In today's Sun, I find the following column from Roy Clancy, who seems to be drinking from the Byfield/Jackson community paranoia coffee pot recently. (and no, their anti-paranoia medication isn't working so well)
Clancy's busy whining about the fact that the Conservatives are once again stuck some 9 percentage points behind the Liberals in a recent national poll.
Among other things, Clancy slags Paul Martin's government as follows:
1. Martin has reneged on promises to fix the democratic deficit.
2. He sold out Canada's economic future with his budget-busting deal with the NDP and an ad-libbed Kyoto strategy that won't make a dent in climate change on a global scale.
3. His promises to fix medicare have fallen flat.
4. His party's cynical sponsorship program has alienated Quebec and almost guaranteed another unity crisis.
4. Leaving other critical issues of the day were untended, his government pushed through gay marriage like it was some kind of national emergency, rushing into legislation that leaves the country badly divided.
Hmmm - lessee:
Two major pieces of legislation wound through the house last sitting - the Budget and bill C-38.
According to Mr. Clancy "other critical issues ... were untended" in the rush to bill C-38. Okay - fair enough - I'm sure that several Conservative hobby horse policy items didn't get dealt with the way they'd like.
The Budget, he claims, was destroyed by the deal that he made with the NDP. Talk about a "Hello, McFly!" moment. The deal with the NDP didn't emerge until the Conservatives rather loudly proclaimed that they were revoking any support for it. In case Clancy hadn't noticed - it's a minority parliament, and Martin did what he could to get his budget through. In this case, it was a deal with the NDP. Perhaps if Mr. Harper hadn't been so eager to show his outrage to the Canadian public, a more "Conservative" version of the budget would have worked through the house. Oh yes, and let's not forget that the 4 billion in spending is funded by rolling back a corporate tax cut. It's not $4 billion of new spending, it's a redirect of spending. (and yes, I would argue that a tax cut is spending)
Of course, we won't remember just how much damager Harper did to his party with the week's worth of constant adjournment motions before the house. All that did was make the Conservatives look petty and small. They were all upset with the Liberal-NDP deal, and they had to have their little public temper tantrum. It didn't look good, it didn't play well, and it sure as heck didn't do a thing to develop credibility for the Conservatives in the minds of Canadian voters.
Oddly, I somewhat agree with Clancy in this couple of statements:
Instead of addressing Liberal inadequacies, the pundits preferred to focus on Harper's shortcomings and faux pas.
He was too conciliatory. Then he was too harsh.
He was far too serious, then he started acting goofy.
Harper made a target out of himself. Every time he opened his trap, he either annoyed hard-liners in his party, or he further alienated voters with his "angry-white-dude" routine. His statements were so absolute in nature, that when the time came to step away from something, Harper couldn't. In sympathy to Mr. Clancy's wounded Conservative pride, we won't mention the whole Gurmant Grewal affair, will we?
The Conservatives have had their share of internal conflict since the Alliance-Progressive Conservative merger.
Since Stephen Harper became leader, they've done a good job -- with one or two notable exceptions -- of keeping their dirty laundry out of public view.
They did? You could have fooled me - or perhaps Mr. Clancy is merely comparing the Conservative party's performance with past performances of the Reform and Alliance incarnations (which - by the way - I don't think the public has completely forgotten yet). Between Grewal and Belinda Stronach's crossing the floor, the dirty laundry of an entire regiment might as well have been strung out on the line. I won't even start to analyze the obvious discord being expressed by the assorted fanatics such as the Byfields, Bishop Henry, and lobby groups like Concerned Christians.
What irritated me at first with Clancy's column were the blatant half facts, as well as the utter inability to recognize that for a minority government to function, it must make deals with other parties. The Conservatives were busy playing some kind of mass bipolar disorder game last sitting, and were not taking any steps to move their agenda forward in the house. As the "second party", they were ideally positioned to morph much of the legislation before the house with deals little different than what the NDP and Liberals cooked up. The fact was, the Conservatives were so busy playing silly buggers with house business that they merely succeeded in annoying the public.
Conservative politicians, to their lasting misfortune, are famous for using the long, hot days to wage uncivil war with each other.
In this, Clancy is more correct than he can possibly imagine. From what I'm seeing, both in the polls, and more informally in the blogosphere, I'd say that whetstones are out and swords are being sharpened while Harper does his "Good Times Tour" in an attempt to change his image. (We won't begin to discuss the business-fetish cowboy outfit in Calgary) I do find it notable that although Harper rode in the Stampede Parade at the beginning of July, the Conservative website doesn't even mention that Harper was in Calgary - perhaps they're feeling embarassed about Harper showing his kinky side off...