"I'm not drunk, all right. I just have a speech impediment ... and a stomach virus ... and an inner ear infection."
-- Brian Griffin

I think I thought I saw you try…

And so it begins…

Our minority Liberal government were just dealt their first defeat in Parliament last night. Since it was just a proposal to restructure the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, it wasn’t considered a confidence issue, but I’ll say again what I said last year: it’s only a matter of time (um…but I said it months before I setup this blog, so you may not have known that I said it). I predict we’ll be back at the polls by year-end at the latest.

In fact, it may be even sooner — next week’s federal budget could very well be it, although I don’t think the Reform…er, Alliance…oh yeah, Conservatives will want to be seen as dismantling a government less than a year in power (and thus wasting several months of legislative work). After 18 months or so, they can melodramatically throw up their arms and say “we gave and we gave, but it just won’t work”…

20 Responses to “I think I thought I saw you try…”

  1. And what do you think will happen then?

  2. I think the Liberals will take a majority unless someone finds another scandal like Adscam for the Conservatives to use. Sadly, I think most people do see them as the best of all evils.

  3. And ironically have improved their chances by doing…nothing. I think you’re right, without that ‘scandal’ the last election would have been a complete non-issue.

  4. Nothing is what the Liberals seem to do best. It’s what gave Jean Chretien three consecutive majorities…Canadians seem to have this idea that doing nothing is better than trying something and failing. Someone needs to let them in on a little secret: the only way to achieve change is to try stuff until you succeed.

  5. I wouldn’t say that at all. The Liberals did some good stuff during three striaght majorities. On the surface it may seem like doing nothing…I know conservatives think peace and prosperity is boring :)

  6. How is it that Liberal supporters argue that the booming economy in Ontario in the late 90′s would have happened regardless of what the Tories did, but that the similarly-timed ‘peace and prosperity’ is due to the brilliant leadership of our friendly dictator?

    The Liberals did do a coupla good things during the Chretien years…but it took them 11 years to do those couple. The only things I can point at is balancing the budget (helped immensely by the aforementioned Ontario boom) and the Clarity Act, which was triggered by allowing Quebec to get to the brink of separation. Balance that against two or three multi-billion dollar boondoggles, many billions of dollars hidden in foundations (that the Auditor General is still talking about, to no avail), a complete failure of a gun registry, and no effective action on resolving Canada Health Act issues.

  7. Fair enough, but I wish more people would realize that many of the public service boondoggles would have happened anyway. And the Ontario boom happened mainly after the budget was first balanced. (and again, there was plenty of growth that had nothing to do with provincial policies). In that sense I could argue the same provincial-federal dichotomy in your argument, since there was program and tax cutting going on by the liberals also.
    Allowing Quebec to get to the brink of seperation??? Not sure I follow…

  8. And so we get stuck in a chicken-and-the-egg argument… :-)

    As for the Quebec thing, the Chretien regime essentially did nothing to promote the federalism case in the 1995 Quebec referendum (they organized a rally about a week before the vote, when they realized that this separatism thing had some legs to it), even when it was evident that the question being put towards the populace was unclear, to put it charitably, or deviously manipulative, to put it bluntly.

    Only when the vote came in at 49.9% Yes did he start talking about the Clarity Act, which stated that 2/3 of the population most support a clear statement of intent in order to secede from the federation.

  9. Interesting…. You blame Chretien for almost allowing the country to come apart, but there are many who accuse Mulroney for bringing things to that point in the first place. Personally, I think both leaders goofed…

    ‘Sides, didn’t Mulroney bring us the GST? Was that supposed to be another one of those “trickle down effects” that was supposed to stimulate the economy? Does anyone know if it worked? (Just curious…)

    Back to our “Friendly dictator”; he kept us out a stupid, costly war, saving us money and Canadian lives, and has helped Canada’s international reputation. That’s a “nothing” that has kept us out of some pretty major evil. I can forgive a lot in a leader who can stand up to the US to keep us out of something so clearly ill-advised.

  10. I’m happy we were kept out of the war, but I think it would have been nice if he kept us out of it for actual ethical or political reasons instead of the petty name calling and mudslinging that went on.

  11. The only trickle-down effect of introducing a tax is less money in people’s pockets. Yes, Mulroney introduced the GST after he inherited an out-of-control budget from many, many years of Liberal spending, and Chretien swore up and down in the 1993 election campaign that he would get rid of it as soon as he got into office. I still seem to be getting that pesky 7% on everything I buy though…must be taking a while to work its way through the system… :-)

    Yes, Chretien kept us out of a war, and as Kamelot has already said, I really wish I could believe that he kept us out of it for ethical reasons. The way it was handled (all the waffling followed by all the name-calling), I really believe he stayed out of the war because he couldn’t decide if people would support it or not.

