Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I Guess Sarkis Assadourian Was Unavailable

In a surprising move, Stephen Harper has appointed Wajid Khan as his special advisor on South Asia and the Middle East. That's Liberal MP Wajid Khan.

Khan will continue to sit as a Liberal so this is either:

a) a great gesture of bipartisanship by the Prime Minister
b) an ingenious plot by Harper which makes it a lot harder for the Liberals to criticize his position on the Middle East

51 Comments:

  • Very interesting, indeed. Let's wait to see what comes of this before guessing A or B.

    Ever wonder what would have happened if Harper had brought Emerson into Cabinet without requiring him to change caucuses? What kind of precedents would have applied there?

    By Blogger JP, at 7:45 PM  

  • Window dressing? A token Muslim? I don't trust Harper one bit.

    By Blogger catnip, at 8:00 PM  

  • Perhaps both?

    By Blogger C. LaRoche, at 8:11 PM  

  • There is never an "either or" answer in politics. I imagine there are some elements of both of your hypotheses coming into play here, as well as a number of other factors...

    By Blogger Toronto Tory, at 8:50 PM  

  • Catnip and laroche... come on guys. The CPC does not need any "token" any thing. There are a number of longtime Tory MP's who are Muslim, let's not demean them!

    I do find this an interesting move, especially if Khan stays in the Liberal caucus. Oh my goodness, this harkens of bi-partisanship.

    OH NO! That is American style politics, and Lord knows that no one in another party in Canada could possibly have a good idea!! We better jump all over Harper for cosying up to American style politics. Quick.. before the CBC does it again!

    By Blogger Andy, at 8:58 PM  

  • So when the House resumes sitting and the Liberals try to criticize the Conservatives, Harper can say "Mr. Speaker, we are doing such a good job that members of the Official Opposition are willing to work with us on our agenda."

    Weird. Will the Liberals throw Khan out of caucus?

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 9:19 PM  

  • jp - it was Emerson's choice to cross the floor, if I recall correctly, it wasn't a condition for taking the job.

    By Blogger Candace, at 9:44 PM  

  • It's definately a bit of both, though I'm inclined to think one of them is the bigger reason. Being an optimist with this government, I think it's A wit a bit o' B.

    By Blogger TheFwanksta, at 9:45 PM  

  • "Khan will continue to sit as a Liberal so this is either:

    a) a great gesture of bipartisanship by the Prime Minister
    b) an ingenious plot by Harper which makes it a lot harder for the Liberals to criticize his position on the Middle East"

    Why does it have to be either/or ?

    Option b is a given, this is definitely good strategy. Whether or not there is any true bipartisanship remains to be seen, but it certainly is a more positive gesture than we have seen in quite a while.

    By Blogger Paul S, at 9:47 PM  

  • Candace: Huh. I didn't know that. I guess it just begs the question even more, how would that have worked?

    By Blogger JP, at 9:58 PM  

  • Emerson figured it would be pretty hard to be a Minister but unable to sit at caucus (probably right about that). His loyalty was always to PMPM, not the party. PMPM asked him to run this last time (when he didn't want to), then quit himself the night of the election. That opened the door, in Emerson's mind.

    People that I know in the riding (not that many, but a few) voted for him, not the party. Obviously, others felt differently.

    By Blogger Candace, at 10:07 PM  

  • Interesting? It seems like somewhat of a joke to me. Wajid made a mistake accepting.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 10:14 PM  

  • From a purely political perspective, both for his personal career and the good of the party, I don't see Wajid's logic in accepting this.

    But if he made up his mind, I'm not sure what Graham could do. It would look bad if he booted an MP from caucus for something like this so he was really put in a lose-lose position.

    It'll be interesting to see what happens in the fall - I'm sure the Tories will try and use this to their advantage in QP and for any more clever votes Harper decides to spring.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:21 PM  

  • Not to be sounding too optimistic, but it does not bode well on Harper to be using a Liberal to get help with mideast.

    It obviously shows a lack of depth in his team.

    I wonder what Joe Volpe would be saying as well, as they are part of the Volpe team :-)

    By Blogger etowngrit2k, at 10:31 PM  

  • Maybe this was a gesture?

