Posts Tagged Stephen Harper
I’ve been fairly critical of the media’s role in this election. From the consortium threatening to pull Conservative Ads on false copyright pretenses, to political favoritism in the Munk Debates, and now the situation with the former National Post editorial editor Andrew Coyne when the post refused to post his endorsement of a political candidate.
I called last nights big win for the Liberals hours prior to the election taking place. From the looks of things, the Conservative progressive vote (which is based around civil liberties) and the anti-conservative vote went to the NDP at the very beginning of the campaign as a result of the Liberal support for Bill C-51. I think the tipping point for the Conservative progressives was the Liberal policy on TPP and trade in which the Greens and NDP wanted to kill. All of the poll numbers suggested to me that’s when the NDP and Conservative vote started to go down, and Liberals went up at the time of the signing of the TPP. Last night the anti-conservative vote, voted strategically and rallied behind the Conservative progressive move to the Liberals and oust Harper.
Besides getting screamed at for hours after my call for a Liberal win from my conservative friends on Facebook (too which now owe me a bottle of rum), this was a big shocker to some. Did big media have any pull in the election? It’s quite clear throughout this election that the consortium has been acting inappropriately. The Globe debates were some of the most horrible debates I’ve ever seen with Conservative leaning questions, and statements from the editor of the Globe (who’s editorial board ended up supporting the Conservatives days before the election). Not to mention the lack of coverage Elizabeth May’s responses to debate questions on social media as a result of her being left out of several debates. I think it may be too soon to tell to see if traditional media had the impact they were hoping for.
I think traditional media’s role here really depends on the break down of voter engagement. If the youth voted in big numbers, than traditional media and poll results had very little pull with voter intentions. Most in this age group get their media online and through social media. The Liberals had a strong social media presence in this campaign. I ran into it a few times, especially with MP Wayne Easter (which I congratulated last night on his re-election) debating C-51, not to mention many other potential Liberal MPs on the bill. The Liberals weren’t shy on social media, and came out fighting (and most without per-scripted talking points), unlike most of the NDP and Conservative hopefuls.
If the voter engagement was more balanced, than I think there needs to be questions put by Canadians on exactly how the media and/or lobby groups played a role in trying to intentionally sway voter intentions to the benefit of one or more parties. Do you think traditional media played a big role in the Liberal election win? Post your comments/observations below.
The Conservatives seem to be tying to make the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement one of Harper’s legacy items. After the election call the Conservatives moved to change “caretaker” rules in order to continue negotiating this trade agreement. It appears now that the Conservatives are so much in a rush to get the TPP signed that they’ll pretty much agree to almost anything, even though it may mean tromping on civil liberties as a result. Michael Geist an Internet Law professor stated in his most recent blog:
For Canada, the deal on ISPs means that government has agreed to induce providers to “remove or disable” access to content upon becoming aware of a decision of a court of a copyright infringement. The broadly worded provision could force Canadian ISPs to block content on websites after being notified of a foreign court order – without first having to assess whether the site is even legal under Canadian law.
So will China now be the worlds authority on what content is viewed on the web thanks to Harper’s legacy?
If you haven’t tuned into the Duffy trial over the past week, than you are living under a rock, or you’re missing one of the best political dramas in Canadian history. The cross examination of Nigel Wright in Senator Mike Duffy’s trial over inappropriate expenses, is becoming quite interesting to many Canadians. Canada seems to be tuned into this political drama playing out in an Ottawa court room in droves, albeit in the middle of the summer when most tune out politics. CBC saw ratings rise to record levels during the cross examination last week in its At Issue political panel, and the political talk show Power and Politics:
— Peter Mansbridge (@petermansbridge) August 14, 2015
On top of this, latest poll numbers put the Conservatives in third place behind the NDP. What all of this is suggesting is that Canadians are now tuned in big time to the trail and Wright’s testimony. I’ve been following this closely as well on Twitter, where I’ve been commenting on the testimony on a daily basis.
Nigel Wright was Harper’s chief of staff. The main job for the chief of staff of the prime minister is to protect the prime minister politically. For those of you who have ever watched House of Cards, Wright’s responsibilities were similar too Michael Kelly’s character Doug Stamper. For those of you not familiar with House of Cards, Wright was the go-to man for the Prime Minister to make political problems go away, and with his testimony, he’s unintentionally creating more problems for the Conservative party than he is deflecting them away from the Prime Minister.
The media is doing a very good job at simplifying a very complicated web of deception, spun by the Prime Minister’s staff to fend off questions on Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses. Duffy did a lot of fund raising for the Conservative party over the years and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) felt that this expense scandal the media uncovered regarding Senator Duffy, would damage the Conservative brand, thus the prime minister. Nigel Wright who was then the Prime Minister Harper’s chief of staff was in charge of making Duffy go away quietly.
