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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Reaction to Harper speech

The Liberals and their media allies appear ready to spin Stephen Harper's response to Prime Minister Paul Martin's speech as unduly harsh, even downright negative.  They will turn his criticism of the government against him and criticicize Harper for going negative when Martin was attempting to address the nation to avoid (in the words of one Liberal I talked to today) a constitutional crisis. Anyway, these were the thoughts I was having re-reading Harper's speech when I received an email from a Liberal strategist:

"Harper said "If this parliament is not working today, it is because the government has not made it work, because the government has no vision for the nation, because Mr. Martin is consumed by the image of corruption, crippled by dithering instead of deciding." Is this the best your man can do? Attack, attack, attack. Canadians don't like American style negative attacks and neither do they find Martin's "dithering" an issue although it is for National Post editorial writers and the Conservative spin machine. Harper better find something he likes about Canada as much as he hates the Liberals because he will never get elected until he does."

No doubt that the MSM will parrot that ridiculous "American-style negative attack" line. I thought Harper's response was thoughtful, accurate and as complete a rebuttal as a leader of the opposition could do. But that might not be enough if the MSM choses to focus on the fact that Harper is criticizing the government rather than focusing on the substance of that criticism. Harper should score points with these lines, but I doubt that they'll make many stories:

"Let's be under no illusion. However the partisan politics of the next election play out, the Liberal Party of Canada has done tremendous damage to this country's institutions, particularly in Quebec. Never forget that the sponsorship scandal is not a Quebec scandal. It is a Liberal scandal that took place in Quebec, a Liberal scandal that took place in Quebec in the name of Canada and in the name of national unity."

If the media quotes this line at any length it is because they figured out how to spin it not just as an American-style negative attack but as anti-Quebec, too.

Posted by Paul Tuns on April 21, 2005 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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Not necessarily anti-Quebec. Don't forget, Gilles Duceppe quoted that part of Harper's speech verbatim in his "(forgive me these) english words". It isn't anti-Quebec at all.


Posted by: RightGirl | 2005-04-21 9:27:49 PM

I still think the importance of the address is being given far too much weight. If Greg Weston is right about his hints re: the forensic audits, nobody will remember that Paul Martin begged for another year in office, or Harper's response to it.

The spinmeisters will be far too busy with the damage control at Gomery.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-04-21 9:29:54 PM

For what it's worth, Craig Oliver and Lawrence Martin both thought Harper gave a very forceful rebuttal to Martin.

Of course, Canadians will ultimately decide what to make of the Martin address.

The question then becomes this: has Martin framed the election debate over the timing of the Gomery report as a result of his address?

My answer? I doubt that very much.

For one thing, Canadians view all politicians cynically these days (a point I don't think Harper is addressing, btw). So Martin coming out praising principle over politics won't be taken serioulsy.

People are becoming resolved to the fact that the Martin government will fall and that we will have an election. Martin did nothing to change that tonight. In fact, I thought it was a feeble effort at that.

Posted by: The Cyber Menace | 2005-04-21 10:47:53 PM

> Craig Oliver and Lawrence Martin

Lawrence Martin is a Chretienite. Seeing Paul Martin struggle is gold for him. Craig Oliver waits till the election has started before he shows his true colors. He'll be crying to Ontario how Paul Martin is the best PM ever and how only the Liberals can stop the BQ, alien invasions and Godzilla attacks.

Posted by: hsb | 2005-04-21 10:54:14 PM

Paul Martin has spoken

We have all watched and listened to Paul Martin's seven-minute speech. Despite the drumrolls and all the hoopla leading up to this speech, we have not heard anything new from the PM.

He went on and on about how it was him that launched the Gomery commission and how sorry he was that he had not been more vigilant when he was finance minister.

As most every one who watched can confirm, this was a PM begging for his job, a job that he loves so much.

Canadians are smarter than this: they are not going to fall for such cheap theatrics.

Letting the Liberal party clean up itself? Puh-leeeez, gimme a break! You might just as well ask the mafia or Al-Qaida to clean up themselves.

It is time to go to the polls and send a clear message to Paul Martin, Jean Chrétien and all other Liberals out there: we will not stand for corruption and we will certainly not tolerate criminal activities.

Canadians ARE ready to go the polls: last year, we elected a minority government. So, calling an election a year later should really not surprise anyone. Every Canadian must have expected another election within a year or so.

Paul Martin tonight admitted that he had been sleeping at the switch when he was finance minister. Saying sorry doesn't cut it. Such an incompetent and dithering fool has no business running a country - any country, for that matter.

If he actually meant what he said tonight, he would not have suspended democracy in Canada by canceling the Opposition Days in Parliament - that was a move befitting an African or South-American banana republic, but not Canada.

The Liberals under Jean Chrétien and now Paul Martin have brought shame over Canada - domestically and internationally. This is why we need to go to the polls now - once they are out of government, they can be prosecuted, including Paul Martin, to the fullest extent of the law.