    I always thought I'd like to see more cooperation through back channels in parties.

    Also, as a small l liberal, I'd like to see the Conservatives move more centre for the good of the country. I'd prefer we had two centries parties battling it out for the government, not two completely ideologically opposing parties like in the U.S. where you either get the kind of government you want, or the kind that sends you screaming in the night.

    I'd prefer two parties I was comfortable with. If accepting people like Emerson and this MP helps attach the party more left, then so be it. Also, Liberals could say they are so experienced in FP that harper comes looking to their caucus for advice?

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 10:46 PM  

  • Cherniak: It seems like somewhat of a joke to me. Wajid made a mistake accepting.

    You're a dick. This is a GREAT idea, and it's great for the Canadian government - the one that works for Canada. Wajid made the absolute right choice. Sorry to rain on your Liberal parade.

    Bart: From a purely political perspective, both for his personal career and the good of the party, I don't see Wajid's logic in accepting this.

    Hm, maybe when we're dealing with the Middle-East at war, no one cares about your stupid party.

    You guys really make me sick right now.

    As a non-partisan Canadian who has voted all over the map depending on then-issues and then-candidates, I can tell you that this kind of bi-partisanship is really welcomed. It looks good on the CPC, it looks good on the Liberals.

    As a voter - this is the best news I've heard in months. I favour more of this kind of bi-partisanship. Harper and Wajid are both sitting at the Grown-Up Table right now.

    (Obviously, I'm speaking from the "hopeful" and not "cynical" camp here. If this one day proves to all be bullshit for PR appearances, I'll cry Foul louder than anyone)

    (Sorry if I sound aggressive - this is GREAT news to my ears and I'm taken aback that people think of their "party" ahead of foreign (or any) policy)

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:04 PM  

  • You're still the best, of course, Bart.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:04 PM  

  • And you don't make me sick.

    Just kinda woozy or something. And only temporarily.

    Still, I see this is as good for the country as a whole, for the multi-party system in general (I'm sure Wajid's constituents are pleased - I would be).

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:11 PM  

  • but it does not bode well on Harper to be using a Liberal to get help with mideast.

    It obviously shows a lack of depth in his team.


    Oh brother. Do any of you ever not think about the country before your party?

    And by "you" I of course mean "all you partisans".

    Jesus.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:12 PM  

  • Wajid was parachuted into the safe riding of Mississauga West (old name of the riding) by Paul Martin as thanks for his years of backroom support/donations.

    Paul Martin is gone.

    Wajid backs Volpe. See

    http://www.canada.com/topics/news/politics/story.html?id=c8d617c6-3526-4763-a8b2-37a639107b45

    Volpe is not going to win.

    Wajid realizes he is not going to be a minister in the next Liberal cabinet.

    It's time for a Liberal nomination meeting in Mississauga-Streetsville

    MississaugaPeter

    By Blogger Peter, at 11:12 PM  

  • Jason B... that's incredibly naive. Jason C is not a "dick" for seeing the obvious political benefit in this for Harper, and the bad position this puts Khan's party in. If you think this is motivated by anything other than pure partisanship on the part of Harper, you're dreaming. There are plenty of Middle East experts in Canada. Harper just happened to pick the one that would give him the greatest political advantage. If you're going to call Jason C a dick, Jason B, you should be fair and label Harper the same.

    By Blogger Clear Grit, at 11:17 PM  

  • Bart, I spoke really harshly - I just dropped back in to say sorry. My point was poorly made with emotion and not reason.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:34 PM  

  • Well, I guess I'm naive - I like to see people from different parties work together. I know in your card-carrying world that means people outside of your party benefit, which is a no-no - but to normal people who just want the government and the country to work, it's great news for the unwashed naive.

    Meh, Bart can carry any card he wants, of course, he's 99% cool (which is more cool than me).

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:36 PM  

  • Well, in my "card-carrying world" (they still haven't mailed me my card, damn it!) I see things a bit differently; I see the political advantage in this for Harper, and I know that it's nothing more than a move to hurt the Liberals. As I said, there are plenty of Middle East experts in Canada, Harper just chose the one who would hurt the Liberals the most. Are you saying it's wrong to call him on that?

