Liberal Meme Watch

Liberal Meme: Stephen Harper is not the internationalist that Michael Ignatieff is, the latter more worldly, well-traveled and well-lettered. Stephen Harper has tarnished Canada’s reputation on the international stage through a style that eschews Canada’s traditional “nuanced” approach and “honest-broker” status.

Today’s sighting of this Liberal meme: Susan Delacourt’s blog

Susan Delacourt publishes screenshots from the UN webcast and CTV newsnet that show the differences between the audiences that Stephen Harper, Barack Obama and the President of Switzerland received at the UN. As you can see from Delacourt’s blog, PM Harper’s speech wasn’t very well attended while Obama’s speech and that of the Swiss President were packed.

You see, as the tipster (one presumes) that sent Susan the screenshots would argue, Michael Ignatieff would have packed the house and could convince the world to welcome Canada back to the the cocktail parties in midtown Manhattan!

However, the presumed tipster neglected to send other screenshots of the audiences received by other leaders. These pictures would have helped put things in more context:


China – a permanent member of the UN security council and most populous nation


Iraq – certainly the focus of much international attention over the past few years


Malawi – larger audience. Why? Switzerland preceded Obama’s speech and Malawi followed it. (delegates were probably still gathering their briefcases before ditching the Malawi speech)

So the audience sizes are more related to the ability of the US to draw a crowd. Isn’t context important? If Canada was snubbed, was China snubbed, was Iraq snubbed?

Most notable previous use of the media to falsely push this Liberal meme: Stephen Harper snubbed at the White House! (do check out the link)

You can almost sense the Ignatieff envy.

Anonymous sources say…

The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt wrote an article a couple of days ago quoting an anonymous source that told her that a “trio” of Liberals were in high level talks with Conservatives to cross the floor over to the government benches.

OTTAWA–A Conservative government official said Monday there have been discussions with three Liberal MPs interested in crossing the floor to the Tory side over the past month.

Liberals immediately dismissed the talk as Conservative “mischief” and said it is the government that is on a raiding mission.

Then it all started to smell a bit funny and Ms. Delacourt published the following on her own blog:

Q. Is it possible that the Conservative source made up this story to make “mischief,” as Liberals allege?

A: Yes it is. But our usual practice is to “out” the source if we find out it was a deliberate lie, so stay tuned. Seasoned political people know that you only get to lie once to a reporter.

and then the next day we get this under Delacourt’s print by-line:

OTTAWA–The Prime Minister’s Office sought Tuesday to distance itself from reports coming from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office about possible defections of Liberal MPs to the Conservatives.

Dimitri Soudas, a PMO spokesperson, said there was no truth to claims made to the Star by Kenney’s communications director, Alykhan Velshi, about three Liberal MPs interested in crossing the floor to the Conservatives.

Nor could Soudas explain why he was “outing” Velshi on Tuesday afternoon as the source of the tip to the Star. Soudas went on to explain that only the PMO knows certain information and Velshi wouldn’t have had the kind of facts the Star was seeking.

Read that sentence a couple of times to see if it makes sense logically. “Nor could Soudas explain why he was “outing” Velshi on Tuesday afternoon as the source of the tip to the Star.”

First Ms. Delacourt suggested that she herself was on the verge of outing Velshi as the source. And that brings up an interesting question. Wasn’t she the one guarding the identity of Velshi as her tipster? We Conservatives may share one big evil hive mind according to some, but I’m not sure how Soudas was able to “out” Velshi as Delacourt’s source to Delacourt. How did Soudas come to know that it was Velshi that told Delacourt the tip?

Somebody should ask Soudas how he came to learn that Velshi was the tipster.

Canada Day evokes colourful reactions from press gallery reporter

Two years ago, The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt had the Canada Day blues…

They’re painting the town blue for Canada Day in the nation’s capital this year.

