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Keeping the Harperites on track – good for the Grits

The Grits have come up with a pretty clever idea… setting up a website in the name of holding a government to account on specific promises is not new – but it is indeed novel here in the land of the ice and snow. is exactly what the name implies – keeping the neocons in line and to account. This is especially useful since these same purveyors of all things Victorian have campaigned on the sacred notions of transparency and accountability (too bad the budget watchdog -an independent and non-partisan office – is not towing the company line…. though the government of the day is going to suffocate this useful initiative through underfunding).

I especially like the timeline on the site. It points out the dates of release of key economic indicators and other dates that are of importance when assessing the Harperites’ (non) progress in mitigating the worst effects of the current financial shitstorm.


Attack ads

I don’t know about you, but I think attack ads used in political campaigns are not only despicable and cater to the whims of the lowest common denominators, but totally remove any semblance of honest and constructive debate from a political battle.

The penultimate attack ad is this one – shot at the height of the Goldwater / Johnson campaign in 1964.

A little while back, the McCain camp put out this ad, implying that Obama is more celebrity than substance and that being popular in the public eye doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ready to lead the country.

Note the clip of a certain Paris Hilton? Well, Paris put together her own clip as a retort to John McCain. I must say, my opinion of Ms. Hilton has multiplied a thousandfold upon seeing this!

Of course, our own little Stevie Harper, being an admirer of all things negative, cynical and especially American, hires his own team to sic his attack ad dawgs on anything and anyone that disagrees with the Conservative dogma.

All told, these ads, while they do make for some good chuckles, deflect attention away from real policy debates. Stephen Harper wants to debate the environment? well, put something on the table to talk about it and then talk about it! Demeaning an opponent’s argument by attacking the debater is a debating no-no and such attacks are called ad hominem – meaning that the attack is against the person rather than the argument or point. This implies, of course, that the person making the counter-point has no or little basis to pull apart his adversary’s point.

Alas, the Harperites are flush with cash and we can expect more of these inane ads as we gear up for what likely will be a fall election in this country.


Harperites shooting themselves in the feet

I am often dumbstruck by some of the decisions that the Harper government takes regarding the messages that they send out to the country. They are often dogmatic, but sometimes cut across their dogma. They are sometimes conciliatory – but often confrontational. They sometimes have a clear purpose, but are more often than not quite random.

And this can sometimes be the result of the mixed messaging. Turns out that, despite the Grits having little direction on the leadership front, the Harperites are back down to 2006 support levels.

I mean, how hard could it be to devise a consistent set of messages focusing on leadership – not the attack ads that we have seen, but some coherent and consistent signals that contrast Harper with Dion. Now, as anyone who has ever read my meanderings knows full well that I am not a fan of Stevie, his party or his politics. BUT, he does have a firm grasp on his party and its direction… sure, there is somewhat of a dictatorship right now in the party of John A., but whatever… he does lead.

And Dion? Where the hell is he? Rae and Hall-Findley get seats and they get more favourable press than the leader has cumulatively over the past year! We have no idea who this guy is and what he is all about. And he isn’t exactly educating us in this regard!

But noooooooo… the Reform Alliance folks are let off their spike-studded chains for a moment and what happens? Well, Jim “I hate Dalton” Flaherty starts dissing the province that he is partly responsible for representing by saying that Ontario is the last place in Canada that investors should look at?

Huh? Shouldn’t he be, like, supporting the province?

Of course, Jimmy is ever so generous with his wise advice for his counterparts at his old stompin‘ grounds, Queens Park. On the eve of the Ontario budget, Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty again demanded that Premier Dalton McGuinty cut corporate taxes to help stimulate the provincial economy.

Unprecedented interference? Yes.
Unnecessary? Yes.
Dogmatic? Yes.
Settling an old childish feud? Yup again.

Then, (get this) he announces plans for a rail link between Peterborough and Toronto – one that was closed down years ago due to lack of ridership. Why invest in this? Seems that the train service would run through his Tory riding – and also that of his wife, Christine Elliott, who is a Tory member of the Ontario legislature.

Still more – turns out that Jimbo has found some money for a facility for folks with disabilities… nice gesture Jim. But, the facility’s board of directors includes Flaherty’s wife, Ontario MPP Christine Elliott and his executive assistant, Nancy Shaw – and, of course, it is to be built in Flaherty’s riding of Whitby-Oshawa.

Steve. You and I might not agree on much past good morning. But take that leash out of the drawer, call Jim into your office for a chat, distract him with a treat and snap it back on to his collar.