Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Frappeur Suppliant

Continuing my Quebec theme this evening, this is interesting. I can't see a Duceppe-Harper debate on unity happening; I suspect there would be problems with the election laws. But it's an interesting proposition.

On the one hand, it's somewhat irresponsible for Harper to be doing this. It plays into the entire "referendum election" mentality and Stephen Harper is not the best voice to speak for Canada - I think even his supporters would agree to that. Duceppe is a master debater (he he) and would wipe the floor of Harper in a French debate.

That said, this is a friggin' brilliant ploy by Harper. Regardless of whether or not Duceppe accepts, it makes Harper look gutsy. It puts an end to the "in bed with the separatists", "can't stand up for Canada", and "only Liberals can fight separatism" rhetoric, while making Martin look weak. Come the January 9th and 10th debates, Harper can now say "I was willing to speak for Canada when you were not Mr. Martin". The downside is, of course, if he debates and looks bad, but it's likely a beau risque worth taking at this point for Harper, especially since such a debate is unlikely to happen.

47 Comments:

  • I agree. However, I think by simply accepting the offer, it makes Cap'tin Canada look like a hypocrite -- and thats probably the reasoning behind the proposition.

    But also Bart, you must realize that all Duceppe has had to debate in the past is GOMERY GOMERY GOMERY and Fiscal Imbalance. If Harper says 'well yes, thats what we want to fix' what is Duceppe going to say? "Uhhh OK? BUT WE STILL WANT TO SEPARATE!"

    I think Duceppe would look worse in that situation as it would high-light how he's a one trick pony who has no influence in Ottwa. Perhaps Harper could gain some votes out of that.

    By Anonymous m.k. braaten, at 2:38 AM  

  • I doubt it would be against election laws - the Charter protects freedom of speech. I don't see there being any laws against Mr. Harper and Monsieur Duceppe meeting in a studio somewhere in Montreal and having a candid discussion about the future direction of the country.
    You are right. It makes Martin look weak. Harper seems to be playing this campaign way better than last time. He's definitely learned the lessons of the 2004 campaign. If the Liberal strategy is based on the assumption that Harper will self-distruct, I'd suggest they stop smoking whatever substance it is that they are using and come up with a better strategy. My sense is that that is unlikely.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:46 AM  

  • I strongly agree that Harper has improved his performance over 2004. He seems much more calm and focus, almost, do I dare say, Priministerial!

    If Harper debated Duceppe and held his own, he wouldn't need to win, just show up, that would be incredible! I hope it happens, Martin would be gone in a heartbeat.

    By Blogger Jamie, at 3:09 AM  

  • Am I lost? I was looking for a liberal blog....

    By Anonymous Ty, at 4:03 AM  

  • Am I lost? I was looking for a liberal blog....

    Nope. CG's is one of the few that makes sense.

    By Blogger Jim, at 8:41 AM  

  • Well, this may be a liberal blog, but these days it doesn't read much like a Liberal blog. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    By Blogger Dave, at 9:19 AM  

  • Harper might not sound great in French, but practically wrote the Clarity Act - the one piece of federal policy that has had a positive effect in Quebec.

    Martin, by contrast, repeatedly runs away from it, and has tried to frame his re-election as a proxy for a referendum.

    Give me Harper anyday.

    By Blogger OttawaCon, at 9:30 AM  

  • Speaking of debates, did you read the bit on the Western Canada debate in the Herald? A4.

    I'm NOT openly gay.

    By Blogger Lady Cooper, at 9:32 AM  

  • I think that it is win-win for Harper. The Bloc is at a high in Quebec, Liberals down and the CPC so low as not to be a threat. If Harper goes in and debates poorly he loses what in Quebec? But in the ROC he gains a respect as one who will stand up. And Paul Martin? He loses for backing down and loses again as Duceppe strangles the Liberals out of Quebec, and perhaps even his own seat.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:52 AM  

  • Bart, good points but this is what irresponsibility looks like:

    Gomery: "It is an indication of the failure of some members of the government at that time to consider that any political party other than the Liberal Party of Canada could have a role in promoting federalism in Quebec."

