Monday, December 01, 2014

Michaëlle Jean, Stephen Harper, and the Great Betrayal

I see that Michaëlle Jean has a new job. Secretary-General of the corrupt dictator's club known as la Francophonie. 

And that Stephen Harper, who spent tens of thousands of dollars backing her candidacy, is absolutely delighted.

But sadly I don't share that enthusiasm. Because while Jean may turn out to be the  best Secretary-General the dictator's club will ever have.

When we and Canada needed her the most, she betrayed us miserably.

For many Canadians who worry about Stephen Harper's approach to parliamentary democracy, one of the low points came in December 2008.That's when he asked then governor-general Michaëlle Jean to shut down the House of Commons when it appeared that a majority of MPs were prepared to back a new coalition government led by then Liberal leader Stéphane Dion.

In the end, Jean approved the prime minister's very questionable request to suspend Parliament, staving off the defeat of Harper's government in the House.

With as we all know, disastrous consequences for our country and its democracy.

Jean's decision to let Harper get away with essentially padlocking Parliament emboldened him to become even more aggressively antidemocratic after that point.

And I've never been able to accept her explanations, or her excuses. 

The woman who held Stephen Harper’s career in her hands in December, 2008, was concerned that refusing the Conservative Leader’s request to shutter the Commons would lead to a crisis of confidence in Canada’s political system, a former adviser says.

Constitutional scholar Peter Russell told this week that weighing on Ms. Jean’s mind at the time was the likelihood the Tories – had they lost office – would have poisoned confidence in the coalition government through a PR campaign framing the change as an illegitimate transfer of power.

Because this is outrageous.

“If a ‘no’ had come out of Rideau Hall and an attack launched on a Dion-Layton coalition that said we’ve had a coup d’etat in Canada,” he said, “we would have been there in the headlines of the world like Greece. [That’s] not very good for the country in any which way.”

It was Harper's coup d'etat... 

He was the one who acted like a rabid demagogue, or a fascist, by demonizing the entirely legitimate idea of a coalition, whipping up anti-Quebec feeling, and threatening to use her past against her.

So her decision doesn't smell like roses to me, it reeks of cowardice.

And this is nonsense.

I thought that it was quite interesting to see that this was a moment in our country to reflect on, ‘Okay, how does our system work?’ I think it was a labour of raising awareness and raising also the responsibility of being well informed and of making the effort to learn about our political system.

Because if she had been interested in raising awareness and teaching Canadians about our political system, she would have used the crisis to show them that a coalition is an entirely legitimate option in a parliamentary democracy.

But she's right about one thing. History will judge her, and I'm pretty sure its verdict will be a harsh one.

Especially if Stephen Harper tries to demonize the idea of a coalition before or after the next election. And throws the country into confusion again.

And the good news? He will not demonize it next time as easily as he did last time. You can't keep a good idea like that one down forever.

And as I've said before, I've never been so happy than I was when I saw progressives of all colours come together to try to bring down the tyrant...

Because we were never so powerful, and he was never more afraid.

So if a Great Canadian Coalition should arise again I would welcome it with open arms, and work as hard as I could to bring everybody together and help it succeed.

For Michaëlle Jean can have her dictator's club. But I only want to defeat them.

I have seen the future.

And it looked beautiful...

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  1. Just another photo op. Everything is so calculated.

    1. hi Anne...yes it was horrible to see them smiling at each other, after the way he treated Jean during the prorogation crisis. But then I guess she helped him and he's returning the favour, and it couldn't be more disgusting...

  2. Anonymous8:12 AM

    Harper's coup d'etat, indeed. Michaelle Jean deserves nothing, but the Harper government has given her a nice little 'thank you' for playing such an important role in his takeover of Canada.
    What a shame.

    1. hi know I don't think I'm exaggerating when I call it a coup d'etat. Because I can never forget how he whipped up anti-Quebec feeling and used it to intimidate people into getting his way. As well as threatening to go over the head of the Governor General and get the Queen herself involved. It was both shabby and dangerous, and absolutely unforgivable...

    2. Anonymous8:32 PM

      FYI, Michelle did not know what the policy was for pirogue. She went to the Senate I believe and took their advice which of course was loaded of Con senators. I probably would have done the same thing being inexperienced like she was. I respect Michelle jean a lot and therefore I will not display the same traits of the Cons. Give that woman a break. I do think she would have won that promotion regardless of what Harper had to say. She earned all by herself. A con she is not..

  3. Anonymous8:12 AM

    Simon, I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for this.

    1. hi anon...thanks a lot. I did wonder if I should just ignore this sordid little story. But as I pointed out in my post it marked the beginning of the Great Darkness, and Michaëlle Jean cannot escape her responsiibility...

  4. Simon I know you labour like King doing the honey trap big time, and I am sure we are paying the bill in the hunt for perverts.

  5. John B.1:43 PM

    This woman must be the most successful pure glad-hander in the history of Canada, if not the entire free world. Not too shabby an achievement in a public career that was kicked up a few notches by sucking up to secessionists.

    “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate Michaëlle Jean on her election as the Secretary General of La Francophonie. ... blah - blah - blah."

    And Harper's wife has tweeted her approval:

    "Félicitations à mon amie @MichaelleJeanF!"

    And not to forget Senator Mansbridge's reflections on her exercises in military dress-up back on some now forgotten Remembrance Day: “She seems to look pretty striking, and I think most Canadians have agreed with this position in almost any outfit she chooses to wear. ... Resplendent.”

    Thank you Simon, for directing us to the link that explains Her Resplendence's decision to support Harper's coup back in 2008: "This was a moment in our country to reflect on ..."

