Liberal Meme Watch

Liberal Meme: Stephen Harper is not the internationalist that Michael Ignatieff is, the latter more worldly, well-traveled and well-lettered. Stephen Harper has tarnished Canada’s reputation on the international stage through a style that eschews Canada’s traditional “nuanced” approach and “honest-broker” status.

Today’s sighting of this Liberal meme: Susan Delacourt’s blog

Susan Delacourt publishes screenshots from the UN webcast and CTV newsnet that show the differences between the audiences that Stephen Harper, Barack Obama and the President of Switzerland received at the UN. As you can see from Delacourt’s blog, PM Harper’s speech wasn’t very well attended while Obama’s speech and that of the Swiss President were packed.

You see, as the tipster (one presumes) that sent Susan the screenshots would argue, Michael Ignatieff would have packed the house and could convince the world to welcome Canada back to the the cocktail parties in midtown Manhattan!

However, the presumed tipster neglected to send other screenshots of the audiences received by other leaders. These pictures would have helped put things in more context:


China – a permanent member of the UN security council and most populous nation


Iraq – certainly the focus of much international attention over the past few years


Malawi – larger audience. Why? Switzerland preceded Obama’s speech and Malawi followed it. (delegates were probably still gathering their briefcases before ditching the Malawi speech)

So the audience sizes are more related to the ability of the US to draw a crowd. Isn’t context important? If Canada was snubbed, was China snubbed, was Iraq snubbed?

Most notable previous use of the media to falsely push this Liberal meme: Stephen Harper snubbed at the White House! (do check out the link)

You can almost sense the Ignatieff envy.

Peter Stoffer on the Long-gun registry

CBC News and the Chronicle Herald are reporting this morning that NDP MP Peter Stoffer is walking away from his long-time opposition to the long-gun registry because his constituents now support it, according to him. He’s been a Member for quite some time. Did he just ask his constituents on the weekend how they felt? Or are we witnessing the gradual behind-the-scenes whipping of the NDP caucus?

Paging Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MD…

Here’s an MP cast in the mold of Preston Manning and the rest of his Reformatory ilk:

Canadians must embrace the resources locked within the private sector if we are going to have a sustainable health care system.

We are careening into a brick wall where health care costs are rising at over seven per cent a year while revenues are increasing at only four per cent a year. This is due to our aging population, more expensive technologies, and a shrinking workforce. Baby boomers are retiring and our reproduction rate of 1.7 children per woman sits well below the rate of 2.1 that is needed to just maintain our population. Health costs continue to exceed resources year-in and year-out. This translates into hospitals withholding care from sick patients (rationing), previously medically insured services not being covered anymore (de-listing), and additional fees being charged to the patient for services rendered. This has resulted in longer waiting times, medical personnel leaving the profession because they are fed up with being unable to care for their patients, reduced access to care for those in need and, most importantly, people enduring needless pain and suffering while they wait an excessively long time for care. This situation is not going to get better, only worse.

Only one source that can provide the extra monies we need to fund our medical needs: the private sector.

In order for this to happen we must get serious about reforming our health system and not tinkering with it. First, the Canada Health Act (CHA) must be modernized to allow patients to pay for care if they wish, in entirely separate facilities funded solely by the private sector. Individuals who go to these centres would be paying for care out of their own pocket or through private insurance they have purchased. By leaving the public system, they will be shortening the queues for those who are waiting. People using private facilities from time to time would also be free to access the public system that their taxes are paying for. Private facilities would act as a release valve and would in effect be subsidizing the public system. Physicians and other medical personnel would work in both systems.

We cannot continue to wrap ourselves in the CHA, hold onto shibboleths and demonize those who are trying to modernize our obsolete healthcare system. It must be overhauled in order to fulfill its ultimate objective, which is to ensure that all Canadians, regardless of income, will have timely access to the quality care they need when they fall ill and that the length and quality of our lives will be the best it can be.

Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MD, should be outraged! Will she be? Who is this heretic? Is it Stephen Harper, is it Stockwell Day? Maxime Bernier?

No, it’s MP Keith Martin, a practising doctor and a Liberal.

Thanks Dr. Martin for advancing the debate on the evolution of healthcare to address modern and future needs. Can we have more of it?

Paging Joe Comartin…

In justice news

Ex-Liberal official guilty of fraud not going to jail

MONTREAL — Benoit Corbeil, a former top federal Liberal party official, won’t be going to jail after all.

Corbeil who pleaded guilty to influence peddling and fraud charges had his 15 month jail sentence reduced to 12 months served in the community by the Quebec Court of Appeal in a ruling issued on Wednesday.

In upholding his appeal on the fraud charge, but upholding his conviction on the corruption charge, the court also absolved him of the order to repay $117,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Did you really expect anything different?

Now, will we see opposition MPs call the Minister of Justice to the mat to explain how this judicial outcome could have occurred?

