Cold Hard Wonk

No sentiment but politics


Posted by JJ in Federal Elections, Doubletake/Doubletalk (Wednesday January 18, 2006 at 2:30 pm)

Unionists aren’t traditionally known for the subtlety of their political messages, so Liberal leader Paul Martin shouldn’t really have been surprised to find that he had some ’splainin’ to do when he arranged for Buzz Hargrove to toast him.

The CAW boss promptly urged Quebecers to vote for the Bloc Quebecois (a separatist party) to prevent Conservatives from gaining seats in Quebec, called the Conservative leader (a federalist party) a separatist, and suggested that Albertan values aren’t shared by others in Canada.

Curiously, it wasn’t Hargrove who offered the retraction, but Martin, in the following terms:

  • “I have large differences with Stephen Harper but I have never doubted his patriotism”
  • “[T]he values that we hold in this country go from coast to coast”

Which explains why Martin offered the retractions: he’s reversing his position on both of these points.

He did question Harper’s patriotism in the course of the second English-language debate, as reported here:

Harper desperately waves the flag in defence, even though as Martin said, “I never attacked Mr. Harper’s patriotism.'’ But he did manage to raise that ugly Harper speech of 1997.

And it hardly needs be repeated that the crux of the Liberals’ negative campaign has been the difference between their values and Tory values, as reported here:

“This is about the kind of Canada you want and it’s about values,” Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh said. “The Prime Minister has laid out very clearly that this election offers a stark choice between the values of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and we Liberals.”

The only way out of this would be for Martin to claim that Tory values aren’t Canadian values. But doesn’t that return us to point one?

See, this is the problem with negative campaigning. Say enough things that you don’t believe yourself, and you’ll wind up with enough rope to be hanged from.

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