Monday, November 12, 2007

Jay Hill makes no sense

I know a Conservative making no sense is hardly anything new, but usually they let some time go by between their contradictory statements, instead of just giving one single statement that they purport makes their point when, really, it makes no sense at all.

In today’s Hill Times (which for some reason doesn’t let you link directly to the few stories they do post online gratis…hey, even Warren Kinsella has permalinks now guys), there’s a story on the Conservative strategy vis a vis Stephane Dion. You know, the whole not a leader, didn’t get it done shtick.

Anyway, in the piece Hill is making a big deal about the Liberals abstaining on the throne speech. Reporter Abbas Rana had the good sense the point out a little recent history on that point (long-term memory isn’t always a ready media quality):

Conservatives themselves are no strangers to abstaining from a confidence vote as they were the first to set a precedent in Canadian political history to abstain en masse in 2005 on the budget vote as the official opposition.

Indeedly-do, another case of Conservative do as I say, not as I do, only this time they’re actually being called on it. And how does Conservative whip Jay Hill reply. Totally different, he says. No surprise he’d say that. What’s surprising is how spectacularly he fails to articulate the supposed difference:

"At that time, our leader Stephen Harper clearly said this is not a Conservative budget, he didn't spend a whole bunch of time trashing the budget. He stated the obvious, 'It's not a Conservative budget. If I was prime minister, I would have done a lot of things differently but on balance this is not a budget worth forcing another election on Canadians.' End of story," Mr. Hill said in a telephone interview from his riding, adding that it was a credible position to take. "When we abstained, everybody knew in advance we were going to abstain, there was no surprise and [Mr. Harper] was able to maintain his personal credibility. St├ęphane Dion's problem is that his two positions are directly contradictory. You can't tell Canadians, on one hand that this is terrible and then credibly say, 'Oh, by the way, we're going to sit on our hands and we're going to allow the government to continue.' So, one of two things has to happen, I would think is that in order to maintain his credibility, either he has to defeat us or he has to find a few more good things to say about our policies."

Umm, say what Jay Hill? You lost me. Harper said it’s not a Conservative budget, that he didn’t like it, but Canadians didn’t want an election, so he had his caucus abstain, and told everyone that right away. Dion said this wasn’t a Liberal throne speech, that he didn’t like it, but Canadians didn’t want an election, so he had his caucus abstain, and told everyone that right away.

Only difference between the two scenarios is one leader is named Harper, and the other Dion. And yet to Jay Hill, the two situations are totally different. I’m not buying it Jay. Actually, there's one other difference. The Harper abstention was on a budget, the Dion one on at throne speech. I'll leave it to others to debate the weightiness of the two.

You can agree with the abstention decision or not. And you can argue Dion’s credibility may be on the line here. That’s all totally fair. But don’t try to tell me there’s some big moral difference between the Harper abstention decision and the Dion abstention decision. Jay, that dog just won’t hunt. Pot, kettle, black.

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Len said...

B-b-b-but the Conservatives have God on their side. Didn't you know?

900ft Jesus said...

len - LOL! And we cannot presume to know god's ways.

As for access to the Hill Times - they don't allow linking because they want to keep it to paid membership only. You have to be careful how much you quote all at once, I've been told.

The Rat said...

Ok, how about I explain it and I will even try to use small words. The Conservatives abstained from a budget that was put forward less than year since the last election. They said it wasn't a conservative budget, but I don't remember them making demands.

Now Dion abstained from a vote almost two years from the last election after laying out five non-negotiable (sorry, big word) demands. Since none of those demands were met, and since the election wasn't so recent as to give him cover, one can only assume Dion made his demands and then chickened out. Thus, not much of a leader.

Canajun said...

The Rat - Okay, just so I understand your point, there's a statute of limitations on abstentions? Clearly less than a year is okay to abstain on a vote, but almost two years (actually I think it's closer to 18 months, but never mind) is too long, so what is the magic cut-off date after which what one does on principle becomes a matter of poor leadership skills?