Friday, September 05, 2008

David Emerson: Conservative Party has no vision or strategy

Interesting news today that David Emerson, the turncoat Liberal turned Conservative cabinet minister that decided not to let the public pass judgment on his floor-crossing by seeking re-election, has been named one of the Conservative campaign co-chairs, along with one-time Conservative bright light Bernard Lord.

The less than dynamic duo follow in the footsteps of an even less inspiring pair, John Reynolds and Michael Fortier. Reynolds, of course, went onto be a non-lobbyist and Fortier was infamously called-up to the Senate, where he remains today at last check.

I have to confess to being a little surprised at the Emerson appointment. He's always seemed more an executive than a politician...indeed, he always seemed to eschew the whole political game.

He could get into it from time to time, though. Such as the speech he gave to the convention of the Liberal Party of Canada (British Columbia) in November of 2004 (which the Vancouver Sun has handily posted on its Web site), the fall after he was first elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal MP.

For those Conservatives just getting to know Emerson the politician, the speech is informative reading.

For example, he sees the Conservatives as vulnerable in BC:

There should be no assumption of Conservative dominance in the future.

And what does David think of the Conservative Party?

The Conservative Party and NDP have a lot in common. They are both trapped and confined by ideology, an ideology that precludes many of middle-of-the-road, moderate solutions to the challenges Canada faces today. Their narrow focus shrinks their political base. They are drawn to policy extremes that divide, rather than unify. I look at the Conservative Party, and the way they have exploited negative sentiments in BC. There has been no positive vision or strategy.

Are BC’s issues top of mind in Ottawa because of all those Conservative MPs? No.
Wow. Anything to add about the Conservatives, David?
Clearly, despite their numbers from BC, the leadership of the Conservative Party is more focused on Eastern Canada than ever before. ...we have a Conservative Party without a social heart...narrow, extreme, and out of step with mainstream British Columbians.

What do the Liberals stand for, and why are, er, were you one?

They want dependable health care.

They want environmental protection.

They want a good education for their kids.

They want secure jobs, and they want a local future for their kids.
They want fair-minded and balanced government, that will bring people together, whether to pursue economic development or address key social concerns.

They want prudence and integrity in the way government manages taxpayers’ hard-earned money. They want us to balance the budget. They want us to invest surpluses wisely.

They have a sense of compassion for those in society who are vulnerable, through circumstances out of their control. British Columbians do not want people left behind.

They believe in equality – equality of opportunity, equality of treatment, equality under the law… they believe in social justice.

These are widely held beliefs, here in BC, and across Canada. I’m an optimistic Liberal because those are my beliefs.

And I am Liberal because those are Liberal beliefs.

Couldn't have put it better myself David.

Mr. Emerson, what did the Liberal Party do for BC?

The RAV Line, 2010 Olympics, the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Kicking Horse Pass highway upgrade, the Port of Prince Rupert… these are important priorities we are delivering on.

We have delivered on returning the GST to BC communities. And the balance of the “New Deal for Cities and Communities” will provide for positive, environmentally sustainable on our transformation where people live.

Yes, he's David Emerson, your Conservative campaign co-chair. And he's still Stephen Harper's worst nightmare.

UPDATE: Forgive me for missing this comment by David on Friday...

"I was never a Liberal," he told CBC News on Friday, during an interview in which he explained why he chose not to run again in the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway.

...which makes his comments highlighted above...

"I am Liberal because those are Liberal beliefs"

...all the more interesting.

A man can change his mind, of course. But can he re-write history, even if it was all the way back in 2004?

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The Rat said...

I'd suggest the more telling information is that he sat as a Liberal Minister and as a Conservative Minister and at the end of the day, when he has decided he has no more future in politics and no one he has to please other than himself, he chose to stand with the Conservatives. Telling, indeed!

Jeff said...

Well, he needs the Cons to win if he wants that Senate seat, rat. He knows the Liberals won't give it to him...

ALW said...

Good grief Jeff - did Jason hand off the baton for most shameless Liberal hack because he's too busy being a lawyer now?

You're seriously peddling an Emerson interview from 2004 as news? Are the savants at Liberal campaign HQ running out of stuff to punt you guys?

