Monday, May 17, 2010

Really, Alf Apps? I mean really?

I know Peter Donolo was supposed to bring adult supervision to Michael Ignatieff's OLO. Apparently his brief doesn't include the party office, because some adult supervision would have told Liberal president Alf Apps this line of attack is pretty dammed stupid:

Ousted Conservative cabinet minister Helena Guergis is getting some sympathy from an unlikely quarter: the president of the Liberal party.

Alfred Apps, the federal party president and lawyer, told CTV's Question Period Sunday that he believes Guergis was treated unfairly by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"This whole Guergis situation is what I hope will become a big wakeup call to Canadians," he said. "We treat our public servants … with just horrific disrespect these days and then we go on and treat our members (of Parliament), we don't give them the natural justice that we would expect to give to ordinary Canadians."

Really, Alf Apps? I mean, really? Guergis was treated unfairly. Wasn't it just like, last week, our party was forcefully calling for Guergis to be turfed. For airport tantrums, for the sins of her husband, most importantly, just for sheer incompetence? Didn't we want her fired, or to resign? I know memories are short in politics, but I do remember that.

Now, you can certainly take issue with the way she was booted by Harper, the reasons he gave for the belated action, and how he framed it. There are big gaps between what Harper and the PMO stated as the reason for her ejection from caucus (the Snowdy allegations) and what Snowdy has apparently actually said. You can argue it's unfair for Harper to have cast this criminal cloud over her based on what are seem like some pretty dubious accusations from questionable sources, and you can argue the fairness of taking away her nomination in Simcoe-Grey when nothing has yet been proven.

Personally, I think Harper had long-decided to get rid of Guergis, and he just needed an excuse. He seized on the flimsy Snowdy allegations as a way of booting her without having to wear it himself, and he has no intention of letting her back in: she's become embarrassing and he wants her gone. He's certainly being less than honest with Canadians about the whole thing.

But you know what? Who cares. Let the media explore those angles. For the president of the Liberal Party to be now feigning sympathy for Guergis – well yes, we wanted her out, but couldn't you do it nicely? -- is dumb, and it makes us look pretty stupid. It's as if we can't pass up any opportunity to reflexively attack the Conservatives, no matter what – even when they sloppily do what we were calling on them to do.

Here's the bottom line for me: was Guergis treated unfairly by Harper? Yes. But the fact is, no matter how the deed was done, she was an incompetent minister that had to go. Her departure from the cabinet table is a net positive for the country.

In our system of government, ministers serve at the pleasure of the prime minister, and can be fired with or without cause at any time. It's how the system works, and you agree to it going in. As for her nomination, I'd prefer she have the chance to contest it, but that's an internal debate for the Conservative Party. My, and Alf's, party has enough of its own nomination issues.

So I hope the Liberals will instead focus on more important issues, and let Helena Guergis run her own defence.

And let's keep Alf Apps off tv, please.

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Ted Betts said...

Don't you think it is an issue or at least a theme of importance in Harper apparently lying about his rationale for dumping Guergis?

Or, more significantly, once again showing how, if you cross Harper, you will be personally punished way out of proportion to your infraction?

We see how he treats civil servants when they don't obey: they get fired or their good reputations savaged or both. Linda Keen, the MPCC chair, the former Information Commissioner, Immigration tribunal board members, Environment Canada scientists, the list goes on.

And he will go full frontal attack on private citizens - president of the BMO and Chair of Council of CEOs, Graves - and MPs who cross him as well: they tried the "criminal investigations" thing first with Bill Casey you will recall when they accused him of fraud and embezzlement; they tried it with Garth Turner leading to success at the polls.

I think it is the proper job of the opposition to question and challenge problematic cabinet ministers. They are doing the nation's business and have to be held to a higher standard.

But Harper has called in the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner on what appears to be very flimsy grounds. I think that is unconscionable and speaks volumes about the threats and chilling effects of this government.

Is it a huge confidence-shattering issue? Of course not, on its own. But is it yet another example highlighting the anti-democratic culture of deceipt perpetrated by Stephen Harper? Absolutely.

(BTW, you going tonight?)

Jeff said...

That is a nice point, Ted. And once worth making. One that has more power, and looks less dumb, in the greater historical context.

Unfortunately, it seems to bare little to no resemblance to whatever point Alfred was trying to make.

And it's not a point for a party president to be on tv making either.

As for tonight, I'm in Orlando and I'm going for a steak dinner, but I'm sure that's now what you meant... :)

Fillibluster said...

If all Harper wanted was an excuse to turf Guergis, why didn't he take a less drastic approach? Remove her from cabinet, stick her in the back benches, and then make sure she was not re-nominated next time an election is called. By booting her right out of the party and calling the RCMP and Ethics Commish, he's made this into a bigger optics problem than he needed to. I don't get it, but it does suggest there's more to this than we know or guess.

CanadianSense said...


Email Apps tried to invoke U.S. President George Bush a racist card around Katrina incompetence with Harper over handling of H1N1.

I applaud your pointing out the nomination challenges inside the LPOC exist and should be a higher priority.

I agree the LPOC needs to be seen busy on important files that matter to Canadians.

Nominations is not one of them. It has been entertaining watching the opposition remove their daggers from the corpse of Helena Guergis political career and reputation.

The back benches are invisible and the circus sideshow on display have the 1990's hidden scary religious right republican agenda front and centre.

The McGill studies show the large voting blocks including Catholic vote has left the liberals and was responsible for the worst showing in 150 years in 2008.

This entire bashing of Christians is creepy on many levels.
Having different priorities on saving lives in Africa should not have you painted a racist, anti-female gov't.
In my opinion this will further alienate the moderate Canadians against the gutter politics.

RuralSandi said...

Good grief, talk about overreaction here.

He doesn't support her - he says if she's innocent then her career is ruined.

Harper could have just taken her cabinet status away (like Bernier) but had to go to extremes.

Remember, with all the hoopla, the opposition parties asked that she step down in cabinet.

I'm getting a headache from all those who think they know what should or shouldn't be done.

James Curran said...

One thing I know for sure Sandi is that Alf Apps should not be on TV talking about Parliamentary Committees. We have 76 elected MPs worthy of the arguement thank you very much.