“He has told cabinet and caucus to stay on the high road,” a senior Tory told The Globe and Mail Wednesday. “However, we are not to be punching bags. We are advised to respond in a firm, fair, factual way.”
Respond in a factual way? In that case, the Liberals need to ask Harper for his proof of tax leakage.......and not accept “no” as an answer this time round. The G20 Communiqué of last week called for greater transparency. Let’s have it folks. Enough with Harper’s snake oil salesman lies and deceit. Canadians have lost $35 billion of their savings, for either a valid reason or a false reason. Which is it Steve? We can handle the truth, can you? Prove the case or drop the tax.
Facing a crisis, Harper instructs MPs to be less confrontational
BRIAN LAGHI AND STEVEN CHASE
Globe and Mail
November 19, 2008
OTTAWA — After three years of leading one of the most combative federal governments in recent memory, Stephen Harper is telling his MPs that it's time they take the high road. MPs and officials across government were given marching orders by the Prime Minister recently and told to shelve the aggressive ways of the first term in favour of a kinder, gentler attitude. It was a message, say sources, that the PM himself delivered recently to his caucus. “He has told cabinet and caucus to stay on the high road,” a senior Tory told The Globe and Mail Wednesday. “However, we are not to be punching bags. We are advised to respond in a firm, fair, factual way.” The PM, according to one senior government member, told MPs that women in the caucus are particularly good at verbally sparring with opposition members without coming off as too combative.
Since being re-elected in October, the Tories have purposely adopted a new, less confrontational attitude toward opposition MPs in the Commons, in part, experts say, because they cannot afford to be seen fighting relatively inconsequential battles while the economy falters. That new attitude gets a significant test Thursday, as Question Period kicks off for the first time since June. Examples of the government's new approach abound since the campaign ended. On Monday, Mr. Harper called all of the premiers and territorial leaders to brief them on the Group of 20 meetings in Washington – an unusual step for the PM, who is responsible for international negotiations. He also recently cautioned Tories at their Winnipeg convention to avoid ideological approaches during the current economic difficulties, and met for three hours with the premiers and territorial leaders on the economy, a get-together that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called “one of the best meetings I've had at a first ministers.”
The relationship with Ontario is a particularly significant example. On Wednesday, Industry Ministry Tony Clement and Ontario Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant left for Detroit to discuss the economic difficulties facing the Big Three American auto makers. It's a trip that almost certainly wouldn't have happened during Mr. Harper's first term, when the relationship with Ontario was strained by controversy over redistributing seats in the Commons and a plan to overhaul the Senate. It hit its lowest point when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Ontario was the worst place for a foreign businessperson to invest. Others have noted a more personable PM. One Tory official was taken aback recently when Mr. Harper hailed him from a stairwell and asked how he was doing. Political scientist Antonia Maioni said the Prime Minister may be taking a new tack because he has grasped that he must compromise if he wants to get things done. “Stephen Harper is realizing that he is a minority government prime minister,” said Ms. Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. “I think he realizes that he has to find new strategies to govern. He may be coming to terms with that as a political leader.” How long the new attitude will hold is anyone's guess.
The opposition would no doubt love to provoke a prime-ministerial outburst, and the Prime Minister is known to have a temper. And the new nice-guy act doesn't apply to everything. At the party's convention last week in Winnipeg, the Conservatives blocked the media from attending a series of select key debates on the party's policy direction. And the PMO continues to insist that individual reporters affix their names to a list from which officials choose those who are allowed to ask a question. There are also potential conflicts with the provinces over such matters as a single national securities regulator. Finally, some Tories wonder whether Mr. Harper is taking a more collegial attitude to mollify party members upset at him for failing to deliver a majority. “Ask the candidates who lost in the last election, or cabinet ministers who are either moved laterally or demoted, if he was particularly warm and fuzzy,” one Conservative government official said. “There's a lot to be said for a charm offensive, particularly at a time like this,” said Peter Donolo, a partner with the Strategic Counsel, a polling firm. “People will be prone to think that Question Period banter or very aggressive behaviour in the House is trivial or kind of fiddling while Rome burns.”
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Posted by Fillibluster at 9:19 AM