Mulroney KOs Turner: New BTTV video

They’re still talking about it. In 1984, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney landed a famous “knock-out punch” to Liberal leader John Turner. In the famous “you had a choice” berating, the former conservative Prime Minister admonishes Turner over patronage appointments.

Today, many in the media long for similar drama when the leaders of our political parties square off. It’s almost cliché to hear political analysts and pundits alike claim that there wasn’t a “knock-out punch” akin to the Mulroney-Turner debate of 1984.

Have things really changed though? In the video, the moment is almost lost when the moderator attempts to redirect the debate. We can be certain, however, that the debate format itself will also be up for debate. For instance, why does the Bloc debate in English when they hardly hide that they’re not targeting English voters in Quebec and while they do not run any candidates outside of Quebec? Further, why does the Green Party get shut out of debates? Could a debate format exist in which the two front runners challenge each other to a private debate? Would Jack Layton picket that debate?

Given the reconfigured concept of “party” in our Parliamentary system, how could we accommodate all parties? Should we?

Perhaps we’ll never again see a “knock-out punch” like the one in 1984 if we talk about extending the English debate format from 4 parties (including one that hasn’t a need to debate in English to a fifth party that gets only 5% of the popular “can’t vote for anyone else” vote. Once we extend the stage to anyone who meets the easy requirements of forming a political party in this country, the serious contenders for power in this country will be drowned out and constantly interrupted by tangential issues from implementing Marxist labour codes to creating a Canadian theocracy.

How can we ever have another knock-out punch when the debate format is so disjoint and without focus? Particularly unhelpful was the decision by the network to disallow direct engagement and debate among party leaders.

Another important point is that the current evolution of the Canadian leaders debate favours the incumbent. One cannot turn popular opinion on its head if tertiary parties (that didn’t run for government — ie. the NDP) cloud the focus of the debate (ie. the issues of the day).

Be sure to watch the historic moment between Mulroney and Turner on BT-TV (on the left-hand sidebar). Also, you can host this video and other conservative moments in Canadian history by putting the Blogging Tories TV plugin on your own website. Click here to find out how.

UPDATE: The clip is now temporarily unavailable

Text of the PM’s speech regarding CPT hostages

I received the following just a while ago from one of my contacts in the government. It’s the transcript of Stephen Harper’s comments that preceded his speech on accountibility. The original speech on accountibility (prepared before the hostages were released) is available on the PM’s website, however, I’ve included the remarks concerning the hostages here.

Before commencing my remarks, I would like to make a statement about the successful rescue of the Canadian and British hostages in Iraq.

Il est maintenant confirmé que les Canadiens James Loney et Harmeet Singh Sooden, capturés et tenus en otages en Iraq en compagnie du britannique Norman Kember depuis des mois, sont désormais trois hommes libres.

Ils ont été l’objet d’une délicate opération de sauvetage, qui a permis de les soustraire sains et saufs de de leurs ravisseurs.

Cette nouvelle est un immense soulagement pour tous les Canadiens, à commencer par les proches de MM. Loney et Sooden.

J’ai eu la chance de parler de vive voix a ces deux messieurs. Je leur ai exprimé, au nom de tous les Canadiens, ma grande joie de les savoir enfin libres et en sécurité. C’était pour eux une épreuve extrêmement difficile et angoissante, et pour les citer ils sont << contents d’être en vie >>

Bien que nous soyons tous contents et reconnaissants que m. loney, m. sodden et m. kember soient sains et saufs, j’aimerais offrir mes condoléances, au nom de tous les Canadiens, à la famille de M. Tom Fox.

La dépouille de M. Fox, un citoyen américain, a été découverte le 9 mars dernier.

J’aimerais aussi souligner et témoigner de ma gratitude pour le rôle exceptionnel qu’ont joué nos alliés britanniques et américains dans cette opération de sauvetage réussie.

J’ai parlé plus tôt aujourd’hui avec le Premier ministre Tony Blair et J’ai également demandé à l’ambassadeur wilkins de transmettre au président bush toute la gratitude des Canadiens pour leurs efforts dans cette opération réussie.

Enfin, et surtout, j’aimerais remercier les membres de plusieurs agences et ministères du Gouvernement du Canada, qui ont travaillé sur ce dossier délicat avec leurs homologues britanniques, américains, et iraquiens qui ont fait leur part dans le succès de l’opération.

