Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« C-list rocker takes on D-list publisher | Main | They've Got Standards! »

Friday, February 17, 2006

Graham crackers

As the former Liberal government’s defence minister, Bill Graham could be relied upon to cower behind circumspection whenever clear thinking and tough words were called for. Now that he’s been named Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, he’s apparently attempting to transform himself into a macho political warlord.

This week Graham began rhetorically exploding like so much ammunition cooking off inside an RPG-crippled light-armoured-vehicle. His target: the new Conservative minority government of Stephen Harper, which Graham apparently is attempting to portray as not quite legitimate.
“Mr. Harper is not a majority government,” Mr. Graham was quoted as saying in the February 16 Globe and Mail. “So he has to accept the fact that he’s in a position that has to look for accommodations if he wants to continue to be the government of Canada.” (We'll resist the temptation to write up Graham for a Stupidism of the Week for his unwitting implication that l'etat, c'est 'Arper.)
Graham warned he’d even oppose Harper’s promise to cut the GST if it meant “reversing” the Liberals’ income tax cuts. He said, in effect, that the Harper minority government has no political mandate to undo measures that were announced but never passed into law by the Liberal government, which was – wait for it – also a minority government. He’s also seemingly forgetting that his former political mentor, Paul Martin, himself threatened a snap election if the opposition didn’t vote for his Throne Speech.
It was predictable that the left-leaning parties would remind Canadians that Harper came to power with “only” 36 percent of the national vote. Of course, such a plurality gets the “only” treatment only when the left is in opposition. When it’s in power, why, the mid-30s represent a thumping mandate for sweeping change!
Bill Clinton took his 1992 election with the smallest plurality in U.S. history as a green light to turn U.S. society on its head. American voters only managed to stop him by turning Congress on its head in 1994 (although admittedly Clinton became hugely popular later on).
Jean Chretien won in 1997 with just over 38 percent of the vote – barely more than the Conservatives’ recent total – but as Dr. J. pointed out to me by new-fangled telephone technology from his recreational hidey-hole in the wilds of Welfare Columbia, Chretien governed as if he had received 70 percent.
The truly baked aspect of Graham’s comment is that we conservatives have been warning ourselves to tread lightly. We – and I include myself, in this column – have recalled the spectre of Joe Clark as someone whose governing style is not to be emulated, at our mortal peril.
That said, shouldn’t any new government, even a minority, be allowed a chance to implement at least some of what it was elected to do? The GST cut was Harper’s single most popular platform plank. The Liberal agenda is obvious: make the Conservatives think they have no mandate, and with each policy retreat watch their popularity disintegrate into, um, shortbread crumbs. We suspect Harper is clever enough to see that Graham's crackers.
-- From Dr. J. and Mr. K. dot-com

Posted by GeorgeKoch on February 17, 2006 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Graham crackers:


"We'll resist the temptation to write up Graham for a Stupidism of the Week for his unwitting implication that l'etat, c'est 'Arper."

Ah, thank you. I've commmented here and elsewhere in the past about the rampant Caesarism that has replaced what is supposed to be a Westminster system, but this is the first time I've seen a blogger point it out. Could this be a trend?

Posted by: Doug | 2006-02-17 9:14:51 AM

Graham is House Leader of the Liberal Caucus, he is not Leader of the Liberal Party - Martin retains this distinction, for a while at least.
The Liberal Party has an enormous debt, no plausible Leader on the horizon, a Party that remains badly split over Martin as PM and his
flunkies, and requires time to rebuild, which means new faces. Don't pay any attention to Graham who appears to be in a trance.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-17 9:27:06 AM

Hi Jack: As leader of the Liberal Party, Martin has no status in Parliament beyond that of ordinary MP. Graham is opposition leader, and he's starting to comment on everything.
Two things I forgot to mention in the post. One, Graham was quite gracious toward the Michael Wilson appointment. Second, he may be throwing tantrums about Harper because he knows Harper in fact doesn't need the cooperation of the Liberals to pass legislation. The BQ will do and, if I have my math right, the Emerson defection means that the NDP will do as well (or are the Conservatives + NDP still one or two short?).

Posted by: George Koch | 2006-02-17 9:45:17 AM

CPC+NPD+IND is enough
CPC+NDP is one short

Posted by: BCDad | 2006-02-17 10:06:18 AM

I would not be surprised if at least two Liberal
MP's "cross the floor" within the next twelve months, probably from the GTA. Aside from the
fact that an election is simply not on, Harper
can undertake changes in Government that the Liberal's either could not or would not do - I'm
thinking of patronage and incompetence generated
agencies like ACOA and Western Diversification,
which should be subject to a forensic audit. As
far as Graham is concerned, his caucus remains divided and angry. He would be better off simply
to comment of the weather.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-17 10:42:27 AM

Mmm. I wonder if Michael Ignatieff is now thinking he ran for the wrong party.

