How much can Feschuk chuck?

April 30th, 2011
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If, while reading MacLean’s, you made it past the report on Chastity/Chaz Bono’s surgical modifications, you will have seen another anti-Harper tract by Scott Feschuk. His oeuvre over the past few years could be a re-cast of the Canadian art film on Glenn Gould, i.e. 32 Short Articles against Harper, or as I wrote in this space before, “How do I hate thee (Harper), let me count the ways”.

So it was the Feschuk’s latest offering, which compares not-too-favourably with Alan Fotheringham’s last months at the same mag, ploughs the same sarcastic ground one more time. The specific object of ridicule is the Prime Minister’s call to the electorate for a strengthened mandate, for stability rather than repeated minority parliaments. Feschuk wonders if it can really be too demanding to ask people to vote twice in five years. Well no. Let’s see now, 2006, 2008 and 2011: that would, barring some creative math, be three times in five years, wouldn’t it? Add in 2004 and that makes it four elections in seven years. That, believe it or not, was the PM’s point. Come to think of it, even three elections in seven years would be frequent, no?

Mr. F’s nod to fairness and balance consists of two paragraphs (of 15) where he takes a couple of gentle swipes at Michael Ignatieff. Not bad for a former Liberal speechwriter.

Given the political realignment on the Canadian Left that may occur Monday, some of the vitriol of the commentariat may soon be pointed in other directions, or at least one can hope. Up to now, commentators like Laurence Martin have been lumping Prime Minister Harper with what he terms political “plodders”. Prior to the froth of orange crush emanating from Quebec, Martin was bemoaning the fact that Mr. Harper was, yet again, blessed by the good fortune of having “stumbling” opponents. Well, he may prove to be two-thirds right. Beyond that, he recites opposition talking points about the Auditor General and Afghan detainee’s and suggests Harper’s success with the economy was handed to him on a platter by Paul  Martin.

OK then. So whatever political success this plodder of a PM has had can be attributed to a weak and incompetent opposition. Sure, I can buy that. They were opening the doors for him in 2002 when he became leader of the Canadian Alliance, held the door open for him to talk to Peter MacKay and unite conservatives, wrapped the 2004 Martin minority in a big bow and handed him the keys to 24 Sussex in 2006. The latter, according to Mr. Martin, was thanks to the damning, mid-election RCMP report.

Similar imaginative thinking came from Mr. Feschuk’s friend and business partner this week. Scott Reid wrote this: “The least conventional ballot question in Canadian history is taking shape: Do you care about the Liberal Party’s future?” Of course, we should have known that. May 2nd is really all about the Liberal Party. Apparently Harper and Layton “lust” to destroy this “reliably sensible and centrist option” and “extinguish the light of Laurier”.

Readers will not be surprised that I disagree with Mr. Reid. There has been no “centre” for quite a while now, let alone a “sensible” one. By almost any yardstick, the Liberals have been consistently to the Left of centre on almost every policy file.

Perhaps most importantly, contrary to Mr. Reid’s view, it’s not all about the Liberal party. Apparently, voters are ready to reinforce that point on Monday, choosing the real Left alternative over the ersatz.

Depending on how the chips fall next week, Feschuk may have his favourite subject around for dozens more versions of the same story. If, however, his partisan desires are fulfilled and Mr. Harper departs the national stage (the one that was “handed to him”), one wonders if Mr. F’s inventiveness is up to dealing with new subject matter.

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By John Weissenberger