    Putting that to the lie is a positive.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:53 AM  

  • You can feel the ground shifting, eh?

    Harper's address in Quebec will be looked back at as a watershed moment in this election.

    Then he followed it up with an all out assault on Martin's credibility on national unity.

    And capped it with a "If Martin won't stand up for Canada against the BLOC, then I will!" coup de grace.

    According to Chantel Hebert's article today, Mario Dumont declared yesterday that he will be voting for Harper.

    And Charest broke a self-imposed silence to virtually endorse Harper.

    Stephane Dion has a meltdown on national TV, and Martin is literally all over the map, as proven by CBC coverage no less.

    And then we read today in the Toronto Star that Martin already is being measured for a political coffin.

    As Warren Kinsella would say, "You just can't make this stuff up!"

    By Anonymous springer, at 9:53 AM  

  • I'm not sure Harper's ploy really will work. It pushes an issue onto today's front-page that does not play well for him. If people go into the polls thinking about national unity, fewer of them will vote Conservative than if they go into the polls thinking about (e.g.) crime or corruption or beer or popcorn. Now maybe Harper has done something to turn the Liberal advantage in national unity into a 60-40 split instead of a 65-35 split, but it is nonetheless a net loser for him.

    By Blogger buckets, at 9:57 AM  

  • Buckets still thinks the Liberals are the only credible party on national unity and the CPC would be wise to concede the point to Captain Canada.

    Charest and Dumont publicly think otherwise.

    Hmmm. Tough call.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 10:03 AM  

  • Another example of irresponsibility:

    macleans

    After the debate, Martin renewed his attack on Duceppe, telling reporters: "I'm going to meet him on every street corner, in every city and in every town and village in Quebec."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 AM  

  • springer: i was about to post the exact same thing, but what happened with the dion meltdown? i didn't hear of that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:42 AM  

  • "Am I lost? I was looking for a liberal blog..."

    speaking of liberals sheila is siding with harper's comments:

    http://www.torontosun.com/News/Columnists/Copps_Sheila/2005/12/21/1362744-sun.html

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:47 AM  

  • "And Charest broke a self-imposed silence to virtually endorse Harper."

    Well, Jean Charest used to have Harper's job in one of the parties that now make up the CPC. No real surprised there.

    And if you don't think the provincial Liberals in Quebec are trying to distance themselves from the Federal Liberals in preparation for their own provincial election, well you must not be from Ontario or Alberta either.

    By Blogger Mike, at 10:56 AM  

  • And trouble is brewing in another quarter ... where's the $1.14 million that the Liberals owe us?

    http://www.thiscanada.com/2005/12/21/wheres-our-114-million/

    I've hit a brick wall trying to find out.

    By Anonymous Erik Sorenson, at 11:41 AM  

  • springer, that's the 31st "watershed" moment you've claimed since the election began. The only reason you feel the ground is shifting is because your head is up your ass when you fart.

    By Blogger Don, at 11:41 AM  

  • A bigger coup for Harps would be if Martin refuses to debate Duceppe BUT Duceppe then refuses to debate Harper. Duceppe has a lot more to lose in that debate than Harps does...

    By Anonymous Sailor Man, at 11:43 AM  

  • Actually what Don said was very funny - sorry Springer...

    By Anonymous Sailor Man, at 11:45 AM  

  • Duceppe will say he's not interested in debating Harper and has better things to do. The only intrigue is how mean he'll be about it.

    And, bloody right, Harper will say he was willing to debate with his Calgary French on Canada's behalf when Martin "Ich bin ein Quebecer" wasn't.

    Think about that

    By Blogger matt, at 11:53 AM  

  • OTTAWA (CP)

    "This accusation I've made against Mr. Martin arises because it is Mr. Martin who's talked continually about a referendum and about having a PQ government in Quebec," the Tory leader said in Chatham, Ont.

    "I don't go around demanding apologies, I can take a punch," he said to loud cheers as he made a farm-support announcement.

    Harper said he believes the prime minister is obviously a federalist but added Martin is not prepared to stand up to Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe and defend federalism in Quebec.