Paul Martin's speech tonight achieved only one thing: more Canadians than before tonight's televised address are now convinced that the Liberals have plenty more to hide - more than the Gomery inquiry has revealed so far. We do not have to wait for Justice Gomery's report. Canadians already know enough about the corruption and criminal activities of the Liberal party. All we need to do now is head to the polls.

Posted by: Calgary Cafe | 2005-04-21 11:03:42 PM

I am astounded that no one has pointed out that the reason Martin gave this speech is to distract from the sponsership inquiry that is taking place today. The media (and this site, it appears) will be so concerned about spin, election dates, polls, etc, that the focus will shifts away from sponsership.

If conservatives want to win, they can't let this happen!!!

Posted by: Pat C | 2005-04-21 11:16:05 PM

"The Liberals under Jean Chrétien and now Paul Martin have brought shame over Canada - domestically and internationally. This is why we need to go to the polls now - once they are out of government, they can be prosecuted, including Paul Martin, to the fullest extent of the law."

Stop it, you're making me cry! Could not have said better myself. Oh the sight of those bastards behind bars would be as good as seeing Old Glory fly over Alberta. Why not both?

When I think of Liberal incompetence, I think of one day when they completely failed: September 11, 2001. Leadership was required that day, but in Canada it was totally lacking at the top. Chretien did only the bare miniumu - going to a mosque to offer condolences. The rapid actions of a few bureaucrats to organize help for stranded airline passengers saved the day.

However, the most disgusting sight was the headline on the Sept 29 edition of the Toronto Sun. Chretien claimed the NYC government asked him not to visit because of rescue efforts. The Sun found otherwise. Here's the article.

N.Y.: Didn't stymie PM

Says Chretien was welcome at Ground Zero any time

By RICK BELL -- Sun Media

CALGARY -- The Mayor of New York City never barred Prime Minister
Jean Chretien from the rescue operations at the World Trade
Center, Sun Media has learned.

"At no time, and in no fashion, was the prime minister of Canada
ever asked to not come to New York City," Sid Dinsay,
the spokesman for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told
The Sun. "At no time, in no fashion, in no way. I can't say it
any clearer."

Chretien has said he did not stop in New York City last Monday
after meeting with President George W. Bush -- like
Britain's Tony Blair and France's Jacques Chirac did -- because
Giuliani told his office rescue operations were already stretched
and he did not want to stretch them further.

"I listened to the advice of the mayor," Chretien said last
Monday. "If there is another occasion, I'd like -- I
wanted to go there."

Instead, Chretien jetted to a major Liberal fundraiser in Toronto
Monday night.

The prime minister will tour the ruins with the leaders of the
opposition today.

Did Giuliani ask the Prime Minister to hold off a trip to the Big

"The answer would be no," Dinsay said. "There was no prohibition,
there was no rebuffing, he was not rebuffed.

"Of course, as always, Prime Minister Chretien is most welcome in
the city of New York and is welcome by the city of
New York."

So if Giuliani didn't put the brakes on the trip to the Big
Apple, maybe it was the U.S. government. But a spokesman at the
U.S. state department said it would not and did not
intervene in the internal affairs of New York City.

The borough of Manhattan, where the World Trade Center is
located, also denied stopping the travel plans of the PM.

The sight of Chretien in the very presence of Mayor Giuliani (God Bless Him) was appalling. The Mayor, praised worldwide for his leadership, was standing next to a man who did absolutely nothing and tried to take credit for the efforts of others. Chretien wasn't even fit to lick the dust off the Mayor's boots. Pathetic.

Vote these people out and make them pay.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-04-21 11:25:28 PM

Paul, you actually had a Liberal strategist tell you that "Canadians don't like American style negative attacks"?

That's rich coming from a Liberal.

Posted by: TimR | 2005-04-22 1:02:02 AM

"Is this the best your man can do? Attack, attack, attack. Canadians don't like American style negative attacks . . ."

Quite obviously, this is an attempt to pre-empt negative attacks. I'm astonished you don't see that this is what the Libs are most worried about.

When you've got 'em down, grind 'em into the dust. No pity upon these merciless thieves.

Posted by: Texan | 2005-04-22 4:28:06 AM

One word as regards P. Martin's timing and content - pathetic. We are politically bankrupt in this country at the federal level and until there is the will to forego greed, power, and control among both the conservative backers/front runners, little if anything will change. It will be sad to see the Liberals try to carry one and it will be an even greater travesty to have a snap election when the reason for a new government will be by default. As I wateched Stonach, Moore, and Jaffer talk on t.v. about leadership I wonder how they can realistically seperate themselves from the Mulroney years any more than present day liberals can seperate themselves from Trudeau. Business was not done much differently in the Mulroney years than it has been done within the liberals (the latter just got caught). As Boulay said before Gommery - all he did was change the colors of his office when there was a swtich from the Conseratives to the liberals in '93 - implied was that the way he did business remained pretty much the same whether it was conseravtives or liberals. The new conservatives have ties all over the place with the Mulroney era and who knows - we may find yet that the sponsorship money found its way out of Quebec via old line conservatvie MP's. Yes - we may well have a snap election but the reasons for it (power greed and opportunism) as well as well as what a snap election will accomplish in positive terms for Canada will probably change little if anything. The big winners of a snap election will be the Block Quebecois and the media who after all, thrive on controvery.

