Meet the new boss….
“I am his Highness’ dog at Kew, please tell me sir, whose dog are you?” Alexander Pope, 1732
“I think I’ll go home and walk my dog. At least dogs are loyal.” Peter McKay, 2005
If Diogenes were to shine his lamp on Canada’s assembled Liberal and Conservative parties today, the face of one honest man would shine back at him, that of newly-elected Conservative Garth Turner, who told reporters in Ottawa last week, “I said during the campaign that I think anyone who crosses the floor ultimately should go back to the people for ratification, and I stick by it.”
With these words Turner abandoned all hope of advancement in the soon-to-be-minted merger of Conservatives and Liberals under the banner of the Hypocrisy Party of Canada (motto: Ha Ha, Fooled You).
Following traditions long honoured by both founding parties, the Hypocrites will eject from caucus any member who insists on sticking by policies and promises after their expediency date has passed.
In the wake of David Emerson’s wedding-night defection to the new governing party, Liberals who worked to get him elected let out a tremendous howl of outrage, demanding that he return the $100,000 they spent to elect him, and also (more mysteriously) asking for their volunteer hours back.
No word yet on whether they planned to forward the money and time to disappointed Conservatives in Belinda Stronach’s riding.
“We all worked very hard to elect a Liberal candidate, and now we find out we elected a Conservative,” said John McNamee, secretary of the Vancouver-Kingsway constituency. Well, duh, John. You all worked very hard to elect an old Socred and former forestry executive from the Martinite right wing of the centre-right Liberal Party of Canada, and a former vice-chair of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
What did you think you were getting, Che Guevara?
Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, there is no defection here. Emerson was recruited into the Conservative fold by his old friend, former BC Social Credit cabinet minister John Reynolds.
As Liberal Industry minister, Emerson was engaged in precisely the same project he will oversee as Conservative foreign trade minister – the sell-out of Canadian independence to US and corporate interests.
The abandonment of Canadian sovereignty, also known as Deep Integration, is a joint Liberal/Conservative/CCCE project spearheaded by former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley and backed by former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the $50-Million Dollar Man, who has just returned to the news amid allegations that he received (say it ain’t so!) fat envelopes of questionable cash from Karlheinz Schreiber, who is now facing extradition to Germany on charges of bribery and corruption.
Emerson proved his loyalty to the Deep Integration project when, as Martinite industry minister, he announced the signing of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, the new Super-NAFTA which among other things promises to establish a “trilateral regulatory cooperation framework” by 2007 and to “implement a North American steel strategy within 12 months.”
Pay no mind to all the nasty things Conservatives said about Stronach when she crossed the floor, or to the equally nasty things Liberals are now saying about Emerson.
They are intended solely for public consumption.
In the real world, there is no floor to cross. Both parties are arms of the CCCE, and all the major players are interchangeable. If you doubt this, observe how readily the Globe and Mail, Corporate Canada’s National Newspaper, switches allegiance from one party to the other.
For years the founding members of the Hypocrisy Party have maintained the illusion of difference by squabbling over non-issues and done deals like same-sex marriage and the Gomery report, while cooperating on budgets, where real policy is made.
A minority parliament and the weight of public opinion prevented Paul Martin from openly joining the US missile defense program or the invasion of Iraq, allowing Stephen Harper to assert he would have behaved differently, and heightening the illusion that there is some substantive difference between the two.
But when it comes to the real work of gouging billions out of social programs to pay for corporate tax cuts, the two have always spoken with one voice.
Among the most ridiculous complaints about Emerson’s baby-step to the right came from an outraged Vancouver-Kingsway voter who told CBC News that she voted strategically for the Liberals to stop Harper, and would otherwise have supported the NDP’s Ian Wadell.
Bulletin: it’s almost impossible to strategize effectively with your eyes closed. Next time, take a few minutes to look up your candidate’s bio.
Canada’s new revenue minister, Carol Skelton, once introduced a motion in the house that would have prevented a member from being elected under one banner and sitting under another.
Last week a reporter asked whether she planned to pursue that motion again in the new Parliament.
Her answer sums up the situation quite neatly. No, she said, she won’t be revisiting the issue.
“That was last year.”