Stephane Dion is making it impossible for Stephen Harper to keep the Tory guns holstered. The politics of the man who I think of as “Le Petit Green Machine” is baffling all the pros. Push the rewind button. It was only two weeks ago that Dion’s Liberal Natural Resources critic, Mark Holland waved a red flag at Alberta’s resource sector and the provincial government, all in the name of the sacred cause de jour, climate change. Holland indicated that if the Energy industry didn’t curtail its plans for the oil sands, a federal government under Liberal management would act unilaterally to arrest any further exploration of the oil sands. Holland later danced on the op ed pages to say he didn’t say what he did say. He tried to hide in Peter Lougheed’s treehouse, indicating that the Liberal agenda was simpy an echo of the former Alberta premier’s most recent sentiments. I am but a lowly journalist. It would take an army of archeologists to excavate the ruins of every Lougheed statement ever made to discover a single sound bite where Lougheed is calling on the Federal marshall to ride into Calgary and say, “Hand over the six shooters, boys. You’re done.”
While Mark Holland could be forgiven by some for being a rookie who simply didn’t know when to shut the pie hole, his boss is supposed to be a professional pol. That begs the question, “Why was Stephane Dion talking out loud about rolling Canada’s anti terror legislation back to the pre 911 era?” Credit some Liberals for trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube on this file. Dion received rhetorical blowback from Irwin Cotler the justice minister who introduced the legislation, Ann McLellan, the public safety minister and Bob Rae who was hired by the government that Dion served, to do an autopsy of the Air India terror plot and make recommendations. Dion has chosen to plant his feet in ideological cement on this issue. Perhaps he believes in sustainable development for Al Qaeda.
The Dion gang has also attacked the Conservative strategy to get tougher judges on the Canadian bench, antagonizing every victims right group in the nation. They feel the most appropriate metaphor for justice under the Liberals was a “get out of jail free” card. The Liberals say they aren’t opposed to tough judges. They just don’t want any with close ties to Conservatives. Problem is Liberals over the years appointed plenty of Judges who not only leaned Liberal, but raised money for the party. The mother’s milk of politics is money, and Liberals are nothing if not sourcream on this one.
No chronicling of recent bungles in the jungle would be complete without including the name Denis Coderre. Yes he is the man who spoke last year at a pro Hizbollah rally in Quebec. Perhaps that is why Dion has chosen him to be the Liberal defence critic. Coderre this week launched a scathing attack on the country’s chief of defence staff, Rick Hillier. The general had the good sense to comment on the obvious. In a speech, Hillier referred to the many years of defence cuts as the decade of darkness. Denis Coderre, got up in the House of Commons and accused the general of being a political prop of the Conservative government.
Question: Which of the above plays sound like those of a political team that can win back the hearts of Canadian voters? It will take a team of wild horses to prevent Stephen Harper from green lighting the next election.
Just watch the PM in Question period. Every day he goes up against the Liberals, he knows that he is punching below his weight division, punching the opposition leader’s lights out and eventually punching Dion’s ticket back to a unversity campus in Montreal.
When discussing politics with Liberals away from the tv cameras and radio microphones, it’s hard not to sense the frustration they have with the new leader. They knew that Paul Martin looked like a three dollar bill when he declared every single issue his top priority. Similarly they know that Stephane Dion cleaving to the Kyoto nipple makes him look like a one trick baby. None of the Liberals are complaining about Dion’s linguistic challenge. It’s his political tool kit , all hammers and no screw drivers.
Stephen Harper has a choice. He can continue to observe Stephane Dion giving the Tories their daily grub, the way the old lady in front of the cathedral feeds the pigeons. Or Harper can say to his caucus, “Our bellies are full. It’s time to plunder.”