    However, when I talk about the ‘doing nothing’, I’m focused more on the initiatives and less on the “reacting to events”. Chretien also mobilized the armed forces during the ice storm, which was very helpful, but I don’t count it as a point in the “leadership” column. Canada is a great country, and we as Canadians have a lot going for us, but we’re also labouring under several areas of governmental mismanagement (or flat-out inaction) that I don’t see anyone tackling. Although I don’t agree with the way he did stuff, at least Mulroney tried to improve things. That he failed miserably in most of what he tried is what gets him his ignominious place in history… :-)

  12. Kav, Kav, Kav, your argumentation is extremely selective. Mulroney was more corrupt than any Canadian leader before or since could ever strive to be. But that’s another issue, that we’ll leave for another day.

    It seems we are so ideologically far apart that blog board messaging won’t solve anything. I think we should meet at the Starbucks of your choice at some point in the near future so I can tell you why trickle-down economics is a crock of s#!t. ;)

    JC did keep us out of the war for ethical reasons. Name-calling and mud-slinging occured from the get-go as Jean and George knew they wouldn’t get along long before Bush took office. So much of it was indeed spite, but he was against it anyway (and so was most of the country, this was not in question).

    So the 49.9 was because of a lack of late-game federalist marketing? Careful of accusations like that, or else plenty of after-the-fact marketing that helped make the issue go away *completely* might seem like a good thing. ;) ;)

    BTW, I voted for the Liberals in ’93 knowing full well that they wouldn’t touch the GST. ;) ;);)

    However, though I’m a JC apologist, I fully acknowledge that the tearing up of the helicopter deal after the same election was really stupid.

  13. Oh, one more thing. Yes, the Ontario boom would have happened anyway, but I’m not saying the good shape of the country as a whole was due to brilliant leadership, just that it’s hard to accuse the PM of ‘doing nothing’ when things are pretty good (whether or not he actually was).

  14. Look, I don’t know if Mulroney was more corrupt than Chretien (trying to envision that just makes me dizzy), but I’m not saying I want the guy back, either. I just use him as an example for some things… :-)

    Also, I’m not saying that the 49.9% Yes was *because* of the lack of federalist marketing–I believe it came about because of an effective marketing campaign on the part of the separatists that was combined with a question designed to befuddle even the most level-headed individual. What I’m saying is that there was little to no federalist marketing to counter all of that, and it didn’t take a brain-trust back then to see that it was going to be a close thing.

    You put a lot of faith in Chretien’s ethics, and I don’t really know where that comes from…me, I like to base stuff like that on evidence. Looking at the evidence of Chretien’s actions over a period of over ten years, he strikes me as a self-serving, visionless, power-mongering elitist who was inarticulate in both of our official languages.

    Things may be ‘pretty good’, but my thinking is that they could be a whole lot better. We could have a country that isn’t so split on regional lines, where the problems of each of the parts is addressed so that they are all happy to make up the whole. How about a country where health care is a well-oiled machine, with a sustainable infrastructure that doesn’t cause our aging population to quake in their orthotically-enhanced boots. Or maybe we could see about helping the one million children living in poverty to see that they can have a bright future where they become happy contributing members of our society. And imagine if we were able to make the least little dent in the spiralling tragedy that is the story of our Aboriginal Peoples.

    The story of Canada’s development has been one of fits and starts–we’ve always managed to evolve as a nation in short periods of time, after which we spend some time absorbing the change, and hopefully avoiding regression and stagnation. I see us mired in a period of stagnation right now–nothing is disintegrating beyond repair, but we’re not really making any great strides to improve things, either. I’m on the lookout for someone to kickstart that next wave of evolution…but even my laser-enhanced vision is having issues with that.

  15. Well, I can’t take issue with your last two paragraphs. When are we Starbucksing? (Aside: I think I will open a coffee chain called Apollos)

  16. Wouldn’t “Faceman’s” be more on the nose? :-)

  17. I actually don’t believe that JC kept us out of the war for ethical reasons. It’s nice that it happened to be an ethical choice, but I have no evidence that it was ethics that fueled that decision. No, I believe he kept us out of it because he could see that the motivations for it were suspect and that getting involved was sheer stupidity – which was pretty much how I saw things, even though I was privy to far less information. When it turned out that evidence of WMD was fabricated or overblown, I wasn’t surprised – I was just surprised we were finding out now instead of sometime next decade when the documents got declassified. So kudos for having a brain and not bowing to the bullying influence of the Bush administration, but I’ll hold off on assessing JC’s ethics until I see better evidence that he has any.

