Monday, May 16, 2005

Wanted: New Leadership

Hypocrisy, thy name is Paul Martin:

Martin also again asked that the Conservatives allow the budget bill to pass on Thursday, saying that many elements of the bill would otherwise die, including the Atlantic Accords.

"There's going to be plenty of time for the opposition to vote motions of non-confidence. But don't let this budget die. This budget is so important for Nova Scotia, so important for Canada," Martin said.

Where to begin? Plenty of time for motions of non-confidence? When? Will you respect them if they do occur? And please, please, please could you stop weeping crocodile tears for the Atlantic Accord? Everyone who has even remotely chosen to follow Parliamentary proceedings knows that (1) regardless of the outcome of the next election, this will be the first bill on the agenda, and (2) if Martin and his poll-driven PMO actually cared about instituting this policy, it would have been detached from the budget and would be law already.

Looking for another howler from the Right Honourable gentleman? In the same article:
"There prevails today a culture in Parliament in which reputations are casually smeared, and anger and personal insult are the rhetorical devices of choice. We've got to change this," he said.

Excellent that you've noticed, Mr. Prime Minister. So you have decided to take the high road and condemn your party's role in this mess of a Parliament, vowed to punish Mr. Joe "the Klan is alive and well in the opposition benches" Volpe, and will pledge to stop tarring the Conservatives with the accusation that they want to break up Canada by getting in bed with the separatists, or rip up the Canada Health Act?

Er, not quite:
Martin blamed the Conservatives for creating a negative tone by accusing the Liberals of trying to play politics with the life of Tory MPs suffering from cancer.

Right. A true leader would simply lead by example and take the high road, but these Liberals have long lost sight of it. A responsible society would evaluate governments on their record, not their rhetoric. Our Parliamentary democracy is being exposed for what it is: fundamentally broken. Sometimes, in the short run, it has to be about MORE than just the policy. It is about the leadership needed to tackle these issues and about providing a mandate to do so. I don't know if Harper is ultimately the man for the job. But I do know that I agree with Chantal Hebert's devastating analysis - Martin is most definitely not. The sooner the Liberals are forced to face up to this, the better.

The overall system will resist change and reform until forced to confront it. That time, we hope, may be approaching.


Blogger Jason Cherniak said...

I can't believe that you follow Hebert's take on this. People who just look at "leadership" are the sort of people who elect Mike Harris. It doesn't matter if he's wrong as long as he sticks to his guns.

Well, sorry, but I respect Martin for his willingness to come to a deal. Look at the Atlantic Accord - Martin certainly could have told Danny Williams to screw off because he was being childish. It would have shown leadership. Instead, though, he decided that creating better policy was more important than being "right".

The NDP budget is the same thing. It would have been easy for Martin to stand on the popular budget and "bring it on". Instead, he decided that coming to a deal (frankly, the hard option in that case) and making the minority Parliament work was more important. I don't know that it's what I would have done, but it certainly took leadership. Now compare that to Harper who has no choice but to force an election because his supporters insist on it.

11:31 PM  
Blogger The Tiger said...

Harper's had no problem telling people to go jump. But -- if you'll notice -- he's the one who's had to forge a coalition. He can do it, and he can tackle the big issues.

And managing the country's finances after Martin's spate of one-off deals is going to take some nimble maneuvering and conciliating. The system of transfer payments is going to have to be overhauled on his watch -- probably with a minority government. The Quebec issue will rise again if/when Charest's government gets booted in 2007. Not fun. Senate reform and re-writing parliamentary procedure will be a picnic compared with that.

Is Harper ultimately the man to get it right? I don't know. I don't see anyone of a similar calibre -- actually, maybe Stephane Dion on the Liberal side. Few others.

1:01 AM  
Blogger The Tiger said...

Actually, isn't that funny? Harper and Dion, the fathers of the Clarity Act, are our two best people in government. Go figure.

1:05 AM  

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