Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Sound of Silence

More perplexing that the fact that the PMO appointed an individual who they now admit they knew was in videos and books supporting separatism, is the absolute lack of a credible explanation by anyone involved.

Apparently Michaelle Jean will finally speak but it just blows my mind how long it's taken for her to defend herself, considering:

1. She has been in media for most of her lifetime. Surely she can handle herself in front of the cameras, right?

2. Remember when Paul Martin said he'd change the way business was done in Ottawa? Remember how heads of Crown Corporations and Supreme Court nominees would be put under intense scrutiny? Yet when he appoints a head of state with ties to the only Canadian terrorist organization in modern Canadian history, it's considered "Stalinist" to ask her to explain herself.

In the United States, any trivial appointment is run through a rigorous screening procedure where any perceived problem in their past invalidates the nominee for the position. I'm not saying I want a system like that but I don't think it's asking too much for our Head of State and Commander in Chief to answer a few questions on whether she actually believes in the country she's leading.


  • I'm glad she's going to speak out. The story has gotten away from the Liberals and, while I don't think we really have much evidence that she is a separatist (everyone is relying on secondhand information passed on to us by separatists after all), I think it is time she spoke up. I think it has been the PM's communications team that has muzzled her - with good intentions: you don't want to give credibility to accusations by responding to every one, but this has obviously gone beyond that now.

    As I said over at Cerberus, it doesn't have to be defensive. In fact, the Jean appointment is a great opportunity for federalism. As Chantal Hebert noted yesterday in the Star, for once in Martin's tenure, the silent majority in Quebec is squarely on his side. The separatists are very worried about this appointment and that is a very good thing. Rather than come out, as some want, and tell us how she voted in 1995 or what she was thinking in 1993, she should come out and give us a speech about Canada and Canadian unity and the strength of the country in unity. Ignore the fray, go for the high road, speak to Canadians. Inspire Canadians. That is what will make this country more united and strong.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 10:58 a.m.  

  • This matter reeks of a poor response to a political smear.

    I think they thought that it would be a one or two-day news blip, and were caught off guard by its tenacity.

    It's summer, and there's little political news, so I think that explains why this one took off kike this.

    During a busy time of year, this would likely have been lost in the shuffle of daiy events, grabbing a modest headline one day, then fading to page A27 the next, then obscurity after that.

    By Blogger Mark Richard Francis, at 12:13 p.m.  

  • This has been a very sad undertaking. Right wing CPC'ers had a field day jumping on every rumour, innuendo, or idle speculation they could. For the love of God, would Mde. Jean have accepted the position if she was not proud of her Canadian citizenship?
    Now, close your eyes and wonder what this country would be subjected to if Stephen Hitler ever becomes prime minister.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 p.m.  

  • "with ties to the only Canadian terrorist organization in modern Canadian history"

    Let's not forget Air India.

    Hundreds of Canadians murdered by Canadian terrorists.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:13 p.m.  

  • If I were Belinda, I would contemplate resigning from the Liberals. At least, I would quit cabinet.

    Working with the separatists was such an evil concept as a Tory. Appointing them is not such a big deal as a Grit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:16 p.m.  

  • "I want to tell you unequivocally that both he and I are proud to be Canadian and that we have the greatest respect for the institutions of our country," said Jean.

    "We are fully committed to Canada. I would not have accepted this position otherwise."

    All done. Lets move along. Nothing to see here.

    By Blogger Mike, at 3:37 p.m.  

  • She still never answered what in my mind is the most important question... "Did you vote Oui, or Non?" I don't have to join the Bloc to support seperatism. (which I don't, for the record)

    Only if she answers that question will I be satisfied.

    By Blogger Christian Conservative, at 9:10 p.m.  

  • Why should it matter if she voted Oui? Or Non for that matter? We have a secret ballot for a reason.

    What matters is that she feels dedicated to this country now and accepted the GG job. Are we going to tell Quebeckers who were once sovereignists but who changed their minds that they still arent welcome to be participants in the Canadian political system?

    And all this over a ceremonial post with very little power left to it?

    "A tale full of sound and fury... signifying nothing"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 p.m.  

