11.02.2005

gomery

I've got to blog about it, right? The release of the long-anticipated Gomery report is The Biggest News here, so how can I not mention it? Trouble is, I don't have much to say. Just observing.

So Paul Martin was exonerated, but most people don't believe his hands are clean, and the Liberal minority government may be in trouble. Got it.

But what is the alternative? The Conservatives, Bloc and NDP will form an alliance against the Liberals? That seems unlikely, no? Jack Layton especially can't be counted on to do that. Now there'll be an election, but will the results produce a substantially different government?

I write this with much humility, aware of my ignorance, as I have been observing Canadian politics only for about two years, and on this nitty-gritty level, for less than a year. What's more, this kind of politics is not really my thing. I like issues; this is distraction. But I do understand the potential importance of the Gomery findings, so I'm trying to get a handle on it.

What's your take?

22 comments:

James said...

To be honest, I follow US politics more than Canadian. For the most part, recent Canadian politics has been pretty quiet and the government, while far from perfect, has been reasonably effective. As a result, what happens in the US can affect us more than most of what's happening in Ottawa.

I can't see an election changing things that much. It's not as if the current mess is the result of bad public policy. I suspect most people would be pleased with continuing with the same platform, just without the back room pocket lining.

And, of course, after watching the current US administration for five years, this whole scandal looks piddly. It wouldn't add up to the least of Haliburton's questionable deals. Even if you apply a 10x population multiplier, it's still trivial compared to US admin excesses.

L-girl said...

I can't see an election changing things that much.

I see it this way too - but I keep thinking, what am I missing? Maybe the answer is: not much.

And, of course, after watching the current US administration for five years, this whole scandal looks piddly.

Oh sure. That could also be why I'm left scratching my head. The scale is so different here.

Remember my post marveling at last year's 50 gun deaths in Toronto? To me that looks incredibly peaceful. It's the same thing here. I keep reading that this rock's Canada's world, yet to me it doesn't seem like such a big deal.

Let's see what other wmtc'ers have to say.

Liam J said...

While I do think what went on was awful, I find it miond boggling that people seem to think that this was a pervasive conspiracy of any kind. A small number of people took advantage of lax controls to profit themselves and their friends. For that they should go to jail. To paint the entire Liberal party, specially Paul Martin is just silly.

In financial terms, we are talking about .015% of the annual budget. Just to put that in perspective, if you earned $50,000.00/yr, it would mean tracking down $7.50 spent over a year. While there is no doubt that govenment needs to be kept to a higher standard, thefact is that this problem was still caught, despite it's relatively miniscule nature.

Now of course we all have our political biasis, and some would say that maybe my perspective is of someone who supports the Liberals. Only thing is that on a policy level, I find myself in conatant disagreement with what they are doing, and on a personal level I cannot stand Paul Martin. I think he is arrogant, self centered, and a pure politician with no real ideals other than to get elected. But, I do not feel that he shoul be punnished for something he had nothing to do with.

L-girl said...

Thanks, Liam J. Good stuff.

G said...

Way I see it, is Paul Martin is likely clean. He knew the program existed (it was legit, just grossly mismanaged) but likely did not know how the money was actually being spent. Two factors were (1) the program was run directly from Chretien's office, with his own guys in charge of it, and (2) the Liberals were split into two factions, with the Chretien camp and Martin camp barely conversing.

The bit about punishing the Party begs the question of who is being punished. Those involved in the scandal are no longer in the Party. They are no longer in Parliament. So effectively the Conservatives are asking people to punish a name brand. Punish the word "Liberal" because of the connotations, even though no one in the current Party was guilty of any wrongdoing. WTF is that? Desperation, that's what.

Canadians are sick of Stephen Harper's incessent whining (this goes back a number of years), and his calling for an election during Christmas (bad move) despite the fact that Martin himself has pledged to call one himself post-Christmas (Feb), only adds to the image of a man desperate for the throne. And this should be our leader, they say? Screw that.

Layton is a bit smarter in his approach ... he is willing to listen to all sides, and when not, he can fake it pretty well. He's played everyone against each other the past couple of years, and has gained from all sides as a result. A politician's politician. But, many in Canada do not trust the NDP, given their reputation as reckless spenders on a Provincial level. They're more responsible now, but convincing those who sit near the centre of the political fence will take a long time.

