Sunday, October 04, 2009

"It comes out at night"

The above was a theme in Bob Rae's contribution to the non-confidence motion debate that occurred on Thursday. You might have thought for a moment that I was referring to something else that came out last night? Well, this excerpt has some resonance and relevance to that little grand and contrived performance. It's about two-sidedness, fakery and partisan gamesmanship that are the hallmarks of this government's operations, it's present in everything they do, every decision.

The speech critically gives lie to the Conservative talking point that they don't want an election. Of course they do. They are campaigning non-stop and have done so since gaining power. Ever-present political attack ads of an unprecedented scale for years now tell us that. They are running an ongoing election campaign despite their protestations.
Madam Speaker, a long time ago, in fact, as members opposite will know, a great many years ago, when I was a small boy, I read the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a story by Robert Louis Stevenson. Members will recall that the point of that story was that by simply drinking a glass of a particular potion, what seemed like a perfectly responsible and reputable person would suddenly become some kind of a monster.
I must confess that I was listening to the debate unfold this morning and this afternoon, and in particular I say this of the speech of the government House leader, who looked so good, and I know on television he looked even better. The hon. member spoke about how the mayors were, surprise, surprise, expressing gratitude for the fact that they were getting some money to build a school rink or whatever it happened to be across the country and all the projects that are taking place and all the positive things saying that the last thing this House needs is any infusion of politics or the last thing the country needs is any infusion of an election.
I can remember the Prime Minister saying earlier on that the country does not need any political gains.
Well, that is Dr. Jekyll speaking, and that is the respectable side that we have seen in this debate. I am sure many of us in this House have received various kinds of counselling and advice with respect to how to talk to the media and how to talk to the camera, that we should not raise our voice and that we should talk in a calm voice. I am sure there are many members who do it very well and many members who do not do it so well. Some members avoid responding to idiotic heckling coming from the other side. It is not a good idea to respond to the comments because the people who are watching on television cannot hear the inane comments that are being made.
However, there is another side of the Conservative Party and there is another side of the Conservative government, and that is the side that we see every night when we go home and turn on our television sets. We have been doing this, not for a few weeks, not for a few months, but for a very long time.
First, the Conservatives started out by attacking my colleague, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, who was our previous leader and who is a very fine and distinguished individual.
I want to say that I have never met a more moral, direct or honest man in politics than our previous leader, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. But the Conservatives decided to attack his personality, not his politics, his career or his courage. There was no election. We were not in the midst of an election campaign, yet they decided, night after night, to make personal attacks against a member who was doing his job.
After we chose a new leader in the House of Commons, the very first thing we saw was an attack on the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, not because of what he believes in or his politics, but because of his past and the fact that he was out of the country. It was a personal, vicious, constant, never-ending, corrosive attack on the personality of a person.
For those of us who have been in this business for a while, it is like water off a duck's back. One expects it to happen. However, what we have seen here is that there is another side. When the political party opposite says that it does not want political games or an election, who does it think it is kidding? The party opposite is campaigning for an election each and every day of the year, day after day, night after night. It never stops and it never ends.
Not a single intervention is made and not a step is taken that is not controlled by the Prime Minister's Office. Not a declaration is made that is not part of a systematic political election campaign. When I hear the party opposite talking with piety and rectitude about its interest in building hockey rinks and making parks better for Canadians, all I can say is that is not the Conservative Party that I see every night on television.
The Conservative Party that I know and that I have learned to see every night on television is a party that has nothing better to do than to drag the reputation of every other politician in the country through the mud. That is what it knows how to do and that is all it knows how to do. That is its specialty. That is what it does for a living, which is why the corrosiveness of the House and of politics is something for which they bear an enormously heavy responsibility.
That is the Mr. Hyde side of the Conservative Party and that is the side we know. It comes out at night. It avoids us. It hits us on the television screens. Just as we are trying to fall asleep, we suddenly get hit with these vicious ads and a viciousness that is the real side of the Conservative Party.
I have another issue. My friend for Papineau has referred to it and I want to refer to it as well. I think of the issues that are facing the country. I think of the fact that we have a rapidly aging population that is going through a democratic revolution. I think of the fact that 50% of the people on reserves in northern Canada are under the age of 25. I look at the number of those young people who are coming into our cities, are living in poverty and have no jobs and no prospects. I look at climate change, which is affecting us as much as it is any other country and affecting northerners more than anyone else. When I think of those things, I do not see leadership from the government. I do not see leadership on health care, on climate change or on the real issues that are affecting the people of the country.
As the member for Papineau said so well, there are literally tens of thousands of young people who are leaving high school, college and university without the prospect of a job. When I look at the cynicism opposite and I see that all the Conservatives are offering is a two year construction program that will do something for some people but will not deal with the fundamentals, then I say that we have less than we are worthy of as a country.
I think that is why so many of us have lost confidence in the government and have no intention of voting for it again, nor of voting for its half-baked measures and the corrosive cynicism that it has brought to the politics of this country, for which it should be deeply ashamed.
Something that hit the nail on the head for me, there's more surrounding that initial speech that's worth a look too. You might be interested in Tom Mulcair's retort too, he seems to get quite emotionally fired up whenever Bob Rae speaks.

The above might be termed by critics as the "Stephen Harper is mean to me" position. Which I believe I read somewhere and seems to be nonsense. The partisan self-interest that is put ahead of the national interest on a regular basis on a litany of issues is a perfectly legitimate argument to make. The divisive partisan approach led to that bungled fall economic update last year and continues to play itself out in infrastructure spending that is going disproportionately to Conservative ridings, despite all the platitudes about Dalton McGuinty and the locals playing a role. Funny how the numbers have still managed to play themselves out, consistently in the Conservatives favour across the country. B.C., Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, to name the provinces coming to mind at the moment. That's how the partisanship undercuts economic stewardship and why it is a relevant and legitimate criticism to make. It's a necessary part of the story that needs to be told.

Some Sunday reading, that's all, bit pressed for time today, remarkably for this supposed day of rest.