    Incidentally, Harper is also a card-carrying member of a party. You don't think that's where his priorities lie? Honestly, if you think anything Harper has done for the past two and a half years have been aimed towards ANYTHING other than winning a majority government, you've got blinders on that I can't even begin to try and tear off.

    By Blogger Clear Grit, at 11:42 PM  

  • I'm not a Harper supporter, so I really can't imagine what sort of blinders you might be talking about here. But coming from a guy with a party-affiliation in his handle, that one just tickles me. Oh, and you're still showing more concern for a party than for the country, which the rest of us out there always really appreciate.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:51 PM  

  • I'm with Jason Bo Green on this one (except for the aggressive comments).

    This is a good non-partisan move on Harper's part. I don't care too much if it makes good political sense because I don't think he considered that.

    First of all the article seems to be indicating that it was Khan who approached Harper, as opposed to the other way around.

    Second of all its hardly a 'token muslim', after all the Tories were the first party to have a muslim MP. (I don't have any link to prove that right now, but check it out)

    Anyways, as long as this doesn't turn out to be a PR stunt (which I doubt) I'm willing to have an open mind.

    And yes, some partisans are being paranoid about this...

    As an independent minded Canadian those are my two cents.

    By Blogger SouthernOntarioan, at 12:21 AM  

  • SO,

    Even I'm not with my aggressive comments.

    Incidentally, the "Green" side of my family is descended from the Banners.

    Da dum bum.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 12:37 AM  

  • The other obvious question that no one is asking is what Wajid Khan can bring to the table? Is he an expert on the Middle East? Has he studied it extensively?

    I honestly don't know much about the guy. If he truly will be of some help to the Harper government then I think Jason BG makes a good point about this being good for the country. But if Wajid doesn't really know much about foreign affairs then it's a token show of bipartisanship at best (which isn't neccesarily a bad thing...parties should work together more than they do) and a political ploy at the worst.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:02 AM  

  • Andy: point taken. Perhaps I was trying to maximize my "profundity per word" ratio by posting only two words and hoping for the best.

    CG:
    An internet search on Wajid hasn't really revealed anything of value. Wikipedia's entry on him says he was a pilot in the Pakistanian air force for a few years back in the late 60s, early 70s. Aside from this, his entire resumé seems to be business-based, if it has a smattering of public interest stuff about Canadian muslims here and there. So far I'm inclined to believe the token muslim theory. If Harper wanted real substance, he could have picked someone with who has studied the Middle East but is culturally neutral. An Ignatieff clone, perhaps :)

    By Blogger C. LaRoche, at 3:17 AM  

  • Both, I'd say.

    Khan is the gent who reported to the RCMP on some extremists at his mosque, too, right?

    By Blogger The Tiger, at 6:39 AM  

  • Why does everyone think the Liberal party has been duped here?

    Khann said yes.... Graham said yes. Other Lib MPs called to congratulate the guy.... how are they being duped?

    I think it's a good thing. Despite C.Laroches wikipedia search, the guy is an MP of Muslim decent, with connections in Pakistan and eslewhere. Why would it be bad for him to be an advisor? The point is you're TRYING to be above politics and get a sitting MP to advise you.

    Even Khan says this is above politics.

    If it was a nasty political move, I think Libs would be screaming about this and he would have switched parties.

    Clear Grit needs to get over his anger and hatred of Harper.. it makes for a bad argument.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 8:03 AM  

  • CG,

    You're even cooler than I thought, and I thought you were ace. Thanks for not telling me off, I owe you one.

    JBG

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:17 AM  

  • Anytime Jason Bo Green snaps and calls Cherniak a dick, I'm entertained.

    Clever little political move by Harper which put Graham in a corner. Nonetheless, I, too suspect Khan has little genuine value to bring to the table...

    ...unless, PMO is looking for another bat to swing at the DFAIT 'crats. Scuttlebutt is that the ol' Middle Eastern hands in the Foriegn Service are making McKay and Harper crazy with their soft and squishy stance on Lebanon. After years of obediently implementing the Axworthy/Graham/Pettigrew foreign policy of no foreign policy, they only know how to drift with the wind and McKay is having limited luck explaining to our diplomats that there is a new government in charge. Maybe Harper is hoping Khan can speak thier language.