Though the red and white of Canada’s flag is usually the dominant colour scheme for the big party in Ottawa on July 1, blue seems to be all the rage this year – a good, solid Conservative blue, to match the government in power.

Workers have been erecting the main stage for festivities this week on Parliament Hill. By yesterday, it was evident the favoured hue seems to have definitely shifted from red – which also happens to be the colour of the Liberal party, the Conservatives’ arch-rivals.

This wouldn’t be the first time, however, that this symbol-conscious government has eschewed red for blue.

The government’s official website, www.gc.ca, has increasingly leaned toward blue tints ever since the Conservatives came to power almost a year and a half ago.

For this year’s Canada Day, Delacourt was seeing red,

Early into his first term as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper mused aloud about how he wished Canadian reporters would stand when he entered the room. I believe the collective reply to this musing had something to do with weather forecasts and the temperature in hell.

But yesterday, on Canada Day, Global TV news showed us how Harper managed to get the military to give him a salute that’s normally reserved for the Governor-General. As Heritage Minister James Moore explains in the video, this was something that the Prime Minister apparently wanted.

So if you do run across our Tim Horton’s, hockey-dad, regular-guy PM this summer on the barbecue circuit, give him a little salute. Or stand up, or something. He really seems to appreciate deference.

He said “tar baby”? Who else did?

Today in the house, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said,

“On that side of the House, they have the man who fathered the carbon tax, put it up for adoption to his predecessor and now wants a paternity test to prove the tar baby was never his in the first place”

This caused a stir on the opposition benches and caused Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale to ask Poilievre to withdraw and deemed the term “racist”.

Here are some recent uses of the term by journalists including Chantal Hebert.

“The nasty legal squabble over who owns the cash-strapped Phoenix Coyotes and whether they can relocate to Hamilton is hardly the first such tar baby the NHL has dealt with, and it won’t be the last.” (John Mackinnon, Edmonton Journal, May 18, 2009).

“It’s a Tory/Liberal tar baby and I’ve lost faith that they can do anything but keep changing the minister and pretend everything’s under control.” (Ralph Surette, Halifax Chronicle Herald, February 14, 2009).

“At this stage, the McTeague bill looks more like a Liberal tar baby than a party brainchild.” (Chantal Hebert, The Toronto Star, March 12, 2008).

“Along the way, Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois has got herself in trouble with the usual suspects as she fumbles with the language tar baby and prepares for one of those gawdawful national council meetings the PQ caribous use to exasperate and humiliate the unfortunate chief of the moment.” (Norman Webster, Montreal Gazette, February 17, 2008).

“Marois’s effort to shake off the referendum tar baby is good news…” (Editorial, Cynical PQ bid to rebrand party, The Toronto Star, Friday, March 7, 2008).

“Same-sex marriage has generally been treated like a political tar baby over the past few years, with most parties reluctant to whip up highly sensitive arguments touching on religion and deeply rooted social values.” (Susan Delacourt, Martin could exploit gay-marriage gift, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday, December 10, 2004).

“Nobody is saying you toss over your U.S. relations. Of course you don’t. But it doesn’t mean to say you have to become slavishly connected like some kind of tar baby with them.” (Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s new leader to improve U.S. ties, Detroit Free Press, Thursday, December 11, 2003).

h/t: David Akin

Conservative Party looks to Karl Rove playbook

In Ottawa this week, Conservatives hoping to sharpen their political skills looked south, to the United States of America to replicate the success of the back-to-back electoral victories of George W. Bush and the Republican machine.

In caucus, Conservative MPs and senators were treated to a strategy session that was based on information written by “Bush’s Brain”, Karl Rove. Rove served in the Bush administration as deputy chief of staff to the President and is largely known as the architect of Republican victories during the past decade. “Bush has taken what we thought we knew about politics and turned it into a different game for a different generation” was heard from Wednesday’s caucus session.

