Monday, February 06, 2006

Harper drops the innocent act and resorts to good old treachery, lies and subterfuge

5 million years ago humans started to emerge from a primordial slime - We're wondering when David Emerson is going to join the rest of the human race.

There has been lots said about David Emerson's crossing to the Conservative Party, but Canadian Cynic has asked the question that really counts. Given Emerson's plea to NDP supporters to vote Liberal and his post-election speechifying on being Harper's worst enemy, nothing this piece of crap says in the future will be believable. He has betrayed the public trust, misled voters and disenfranchised his constituents. Given that over 80 percent of the voters in Vancouver-Kingsway voted against the Conservative Party of Canada, and given that the CPC candidate placed a distant third with only 18 percent of the vote, this constitutes nothing less than the highjacking of a riding by the Conservatives and an act of treachery by both Emerson and Harper.

Unlike the Stronach defection to the Liberals in 2004, Emerson had no public issue with either the leader or platform of the Liberal party. This smacks of a conspiracy of the worst order and Emerson should be required to face his constituents. For one thing, he and Harper should be required to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that this wasn't planned prior to election day.

The fact that the CPC co-sponsored a bill before Parliament to force such individuals to face a byelection after crossing the floor makes this whole event even more odious.

The upside: Harper's professed moral high-ground just got very muddy. We now know he is not beyond treachery and deceit. (Told ya so.)

A senate appointment and a cabinet post, all without an election. So much for the democratic deficit. Michael Fortier gets paid big-time for delivering Conservative seats in Quebec.

Why this seems to have less traction than the Emerson treachery is a little curious. Fortier is made a cabinet minister and then will be made a senator, (to make the cabinet post legal). This is totally without precedence and is bad news. For one thing, it's a pure patronage appointment. For another thing, it flies in the face of Harper's promise not to appoint senators who were not elected in their province. All of that is bad enough, but to make someone who was not elected, did not previously hold a senate seat and has no electoral capital, a cabinet minister is reprehensible.

Appointing cabinet ministers who do not hold a Commons seat denies Parliament the ability to question the minister directly and to hold the minister accountable in the house. Although senators have held cabinet posts in past governments, they held the senate seat prior to their cabinet appointment. The fact that Fortier has been given the Public Works ministry, the very ministry which perpetrated the crime which eventually led to the Gomery Inquiry, is unbelievable. The statement that he is expected to resign from the Senate and run for a Commons seat when the next election is called carries no weight and should not be believed.

The upside: Proof that Harper was lying about both his intent on senate appointments and his criticism of patronage appointments.

Gordon O'Connor joined the Conservative ranks 18 months ago. Before that he was a senior lobbyist for the defence industry. Now he's the Minister of National Defence. So much for ethics.

Can you say, "conflict of interest?" This is unethical going in, nevermind what will happen once O'Connor has been there for a while. He was a senior lobbyist with Hill & Knowlton, and his file was Canadian Defence Contractors. La Revue Gauche has an excellent breakdown of O'Connor's past as a lobbyist and his attempt to pressure government to favour his clients. A check of Harper's proposed Federal Accountability Act shows that while former members of cabinet cannot become lobbyists for five years, there is nothing to prevent the inverted case from happening, as in the O'Connor appointment. This exposes a huge and, I suspect, intentional hole in Harper's ethic package.

O'Connor has another problem. He was a brigadier general in the army. While it may sound advantageous to have a retired military man in the defence seat at cabinet, it actually bodes poorly for relationships with senior officers who are unshakably apolitical. Regardless of how he approaches his generals and admirals he will be dealing with people who were once his subordinates and now hold ranks which he never attained. Given O'Connors past history in the CF, he will be predisposed to deal with the discomfort of his situation by eliminating some of those officers who do not share his political view.

Some of the conservative bloggers are asking if O'Connor has a past in the CF which might cause problems. The answer is, yes. And no, I won't be dropping the information on them. They can read it here in the near future.

Given O'Connor's ties with the defence contracting industry and the likelihood of friction with CF senior officers, this is an unbelievably bad appointment. O'Connor, although a blowhard, is capable and would have served cabinet well in another ministry.

The upside: Exposure of Harper's ethics proposal for what they really allow. Industry and lobbyists can run their candidates without interference from ethics legislation.

Harper needs to backtrack now or take what's coming full in the face.

Harper's first day as Prime Minister was a demonstration of treachery, subterfuge and deceit. It proves his campaign was little more than a facade. He needs to fix this quickly or he'll be facing serious problems very early down the road. While we know this will never happen, if he really believed in the morality he so strongly professed during the campaign, he would introduce Recall legislation which would allow the citizens of Vancouver-Kingsway to hold Emerson to account. Then he could send Fortier out to Vancouver to compete for the Conservative nomination in that riding. Finally, he needs to close the loophole that exists in his so-called ethics legislation to prevent lobbyists and industrial contractors from assuming cabinet posts which benefit them directly.

Anything less and Harper is as dishonest and treacherous as we have been saying all along.

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