Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CON$ervative Di$$ent and CON$equences

Apparently, disagreeing with Harper on anything is a ticket to eviction from caucus, as Senator Anne Cools found out this week.

However, Garth Turner fills in a few more bits that suggest that her eviction from Senate Caucus was not just a result of a single vote:

On one previous occasion here, I referenced a Conservative summer caucus meeting in August of 2006, in Cornwall, Ont. It was the height of the short but intense Israel-Hezbollah war, in which PMSH has come out early, hard and unequivocal on the side of the Israelis.

The position was controversial. Some people worried about the Lebanese citizens being killed by Israeli bombardment or the apparent lop-sidedness of the conflict, or the lack of cause. One of those people was a caucus member – the only one who found the courage that stand to stand up to Stephen Harper.

Caucus members were briefed on the conflict by Peter MacKay, then chair Rahim Jaffer moved to proceed quickly to the next agenda item. No discussion allowed (as usual in meetings in which Mr. Harper is present).

But that did not satisfy Anne Cools.

The small, 63-year-old woman stood there in the amphitheatre at the Nav Canada centre, asked for an opportunity to debate the government’s stand, and then started raising questions. Jaffer told her to stop and sit down. Cools continued. Jaffer shouted. Cools asked why have a caucus if we could not talk? Jaffer screamed. Cools sat.

I watched then from ten rows back, and knew there would be retribution. Mr. Harper is a spiteful man, and a bully. My troubles were just beginning, with the PMO supporting a televangelist out to thwart my CPC nomination. It was all becoming clear. Cools and I were marked.

While I think Garth is project a little here, I don't think he's that far off the mark either. Harper has demonstrated repeatedly a nasty streak the likes of which I've only ever seen out of Dick Cheney in recent years. I think he not only keeps score, but does so in an outright malicious sort of way.

However, he points out some events in the Senate that reflect the CON$ and their thuggish approach to dissent or even so much as questioning "dear leader":

Senator Cools lost faith in Jean Chrteien and Paul Martin, and crossed to the Conservative side of the Senate in 2004, believing Stephen Harper was a better choice. That did not last long. She voiced grave concerns about the new government’s lack of accountability, and voted last week against the Conservative budget which broke agreements with the Atlantic provinces, taxed income trusts and increased spending to historic levels. She also called for the resignation of the CPC whip and House Leader in the Senate, Marjory LeBreton – the same woman who recently canned two Progressive Conservative senators, Hugh Segal and Michael Meighan, from Senate positions, for speaking their minds.

In the end, the Honourable Conservative Senators, taking refuge behind themselves, tossed Ann Cools out for not paying her annual dues to caucus – money used to buy the coffee served at meetings.

Yet another chapter in the Harper government's ongoing tale of suppression, lies, deceit and absolutism.

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