Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Anything To Win

Under Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister's Office was given a new prime directive: character assassination. So, the office produced animations of puffins pooping on Stephane Dion's shoulder; it trumpeted the message that Michael Ignatieff entered politics for personal gain, not public service; it accused Theresa Spence of defrauding the Canadian public. The attacks were always pre-emptive. They were launched long before election campaigns. For the Conservatives, the best defense is a strong offense.

But the targets have always been political opponents. Now, Michael Harris writes, they've chosen to target the press. Their most recent target is Stephen Mahar, who has been on top of Election Canada's investigation into robocalls and other electoral shenanigans. Recently, Mahar has been investigating the charge that Dean Del Maestro broke spending limits in his election campaign:

Maher reported that officials at Elections Canada have asked the RCMP to assist in their investigation of Del Mastro. Del Mastro, formerly the PM’s attack-trained defender on matters touching the robocalls scandal, couldn’t even explain if it was the PMO or his own office that wrote the statement sent to the Peterborough Examiner. In the end, he adopted both positions.

The ‘talking points’ which formed the basis for the official letter included the statement that Stephen Maher was a “controversial reporter.” The basis for that comment was a clarification Maher’s newspaper had run on a previous story he had written about donors in the Conservative riding association of Laurier-Sainte-Marie.

The lack of clarity in Maher’s original story was based on the fact that the Conservative party originally had refused to provide the cheques to prove that certain donations had in fact been made. When they changed their minds about furnishing the cheques, Postmedia issued the clarification.

The aim of the execise is to discredit Maher, whose revelations have been damaging.  Harris writes:

The measure for the kind of work that Maher, [Glen]McGregor, Tim Naumetz and Greg Weston do is not the metric of public relations. The question is not whether their stories are good or bad for the government.

The question is whether the stories are true. If they’re not, it doesn’t mean that the reporters hate the government — just that they’re wrong. If they’re right, they form part of the composite of facts that makes up public reality. The RCMP are now involved in the investigation and the public is entitled to know that. Thanks to Stephen Maher, it does.

It's another example of the Harper policy of shooting the messenger. We've seen it before:

Former nuclear safety watchdog Linda Keen took the advice of her professional staff not to re-start the Chalk River nuclear reactor, and the PM traduced her publicly as a Liberal appointee, suggesting a political motivation for her position rather than a professional one.

When diplomat Richard Colvin raised serious questions about who in official Ottawa knew what about the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan by Canadian Forces, the minister of defence savagely attacked him personally. To this day, the government has never dealt with the substance of his testimony and

And, as I wrote in yesterday's post, Kevin Page has also been a prime target. Like Lance Armstrong, these folks will do anything to win.


Anonymous said...

They know that they are not good enough to win on their own merits, so they cheat.

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely true, Anon. That's what the robocalls affair was all about.

Anonymous said...


I could not bear to watch what I thought was a bunch of idealistic and very naive people at the Liberal convention. Amazing how they could proclaim that they were really interested in electoral reform but that they were not interested in working with the NDP,Greens even on a one-time basis and even though they realized that the Harper Party would never support electoral reform.

Only Joyce Murray seemed to have realized the nature of the problem (that we are facing a party which seemed willing to do anything to win, including apparently, electoral fraud).

Here is an interesting article from Dobbin:

Einstein was supposed to have said that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. You'd think that the Libs would have learnt from Iggy walking away from the coalition with the NDP.

Sadly, it appears that Mulcair is making the same mistake too judging from their response to the feelers being put out by the Greens.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

They are a sleazy bunch. I no longer expect anything honourable from them.

On another issue. I just do not understand why Harper continues to support Israel. He may very well be the last political leader to do so unconditionally. Here you can read what has become of Israel politically.

Canada should not be supportive of this fascist, apartheid state.

Owen Gray said...

Dobbin always sees the larger picture, Anon. He correctly observes that:

Part of the picture is simply a general decline in moral and ethical standards, a sort of leaking into civil society of the greed is good, anything goes, amorality of the corporate and financial world. Lying and cheating to get ahead is the new normal. Not for everyone, to be sure, but apparently for enough of our fellow-citizens to keep this wretched wrecking crew in office.

That's why it's so discouraging to see the Liberals and the New Democrats look after their own self interest. There is more at stake than each party's survival.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Philip. Judging from yesterday's election results, it would appear that support for the Netanyahu government is fading -- even in Israel.

The Mound of Sound said...

It shouldn't be surprising that Harper smears a journo. In a better world, the Parliamentary Press Gallery might close ranks to defend one of their own against government bullying. Today in the corporate media cartel our journos have gone from watchdog of government to government lapdog. The morbidly rotund seem to find it a dandy vehicle to a plum spot in the Senate.

Owen Gray said...

And the less than rotund, Mound, are quite willing to smear one of their brethren -- witness Peter Kent calling Mike De Souza an "environmental activist."

Anonymous said...

Is environmental activist a smear. I think it is a compliment.

Owen Gray said...

You would think so, Anon. But in Stephen Harper's kingdom, it is synonymous with "traitor."

Holly Stick said...

De Souza is a reporter and therefore should not be an activist. He isn't an activist of course, just a damn good reporter who doesn't let the HarperCons intimidate him.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Holly. It tells you a lot about Kent's journalistic integrity.