How about this for a fun narrative: maybe David Emerson "reflected" and changed his mind - not unlike your sainted Leader has on, oh, pretty much everything since he accidentally stumbled into the party leadership. Because that sort of flip-flopping is "listening" to "Canadians".

I await your pronouncement next week that a two-point climb in Dion's "best PM' ratings from 11% to 13% are the "first step towards a Liberal majority!" Pwned!!!

Jeff said...

Oh come on now Aaron, are you being serious or are you just having fun on a Friday night? Either way it's all good, I'm just curious.

Oh, and check the link Aaron. It's from the Vancouver Sun Web site. They're a newspaper. They seemed to find it newsworthy too. And they're not exactly known for being friendly to the federal Liberals.

Tell me, exactly what date is the furthest back we're allowed to go when considering how one's past comments reflect with their current positions?

Apparently a mere four years is beyond your statute of limitations. Does that mean I won't hear a thing from my Conservative friends about anything the Liberals did in 2004 or earlier? Nothing on the Liberal record in government, nothing on things we failed to do, nothing on sponsorship?

Good to know. I'll be sure to send them your way if they stray over the line, you can set them straight.

Tell me though, what date do you feel is more appropriate?

maybe David Emerson "reflected" and changed his mind - not unlike your sainted Leader has on, oh, pretty much everything since he accidentally stumbled into the party leadership.

Ah, so you would draw your line of demarcation somewhere between anything that you want out of bounds and the past comments you do want to throw at the Liberals at the moment? Convenient, and unsurprising.

You'll need to pick one though. If Emerson can change his mind with reflection, why can't Dion?

Harper can change his mind with reflection on all kinds of things, it seems...on fixed election dates, on income trusts, on not appointing senators, on needed to be elected to be in his cabinet, on ending the lobbying revolving door, on not spending like a drunken sailor...I'll say this for Harper, he's nothing if not reflective.

As for David, he is entirely entitled to change his mind. It might be useful though for him to just explain how he got from A to B. As Dion did on a carbon shift. And as Harper at least attempted to at times, although between you and I, I found his explanations generally less than compelling.

I haven't heard though how, in David Emerson's mind, the Conservatives went from "no vision, no policy, narrow and extreme" to a buncha swell, super fellas.

Other than the fact they suddenly had cabinet jobs to give out, and the Liberals didn't.

ALW said...

Wow, the Vancouver Sun you say. Thank goodness they've picked up on the key to defeating the Harper menace: hammering the campaign co-chair! By Jove! That's certainly the issue to rally Canadians around and rouse them out of their apathetic slumber!

It's a free country, Jeff. You can shop around whatever quotes you want. God knows we did that in the campaigns of 1997, 2000 and 2004, which as you may recall, we lost.

If you're going to try to pull a Canadian Cynic on me and assign responsibility to me for every idiot Tory blogger out there (we have our share), spare me. I'm not talking about "everyone". I'm talking about you. I come to your blog because, after CG, it's normally one of the best outlets of sane Liberal partisanship out there. But lately you've been sounding like you've been auditioning for Liberal Hack Idol with Scott Tribe (whose blog I visit to motivate me to work those extra hours on the campaign trail).

If you will recall, I was never okay with the Emerson defection, and I said so at the time. But the real question, which you have so unskilfully left unanswered is: why are you so willing to let your party leader U-turn on everything, including his centrepiece policy, but care what a not-running-again cabmin said in an interview four years ago? Do you really think it's going to help your cause? Or are you just preaching to the choir, so that the Liblogs can effectively serve as feedback loop to itself while the Liberal Party goes down in flames?

As for Emerson, maybe his conversion came when he actually met Harper. And spoke to him. And heard what he had to say. You know, rather than making the sorts of crackerjack assertions your side has been peddling about him since time immemorial. What ever happened to banning abortion, and tossing gays in the clink, and the rest of the song and dance? Have you retired that routine? Can you pull it one more time just for old time's sake? Because we'd love to hear it again. So would Canadians, I'm sure.

Wait, wait, I think your leader's already got that covered...

Jeff said...

