Monday, February 06, 2006

Harper's cabinet: patronizing anti-democratic optics

Well this is all very interesting.

Do they remember the election campaign at all? The Conservatives ran on a squeaky clean platform of ethics and integrity and shouted from the rooftops about Liberal improprieties and rule-breaking. Well what's the phrase? Do as I say not as I do? Or insert some other of your own phrasing about the heights of hypocrisy and extremely questionable strategy.

For a minority government, they've certainly made some controversial decisions that don't seem to be playing well. Let's take David Emerson, former high profile Liberal minister from Vancouver, who has abruptly joined the Conservative cabinet! Yeah, I ran for a Liberal a few weeks ago, but forget that, it's all about what's best for the people of my riding. As suggested in the title of this post, the patronizing anti-democratic optics of this move are stunning. And this move is, apparently, completely different from what Belinda Stronach did. In Harper's view, she crossed the floor for partisan reasons, as he put it today in the scrum, while Emerson is apparently a patriot acting in the interests of his region. I guess how it looks all depends on where you're standing, hey Stephen? I must say, Emerson seemed to be completely unprepared for the media barrage and didn't handle it very well. Did you really think this through Mr. Emerson?

Harper has been subjected to a deluge of questions on Emerson, the appointment of Michael Fortier to the Senate so there can be a cabinet minister from Montreal....major decisions that fly in the face of his principal campaign theme of ethics, doing the right thing, and playing by the rules...

This is the central problem with setting the bar so high. He's set ethical expectations that his government would likely find it challenging to meet, in the best of times. The slightest move off-side would have been scrutinized, but these moves display a tin ear indeed. Two heavy-handed moves that run counter to the Conservatives' professed principles. Anyone surprised?