    Harper also poked fun at Martin for turning down Duceppe's offer of a one-on-one debate in French between the two.

    "I'm prepared to take that challenge, instead," Harper said. "I look forward to debating Mr. Duceppe in the near future."

    ...Martin has refused to meet the Bloc leader in a debate on French-language TQS, just days after promising to meet him "on any street corner" in Quebec.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:21 PM  

  • I disagree with the assertion that this "makes Martin look weak." In fact, it merely exposes the fact that he is weak (and a blustering coward in the bargain).

    This is almost a no-lose proposition for Harper: no one will evaluate his performance based on whether he or Duceppe get the great one liner or stinging knock-out punch - it is a given that Duceppe's verbal skills in french are better than Harper's. All Harper has to do is present a cogent case for a federal Canada, and make reasonable proposals that will address at least some Provincial concerns. That's enough to take away the "in bed with the seperatists" canard (and in fact, a verbal thrashing from Duceppe probably wouldn't hurt him in that regard). Even if he stutters, stumbles, and mixes up his verb tenses (say, like ol' Paul Martini) he will gain some respect for his determination, and for his willingness to take on an important task - especially one that frightened off this pathetic excuse for a man currently living in 24 Sussex.

    By Blogger deaner, at 12:22 PM  

  • One of the video links on Duffy's "Countdown" features Stephane Dion popping blood vessels last night...

    http://www.ctv.ca/mini/election2006/

    I believe it's the one Quebec's "special status".

    They probably had to clean spit off the camera when it was all over.

    And...

    Hi, Don! Nice to see you out and about, discovering that there is life after Liberals, eh?

    (Note to bystanders: Don's not a happy Liberal camper these days, so he's a tad testy.)

    By Anonymous springer, at 12:28 PM  

  • Wells wades in on Harper's offer to debate:

    "This is not only brilliant tactics, because it reminds us all how frequently we have seen Paul Martin's capacious and fast-receding butt whenever the going got tough.

    (It turns out that when the prime minister said, five days ago, regarding Duceppe, "I'm going to meet him on every street corner, in every city and in every town and village in Quebec," that was just... you know... the beer and popcorn talking.)

    As I say, it's not only brilliant tactics, it's also entirely appropriate. Stephen Harper has as much right to speak for Canada as any leader or any Canadian

    ...But folks: We seriously need to stop looking for federalism's white knight. We, or those of us who rather like federalism, need to carry the water all by ourselves. Each of us. Canada is an easy proposition to defend, if only you get into the habit.

    And an unforgiving country toward anyone who loses the habit. That vanishing dot in the distance? That used to be the PM's butt."

    Looks like Wells is well rested from his year of avoiding Martin:

    "This is what happens when you follow Paul Martin around for even a little while on the campaign trail. You hear no end of grand pronouncements. Sweeping commitments. Stirring appeals. And then you take a short stroll and peek behind the curtain and you discover that Oz the Great and Terrible is barely there. All that's there is a guy putting on airs. I have spent most of a year steering clear of the Prime Minister whenever I decently could, given the unfortunate reality of my employment as an Ottawa political columnist, because I took an early dislike to his huffing and puffing and I did not want to torment him or bore my readers. Last week was a bit of a reunion. I was quickly reminded how easy Paul Martin is to like and how hard he is to believe."

    By Anonymous yyc, at 12:33 PM  

  • "springer, that's the 31st "watershed" moment you've claimed since the election began".

    Should the CPC pull ahead and win in the end Springer can award the 3 stars watershad moments.

    So far I'm favouring:

    1. The Liberals setting the election at 56 days in the hopes that the CPC would run on Adscam.

    2. Beer and Popcorn

    3. The Charest/Dumont endorsements and the fall out on that file yesterday.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 12:44 PM  

  • Martin is now saying that Harper was mean in stating Martin wants a PQ government in Quebec so he can look strong against it.

    "Mr. Martin began the day demanding that Mr. Harper withdraw allegations that the Liberals secretly prefer to see a separatist government installed in Quebec to enhance Liberal election chances by allowing them to claim to be the chief defenders of national unity against the separatist threat.