Wow, the Vancouver Sun you say. Thank goodness they've picked up on the key to defeating the Harper menace

I really don't think a newspaper is interested in defeating anyone Aaron. I don't think you really think that either. I think the Sun found it interesting and newsworthy, given Emerson's new position announced today. And so do I. You don't, that's fine. I wouldn't expect that you would.

I suspect we'll disagree more often over the next month or two. In an election campaign, it's only natural for everyone to get their partisan dukes up somewhat. C'est la vie. Nevertheless, I stand by what I've wrote.

Oh, and David isn't just a not-running again cabmin. He's the co-chair of your entire national election campaign. I was under the impression that was somewhat of an important job.

Mike514 said...

I also come to this blog for a reasonable Liberal partisan viewpoint (I agree with ALW that CG is also a good read), but I find your latest post a little nasty. You dislike the Tories, we get it, but your first two paragraphs are over the top. It's like an angrier Jeff has taken over this blog; a "mad as hell" Jeff, if I can steal Paul Martin's phrase...

But nonetheless, it's still your blog, so you may do as you please. Just thought I'd get my 2 cents in.

Jeff said...

Well Mike, maybe "less than dynamic duo" was a little too snarky, I'll grant you that. I must have Batman on the mind or something. I'm not sure which of the pair would be Robin, though.

If you were also referring to the "turncoat" comment though, I'm going to have to stand by that one. The anger with Emerson, when he crossed to the Conservatives mere days after being re-elected as a Liberal thanks in no small part to the sweat and tears of countless Liberal volunteers, that anger was raw and palpable. And it still burns. You can make cases for floor-crossing. Some are more compelling than others. It's gone both ways. The Emerson one though, with the timing...I think turncoat is entirely appropriate.

Red Tory said...

Come on Jeff, don’t you know that we’re supposed to forget everything that happened before… oh, I don’t know… last week, or maybe a couple of months ago. Flip-flops, broken promises, statements made in earnest years ago about Canada being a third-rate welfare state, etc. Never mind that. It’s what these guys are saying TODAY that counts. Looking back to the past at what they promised or said is a mug’s game. By the way, did you hear that John McCain is a maverick and is all about bringing “change” to Washington? It’s true! He said it in a speech yesterday.

Jeff said...

Come on Jeff, don’t you know that we’re supposed to forget everything that happened before…

I know, I forget sometimes red. I'm sorry.

ch said...

Emerson seems like an intelligent, competent person, but he does not respect his constituents and his word doesn't mean much. He clearly says things for political expediency without meaning them.

The intelligence and competence make him useful for any political party, but it is because of his other traits, that he fits best into the current Conservative party. In particular the whole package (intelligence, competence, not respecting voters and willingness to say anything for political expediency) seems like the ideal combination for running the Conservative campaign.

RuralSandi said...

Telling indeed - he'll get paid big time for this position and - it'll guarantee he'll keep his mouth shut about the Cons.

After all - Emerson is an opportunist in the worst way.

The Rat said...

RS said:
"Telling indeed - he'll get paid big time for this position and - it'll guarantee he'll keep his mouth shut about the Cons."

And Jeff:
"Well, he needs the Cons to win if he wants that Senate seat, rat. He knows the Liberals won't give it to him..."

You guys are funny. You do know Emerson is independently wealthy, right? He needs a Senate seat or the pittance he'll get as campaign co-chair like he needs, well, like he needs to fly across Canada every couple of weeks. I know that you guys hate Emerson. You have reason to. But the fact remains that he needs none of that stuff (he even said that Cons want an elected senate so appointing him is kinda unlikely). If he sticks to the Cons the most likely answer is that he thinks they are the best answer for Canada. Disagree if you want, but it begin to look really petty after a while.

Jeff said...

Oh, I don't think David needs the money either rat. I think, for him, the Senate is more about prestige than salary.

he even said that Cons want an elected senate so appointing him is kinda unlikely

Were you smiling when you wrote that? I'm smiling now. :) I'm sure, on reflection, David could change his mind on this too.

the most likely answer is that he thinks they are the best answer for Canada

At least for now. As we've established, the man is open to changing his mind, if necessary. Which speaks to the point, his seeming lack of any real conviction.