Pollsters agree that Rove’s approach to mobilizing select groups of voters on highly motivating issues is the key to creating a permanent Conservative majority. Conservatives may be facing an election this fall and are increasingly known to be studying Rove’s strategies to achieve more seats when Canadians go to the polls.

The preceding would be on the front page of the Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail if it were true. Since it is not, I’m thankful that I was able to find this analogous yet reality-based account buried on Susan Delacourt’s blog.

Has the media love affair with Dion already begun?

First, Kate McMillan and Bob Tarantino rout out a suspicious Dion friendly source used by CP.

Next, Lawrence Martin the Globe and Mail scribe, former Chretien biographer (two books…one was written under duress), and a man paid over $6000 by Liberal governments for two speaking jobs gives new Liberal leader Stephane Dion the highest of praises, and apologizes for one of Dion’s recent flip-flops (my comments in bold):

There is a suspicion out there that Stéphane Dion is a man of honour, a politician of dignity with true character. (there’s only one thing I’m suspicious of at this point Mr. Martin, and it’s not Dion)

True character is the reverse of trying to be all things to all people. It means not seeking others’ approval. (Lawrence never wrote any biographies about Paul Martin, you’ll note) When, as a political leader, you stop doing that, and just be the essential you, people want some of what you’ve got, some of that core. You’re the magnetic field. (oh captain, my captain!)

But politics is about selling, reaching out, pandering. (first hints of apology) And so here was Stphane Dion in his first week as Liberal leader, already in the grip of the ugly claws of the enterprise(the grip!… the ugly claws, poor Stephane!). He was faced with a middling controversy over whether he should maintain his dual French citizenship. It was a sensitive issue for him, one that cut to his heart and, in responding, he got testy. (I’ll make full disclosure for Lawrence Martin here… the Globe and Mail scribe is a dual citizen too)

His answer was sound enough (of course…), but he couldn’t help thinking of the political equation. Well, if maintaining my French citizenship loses me votes, he said, he might have to reconsider. In other words, let’s cast aside the principle involved here and make a decision on the basis of politics.

That wasn’t the man of honour talking. It was hardly the new politics. It was an example of him looking over his shoulder, seeing the dark shadow of pollsters in pursuit, about to smother the light within. (dark forces made Dion do it. Dion is made of pure light, by the way)

Martin then contrasts “honour” with big bad Stephen Harper:

Stephen Harper has an impressive skill set. He had a chance, himself, to bring more honour to governance. But since the opening bell when he elevated a floor-crosser and an unelected senator to his Cabinet, he has shown himself to be a leader whose abiding imperative is political opportunism (wow…). His Senate reform, announced yesterday, which would allow voters at last some say in Senate appointments, is a step forward that he need not have framed in the context of political partisanship. His brazen approach in this regard has cost him, as voters, turned off by this kind of politics, have responded with declining approval ratings. (brazen, turned off, declining!)

Hence the Dion opening is all the greater. The Leader of the Opposition must find a way to resist the temptation to respond in kind to the cheap attacks and slanders. To succeed, to avoid being dragged down into the brothel, the rules of engagement are many: He must be a champion of principle. He must remain stoic, keeping the level of discourse high and noble, holding to his true character (wow…). He must, while letting other caucus members tackle the seamy questions, be seen as frequently as possible with the other tower of integrity in the Liberal thicket, Ken Dryden.

It’s not difficult to figure out how Lawrence Martin votes.

Finally, when Dion named Ignatieff as the deputy of the opposition Liberal Party, it made the front page of the Globe and Mail. When Stephen Harper named Carol Skelton as deputy leader of the opposition Alliance party in 2003, no such fanfare from the Globe. However, it did make page A10 of the National Post!

UPDATE: You may have read in Macleans that Susan Delacourt and Greg Weston were snubbed from the PM’s media Christmas party. I’m also hearing that Delacourt, after her invite was “lost in the mail”, was trying to lobby her fellow PPG members to boycott the PM’s party. UPDATE: The pro-Delacourt camp assures me that this isn’t true!