Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday notes: the usual suspects

1. The Globe has a remarkable editorial on the Cadman affair today. While I agree with the upshot, that the issue should not be allowed to disappear, unresolved, it is truly bizarre that the totality of the editorial's effect is to place blame for the lack of an explanation coming forth - from Mr. Harper and his party in this matter - on the Liberals. They even manage to get in a little bit of awe at how the PM hasn't lost his touch, he's managed to attain silence in this case.

Yes, read away. It is Liberal irresponsibility that means the case may never be resolved. They overplayed their hand that led to the lawsuit, i.e., they asked for it, and now, for the Globe, they've gone too far by settling and appearing to drop the issue. Don't see them asking the Prime Minister to explain himself. Don't see them laying the term "irresponsibility" at the Prime Minister's door. Nope, don't see that anywhere in the judgment levelling. How about raising the issue of the Prime Minister's party having financed the lawsuit thereby using public funds? Nope. Seems they're trying to get the Liberals' goat here, prodding them to act because the Prime Minister won't. Whose responsibility is that ultimately?

2. Harper's getting a new "non-partisan" aide. Yes, it's headline news when the PMO does something nonpartisan these days.
"If Harper is serious about seeming more conciliatory, it has to be reflected in the PMO [Prime Minister's Office]," said a long-time senior Tory, who asked not to be identified by name.
Sounds like they have their own leash thing going on within the Conservative party...now he has a blue one to go with the red one...

3. Speaking of which, discontent inside Conservative circles continues to make its way out into the daylight. Don Martin's column caught many an eye last night. The big highlight from Martin, the speculation over the PM possibly departing prior to the next election. Also notes of top staffers leaving and word of a big blowup in the PMO last week involving a "furious Prime Minister." What might he have been furious about? Ignatieff getting off relatively scot-free for his Newfoundland MP's voting against the budget? Having to drop the Cadman suit? Conservative supporters publicly trashing the budget? Take your pick...

[Speculation about Harper leaving picks up on what Lawrence Martin predicted on January 1st: "The smart money says Harper exits this year." ("Mr. Harper is a leader who has sucked the well of good fortune dry.")]

4. Former PM Paul Martin offered a damaging critique yesterday of the current PM's economic management skills: "Harper too slow to act on slumping economy, Martin complains." Very fair point here if you step back and look at it:
Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin complained Stephen Harper was too slow in bringing forward a stimulus package, saying the government should have acted before Christmas.

"I think the situation is very worrisome and I think that when you see these job numbers it's a pity that we didn't begin with the stimulus much earlier," Martin said of a $40-billion plan MPs approved in principle last week.

"The quicker you get at this kind of thing, the better off you are. I also think it's very important the kind of stimulus that you engage in." (emphasis added)
Yep, pity, that. There was the summer spending extravaganza that the Conservatives engaged in, pre-election, then the election was followed by the excellent prorogation in early December that takes us to the end of January. Not much to speak of in the way of governing. Think about it. Obama's been President for what, two weeks? And his stimulus plan is well on its way, having passed the Senate yesterday. Flaherty is presently urging parliament to pass the budget quickly. It's ludicrous when you consider the timeline of the last year.

5. Teneycke on behalf of PMO still standing by Brazeau. And no doubt thrilled that Brazeau is now telling the media he told the PMO about sexual harassment allegation as soon as it happened. Confirming that Harper still went ahead and appointed him regardless.

6. Finally, Chantal Hebert is insightful today on the optics of Harper's budget photo-ops and the inadvertent message they may be sending at a time when Obama is an ever-present intelligent and engaged comparison looming in the background. Harper is robotic in front of props, Obama and yes, Ignatieff, are thoughtfully engaging their audiences.