Thursday, April 21, 2005

State of the Disunion Address

4:55 pm: I check the TV Times to see my viewing options: it’s basically between Everybody Loves Raymond and Everybody Hates Liberals…I guess I’ll give Paul a chance.

Round 1
5:02 pm:This occurred under a Liberal government”, “unjustifiable mess”, “I will be politically accountable”…boy, Harper’s going to have a tough time toping this.

5:03 pm: Paul says “I’m sorry”. Good move.

5:08 pm: Gomery will report December 15th…an election within 30 days means a January call for a February vote. So Martin's begging for close to a year – that’s a long time in minority government politics.

5:09 pm: The camera slowly zooms in as Paul Martin talks about his father being in Cabinet. I think this election might mark the first time in the history of Canadian politics that a politician will be playing for “pity votes”.

Analysis of Paul: Good performance. I strongly disagree with Paul Wells that this challenge will work, but it gives the Liberals a campaign "issue". They can get up and say “Stephen Harper didn’t let Judge Gomery report”. Martin’s always good on a prepared texts and he’s got that Uncle Louis vibe to him…very strong performance, as expected.

Round 2
5:10 pm: Harper comes out swinging. I still can’t get over how confident this guy has looked over the past two weeks. He bluntly says that Prime Ministers do not go on national TV “begging for yet another chance” and that “this is not how a Prime Minister should act.” Like I predicted, Harper is trying to look like a Prime Minister and is succeeding.

5:11 pm: Mentions the Liberals shutting down the Public Accounts Committee last year…expect to hear a lot of that during the election. Also mentions the “fiscal imbalance” during his French speech.

5:15 pm: The guy is really playing to Quebec voters. Lots of French and he spends the last half of his speech talking about La Belle Province.

5:16 pm: The “corruption” counter hits 7. I’m disappointed in Steve – he’s well bellow his usual 2.5 CRpM ratio (corruption references per minute).

Analysis of Steve: Looked really good and hammered home the key points. Kept bobbing back and forth which was kind of annoying – I don’t want to sound like his mother but the guy needs to work on his posture.

Round 3
5:18 pm: (NOTE: I didn’t actually keep track on the times - I’m pretty much making them up…) Opens by saying that when Jean Chretien addressed the country in 1995 “he did so to save Canada”. Seriously. I think that’s the most (only) shocking thing anyone said during the half-hour.

5:20 pm: The CBC translator translates Ducceppe’s statement into “besmirched Democracy”. This girl deserves a raise…besmirched isn’t an easy word to pull out.

5:22 pm: I don’t know who Ducceppe’s English coach is but he’s talking in this drawn out Texas drawl: “fe-dee-rawl-ism”.

Analysis of Gilles: Playing up the separatist angle a lot in his speech. Also trying to draw Martin into it as best he can with the “you were Minister of Finance when this happened” line.

Round 4
5:25 pm: Jack Layton echoes the opposition leaders by saying “this is not a national crisis.” This is probably the first time in the history of politics that the opposition is trying to downplay a scandal.

5:26 pm: Jack refuses to talk about the scandal and is instead discussing issues. ISSUES? Who does this guy think he is? That’s it, I’m changing channels.

5:27 pm: Ha ha ha. Oh, that Raymond. When will he ever learn…

Analysis of Jack: In all seriousness, he was the best of the bunch. Actually talked about the issues and making Parliament work. The NDP base soaks up stuff like that. The commentators spent as much time talking about Layton’s offer to modify the budget as they did about Martin’s offer to call an election in January. This NDP ploy could backfire, but I really like the way Layton is approaching this. Play the good cop in the “good cop/bad cop/separatist cop” routine with Harper and Ducceppe.

Post-Game Show:
-The CBC shows us George Strombalopalopalopapoulos talking to Canadians instead of the opposition leaders’ scrum. Thanks a lot. I really care what Angie in Vancouver has to say more than Stephen Harper.
-Way to win over the BC voters with a 4 pm Press Conference Paul.
-The local CBC news shows this blog on their newscast. Cool.
-Allan Gregg hits it right on the money when he says Martin continues to help his popularity at the expense of the Liberal brand.

Basically, I don’t think this will make a huge difference. Everyone rehashed what they’ve been saying for the past few weeks. Martin looked really good, but he was followed up by half an hour of opposition leaders who also looked good bashing him. Still, he’ll get most of the media clips so it was likely worth the risk. I’ll be very curious to see if this has any real impact on voters – my gut tells me no, but we’ll see.


  • The only problem for Jack was he was speaking third.. so who knows how many people saw him.. but perhaps its a good sign for him that he'll be on a lot of newsclips if the pundits were talking as much as they did.