    Or maybe it's just crass politicking,

    By Blogger Scott in Ottawa, at 10:19 AM  

  • Peter.
    Khan signed up a hell of alot of people in streetsville to scare of both Parish and Mahoney.

    Parachutte no that is a title I reserve for Dhalla and Iggy

    I pitty anyone who tries to go up against Khan in his riding for nomination. Unless of course your backing Iggy and well he promised you a free ride if he wins.

    The Khan appointment shows tweo things.

    One Harpers bench is weak.

    Second Volpe might have made a smart choice to appoint him to Ontario Chair.

    Jason of course you would say its a mistake, but you know all about that don't you

    By Blogger Davenport Liberal, at 10:31 AM  

  • "From a purely political perspective, both for his personal career and the good of the party, I don't see Wajid's logic in accepting this"

    Which tends to back up his own claim that he's doing it to kill Afghanistan etc. as a wedge issue.

    Every Liberal who wanted to troll for voters opposed to the mission (without actually opposing the mission) can take a bow. Wajid is giving you credit for driving him to this.

    By Blogger anonymous, at 11:16 AM  

  • Jason: bipartisanship is not either desireable or workable in a Westminster system. There's nothing wrong with having, or being, an Official Opposition.

    And yes, this is a partisan move. everything Harper does is a partisan move. He can't stand liberals. This is a ploy, and a transparent on at that.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 11:53 AM  

  • Jason B; No prob. I've seen far, far worse comments and you did make some good points. Maybe, on occasion, I should look at something and say "is it good for the country" rather than "what's the political falout"?

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:43 PM  

  • What ever became of Sarkis Assadourian?

    Is he still out there in one of the 'Stans making the world a better place?

    I demand a CBC Life and Times biography of this great Canadian!

    I'm sure Paul Wells would be able to offer some voice over work to the project.

    By Blogger Manitoba Liberal, at 1:28 PM  

  • If Harper wanted real substance

    Which he obviously doesn't: Peter Mackay is the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    By Blogger WJM, at 2:28 PM  

  • davenport liberal,

    You got me mixed up with someone else. Anyone who reads this blog knows that Iggy is not going to offer me anything.

    Wajid was a parachute candidate: Iggy lives closer to his riding than Wajid did when he was dropped in by Paul Martin. No membership sales had to occur because both long sitting MPs Mahoney and Parrish knew that it was Martin's decision to place Wajid in the riding. They knew that if they wished a cabinet position they would have to battle one another rather than take on Wajid.

    Now 2 notes:

    1. Wajid sent out to his constituents an 8-page Summer 2006 Parliamentary Report last week. Only pages 4 and 5 have the word "Liberal" in them. Page three has a picture of Wajid with Flaherty with the heading "In April I had the pleasure of introducing the Governor of the Bank of Pakistan to the Min. of Fince, Jim Flaherty"

    2. More info on the front page of the Mississauga News:

    http://mississauganews.ca/mi/news/story/3627027p-4193258c.html

    Volpe should drop this opportunist before he crosses the floor.

    MississaugaPeter

    By Blogger Peter, at 8:01 PM  

  • I heard that Wajid is going to croos the floor and take Volpe with him.

    Snicker-snicker

    Horny Toad

    By Blogger Fred Mc, at 12:08 AM  

  • "and take Volpe with him"

    you WISH

    By Blogger Candace, at 1:23 AM  

  • When did Canadians start using "bipartisan"? - since we got Mr. Shrub I guess.

    Harper is impaling himself on his Middle East policy - sorry Bush's Middle east policy. So he hires a Liberal so he can blame it on him, or when the other Liberals attack his pathetic foreign policy, he thinks he can now say Liberals are all over the map.

    This man will do anything for a majority, but he's like a kid who covers his eyes and says you can't see me - well Canadians aren't that stupid.

    Nothing he does will be good for Canada, except lose the next election.

    And Minna (see Paul Wells) is right, Khan should step down from the Liberal caucus.