Posted by: Keith Laurie | 2005-04-22 6:42:48 AM

Texan has it right.

Attack Martin, aka confidence-man, grafter, grifter, has-been, slithers & dithers, Brushman, buddy/pal of Chretien & Boulay & Gagliano & Lapierre & the rest of the nest of brigands, pirates: & add all the other epithets.....

Their corrupt reign is ended.

Martin: Guilty.

Canadian Voters: throw them out of office.

Elect Honest Stephen Harper.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-04-22 7:58:50 AM

CyberMenace wrote:

"For one thing, Canadians view all politicians cynically these days (a point I don't think Harper is addressing, btw)."

Totally agree, which I think is something to bear in mind in analysing PM Dithers apparent strategy to stall. Basically, he seems to be counting on Cdns being p***ed-off with Harper if he forces an election earlier than next Dec/Jan. And Harper doing this will offend we cynical Cdns how exactly? We'll still be upset about Lieberal corruption, but be even more upset an election was forced upon us 4 or 6 or 7 months earlier than what the Lieberals promised? We're cynical, remember, and the expectation of we cynics is that politicians are only in it for themselves and, therefore, if Harper DOESN'T take advantage of the polls and pull the plug on his own accord, he doesn't have the cajones to be PM.

Posted by: firewalls 'r us | 2005-04-22 9:25:27 AM

What's with the remarks about Stephen Harpers' reaction being overly angry and negative??? DUH!
Who's NOT overly angry and negative about Martin and gang? I thought Harper was remarkably restrained. Oops, I'm cranking up my blood pressure again...oh well, time for question period. The opposition is bound to entertain and calm me. ;)

Posted by: PollyinAlberta | 2005-04-22 12:09:51 PM

I still don't understand why people are worried about Quebec leaving. Quebec can't separate. It is economically impossible for it to do so.

What we developed over the past 40 years, with this centralist infrastructure, is a situation where Quebec is bonded - with cement - to the federal trough. Its economy depends on federal contracts, on federal tax relief, on the federals setting up of factories in Monteal-Quebec. It has no self-organizational capacity to start its own economy. Furthermore, the unions that are rampant parasites in Quebec inhibit and prevent entrepreneurship in Quebec.
Quebec cannot economically separate because it has NO self-organized economy.

What would happen if it tried to separate? I'll leave out the enormous judicial problem of the indigeneous peoples, who, by law, Ottawa is obliged to protect. What would happen? Without an economy and with, itself, no entrepreneurial capacity - France would shriek with joy and step in immediately, to underwrite that Quebec economy. Quebec would become a colony of France...and that...would indeed make trouble for North America.

What's needed? Not just voting in the Conservatives. It's not just the party in power; it's the infrastructure that is the serious problem.

Canada's centralist economic and political infrastructure is THE KEY problem. You cannot force-mould a geographic territory as diverse and large as Canada into a homogeneous unity. I'll keep ranting on about a decentralized federalism - of about five or six almost self governing economic/political zones...with a vastly reduced federal central gov't. I can't see any other future...and the sooner the better.

Posted by: ET | 2005-04-22 1:00:01 PM

If Canadians are as cynical as everybody assumes, wouldn't that be a good bandwagon to be leading? Canadians are proud of their country for the sake of being proud of their country (I cant think of anything to be proud of since the Lieberals got in again). If the CPC can convince voters they will clean this up with laws and not loose rules, I would think we'd have the highest voter turnout ever. (although, the die hard Lieberal voters who stay home might drop the total)

When Martin seized the airwaves last night he had an opportunity to announce what he's going to do to clean up. Instead he offered a halfassed apology about how he should have known what was going on when he buried his head in the sand in Finance. He still won't even admit what he knows, "Wait for the Gomery Report, that'll tell you what I know, and I'll deny most of what that says." Da proof is Da proof and thats the very most he'll ever actually admit to.

Posted by: johnmac | 2005-04-22 1:02:07 PM

I think it is CRUCIAL for Harper to make a positive case to be PM in any early election.

If all we get is a re-run of last year I think he'll suffer.

Which leads me to believe that he has some sort of plan. Why else the mad rush he seems to be orchestrating?

Unless, of course, he's waiting for even more explosive testimony at Gomery to run on - which will do nothing to adress the cynicism problem.

Neither did Haper's address last night.

Posted by: The Cyber Menace | 2005-04-22 1:50:56 PM

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