While a lot of political pundits are focusing on what the Prime Minister knew and when regarding a payment to Duffy by Wright, my main interest is that several ministers including my own (then house leader) Peter Van Loan were fed “public relations” lines to say in the media and the house of commons by the PMO regarding Duffy re-paying his own expenses which were utterly false. It turns out that the PMO knew about Wright’s payment to Duffy, all while scripting a false and misleading response that Duffy paid his own expenses for Ministers to try and control the problem politically.
Why does all of this matter? The e-mail threads submitted into evidence show a deliberate attempt by Wright and PMO staff (some of which are handling Harper’s election campaign currently) to mislead Canadians on Duffy’s expenses to try and protect the Conservative party. They also point to the PMO interfering with what is supposed to be an independent Senate audit of Senator’s expenses. If the PMO is deliberately misleading Canadians to protect their own brand, are we in a huge deficit right now, and not on a balanced budget? What else has the PMO been guilty of misleading Canadians on, and are we getting any truthful information on government policy and if it’s working or not? We could be in the dark quite a bit on a lot of important policy that is steering the economic, and social engine of the country as a result of a culture of deceit and almost near total control over the party and independent processes that seems very well established in the PMO.
If you want to follow this past weeks events regarding Wright’s testimony a good place to start is Evan Solomon’s new podcast Everything is Political which aired on August 13th. Friday August 14ths testimony is summed up nicely here
As the Duffy trial winds it’s way through the election campaign, more testimony is expected from people in the inner circle of the Conservative party. With this many people tuned into Wright’s testimony, this will be hard for the Conservatives to simply use plausible deniability tactics at a time when even their own base is questioning the ethics of the party and their poll numbers dropping.
Let’s put it this way; we could have used the swagger and unexpectedness Donald Trump presented in last nights US Republican debates in the Canadian leaders debate. Instead, the first hour the Canadian debate consisted of Conservative leader Stephen Harper doing what he does best which is misleading Canadians on facts. Green Party leader Elizabeth May catching Harper on misleading facts (which is why she needs to be in every debate). Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attacking the NDP leader Tom Mulcair over a non-issue regarding Quebec separatism because he’s lost a tremendous amount of support to Mulcair over the anti-terror bill. Finally Mulcair looked like he was part of some alien race freaking people out on social media with his weird smile, and alien like black eyes peering into their living rooms when he looked directly into the camera when debating the other leaders.
The two that had the best body language in the debate were the two national debate veterans, May and Harper. Trudeau came across as a kid with something to prove (Liberals think his downfall is due to Harper’s attack ads, not his position on supporting the new anti-terror bill. Liberals are still tone deaf on that because they have nothing to fear but fear itself), and Mulcair just looked nervous for the first hour. On the other hand May seemed very well prepared, however didn’t do well in the first hour to inject her voice over the others. Harper was calm and cool to begin with, however came across as though he got annoyed at the fact he actually had to debate the other parties and defend his record.
Those of us who follow Canadian politics closely saw relatively nothing new regarding policy positions. Harper played the expected “steady as you go” position on the economy warning that the opposition parties would raise taxes and put the country in a horrible economic position. Mulcair and May made a good point that corporate taxes have remained low, and the Bank of Canada has been extremely worried in the past that these corporations are just sitting on the money they saved from tax breaks rather than creating jobs.
The environment debate which happened in the second hour, May just owned it and the other parties let her have the floor. May called Harper to account on his environmental commitments, getting Harper to admit that emission reduction targets will not be reached by 2020, but by 2030. May also questioned Mulcair on his support of pipelines, which Mulcair remained non-committal on, and May kept pressing him on.
On the new anti-terror bill, there are stark differences between the parties. Harper said it was necessary; Trudeau is for and against the bill; Mulcair starkly pledged to Canadians he would repeal the bill (looking directly into the camera with his alien like black eyes) and if new powers were needed, Mulcair consult the experts first. Essentially Mulcair wants proof these new powers would be needed, and how to implement them in a way that doesn’t impede the rights of Canadians. Trudeau actually did admit that he may have been naive in his support of the anti-terror bill, but continues to support it.
I think the major news from this debate that Canadians need to be aware of, is not what happened during the debates but after. May, Trudeau and Mulcair all took questions from the press after the debate. Harper didn’t take any questions nor did he appear before the press after which I found very bizarre and arrogant. We’re in an election Harper. Deal with it!
All in all, I think it was a good introduction to the party leaders to those who do not follow politics closely. I don’t think this first debate will have that much of an impact on voters. If your a conservative supporter, you’re likely to remain that way and same with the other party’s supporters. Mulcair needs to bring his style of debating that he has during question period to future debates. That’s where he shines, and Trudeau needs to stop bouncing around like a boxer and listen to Canadians more as to why he’s so low in the polls: