Rookie NDP MP (and former Buzz Hargrove grenade-catcher) Peggy Nash offered the rationale that former EnCana Corp head Gwyn Morgan’s previous comments on multiculturalism and the roots of gang violence rendered him unsuitable for the role. From the Canadian Press story:
"(The) opposition this morning voted down the government's key efforts to clean up the appointments process," said Harper spokeswoman Carolyn Stewart Olsen.
"It is now clear that we will not be able to make progress on this issue in a minority Parliament.
"The NDP and the Bloc will have to explain why they co-operated with a party that doesn't want to clean up the government appointments process to snub one of Canada's most respected business leaders."
Olsen said the government will campaign again on accountability in the next election and try to set up the appointments committee in its next mandate.
She added that Harper will invite Morgan soon to serve the country in another role.
"Recent riots in France and Australia are timely and troubling examples," [Morgan] said [in a February speech]. "It seems as if `multiculturalism' in these countries has created `subcultures' bearing little relation to the mainstream culture and values of the country."
Last year, Morgan linked Canada's gang-violence problem to immigration from places such as Jamaica and Indochina — "where culture is dominated by violence and lawlessness."
The government was obviously ready and waiting for the opposition's short-sighted tactic. And the NDP have just handed the Harper government the first plank in its next election platform.
Will Nash learn from her mistake? Too early to tell. Did her former boss Buzz Hargrove ever learn from his?
Addendum: I was remiss in not mentioning the other recent case of chess-playing by the Harper regime: calling for a snap debate and vote on extending the Afghanistan deployment past February 2007.
Yes, there is a sound logistical argument for having a vote now: it is impractical to wait until the fall or winter for the forces to learn whether that mission will be continuing or not. But there are also good political reasons for doing it now.
First, having the vote now means the issue will have been decided at least at year (we hope) in advance of the election. Second, it catches the Liberals leaderless and in the midst of a leadership contest in which several candidates have already been unable to resist backing away from the Martin government’s decision to commit to a more aggressive and dangerous mission in Afghanistan. (For the Liberals who are despairing over what to do tonight, here’s a wacky idea: how about a free vote?)
It is less than a year since a Liberal government made the decision to commit to the current mission in Afghanistan. Now we have several of their MPs and leadership candidates publicly questioning a deployment they voted for mere months ago.
If the vote fails and the mission has to end in 2007, it will be clear that it was because of lack of support from the Liberals and NDP – not the Conservatives.
Pre-election periods – and this one began on January 24th – are all about defining who you are. When a party has taken two or more different stands on an overseas deployment within a 12-month period, the public is wont to say “I don’t know where these people stand or who they are.” But they’ll know who the Conservatives are: the party that supported the troops, supported the mission, and held a vote in Parliament – like they promised.