Thursday, March 23, 2006

Diamond in the Rough

Richard Diamond, the President of the Young Liberals, endorses Scott Brison with an unintentionally hilarious little argument:
Diamond said Brison's relatively short history with the Liberals should not be a deterrent. Brison was a Progressive Conservative MP until 2003.

"His vision is much more Liberal than many members of our own caucus," Diamond said.

"In the time that he has been a member, he had demonstrated the he is a true liberal. He believes in prosperity and that should be balanced with a social conscience and a progressive social agenda."
Belief in prosperity? Check. Balanced with a social conscience? Check. Progressive Social Agenda? Check. Put so broadly, who wouldn't claim to believe this. Isn't this just what Canada means to... everyone??

The willingness of lifelong Liberal party members to so swiftly jump on board the campaign bandwagons of those who so recently ran for the leadership of their natural opposition party startles and flabbergasts me. Just as with the Emerson defection - are loyalties to the positions espoused in a leadership race or national campaign really just so vapid?

Brison was a loyal member of the Progressive Conservative party for 25 years, so presumably he voted against Trudeau, for Mulroney (twice), and against Chretien (three times). In 2003, he advocated pretty Conservative principles in running for the leadership of that party - presumably because he wanted to defeat it. Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And if you really have some spunk, aim to lead them.

But has he undergone some enormous transformation, or was he just a Liberal in sheep's clothing all along? Or is the Liberal party just whatever you make it? There was Brison arguing on Counterspin - against David Orchard and Brian Peckford - in favour of the dire need for a merged Conservative party. On December 3, 2003. He votes for the entity on December 6th. Then - light years later - on December 10th, he crosses the floor and on the 12th joins team Martin as Parliamentary Secretary. Much to the heartbreak, mind you, of the legions of Progressive Conservatives who Scott convinced to vote in favour of the merger because it was necessary.

Honestly, it is too laugh. Belinda is arguably the funnier case. To hear her tell it, she was the mastermind behind the CPC merger. She runs for the leadership of the new party in 2004 despite zero experience outside her father's company. Not remotely qualified to be Prime Minister, said Coyne in what might have been the column of the year. Mike Harris, of all people, endorses her candidacy. Upon finishing second, she releases the following press release:

"I have said all along that we must win the next election," Stronach said. "The most important contribution we can make toward winning is to unite behind Stephen and to support him 100 per cent."

"This was an exciting leadership race and I applaud both Stephen and Tonyfor running excellent campaigns," said Stronach. "But now the race is over and all competitors must focus on our real opponent, the Liberals.

Again, had matters changed so profoundly within 14 months within the Liberal party of Paul Martin, or the Conservative party of Stephen Harper? Nah, Stronach's "convictions" just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I would love to see someone dig up her leadership campaign platform, or Scott Brison's for that matter - just to watch them professionally bob and weave around their old positions. The fact that neither Belinda nor Brison could hold a candle to Harper in the French debates makes the continued references to their candidacies for Liberal leader almost surreal.

So here we arrive back to Diamond's endorsement. His main reason for supporting Brison:
"He's always demonstrated that he's bright, capable and energetic, and I think he speaks to a generational change that is really need right now if we are to appeal to young voters," Diamond said.
You want to appeal to young voters? How about not consistently proving, time and again, that politicians will say anything that suits their fancy, that they will coast along the breeze of last night's opinion polls. At some point, doesn't the tent just get too big?

You want to appeal to young voters? Give them someone with the courage of their own convictions - who has the temerity to hold long-standing ideas about what the country needs and argue for them. Give them someone who would rather lose than compromise on positions of principle.

The Liberals have an opportunity to put forward a Dion, or an Ignatieff. Here's hoping they seize that chance.


Blogger Toronto Tory said...

I was at that Counterspin show.

Brison's stance always puzzled me. If someone was against the merger, I could disagree with them but at least recept their right to disagree.

What I never could accept was the fact that Brison supported the merger and voted for it, then switched parties only days later. It just didn't make any sense.

Also, his platform when he ran for leader of the PC party was perhaps the MOST Conservative.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Mark Dowling said...

Diamond's right though - Brison's still more Liberal than any Lib MP in Scarborough.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Barrelman said...

That being said, can you name a right wing candidate (for the Libs, anyway) that the right wing of the party will begin to rally around other then Brison?

10:02 AM  
Blogger James MacDuff said...

It really speaks poorly of the "right wing" portion of the party that they have no other champion. To think they have to rely on FAILED conservative leadership candidates. Another Martin legacy, you could say.

As sad as when the left wing could rely only on Tequila Sheila their standard bearer in the ancient PM's ascendency.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Scotia John:
Brison and Stronach both left the Conservatives because they thought they were better than the person who had bested them for the leadership.
They both approached the Liberals to see what spoils they would be awarded for crossing over.
It brings to mind the following: "I've got standards. And if you don't like those I've got others."
What will they do if they don't win the Liberal leadership? They will have painted themselves into an awkward corner having already shown they can't accept the wishes of party members.
'Liberal leadership' has become an oxymoron with the collection of race entrants, the latest being Ashley MacIsaac. Combined with Bob Rae, Brison and Stronach, have you ever seen such a collection of Liberal stalwarts? Who could believe the only sane Liberal is Sheila Copps who has firmly declined to run?
If we weren't all crazy we would go insane.- Jimmy Buffett in "Changes of Latitude."

2:37 PM  
Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

Good post. Good point.

I endorsed Brison in the old legacy party PC leadership. I did so because he used to claim to want to seriously shake up Ottawa -- allow bank mergers, scrap RDAs like ACOA, etc . . . basically the opposite of what Martin had crafted over the years. Then it turned out to be a lie.

I was in the room with Brison when he voted yes to the formation of the party he would then, just days later, cite as his reason for leaving. I guess he wanted to join the Liberals and suck at the trough for a while. He was willing to abandon every major policy goal he had to do it. He ended up a much less consequential figure in the Liberal party. Even Liberals probably need more consistency than Scott Brison offers.

As for Stronach. Nobody has yet explained why She should be believed on anything she says. Her story about why she left the Tory party changed three times and each time it got worse because she was looking for more slime to sling. This woman had a similar embarassing 180 moment when she stood on her own two hooves and voted to have the Martin government resign because of so many deficiencies in governance -- days later she was praising it up and signing on for more celeb-space!

I love it. What's better -- the newsmedia cut both Stronach and Brison every break in the book, basically believing them every step of the way until they started crafting their latest updated "version" of their time as Tories . . . Was this all on time-release? Or could it just be that these people make a nutbar like MacIssac look at least consistent?

Dion or Ignatieff or somebody of that ilk. That's all you guys have left. I think it's a major scar on the Liberal party that the top guys like McKenna won't touch the party with a ten foot pole.

4:43 PM  
Blogger The Tiger said...

If I were a principled Liberal, I'd want Dion, Ignatieff, or Dryden.

(Actually, possibly not Ignatieff. I love his foreign policy ideas, myself, which probably means they are un-Liberal.)

As for the party's right -- Stronach, perhaps? No idea.

I'm told that "business Liberals" tend to be lacklustre leaders -- see John Turner, Paul Martin. The more I think about it, the more I believe it. If people want a pro-business party, they'll suck it up and vote Conservative.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

I wouldn't insult the grit party's "right" by associating Stronach with it. Stronach is about as ideas-oriented as a 73 Ford Pinto.

8:36 AM  

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