Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Babble on.

The Hack says it better than I could:

"Stephen Harper will do things differently," we told the non-believers.

And then the trap we sprung on ourselves:

"I believe that Stephen Harper is different."

Thousands of Conservatives gave their friends and family that exact speech or a reasonably facsimile of it.

What are we supposed to tell the people of our lives now that they'll be coming back and saying, "Sure, fool me once...?"

I said exactly those things in cold doorways around the neighbourhood where I live this past election, and on sunlit ones in the election before. Someday, a bright and enterprising candidate may convince me to campaign door-to-door with them again, but you can bet I'll never promise my party will do things differently.

Fool me once...

Babble off.

Update: Andrew might be on to something:

I wonder if there is a correlation between time spent volunteering on the Conservative campaign, and how you reacted to the Emerson/Fortier appointments?

Perhaps. How thoroughly disappointing to see the cynics proved right. Cynicism builds nothing, creates nothing, inspires nothing. I had hoped a principled Conservative government, unused to the corrupting trappings and temptations of power, might stem the rising tide of cynicism eating away at the political spirit of our great country. That hope is not extinguished, but it wanes.

I still support the Conservative govenment on policy. But policy alone is thin gruel indeed for someone hungry for leadership.

Upperdate: Coyne is farking hilarious. My God, I needed that laugh.


At 10:43 a.m., Blogger Ghost of a flea said...

Hi Damian; as one of the cynics I agree it is most often not a constructive position to take. But then neither is pollyanna-ism. My change of heart vis a vis Mr. Harper followed the CPC policy convention; an exercise in cynicism far greater than any feeling I can muster.

From my point of view these cabinet appointments were no surprise. That does not mean I am happy to have been proven right about the prospect of a more honourable government let alone the leadership I agree we desperately need. I wish you, Bob Tarantino and a dozen others I could name off the top of my head had been Conservative candidates in the last election. I would have been proud to stand on the chilly doorsteps with any of you gentlemen.

At 11:19 a.m., Blogger v said...

Your moral relativism is amusing. I've written a lengthy, logical article at my blog, replete with facts, figures, and historical precedent, and I challenge anyone to take a whack at it. You're freaking out over nothing Damian and I can prove it.

Harper did exactly what he said he would do in regards to floor crossing.

The fact that I was a Poli-Sci major probably gives me a lot more insight on this matter than most bloggers. I studied this stuff in school, many haven't. I don't claim to be well versed in geology, or law, or auto mechanics, or science, or curling, so I scratch my head sometimes when folks who don't really know their stuff when it comes to politics try to sell s**t as shinola.

I don't go to knitting blogs assuming that my knitting knowledge is equal to everyone else's.

I don't think the people who are so pissed off have a full understanding of Canadian political history and Parliamentary tradition, nor do they understand that Harper is sticking to his word on this matter.

I don't think naivete is the right word to desribe what's happening, but lack of information. And that's what I'm trying to do here, get the information out there so folks at least have a chance of making an informed opinion, not this knee-jerk nonsense.

My friend asks "Is there any way to explain Fortier though?" and I replied:

Yes, see Bob de Cotret and that Murray guy Mulroney had in cabinet, to name two off of my head. The constitution allows this sort of thing for a reason, and there is a lot of precedent for it. Try googling or checking out wikipedia and I am very confident you'll see what I mean.

Harper had Josee Verner in his caucus for months before she was elected. The Senate Leader is always a member of cabinet and they are never elected, so it is accurate to say that every single federal cabinet in Canadian history has had at least one unelected member. So what exactly is the problem?

Rich: "SH said that he wouldn't have anyone in his government that wasn't elected. "

Did he? When? I honestly need to see this with my own eyes before I believe it. Got a link? Strange that he would say that when he appointed Verner to caucus without being elected, and strange since he needs to make his (unelected) leader in the Senate part of cabinet, like every single other cabinet in history.

I'm not wild about Fortier and I stated that publicly and plainly, but you and I don't have all of the information. The Quebec caucus is pretty inexperienced so Fortier might be handy, but Public Works? I can't see how that is a good idea. The only thing that comes to mind is that Fortier knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak.

At worst you've got a problem with one (1) out of 27 cabinet appointments; howsabout not letting the left control the debate, and what say we switch topics to how f**king awesome this cabinet is compared to the Libs? And let's give Harper the benefit of the doubt; he just ran a flawless campaign, do you think he went mental all of a sudden?

Character is destiny and Harper has proven his character over two decades of public life. Trust Harper to be Harper, says I.