    As I said in my BlogsCanada column (sorry for the shameless plug) a few day ago.. if the NDP supports the government.. it may be in the hands of the 3 independent MP's whether the government survives or not. That doesnt sound as preposterous as it may sound - Chuck Cadman is on public record as saying he hopes the Cons dont assume he'd be voting yes in a non-confidence motion.. he actually thought the Gomery Report should be handed down first before he considered defeating the government.

    The other 2 ex-Liberals may have no love for Martin... but I doubt they'd be too thrilled about defeating a government that would then lead to Harper being elected... so they may elect to wait as well.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 9:42 p.m.  

  • I thought Jack Layton was horrible but then again I cringe whenever he speaks. The reference to the forest fires seemed odd.

    As a red Tory, I thought I should have been cheering for Harper but I thought outside of his opening couple of lines, he was flat and his transition to his Conservative stump speech seemed misplaced.

    Having Georgie talking to "Angie from Vancouver" (although I was waiting for Mike from Canmore) did seem ridiculous and the whole "what do the people think" seems overdone and cliched now that CBC seems to run it after everything now.

    By Blogger Jordon, at 9:56 p.m.  

  • Thanks for the nice recap, CG. Unfortunately, I forgot that it was on tonight...


    PS. I think you missed a couple p's and o's in Georgie's name... :P

    By Blogger daveberta, at 10:09 p.m.  

  • Nice analysis. Although I cringed at the bit about his father and growing up on parliament hill, overall I thought Martin did well. The apology will mean a lot to many people, and he makes a good case for waiting for the gomery report. At the least, it makes it a little tougher for the Cons to pull the plug.

    I disagree with Harper looking Prime Ministereal. I thought he looked arrogant and smug. Martin still comes off as a much better leader.

    By Blogger JeffInBC, at 10:21 p.m.  

  • Wasn't this address supposed to be at 7:45EST as of this morning? Geez, the PMO can start a leadership coup ten years in advance, but can't plan an evening TV statement. Yeesh.

    And I thought Harper's choice of venue was suspect. Watching the webcast, it seemed really noisy in that hall - distracting from what he had to say.

    By Blogger JoshP, at 10:40 p.m.  

  • Josh:

    The networks requested he move it back to 7pm EST so it could accomodate their programming better.
    He obliged.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 10:44 p.m.  

  • _I wonder if the main networks jointly turned down a prime time (9/10 pm EST)request? They did co-ordinate the entire format of the impromptu event.
    _The earlier schedule could only have alienated westerners even more. The main speech was taped anyways (twice, in english, & in french).

    By Blogger Classic, at 10:46 p.m.  

  • I know that it had to be changed to accomodate the networks, but don't you think the PMO should have confirmed this before announcing the time in their press release?

    By Blogger JoshP, at 12:02 a.m.  

  • Stephen Harper's swaying back and forth was really annoying. I was actually lying down on my couch while I was watching it, and I felt the need to brace myself for some reason.

    By Blogger Mike Brock, at 12:10 a.m.  

  • A snap election is required! Gomery must continue with his project, I don't accept that a prompt election must stop Gomerys work.

    This is the third major muti-million mess on the Liberal party's watch.

    1. 146 million event whith Compaq computer. HP took over Compaq and agrees to repay the 146 million and combine efforts with grits to make the guilty pay back the loot.

    2. British submarines allowed to languish and rot in salt water for four years while the Liberals dithered. Cost in the millions but not yet fixed.

    3. This sponsorship mess is the third and most blatant fiasco but not the biggest public revenues loss.

    We can not afford to wait one more year while grits comb through and shred incriminating files or evidence.

    While Harper's rag tag group will team with the PQ to oust Martin, the next house will likely be NDP and Conservative.

    I look forward to the mandatory clean up and safeguards that must take place while the minority is under extreme pressure to keep spats at minimum intensity.

    The business of Canada must be done promptly, not put off for over a year.

    Scandals are bad enough, no need to compound our massive losses.


    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 1:46 a.m.  

  • 1. CG: great post. Bravo.
    2. Wells has given Martin the kiss of death. The guy's always wrong, although I like him very much. All Harper has to do to upset the gambit is ask people "do you really want another year of this government?" and "what sort of hail mary pass does he think he'll get? why does he think we ought to let him wait for it?"
    3. Does Harper have Asbergers? What was with the swaying? Martial arts? Hypnotism? It was all cobra-like.
    4. The CBC radio 1 folks were mean. They tore Martin a new one. The Quebec correspondant "in the people" called it an "insincere...speech of agony." And to think I thought it was ok.

