Cold Hard Wonk

No sentiment but politics

Values for Nothing, Politics for Free

Posted by JJ in Federal Elections, Doubletake/Doubletalk, Strategic Planning, The Elephant (Saturday December 10, 2005 at 1:18 am)

Apparently, the US government does pay attention to what Canadian politicians say.

A recent meeting between Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna was scheduled to compare the Prime Minister’s recent international grandstanding to Former German Chancellor Schroeder’s campaign remark that the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina was the result of America’s failure to follow Germany’s big government model (the kind which, naturally, he proposed to continue).

Former Chancellor Schroeder, mark. He lost the recent election (by the same kind of slender margin that would likely mark a Liberal loss), and earned himself a nifty moniker. Of course, in Canada there’s always Tupper to fall back on if a worse Prime Minister is needed (no one seems to know who he is).

But Martin wants it to be clear that he is a man of principle:

I don’t make it a habit of commenting on any discussions a Canadian ambassador would have with a foreign country

Certainly not. He only makes a habit of undermining whatever work an ambassador might do. Better by far for Canada to advance his narrow-minded pursuit of electoral victory. What has come of the promise Paul Martin made to repair relations with the United States? Why appoint a skilled and experienced politician (former NB Premier McKenna) as ambassador if his work is continually undermined by cheap political games? Oh, yes. To keep him happy and far away from Ottawa, lest what befell Chretien befalls Martin. He who troubleth his own house. . .

But Martin maintains that this isn’t about politics. Does he really beleive that his prodding will have an effect on the China or the United States? If so, shouldn’t that illusion be dispelled by the obvious reaction? No, it’s simply an expression of honest Canadian values:

I believe the position that has been taken by Canada at this conference reflects Canadian interests and Canadian values and, let me tell you as the prime minister of Canada, I am going to speak for Canadian interests and Canadian values.

The problem, of course, is that he’s been speaking of values for quite long enough. Isn’t it about time to do something about them? Wasn’t he Minister of Finance between 2000 and 2003 when $3.7 Billion in expenditures on emissions did nothing to bring Canada closer to Kyoto targets? Hasn’t he had a year and a half to work at it, with nothing more to say than “these are our values”?

Values aren’t things you hold onto. They’re things you use to guide your actions. No matter how deeply they run, if you don’t do anything with them, they are worthless. The sad truth is that despite its participation in Kyoto, Canada has a far worse track record since 1990 than the United States on greenhouse gas emissions.

When Bono badmouths governments (no, not bono), he has the advantage of having no track record on African aid to make him look like an ass on a global stage. Canada doesn’t have such an advantage — it actually participates in these problems.

Which reveals what the only possible purpose of this nonsense is: presenting Martin as the defender of values. An easy thing to protect. When you flee a burning building, you rarely have to bother much to take your values with you.

And this is a case of arson. Since Canadian values aren’t threatened (although Canadians of narrow opinions generally claim theirs always are), we need to manufacture a problem. If Martin can get the Bush administration (”boo,” children, remember your pantomime) to complain, he can claim, as he does, that he must stand up for values against such evil threats (”Look, look! I saved you from the fire I just started!”). He’s looking for heroic kudos. Last I checked, though, arson earns you a criminal conviction, not a parade.

Is Schroeder’s campaign hyperbole and slender loss an indication of what the future holds for Martin? If this is an indication of his dedication to the national interest, he doesn’t deserve anything that good.

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