Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Day Three – Media Notes

The media has been reporting on several initiatives – such as a petition, Emerson office protest and demand for repayment of campaign funds – spearheaded by Liberals or thinly disguised Liberals. Contrary to my usually generous linking policy, those seeking links to these initiatives will have to look elsewhere. (If you can’t fathom why, ask yourself this: where were these people when Belinda came over to them last May? Precisely.)

Andrew Coyne has a fulsome rundown of media coverage here.

According to today's Toronto Star:

Senior Liberals in British Columbia complained that, as late as Sunday, Emerson had engaged in a lengthy chat with a top B.C. party organizer about how to refurbish the Liberal machine after the Jan. 23 loss. The next day, Emerson was sworn in as part of Harper's cabinet.

"Until the night before, he was saying, 'Sure, we have to rebuild the party and I'll be there,'" said former health minister Ujjal Dosanjh, who was re-elected as a Liberal MP in the riding of Vancouver South. "How much credibility does that leave?"

Forgive me if I find Mr. Dosanjh somewhat less than an authority on credibility or loyalty after he (1) abandoned the NDP to book passage on the Martin JuggerNot (but at least he wasn’t a sitting MP when he crossed); and (2) denied that he and PMO chief of staff Tim Murphy attempted to entice Gurmant Grewal to cross the floor to the Liberals last spring. To add insult to injury, Dosanjh made some half-hearted threats about suing Grewal for slander, after the Ethics Commissioner’s report condemned only Grewal and failed to nail the Liberals.

Also in the Star article, several Conservative MPs have carefully expressed concern about the Emerson appointment:

In addition to the unease over handing a plum cabinet position to Fortier, a financier and lawyer who is a long-time Harper organizer, Tory MPs expressed concern over the other surprise addition: former Liberal minister David Emerson.

"I'm a little bit uncomfortable with it, but I guess we'll go from here and work with him as a colleague," Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin) said outside the Tories' first caucus meeting.

Nova Scotia MP Gerald Keddy (South Shore) said he would have preferred that Emerson first sit as an independent and then run as a Conservative.

This afternoon, Alberta MLA and former elected Senator Ted Morton appeared on CTV NewsNet’s "Mike Duffy Live." Though a florid-faced Morton conceded that, had he been a voter in Emerson’s riding, he too might be angry at Emerson’s defection, he quickly moved on to his main message that Emerson’s defection is a minor matter.

Morton argued that the biggest issue in British Columbia is softwood lumber, and that if Emerson is able to resolve it in short order then the story of his defection “may have a different ending.” On that basis he urged the public to take a “wait and see” attitude toward Emerson.

Upon being pressed by Duffy, Morton offered: “In politics as in life sometimes you have to take one step backwards in order to take two steps forward. Stephen Harper and his team’s achievement on January 23rd was a remarkable feat, but in the end if he’s a one-term wonder like Martin then what happened on January 23rd won’t make much difference. The challenge is to turn a minority government into a majority government in 18 months.”

Morton’s final comment was to observe that Harper had made “very astute choices” for his cabinet.

On Global National at 5:30, Ottawa correspondent Jacques Bourbeau reported that several Conservative MPs have indicated to him – in very strong language and off the record – that they believe Harper is “betraying his principles.”

The blogosphere (or at least my main barometers of it, Andrew Coyne and The Blogging Tories), seems to have cooled considerably on the Emerson issue, with many bloggers and comment posters offering the following arguments: the issue has been overblown, focus on the big picture, scooping Emerson merely demonstrates what a genius Stephen Harper is, no one is going to care about this by the time of the election, this is not the same as Belinda, etc.

While I agree that the issue should not be overblown – and that we must always be careful to not help our enemies – I believe this is a misstep that can be fixed. I continue to hope that it will be.

If you or your riding association are taking action or contemplating taking action, whether as suggested below or otherwise, please contact me at Confidentiality will be assured.


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