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Really? That’s the Conservative Response?

January 11, 2010

The Liberals have released some video ads attacking the Conservative government over its prorogation of parliament.  What is more interesting though is the Conservatives response to the ads. I just thought there were a few very odd points about these comments, so don’t mistake me for a liberal hack, I think they are sorely lacking in strong leadership on this issue, but the Conservative comments have a lot of problems:

Michael Ignatieff, unseen in Canada until Thursday night, when he arrived on a flight from Europe after an extended vacation, has launched a small-budget ad campaign intended to distract attention from his lengthy absence.

This is a common Conservative refrain.  Granted, Ignatieff has spent a lot of time outside of Canada, but so have most Canadians, in fact most Canadians I know weren’t even born here, so its a silly line of reasoning.  But to attack a Canadian for going away for Christmas!  I’m not sure all the senior citizens who are hanging out in Florida until March to avoid the cold don’t have any problem with that!

The ad campaign renews the Ignatieff Liberals’ claim about a “coverup” of “torture” of Taliban prisoners. Mr. Ignatieff persists in this attack even though the allegation that torture was covered up represents a direct attack on the men and women of Canada’s Armed Forces.

The Ignatieff Liberals like to pretend that their wild allegation bypasses the soldiers who captured and handed over Taliban prisoners — but that’s just not logical.

This really disturbs me.  The Conservatives are not addressing the issue of torture or denying that Canadians handed people over to be tortured.  They are saying we shouldn’t be asking questions about torture because that would mean we are asking questions about the actions of our soldiers… Uh, yes.  Yes, we should be able to ask questions about the actions of our soldiers. “Supporting the troops” is not the same as “the troops can do no wrong”. Do you remember the Canadian Airborne scandal?  But that’s actually beside the point, the real goal of the investigation is not to target troops doing their job as much as to discover if there is an institutional disregard for concerns about torture of prisoners.  This is the kind of policy that would come from higher up commanders and from the government itself.  Surely, they are not suggesting parliament can’t ask legitimate questions about military policy during combat operations. That’s exactly what parliament for is for. Surely.

The rest of Mr. Ignatieff’s ad campaign is more of the same — idle chatter that is out of touch with the real priorities of Canadians — including Canadians’ number one priority, the economy.

Our Government is hard at work and remains hard at work on the things that matter to Canadians, in particular the economy. This includes completing implementation of our Economic Action Plan, returning to balanced budgets once the economy has recovered, and building a strong economy for the future.

The economy is always the number one priority, that doesn’t mean other issues can’t be discussed. How the Conservatives plan to build the economy is not discussed, I’m sure it involves lots of useless tax cuts and cutting of social programs because now we have to reign in this huge deficit that they’ve recklessly created with little to show for it.

Canadians are fed up with politicians (from all parties) playing with our democracy like it was a game to be won.  None of them are respecting the desires of the majority of voters in our democracy.  The Conservatives know they cannot win an outright majority so they play the levers of government to stretch out their minority time as long as possible.  The opposition parties are so obsessed with the idea of absolute rule for themselves that they can’t bring themselves to constructively work together even though an overwhelming majority of Canadians did not vote for the Conservative party.

The only way forward towards a progressive future in Canada is for the two viable, federalist parties to show some humility and change strategy. The Liberals need to admit they are not the natural governing party, that they won in the past largely due to Conservative disorganization or the lucky occurrence of charismatic liberal leadership (neither of which holds now).  The NDP need to admit they will not form government until they have proven themselves, which they can do it they work as part of a government with the Liberals.  Together the two parties can act as two wings of the progressive-centre opposition into the next election and ask Canadians to vote for them to form a strong coalition government.  Then they can change some of the flaws in our democratic system which allow the PM such unassailable power.

Or  we can just let the Conservative spin machine work its way and continue with ineffective minority governments that slowly erode all the progressive elements of our society that Canadians have worked so long for and Canadian soldiers have fought so hard to defend.

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