Posted by: The Fog is Clearing | 2006-02-17 10:49:54 AM

Given the fractured state of the Liberal party, I don't think the Tories will need them to "cross the floor" in the traditional sense. What leverage does Graham have to force Liberal MPs to vote the party line on all legislation? I suspect that for many bills, some Liberal MPs will vote against their leader(s), especially if the issue has support among their constituency (as the GST cut will likely have).

Posted by: Ben | 2006-02-17 11:28:49 AM

I think Ben is right. I think you will see the liberals start to fracture along the lines of the leadership candidates, voting thier support for their candidate with their house votes. We may see a couple liberals remove themselves from the party and sit as independants but I'm not sure that you will see any more Emerson style defections after the noise it made in the press.

Posted by: Daniel | 2006-02-17 12:03:50 PM

I agree with both comments, but sitting as an Independent has little appeal, because changes
can be accomplished in Caucus now without the
onus of Party "loyality" as manipulated by both
Chretien and Martin. And,agreed, the MP's will split along leadership candidate lines as time goes on. Graham will exert little leadership influence in Caucus, and will not be a factor as
the Party realigns and seeks a new Leader. Ignatieff will be a candidate I would think, as
well as Brison and Cauchon - difficult to say
what Stronach will decide, but she is very popular with the rank and file, and constantly
underestimated by the Toronto media.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-17 12:23:33 PM

Follow the money; never ascribe reason, nor common sense, nor ethical awareness, nor even the ability to descriminate between right and wrong, to any liberal; Selfish opportunism is a far more likely motivator to such, as has been suggested in recent Shenanigans... follow the money ~

Posted by: AlloDisplace | 2006-02-17 12:42:40 PM

CPC+NDP+speaker is enough; If a liberal is selected as the speaker, then this should be enough. You might ask, why would a liberal vote with the government? Because it is tradition. In fact Miliken is on record as voting with the government, because that is what speakers are supposed to do. So, you vote in a Liberal speaker, and you'll have enough votes.

Posted by: Steve | 2006-02-17 12:45:31 PM

I don`t understand how Stronach could be a credible opposition leader ; she can`t put forth an argument on anything , without mindlessly reciting irrelevant cliches. [like talking to the proverbial United Air reservations clerk in India ]. Re crossing the floor , the odds may favour the Liberals to keep on hammering the Emerson incident in hopes that it will head off any further defections. One more of those would be devastating as it assures any CCP-NDP coalition majority .
Re Michael Wilson ; better to rain grudging praise on one totally unassailable appointment and then attack Harper on everything else , to retain phony credibility .

Posted by: dave h | 2006-02-17 1:17:09 PM

If what Stockwell Day is saying about the Gun Registry is true, the Conservatives should appoint a "Gomery" type commission to look into it with daily testimony running for months. Then see if Graham still wants to bring down the government. This could be the big stick that Harper could hold over the Liberals.

Posted by: TimR | 2006-02-17 1:59:31 PM

Great comments, gentlemen, especially the point about Graham having little power to maintain party discipline -- that could be a huge advantage to the government if even a few MPs can be found who like any given Conservative bill.

Although I'm an opponent of the Emerson deal, one obvious purpose of it was to signal to others that "it's OK to come across" -- although again I also agree with the comment that the resulting uproar has more or less sent the message, "No, it isn't."

Question to TimR: What's Day been saying about the gun registry?

Posted by: George Koch | 2006-02-17 2:38:55 PM

Any inquiry into the gun registry will have a bunch of police chiefs extolling how wonderful it is and how many lives are saved , etc., etc. More fodder for the Liberal b..l sheeters Surely it must be possible to get some sort of computer system into operation where guns can be registered at point of purchase , much like a debit card transaction without spending billions . Once on record , is it so expensive to be accessed by police ? And of course do away with long gun registry This is insane. I`m thinking that corruption in the tendering of computer contracts much like the recent Toronto , Domi affair , only on a vaster scale , is at the bottom of it . Its got to come out.
I got a jolt from a CBC interview where the joys were being extolled about the gun registry and how effective it is. I don`t get it ; if I am going to shoot someone , aren`t I going to file off ID numbers assuming I`m not going to throw it into the middle of a lake . Also I understand that in the case of those stolen guns in Hogtown , that the thieves almost destroyed the neighborhood in cracking the guys` safe. I`m sure that will go unobserved %90 of the time.

Posted by: dave h | 2006-02-17 3:08:31 PM


Day hasn't revealed any numbers yet but the way he's been talking $2 billion may be a lowball estimate. If it comes in at more that $2 billion and there's any evidence of kickbacks or missing millions, the Liberal troubles may be just starting.


OTTAWA (CP) - Canadians will be shocked by the true cost of the federal government's ill-fated gun registry, says new Public Security Minister Stockwell Day.

