Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Cowardly Dodger Stephen Harper and the Great Con Debate Scam

It's frustrating to see that even some of my readers think that Stephen Harper's crass attempt to fix the party leader's debates might be good for progressives.

And are sending me comments like this one, with lots of periods in it:

Anonymous 2:29 AM 


So that I might read it slowly, and understand that hopeful belief better.

Even though I thought I had made it clear that Harper's plan, as might be expected, is just another grubby Con scam.

So. I. guess. I'm. going. to. have. to. be. even. clearer.

(1)  Stephen Harper doesn't like to answer questions about the sordid record of his terminally rotten regime. That's why he rarely holds press conferences. 

And why he's always dodging Question Period. 

Stephen Harper skipped out on answering opposition questions in the House of Commons more often in 2015 than in any other year he has been prime minister. Harper has attended only 35 per cent of the daily question periods in 2015, his lowest rate for any year since 2006, a Citizen analysis found.

(2) Even when he does bother to show up, he doesn't answer many questions.

On days he shows up, Harper answers an average of eight questions, and in recent years has adopted the custom of only responding to questions from other party leaders, not other opposition MPs.

(3) When asked a question like this one from Tom Mulcair, he clearly thinks he can get away with limp answers like this one.

Because he knows that just a handful of ordinary Canadians are watching. 

(4) His debate proposal is designed to keep it that way. By giving the debate to smaller media organizations, which would both shrink and fragment the coverage.

(5) While he makes vice sound like virtue...

And somehow manages to con so many in the MSM, that you have to travel all the way to Nanaimo to find a media outlet that questions his motives.

Canadians may roll their eyes and hold their noses through political debates during federal elections - yearning for knockout punches the debates generally don't deliver. But voters clearly pay attention. In 2011 the leaders' debates drew more than 10 million viewers.

For many voters, it's the only chance to hear the contenders in a face-to-face debate. And many voters start making up their minds only after the debates. 

So why then are Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives so anxious to wrest control away from the consortium of major broadcasters that traditionally hosts these events, and let other media outfits stage mini-versions?

One that also wonders what else Kory Teneycke, the Harper fluffer and failed former head of Sun TV News, might demand?

Will the Conservatives try to nix embarrassing subjects? Or hold out for longer rebuttal time? Or a Tory-blue backdrop? And what sort of pushback might they expect from non-consortium hosts? Lots of debates? By all means. But let's not toss out the main event for a series of sideshows. 

So while Tom Mulcair, and Justin Trudeau, and hopefully Elizabeth May, could very well end up debating an empty chair, they should not go for the Con scam so easily. 

Not before every Canadian understands why Stephen Harper is proposing it...

Greg Perry/Toronto Star

And should that farcical debate go ahead, they should insist that an appropriate representation of Great Closet Leader be propped up in that empty chair...

And should spend most of the time attacking that Con puppet instead of each other.

And the good news is that if they do that, they can make Stephen Harper look cowardly and pathetic, and win the debates before they even begin.

I. don't. know. if. that. is. any. clearer. eh?

But we do have to be really smart, if we are going to destroy him...

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  1. Anonymous7:34 AM

    Thank you Simon for keeping up your points. I agree with you 100%.
    I'll add:
    1. In the past, many Cons have skipped out on local debates and have still won. Fantino comes to mind, but the list is long. How was that possible? How could voters have become more informed with an important variable - the person they're voting for - AWOL from debates? What does this say about the person that votes Conservative? They want to vote without having a representative? What does this say about the Con sense of democracy? Disdain and contempt. It's like NOT going to a job interview and still getting the job. What kind of idiot manager hires someone based solely on their resume?
    2. The less people know about the Cons (their track record, their greasy associations with the religious right, the Kochs and other conglomerates bent on turning us into sheeple), the more likely it is that they'll vote for them. Ironic, isn't it?
    3. A debate amongst the progressive parties will only fragment the progressive parties and pit themselves against each other and not the greater evil, AKA Stephen J Harper. The Cons know this and will push for it through and through.

    I've been saying it for years, but we will get what we deserve and demand of our leaders of other parties. Unfortunately, progressive parties in Canada are invitation only, blocking out average Canadians. They perpetuate a fail when it comes to party politics and it's why we'll most likely have to suffer through yet another Harper majority in 2015. Because. We're. Idiots. And. Sheeple.

