Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tony Clemente is a happy man today

I would imagine that the decision by the BC Supreme Court, regarding Insite, brought out alot of big sighs of relief from Mr. Clemente and Mr. Harper.

The deadline for making a no-win decision was fast approaching. They had to choose from two equally unpalatable choices.

1) Ignore the growing body of evidence that suggests Insite is doing some good and close it down.

2) Or the opposite.

Decision one would have caused a storm of protest from many, leaving the government open to all sorts of accusations of placing ideology over science and generally alientating a large number of people, including many in BC, which will be very important in the next election.

Decision two would have alientated the Conservative base, which is not a good idea at the moment.

Neither option is good for a government that can now be officially labeled as embattled.

Thankfully for them the BC Supreme Court let them off the hook.

Now they have the best of both worlds. They no longer have to make that no-win decision and they can pander to their base by stating that they are "upset" with the decision. Further they can use that decision to further push their idea that Canada's judiciary is too "activist", which always goes over well with Conservative supporters.

As well, they can now appeal that decision knowing full well that the process is going to take a year or more to finish. That takes Insite off the list of issues that can hurt them and it takes away any need for a decision on Insite until after the next election. At that time the Conservatives will either still be in power facing a disorganized, demoralized opposition or they will be on the opposition benches. Either way Insite will no longer be a potentially damaging issue.

It has been a terrible winter and spring for this government but the BC Supreme Court gave them some good news yesterday. I hope that they are suitably thankful for that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This government cannot be that incompetent, can it?

After reading about the fate of Mr. Bernier my first reaction was to just shake my head. But then I began to question this affair and other blunders of this government in the last six months and became suspicious that they are up to something.

After all, this government is supposed to be lead by a political strategic genius yet this government has made some fundamental errors in the last half-year.

Take the Bernier Affair (the misplaced documents not his choice of companion). It is Cabinet Minister 101 that you should never take secret department or cabinet documents from their secured location in your office. If, for whatever reason, you have to remove them then you take them from the secure location in your office directly to the secure location that has been installed in your residence. You do not take them to the apartment of your lover (ex-lover?) one evening and you certainly do not leave them sitting on the night stand beside her bed the next morning.

Then look at the Linda Keen, nuclear isotopes fiasco. It is usually not good for a government's fortunes to be seen by the electorate as dropping the ball on nuclear safety. For whatever reason whenever the word "nuclear" is mentioned people tend to perk their ears up to see what it is all about. So when a government is perceived to have placed political and business interests above nuclear safety it is usually not good news for them.

Then look at Mr. Flaherty's assault on the Ontario government just before the last Ontario budget. That is not really a surprise. After all, Mr. Flaherty has a well documented history of incompetent boobery from his days in the Harris/Eves governments. However, it is widely known that no minister in this government can go to the bathroom without first clearing it with the PMO and maybe even the big guy himself. (I am talking about his position and not his girth, which some are saying is actually shrinking.) Again considering the big guy is supposed to be a political strategic genius you would think he would have put a stop to Mr. Flaherty's silliness real quick.

So again, considering Mr. Harper's genius all of these errors cannot really be errors. They must be part of some elaborate and undoubtedly brilliant political strategy. The question is what?

My guess is they want to goad Mr. Dion into defeating this government. However, that raises the question of how do they overcome the negative effects of these gaffes?

The only answer is the Harperites have some really, really, really, really dramatic surprise up their sleeve and they are just itching to spring in on the unsuspecting Liberals. Perhaps they have found the cure for Cancer. Or maybe Stephen Harper single handedly captured Osama bin Laden during his last trip to Afghanistan. (When bin Laden ducked into the Khandahar Airbase Tim Hortons for his daily large double-double.) Combine this with the Conservatives almost religious belief that Mr. Harper will kick Mr. Dion's ass during the election debates because of Mr. Dion's English (of course ignoring his French and its possible effects on those debates) you can see an outline of the plan.

This can be the only explanations for the recent spate of stupidity we have seen from them for the last few months. Then again, maybe they are just incompetent and corrupt but I still have my suspicions.

Incidentally, the questions I want answered in the Bernier Affair is exactly when did Ms. Coulliard contact her lawyer about the lost documents? Was it soon after they were left behind, which most agree was before April 24? If so, why did her lawyer hang on to them for a month? What did he do with them during that month? And the million dollar question: Whose idea was it for him to hang on to them for that long? His? The Hells Angels? Ms. Coulliard's? Stephen Harper's?

After all, if this would have come out just before, during or just after the NATO summit it would have been very bad for the government. Much worse than it is now and it is bad enough as it is.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

You have to give Conservatives credit

They do not air their doubts in public. You have to know that some of the more thoughtful Conservatives are probably wondering about a party and leadership that just cannot grow their support. They have to be wondering why they cannot open up a consistant double digit lead on an opponent that has had such big troubles for the last four years. Yet we hear nary a peep of worry.

Contrast that to the Liberals who upon release of another poll suggesting that Mr. Dion is not currently connecting well with Canadians several bloggers begin gnashing their teeth and making more noise about Mr. Dion having to go. Right on cue I will wager that we will hear "unnamed senior Liberals" making similar noises in the coming days thus undoing all of the progress that Mr. Dion has made in the past weeks.

And progress has been made.

After a year from hell Mr. Dion was finally beginning to get some good press. Some in the media were actually using the term leadership and Mr. Dion positively in the same sentence. Some were describing him as bold and courageous for proposing putting a price on carbon while suggesting the a reduction of income taxes. Some in the media were playing up the coming announcement hard and the communications strategy was actually working. It was whetting the interests of pundits and setting the stage for what should be a good news announcement. It was generating a debate on the merits of a Liberal policy instead of the interminable talk about party leadership and the "behind the scenes leadership race" the likes of Duffy and others were peddling.

Then, as if by design, another poll is published indicating that Mr. Dion is not well regarded by Canadians. If many of the Liberals who have complained tonight had any political sense they would have realized that the poll is just more of the same and strugged it off. They would have realized that rebuilding his image after last year will take longer than 5 months. They will have realized that having yet another round of calling for Mr. Dion's removal is counterproductive in the extreme.

Mr. Dion cannot be removed and he is not inclined to step down. So, calling for him to leave the post accomplishes nothing except to weaken him more and to strengthen Mr. Harper. In all likelihood any progress that Mr. Dion has made has been set back.

Although they take it to extremes there is something to the Conservative strategy of ignoring what the media and its opponents say about them. They refuse to buy into it. Liberals could learn from that. They could learn that a certain amount of aloofness with regard to the media narrative would go along way in rebuilding their image and that of Mr. Dion. Instead, they buy it hook, line and sinker and thus give it credibility.

Debating party policy is great but expressing doubts about Mr. Dion has to stop. It is useless, self-destructive and irrelevent.