  • Where is the "advice and consent" feature in our Constitution? This whole mess has shown how urgent it has become to introduce new rules for major appointments in Canada.

    Paul Martin promised to do something about this before he became PM. Promise made. Promise dropped off the table.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:21 p.m.  

  • QuebecHarpermaniac says:

    Michelle Jean is a warning to everyone who accepts association with the Paul Martin PMO:

    its not you, its them. they will slime you from simple proximity.

    ps. If Stephen Harper is Hitler, then Jack Layton is Stalin and Paul Martin is Pontius Pilate.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:36 a.m.  

  • We Liberals are being dragged through the mud by Martin.

    I think we should dump him and get Chretien back. That way, we still have a chance at a majority come February.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 p.m.  

  • "I want to tell you unequivocally that both he and I are proud to be Canadian and that we have the greatest respect for the institutions of our country," said Jean.

    "We are fully committed to Canada. I would not have accepted this position otherwise."


    If she said it, it MUST be true. After all, she is associated with Paul Martin.

    .. and anyone associated with Paul Martin would never lie. Never. Right?

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 3:48 p.m.  

  • _Thank you for not being yet another Liberal Lemming. I think we need someone with an actual background concerning our constitutional laws and national history for the Governor General position.

    By Blogger CQ, at 10:28 a.m.  

  • Toronto Tory,

    Thanks for proving my point. If she stayed silent, she was hiding her separatist leanings. If she spoke out, as she did, and denied it, she is lying. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    In other words, simple innuendo has convinced you she is a separatist and NOTHING that she can say, or do, will convince you otherwise.

    Unless there is a way to know what she thinks or how she voted in 1995. Now, you aren't recomending we record people's votes so we can verify how they voted on something in the future are you? Are you suggesting that people in public are not entitled to a secret ballot?

    I'll go out on a limb and suggest that if she tells us how she voted in 1995, you will still claim she's lying, without out any proof, becuase the answer is not the one you want to hear.

    Nice. Yeah with respect for democracy , privacy and peoples right like that, the CPC is SO ready to rule.

    By Blogger Mike, at 12:57 p.m.  

  • Mike's post is classic sophistry.

    It is entirely appropriate to be uncomfortable with her response.

    In 1995, 2+ million Quebeckers voted to separate.

    There are typically 50,000 PQ members.

    Quick calculation: 1,950,000 separatists are not members of the PQ.

    Meaning: if you are a separatist, there is only a 2.5% chance you are a member of the PQ.

    I would like to get this over with and let her do this plum job. But Liberals are lying to us and to themselves by pretending that to disagree with Paul Martin is to worship Satan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:15 p.m.  

  • Frankly, Mme. Jean's leanings WRT Quebec Separatism now, or in the past, are irrelevant to her role as Governer General.

    Those are political opinions, and like any citizen of the land, she is entitled to those opinions. In Canada we have a secret ballot for good reasons - and this is one of them.

    The innuendo over whether or not she has supported separatists in the past is silly. Pictures of her with various Quebec separatists are no surprise - she would move in similar social circles, and their paths would no doubt cross - big hairy deal.

    I would point out that at one time, I seriously entertained western separatism. That was some 20 odd years ago - my opinions are quite different today. Does that make me ineligible to hold apolitical government office? I would hope not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:24 p.m.  

  • Anon-from-the-post-below-me:

    Repeat after me: People are allowed to change their mind.

    Those "1,950,000 separatists" are allowed to change their mind. Actually, you would think you would encourage them to do so. It is entire possible that someone who was a "separatist" in 1995 is now a staunch Federalist. I believe we have a Cabinet minister like that, no? I beleive Mulroney had cabinet ministers like that.

    Its pretty silly to think that everyone who voted Liberal in the last election can't change there mind. If that were the case, the CPC will never be in power.

    This is not about Mme Jean anymore, this is just about childishly trying to embarass the Liberals for cheap political points. you just happen to be smearing her in the process. Why aren;t you so up in arms about those memeber of Ralph Klein's cabinet that are Alberta separatis sympathizers? They actually wield power.

    The only one dealing in sophistry here is you. If you are unwilling to accept Mme Jean's unequivical commitment to Canada, then you are the one with the problem.