    By Blogger Susan, at 1:27 AM  

  • Great move by Harper. It divides Liberals on a significant issue and shows off that division to the public. The guy is busy putting hemlock in a blender and the Libs are lining up to drink it.

    By Blogger matt, at 2:52 AM  

  • Hopefully they're not that stupid.

    By Blogger Susan, at 10:42 AM  

  • Susan, having Khan step down from the Liberal caucus is probably the worst idea I've heard.

    You complained when Harper seduced Emerson into crossing the floor. And now, you want to give Khan the boot because he has the audacity to offer his help to the Tories?

    If you boot him, you'll be falling straight into Harper's trap. He wants you to give Khan the boot so that Khan can join the Tories without any of the nasty 'floor crossing' business.

    The Liberals should have come out hailing this as the Tories finally realizing their lack of experience and seeking aid from the Liberal Party.

    By attacking him, you're allowing Harper to portray the Liberal party as deeply divided and coming apart at the seems.

    Demosthenes, why the knee-jerk dislike of Harper? Can't he have ANY redeeming qualities? I dunno, having one dimensional bad guys just seems so .. boring...

    By Blogger SouthernOntarioan, at 11:21 AM  

  • Susan:

    You're wrong and so is Minna

    Minna argues that the Liberals will be unable to discuss ideas for peace because Khan would then give them to Harper.

    In other words, she would rather prolong the crisis than allow the Tories to gain credit for assisting in any way.

    Her screed is based on the lowest form of cynical partisanship that we've seen in a long time. Graham should boot her from the caucaus for being such an ass.

    By Blogger Scott in Ottawa, at 12:13 PM  

  • Scott
    That's ridiculous saying the Liberals are the bad guys for not helping Harper escape his disastrous decisions. Why is it OK for Harper not to care about children dying every day in the Middle East, and then sucker the Liberals into helping him get out of the mess he created and get his ephemeral popularity back, so he can trash them every time he opens his mouth again. The Liberals should do everything they can in the fall to get a leader in place and get rid of him.

    By Blogger Susan, at 11:43 PM  

  • The funny thing is so many Liberals always think that Harper should do what Liberals wants to do, he finally asks for one's advice and Liberals are outraged. Some of you all are going to be jumping at shadow's and seeing mass right wing conspiracies no matter what Harper does.

    The part that really gets me about demonizing Harper is that what's the difference between Stephen Harper's positions today, and Paul Martins positions at the height of his popularity in say 1999. Really not that much of a difference, Martin forgot why people liked him and tried to become his father, losing his audience in the process.

    By Blogger Chris, at 4:32 AM  

  • There is another possibility which no one here seems to have considered. Since the CPC is the only federal party to clearly take sides in this conflict anyone the CPC sent from it's own caucus would almost inevitably be hit with questions from those in the region as to why the CPC has taken sides and abandoned Canada's traditional evenhandedness in this region's conflicts. By sending a Liberal MP instead of a CPC MP Harper and the CPC neatly avoids having to deal with any such questions and the potential backsplash that can come from it.

    It does also indicate a lack of faith by Harper within his own caucus of MPs to represent his party and the country in this matter/mission. The Liberals have here a golden opportunity to underscore the apparent lack of competence in foreign affairs that this appears to acknowledge by the leader of the CPC itself, which given this man is also the PM speaks poorly for the quality of his government in his own eyes.

    Just something to consider...

    By Blogger Scotian, at 1:21 PM  

  • I love this Liberal 'outrage' over Khan (like Minna, Fry et al represent the party, lol). Khan is a principled man, who is well positioned to excel in this role.

    Yes, it is not usual for a member of the opposition to work with the government in this capacity, but these are unusual times.

    The fact of the matter is, these same outraged people said NOTHING of the fact that Denis Coderre marched under a HEZBOLLAH flag in Montreal with seperatist leaders, thereby offering tacit approval.

    http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=1fe37eb3-0908-4dc3-99fb-c076cea69e17&p=1

    Hmmm. Khan is accused of collaborating with the enemy in Parliament whose worst threat is re-election and Coderre marches in support of a murder-peddling TERRORIST group, so defined by a Cabinet he was a member of, and no one bats an eyelash.

    By Blogger RedMapleLeaf, at 5:24 PM  

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