Thursday, July 03, 2008

Where's the Harper personality that leads?

As you may know, after the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, called the Liberal Green Shift environmental plan presented by the Leader of the Opposition, Stephane Dion, "crazy" and declared it would "screw everyone" Dion invited Harper to participate in a public debate on the topic. Harper declined.

Then, Dion offered to hold the debate in Calgary. In the Lion’s Den. Oil Country. Where they eat Liberals for dinner. Particularly mild-mannered Quebecois professors that wear glasses and have dogs named Kyoto and mothers from France. Still, Harper wimped-out:

Accusing the prime minister of indulging in "low blow politics and character assassination," Liberal leader St├ęphane Dion challenged Stephen Harper yesterday to a one-on-one carbon tax policy debate in Calgary, the Conservative PM's riding and the energy capital of Canada.

Harper dismissed Dion's challenge for a leaders' duel on his home turf over "which plan - his plan or my plan - on climate change is the best, both for climate change and for the energy sector."

"Mr. Dion hasn't even realized that the debate started weeks ago," Harper's spokesman Dimitri Soudas said.
How could we have missed the start of a high-minded debate? The talking oil spot really should have given it away. Maybe if Dion agrees to let Harper’s mom be the moderator, and hold it at a Calgary Tim Horton’s, they’ll go for it.

Seriously, it’s all rather silly. No one expects Harper to agree to a debate on this. But if there’s one thing the Conservatives have proven, it’s that good politics is often silly. And by being seen to dodge Dion, while offering up unintelligent retorts like “it’s crazy” it portrays Dion as a leader and Harper as having something to hide.

Throughout this drama I’ve been reminded of an incident during the last election campaign. During one of the televised debates Paul Martin challenged Gilles Duceppe to debate him anywhere, anytime on unity and sovereignty. Duceppe said ok and Martin sheepishly backed away.
Since the Vancouver leaders' debates last week, when Martin challenged Duceppe to "meet him on every street corner, in every city and in every town and village in Quebec," Duceppe has been calling for a direct exchange with the prime minister.
Then Harper stepped-in and said I’ll debate you Gilles, I’ll speak for Canada. Gilles then sheepishly backed away, with the Liberals imploding in Quebec there was no benefit for him to elevate Harper’s stature in the province.

Harper also took a jab at Martin for turning down Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe's offer of a one-on-one debate in French between the two.

"I'm prepared to take that challenge, instead," said Harper to loud cheers as he made a farm-support announcement. "I look forward to debating Mr. Duceppe in the near future."

Duceppe appeared less than eager to take on Harper's challenge -- possibly because of the positive reception that the Conservative policies have been receiving in Quebec.

"There were no challenges made by Mr. Harper, telling me to meet him anywhere in Quebec," Duceppe said.

That dramedy though was a turning point (one of many) during that campaign. By taking-up that debating challenge, Harper was seen as Prime Minsiterial. As a leader. People began to take him more seriously.

I wonder what happened to that Stephen Harper, the one that picked-up challenges, that led? Maybe the Liberals stole that part of his personality too. Either way, by Harper ducking Dion’s challenge, this time it’s the Liberal leader gaining credibility, while the Conservative sheepishly backs away.

P.S. Speaking of Harper's personalities, remember this golden oldie?
Harper, however, is refusing to back down from his statement.

Campaigning in Chatham, Ont. on Wednesday, Harper said he doesn't go around demanding apologies, and even boasted that he can "take a punch."

Whatever happened to TakesPunches Harper? Instead we've got Lawsuity McDemandAlottaApologies Harper.

Could he have multiple personalities? Did someone else give the above quote (I'm looking at you Rahim Jaffer)? Will the real Stephen Harper please stand up?

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Kai_Wolf said...

There is no way that Dion didn't have this complicated tax scheme hatched a mere three weeks ago. If Dion seriously wanted to debate this, he could have put it forward as a Bill when Parliament was sitting or defeated this government and debated it during an election campaign. But no, he waited until the very end when summer approached, knowing full well that neither would happen. Coincidental? More like typical.

And not only did Dion and the Liberals choose to use their time to browbeat "scandals" that never went anywhere, they also chose to ignore their job as the Official Opposition and sat on their hands on votes regarding issues that are supposed to be at the heart of Liberal principles.

Dion had his chance to have a serious debate. This blather about a debate now is obviously a ploy by a desperate Opposition Leader that realizes that this is his last gasp.

Jeff said...

Only the government can introduce money bills, and so if Dion had attempted to introduce such legislation it would quickly be ruled out of order. So your scenario is false.

Red Tory said...

Jeff — Another good post. I've linked to you a couple of times on this. Nice going.

Wolfie — How's that Kool-Aid®? Yummy, I bet.

Kai_Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kai_Wolf said...

Wether it required a money bill or not to introduce it is immaterial. Dion still could have introduced his plan the exact same way he did outside of Parliament in the media while Parliament was in session and challenged the government with a simple confidence motion, saying that he and the Liberals didn't believe the government was doing a good enough job on the environment. Oh wait, they abandoned their beloved Kyoto during the Throne Speech. Obviously, Dion wasn't really serious then about debate when the chips were on the table. Only when its safe does Dion suddenly and conveniently find his spine for a debate. Real leadership there guys, lol.