    That being said…. On another note, to say that things are “pretty good” in this country – I think in this country things are more than “pretty good”, they’re fricken fabulous. I guess that’s what comes from living in places where mortgages don’t exist so you have to save your whole life to buy a house, rape is so common no one bothers reporting it because it’s just a fact of life (or a cure for AIDS), and the lepers are out in a street of dirt and compressed garbage bags; I find it hard to complain. Does this mean we should rest on our laurels and not improve? Of course not. But improve at all costs? There I have a problem. Worrying that things are not improving fast enough does not keep me awake at night. Losing what we already have does.

    I think that’s what irritated me about Harris so much; yes, he inherited a very precarious financial situation, and something had to be done about it, no question. But cutbacks and the dogma of privatisation were wielded without thought of the costs – social, environmental or economic. I find it odd that you point to 1 million children living in poverty, Kaveman; I realise that a report came out several years ago describing a national increase in national child poverty and laid the blame at Chretien’s door; but I would have liked to see those numbers broken down by province, for I was reasonably sure that increases in child poverty in Ontario (remember; biggest population) accounted for the lion’s share of the national increase. Let’s face it, you don’t improve child poverty by slashing the welfare program. And aboriginal peoples? Come on, Kaveman; federal and Ontario provincial conservative parties do not currently intend to champion Canadian aboriginal peoples. And Ipperwash happened on Harris’ watch, remember.

    Setting aside the health care issue for a moment (because we’ve yammered about it a lot lately), a million children in poverty and our current treatment of our aboriginal peoples are things that need to be remedied, there is no question. It seems that you and I want the same things after all, Kaveman. :) What I can’t understand is how you can consistently place your faith in the parties that have no interest in placing these items on their agenda.

    We’re currently moving to legalise gay marriage – and you see this country mired in stagnation? You want the next wave of evolution, but hate the federal party that is currently trailblazing into new territory? What kind of evolution are you talking about if you’re going to ignore that?

    The problem with conservatives is just that – they are conservative. You can’t get the next wave of evolution from them, they aren’t interested in innovation. If anything, I expect them to take us backward.

  18. OK, I’ll deal with your first paragraph first, then the rest of the comment…by saying you call Chretien’s choice an ethical one even if you don’t believe he made it on the basics of ethics is essentially saying that the ends justify the means. The issue I had with Chretien is that I always saw him as amoral…not that he would seek out a bad choice, but he would look for the politically profitable one, regardless of whether or not it was ethical. Staying out of Iraq was one of those cases–what’s now being called Adscam is another. As I mentioned before, Chretien was highly criticized for not taking enough action in promoting federalism prior to the 1995 referendum in Quebec, so what was his action? To start spreading money around like it was water into Quebec businesses, in the hope that some of it would trickle into a more federalist attitude (I’m not making this up or extrapolating, JC actually testified to this in the recent hearings). So I don’t think I’ll hold off on assessing Chretien’s ethics.

    As for the rest of the comment…sigh…I can’t believe you’re surprised that we might want the same things. My arguments have always been centered around a strong social agenda built on a sustainable financial footing. I’ve never tried to say that I was pleased with the Ontario Conservatives, just that I could respect the plan that was being put in place by Harris, had it actually been carried through. Whether he abandoned his original intent, never intended to make good in the first place, or was co-opted by Eves and/or his backbenchers, I’ll never know.

    And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Canada’s a bad place to live, and yes, I know there are plenty of places around the world that are worse. However, once we’ve established a solid banking system that allows for mortgages and a system of law that allows for more or less avoiding being raped (yeesh), there are other things to wish for… :-)

    You use gay marriage as an example, and I would too…yes, we’re ‘trailblazing’ as you say, but why are we doing it? Because 7 out of 10 provinces have already made the change through their courts, and the federal government is taking the chicken-shit way out of it…i.e. lower risk of political backlash if you wait until the provinces do it for you. Don’t forget, we didn’t elect our judges, so we shouldn’t be relying on them for social change.

    And be careful of writing off conservatives…Sir John A. Macdonald was a Conservative, and I don’t think he did too badly… :-)

  19. OK, I REALLY need to stop procrastinating…

    All I’ll say is going ahead with same sex marriage legislation after 7 out of 10 provinces make the change through our courts INSTEAD of taking it to the supreme court of Canada first (which some people still want to see, despite the fact that the conclusion is probably obvious) is not entirely chickenshit, nor is it relying on our judges for social change.

  20. “not entirely chickenshit” is just funny… :-)

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