Friday, July 03, 2009

When a salute is not just a salute

Global video link from previous post expired...why do they do that? Oh well. We have Buckets on the job who has kindly provided the above YouTube version of the PM's insertion of himself into the military salute properly reserved for the commander in chief, the Governor General.

Fascinating to see how this little incident has galvanized attention. The PM may have stepped into something big here. What the PMO may have thought was a minor shift, a little pushing of the limits here that they could get away with that few would notice might become a tipping point in people's tolerance for such Conservative innovations. Not every occasion is suitable for partisan manipulation yet nothing seems to be off limits for the partisan PMO. This subtle move to encroach upon a prerogative of the Governor General is symbolic of the power grab that's all too typical of this Prime Minister. (It's also symbolic of the Conservative effort that we've seen to align themselves with all things military, courtesy of the influence of their Republican friends, by engaging in numerous military photo-ops for Harper.)

The little salute also illustrated a problem in Mr. Harper's government courtesy of James Moore's comments. Here's a Minister of the Crown in the Canadian government, in fact, the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Exposed as totally useless in his role as a guardian of that heritage. A prime example of the Harper cabinet pool of inexperienced yes men and women, unable or unwilling to say no to him. Moore is defeatist in his comments, totally deferential to whatever the PM wants to do.

You can't help but think that maybe the actors here, the Moores, the Governor General's protocol staff, perhaps untold government bureaucrats have just given up in the face of a tremendous push from the PMO to do such alien things. Maybe there's the sense on any given request, such as this one with the Governor General, that it's not worth engaging in a battle with the PMO over Canada Day festivities. It's not really about that though, it's about the toll that the creeping political vandalism committed by this government takes. This salute incident may have seemed like a small thing, but it really wasn't. It's part of a bigger story. Ultimately, the Canadian people are going to have to put a stop to it at the ballot box.

Update (7:45 p.m.): Analysis at The Torch.