Saturday, 17 December 2011

Even with a majority, the bullying goes on

Jeffrey Simpson: Even with a majority, the bullying goes on
Those who thought the Harper government would ease up a bit after winning a majority were wrong. Noblesse oblige is out, or, rather, was never in. If anything, the Harper government is more bullying, scornful of dissent, intent on controlling every utterance, contemptuous of the media and determined to carry on political war at all times and by all means.

The Conservative war machine engaged in what House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer called this week “reprehensible” conduct in the Montreal riding of Mount Royal. There, the Conservatives hired a firm to phone voters and tell them that Liberal MP Irwin Cotler was thinking of resigning.
Bruce Anderson: Do Conservatives now think they have carte blanche on dirty tricks?
People of whatever political stripe who care about reasonable conduct in Canada’s political life might want to press on with a couple of outstanding questions.

1. Does the leadership of the Conservative Party interpret the ruling as carte blanche to do more of this kind of “wet-work”? If this tactic were carried out on a broader scale, would anyone really think it is nothing more than sporting politics? (As an aside, do we really think the Speaker would have arrived at the same decision if the tactic was used against 50 or 100 opposition MPs?)

2. Do other leading Conservatives share the views of Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, who said that the calls made into Mr. Cotler’s riding were vital free speech and a sign of good health in our democracy? If Mr. Van Loan truly is speaking for cabinet… well, that would be kind of frightening. If not, he should seek an opportunity to step back from that argument and acknowledge that a line was crossed.