    The Liberals and NDP in particular have about 4.5 months to agree on how to disagree and steal the election from the Cons and then implement PR. It's our only hope.

    1. hi anon...well thank you for your comment. I don't think any leader in modern Canadian history has ever had such a ghastly record to try to defend. In parliament he is able to get away with just about anything, but in the glare of 10 million people or more he will melt like a snowman on a very hot day. So we absolutely must try to force him to take part in the consortium debate. Or embarrass him for not attending. And yes, the progressive parties should think what they are going to do, and try to put their country first...

  2. Why must Harper set fire to every institutional memory that seperates us from tribal hedgemony?

    1. hi Steve...because he hates the memory that would remind us of the country he hates so much and has done so much to destroy...

  3. Anonymous8:41 AM

    So watching May, Mulcair and Trudeau criticize each other is good for them. While Harper sits aside and laughs. Don't think so.

    1. hi anon...no that would be disastrous. If they do decide to appear alone they must be creative and make sure that Harper pays a big price, and is painted as a coward....

  4. Anonymous8:44 AM

    Perhaps if he won't take part they could hold a panel discussion on subjects with a moderator who doesn't let it lead to a debate, a la The Agenda on TVO so each could highlight his or her strong points and platform without tearing each other down. Steve Paikin could do it. So much better than a debate.

    1. Anonymous9:52 AM

      You know, that's an excellent idea...as long as trudy will attend. I think he's scared shitless to be in a room where grownups like May and Mulcair are going to be allowed to speak at their own levels instead of coming down to his.
      After that liberocon sellout on C51 and the never ending corporate sellouts here in Ontario sponsored by, take a wild guess, I don't think trudy will be caught speaking of his "progressive" party in public without having a mob throwing rotten eggs and tomatoes at him, and for verrry good reason.
      I think it would show him for the narcissistic, pompous ass that he has, on nummerous occasions, shown himself to be...heil harper lite.
      Oh, yeah. A new poll of u.s. students now show that 30% of them think Canada is a dictatorship. Cool, huh?

    2. Anon@9:52am:

      I just find it so hypocritical of Dipper partisans who decide to slam Trudeau by feminizing him, that is a CLASSIC CPC/Harper meme/play and it is inherently anti-woman, sexist, and supposedly oh so not progressive. So why don't you make your mind, are you really a progressive or not (you can be critical of Trudeau in so many other ways you can even come up with ugly nicks, although that is a practice I personally find abhorrent across the board, but you do NOT need to be using the emasculation technique of the Harper CPC) and practice what you preach, and by the way, anyone that still claims there is a "librocon" is pushing the Lib Tory same old story LIE, a LIE that has existed since the murder of the PCPC (where there was some truth to it) and the birth of the monstrosity CPC. It is those like you that Harper most counts on to gain power, hold power, and is relying on for power in this next election.

      You want to understand how we got this far down this road? Look in the mirror.

    3. hi anon 8:44... that is definitely an idea worth exploring. The three parties could say we have our differences and we'll let you judge which of us has the batter plan. But we all share a love for this country, unlike the man who did not dare debate us...

  5. e.a.f.2:48 PM

    If Steve won't participate in the regular debate and the other leaders won't participate in his debates, how does any of this make for a better situation.

    if Steve does participate in a "regular" debate, he may simply still choose to not answer the questions. He will simply attack the other leaders. I don't think there is a win here for the voters. So perhaps it is just best there are no debates because Steve won't participate in the "regular" debates and all the other leaders just get real clear about it. i.e. its a "tradition" that the leaders debate each other on these national networks. The leader of the Cons won't come to play so this time there is no debate. The networks could then give each of the other leaders perhaps 15 minutes to address the country and not Steve. No debates, just 15 minutes to talk to Canadians about the party platform. Each leader would be doing their speech at the same time, on different sound stages, and the network would run them on air by lottery.

    1. hi e.a.f...I think we must have some debates, because Harper's record is too ghastly not to attack. How we manage this situation remains to be seen, but I would just urge the progressive parties to be as creative as possible, and not fall into his trap....