Day told The Canadian Press that figures bureaucrats have shown him during briefings for his new portfolio are much higher than previously thought. He would not divulge what the tab is, but said it's upsetting.

"Some of these numbers, when we get out all the numbers and when the auditor general releases them all very soon, eyebrows are going to go up," he said Thursday.

Posted by: TimR | 2006-02-17 3:45:40 PM

MSM Toronto media are gradually getting it; Martin lost and Harper won - and Harper won a bigger mandate than the media realize, and that is the isolation and lack of direction in the
official opposition, the formerly Martin Liberals
the fact is that very few of the main stream media pundits really know the political process,
most like Duffy are purveyors of gossip, or bird brains like the talking bad hair day ladies on the CBC. My original point of view remains; the
focus in the Liberal Party will be retirement of
the massive debt, a thorough housecleaning, and
time to develop a strategy that will allow the
newly elected Government to "govern", and at the
same time, try to establish credibility with the
voting public

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-17 3:49:25 PM

Excuse the kibitzing from south of the line, but your Mr. Graham sounds to me as though he's been reading too many NY Times articles and is turning himself into a Canadian clone of our very own Democrats: Stand for nothing in the world but re-election, oppose everything that the hated Bush (or, in this case, Harper) stands for or suggests and defend justifiable charges of your own corruption by slandering everyone else about you.

There's some talk down here about those "tactics" eventually resulting in a Dem death spiral; Sounds like your libs are laying in a similar course.

Posted by: JimD | 2006-02-17 6:11:52 PM

I don`t know Jim D . Judging from some of W`s latest actions e.g. portgate , where he is allowing port management to be leased to the United Arab Emirate , or opening the floodgates on the Mexican border or hobnobbing with Bill and Hillary. It almost looks like he wants them back in the White House . So beware you might have to wear the leftist goat horns for a while , as we get in some shots. I hope not though.

Posted by: dave h | 2006-02-17 7:38:09 PM

"Silence Is Golden"

Conservative Prime Minister Harper has struck gold, paydirt, a rich vein, Stealth Jet; the "Golden Boy from Calgary", stealth and wealth. +

The stealth PM
by Romeo St. Martin

[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:30 p.m. February 17, 2006]

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has only been prime minister for two weeks but his style of media relations is already noticeable in Ottawa.


While reporters are currently complaining about the situation with Harper, it would be false to assume there was a golden era in media relations with the last prime minister.

Martin became PM promising to do things differently and raised even the Press Gallery's expectations.

His communication staff spoke about monthly press conferences in the National Press Theatre with the PM.

But after the Auditor General's report into the sponsorship scandal, Martin made only a handful of visits to the National Press Theatre. His second to last news conference was opportunistically timed less than 48 hours after he ate, drank and joked with reporters at the Press Gallery dinner.

Latraverse won't even dare make a comparison between the current PM and the last PM, saying two weeks is hardly enough time to fairly judge Harper.

But as Harper's second week comes to a close, a new Decima poll shows despite the controversies his party's support remains at roughly where it was on election night but with a larger lead over the Liberals -- 11 points.

If silence as a strategy

is political gold for Harper

then reporters may have to wait until Question Period on April 3 before they hear a peep out of him again. +

Posted by: maz2 | 2006-02-17 8:17:17 PM

Bill Graham: what a turd.
I remember that arrogant elitist son-of-a-bitch well from all candidates' meetings in Rosedale.
Pray that the Grits make that unsympathetic guy their next party leader: Harper will come back with a majority in the next election.

Posted by: Matthew Vadum | 2006-02-17 8:36:12 PM

"...Leader of the Liberal Party - Martin retains this distinction, for a while at least."
Posted by: Jack Macleod | 17-Feb-06 9:27:06 AM +

Some distinction. Dis-stinc-tion?

Paul Who? is the Leader of LPC? Not so. Paul Jr., resi=gned.

Is Paul, Jr., now a mugwump? Is Paul, Jr., now Leader? How so? When was he anointed? Who named him Leader? Where?

Paul has spoken to Pierre's ghost? Or looked in the plops/scoops of shaving cream while shaving (H/T W.L.M. King)? The LPC is leaderless, no? Did Martin, Jr., effect a silent coup de main? Does that explain why Mckenna, Manley, Tobin, et al, have shrunk back into the shadows?

Scary is Paul Martin. Jr. +

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin addresses supporters and announces his resignation as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. 23 Jan., 2006. >>>

Posted by: maz2 | 2006-02-17 8:36:31 PM

Good points made by all and don't forget the other players in this game, the NDP & Bloc. I have a hard time thinking either would be in a hurry to go back to the polls anytime soon.

The NDP have never had more members and don't want to risk losing any of them to the Liberals. They are maxed out and have nowhere to go but down.

