Friday, February 16, 2007

You're with us, or you're with the terrorists

So, apparently the Liberals are soft on terrorism. That's what Steve Harper says. I wonder, how long before Jason Kenney says Osama Bin Laden is praying for a Liberal victory? Sigh.

You know, the last time Harper and company were calling the Liberals soft on terrorism, it was back when they were attacking the then Liberal government for trying to help "suspected terrorist” Maher Arar. Remember that?

But back to the present, and the renewal of these anti-terror provisions. I'm unsure at the moment how I feel about renewal. While I want law enforcement to have the tools it needs to fight terrorism, that needs to be weighed against loss of personal freedom and the potential for abuse. I could be convinced they are needed still, but I don't think that case had been made yet. At least, I haven't seen it made well. Until then, I have to stand on the opposed side.

Saying those that are opposed to the renewal of these never-used provisions are soft on terrorism though is bullshit. There's plenty of room for debate and argument, but that kind of rhetoric is polarizing and divisive. As much as I detest this cliché, it really is U.S. Republican-style attack politics that has no place in Canada.

One last note on this issue. Harper and some Blogging Tories are trying to make hay over the Liberal Party being somehow divided over this, and this being example again of their Dion not a leader talking points from the hive mind. In particular, they point to the comments from Manley, Cotler and McLellan.

I can see how Conservatives would be confused. After all, no disagreement with the policies of the Dear Leader is permitted in the Steve Harper Conservative Party. It's his way or the highway, tow the line or pay the price.

But that's not how democracy works, and that's now how this Liberal Party works. Debate is healthy, and differing opinions on policy is welcome. Crazy concept, I know, but that's how it's supposed to work.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

19 comments:

Mike said...

It is amazing. These guys will say anything, no matter how outrageous, no matter how false, to scare people into voting for them.

Remember when scaring voters was called the "hidden agenda" meme and was a bad thing? Hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

I remember watching Bill Clinton in an interview and he said he always had cabinet and staff around him that had different views. They would discuss and debate to come up with the right answers. This is healthy and more realistis - because no matter how great and smart and so-called tough one is - NO ONE IS RIGHT ALL THE TIME.

And we all know how good a president Bush has been using the same tactics as Harper. And, we all know what a terrific president Clinton was.

Oh by the way "Mike" - Harper DOES have a hidden agenda and you know it. Some of it is slipping out now but God Help Us if he gets that majority he craves to much.

ken said...

Do you have a reference to articles where Harper et al were accusing Liberals of being soft on terror during the Arar case, when Liberals were trying to have him released. I remember this but can't track down references.
I am awaiting the beginning of the Iacobucci inquiry into three Canadians jailed in Syria probably due to Canadian intelligence.
I have been trying to get info about the inquiry from Day's office since January 11. I have emailed Day my MP, NDP justice critic, Liberal justice critic, and only my MPs office has responded and even he did not answer the question. Do others experience this silence when they send questions? It is ridiculous.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Ken, the "attacking the then Liberal government" link in this post links back to a previous post, which linked to Hansard exchanges where Harper and other Cons made the charges in question period.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've emailed different Conservative MP's with inquiries and 2 did respond - one being believe it or not Bev Oda about the Status of Woman. I had emailed her expressing my anger at what she's doing and she emailed me back with a "standard PM approved" response.

It was a joke. The email she sent included the same rhetoric she spouts in Question Period.

Other than that, you get a generic send a letter and we'll respond type of thing.

Jason Hickman said...

C'mon Jeff. I was with you (even if I disagree re: renewing the provisions) about the "soft-on" bit being way too much till the end, when you started going on about how healthy debate is in the LPC, etc., especially when compared with the CPC.

Neither Chretien nor Martin were well-known for tolerating a heck of a lot of backtalk when they were in charge. If Dion ever gets elected to the big job, we'll see just how much insubordination he permits. It's (usually) easier to come across as open to all pov's when you're in opposition anyway.

I agree that the soft-on-terror talking point may be - heck, is - over the line, and quite frankly, unnecessary to make the case that the provisions should be extended. But calling the LPC a bastion of free-flowing debate & dissent ignores a lot of recent history.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Jason, fair enough, but also to be fair, I also made a point (and I was thinking of your points when writing it) of saying "this Liberal Party."

