Thursday, March 18, 2010

Throw Cannon under the bus

They're such good sports, these Conservative Ministers. Lawrence "Loose" Cannon dutifully read the talking points this week on the government's maternal health initiative, refusing to entertain the notion that contraception would be part of the deal:
"It does not deal in any way, shape or form with family planning. Indeed, the purpose of this is to be able to save lives," Mr. Cannon told the Foreign Affairs committee.
Not in any way, shape or form, sounded pretty definitive to anyone listening. Yet today, Harper was all about doors not being closed to said family planning:
"We are not closing doors against any options, including contraception, but we do not want a debate here or elsewhere on abortion," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in French in the House of Commons on Thursday.
Bev Oda was also parroting the door metaphor today, unclear why Larry wasn't let in on the door thingy:
“Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, the G8 leaders will discuss and chart the way forward to tackle child and maternal health at the upcoming summit,” she told the House. “As we have been saying all along, we are not closing the door on any options that will save the lives of mothers and children, including contraception. And as we have been saying all along, we are not opening the abortion debate.”
Ah, they've been saying all along that the door was open to contraception in connection with this initiative. Just not in any words strung together that would actually signify that that is what indeed was meant. Decode, people!

Sounds like they will be very hard pressed not to follow through on such statements. Opening the door to contraception in connection with this initiative, particularly when other major nations are wide open to it and committed to it means that the Harper government will have to go along with the consensus at the G8. Who are we kidding anyway? But up to today, they've demonstrated they're willing to play politics with the issue and it's hard to see how this doesn't undermine their position with women. They've caused doubt about their commitment to modernity and such.

As for the roadkill in all this, you gotta think it's a little uncomfortable being Lawrence Cannon today ("As the controversy spiralled, Conservatives sources began to whisper that Mr. Cannon had been freelancing when he ruled out improved access to condoms.") Heard he was grilled to the well done state by Tom Clark this afternoon, trying to weave his way out of what he said versus what is now being said at the behest of the boss. When it's up later, will post a link to it. In the meantime, there is this from the CTV site where Cannon dials his own statement back and assists in the cause of throwing himself under the bus:
Speaking on CTV's Power Play, Cannon said: "I did make a mistake in making that determination."

Cannon said that putting women's health first is of the utmost importance.

Still, he clarified his position, saying the plan "doesn't deal with abortion, (but) it doesn't exclude contraception."

In regards to abortion, Cannon said that the other G8 partners can set their own agendas: "If other states are involved in that area, then fine."
So Cannon says he made a mistake in making those statements, above, where he avowed there would be no family planning involved in this maternal health initiative to a Commons committee. Cannon's taken a big credibility hit. How can a Commons committee listen to him again and take him at his word? Oh the problems that occur when a Prime Minister won't let his ministers think and speak for themselves.

The rudderless PMO is in fine form this week, that's for sure.