The Bloc recognizes that the CPC have broken down the invisible barrier that they and the Liberals had erected to keep the Quebecers from voting CPC. They too have nowhere to go but down.

Neither the Bloc or NDP will be willing to collapse this current arrangement. If anything they will need time to build their parties, bank accounts and followers.

This gives Harper the chance to show Canadians what his plan is and whether they will like it. Personally, I'm done second guessing Harper. He's one of the greatest overacheivers in Canadian political history. All we ever heard was how he could never lead the CA, merge the PC and CA, and then win the leadership of the merged party. Then it was he will never be PM. The CPC should get a new leader (even I repeated this one). Charles Adler even wrote that Harper would be PM when pigs fly. Is overacheiving a Canadian value? How many times have we heard the phrase "Canada punches above her weight" (or at least she use to)? I guess PM SH's values are really different than ex-PM PM, the "underacheiver."

Posted by: Lemmytowner | 2006-02-17 9:08:12 PM

Formerly Right Honorable Paul Martin MP, resigned
as Prime Minister, but remains Head of the Liberal Party of Canada, and also remains a Member of Parliament. He should have resigned all
positions. As long as he heads the Party and sits
as an MP the Liberal Party will remain where it is today, bitter and badly riven. This will be refocused in the national media when Charles
"Chuck" Guite appears in a Criminal Court of
Ordinary Jurisdiction shortly to answer for his
alleged misdeeds - should prove an interesting

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-18 12:01:59 AM

I almost fell out of my chair when Jane Tabor and Laurence Martin actually praised Harpers` media strategy yesterday. They must be taking a different tact ,so desperate are they to be relevant and noticed. Perhaps Harper should start releasing his statements thru the Calgary Sun or the like and teach them some humility and respect.

Posted by: dave | 2006-02-18 10:28:50 AM

It seems that everyone has forgotten the golden rule of the Liberal party. Since the very beginning they have alternated from Anglo to Franco leaders. They have never , never broken this tradition. I am very surprised that even the most savy media types have overlooked this. It automatically eliminates Tobin, McKenna, Julio Iglesias, and every other wannabe. The next leader must come from Quebec, and be a true Francophone. The hunt for a new leader might take a while.

I had a feeling that Mr. Harper might distance himself from some hard line reformers. Sometimes it's best to send the old war horses on a suicide mission near the end of a great conflict. They fought a good fight, but they got bloody doing it. There isn't much use for them any more. I hope he continues the rebuilding process.

My very narrow view of the gun registry is that we shouldn't scrap the entire process. Some parts of it seem to be working. If they just chip away at the useless parts, they might accomplish something. I really think that Martin's promise to confiscate all handguns did him in. I've owned them for almost 30 years, and they are pretty useless, but it's still a small comfort to know you have a last line of defense against a screaming mob. The registry as it now stands allows me to slap down my PAL, and a VISA card, and walk out of a gun shop with a Glock in each pocket. With trigger guards in place, of course. It does not allow me to own a 6 shot revolver (barrel under 105 mm.) with the safest action ever invented though, because Mr. Rock decided banning such weapons was the best strategy for scooping up high numbers of weapons. If they confiscate them all, I guess that's that.

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-18 12:13:07 PM

The "golden rule" in the Liberal Party is "win the election", period. The myth about "Anglo -
French alternative leadership" is not only not
accurate but laughable. Most of the old line Liberal families in Nova Scotia are of Scots-Irish stock, from Ulster and Ireland-they would be insulted to be referred to as Anglos - Anglos
in Nova Scotia are the Tory Conservative bastion
centered in Halifax (who are appalled that the new Leader, cum Premier is Rodney the Fiddler,
nearest thing to Forest Gump in politics)The real
strength in a new Liberal leader is the ability to win a national election. The Liberal Party was
created to win elections.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-18 1:57:48 PM

Mackenzie, Laurier, King, St. Laurent, Pearson, Trudeau, Turner, Cretien, Martin


Anglo refers to native tongue. Being from NS, and of Irish decent I know how goofy local politics are down there. I went to school with Brook Taylor. Don't mess with him!

I really think it would be suicide for the liberals to break from tradition. I'll bet they have a Francophone leader, even for a short time

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-18 2:20:41 PM

There is no such tradition. Brooke Taylor is at the moment looking to be a Cabinet Minister with
Rodney the Fiddler - no body pays much attention
to Brooke, proven to be an undependable Conservative from time to time, and the ultimate loose cannon. The NS NDP can beat Rodney, since
the Liberals at the moment are not in the game.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-18 3:16:03 PM

I didn't mean don't mess with him politically, I mean't physically. He could kick your ass in 10 seconds.

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-18 3:45:54 PM

I'll mention that to Brooke the next time I see
him -

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-18 9:43:34 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.