    Your best bet is to let this one die quietly before you embarass yourself.

    By Blogger Mike, at 2:19 p.m.  

  • Mike:

    You say she changed her mind.

    When did she do that?
    Did she vote "yes" in 1995?
    How do you know that?
    She never said anything about changing her mind.

    You're lying through your teeth.
    Just like your master, Paul Martin.

    If she had said she changed her mind, then your points would be valid. She didn't go that route, so I don't know why you are...

    sounds like a diversion to me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:10 p.m.  

  • Mike,

    I agree with anonymous on this one.

    I'm a loyal Grit, but Paul is pushing me to my limit. Its not right to call this a smear campaign against Jean. That puts the entire burden of this controversy on her shoulders which I find quite wimpy.

    A real leader would defend her, not let morph into an attack on her character.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:25 p.m.  

  • I said she may have changed her mind. I was giving the attackers the benefit of the doubt. I don't know either way (nor, frankly, do I care) but I follow this silly little left-wing idea called "innocent until proven guilty". I personally don't think she should have had to say anything, since the evidence against her is less than stellar.
    But she did and she stood up for Canada and showed her loyalty. That should end it but apparently it hasn't, at least not for some tories. Jeez, even Harper says its over.

    And my master certainly isn't Paul Martin. He's fumbled his way through this as well. But if it sound like I'm defending him that's your problem. I won't stand by and let a bunch of partisan hacks attack someone on innuendo, no matter who they are.

    Its a stupid little think I have called principle.

    By Blogger Mike, at 12:11 a.m.  

  • "Frankly, Mme. Jean's leanings WRT Quebec Separatism now, or in the past, are irrelevant to her role as Governer General."

    Are you sure of that? You have an exceedingly short memory.

    This past summer we had an interesting event. In a minority Parliament the Government House Leader arbitrarily changed the schedule of "supply days" - the days designated for Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to introduce motions. In the normal course, these are a non-event; the government side usually has a majorty that can ensure the opposition can't cause any trouble, so the most that comes out of them is a little political theatre.

    In a minority, things are different - the government is at much creater risk, since they don't have an edge in numbers. In a fractious Parliament, under the shadow of hearing revealing unsettling conduct by recent governemnts, things were very tense - hence the government move to reschedule supply days. Even though they (barely) had the numbers to pass a non-confidence motion, the opposition was unable to do so since the government still controlled the Order Paper - the opposition could not introduce their motion. Instead, they indicated that the House no longer had confidence in the government by amending acceptance of a committee report, sending it back to committee instructing the committee to indicate in the report that it did not have confidence in the government and then resubmit the report. On recieving and accepting the revised "non-confidence" report, the opposition argued that the House would indicate non-confidence without actually voting on an explicit non-confidence motion or matter of confidence.

    There are arguments on both sides of that issue, but it is possible to argue quite plausibly that the government had lost the confidence of the House, and there were calls for the Governor General to dissolve Parliament. In the end it came to nothing as the opposition lost control of the committee (although they were instructed to return a particular finding - I am not sure that they had the opportunity to do otherwise). Shortly thereafter Mr Martin managed to convince the brainy and talented Ms Stronach to sit in a big comfy chair and pretend to know what she was doing, just so long as she said "aye" when he pulled her string.

    One of the arguments put forth by the Liberal Party at that time was that an election would be too beneficial to the Bloc, since the Liberals had, in general, taken an enormous dump on the notion of federalism in Quebec. What if Ms Jean had been the GG at the time? What if, indeed, she was a staunch separatist, and on getting a call from Mr Duceppe indicating that the Bloc was anxious to go to the polls in Quebec, she decided that the "non-confidence" argument was the correct one, and dissolved Parliament? Are you really sure that her political leanings are not an issue? When the issue in question is whether the nation she serves will (or in the separatist's eyes should) survive, I cannot brush it off that easily. We are probably in for a couple of minority Parliaments in the next few years, although they will not necessarily be as finely balanced as this one. Who would you like to see in Rideau Hall, a federalist or a separatist?

