By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - 41 Comments
The Scene. The early reviews are in and Michael Ignatieff is a disaster. A blight upon our democracy. A threat, no less, to the very notion of this nation we hold dear. Ottawa, it is safe to say, is unimpressed.
“Just who is running the Liberal caucus?” begged the Globe and Mail’s editorial board this morning, thoroughly perplexed at Mr. Ignatieff’s decision to let half a dozen Liberal MPs from Newfoundland vote of their own volition. “Whether or not this proves to be a ‘one-time pass,’ as Mr. Ignatieff has claimed, it could have far-reaching consequences for him, for his party, and potentially for the country.”
“I think it’s a total lack of leadership,” concurred Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, he of nearly two decades in Ottawa.
“It can be described lots of ways but it can’t really be described as leadership,” scolded the NDP’s Jack Layton, speaking from his 26 years of political experience.
“Certainly,” chirped baby-faced Conservative Pierre Poilievre, a keen student of this stuff, “Prime Minister Harper is a strong leader and you’ll notice that his caucus is unanimous in voting with him. I think that is the mark of a strong leader.”
Anonymous Liberals were said to be perplexed. The men on the CTV nightly news were positively aghast, shocked at the Liberal leader’s unprecedented decision to emasculate himself so publicly.
Trying to grasp the sheer enormity of Mr. Ignatieff’s misstep, the Globe consulted professor Tom Flanagan, a former associate of Mr. Harper’s and, consequently, a man intimately familiar with the mystical qualities that make one a proper leader of men. ”It is a sign of weakness in the brutal world of politics,” the professor concluded. ”Harper, would never do something similar.”
No doubt Mr. Ignatieff thought that last bit a compliment. But then he and the herd don’t know quite what to do with each other. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 10:59 AM - 31 Comments
Canwest is presently running a five-part—only five?—series on the decline of our politics. The first part was entitled, “How the public lost faith in politics” and you’ll never guess who turns out to be the most cynical cynic quoted…
Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Flanagan.
Tom Flanagan, the University of Calgary academic who has managed and advised several Conservative election campaigns, considers negative ads “part of the weaponry of politics.” He says if parties only promoted their own candidates, “voters would be confronted with a bunch of self-serving exaggeration.” In contrast, negative tactics and attack ads keep people honest.
“In a democracy, it’s a healthy thing for people to have a degree of skepticism about political leaders,” he says. “It’s a good thing that people don’t really trust politicians, and don’t expect too much from government. Negative campaigning is all part of cutting politicians down to size.”
Part Two of the Canwest series is here.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at 10:20 PM - 13 Comments
CBC tonight referred to an essay—Our Benign Dictatorship—authored in 1996 by Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan that refers specifically to the relationship between conservatism and Quebec nationalism.
Below, the excerpt highlighted by the CBC.
“If Quebec stays in Confederation, the Bloc will either disintegrate or become an autonomist party, participating in federal politics as a representative of Quebec’s specific interests. Philosophically, it is logical for liberals to offer Quebec money and privileged treatment, while conservatives find it easier to offer autonomy and enhanced jurisdiction. On that basis, a strategic alliance of Quebec nationalists with conservatives outside Quebec might become possible, and it might be enough to sustain a government.”
Later, there’s this.
“Bereft of carrots, the Liberal government is resorting to ever heavier sticks against separatism. In our view, only a conservative vision that takes government back to its proper role, and thereby concedes to Quebec the space required for its own civil society, can hold the country together for the long term.”
The full essay appears to be here.
By Paul Wells - Friday, November 28, 2008 at 10:50 PM - 61 Comments
Four years ago I wrote about Tom Flanagan’s first book, Game Theory in Canadian Politics. This passage seems germane to the challenge facing Liberals, New Democrats and separatists over the next nine days:
One tenet of game theory is the notion of the “minimum winning coalition” – that it’s better if fewer actors share a prize than if more do, because the payoff for each player is bigger and because it’s easier to hold a small coalition intact. Say either three players can share a one-dollar prize, or two can. Well, you’d really rather be in a two-player coalition: you can win 50 cents instead of 33, and you don’t have to listen to the third guy whining all the time.
Flanagan showed that this is true in Canadian electoral politics, too. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 3:34 PM - 8 Comments
An opinion piece published Friday in the Globe and Mail by Tom Flanagan, a past Conservative campaign director, suggested that ethnic voters are “easier to woo” than Quebec voters in Harper’s quest for a majority.
“Ethnic voters don’t rally to the fashionable causes of the left, such as gay marriage, carbon neutrality and the 100-mile diet; and they don’t make many demands except to be accepted as good Canadians,” wrote Flanagan.
Chong disagreed. “New Canadians are as diverse as the population at large,” said Chong, and the party has to continue to broaden its appeal, not through narrow-casting, but by presenting a moderate, diverse political option.
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 3:33 PM - 26 Comments
[...]Stephen responded on 20 March with an eloquent speech in the House of Commons, which, though it did not call for sending Canadian troops to Iraq, supported the US initiative. [...] We printed the speech in pamphlet form and mailed out thousands of copies. As far as I could judge, there was strong support from the grassroots of the party. Stephen also drew from his speech to expound his position in interview and op eds.
By selley - Monday, June 16, 2008 at 2:02 PM - 0 Comments
Must-reads: Scott Taylor on Afghan governance; Christie Blatchford, Rex Murphy and …Daphne
Must-reads: Scott Taylor on Afghan governance; Christie Blatchford, Rex Murphy and Daphne Bramham on the residential schools apology; Greg Weston on Oily the Splot; Don Martin on the Couillard affair.
What can we learn from Julie Couillard?
And other pressing federal questions…
At this point in the Bernier-Couillard debacle—now that her “random dating pattern[s]” seem to have “jell[ed] into a potential purpose”—the Calgary Herald‘s Don Martin says “circumstances have evolved” far past the point where the opposition’s questions can be dismissed as “sordid little inquiries.” Unfortunately, he notes, the government’s position on the matter—stonewall at all costs, basically—is stuck in the Neanderthal era. This cannot last.
If this whole affair isn’t enough to spur reforms on background checks, security clearances and sensitive document management, L. Ian MacDonald, writing in the Montreal Gazette, hopes a 23-year-old anecdote of his own experiences as Brian Mulroney’s speechwriter will do the trick. It involves everyone from Mikhail Gorbachev to Nick Auf der Maur, and its connection to the topic at hand is tenuous at best.
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 6:02 PM - 0 Comments
A quick recap, in case you’ve forgotten: Dona Cadman told Zytaruk that she found…
A quick recap, in case you’ve forgotten: Dona Cadman told Zytaruk that she found out about the offer on May 17th, 2005, but Doug Finley and Tom Flanagan – the two men who claimed to have met with Cadman to discuss his possible return to caucus were adamant that the meeting actually took place two days later, on May 19th. The publishers eventually took the extraordinary step of removing the date completely from the final text of the book.
In an affidavit dated May 23, 2008, Dona Cadman once again states that her husband told her about the offer after meeting with Conservative officials on May 17th – not May 19th, as alleged by Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley:
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 12:12 AM - 0 CommentsThe Conservatives have no credible answers and the Liberals are now mocking them in verse
The Scene. It surely says something about this place right now that you can wander way for a few days, only to return and realize you haven’t missed any development of any kind. Indeed, in this case, the Liberals continue to come after the Conservatives with straightforward questions on the Cadman case, while the government steadfastly refuses to provide wholly forthcoming answers. Perhaps both should be commended for their persistence.But first, a poem, courtesy of Todd Russell—the Liberal class clown rising just before Question Period from his seat in the back row with the following.