February 12, 2006

Integrity is always just around the corner

That's my slogan for the first week of the new government. "Integrity is always just around the corner."

I don't understand it. A few of my friends have written to me wondering why I haven't said anything about it. It's because I don't get it. Why this opening move? It's like a bad political joke: "A floor-crosser and a Senate appointee walk into a bar ..." or perhaps "What do you get when you cross a ex-military-industrial-complex lobbyist turned Defence Minister with a Francophonie Parliamentary Secretary who doesn't speak la belle langue?" Sure, they're wordy ... but the punchlines are killer!

So seriously, now. What the hell? Was it really that necessary to have Cabinet members from Montreal and Vancouver but not Toronto? Did the Minister-in-absentia really have to get the high-spending-and-recently-scandalized Public Works post of all things? Was there no juggling of candidates that would have put bilingual Cabinet members where they needed to be? Was Gordon O'Connor really the only candidate qualified for the defence post?

There is the school of thought that says Harper was willing to weather a short-term storm in order to get the strongest possible Cabinet (a long-term payoff.) There's another school of thought, though, which says that Harper just blew most of the political capital which would have allowed him the chance to play for the longer-term end game. When your entire campaign, the ethos of your party and your leader, and your first major priority and policy objective are all centered around accountability, this isn't exactly an irrelevant short-term storm.

In short, I don't think this is going to go away quickly. There is relative quiet around Senator Fortier, but that will likely end when the House sits in April and he's not there to answer questions. Emerson, on the other hand, is right in the thick of it, and his unflinching denials that he did anything even remotely questionable are not helping. He is being seen as either tremendously stupid (or, more charitably, completely naive or insane) or staggeringly disingenuous. It can't help that Peter MacKay's jumping to his defence has allowed people to bring up MacKay's er, principled destruction of the Progressive Conservative Party. Let alone the obvious contrasts and comparisons with the Belinda Stronach defection last year.

Bottom line? Almost nothing smells worse than blatant hypocrisy, and Canadians are sniffing something mighty foul out of Ottawa these days.

I leave you with these charming quotes from the circus that was the first week of the Conservative government. I would provide commentary on them but, really, it's too easy.

If this were in the U.S., Jon Stewart would be having a friggin' field day right now.

Posted by anatole at February 12, 2006 11:03 PM

One thing I've also not seen mentioned enough, in my opinion, is the deafening silence of those Conservatives who used blatantly sexist language about Stronach ("whore" comes to mind) and defended it at the time by saying it was gender-neutral (hah!) and they'd say the same about a man crossing the floor. Really? But of course Emerson is different... because he doesn't have a strong policy or principle reason for this move, so it's clearly not whorish!

Posted by: Aven at February 13, 2006 07:20 AM
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