The PM's own memory eraser
[PoliticsWatch updated 6:00 p.m. May 18, 2007]
On a campaign stop in Quebec City in the first days of the 2006
election, Stephen Harper complained about the Liberals refusal to
take responsibility for the sponsorship scandal and their preference
to portray themselves in their version of events as
"Their protestations remind us of Richard Pryor’s routine about the man caught in a compromising position:
'who are you going to believe – me or your lying eyes?'" Harper
Fast forward to Thursday in Waterloo, Ontario.
The prime minister took questions from reporters after making a
major research funding announcement.
In just one of his responses, the prime minister provided an
explanation for Parliament's handling of the Shane Doan
affair that could only be believable if he had one of those memory
Neuralyzers from the Men In Black movies and had used it on the
Either that or the prime minister is living in his own reality where
when the facts become inconvenient there are no facts, just his
interpretation of events.
When asked about the gridlock in Commons committees, where his
Conservative MPs were running filibusters at two committees as he
spoke, the prime minister was quick to blame the opposition parties
for causing all the problems.
"The government has its own positions to defend," Harper said.
"But as you know, we recently had the goofiness with the Shane Doan incident and I think our members at that point said this was an embarrassment to Canada, attacking the national hockey team, and in the future we're going to be much clearer about what we want to discuss."
Harper's comment was more jaw dropping than Paul Martin's
denial of having praised Jean Chretien in the Liberal caucus
the day after Chretien performed his golf ball stunt at the Gomery
Martin's denial was in contradiction of what his own MPs told
reporters about what transpired behind closed doors two months
Although he did not explicitly deny their role, Harper was recasting
the role his MPs played in events that had happened very publicly
over three days two weeks ago.
"Harper airbrushes out Tory participation in Shane Doan witch hunt,"
read the headline on the CP wire just a few hours later.
While the Bloc put forward the motion to call the Hockey Canada
officials before the Commons official languages committee to defend
Doan's captaincy of Team Canada at the world championships in
Moscow, everyone knows that all the Conservative MPs on the
committee voted for the motion.
Now, if someone wants to spin that the Tories were reluctant about
turning the official languages committee into a kangaroo court, they
can read the transcript
of the May 1 meeting where MPs voted in favour of the
The Bloc motion requested Hockey Canada appear before the committee
to defend Doan, who faced "serious allegations of making racist
comments to French-speaking officials."
"I agree with the motion," said Tory
MP Michael Chong. "I have no difficulty summoning representatives from Sport Canada to appear before the committee."
"I agree with the motion in principle," said Tory MP Luc
Harvey. "I have one single concern. As Pierre said, Hockey Canada representatives could simply tell us that the matter is before the court and that they cannot answer our questions."
"We want to know how come, given the nature of the allegations, he can represent a Canadian
team," said Tory
MP Sylvie Boucher. "That is basically what we want to know."
Boucher said, "As francophones, we want to know why they chose Mr. Doan. We know there are some very serious allegations against him, but this is first and foremost a question of perception. It is often said that in business and in politics, perception is very important. What we have here is a perception of a lack of respect for the francophone community."
The other Tory MP on the committee, Pierre Lemieux, was the
only one to express any reservations about politicians meddling in
the selection of a hockey captain.
"My concern is that we're a federal committee, dealing with important federal matters, and here we are jumping into the middle of a hockey decision over allegations that have not been proven
But in the end, Lemieux joined the other MPs in supporting the
With perhaps the exception of Lemieux, all three Conservatives on
the committee were supportive of going ahead with what the prime
minister calls "goofiness." Yet he uses something his own
MPs were knee deep in as an excuse for heavy handed tactics at
committees against the opposition parties.
Before the Hockey Canada appearance and the national backlash, the
Conservative MPs did not view "attacking the national hockey
team," as the prime minister describes it, as a "national
Now the Conservatives are using the Doan affair as a wedge to
justify filabusters and spontaneous adjournments of
Conservative MPs said all week that the opposition parties are
equally culpable in the problems at committees.
Of course many reporters and the Liberals seem suspicious about the
sudden erratic behaviour of government MPs.
Those suspicions were confirmed when the National Post reported on
Friday that it had obtained a 200-page binder given to committee
chairs which was in a sense a training manual for how government MPs
could control and self-destruct committees.
This includes an order for committee chairs to adjourn disruptive
committees with no debate.
Tory trade committee chair Leon Benoit's sudden adjournment
of a committee meeting and official languages committee chair Guy
Lauzon suddenly seem to make sense.
Their Academy Award nominations for most outraged Parliamentarians
should be revoked.
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