Saturday, February 12, 2005

On The Attack

Also getting in on the Gomery discussion is Mike Brock, a very deserving winner of the Conservative blog of the year. Brock takes issue with the context argument so I’m going to try and clarify why it was important for Chretien to establish the context behind the program. Basically, the perception in the public is that this scandal was about the Liberal Party giving kick-backs to their friends. And because of the sensationalization of this inquiry, a large segment of the population is under the mistaken opinion that Chretien was the mastermind behind this. It didn’t help when Gomery had his brain fart before Christmas or when Martin said their was “political direction” a year ago. It was therefore necessary to explain why the program was brought into being. It was not created as a way to money launder, it was created to save the country. Yes, a lot of bad things happened but Chretien admitted as much when he testified on Tuesday.

The point is, this program was one part of a greater unity strategy that worked. Brock points to the Bloc’s recent success to try and paint this unity strategy as a failure. Yes, the Bloc is doing well, but separatism is still polling way down. Jean Charest is Premier of Quebec, Chretien made huge seat gains in 1997 and 2000, and Lucien Bouchard never got to call another referendum. In addition, we have a Clarity Act that will make it very difficult for Quebec to separate in the future. The situation is A LOT less serious than it was back in 1996. That’s what people forget. Jean Chretien has spent his entire career fighting for Canada. For him, it was a war. Sometimes, the general makes a bad decision, but it’s ridiculous to skewer him over the mistakes people bellow him may have made when every other decision in the unity plan worked. Neither the PM nor the Minister of Finance micro-manage every single decision that occurs in government and painting them as culprits in this is disingenuous. I think the reason Brock and a lot of those on the right don’t like Chretien is the same reason I can’t stand Klein – he’s a winner. Like it or not, Jean Chretien is arguable the most electorally successful Prime Minister in the history of this country. He had every right to tee off against those who were trying to destroy his name. Yes, I’m biased, I like the guy. But I’d defend Brian Mulroney’s right to clear his name if he got unfairly blamed for something occurring under his watch. With Bernard Roy and Gomery Pyle ambushing and degrading Chretien, just like Mike, Chretien had every right to go "on the attack".

And heck, the golf ball gag was the funniest political stunt since Barney the Dinosaur and Doris Day. Regardless of your political stripes, you've got to admit that.

12 Comments:

  • The other important point about the context of 1996 and following was that there was a PQ government in Quebec that used provincial resources to promote separatism.

    For the Federal government to have a program to marshall resources against this was, in my opinion, perfectly appropriate.

    What wasn't appropriate was the shoddy way in which the program was organized and the corruption or semi-corruption in its application.

    By Blogger buckets, at 10:40 AM  

  • You claim the program was "created to save the country." And, to be sure, that claim has been made since the program was created. Nobody is so stupid as to say, "I'm going to illegally channel tax dollars to the Liberal Party."

    But what proof is there to back up the claim, other than that most of the funds were spent in Quebec? What peer-reviewed studies do you have to suggest that Quebecers were simply unaware that Canada existed, so an ad campaign including the Canada wordmark was going to be the salvation of the nation?

    Surely you aren't going to suggest that the ad campaign accomplished anything more than awareness.

    The simple fact is that the program was a sham all along.

    By Blogger Paul, at 1:42 PM  

  • Nonsense Paul.. obviously you havent taken the time or have chosen to ignore to read the opening statement of Chretien showing what the strategy was with regards to Quebec seperatism.. you also completely ignore the fact that the PQ was doing the EXACT same thing in Quebec with THEIR public funds to promote seperatism. The Mulroney government had completely gone soft on promoting Canada in Quebec in order to placate their soft nationalist support in Quebec... and to be fair.. Chretien didnt do much the first 2 years either... the near-1995 defeat promoted the sponsership program as well as the other methods Chretien commented about.

    As for the campaign not accomplishing anything.. again.. you completely ignore the facts that show Chretien won large #'s of seats in 1997 and 2000, and forced BOuchard to leave when it became apparent that support had waned.

    The program wasnt a sham.. the way it was administered by certain corrupt elements was bad.. anfd those people will need to be punished. But to claim it was 1 big graft campaign from the beginning?

    THAT is a bigger sham statement.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 1:51 PM  

  • Scott: hate to pick on you dude, but you continue to assign responsibility to "certain corrupt elements" or like while backing away from the hard question of "why"? What benefit did Guite get? What benefit did his underlings receive? What benefit did Gagliano receive? Why would they act the way they did? What were their motivations for misuing funds the way they did?

