Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stupid talking points

Sometimes there are examples that highlight why people outside Ottawa think all politicians are morons. Here’s one.

Today, instead of reporting on a Nanos poll that shows the Liberals and Conservatives shockingly tied (hard to fit that one into the narrative, I suppose) many media outlets are dutifully copying and pasting, often unchallenged, the latest talking points from the Conservative War Room mothership. Ctrl-c, tab to browser, control-v, post.

The Conservatives say, to media delight, that that silly Michael Ignatieff wanted Parliament back so badly, and now in the second full week he’s off talking to students in Newfoundland or some fool thing, instead of performing for their amusement in question period and giving them clips on the detainee issue so they can go on TV and ask why he’s talking about an issue that is only of moral importance and isn’t giving him any polling traction (ignore Nanos) instead of getting out of Ottawa and talking to real Canadians or something.

It’s not a completely off base criticism. The optics are pretty silly, going off on a speaking tour the second week Parliament is back. Hard to deny that.

Were I to don my Liberal hat for a moment (it’s more of a beret, really) I’d make a few observations though:

One would be that the tour was scheduled previously, as Parliament was scheduled to be recessed this week for Spring Break. Cancelling on everyone would be quite the hassle. Particularly if they didn't buy travel insurance. Cancellation fees these days are mad.

Second would be that Parliament is sitting this week because Stephen Harper, smarting from prorogation and needing damage control, decided to cancel spring break, because there was so much gosh-darned important stuff for Parliament to be working on. In fact, the media thought that Harper had laid a clever trap for the opposition, who checked with Admiral Ackbar and replied “sure, cancel it, and let’s come back even sooner,” to which Harper had no clever retort.

Third would be to mention that, despite it being supposedly so gosh-darned important for Harper to cancel the spring break (besides damage control) because he had such important matters to put before Parliament, since the House came back, the Conservatives have yet to introduce, or re-introduce, any significant legislation. They scheduled three opposition days this week. There’s been pro-forma throne speech and budget debate. And…that’s about it. Still waiting on them to even try to bringing the bulk of their crime legislation back. Where’s the beef, Steve?

And fourth, I might mention that Parliament can keep on working just fine with Ignatieff taking a few days to go about the country. Harper stayed in his office most of Monday, and life went on just fine.

Were I to now doff my Liberal chapeau and take a more critical look at all this, I’d mention that to accept the Conservative position is to completely invalidate their previous position. Indeed, it all requires the Liberals and Conservatives to flip positions.

For during prorogation, while the Liberals argued Parliament needed to be sitting so work could be done, the Conservatives responded work doesn’t just happen in Parliament, we’re out there meeting with real Canadians. And now that Ignatieff is out there meeting with real Canadians, the Conservatives say real work is being in Parliament, debating opposition day supply motions, and not talking to real Canadians like we were saying before.

So for the Conservatives to attack Ignatieff for being out there meeting with Canadians instead of in Parliament, they’re also admitting their response to prorogation attacks was invalid (and expect us to ignore the contradiction).

As well, they're reminding everyone about prorogation too. Indeed, they're now chortling about Ignatieff "proroguing himself" when just weeks ago they were saying prorogation was a completely normal parliamentary procedure. Now they think they're cleverly contradicting the Liberals, but they can't make that case without contradicting themselves too.

When you think about it, it's really all pretty stupid. Which is why, perhaps, Mike Duffy is so opposed to critical thinking.

Thankfully, there’s little of that happening in Ottawa these days, not when ctrl-c is so easy.

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Timothy Friesen said...

Thanks for this. It's well written and to the point. I just wish that more people would read it (or come to these conclusions themselves as opposed to Ctrl-C ing the Conservative talking points.

Greg said...

Thankfully, there’s little of that happening in Ottawa these days, not when ctrl-c is so easy.

The problem is that because of Iggy and Jack, nothing important is going on in Ottawa -- like say, a motion on privilege.

CanadianSense said...


a) Perogies was done to rejig committees.

Everything else is just silly. They now have control.

Optics media driven campaign outrage democracy shuttered, friendly experts chanted dictator for the 22 sitting day delay.

22 sitting day cancelled with an immediate agreement from Lib/Bloc.

They did NOT have the option to say NO. (Bad optics)

Liberals are so unhappy with budget they make sure 29 don't show up or include anything to give the CPC an opportunity to declare no-confidence.

Instead of pushing the perogies, democracy shuttered, shoe-gate, Derek Lee is now unable to test his "super duper" parliament theory.

Why is that?

The Liberal are unprepared or unwilling to test the PM.

The majority exists compliments of the inaction of the Liberals.

Remaining neutral and letting the CPC budget to cross the Rhine again illustrates the empty threat and lack of readiness by the LPOC to hold the PMO to account.

The LPOC have let the NDP off the hook.

Unknown said...

Harper’s only solutions when he gets into a jam, make a beeline to the GG and hide under her skirt; request for a prorogation or an election.
I’m I the only one who’s getting tired of this BS.

CanadianSense said...


asking for a mandate from the people in 2006 worked out rather well at the expense of Dion.

In 2009 two more CPC were sent to Ottawa.

The government does not seem to have any difficulty in getting support from voters or the Liberal Party

Did you miss the budget vote, 29 Liberal MP's forgot to show up.

If the LPOC have a better Plan or alternative why do they keep voting for the CPC Agenda?

Kim Leaman said...

Well done Jeff. This is exactly what needed to be said. It is amazing that the MSM repeats these Talking points verbatim. No effort to analyze, clarify or otherwise.

Thanks, ttsm

kenlister1 said...

Interesting Justice Bill though to be introduced. It will give the judges the power in some cases to release the identity of youths in violent crimes. Not sure this would ever be used though as I could swear I heard we had a "Liberal Judiciary". So if they are in fact liberal, then there will never be any identities released.
Of course, the opposition may support a crime bill such as this, but i know one man who can stop it...he has a long legacy of stopping tough on crime bills...
Harper can be counted on to stand up for Canada by proroguing like he has done to kill his last set of crime bills with the prorogue, and the set before that with the 2008 election call.

Chuk said...

I went to that Mike Duffy article you linked to. Holy crap, does he ever look like a blobfish these days.