    By Blogger matt, at 2:30 a.m.  

  • Good post. My only real disagreement is that Harper only would have looked PM-like to those who fully agree with him. Otherwise, he looked like a mean guy attacking poor Paul - just like during the debate.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 10:38 a.m.  

  • If the opposition parties agree that this is not a national emergency, why do they seem so eager to force a quarter billion dollar national election? That amount dwarfs the money wasted in the sponsorship scandal and we don't even really know what happened yet.

    The fact that parliament is wasting house time (and thus Canadian's time) with accusations and name-calling angers me to unspeakable levels. Leave the judging up to Gomery; the opposition parties should get back to their job: governing.

    If they call an election now, I will not vote for an oposition party.

    By Blogger Mark, at 1:27 p.m.  

  • It is 240 EST and CBC Newsworld just did a segment on what the blogs are saying. The spent a good three minutes going over this post. Just you and and Wells they talked about. Good work!

    By Blogger Political Nobody, at 2:41 p.m.  

  • The CBC went overboard afterwards trying to get some positive spin for Dithers.

    Jack Layton? He's still the small time neo-Marxist alderman from Toronto who's about the sleaziest politician I've ever seen in action. He's living in Oz if he thinks he'll ever hold the balance of power in this parliament.

    Harper was wonderful and to the point, but obviously Ontario would still prefer to be robbed blind rather than take a chance at responsible government. Still waiting for a Fifth Estate or Stevie Cameron expose on this theft of my tax dollars. Waiting...waiting...waiting...

    By Blogger Ron, at 5:41 p.m.  

  • Harper was also dead right: if the Liberals were a majority this scandal would be swept under the rug. You left wingers obviously love having your tax money stolen from you. Dithers is just playing for time, with the help of the usual media outlets he'll have time to demonize Harper. That tactic seems to work in this smug clueless country.

    By Blogger Ron, at 5:47 p.m.  

  • if the Liberals were a majority this scandal would be swept under the rug

    Untrue. Paul Martin started the public Gomery inquiry when the liberals still had a majority.

    By Blogger Mark, at 6:01 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger robert mcbean, at 6:10 p.m.  

  • Ron:
    Ontario wants Harper and the Conservatives to prove to them they arent going to act like a bunch of reactionary right-wing wackos when in government before voting for them

    That fear isnt going to be alleviated when you have the Tories Communications Director and his Party forced to apologige over his remarks comparing Martin's address to Osama Bin Laden releasing video tapes.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 6:11 p.m.  

  • i listened to the cbc radio version. (i would have liked to see the visual language.) i thought the cbc commentators were very snippy towards all the leaders. (for some reason i thought duceppe had far better english than what he used last night. ) harper is starting to sound more and more like his #1 mentor brian mulroney, i.e., overly self-righteous and arrogant. martin's request to wait almost a year for an election is unreasonable although i understand his thinking.

    By Blogger robert mcbean, at 6:12 p.m.  

  • CG, I remember that you came down on Warren Kinsella for pointing to a book about the massive corruption under the Mulroney Conservatives as a foil to this whole shenanigan. . .

    Check out the EJ today: Ralph Klein, displaying his characteristic lack of tact (and knowledge) says: "Whether it happened under Paul Martin's watch or someone else's, it's still the Liberal Party"

    That would lead me to believe that whether it happened under Mulroney or Harper, it would still be the Conservatives. . .

    Ah Ralph; "Judge not, lest ye yourself be judged". There are a few things in APC history that we could stand to have a few inquiries about, and I'm pretty sure they'd amount to a good deal more than two-digit millions. . .

    By Blogger Sigma-6, at 6:59 p.m.  

  • Oh, to Ron: That said. . . umm.

    *responsible government?*

    Who are you trying to kid?

    By Blogger Sigma-6, at 7:02 p.m.  

  • sigma 6; Just to clarify, I don't think I mentioned the Mulroney book at all. I did say that it was a little unfair to blame Harper for something Mike Harris and Preston Manning wrote for a think tank though.

    Given all that's happened on the right, it's a little unfair to blame them for the Mulroney years. I think corruption under Mulroney is useful to point out in the sense that this stuff happens to all governments. The Alberta PCs have a ton of skeletons in their closet but we don't really have an inquisitive media or Auditor General here to dig it up.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 8:36 p.m.  

  • CG, there's your mission. Taft has done some nice work on the side of the AB Libs, and an Adscam-esque banner to run on next time could do it. Plus, it won't be an election against Klein, so new optic.

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