The Bloc have given up on the CPCs, but will agree to an election if they feel it can further the Quebec case for Separation by cashing in on a damaged Liberal reputation and getting Bloc MPs elected in their places throughout Quebec. Which could conceivably happen. The Liberals reputation was not sullied as much in English Canada as it was in French Canada, where the scandal mostly took place.

I think Martin will win, though ... and it could become a majority if he plays it right. Harper's reputation across the country is far less, and because of a great political past Martin is still trusted, especially now that he has been cleared. Harper, though? No one even knows what the CPC platform is, because all he ever does is whine about Martin. Shut up already and do your job, numbnuts! Let people know what to expect of you, and your Party, if you were leading them! And he wonders why no one outside of his own province (AB) has any respect for him.

Here's the election tagline: Who better to rebuild the Liberals than the guy who provided almost guaranteed annual surpluses, stopped the sponsorship scandal upon finding out about it, and encouraged the RCMP to investigate his own Party for any more wrongdoing? That could work well with the noncommitted voters who are on the fence, and there are a ton of those in Canada.

L-girl said...

Excellent, G - thank you. My sense of Layton and Harper runs right alongside yours.

Layton seems like a real shrewd character. I can't tell you what it does to my American lefty heart to see a progressive politician who knows how to play politics. They just don't make 'em like that in the US. The Parliamentary system gives minority parties so much more power. The US system just neuters them.

I also don't understand the "punishing the party" way of thought. Though I gather many people think Martin knew what was going on and is being covered for. Not sure why Gomery would do that?

L-girl said...

Don't miss Gomery: The Movie!

Lone Primate said...

My take on Layton is that he's holding on, not so much to forestall the Tories getting into power (the latest polls I've seen at Environics give the Liberals a wide lead of about 10 points -- though that may change with the Report, at least in the short term), but to keep the passions of the moment from translating into a huge win for the Bloc that could, in turn, be exaggerated into the next referendum or something. The Bloc's doing well in Quebec because the whole mess is damaging to the reputation of the federal Liberals.

But that's the kind of country this is. Think about it. A bunch of Quebec politicians pay off a bunch of Quebec media types and take kickbacks... and yet somehow, the whole country winds up suffering as a result of this made-in-the-Latin-America-of-the-North sleazefest. We're the bad guys once again, even though, as with the October Crisis, it's an affair entirely of Quebec's own making. It isn't fair, but it's sure as hell Canadian. :/

Lone Primate said...

Laura, you might be interested in this link, since we're discussing politics... http://erg.environics.net/news/default.asp?aID=589. Apparently, George W. Bush is the least-popular president with Canadians since James Madison during the War of 1812. :)

James said...

Oh sure. That could also be why I'm left scratching my head. The scale is so different here.

Remember that, when two members Canadian Forces beat a Somali teen to death, we had an inquiry that went on for years and resulted in some serious repercussions, including the disbanding of the Canadian Airborne Regiment and major overhauls of Armed Forces regulations.

But, many in Canada do not trust the NDP, given their reputation as reckless spenders on a Provincial level.

I come from an NDP family and almost always vote NDP (I will vote Liberal strategically to keep the riding from going Conservative), but I prefer having the NDP as a strong opposition party than to having it as a government. I think a strongly socially-aware opposition party makes a great "government's conscience", but to do that the party has to be idealistic to a degree that could make them reckless in actual power.

My personal favourite arragement is a Liberal minority government with the NDP as Official Opposition. That way the government needs the cooperation of its "conscience" in order to actually achieve its goals, but the NDP has a more experienced party managing things.

Though, to be honest, I prefer the older, pre-Chretien Liberals; the current batch have almost turned into Progressive Conservatives as the Conservatives themselves have moved right.

(L-Girl, you did hear that the current Conservative party made laughing stocks of themselves when they teamed up with the Reform party and announced that they were now CCRAP, right? The Conservative-Reform Alliance Party)

RobfromAlberta said...

In financial terms, we are talking about .015% of the annual budget.