    He said the Conservative leader stepped over the line of common courtesy by making such a charge, which he called false. Mr. Martin said he would never accuse Mr. Harper of such calumny."

    If he can convince enough ppl of this, it can be another kitten-eater/loves child porn comment like last time. Maybe Harper will explode of his own accord?

    The challenge for Martin is of course to ensure it happens.

    By Blogger mezba, at 1:14 PM  

  • Follow-up on my comment above:

    http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20051221/CPACTUALITES02/51221089/5363/CPACTUALITES02

    Duceppe was quite gracious, saying he'd wait to see if the TQS offer of airtime still held before making any decision with respect to Harper's offer.

    TQS said that they hadn't decided officially, but doubted "anyone would want to watch a hockey match where one team doesn't have a goalie".

    I would add that, hypothetically, depending on the format and audience appetite, Harper's Calgary French could still acquit him well enough in a debate with Duceppe. I didn't watch this year's French debate (beer and popcorn night - vive le Biftek), and Harper's French is said to have declined since last year. But based on last year's viewing, a similar format which doesn't permit interruptions would allow Harper to get his point across easily enough, especially with some French coaching during his days off.

    The only issue would be accent. But Harper isn't making the offer to win seats in Quebec, it's to win seats in Ontario, and so that doesn't matter.

    By Blogger matt, at 1:33 PM  

  • People who have at least three functioning braincells are fed up with Paul Martin's quivering lower-lip shtick as he asks for yet another apology from anyone who takes a shot at him.

    Is there a bigger shmuck in Canadian politics than Martin?

    By Anonymous springer, at 1:40 PM  

  • mezba: You'll need to start with actual Harper quotes that say Martin wants a PQ government in Quebec.

    You may find headlines that say that but you won't find any such quotes because they do not exist.

    You will find quotes about not waiting for a PQ gov't, but that is nothing more than an accurate description of Martin and Lapierre's REFERENDUM ELECTION.

    Torstar news service:

    In a remark that touched off the most bruising confrontation yet between the two leaders, Harper asserted that Martin has abandoned Quebec Liberal Premier Jean Charest in advance of the next Quebec election. The reason, Harper said, is that Martin is itching for the showdown over Quebec sovereignty that would follow if the Separatist Parti Québécois ousts Charest.

    "I think it's obvious," Harper told a news conference in Toronto. "I think they can't wait to see a PQ government so they can stand up for federalism and fight the separatists. Frankly, the only thing that can justify the kind of corrupt party that they’ve been is to have a separatist threat to fight."

    The reptilian moment was Harper has no business running for office.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 1:40 PM  

  • mezba, I can wait to fight the 2007 general election (the one where the cpc gets a majority). The reason I can wait is that I actually want to fight this one.

    Martin on the other hand shows little interest in helping Charest in the run up to the 2007 provincial election. That's because in his 2005 "referendum election" Martin has already fast-forwarded to a 2009 referendum.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 2:06 PM  

  • CG's week 2 in review:
    "Weekly Winner: Bernard Lord... Bernie has been the most effective at knocking Paul's Quebec strategy, and with Harper still down in the polls, Lord may very well be rising in the near future..."

    that assessment has to change now.

    grey wall

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:32 PM  

  • bernie assisted. the arsonist remark helped open up the way.

    with charest and dumont on side its easier sledding but bernies offer to go to quebec for harper after christmas was timely.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 3:42 PM  

  • Ty,

    Looking for a typical yes-man "Liberal blog" so you can call the Conservatives a bunch of bigots and American-sellouts? I sugguest you go back to watching TV. TV is perfect for how Liberals like their debates - a one way medium full of celebrities. The CBC will make you happy - lots of Trudeau movies.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:24 PM  

  • "Come the January 9th and 10th debates, Harper can now say "I was willing to speak for Canada when you were not Mr. Martin"...it's likely a beau risque worth taking at this point for Harper, especially since such a debate is unlikely to happen."

    Good call Bart. Duceppe declined.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:48 PM  

  • The lastest example of this week's trend in Canadian Press fact checking:

    http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/news/shownews.jsp?content=n122145A

    Quote: "The fact is that fighting the separatists and fighting for national unity is part of my DNA." - Paul Martin, Dec. 20, 2005.