    As a strict rule, I dislike the notion that the GG should be making political calculations - it cheapens and demeans the office - fortunately, it is rare that they have to make significant decisions at all. When they do so, their decisions should be made based on traditions and protocol, and with an understanding of the workings of a Westminster Parliament. I see no evidence that Ms Jean has the required background or knowledge to do so, which makes her at best a mediocre choice as GG. Personal preference and sympathy will always colour such close decisions where there is no precedent - any suggestion that Ms Jean is not absolutely committed to the survival of this nation makes her not just a poor choice, but an unacceptable unacceptable one.


    By Blogger deaner, at 3:00 a.m.  

  • Deaner,

    You have any alternatives? Is there a past GG that did the, uh, "job" well?

    Personally I would have thought Romeo Dalliare would have been a fantastic choice, but they went and made him a Senator.

    By Blogger Mike, at 4:23 p.m.  

  • "You have any alternatives? Is there a past GG that did the, uh, "job" well?"

    I thought Byng was pretty good, although he was before my time. I like Vanier and Michener; they both seemed less partizan than the series of hacks (Schreyer, Hnatyshyn) we have had since then although LeBlanc was undoubtedly the worst. Vanier and Michener were political appointees, but had some gravitas and had served outside of politics as well.

    I was more impressed with how Clarkson turned out than I thought I would be; she was at least acceptable for the most part, although during the 'non-confidence' issue of over the summer I think she should have called Martin on the carpet and told him that she expected her government to demonstrate the explicit confidence of the House within a day or two, instead of waiting. Who knows, perhaps she did - but that is water under the bridge now.

    Some possible appointments:

    Ed Broadbent would be tremendous, but I suspect that his wife's health would force him to decline. He is an able Parliamentarian and is widely viewed as trustworthy and honourable. Obviously I put little stock in the english / french rotation

    Jean Belliveau comes up every other time through; he has a reputation as having contributed much more than visibility and reputation in his career at Molsons. He has apparently declined previously, but he would be a good pick if we were constrained to the english/french alternation.

    Continuing my alternation, John Crosbie would be a possible choice - he knows Parliament, and he is hardly a fan of either the current CPC or the Liberals so he wouldn't be an obviously partisan GG.

    Marc Garneau was mentioned - I think it is more important that he continue his work at the Canadian Space Agency, but he has always seemed to be pretty level-headed. This suggestion moves us out of the realm of Parliamentary expertise that I think the holder of the office should have - but so did Clarkson and even moreso, Ms Jean.

    Getting even less likely, Geoff Plant did an excellent job as BC's Attorney General, and after a bit of a miscue on the aboriginal file initiated what promises to be a pretty fruitful new relationship between BC first nations and the BC government. Unfortunately, Plant declined to run again in the last BC election due to his wife's health, and I think that would prevent him from accepting the office.

    Martha Piper has done a good job in continuing the development out at UBC, and it would allow at least the appeal of another foreign-born female, although she did not apply for yet another citizenship after coming to Canada.

    Continuing with university presidents, I think Dick Pound would have been a good choice - he is currently the Chancellor of McGill, although he is undoubtedly best known for his Olympic and WADA work. He is a smart guy - a tax lawyer and legal author, and obviously knows how procedurally-based organizatons work.

    How about you?


    By Blogger deaner, at 9:49 p.m.  

  • All yours sound pretty good.

    Besides Dallaire, John De Chastilain would have been ok as awell except h'e busy disarming the IRA.

    How about Jane Jacobs?

    Actually John Crosbie, for all his fiestiness, would probably be non-partisan. As would Joe Clark.

    I guess it depends on the criteria. Problem is there is no real criteria for the job eh?

    By Blogger Mike, at 10:36 a.m.  

  • Mike,

    You are biased beyond any hope of recovery.

    Your writing exemplifies the term "double standard".


    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 10:46 p.m.  

  • Mike,

    By the way, Tories don't give a shit whether people who voted Liberal in the last election will change their minds or not. It isn't required for our victory.

    We just need two things:

    1) Liberal voters stay home because its too damned cold to head out a support the worst PM in Canada's history.

    2) Part of that 40% of CDNs who don't vote show up. Sort of like that Labrador by-election where Tory support doubled in a union-controlled riding.

    See you Gomery + 30!

    - quebec harpermaniac.

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