If this was the only example of Liberal corruption and mismanagement, I would probably shrug my shoulders and say "Whatever." But it's not. We had Chretien's other corruption scandal a few years ago which the media dubbed "Shawinigate" (I know, lame) and then there was the "misplaced" $2 billion in the HRDC. Throw in the $1 billion we've spent on a gun registry that wasn't supposed to cost anything and its clear to me this government needs some housecleaning.

Having said that, I know nothing is going to change. The Liberals are not called "the natural governing party of Canada" for nothing. Success breeds success. If you are a savvy politician with flexible ethics, the Liberal party is your surest path to power, so they always attract the slickest political operators the country can produce. Canadians (especially eastern Canadians) seem reasonably content to live in a one party state and if that causes a few malcontents in the colonies to chafe under the yoke of Liberal beneficence, well, it's a small price to pay.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I also don't understand the "punishing the party" way of thought. Though I gather many people think Martin knew what was going on and is being covered for. Not sure why Gomery would do that?

It's all political fun and games. It was a similar story back in the early 90's, with the conservatives in power and reeling from scandals. The Liberals made political hay out of it, and especially after a very ill-concieved political ad run by the conservatives that featured Chretien's disfigured face (he has some sort of condition, but I forget what it's called) with the tag line "is this the face you would want for Prime Minister?". That was the straw that broke the camel's back, and the conservative party imploded.

Turn about is fair play, so the conservatives are trying their best to cause a similar implosion in the liberals, and making mountains out of molehills in the process.

The biggest difference between Canada and the U.S. though is that its all about the party. You elect a party, not your local MP, really. That's just the way a parliamentary system works. You won't see election adds for your local MP and what he'll do for you. The system just isn't the same.

L-girl said...

LP: Can you post that link again? It doesn't work. And it sounds good. :)

James: LOL, yes, I did know that - but not the brilliant acronym!

The biggest difference between Canada and the U.S. though is that its all about the party. You elect a party, not your local MP, really. That's just the way a parliamentary system works.

Yes, I know that, and I think in general, it's better. However, since the report names names, that should count for something.

Rayne said...

I think I agree with G's take. I also think that even if Martin's Office wasn't involved (and given Martin and Chretien's history it is a possibility), I don't think that Canadians will accept it.

- I also don't think many members of the public are going to try to sift through the report.

However, you are right, what is the alternative?

Layton may be shrewd and very effective in getting what he wants as a minority leader, but he has been too quiet since elected for many Canadians to see leadership potential. The electorate seems to like leaders who can storm and glare for the camera, and seem strong.

As for Harper, well he's done too much storming, glaring and rigged-looking publicity, plus his last call for an election was so almost desperate sounding and rung "me, me, me", Not "Canada, Canada, Canada". I think people feel he is a whiny, greedy, faux glam guy.

I think that with the this, the Bloc will gain seats for sure.

So being the centrists that we are will the vote be split between the NDP and Cons and leave the libs our? Today, No. I don't think so. I think (good or bad) that the Liberals will still get plenty of seats. After all, Dithers or not, the party's ideology still matches most Canadians, Martin has the whole earnest, "trying hard" everyday man thing going for him.

Will they form the government, I dunno. It might work out to be the closest four-way split in the history of Canadian politics.

If: Layton can be a convincing campaigner, then his quiet effectiveness of the last few years might do him a favour.

And: I'm surprised that no other groups have formed a liberal "alternative" party with similar political ideology to try and draw voters.. becusae I definitly think that there'd be interest. However I guess the devil you know is better than the one you don't.

Lone Primate said...

Rather than post it as an actual hotlink that might fail, let's just go the cut and paste route. :)

http://erg.environics.net/news/default.asp?aID=589

Lone Primate said...

I think (good or bad) that the Liberals will still get plenty of seats. After all, Dithers or not, the party's ideology still matches most Canadians, Martin has the whole earnest, "trying hard" everyday man thing going for him.