For what it's worth here's a list of Senators who have run for MP after resigning as a Senator:

"Very few Canadian Senators have ever resigned their seat to run for a position in the Canadian House of Commons, but six have done so successfully:

Name Party Senate Commons
Joseph Edouard Cauchon Con 1867 1872
Peter Mitchell Lib-Con 1867 1872
Archibald Woodbury McLelan Lib-Con 1869 1881
John Carling Liberal-Conservative 1891 1892
William Templeman Liberal 1897 1906
Robert René de Cotret PC 1979 1984

De Cotret resigned from the Senate to run in the 1980 election, but was unsuccessful. He was elected in the 1984 election, however.

In 2000, Bernard Boudreau resigned from the Senate to run as a Liberal candidate for the House of Commons, but was defeated in the 2000 election."

The people who are freaking out over an unelected member of cabinet appear to be disturbingly unaware of Canadian history; I can't find a Canadian Federal cabinet that did NOT include at least one unelected cabmin. From

"The Leader of the Government in the Senate is a Canadian cabinet minister who leads the government side in the Canadian Senate and is chiefly responsible for promoting and defending the government's program in the Upper House. The government leader's counterpart on the Opposition benches is the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Early Canadian cabinets would include several Senators who would be answerable to the Senate for government actions and in the nineteenth century it was not considered unusual for a Senator to be Prime Minister as was the case with Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott and Sir Mackenzie Bowell. Abbott and Bowell both found it difficult to lead the government from the Senate, however, and over time the perceived legitimacy of the Senate declined. Accordingly as time progressed it became less common for Senators to occupy prominent positions in Cabinet.

From 1935 on it was typical for a Cabinet to have only one Senator who would have the position of minister without portfolio and act as Government Leader in the Senate.

In 1969 the position of Leader of the Government in the Senate became an official cabinet position with the appointment of Paul Joseph James Martin. Occasionally Senators may still hold senior cabinet positions in order to ensure regional balance in Cabinet if the governing party is unable to elect members in a particular region or province as was the case of the Progressive Conservatives under Joe Clark in 1979 or the Liberal Party of Canada under Pierre Trudeau in 1980. However, it is usually the case that the Leader of the Government in the Senate is the sole Senator serving in Cabinet."

Apologies for the length but this is getting out of hand and I have to defend my country against those who wish to destabilize it for their own selfish purposes.

At 11:27 a.m., Blogger Andrew said...

I knew Anonalogue couldn't sound reasonable for an entire post.... he had me going up until he penned:

"Apologies for the length but this is getting out of hand and I have to defend my country against those who wish to destabilize it for their own selfish purposes."

Hah. Right. People like Damian and myself are destabilizing Canada for our own selfish purposes. Keep sniffing the glue, Anonalogue.

At 12:16 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I was going to delete the offensive git, Andrew, because I'm just enough of an "amoral retard" to do it.

But I figure the more he talks, the stronger the cautionary tale: don't stick your head up your own ass unless you have a way of getting it back out again - look at the sorry Anonalogue if you're tempted to try.

Who knew Rubert had a doppelganger?

And Anonalogue, don't bother apologizing for the length of the comment. Considering the splattering brain-fart you let rip all over my comments-section, the volume of mental flatulence should be the least of your worries.

At 12:53 p.m., Blogger Mike said...


Let me tell you, even though I'm a Dipper, I also had hopes that, even though I do not agree with the policies of the CPC, Stephen Harper would have run his government differently as he promised. We need a government run differently.

How many people voted CPC for that reason, even if they didn't agree with some or many of the party,s policies.

I was hoping the debate would at last be about policy and platform and vision for the future.

Instead, its more of the same. Its at times like this that I almost hope the NDP don't get into power, les they do this too. Almost, but not quite.

This is a bad day for idealists and pricipled supporters of all parties, left or right.

At 1:20 p.m., Blogger John the Mad said...


I have that cherished degree in political science, on which you hang your rather large hat. I've also served on political staff in the House of Commons, have studied Canadian history in university and am a policy wonk by trade.

There are other ways to gain the requisite subject matter knowlege, of course. My resume helps me to inform my views, but it is the argument itself that must carry the day. I don't believe yours does.

Yes, the leader of the government in the Senate sits in Cabinet, but does not head a ministry and, therefore is not required to answer questions in the Commons.

Ever since the development of Responsible Government, a primary role of the Commons is to control the public purse and to have ministers of the Crown be answerable for expenditures.

Historically, this was the means by which the people in England limited (and eventually eliminated) the power of the absolute monarchy, which resulted in the constitutional monarchy we have today.

Accordingly, (as you note) Mr. Fortier should not be the minister of the largest spending ministry with responsibility for so many government contracts. It weakens the accountability structure (and responsible government) if he is not available in Question period to answer queries from the Commons.

The fact that there are historical precedents does not mean they are good precedents.

I state on my blog that I'm more concerned about Fortier than Emerson (though Emerson's lobbying role is problematical, he is a sitting member of the Commons).

