Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Apology-Lawsuit Party

Liberals give a writ about their own egos, but not Canadians’ priorities

I don’t know whether it’s the friendship with Belinda Stronach, but erstwhile tough guy Tie Domi is sure starting to act like a full-fledged member of the Liberal Party of Canada, which lately looks more like the League of Extraordinarily Touchy Gentlemen:

Tie Domi served notice yesterday on his son’s coach that he will seek damages for slandering and libelling the ex-Maple Leafs enforcer with accusations of rink rage.

Domi’s intentions, drafted by his lawyer Symon Zucker, were sent to Lucas Miller a day after the coach told reporters his version of a confrontation last Friday.

The Sun was contacted by people who claimed Domi became verbally abusive at Miller for not giving his son Max, 11, enough ice time during a playoff game as captain of the minor peewee AAA Toronto Marlboros.

The team lost to the Toronto Red Wings that night.

Witnesses differed dramatically in their recollections, claiming Domi swore at the coach and used threatening body language.
--Toronto Sun, today

With his donning of the Kleenex mantle, Domi joins a group of Liberal politicians who have similarly tried to paint themselves as victims. (I wonder: can a group of victims have an enforcer?) And by filing a libel notice, Domi’s not just a member, he’s also a plaintiff.

You know, it wasn’t so long ago that the Liberal Party of Canada was an awesome machine that won majorities, shed dollars like dander, and randomly sucked up politicians from other parties.

But having to arrange one’s own transportation, and the other indignities of being stripped of power, appear to have reduced the former leviathan to a sewing circle of tenderized egos and barely suppressed fury.

In just the last few months, the Liberals have issued shrill and sometimes coordinated demands for apologies in the following instances (even threatening lawsuits in some of them):

Belinda Stronach, because some Liberal MPs claim Peter McKay compared her to a dog.

Ralph Goodale, because charges were eventually laid against a civil servant over the income trust scandal, but not against him – which in his mind proved the former finance minister blameless. On the various political chat shows, Goodale was visibly angered for several weeks, regardless of the topic at hand.

Navdeep Bains, because during Question Period Stephen Harper started to read a news story revealing that one of Bains’ relatives may be a witness in the Air India inquiry. The Liberal caucus promptly abandoned its prepared questions and spent all its time in Question Period demanding an apology – for words that were never entered into the record, because the same Liberals shouted the PM down before he could even get to the story’s juicy bits.

Gerard Kennedy, Navdeep Bains and Omar Alghabra are suing the National Post over Jonathan Kay’s column in which an unnamed source alleged that Kennedy obtained the support of delegate blocs controlled by Bains and Alghabra, in exchange for a promise to oppose national security measures.

Michael Ignatieff, because Peter Van Loan described Ignatieff as a member “who said that torture is justified when dealing with terrorists.” Ignatieff’s demand that Van Loan withdraw his comments was met by Van Loan reading several of Ignatieff’s quotes into the record, including, “defeating terror requires violence” and. “It may also require coercion, secrecy, deception, even violation of rights.”

Stephane Dion, for Stephen Harper’s quip during Question Period that “I can understand that the leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they’d show the same passion for Canadian soldiers.”

Mark “Nancy Drew” Holland is (according to National Newswatch) considering suing Sun Media columnist Ezra Levant, over Levant’s April 3rd column about Holland’s possession of dozens of confidential Conservative staff records.

I’m sure my five or so devoted readers will enlighten me as to any other examples I may have missed.

When an opposition party chooses to spend a good chunk of its limited media exposure demanding apologies and threatening lawsuits over typical Question Period rhetoric, offhand remarks, or the theories of columnists, it is sending a message to the public. The message is that the party in question regards the images and self-esteem of its officials as the most pressing public issue there is. More important than Afghanistan, terrorism, taxes, the economy, health care, crime, child care, national unity – you get the picture.

The likely root cause of this obsession with slights, apologies and lawsuits (oh my!) is that the federal Liberal party remains in a deep funk and an even deeper denial over the fact that they are in opposition, and it was that rube Stephen Harper who put them there. Until they get past this, they are unlikely to be serious contenders for power. As Paul Wells has often observed, the guy who auditions for the job of opposition leader usually gets it. Looking at the Liberal party under Stephane Dion, I can't help but be reminded of the newly-defeated Ontario PC party of 1985 proclaiming "We'll be right back." We weren't. For 10 years.