Wolfie — How's that Kool-Aid®? Yummy, I bet.

You should know Marty; you're the one that is always mixing and drinking it. :D

Red Tory said...

Oh really? I challenge you to provide ONE instance of me doing that.

Anonymous said...

Jeff why would Mr.Harper give Mr.Dion free air time? Why wont Mr.Dion ask Jack Layton to debate him on this hey? Is it because Mr.Dion doesn't want to give Mr.Layton free air time? Why didn't Mr.Dion's liberals bring the government down when they had the chance? He would have had the green debate that he is looking for now.

Mr.Dion is desperate he has nothing to lose
with a debate right know. Mr.Dion has always said that he would bring down the government when he thinks the time is right for the liberals fine. Then why shouldn't this logic also apply to Mr.Harper? Why shouldn't Mr.Harper have the debate when he feels is right for the Conservatives?For example during an election campaign!!!

Lets see if you can answer these questions.

Kai_Wolf said...

Oh really? I challenge you to provide ONE instance of me doing that.

Why, every single time you bring the topic of Kool-Aid up! :D

But nice try at changing the channel, Marty.

Barcs said...

maybe you can point out something Harper has to gain from such a debate??

No? then why have it? He already has part of the media poo poo'ing the plan. That is what he wants anyway. isn't it?

Why give the opposition free airtime when you can watch him fight to be heard and dump on the plan from afar??

I don't suppose Dion would like to debate his voting record of opposing the conservative bills in the house this session would he?? Why doesn't he demand a debate on that too?? Simple, it won't benefit him any... same as Harper not debating the green plan.

And Kai is right about timing. The liberals could have released it months ago and tried to get it talked about in parliament and in the media. Instead they roared about scandals like someone not leaving a bing enough tip or someone driving 102 in a 100 zone.

Why is it that you think Harpers leadership ability is tied to following Dion's agenda?? Isn't that a test of Dion's leadership and not Harper's??? Is it Harpers leadership credibility that is damaged because Dion can't get his message out??

Jason Hickman said...

Sorry if this adds me to the list of Koolaiders, Red, but fact is, Dion's the one who decided to put his show on the road now, during the summer.

Kai's right about this: Dion could've intro'd the plan earlier, before the House broke (unless it really needed to be tooled up till the very last minute). And while the oppo can't introduce money bills, is there any reason why the Libs couldn't have used one of their Oppo Day motions to move a motion like "Be it resolved that our GreenShift plan is great", or something - if, that is, Dion is serious about having it debated, rather than tossing down a gauntlet that he probably assumed Harper wouldn't pick up.

Anyway, Harper's under no obligation to give Dion or his plan airtime, as much as I'd personally enjoy watching Harper & Dion go head-to-head.

If Layton had any sense, he'd volunteer to debate Dion on the topic, since he's going to get even less press than Dion till the House gets back (and beyond).

Mark Richard Francis said...

"Why wont Mr.Dion ask Jack Layton to debate him on this hey?"

Gee, because the NDP isn't the government.

And Harper still hasn't released the regs for his carbon trading plan. A plan which will place a price on carbon, costing high emission regions -- such as Alberta -- a lot of money when they buy carbon credits from lower emission regions, such as a few large provinces out East.

Unlike the Green Shift, there's no tax cuts.

Strange how we know more about the Opposition's proposal than the governments.

Anonymous said...

To Mark Francis post 7:05 pm

"Why won't Mr.Dion ask Jack Layton to debate him on this hey?"

"Gee, because the NDP isn't the government."

What an answer we have here. I knew that someone would say something as stupid as this. If we should take your logic here,it would mean that the NDP shouldn't be allowed to participate in the debate in the next election right?

The NDP do have a following believe it or not. I could less about their politics,but this is beside the point.

"And Harper still hasn't released the regs for his carbon trading plan. A plan which will place a price on carbon, costing high emission regions -- such as Alberta -- a lot of money when they buy carbon credits from lower emission regions, such as a few large provinces out East."

Why would Mr.Harper release anything when there is no election on the horizon and give time for your enemies to poke holes in it. Please don't tell that there might be an election this fall.Because I have seen this movie before and it always seems to end the same way.

"Unlike the Green Shift, there's no tax cuts."

Do you actually think Mark,when the writ is dropped that Mr.Harper will not be promising more tax cuts during the next election campaign?

"Strange how we know more about the Opposition's proposal than the governments."

The answer to this is simple Mr.Dion is desperate period.You know it and I know it.

Jeff said...

As I said in the post no one expects Harper to actually agree to a debate. He has nothing to gain here by elevating Dion. Just like no one expected Duceppe to accept Harper's challenge during the campaign. He had nothing to gain by elevating Harper.

That doesn't mean in was the wrong play for Harper during the campaign, and Dion now, to proffer their challenges. Indeed, in both cases it's very good strategy, for the reasons I've already outlined. On this one the Liberals have made a good play. Safely knowing Harper will never accept, they can paint him as afraid.

Fair? Probably not. But good politics is rarely fair. I think the Harper Cons have taught us that one amply in the past, so I won't shed any tears for them.

Barcs said...

"Fair? Probably not. But good politics is rarely fair. I think the Harper Cons have taught us that one amply in the past"

Harper really did learn alot from Chretien.. didn't he?