Keith Beardsley’s View From the Hill – Political Attack Rhetoric Today and Yesterday – Feb 24, 2012

CFN – Talk about over the top rhetoric. Bob Rae’s latest harangue really doesn’t suit a man of his intelligence. It is pure political BS in its finest form.

Rae said the real blame for any election trickery rests with the political culture Harper has created in the party. ”The prime minister has created a Nixonian culture,” Rae said. “This stuff doesn’t happen unless the boss lets it happen. He has allowed to seep into his party and into his organization a culture of attack and, frankly, a culture of deception and dirty tricks, where almost anything goes.” (Aaron Wherry, Mclean’s)

If we take Rae at face value, then his comment that “This stuff doesn’t happen unless the boss lets it happen” implies that Chretien must have known everything that various Liberal operatives were up to in what became known as the sponsorship scandal. Even with my tory leanings I somehow doubt that is true.

As for a culture of attacks, that has been a part of politics since time immemorial. In this country it is the attacks that get major news coverage with very little coverage of items where political parties agree with the government. As for Harper being the one to bring a “culture of attack” into politics, Rae had turned to provincial politics by 1984, admittedly for another party, and while he was absent from the House of Commons the Liberals introduced the “Rat Pack.” To their credit or discredit depending on your point of view, they were one of the most formidable attack machines Question Period has seen. In fact, we based a lot of our Question Period techniques on their tactics. The Rat Pack even took their antics outside of the chamber. Does Mr. Rae forget Shelia Copps (who just ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of the Liberal Party) crawling across a table to get at then Conservative cabinet minister Sinc Stevens?

Neither were the Liberals any slouch when it came to ministers attacking opposition members. They were always quick to play the racist card when Reform or Canadian Alliance members would question Alphonso Gagliano.

Again using Rae’s logic, Liberals lying about cutting the GST or breaking their promise several times to introduce a national child care program means that then Liberal leaders Jean Chretien and Paul Martin must have decided that their party and politicians in general could lie with impunity. Again I doubt that is true as there are often economic reasons why platform items get put aside, but it does make great political rhetoric to attack them for breaking a promise.

Rae’s attack probably served its purpose. It got him and the Liberals some media coverage which is always difficult for a third party to achieve. Unfortunately no one called him out on some of his assertions. The new civility in parliament is a wonderful thing to behold!

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

Best Western Cornwall


  1. Sorry Keith, but suppressing votes is a serious crime in Canada, as is impersonating someone from Elections Canada. Elections Canada and the RCMP are investigating complaints from 18 ridings across the country where voters received harassing or misleading calls. I doubt that one 24 year old staffer in Guelph is the only person responsible for this wide-spread election fraud. This is serious stuff, and I’m sure that more than a few higher ups in your favourite party are losing sleep and getting a little twitchy.

  2. Author

    With a little over 7,000 votes being the difference in those 13 riding’s that gave Mr. Harper his majority this should be fully investigated indeed.

  3. I think it will be, admin. The Opposition, press, and public want to know if that election was a fraud. If it was, we have a big problem in Canada.

  4. Come now, Mr Beardsley, your come-now argument, “a culture of attacks. . .has been a part of politics since time immemorial” doesn’t wash here. What we are seeing from Harper & Co is something utterly new in Canada: a 24/7 concerted attack on dissent, all dissent—the kind of repression we are used to seeing in authoritarian regimes.

    Anyone who fails to see what’s happening is only fooling himself. The way things are going, our patient Canada is sick, failing fast, and will soon be on life support. By a terrible irony, while schools all across the country are campaigning against bullying, we have a government in Ottawa that depends on bullying.

    And no one is more responsible than Mr. Harper, though others mostly do the dirty work while he takes care to keep his own hands clean. No other Canadian PM has behaved remotely like him. No other PM has had the gall to declare “You won’t recognize Canada after I have finished with it”. Note the arrogance and aggression in his choice of words. The fact that he’s carrying through on his boast should be of great concern to everyone who values Canada as an open country.

    Put it another way, Canada, hitherto a haven for immigrants fleeing repression in their mother countries, is fast becoming the monster they were glad to escape from.

    Time to take of your tinted glasses, Mr. Beardsley, and look squarely at the facts.

  5. If it does come out in the wash that there was vote-suppression (election fraud) in certain ridings, what would happen? Would the GG declare that our current majority government is illegal and call federal election? Would there be by-elections in the ridings affected by the fraud? I don’t think we’ve run into this muck before. Then again, we’ve never had a government fall for being in contempt of Parliament before either.

  6. Edit: “Time to take off your tinted glasses”.

  7. “The Buck Stops Here”
    Attributed to President Harry S Truman.
    If I remember correctly, the Tories held Chretien responsible for the Sponsorship Scandal. I guess the shoe’s on the other foot now, isn’t it?

  8. Harper ain’t no Truman.

  9. He ain’t no Tory either.

    Time to stop calling this lot Tories. They are about as far from being Tories as rattlesnakes are from being house pets.

  10. True PJR. Real Progressive Conservatives (Tories) bailed out or were turfed out of the party a few years ago. It must be a drag being an elected member of the Reformatory party, and not be allowed to say or write anything that isn’t approved by Herr Harper. I like snakes, so I wouldn’t compare Harper to one.

  11. No offence to snakes, Pete Dick. Simply an attempt to show a reality gap. Harper is sui generis and I suspect a very sick man who needs help. The pity of it is that the whole country is being infected by his sickness.

  12. In fact rattlers are great, one of nature’s wonders, in their own environment. But as house pets? That’s wrong; they weren’t designed for that.

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