03.06.2012 01:00 AM

In today’s Sun: excuses, excuses

It’s never the break-in. It’s always the cover-up.

In politics, that Watergate-era aphorism has come to describe a well-established principle: Voters will often forgive the first sin. But they’ll rarely forgive repeated lies about the sin.

The burgeoning Robocon scandal is a classic example of that. Had the Harper regime reacted to the first allegations of vote suppression with calm and clarity, they’d be in better shape right about now. They’d be happier if they had simply said, “We are very concerned about what the media is reporting, and we pledge to co-operate with Elections Canada on their independent investigation.”

Instead, they have adopted Paul Martin’s approach — the infamous “mad as hell” strategy. When Jean Chretien left 24 Sussex, you may recall, the sponsorship mess had been the subject of an RCMP probe for nearly two years — and the Liberal Party of Canada had been polling above 50%. It wasn’t a big deal yet.

But when Martin assumed the post of prime minister, he started shrieking, coast-to-coast, about how he was “mad as hell” about sponsorship. Voters therefore got mad, too — at him. In one extraordinary week, the Liberal party lost 15% support. It never recovered.

Martin blamed “rogue bureaucrats.” His craven, cowardly staff accused Chretien of concealing criminal wrongdoing — off the record, of course. They blamed fellow Liberals. They blamed everyone for the mess. Except themselves, naturally.

History tells us what happened next. A big majority, to a minority, to successive losses — and, now, a rump in the House of Commons. That, among other things, is what happens when you pass the buck.

Stephen Harper and his minions are now attempting to pass the buck, too. In the days since these allegations of election fraud became known, Harper’s gang has closely resembled Martin’s in their attempts to cover up.


  1. Marc L says:

    Yup, stupid approach by the Conservatives. The best policy would indeed have been to collaborate immediately.
    That said, the opposition parties — and the Liberals in particular — are not helping themselves either in this affair. So far, to any remotely neutral observer, this looks like something concocted by a bunch of amateurs, not something that was orchestrated by Conservative campaign headquarters. Yet, all the opposition can talk about is robocon, robocon, robocon. We have a Federal budget coming up, pension issues that are on the table, Vic Toews’ misguided internet bill, tough-on-crime legislation, a misguided — even dangerous — minimum sentencing requirement and tons of other issues confronting Canada where the opposition has a role to play. Yet all you talk about is robocon, robocon, robocon.
    What that tells this observer is that the Liberals don’t really care about policy. All you care about is finding a way to propel yourselves back into power. If you need to ride the wave of a scandal — real or perceived — at the expense of everything else, so be it. The fact that you STILL don’t have a coherent set of policies to propose to Canadians just adds to that impression. The budget — the most importtant piece of legislation in the country — is coming up. What would Liberals want to see in the budget? Who knows? Sad.

    • GPAlta says:

      The fact that the Cons are trying to push through radically transformative and corrupt legislation makes it all the more urgent to determine whether they have any legitimate mandate to do so.

      • Marc L says:

        More over-the-top hyperbole. Exactly my point. They have a legitimate mandate. They won the election, remember, unless you truly bellieve that they stole the election through some grand election fraud. So far, there is no evidence that is the case.
        Lysiane Gagnon made a good point in an article in the G&M last week, underlining how some Liberals appear to be unable to accept that they are not in power. Guess what? The government is legitimate, and you are not it. Give the population a reason to vote for you. So far, all you guys are doing is whipping yourselves into a frenzy where you see yourselves back in power on the back of robocon. Meanwhile, you are completely ignoring the important issues, some of which really need to be pushed back by the opposition.

    • Geoffrey Laxton says:

      Increased auditing powers for Elections Canada rejected
      “A House of Commons committee has recommended against giving the chief electoral officer powers similar to those of the auditor general.”

  2. Ted H says:

    Thanks for the reminders, I had forgotten how many “own goals” Paul Martin scored against the Liberal Party.

  3. Pat says:

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is an abnormal number of comments at the bottom SUPPORTING you. It’s weird.

  4. b says:

    “Shrieking”? That term sort of makes my skin crawl and I don’t think I’ve seen you use it much before.
    “Shrieking” is normally the kind of term i see conbot commenters use to describe, well, any sort of criticism they disapprove of (ie – the current criticism in Parliament over the robocalls would be considered “shrieking”).
    Wondering why you would bust out such a term in that manner (aside from trying to win over the Sun-crowd).

      • b says:

        “But when Martin assumed the post of prime minister, he started shrieking, coast-to-coast, about how he was “mad as hell” about sponsorship.”

        i just hate the word is all! it’s not a term i see professional writers use often and it jumped out at me.

  5. W.B. says:

    There was a report that they were up in Thunder Bay going over call centre records before Elections Canada arrived to investigate.

  6. reformatory says:

    “Robocons” – does not do the issue justice. There is no seriousness in that name.
    ” Voter Suppression” – sounds too much like inside baseball or “sausage making”
    “Election Fraud” – now that’s a handle that needs to repeated over and over again until it is branded.

  7. MoeL says:

    Plagiarised from a NP article comment by “Canadian democrat”… “Canada like Russia has a strong, stable Poutine government.” !

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