Explain Rahim Jaffer sentence, ministers told

Joe Comartin doesn’t believe Rahim Jaffer received favourable treatment for his driving conviction but he wants the federal and Ontario governments to tell Canadians that.

Mr. Comartin, the NDP justice critic and former long-time trial lawyer, believes there is a risk that the Jaffer case will shake the integrity of the judicial system.

It seems that we need tougher sentencing guidelines for committing fraud while Liberal. The Crown could not proceed on the heftier charges in the Jaffer case because he was not searched in compliance with his Charter rights. However, Corbeil was convicted.

Journalist shows up at wrong event, writes juicy story for Ottawa reporters

One of the favourite narratives of the Ottawa media is that the Prime Minister doesn’t talk to them on enough occasions. This, of course lazily and unfairly extends to “doesn’t talk to reporters”. However, while some in Ottawa may yearn for more face-time with the PM, the PM’s comms focus has always prioritized local and regional news to get the story told outside of the “Ottawa bubble” and outside of the pack mentality of some in the Ottawa press gallery.

Yet, here’s a local reporter, getting a lot of buzz in Ottawa this morning among my fellow flacks and hacks on Twitter. Brad Bird’s story about a Prime Ministerial “snub” at a shellfish research centre in BC fits the Ottawa press narrative but has me a bit puzzled because it goes against the PMO local media outreach strategy. Or does it? Local reporter Brad Bird wrote,

For the media it was an odd dance, since no talking with the PM was permitted, and he allowed but that single comment to acknowledge them, during the quarter-hour allowed.

“Give ya 30 bucks if ya ask a question,” one scribe said to another. But it wasn’t that easy. He was too far away for that, and engaged with others. Interrupting would have been rude.

Reporters gathered for an event and no questions? Why? Here’s the event notice from the PMO that went out to all reporters,

September 7, 2010
Ottawa, Ontario

Public events for Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Wednesday, September 8th are:

Deep Bay, British Columbia

1:00 p.m. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper will Tour the Vancouver Island University Centre for Shellfish Research. He will be joined by James Lunney, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni.

Vancouver Island University
Deep Bay Field Station
Deep Bay, British Columbia

*Photo Opportunity Only

There are no questions at photo ops of course, but can we really have a PM that only does photo ops? Oh wait. There were two media avails later that day. From the same notice,

Nanaimo, British Columbia

3:00 p.m. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper will make an announcement at Nanaimo’s Cruise Ship Berth. He will be joined by Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway; and James Lunney, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni.

Nanaimo Port Authority – Assembly Wharf
11 Port Way
Nanaimo, British Columbia

*Open to Media

NOTES:

• Media are required to present proper identification for accreditation.

Victoria, British Columbia

6:00 p.m. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper will deliver remarks. He will be joined by Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway; and Gary Lunn, Minister of State for Sport.

Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University
2005 Sooke Road
Victoria, British Columbia

*Open to media

NOTES:

• Media are required to present proper identification for accreditation.

From Bird’s article,

This wasn’t Jean Chretien, who enjoyed engaging with media.

Chretien would come over and talk to us. Sometimes he’d get all choked up about it, or someone else would, he was that intimate.

If Bird remembers the days of Chretien, surely he’s enough of a press vet to know the difference between a photo op and a media avail?

UPDATE (2/25/2011): Brad Bird sends me an email and I’ve received his permission to publish it below.

Senior Liberal compares Harper government policy to Nazi collaboration

Ron McKinnon is a former Liberal candidate and is the current Liberal President of the Port Moody–Westwood–Port Coquitlam Federal Liberal Association. He wrote this on his blog yesterday:

This week the Harper government revealed plans for dealing with refugee vessels, citing concerns of human smuggling and trafficking.

In this vein they want to work more closely with foreign governments to stop those boats at the source. But, since we’re talking about refugees who, by definition, are fleeing persecution, such sources are arguably the very governments they’re fleeing. This brave new policy is sordidly familiar, akin to collaborating with the Nazis to stop the flight of Jews.

Does Michael Ignatieff condone these remarks from this senior Liberal?

For what it’s worth…

My sources are telling me that this Hill Times story about Bruce Carson being Prime Minister Harper’s next Chief of Staff just isn’t true.

Bruce Carson wasn’t even in Ottawa last weekend.

The Hill Times reported today:

Conservative insiders say they expect to see a “softer side” from Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Bruce Carson as his new chief of staff after news broke last week that current chief of staff Guy Giorno is leaving the job.

Mr. Carson, the executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment and former senior adviser in the PMO, was in Ottawa last weekend meeting with Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) and sources told The Hill Times that the Prime Minister will hire him to bring a less adversarial approach to politics when Parliament resumes later this month.

UPDATE: Hill Times publishes online retraction: Carson not expected to replace Giorno as chief of staff