Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why Eric Grenier Needs a History Lesson

Eric Grenier had a column in the Globe and Mail: Liberals poised for gains, but not government, in make-or-break battle
Depending on the outcome, Michael Ignatieff’s first kick at the electoral can could be his last. Though the Liberal Party is arguably better equipped and positioned to fight the next election than it was under St├ęphane Dion, it will take a significant shift in public opinion to bump the Grits out of the opposition benches and into government.
Grenier's naivete can only be the result of inexperience. I'm not familiar with Grenier who may have hit the scene when the Globe decided to change their format from news to entertainment.

Because of this I'll go easy. So sit down Mr. Grenier because I'm going to give you a history lesson.

In the spring of 2005, the Conservative Party was in a bit of trouble. Stephen Harper's opponent during the leadership race had been an intelligent and popular young woman named Belinda Stronach, who represented the progressive side of the new party. A Red Tory.

But Stephen Harper suggested that the term 'progressive conservative' was an oxymoron, and that he would be taking the party in a new direction. He had already sent Scott Brison adrift because he was openly gay, telling him that this was a party of social conservatives, so there would be no place for him.

But Belinda continued to raise social justice issues until finally one day in May, Stephen Harper called her into his office and read her the riot act, telling her that she was "far too ambitious". Visibly shaken she left Harper's office and began to contemplate her future with the party.

The biggest divide was over healthcare.
Despite widespread defence of the Canadian Healthcare System and past polling that makes it clear that the vast majority of Canadians prefer to have their healthcare paid for by the government, Stephen Harper made a bold promise on May 8th, 2005: He promised that if he was elected Prime Minister of Canada, one of the first things on his agenda would be to privatize the Canadian Healthcare System.

... and so, in the effort to spur on the hopes of an early election, Harper and the Conservatives have started unveiling their election promises and eagerly waiting like wolves for the collapse of the Liberal Party. But it doesn't seem to be happening. Instead a high-ranking Conservative Party member, Belinda Stronach, has defected to the Liberal Party, saying she disagrees with Stephen Harper on the issue of healthcare & the budget and that she would rather join the Liberals than "help Harper destroy the best healthcare system in the world".

Stephen Harper learned the hard way that 'promising' to privatize our healthcare did not sit well with voters, so he dropped it from the platform, but not from his plans. In fact, we have now slipped to last place in terms of our quality of care, and yet he has not given us anything toward fixing it. Instead we are getting tax cuts for the rich, defective fighter planes and more prisons.

Another issue was Harper's stance on gay rights. He had joined forces with the American James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, who had paid for radio spots to help with Harper's anti-gay comedy tour. The media found the whole thing quite funny, as the above political cartoon suggests.

Are you with me so far Mr. Grenier? This gives you some idea of why Canadians have never really trusted your new hero.

History Lesson Part Two

In June of 2005, the anti-healthcare, anti-gay rights tour was not going as planned.
... longtime Ontario Cabinet Minister and two-time provincial leadership contender Jim Flaherty may well be positioning himself for an early opportunity to unseat Stephen Harper, the disappointing Conservative Party incumbent, increasingly seen as a lame duck leader who’s political capital may well have expired .... Sources tell Bourque that failed retail heiress Nicky Eaton hosted a swish gathering at her country estate in Caledon for Flaherty’s intimates to discuss a bid for Harper’s job. Present and accounted for included Tony Clement... (1)
And your own Globe and Mail was reporting that
Political knives are out for Stephen Harper as his federal Conservatives sink deeper in the polls, and the sharpest weapons are being brandished by members of his own party. “There is a lot of discontent with the turn of things. People are saying it’s time to replace the leader,” said one key Conservative organizer in Toronto who, like many others, asked not to be named because it could hurt his status in the party. ... a recent poll puts the Conservatives eight percentage points behind the Liberals and suggests that six in 10 Canadians have a negative view of Mr. Harper ... (2)
And in November, when the Martin government finally fell, the Liberals had a solid ten point lead. If Stephen Harper had listened to someone like you, he may not have been in such a hurry for an election. But he knew what most of us know. Polls outside of an election are about as useful as a comb to Telly Savalas.

And another bit of advice Mr. Grenier. Jane Taber is the Harper groupie at the Globe. Be careful, or she may scratch your eyes out.


1. Flaherty Plotting to Overthrow Harper? Bourque Newswatch, June 13, 2005

2. Stephen Harper: On His Way Out?, Globe and Mail, June 14, 2005

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