Vous avez fait de l’excellent travail, et m. loney et m. sooden m’ont demandé spécifiquement de vous remercier pour l’assistance que vous avez fourni à eux et à leurs familles.

The confirmation that Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden and british national Norman Kember have been rescued from their captors unharmed is wonderful news for their families, and for all Canadians.

I have spoken to the Canadians and personally conveyed, on behalf of all Canadians, my happiness at their safe release.

As you can imagine, they’ve been through a lot and to quote them they’re “Happy to be alive”.

And while we are all happy and thankful for the rescue of mr. Loney, mr. Sooden and mr. Kember, I and they would like to re-iterate, on behalf of all Canadians, our condolences to the family of Tom Fox, the american national, whose body was found on March 9th.

I would also like to recognize the outstanding role played by our British and American allies in securing the release of the hostages.

In particular, I spoke to Prime Minister Blair this morning and I have asked ambassador Wilkins to convey our gratitude for their efforts in this successful operation.

Finally, but not lastly, I would like to thank the numerous departments and agencies within the Government of Canada who worked with the British and Americans, and Iraqis, on this sensitive file.

You did very good work, and mr. loney and mr. sooden asked me specifically to thank canadian officials for their assistance provided for themselves and their families.

UPDATE: Here is the audio of the PM’s speech today

Hostages freed/rescued/released

Above all, I’m certain that I shared the relief and happy sentiments of all Canadians this morning when I found out that the CPT hostages were now safe-and-sound. I was proud when I found out that they were saved in partnership with Canada’s elite commando unit JTF2.

I flipped around the my cable news channels to see if I could find some more information on this exciting news story and stopped on Newsworld to find the ambiguous headline, “Hostages Freed”.

Of course, in the face of an unambiguous event, why the CBC producers chose to go along with a headline that handicapped the story (and thus the dissemination of the news itself) had me confused.

As I’d find out later on (I didn’t get the news until mid-morning today), the initial news highlighted the American and British (ie. coalition) forces that were involved. As the story developed, CTV Newsnet was the first to break the news that JTF2 was also involved.

Initially, I had understood that American, British and Canadian troops were involved in the daring rescue and therefore I was uncertain as to why Canadian news outlets would be hesitant to underline a great Canadian hero story by describing the story (a daring rescue) for what it was.

When the news broke that Canadians were involved, did the story really change? Were the hostages rescued instead of freed or released? The latter two descriptors are ambiguous and since terrorists were the active possessors of the hostages, the viewer is led to believe that it was the benevolence of the terrorists, or “insurgents” that had freed or released the hostages.

Did a producer in the newsroom of our state-run broadcaster, upon learning of the Canadian commandos involved in the mission contemplate changing the headline to read “Hostages rescued”? I’m not in the news business but I imagine a more exciting (and true) headline would sell more copy (and have the advantage of being descriptive). I imagine that a lot of producers in newsrooms across Canada believe that the coalition forces are in Iraq “illegally” (as the CPT themselves believe). Perhaps then, they will continue to illustrate the story in a way that is joyful of the hostages release yet will ignore attribution to the bravery of the Canadian, British and American forces.

Here is a summary of earlier headlines today by Canada’s MSM:

Hostage’s release the end of a nightmare, says brother (CBC)
This headline is ambiguous. It shows that the release is a happy event yet one may assume that the terrorists released them since they were the active captors of the hostages.

Canadian hostages freed in covert raid in Iraq (G&M)
This implies that the good guys were doing the freeing. This is a good headline.

Canadians freed in Iraq raid (Toronto Star)
Another decent headline. This headline implies that the freeing came as a result of the Iraq raid. In comparison to the G&M headline, the mission isn’t described as ‘secretive’ or ‘stealth’ (covert).

Canadian, British peace hostages freed in Iraq (CTV)
Again, this headline is ambiguous. However, not so much as the CBC headline. The difference is the use of the word “freed” vs. “release”. The hostage takers could have “freed” the hostages, however, it doesn’t seem as intuitive as using the word “release” in this case as the hostage takers were the ones that initially denied the hostages their “freedom”. One could find confusion in this headline as to who freed the hostages, but the CBC headline is much more ambiguous.

Hostages freed (National Post)
This headline has little information and is ambiguous. One would think that learning of the heroism of our elite special forces commando unit, that this would be as much of a headline as the freeing of the hostages.