Yes, the Conservative party and its predecessors suffered their share of calumnies, and demanded their share of apologies. But I don’t recall the demands being as frequent or all-consuming as the ones that obsess the Liberals of today. More to the point, did Elinor Caplan ever apologize for calling CA supporters bigots and holocaust deniers? Hardly. Part of the discipline of achieving and maintaining power is not being distracted by personal issues that mean little to accessible voters.

Macleans’ Aaron Wherry beat me to this topic, but he cast his aspersions on both houses:

The question now, you might think, is whatever happened to parliamentary decorum. But you would be wrong. Because the real question is this: When did our MPs become such a bunch of weenies?

A couple weeks short of the five-year anniversary of Keith Martin’s seizing the ceremonial mace and declaring Canadian democracy to be dead, let’s not kid ourselves with another lament for lost civility. By comparison with, say, this, our elected representatives still seem nearly demure.

More worrisome is this culture of apology and besmirched honour that seems to be overtaking our nation’s more sensitive officials.

For the Liberals this seems something of a strategy - claim offense at every government insult and portray the Prime Minister as little more than a big bully in the process. But the sight of Stéphane Dion stomping out of the House like a six-year-old this week was surely a dispiriting one to behold. And Thursday’s proceedings brought the whole thing down to the level of farce.

Somehow, expressing shock and dismay at the actions of one’s opponent has become a default tactic. As soon as that infamous curse word had crossed Charlie Angus’ lips on Wednesday, a half dozen Conservative MPs were yelping at the Speaker and pointing in the New Democrat’s direction. But as your kindergarten teacher surely told you, no one appreciates a tattle-tale.

We could say that a higher level of mannerly discourse might eliminate the demand for apology. But we all know such enlightenment is unlikely. And one suspects we’d all secretly prefer politics remain the messy, snarky business that it is (lest CPAC become completely unwatchable).

So perhaps, in the meantime, our elected representatives might just - to put this delicately - suck it up. Yes, the bad men in bad suits can be very mean sometimes. But this ain’t a tennis match. Nor should it ever be so., March 23, 2007


Paul Wells said...

Bang on.

DT said...

make that six devoted readers, good post!

Joan Tintor said...

Wow, some divine intervention made me check out Blog Central at Macleans just now and catch Wells' link.

And now I get to watch Kimmel's monologue.

I know this is really sad, but this is my best night in while.

scott said...

Nancy Drew. lol Now that's hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Dennis Coderre is suing NHL player Shane Doan. You missed that one.

AltaInd said...

Great post; bang on. You now have seven readers.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a shocking(!) assessment from a blogging Tory as the Regressive Conservatives keep churning out the slander and think Canadians admire them for it.

AC said...

Eight. Which I believe makes one more reader than lawsuits.

pheenster said...

And anon 1:31 AM shows up just in time to prove your point!

Great post. Consider yourself bookmarked.

robedger said...

There must be a better way for the Liberals to react to all of the ridiculous charges and smears that the Conservatives throw around.

Feschuk had a good post some time back on how the Liberals ought to react. I think he called for scornful amusement. Seems about right to me.

Interesting though that some are so quick to blame the Liberals for how they react to the smear jobs, and let the smearers off the hook. It makes me think that they don't actually mean it when they say that they wish the level of political discourse in this country were higher.

MarkCh said...

Isn't Dion also suing Gilles Duceppe?

D.J. McGuire said...

Now it's nine, and with yours truly, your blog now officially has an international audience.

Joan Tintor said...

Credit where credit is due: "Nancy Drew" was bestowed on Holland by the Hon. Peter Van Loan.

Anonymous said...

Great post! The Lib$ are being silly.

They could try firing their critics.

Harper's latest target: Gerry Nicholls of the NCC, his former employer. I guess the CTF is next.

You better keep writing nice things about Harper, or your blog will just go pouff one day :-)

Anonymous said...

Mark “Nancy Drew” Holland is (according to National Newswatch) considering suing Sun Media columnist Ezra Levant, over Levant’s April 3rd column about Holland’s possession of dozens of confidential Conservative staff records.

Levants article is no longer available to read in the Calgary Sun, by chance do you have this article? Was it removed due to the possible lawsuit?
Great post

Dennis Prouse said...