    Reality: Martin's record on standing up to Quebec separatists is spotty, at best.

    As far back as the 1990 Liberal leadership race, Martin supporters called Jean Chretien a "vendu" or sell-out and wore black armbands to mark the death of the Meech Lake constitutional accord.

    Martin was largely sidelined during the 1995 Quebec referendum campaign, with his lone intervention - a public claim that a million Quebec jobs would be lost - seen as harming the federalist cause more than helping.

    Martin as finance minister and a senior minister from Quebec was virtually silent on the Clarity Act (his supporters told journalists he opposed it) until he was forced to vote with cabinet on the hard-line approach to a Quebec referendum.

    When he became prime minister, Martin brought along Jean Lapierre, a Bloc Quebecois founder who publicly ridiculed the Clarity Act as "useless." Martin put Lapierre in cabinet and made him the political minister for Quebec.

    Perhaps most damning to the current Liberal claim that they alone can stem the tide of Quebec separatism are the words of Justice John Gomery, who wrote the following about the creation of the ill-fated sponsorship program:

    "It is an indication of the failure of some members of the government at that time to consider that any party other than the Liberal Party of Canada could have a role in promoting federalism in Quebec. This attitude, which may not have been shared by all members of the party, is difficult to reconcile with basic democratic values."

    OUCH. (They also fact checked Harper. It amounted to saying he's not that far from status quo)

    By Anonymous yyc, at 6:53 PM  

  • I couln't agree more. Harper is not the right person to speak for Canada. I don't think he's even the right person to speak for Canadian Conservatives.

    Happily, he'll be looking for a new job after this eleciton. Bon voyage Stephen.

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 7:46 PM  

  • James: Wells anticpated you. (above)
    That butt you see on the horizon is fearless leader's.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 7:54 PM  

  • James Bowie, perfect example of a Liberal waiting his turn at the trough courtesy of the Canadian taxpayers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:16 PM  

  • Sorry I'm late to the party, CG -

    As the Quebec Harpermaniac, I completely disagree that what Harper is doing "plays into the referendum thing".

    You Grits forget that when Paul Martin looked like the guy with "new ideas" and a soft nationalist stance on Quebec - Liberals and the Bloc were completely flipped in popularity in Quebec.

    At that time, we were thinking about the death of the separatist movement.

    Martin proved to be a small, and still perhaps catastrophic disappointment.

    Now Harper has taken his ground. Oops. Some of you need to be cheering: "defense! defense!"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:02 PM  

  • Duceppe wants the debate on his home turf, in his native language and on a topic of his choosing. Only a fool would take such bait.

    Sometimes bravery, or bravado, is just folly.

    By Blogger Psychols, at 1:53 AM  

  • Duceppe can just loose votes in a debate with Harper... He knows that...

    By Blogger Bass, at 8:59 AM  

  • Breaking: Liberals' planned smear campaign details leaked.

    http://www.stephentaylor.ca/

    Yep, pretty classy guys these Liberals.

    About as much class and dignity as hyenas on a week-old carcass.

    Why am I not surprized?

    By Anonymous springer, at 12:23 PM  

  • springer: unless liberal fingerprints are smeared all over those smears leave them alone.

    By Anonymous yyc, at 12:29 PM  

  • Despite his rhetoric about being the man to save Canada from the separatists, Mr. Martin declined. In the interests of Canadians having at least one federalist leader willing to put words into action and stand up for Canada, I made an offer to Mr. Duceppe to debate him.

    I understand that yesterday Mr. Duceppe responded, saying he feels this election is about Liberal corruption, and that consequently, he does not see a need for the two of us to debate.

    While I understand his perspective, I do believe there is much more at play in this election than just Liberal corruption.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:16 PM  

  • Duceppe has declined the debate because he knows that 60 minutes on TV illustrating how bad Harper is, especially in French (Je n'ai pas compris la question monsieur l'animateur...) would risk sending federalist votes back over to the Liberals in a heartbeat.

    By Blogger Mark, at 1:40 PM  

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