is a good idea after all.

Not that I'm bitter or anything :)

A BCer in Toronto said...

But Jason, you're changing the terms of the debate to try to bolster your case. There was nothing said about tagging along to foreign summits. Here's what the professor said:

he can't recall an example where opposition MPs or provincial leaders were this "explicit" in their attacks on the government while abroad.

Opposition MP, check. Explicit, check. Attack on government, check. Abroad, pretty sure he was in Washington at the time, and either way, it was on a US network for US consumption, so check.

I think it's a pretty good precedent, your honour. In terms of being related, that is.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised at Godfrey being so childish. Laughing and mocking also makes Canada and the Liberal party look bad. He's supporting Rae - I hope he didn't get advice from Rae.

Olaf said...

Damn you Jeff... I was in a self-righteous rage about the situation and you just deflated it completely. Thanks a lot.

Jason Hickman said...

Ah, but that gets us into whether that TV interview was the same (or as "explicit", or whatever) as the stand-up routine going on across the ocean, whether it had the same effect, and so on - if it can be "distinguished", then it aint all that good a precedent.

But like I said the first time 'round, it's a niggling point of distinction in any event. So what the heck, I concede the point, m'lord!

I still think it looked pretty bush-league, but I suppose it beats sending McCallum and Sgro out to heckle Harper during an election campaign...

knb said...

jason, I will say this, if the sole objective was to ridicule, that is not productive. If it is to keep the government in check, realise what leading the conference means in terms of Kyoto, well, that needs to be done.

Being derisive is never good, neither is being deceptive.

I'll still wait to see how this play's out. I do not think that Canada is going to fare well. I will say, I don't think it is Rona Ambrose's fault particularly. I think she has her orders and if I were her, I'd quit.

Jason Hickman said...


Maybe. But here's the thing: we apparently won "Fossil of the Year", or some such thing, which is being protrayed as a big deal. But when you read the fine print, you'll see we "won" this for the second year in a row.

In other words, taking it as a given that we should be doing more, this is hardly a new development. It bothers me that the Libs in particular (and KNB, I'm not accusing you of being a Lib shill via this post - this is more of a general point) are acting holier-than-thou about this, when they signed & ratified Kyoto w/o a plan, and had a lousy record on the emissions issue while in office.

I know, I know - that's politics. Lord knows, all parties, including mine, engage in this sort of thing from time to time. It rots me a bit more than usual when the Libs pull this stunt internationally, since they are less likely to get called on their own hypocracy aborad than they are at home.

CuriosityCat said...

The Cat does not believe that the Liberal Party should allow the Tories (old and new) to set the political and moral standards used to govern its behaviour, both in and out of power.

Let's just do the right thing.