  6. Anonymous7:18 PM

    If Harper wont debate as has been done for years then forget it. Attack him as being the big chicken coward that he is and keep advertising his "record" as PM. He was okay with it when it served him well but that's Harper, opportunist extraordinaire and asshole extreme.

    1. hi JD....remember Harper has already been tarred as a coward for his closet experience, so painting him a coward for diving the debates shouldn't be too hard. And it will do him some damage. As long as Canadians understand why harper is doing it, they will hold it against him...

  7. I think the opposition parties should call Stevie's bluff, and agree to the debates organized by the media consortium. If Harper chooses not to show up, too bad. The organizers can then place a lectern on the stage, with a sign in front that says: "Where's Stevie?"

    1. hi David....yes the opposition parties should definitely not give up on the consortium debates. They should push for them as strongly as possible. But if they go ahead without Harper they must be very careful how they handle it, lest they do his dirty work for him...

  8. Simon:

    As usual I agree completely with your take on this, and I have found much surprise in believing anyone that claims to understand what Harper is, the threat he represents to us all, can believe this is a good thing for progressives. As others have noted the CPC have in many ridings shown up for no local debates and won, and given how dedicated the Harper election machine is including the get out the vote and fundraising machine, not to mention their exclusive trusted (by their own) media sources to "inform" their voters the idea that having an empty chair for him while the other three leaders tear at each other, which we all know will happen, ESPECIALLY from Mulcair to Trudeau (not saying the other way won't happen, but it has always been more the NDP attacking the Libs than the other way around, and that is because they have always had the greater need to for their own electoral success, but in times like these that is a potent aid to Harper, which is why I've been saying for a decade this is not the time for it). If you wonder why I am so certain, just look at how swiftly the NDP reacted to that Lib ad on CPC government spending and how, they reacted to it far more quickly than they do to CPC attack ads, and they did so by trying to link a current leader to a scandal that was long finished before he even became an MP. That shows exactly who the real target for the NDP leadership is in their actions, not just words. It wasn't just that they responded to it, it was the utter speed they did, because they clearly feared the Libs making ANY points on this issue even though the Lib ad was solely aimed at the Harper government.

    Putting that aside though and going back to the main point of your post, something I think some progressives still appear to have a hard time understanding about Harper (NOT you, at least not these years) is with him he doesn't just hold our systems of government, our traditions, laws, and such in contempt and disregard, he does so KNOWINGLY, and does his damage KNOWINGLY AND INTENTIONALLY for the precedents he creates AND to do the maximum long term damage to all things not just progressive but centrist/liberal as well, and this bit with the debates is just more of that. I really hope that no one in the other leaders camps will debate him anywhere else until and unless he also is formally committed to showing up for the Consortium debates, it is one thing to have additional ones, but the main debates need to be on as neutral a venue as possible and the best way of managing that is by having all major broadcasters involved, aka the consortium. One of the more obvious things Harper and company want to be able to do is use footage from these smaller and more friendly to his POV and hostile to especially Trudeau venues in ads to further create wholesale fictions about Trudeau and to a lesser extent Mulcair.

    to be concluded...

  9. Conclusion:

    I place them in that order because again, you watch this government and how they act they still clearly see Trudeau as their main threat target and the Mulcair NDP as as much an ally as foe, so they mix their messages there by disagreeing with them yet somehow they find the NDP principled in their opposition while the Trudeau Libs are nothing but expediency whores. It is clear that Alberta notwithstanding they still believe their main threat to power is a resurgent Liberal brand, and based on Canadian voting patterns to date, that is clearly a reasonable fear. They also have proof positive about how a strong NDP cuts the Libs much more than them, and indeed got them to majority last time out even before Harper and company started to gerrymander our ridings to increase their chances, before the "fair elections" Act came in to aid in their gaming the system that much more. So it is hardly unreasonable to believe they will do so again, and indeed, starting late last year I started hearing CPC shills in the media starting to call Mulcair and the NDP principled and giving them props for it while when the Libs would have the exact same position they only had it for crass expediency driven partisan political purposes, and that I would argue was not an accident, the Harper machine is too well oiled and controlled for that.