    Now I get finally it: She was providing the rest of us ignorant slugs with a lesson in civics - "to reflect on". Well, she sure showed us something of how Harper's system of government works. That's something to reflect on. Now she can start providing the dictators who make up most of the membership of la Francophonie with some of the specialized knowledge that our own dictator imparted to her on how to deal with the frightening spectre of parliamentary democracy.

    I really just don't know where to start. This is all just so nice. Whatever shall I do? I'm overwhelmed with such pride that I don't know how to begin to celebrate this great news and to communicate my congratulations and sincere thanks to these two special Canadians for being so wonderful.

    1. hi John...yes I too thought her claim that she was providing us all with food for civic thought was absolutely outrageous. Ten years from now she'll be claiming she saved Canada, instead of undermining its parliamentary democracy, and condemning us all to years of miserable darkness. I would have wished a better fate for her, for she has many good qualities. But the truth cannot be denied, and she cannot be allowed to escape her historical responsibility...

  6. Remeber Jaffiir alledgelly caught driving drunk and wilth a bag of cocaine. That never went to trial because its was determined by the Liberal goverment of Ontario that a ticket was in order. Wait for justice, you will be sitting for centuries.

    1. hi Steve...I am not holding my breath for justice, but we can use all these scandals to taint the Cons further, and eventually they will help defeat them...

  7. Ya and Gordon Campbell former premier of BC and lap dog to Harper syndrome was arrested in Hawaii for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs... Mostly drunk out of his mind. Now mind you he was Premier of BC at the the time and pushing for harsh laws against impaired drivers?

    I guess what is good for the goose is not applicable to the gander, eh?

    1. hi mogs...yes I remember the case, and the blatant hypocrisy. And how it didn't seem to hurt Campbell's career. But as I told Steve, in the end all of this sordid stuff does add up, it does diminish them, and it will make it easier to defeat the Cons...

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Yes Simon I can't wait but I have too until the "perps with perks" as Alison on her blog puts it including Harper and the entire con regime are gone forevermore...

  8. e.a.f.1:51 AM

    She had little experience, was appointed to the position for political/social purposes, and out of her league. That is not to say she didn't "grow" into the job or that she didn't give it her best effort. Had someone stronger or with more political experience been in the position, Harper most likely would not have been able to get away with what he did. Such is life.

    Under the circumstances she did what she felt was her job. WE may not share her opinion, but we ought not to "condemn" her for it either. The citizens of this country have continued to vote stevie and the cons into office several more times. Now it maybe said, if she had made another decision, this might not have happened. My suggestion, get over it. Move on. We can not change the past. We can only focus on working for the future.

    My impression was harper never really liked her. He supported her "bid" for the position, in my opinion, because it gave him another phot op, not that he liked her, thought she would be good at the job, just he needed another photo op. It is another opportunity to give Canadians the impression harper is some sort of important person on the world stage. Canadians might want to have a look at international newspapers and see that harper is a non entity, as are we as a country these days. We are not taken seriously. The international politicians know harper and his herd are just a bunch of local yokels. They just humour them along.

    1. hi e.a.f....I think you're right, Harper never did like her, and I'm sure both Jean and her husband I'm pretty sure held Harper in contempt.Since I'm familiar with the company they kept in Quebec. But he had them over a barrel because of their past associations with the separatists. And in the end they all agreed that if he scratched their backs they would scratch his. I understand the situation she was in, and I sympathize. But it's when people are in a situation like that one that they must decide, what comes first their job or their country, and in that regard she failed us all most miserably...

    2. e.a.f.:

      At the time it happened I tended to be a bit more sympathetic to Jean's position, mainly because of how it had been a traditionally ceremonial role for so long now, not one with an active engagement in day to day politics beyond the sharply proscribed duties of office. Even then though I was not happy with her decision and privately thought she made a major mistake, and that was before all the information about what happened behind the scenes started to become available. I do recall being very upset at how the term coup was used to describe the possibility of a coalition of opposition parties to replace the newly reelected Harper minority in the event of a lose of confidence vote succeeding given how our system of government actually works, as if that was somehow illegal despite the truth of how our system worked, and that Jeans decision allowed Harper to avoid that possibility I thought could well come back to haunt us.

      These days though I have to say given what we now know about what was going on, she took the easy way out, whether she was properly prepared for the office or not, once she swore into the position she did take on the responsibility, and the truth is she failed that responsibility. Now, I do not think she was an active or compliant person in the Harper agenda, but that does not change the fact that inaction is as much a choice as action, and she allowed Harper to pull yet another unprecedented action out of his ass to retain power at a crucial time in Canadian history. I strongly suspect historians are not going to be overly kind to her choices in this time.

      Now, I am not quite as strongly disgusted with her as Simon is, but these days I do tend to lean a lot closer to him than I do my old position because of what I know now. I do agree that his support for her now is solely out of current domestic political calculations as well as trying to regain any influence on the global stage since he has squandered so much of Canada's decades built reputation. It will though to anyone suspicious of her role in 2008 look like a belated pay-off for his complicity then, and while I do not think that was the case, I do find it hard to hold against those who do given the way this government and Harper in particular operate and just how serious her bad call as in 2008.

    3. e.a.f.1:34 AM

      we the voting public are complicit in it all. The voting public continued to vote harper and his herd into office. I am still not convinced he will not win re election once again, even with the Rankin Inlet situation or the one with the Vets because most Canadians aren't living in Rankin Inlet or are Vets.

  9. Excellent post Simon. She'll always go down as a failure and a betrayer. She betrayed both Haiti and Canada. Now we see her reward from harper. Disgusting.

    1. hi thwap...thanks a lot, I appreciate that, especially coming from a blogger like you who I admire so much. As you know when you blog in this foul Harperland it's sometimes hard what exactly to criticize, for it's hard to know where to start. But some things bother me more than others, and the way the prorogation crisis ended was one of them, and something I will never forget....