The Liberal Party of Canada is in desperate straights. Late last year, their intrepid leader, Stéphane Dion, fresh from a drubbing in a federal election allowed Jack Layton of the NDP to seduce him into forming a formal coalition with the socialists. To get control of the House, they obtained a written agreement of support from the Bloc, a separatist party committed to the break up of Canada. The new group hoped to defeat the Stephen Harper Tories and form a government—an act almost guaranteed to throw Canada into a constitutional crisis.
Of course, the plot between the Dippers and the Grits was a flop once the latter dumped Stéphane Dion in a panic after it became clear that the Canadian people despised the notion of a Lib-left coalition with Jack Layton in cabinet and the Bloc propping them up.
The next thing we heard from the Grits was they would not, after all, be defeating the Tories over last winter’s budget. This was, of course, after the Liberals had undemocratically appointed Michael Ignatieff as leader in a back room deal.
Then, about a month ago, Michael Ignatieff tells the Canadian public that the Tories must go. He promised to bring down the government at his earliest opportunity. But after a half-hearted try at defeating the government and a slump in poll after poll, Ignatieff started to do some serious backtracking.
At that point, the usual friendly, cheerleading members of Toronto and Ottawa media had begun to say and print unflattering things about Ignatieff, many of which were apparently offered up by party insiders—perhaps including the socialist, Bob Rae.
Panic began to set in big-time. With a total breakdown in leadership and the resulting break in party discipline, the call seemed to have gone out for Liberal political hit men and spinners to come to the aid of the party. They did.
And with their shills in the Toronto and Ottawa media giving them all the ink and airspace they could handle, they have made Tory practices—many of which are very like those routinely used by former Liberal governments, and Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario Liberals—seem like major scandals.
And all this from a party that is responsible for three of the most egregious assaults on the public purse: the Sponsorship Scandal and the Human Resources Development Canada boondoggle earlier this century and the currently unfolding eHealth scandal in Ontario—possibly the worst case of government mismanagement and spending irregularities in the history of that province.
The allegations of Tory wrong doing are now before the ethics commissioner. You’d think the cheerleading media and Liberal MPs would have enough faith in that office to cool it until a ruling is handed down, wouldn’t you? But you’d be wrong.
Instead, the mock outrage, sanctimonious bleating and chest beating continues unabated, and Canada and our political process is the poorer for it. But the Liberals are desperate and need a distraction. And desperation calls for desperate men: political operatives who thrive on dirty tricks and couldn’t give a damn what damage their tactics do.
But the current Grit team really has little choice, they can’t survive using “positive” means, they have neither the leadership or the bench strength to support such a strategy.