I debated saying "Canada's New Liberal Party" but I thought that might be too cheeky, and besides, I didn't want to go too far down the road of re-opening old wounds we're trying to heal.

Jason Hickman said...

Fair 'nuff. I'll give Dion credit on that front if he changes things. If he lets his MPs who would rather extend the provisions in question (and there's at least a couple) vote their own way, he'll deserve even more credit.

But again, the real test will be how Dion - or any oppo leader - behaves him- or herself if they get elected to form a government.

This deserves a whole post of its own (maybe I'll write one for a change, instead of clogging up your bandwidth ...), but there is an argument for Harper - or any new PM/Premier - being very firm on the caucus discipline thing, especially in (a) a minority situation, and/or (b) a situation where a party is elected to govt for the first time in a long time.

Harper is avoiding some of the mistakes Martin or Rae made; whether he's gone "too far" for Canadians at large - and not partisn-types like most of the bloggers 'round here - is still open.

ottlib said...

jason:

I worked for the Liberals on Parliament Hill during the Chretien years.

I can tell you that no Liberal had any problem with expressing any disagreement with what Jean Chretien and his government was doing or proposing. The only thing is they made their concerns known it the caucus meetings. Mr. Chretien listened to all sides and then he made a decision.

It was at that point when he did not like PUBLIC statements against government decisions. Once the decision was made it was made. However, that still did not prevent people from re-raising an issue in caucus again if they felt strongly enough about it.

It was kind of funny to hear the stories from my fellow Liberal staffers at our Friday night decompression meetings of some of the knock-down-drag-out brawls that sometimes went on behind the caucus room door.

Contrast that to the Conservative caucus. By virtually all accounts there is no debate, just dictates from Mr. Harper and his staff.

Lolly said...

ottlib;
Well stated. Recently I was in conversation with a long time (and still is) Ottawa Bureaucrat who lamented the fact that this new government holds everthing in a secretive MO. Whereas the old Government allowed discussion, deliberation, and debate on everything.
Sounds like the hidden agenda is reality.

Jason Hickman said...

Ottlib, I can't argue with your inside knowledge of what went on behind closed doors during the Chretien regime. FWIW, neither one of us are "insiders" in the CPC caucus, either.

I would note that not-exactly-raving-right-wingers like Jeff Simpson went on at length at the tendencies of Jean Chretien to keep everything under his fingers. Hell, Simpson wrote a whole book on it. Maybe he was entirely wrong - but maybe not.

Olaf said...

Jeff,

I agree with Jason - I was with you on the soft on terrorism stuff, which is just ridiculous, but after that I think you're just grasping.

Do you really think that it's not a problem when 4 high profile members of the party (including the ex-minister of public safety and ex-minister of justice) speak out PUBLICLY against the leader of their party? People don't have intra-caucus "healthy debate" with reporters across the country. And if it is indicative of healthy debate within the party, do you think that Dion was pleased that his co-debaters went public with their discontent? I mean, it's just a friendly debate right? He should be happy that others with experience in the relevant ministries disagree with him publicly.

I know you have a desire to spin everything into a plus for Dion, but this one wasn't.

I could be convinced they are needed still, but I don't think that case had been made yet. At least, I haven't seen it made well. Until then, I have to stand on the opposed side.

Did you stand on the opposed side when the Liberals brought in the law? Or was the rationale "the case hasn't been made as to why we shouldn't have these provisions, so I have to stand on the government side"?

Regarding personal freedom and potential abuse, the provisions haven't been used in 5 years, which seems to show a relatively small (zero) loss of freedom and small chance of abuse. Plus, the government motion would only extend them for 3 years, and they can be repealed by the opposition at any time if abuse becomes rife for no apparent reason. So why, all of a sudden, is this motion suddenly such a threat to civil liberties? I bet Iggy would love to speak out on this one.

Anyways, that would be my case for the provisions, take it or leave it (people usually leave it).

A BCer in Toronto said...

As I said Olaf I wasn't talking about the past Liberal party, I was talking about the current Liberal Party and the standard of tolerance of diversity I've been hoping for and seeing from it.

Do you really think that it's not a problem when 4 high profile members of the party (including the ex-minister of public safety and ex-minister of justice) speak out PUBLICLY against the leader of their party? People don't have intra-caucus "healthy debate" with reporters across the country.

