Harper may snub annual press gallery dinner
…Ottawa—The prime minister may snub the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner this fall, a move he’s considering in order to register his displeasure with an ongoing disagreement his office has with Parliament Hill journalists over the way his press conferences ought to be conducted.
…He will not insist that other caucus members boycott the Press Gallery dinner but many Conservative MPs and nearly all cabinet ministers are expected not to attend the dinner to show solidarity with their boss.
…A senior official with the Prime Minister’s Office would not confirm that Harper will snub the press gallery, saying only that “his schedule is not set that far out.”
…Pierre Trudeau is believed to be the last prime minister to snub the gallery dinner. Trudeau was unhappy at the time about press reports describing his marriage to Margaret Trudeau.
No wonder…..with an editorial like this:
Ottawa’s divisive Afghan debate
…he let narrow Conservative interests trump the national interest, invited partisan bickering and came away with a cheap victory extending the mission by two years to 2009.
…It was a sorry spectacle.
…The Prime Minister’s failure to craft a broad consensus in the House of Commons inspires no great confidence in his leadership and was regrettable on a day when Capt. Nichola Goddard gave her life for her country, for peace and against terror.
…This was a rushed, unnecessary, partisan, divisive and confused debate and vote. Canadians deserved better. So did our troops.
and a story like this: (Notice the “belly” reference and the FOX News reference.)
It was a lousy week for parliamentary respect
Don Martin, National Post
…Having reached the desired altitude for showcasing his superior attitude in vintage Brian Mulroney style, Stephen Harper turned to lord over the assembled media with his message.
…Free advice to the Prime Minister: Until you shape up, being filmed from below creates seriously lousy television optics. That button-straining gut fills the screen and the downward stare adds a chin or two.
..No, this isn’t another tired rant about Harper holding journalists in disdain, which he does and we’d best get used to it because it’s going to get worse. I can’t believe Fox News is up here collecting footage for a story on this showdown. It’s an inside problem of scant outside interest.
…But Harper holding Parliament in contempt is a legitimate public concern. And he does. And it will worsen.
Now, to accenutate the positive:
Harper scores political coup with biggest gamble yet
…OTTAWA—He took the biggest gamble of his young prime ministership and scored a political coup by the narrowest of margins.
…“I think Harper’s got all the cards here,’’ said military historian Jack Granatstein.
…But now that the casualty toll is mounting, and public support for the mission is wavering, the Afghan conflict is quickly becoming a wedge issue in the Liberal leadership race.
…Harper was all too happy to drive that wedge deeper.
…After the vote, he crossed the floor of the House of Commons to shake hands with Michael Ignatieff, the leadership candidate whose supporters gave Harper the numbers he needed to carry the vote.
…Afghanistan now threatens to become the single defining issue of the Liberal leadership race in the way the Meech Lake Accord was in 1990.
The stake in the Liberal heart
by John Ibbotson – Globe and Mail
…Sometimes, a political issue can split a party so badly that it becomes dysfunctional. Divisions among British Conservatives over Europe have kept that crew out of power through three straight elections. The schism over conscription split Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals and led them to defeat in 1917.
…Bob Rae and Gerard Kennedy also said they would have voted against the motion. Since Liberals always agree on almost everything—how can you not agree on a strong, united Canada, socially compassionate but fiscally prudent, committed to peace, freedom, community, responsibility, initiative, respect, diversity, tolerance, truth, justice and the Canadian Way?—Afghanistan could become the defining issue of the leadership campaign.
…The Liberal Party is currently the party of downtown Toronto, downtown Montreal, downtown Vancouver, and little else. The paramount goal of the next Liberal leader must be to expand the party beyond its urban solitudes—back into Quebec, back one day into the West.
(Ibbotson could not resist a zinger at the end)
…These decisions may go down well with their political base. But that base is insufficient and eroding. Opposing the Afghanistan deployment will hurt the Liberals in exurban and rural Ontario as well as the West, and not help them in Quebec. (The Bloc will pick up most of the anti-war votes there.) And the worst possible danger remains: that Afghanistan turns into conscription, turns into Europe, becomes a stake wedged in the heart of the party. What mischief Stephen Harper has wrought.
NDP MP Caught at National Pro-Life Rally – Party Unconcerned
OTTAWA, May 18, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – NDP Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Tony Martin, was photographed on the lawn of Parliament Hill with a group of smiling young pro-life activists. Martin’s action has drawn no criticism from his party which remains firmly opposed to the goals of the March.
…When LifeSiteNews.com contacted NDP head office in Ottawa for comment on one of their MP’s attending an event diametrically at odds with party policy, NDP spokesman Ian Capstick did not express surprise. “Surely you’re not saying that people with differing view can’t dialogue together,” Capstick said.
…“We certainly can’t say for sure at this point but it seems like a good sign that he was willing to come and be photographed with the pro-life activists,” Reid said. “Maybe we can understand this action as a move to soften the NDP’s hardline position on abortion. If the party leader sanctioned it, it might be a first move on their part to begin to distance the party from its previous pro-abortion extremism.”