I'd agree. Martin's been taking his cues from the public. On the war, on the missile deal, on softwood lumber, on debt reduction, on expanding health care... he's been hitting the right notes. What's working against him is the perception that, good job or bad, the Liberals have been around a long long time, and the Gomery Inquiry. I happen to feel that his personal exoneration is going to work out to his benefit... I could be wrong; Canadians might decided it's a cynical political move by Gomery and the Liberals' fortunes might still fall... but I doubt it. Really, it's an incredibly small matter as scandals go. No one died, the cost was in seven figures, and it's not something the taxpayer's going to be saddled paying for for the next 15 years or something. It's not good that it happened, but as scandals go, it's pretty small-time. I understand the motives of the Tories and Bloc in calling for an election, but I think in the long run it's going to cost them... the Tories, anyway. It looks like a hungry power grab. Frankly, I think they'd do much better to cool it, keep the issue in the public eye, offer policy alternatives, and groom themselves for the likely spring election. Let's face it... no one at the prom's less likely to wind up in the back seat with the windows steamed up than the jerk who's waving his box of condoms around.

G said...

Frankly, I think they'd do much better to cool it, keep the issue in the public eye, offer policy alternatives, and groom themselves for the likely spring election.

Agreed ... although that has yet to happen since the Conservative merger with the Reform Redux (er, Alliance) Party. They have yet to offer Canadians any sense of what their policy platform is, other than "we're not the Liberals". And that could be a frightening thought, similar to the "reckless in actual power" concern James mentioned above in his comment about the NDP. One could vote in the CPCs, but that would be voting blind in the sense that one would not be sure what he or she is voting for. At this point, anyway, that is the case. Their website contains some policy info ... but how many people visit a Party's website, honestly? More people probably visit our blogs. Not good for any Party if that is their mechanism for informing their country of their policies. And until the CPCs start a policy campaign, they will only look a pack of "me me me" power-hungry politicos that Rayne mentioned, and not a viable alternative to lead the country in the directions the voters wish to see it go.

Let's face it... no one at the prom's less likely to wind up in the back seat with the windows steamed up than the jerk who's waving his box of condoms around.

Great analogy! Perhaps Harps was that kid ... okay, okay, I know, that's a bit too harsh. Still ... might explain the glam-attention-seeking thing ... just saying. ;-)

L-girl said...

Rayne, thanks for your thoughts, they're very helpful.

Let's face it... no one at the prom's less likely to wind up in the back seat with the windows steamed up than the jerk who's waving his box of condoms around.

Lone Primate, you have a way with metaphor. :)

Lone Primate said...

Let's face it... no one at the prom's less likely to wind up in the back seat with the windows steamed up than the jerk who's waving his box of condoms around.

Lone Primate, you have a way with metaphor. :)


Metaphor? Worst night of my life, lemme tell yah... :)

Wrye said...

Canadians (especially eastern Canadians) seem reasonably content to live in a one party state

Well, Alberta is to the east of me...has only one effective party...and the people there don't seem too discontented, so I guess that is technically correct...

L-girl said...

Well, Alberta is to the east of me

Hee hee. Those "Eastern Canadian" generalizations always forget about Vancouver.

Lone Primate said...

Canadians (especially eastern Canadians) seem reasonably content to live in a one party state

The chutspah it takes for Albertans of all people to level this charge — as they so frequently do when at the end of their rope — at anyone else never fails to impress me. Alberta's running just a little behind Cuba in terms of the durability of a one-party government -- and that's not an exaggeration. But why take my word for it? Let's look at the official record.

Here's a list of Canadian federal elections in my lifetime, and the party that gained power, either majority or minorty...

1968 Liberal
1972 Liberal
1974 Liberal
1979 Progressive Conservative
1980 Liberal
1984 Progressive Conservative
1988 Progressive Conservative
1993 Liberal
1997 Liberal
2000 Liberal
2004 Liberal

And, just for good measure, here are the results of Ontario's provincial elections in my lifetime:

1971 Progressive Conservative
1975 Progressive Conservative
1977 Progressive Conservative
1980 Progressive Conservative
1985 Liberal
1987 Liberal
1990 New Democratic Party
1995 Progressive Conservative
1999 Progressive Conservative
2003 Liberal

And, last by not least, the results of Alberta's provincial elections in my lifetime:

1971 Progressive Conservative
1975 Progressive Conservative
1979 Progressive Conservative
1982 Progressive Conservative
1986 Progressive Conservative
1989 Progressive Conservative
1993 Progressive Conservative
1997 Progressive Conservative
2001 Progressive Conservative
2004 Progressive Conservative

Oh, yes... it would seem that some Canadians are indeed content to live in a one-party state. But if they're "eastern" Canadians, it's only to those immediately west of the Rockies.