    No, this move on the debates is only the latest gaming step for Harper, and how anyone that claims to be a true progressive cannot understand that this is a horrible idea and only serves to aid Harper, well clearly they are more caught up in the idea of Mulcair trashing Trudeau in debate without Harper there then they are in staying focused on the true threat to ALL of us, Harper himself. You know why I have my issues with NDP leadership for the last decade Simon, you also know that regardless of partisanship or lack thereof what I have been saying for a decade has unfortunately been how reality worked EVER SINGLE TIME when it came to the vote. I've always rallied mainly to the Libs as the anti-Harper vehicle because of my read of the voting patterns of actual voting Canadians, but this year I am as much for that AND because whatever else the Libs have clearly kept their main focus on the Harper government and throughout the last decade made Harper their primary target, and that in itself to me matters, because they have shown they recognized just how dangerous, how toxic he was to ALL of us. That matters to me, it matters to me a lot, enough even to possible be my election question (although my mind has not yet been made up, I always wait for campaigns to do that, if only as a point of principle).

    1. hi Scotian...like you I am absolutely outraged by that thug government decision to flaunt their contempt for democracy so blatantly and so shamefully. They really are the scum of the earth. And I'll just say what I have told the others, the progressive parties must find new and creative ways to frame this outrage, and make sure it hurts the Cons, or we will give away a priceless advantage, even as he bombards Canadians with his misleading propaganda. The time has arrived when we can't afford to make any mistakes....

    2. One thing that would help a lot is for the term progressives not be only allowable for Dippers alone, there really are many progressives within the Lib party, it is part of their inherent centrist nature,. Whether they are the current ascendent element, that is a debatable question, but to claim there is nothing progressive at all about the Liberals and therefore equate them with the CPC, that in itself is a major source of harm. I would really like it if I saw some movement this way from those online, because if the activist base started to do so maybe the players within the party itself might, but right now I look at what I see the NDP doing and I see 2011 all over again. One of the core qualities that made Canada such a wonderful and progressive nation was how much we actually valued our center at least as much as we valued the ideas that came form our respective political wings. When we stopped valuing that center and instead started treating centrism as a curse/wrong, I think that was a very bad thing for Canada and Canadians generally, and that is something both the Harper CPC and the NDP over the last decade have gone out of their way to do.

      Part of my fury with and at the NDP is because I actually valued them a great deal, and saw them as a major force for good political health in the past, and I could have lived with a NDP government back in the older days without any problem. These days though I am truly worried that they have become as expediency driven as those they denounce, and whenever any ideologically driven party whatever their ideology gets that way I find that a cause for concern. That it would happen at the same time as the rise of the most extremist and horrific right wing anti-government zealot ever seen in Canadian federal political history is a tragedy of truly historic proportions, and worse, that they instead of making that their main enemy they aligned with it to destroy the one party that realistically could have kept it from power, well you know my views there.

      I've watched my nation, a nation I was always very proud of since my birth in the centennial year onwards become something I am deeply ashamed of, because it allowed this to happen despite the truth of Harper being out there for all to see. I have watched policies, practices, principles and values that defined me, my family, and so many other families that have worked to build this nation since Confederation in a single decade be dishonoured, befouled, desecrated, and shown to be worth less than the consideration of who could get the most seats, and the value of the diversity and moderation of our political dialogue be turned into a near replica of the binary set we see in our American cousins. I get the way I do because I literally find myself weeping at times to see what we have become, and being grateful that most of the relatives who raised me who had been adults throughout the second world war and even the depression preceding it have died, because if they saw what we have done to their legacy, and this from not just the Liberal rooted part of my family but even more so the old school Tory Blue side, it would be even worse than it is for me.

      We need to STOP Harper this time out, I'll take however it gets done, although I'll never stop saying my preference is for the Libs as that vehicle for reasons I have repeatedly stated, not least the one about I hate seeing anyone profit from screwing us over so much for their own narrow interests, which *IS* how I see what the Layton NDP did, albeit with all the best intentions in their own motives I'll grant, but reality doesn't care about that, it cares about your actions, and these actions and their consequences were foreseeable and foreseen, and yet were made. Still though, what is most important is stopping digging the hole any deeper, and that means first and foremost being rid of Harper. I just wish I believed that was actually likely, but given what I have seen so far this year...

  10. Anonymous3:49 AM

    Scotian: Since you like to write in such LARGE amounts, have you thought of starting your own blog?