Mind you, if I were a Conservative back bencher, I'd be livid. Ya dance wid de goil dat brung ya.

The Emerson appointment may be constitutionally permissable, but it is politically problematical. We were promised (and I certainly promised going door-to-door) a government that would do things differently. Optics are important in politics and the public is taking the measure of this government.

The previous government appeared to govern solely on optics and opinion polls and that is not acceptable, but optics need to be taken into account.

This is a balls up. (If you call me a moral relativist, you'll be the first. I'm more of a Savonarola type of guy, to the pain of my family and friends.)

At 1:33 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Thanks for the rebuttal, John, but you needn't bother: Anonotwit's comments are no longer welcome here. Feel free to roam on the seedier side of the blogosphere if you feel the need to engage him in fruitless debate, but be sure to wrap a prophylactic around your keyboard first - one wouldn't want to become infected with anything noxious from the interaction.

Do not doubt, however, that I appreciate the support of an ethical man like you.

At 4:02 p.m., Blogger GenX at 40 said...

So are you the new Akaash Maharaj of the NuCons?

At 4:55 p.m., Blogger John the Mad said...


You have me laughing out loud here at work. Remind me not to get on your bad side.

"Considering the splattering brain-fart you let rip all over my comments-section, the volume of mental flatulence should be the least of your worries."


At 5:11 a.m., Blogger PR said...

When the Liberals score a defection, they celebrate. When the Conservatives score a defection, they rub themselves with ashes, tear their clothes, don sackcloth, and walk down main street wailing, gnashing their teeth, and whipping their bare backs. Are Conservatives secretly masochists that want to lose?

At 7:11 a.m., Blogger GenX at 40 said...


At 7:39 a.m., Blogger Andrew said...

No Peter. Most of us Conservatives actually believe our publically stated principles are important. That's the difference.

At 6:32 p.m., Blogger AwaWiYe said...

>No Peter. Most of us Conservatives actually believe our publically stated principles are important. That's the difference.

Well, you wouldn't know it to look at the campaign. Towards the end it was difficult to tell which party was the bluer shade of purple. Which of your publically stated principles are immutable, and which are not?

At 4:19 a.m., Blogger Paul said...

Perhaps you can prove your principled stand by linking back in your archives to the post where you called on Belinda to resign and face an immediate byelection.

Oh, that's right. You didn't. You suggested that she should have the decency to sit as an Independent until she could win the Liberal nomination. And that the voters should turf her at the next available opportunity.

But I can't find any calls for anything more than that.

And yet you find no problem calling for more in this instance.

There are a lot of people trying to rewrite history. I expected better of you.

At 9:49 a.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Paul, you're implying an inconsistency that's not there.

I don't think MP's should be able to switch party allegiance straight into a cabinet post. There are a few ways of dealing with this. One is to sit as an independent. One is to go to the other party as a back-bencher for a reasonable amount of time - the least palatable, but at least marginally acceptable. One is to return to the voters for approval in a by-election.

Emerson has done none of those things. Neither did Stronach.

At 3:23 p.m., Blogger Paul said...

If that were the extent of your complaint in both instances, then you'd be displaying some degree of consistency.

But is isn't the extent of your complaint about Emerson, is it?

Let's see what you had to say. You start off saying he "flipp[ed] off every single person who voted for him". If he sat as an Independent, how would that comment change? It couldn't. He'd still be flipping them off.

You praise Chris Taylor's comments rebuking Harper. Where was your rebuke to Martin? Absent.

You praise Wells' comment that Emerson should resign from the House. Where was your call for Belinda to resign? Absent.

And you go on and on and on and on with your praise of those who criticise Emerson and Harper, and heap your own scorn on those who accept the move. Where was your similar treatment for Belinda.

You really must stop trying to rewrite history. I expect better of you.

At 4:15 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I don't believe sitting as an independent is betraying your constituents. I believe switching parties for a cabinet post is.

As far as criticism of the Bobblehead or Mr. Dithers goes, suffice to say I don't expect nearly as much of them as I do of the Harper CPC. The Liberals, being Liberals, were neck-deep in skulduggery at the time, which is why I volunteered my time and money to the Conservative campaign to oust them. After a dozen years of Chretien-Martin 'ethics' my personal reservoir of outrage was almost completely tapped.

The bottom line is that I don't want Conservatives acting like Liberals. We need a higher standard in government. It's that simple.

And Paul, as a writer much better than me famously said: read long enough and sooner or later I disappoint everyone. The line forms at the left.

At 7:38 p.m., Blogger Paul said...

Were Emerson to sit as an Independent in Cabinet, his votes and opinions would not change a whit from sitting in the same Cabinet as a Conservative.

The only significant difference would be that he would be unable to brief the Conservative Caucus on matters of importance to his portfolio.

It would insult his constituents no less.


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