Joan, you have far more than five readers! While we've never formally met, two good friends of mine, PVL and Dirk L., always spoke highly of you. I surfed on over here after you were linked from Adam D's blog, and have read ever since. Heck, you ever have a regular reader in Atlanta, Georgia, an evil right wing friend of mine whose husband is currently working there.

Oh, and, "the indignities of arranging their own transportation"? Pure gold. That's one of those lines where you just sit there and say, "Man, I wish I had written that!" It's going to make me smirk all day. Blog on, sister!

Joan Tintor said...

Sorry, I don't have Ezra's column.

Anonymous said...

Got you bookmarked for daily insights & opinions!

Anonymous said...

Although correct about Dion's reaction I'm disturbed that everyone thinks it's okay that Harper and his gang of thugs should be allowed to "lie" by allegation and false inuendos.

So, what Harper is doing is okay?

Dion should smirk back, yes, but really letting this kind of tactic be admired is truly sick.

Oh but gosh - don't make similar inuendos to those Conservatives - no that would be horrible, unacceptable, terrible.

Both sides need to clean up and be scrubbed with a scouring pad.

Anonymous said...

I laugh when they refer to Dion walking out of the House in a snit and a hurry - that day he left early to attend Dryden's number being retired.

Get a grip folks.

Hmmm - Harper and hockey - why didn't he attend?

Let's all wet our pants because hey "Harper loves hockey". Yet, he couldn't let partisanship allow him to attend Dryden't event.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Drew - ya, they gave up calling Holland - Perry Mason. You see, Perry Mason (Doris Day's name calling event) never lost a case.

Anonymous said...

I think Holland is more of an Eraserhead kinda guy.

B-Double said...

"This is unfair!"

canuckistanian said...

"the League of Extraordinarily Touchy Gentlemen"

hilarious. and ignatieff asking for an apology from loan for quoting him??? where is fuddle duddle to decry it as a "smear"??? ;-)

nevertheless, i am reallly looking forward to the libel suit against kay and the post, will be very interesting.

i do find it strange that some continue to deny the belinda dog comment...very strange. but, i guess, the truth is the first casualty of partisanship.

Anonymous said...

nancy drew never lost a case either...

Don Rix

Miss Political said...

"evil right wing friend" indeed! Hmmph. Well, I'll lay claim to being a regular US reader, anyways.
You have to wonder why these whiners chose the field of politics for their careers. Are they truly so sensitive? I find thin skins very unattractive.

Raymaker said...

Hey ... while we're on the subject of oversensitive egotists, let's not forgot the legions of Conservative MPs, communications douchebags (Hi Sandra) and bloggers who work themselves into a tizzy about that Liberal-biased MSM.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Jason Bo Green said...

Hi Joan Tintor,

I've seen your name around before but this is my first visit - terrific post. Unlike the Ontario PCs you reference, I'll be back.

jordi said...

Great post. Please don't forget the other high profile bleating Liberal, the Premier of Newfoundland...pick one.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm - Harper and hockey - why didn't he attend?

He wasn't at Mark Messier's jersey retirement either. Is Mark a Liberal? Conspiracy theory in the works?

No, Harper just must not like Dryden. Or maybe he's busy being the PM?

Steven dS said...

Hey, first time on this site....great post.

It's true that there are more demands for apologies...but that's the logical result when there are so many offensive attacks.

Have we ever had a Prime Minister launch so many salvos at the Opposition benches? Yes, the Liberals (especially Ignatieff in this case) are being a bit precious, but they're also reminding people that there have to be parameters, some boundaries, some (however remote) sense of fair play in public discourse among politicians. This Prime Minister is partisan on every issue, at every opportunity. And angry. Angry. Angry.

Parliament Hill has seen more civil times...and that tone should be set by the PM.

Totally Tory said...

Joan, can't wait to see your take on Belinda hightailing it back to Magna. This has been rumoured in Ottawa for months, and was widely foreshadowed by her lack of appearances at any Committee meetings, in the House, etc. She got bored with this toy, and is now tossing it aside just like she has every other career option, husband, or boyfriend she has had. The Liberals are likely secretly relieved, as she stopped being an asset for them the minute Peter Milliken broke the tie vote in May 2005.