In advance of the gasket that I’m inevitably going to blow during QP today, I offer you a few reminders of what is and is not fair game about the current Clusterduff Scandal. While Harper won’t be there to answer any of these questions all week due to previously scheduled foreign travel, the designated back-up PM du jour will be handling this file, but that doesn’t mean that the opposition (and hopefully government backbenchers – oh, dare to dream) can’t ask the right kinds of questions. Continue reading
Elizabeth May has tabled yet another Private Members’ Bill which she is flogging before the media tomorrow, and this time it’s about one of the necessary steps to restore some of the necessary balance to our Westminster system of democracy. In this case, it is specifically to do with limiting the power of the party leader to sign off on nomination papers, which has become a kind of blackmail tool that leaders have increasingly employed to keep their caucus in line. It’s a valiant effort on May’s part, and props to her for giving it a go, but let’s step back for a moment and remember a few things.
Congratulations, Liberals and “supporters” — you’ve just elected the most unaccountable leader in Canadian political history! Give yourselves a round of applause!
But wait, you might say. Didn’t the party throw open the doors to let in all kinds of new ideas and to allow the broadest level of participation in Canadian history? Well, maybe, but when you think about it, not really. Remember, this was a leadership convention and not a policy convention, despite what some of the contenders seemed to believe. And according to the party’s new rules, only paid-up members and not the new “supporters” get to vote on policy, or the “new ideas” that the party hopes to attract, so really, throwing open the doors so to speak didn’t really produce new ideas. What it did do was populate the party’s database, so that they can hope to turn those 300,000 new “supporters” into potential donors and maybe members. Maybe.
It was supposed to have been the grand climax of the six-month leadership process, the epic final presentations designed to wow the Liberal faithful who were registered to vote, and that last chance to gain the necessary second- and third-place support for the ranked ballot process. Instead, it was largely a parade of disappointment, campaigns out of steam and in some cases, visibly out of cash, and a confirmation that the race belonged to Trudeau without any shred of doubt.
After the tributes to Bob Rae, who apparently has been elevated to full leader status in hindsight, if you listened to what the presenters said, the presentations began, each candidate given a full twenty-five minutes to showcase themselves and their campaigns. That’s right – twenty-five minutes, which it quickly became apparent was an interminable length of time for most candidates.
There’s been a lot of attention paid in the past day about MPs feeling muzzled in the wake of Mark Warawa’s motion on sex-selective abortions being deemed non-voteable by committee, and his being denied a promised Members’ Statement, during which he had planned to raise the issue. Now, of course we know why the heavy hand of the PMO has come down on this issue – because they’re tired of having to defend against the constant accusations that the government has a pro-life hidden agenda, and the opposition parties are happy to keep this agenda off the floor by agreeing that it shouldn’t be voteable, by whichever excuse they find most convenient.
The final debate with the six remaining candidates walking into the workroom and seeing the message that David Bertschi left for them on the mirror in lipstick – just kidding! Only in a perfect universe would the Liberal leadership race play out like RuPaul’s Drag Race. No, instead, all six were on stage in Montreal, with a debate format of opening statements, three-person debates and a series of one-on-ones, before closing remarks. And because only six candidates remain and not nine, it allowed for slightly longer exchanges and for a somewhat more focused debate.
The fourth and second last Liberal leadership debate took place at the Pier 21 Museum in Halifax. The big difference this time is that we had one candidate self-eliminate, being of course hot republican mess George Takach, who dropped out last week to support Justin Trudeau. That said, the bottom three were still the bottom three and should all have been eliminated by now if we were conducting this leadership race by the RuPaul’s Drag Race model that I’ve been advocating, and the middle tier would be in the make-or-break points in their bids for leadership. But alas, that is not the case.
The third Liberal leadership debate was held today in Mississauga, and while the format was somewhat more successful than the previous debacle, it really did reinforce the candidate ranking that has emerged over the course of the debates. The one-on-one questions could have been better served if each exchange were another minute longer, and the moderate stepped in when they tried to talk about themselves in the form of a question. Because really, take the format seriously. The three-person debates worked quite well, and got the best traction of the debates to date.
Remaining in the bottom four were David Bertschi, George Takach, Martin Cauchon and Karen McCrimmon. If this contest were like RuPaul’s Drag Race, as it should be, then Bertschi and at least one other would have been eliminated by this point, but alas, they are still hanging around. And once again, they reminded us why they are in the bottom four.
At a press conference in Ottawa Wednesday morning, Marc Garneau laid down a marker in the leadership campaign between himself and Justin Trudeau. Essentially, Garneau called out Trudeau for not having enough solid policy positions, never mind that Trudeau has consistently said that he doesn’t want to come out with a full platform because the last thing the party needs is another top-down leader making pronouncements.
Without inserting myself into one camp or the other, it seems to me that there is a much bigger question at play here about the direction that Canadian politics has been taking, and it does bring me back to a basic discussion around civic literacy. Moreover, it’s a discussion about the role that parties play within our democratic system, and the way in which the grassroots interacts with those parties. With power ever increasingly centralising in leaders’ offices, this is probably a discussion that more people should be having.
“I’m sorry my dears, but you are up for elimination.” Ten words that should have been spoken, but one again, were not as the second Liberal leadership – well, “forum” – happened in Winnipeg. It was not a debate, but a series of one-on-one interviews with failed candidate Harvey Locke, whose uninteresting and frankly dull interview style did nothing to advance the plot of the leadership race. Someone pointed out that leaders do more one-on-one interviews than they do debates, so from that viewpoint it made a certain amount of sense – but one would think you’d need a competent interviewer and some actual questions of substance.
There isn’t a whole lot to be said about each of their answers, other than the fact that several of them had a tendency to ramble aimlessly around the topic without offering a substantive answer, and it didn’t help that the interviewer didn’t call them on it or try and keep it engaging.