April 21, 2005

Cue drama!

(c) CBC.ca6:55 p.m.: Paul Martin is not a great orator, so unless he pulls out a signed confession from Jean Chrétien, this is unlikely to go well. Brought to you by the star election team (David Herle and company) who delivered Paul Martin his shaky minority government.

7:09 p.m.: Not as bad as I expected, but no major surprises. An apology for the "unjustifiable mess" and commitments to call an election after the Gomery Inquiry reports in fall 2005 and to return any money from "ill-gotten gains" funnelled to the Liberal Party back to Canadians.

7:11 p.m.: Harper time! Part of the danger of this gambit is that it gives the last word for the evening to the opposition.

7:18 p.m.: Harper sounds a bit petty, and his lines are starting to sound tired and stretched. Gilles Duceppe is up now -- I can scarcely keep up!

7:19 p.m.: I think Duceppe just paid a sort of backhanded compliment to Chrétien (a PM speech to save Canada vs. to save the Liberal party). He needled Martin similarly during the last election, arguing that Chrétien had been a more worthy, challenging opponent.

7:24 p.m.: Layton's walking up. He has been throwing out contingent offers of support for the Liberals into the abyss all week, and no one has been biting.

7:26 p.m.: I think Layton is bombing. Too hokey (though, on that note, I forgot to mention Paul Martin's "When I was young, I practically lived here in the Parliament buildings" story -- yikes!) ... and lines like "This summer, forest fires may be fiercer. Our Arctic will melt a bit more."

7:28 p.m.: He did it again! Layton just offered to pass the budget if they lose the "surprise corporate tax cuts." With three independents in Parliament and a handful of illnesses on both sides of the House, it is theoretically possible the NDP could prop up the Liberals.

7:30 p.m.: The opposition was fairly consistent on this theme: this is a Liberal crisis, not a Canadian crisis. Also a few "dithering" references.

7:37 p.m.: George Stromboulopoulos with feedback from Canadians out in Vancouver ... this line from the crowd: "I don't think it was a national crisis worth breaking into prime time television for." I love it.

7:41 p.m.: The Martin-Chrétien division in the Liberal party persists -- notice that nobody is talking about the Liberal Party passing election campaign finance reform.

7:42 p.m. They actually just said how worried they are that the CBC newsroom computer systems might crash because of the surge of e-mail. Right.

7:44 p.m. Martin's taped, split English-French address (as opposed to the live, mixed delivery of the opposition leaders) -- as well as his failure to address Quebeckers directly (vs. all Canadians) -- is causing both confusion and anger/frustration.

7:45 p.m. These viewer reaction segments kill me.

7:56 p.m. CBC analysts are correctly pointing out that it will be critical whether people heard Martin's argument that due process means waiting to hear the results of the Gomery inquiry. Or will this TV extravaganza have further elevated the importance of the entire scandal?

I can't seem to find a transcript of Gilles Duceppe's comments (checked Globe and Mail, La Presse, and National Post.) Strange.

Update: Gilles Duceppe's response has appeared on the Ottawa Citizen website.

Posted by anatole at April 21, 2005 07:01 PM

I love the run-down! Interesting that they get the view on the street in Vancouver. It seems like the CBC spends too much time there... what happened to Toronto? I also feel that Vancouverites don't have as much reason to care about Canadian federal issues, because of their perfect climate and geography and strong Asian influences -- so I always assume that they _don't_ care. This is probably a foolish assumption.

But still, everything good in Canadian culture seems to come out of Vancouver these days. It's pissing me off.

Posted by: George at April 21, 2005 08:26 PM

I think that is pretty foolish, yes. :) You crack me up.

Anyway, they didn't only go to Vancouver. And some Vancouverites and other Western Canadians were justifiably complaining about the time of the broadcast -- 4:00 p.m. PST, while many/most were still at work/school.

I have to admit I hadn't realized that it would be a taped address.

Posted by: Anatole at April 21, 2005 09:27 PM

A couple of complaints:
I don't know what they did for the TV audience, but the translator they used on CBC Radio 1 was only barely translating into english; it made the opposition leaders seem far more awkward than the PM. (My understanding is that translating should involve some effort to translate grammar, not just telling us what words they used.)

I'm not so annoyed that Mr. Martin didn't address Quebeckers directly; I think the opposition parties spent too much time addressing Quebec and not enough time addressing the entire country since the holdup in parliament affects all of us.

Did Mr. Martin use the singular too much in his English statement? It seemed a bit much. (Probably being petty here, just though he would talk about us more.)

There might be a slight flaw in Gilles Duceppe's core arguement. He talks about a Liberal scandle created in Ottawa that is an attempt to buy the soul of Quebec. I'm concerned that the the implication is that English Canada created this affront to the "Nation of Quebec". Pretty much all of the testimony and all of the criminal charges are by/for Quebeckers. A more accurate statement might be that this is a Quebec (Federal) Liberal scandle created in Ottawa to profit off the seperatist agenda in Quebec. Just a thought. There was also the comment that the Liberals violated Quebec Law during the 1995 referendum. I thought the bulk of the sponsorship program was setup after the referendum...any idea what he is referring to?

Stephen Harper did sound a bit petty. The election before last was November 27th, 2000 so the longest Paul could have gone before calling an election wat this coming November. Judge Gommery probably wouldn't have reported by then anyway so there had to be an election before all the facts were known. I'm not saying I agree with the timing of last June's election and what it did to the public accoutn committee, but this is a point I haven't heard the media (or the Liberals) raise.

I think Paul went too far in this gambit, if he really wanted to govern 'properly' and hold off on an election call, then he should have forged an alliance with some other party (the NDP) and wooed the independents or a couple red Torries to cross the floor. Then he could have put forward a proper legislative agenda and shown Canadians that his party still has our best interests in mind. As it is, he's still trying to act like he has a majority; I tend to agree with Gilles Duceppe that the Liberals have failed to respect the majority will of Canadians; perhaps an election soon would correct that.

Posted by: Mike at April 22, 2005 10:28 AM

Only a few brief comments because I'm supposed to be getting ready for work:

1. We listened to the speeches on CTV and quite frankly the translator was incompetent.
2. Layton has not learned anything since the debates, when I last perceived him as a flaky sandal-wearing tree-hugger. Was this *really* the time to bring up melting glaciers?
3. I agree with one comment here - Martin should have done a deal with one of the opposition parties - but disagree with another point: polling suggests Canadians aren't interested in an election before Gomery reports, so perhaps that is the majority will of the people - not an election. Not yet, anyway.

As Kent Brockman would say, I for one would like to welcome our new Tory overlords.

Posted by: Alasdair at April 22, 2005 02:42 PM

I know he's been on a lot of different shows in the last 36 hours, but Paul Martin's interview on the House (http://www.cbc.ca/thehouse/audio.html) today was quite instructive. (The show starts with an interview of Bono about the 0.7% GDP promise and then has the PM.) He dodged rather direct questions about senate appointments and a few other things.

As another odd note, back in November to early February we were still hearing a lot from John Manley in the Ottawa scene. Since then, it feels like he has gone silent...are the remaining 'strong' liberals waiting for the party to fall so they can lead a resurgence?

Posted by: Mike at April 23, 2005 09:51 AM