    The trite answer is that there was political advantage to be had (as opposed to some steaks and a couple boat rides - here the RCMP is investigating), and hence a question of political direction (and here Gomery is investigating).

    By Blogger matt, at 6:38 PM  

  • If they were trying to get political benefit for themselves.. they will be found out and punished.. but to try and paint it as a cross-the-board graft progam instituted by the Liberal Party and personally administered by Jean Chretien is just a bunch of Conservatives grasping at straws trying desperately to find a winning issue for themselves at the next federal election.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 6:43 PM  

  • Again, you dodge. You say "They will be found out and punished..."

    WHO?

    Who is your "they"? Because the people I assign to that category are, among others, Guite, Gagliano, Carle, Pelletier. Bureaucrat, Senior Quebec Minister, assistant to the Prime Minister, chief of staff to the Prime Minister.

    Who could be more senior in the party? Particularly when recipients of questionable funds include personal friends of Chretien, and former executives of the Liberal Party.

    When you say "They" will be punished, and attempt distinguish those ostensibly shadowy figures from the party at large, you are being disingenous.

    The reason this is a scandal is because the two are one and the same. Liberals at the highest level were involved in the deliberate, repeated, and institutionalized misdirection of public funds. That is the issue.

    By Blogger matt, at 6:51 PM  

  • Forgot to put this in: a good list of facts and more articulate accounting of what I've been ranting about here:

    http://andrewcoyne.com/2005/02/my-saturday-column.html

    By Blogger matt, at 6:52 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 7:38 PM  

  • I havent seen any evidence that Chretien or Martin were knowingly involved in this.. nor does it appear so far that the majority of the Liberal Party were involved. My assertion that it was "a few bad apples" and not systemic graft stands.

    Kinsella takes care of Coyne's Saturday column at his blog, btw.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 7:45 PM  

  • And Coyne kicks the snot out of Kinsella on his blog (the sequence of events being Coyne's column, Kinsella's column cum blog post, and Coyne's subsequent blog post, being the most recent shot fired).

    If the chief of staff, special assistant, Quebec Minister, and former VP of the Party are "a few bad apples" what would rot-at-the-top look like to you?

    By Blogger matt, at 8:48 PM  

  • Thanks for the graciousness of your remarks, and the link. I have reciprocated that.

    Obviously, Chretien had every right to do what he did; I didn't suggest otherwise. Nor do I believe that Chretien is guilty of criminal malfeasance.

    I do think, however, that a horrendously strong case is made for his incompetence, or ignorance, you pick.

    There is a general rule about leadership which pertains to responsibility. You can't be prepared to take credit for your actions, unless you are prepared to face the consequences of them.

    Chretien made choices that were foolish, and the results were the scandal.

    If I am to hold him to the high standard that you hold him, then I must be just as critical as you are boastful.

    I've never denied that Chretien was a political game-winner. In fact, I've constantly conceded that. His incredibly slick-skinned style which has left him so impervious to scandal is indeed something, at least from a public relations standpoint, to be admired. But do I measure the quality of a man based on his powers of manipulation and image control? Sadly, no.

    By Blogger Mike Brock, at 7:31 PM  

  • Whooee! Gritfeller yer right fer attackin' back when yer team's takin' a thrashin' by this here General Brock. Ol' Brock is chimin' in now so's t' clear things up an' that's good, too. Mebbe you fellers'll shake hand an' come out swingin' sum more an that'd be fun, too. All this here funfightin' in the boogeysphere is good on accounta it don't cost us Canajuns nothin'. That there Justus Gumper's choir is a-costin' away too much. I jest paid me a visit to BowJames's boog an' he called the Gump Show a circus. Ol' JimBobby is agreein' with that an' the tickets t' that there circus tent is comin' with a mighty high pricetag.

    Anyways, CalgaryBoy, I jest come here on accounta seein' a link over t' RobertyBob's boog. From what I hear tell, you might jest have the onliest grit boog in Calgary. I'm a new booger here in the Canajun boogeysphere an' I'm a droppin' by here an' there t' offer up sum invites fer other boogers to come on over an' see my little boog. I'm callin' it JimBobby Sez an' I got it parked at www.jimbobby.com. I left me a comment over t' Mikey's boog 'bout him takin' sides with walmart an' their commonist red Chinese buddies over top o' good Canajun workin' folks but it's lookin' like nobody paid no tension t' what I sed.

    Yores Trooly,
    JimBobby

    By Blogger JimBobby, at 10:02 AM  

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