With the exception of Cotler, they're not members of the caucus. Do you really contend every single member of the Liberal Party of Canada needs to be slavishly devotes to towing the LPC party line?

Would I rather these guys not be speaking out as they are? Sure. Is it helpful for the leader? Not particularly. But speaking of rhetoric, dial it down a bit. They're not attacking Dion though, they're disagreeing with him on policy. So what? Not everyone is going to agree on every issue. But we agree on more than we disagree. That's how it is with every political party.

Regarding personal freedom and potential abuse, the provisions haven't been used in 5 years, which seems to show a relatively small (zero) loss of freedom and small chance of abuse.

Wouldn't the fact they haven't been used tend to show they aren't needed? Canadian law enforcement has foiled several alleged attacks without making use of these provisions. And the potential for abuse would come if and when they're used, I don't think the fact they haven't been used means there wouldn't be the potential for abuse if they were.

Did you stand on the opposed side when the Liberals brought in the law? Or was the rationale "the case hasn't been made as to why we shouldn't have these provisions, so I have to stand on the government side"?

I really don't recall my thoughts at the time. 911 hysteria aside though, I recall feeling some unease since.

I'll say this though on your question. And I would think the small government Conservative side would have to agree with me in spirit here. In a free and democratic society you don't need reasons NOT to have laws, you need reasons TO have laws.

ottlib said...

Jason:

Certainly Mr. Chretien believed in the iron fist approach. It is not unreasonable to state that the man probably believes the term 'free-vote' is an oxymoron.

However, that was the public face of his government and it hid a very vigourous debate between Liberals behind the scenes. As well, I would point out that despite his grip on caucus that did not prevent some high profile disagreements from leaking out. The disagreements about the deployment of Canadian troops to Iraq and the Clarity Act are the ones that stick out for me.

Contrast that to the Conservatives. We do not hear any peep of dissent or debate within the Party. I would think that Mr. Harper's recent conversion to a green agenda would have caused some debate within the caucus. After all there are a few climate change deniers in that caucus as well as MPs whose constituents would suffer a bit if Mr. Harper were to carry through on some of his rhetoric to reduce ghg emissions.

So why have we not heard any word of such a debate? Surely the fact that such a debate occured would eventually leak out.

In all likelihood the answer is there was no debate. Curious don't you think? The issue identified as the most important to Canadians and the Conservatives might not have had an internal debate on how to deal with it.

As for Mr. Simpson, I have learned not to trust political journalists. I know from personal experience that they are just as capable of presenting half-truths and lying outright as the politicians that they cover. So you will forgive me if I do not put too much credence in what Mr. Simpson wrote about Mr. Chretien.

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Naturally, the only party Osama would pray to win would be the one who had Monia Mazigh run as a candidate. So the Liberals are at least safe on that charge.

wilson61 said...

BCer, are you maybe overlooking the obvious?

There is no debate in the Conservative camp on the issue.

Just like there is no debate in the NDP camp on the issue.

It's the Liberal 'big tent' where there is ALWAYS debate.

One day Libs are introducing Garth Turner as a born again Liberal, next day Libs are chasing down NDP women to run as Liberals.

And there in lies the reason why Liberals are always perched on a fence, are indecisive, and have mega tonnes of priorities.

burlivespipe said...

With WilsonL7 apparently believes everything he reads, but that shouldn't be a surprise considering he's a fanatic for the political New Coke group.
Harpor did allow dissent. Chong, intergovernmental affairs minister, was allowed to publicly disagree with him. He would have privately disagreed had he been involved with the decision on his own ministry, but he wasn't invited to the party. Naturally, he became the sacrificial survivor who wasn't forced to lay on his own sword. And as you can read from what happens to people who, when offered dirty money by Heil Harpor to withdraw their candidacy, and when the cheque doesn't come they sue, you become persona non gratis (sic)... Had the unfortunate former candidate, he didn't last long enough to get one of those pass-go-don't-stop-at-committee citizen judgeships that Khannnn!'s rival slurped up.
Yes, the Cons are stepping in it, there's just a matter of time before it all comes to roost.

Anonymous said...

Actually,

that's what respected members of your own party are suggesting.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Wilson, I'm more interested in what Canadians are thinking. Are Canadians all on the same side on this issue, or any other? I don't think so. In that sense, the LPC is more reflective of the Canadian populace that the CPC.