Sunday, December 6, 2009

Inside last year's coalition deal

Brian Topp's chronology of last year's events in which federal opposition parties banded together in an attempt to take power from the minority Conservative government is a must-read for any political junkie, no matter your opinion of the deal itself.

Topp, a former NDP campaign co-chair and a coalition negotiator for the NDP, presented his take on the day-to-day drama in a six-part series in the Globe and Mail over the past week.

All the juicy details are there: Dion's desire to un-resign his leadership by leaping right into the Prime Minister's chair, the coalition's strategic error in closely associating themselves with the Bloc (which the Tories seized on pretty much within seconds of hearing about the plan), the Ignatieff team's tepid embrace and then rejection of the coalition, some funny moments of Liberal "entitlement" behaviour (for example, see Marlene Jennings's comments during cabinet negotiations), Dion's final big flop on national television and a whole lot of "big names" playing a role, among them Dion, Ignatieff, Layton, Rae, Chrétien, Broadbent, Blakeney and a host of others.

The series has created quite a stir among political commentators. See the reactions by
Chantal Hébert, Rex Murphy, Paul Wells and Curtis at Endless Spin Cycle (whose earlier post I initially missed when composing this one). Jane Taber comments on how the Tories celebrated the one-year anniversary of the coalition's demise.

Photo: Competing protests in favour and opposed to the proposed coalition in late 2008.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A shameful lack of vision

Andrew Coyne sure tells it like is. Why is a government that so adamantly denies any knowledge of Canadian complicity in torture so desperate to keep us guessing? If they're holding the truth in their back pocket, why are they more determined than ever to block the way forward?

With one Tory MP after another getting in on the act of trying to undermine former diplomat Richard Colvin's testimony (for example, for being
filmsy, inconsistent, and unreliable), it took Christie Blatchford two articles to articulate what weeks of inept spinning have failed to do: poke holes in Colvin's credibility. Don Martin of the National Post has done some similar work.

Of course, many questions remain and Blatchford focuses only on Colvin's testimony, not on the bigger torture issue (
as one Globe letter writer suggested, her "wheat vs. chaff" comment sounds like she misses the boat entirely on the torture question). We can only hope the Military Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the allegations, is able to eke out the truth despite the government's best efforts to block and obfuscate.

Once again, we see petty and angry politics trump reasoned, articulate, responsible leadership at the federal level. After all, were the leaders of this government to have the courage of their own convictions, surely they would continue to champion the mission in Afghanistan while rushing to sincerely address the damaging allegations that have surfaced. Yet, we see no leadership; we hear no vision. Instead, they duck and hide behind angry, petty invective disguised as spin.