Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Gamble - High Stakes for Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair

The collapse of world oil prices is reverberating through Canada's petro-provinces; Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador; and the fallout should yet might not be a major issue when Canadians go to the polls for a dominant fragment of eligible voters to decide who will govern our flagging petro-state, Canada.

Watch for Stephen Harper to try to control the election narrative as never before. In previous elections against Dion and Ignatieff, Harper's pitch was "there's nobody better to handle the economy and, besides, look at this dork."  He defeated the Dion Liberals for a Conservative minority and, quite predictably, the Ignatieff Liberals for a Conservative majority.

This time the Harper narrative will shift.  Just as Afghanistan lost its political lustre when everything Harper had said he would accomplish turned to dust, this time we won't hear much about the economy.  Harper won't want to run on the state of the Canadian economy and no one would.  What's called for is a bit of electoral bait and switch. This time it will be all about the dreaded terrorists and that dork, Trudeau.  It's a contest in which Harper already has Trudeau partially disarmed.

By supporting Bill C-51, Trudeau and Company have given themselves two choices.  They can agree with Harper that C-51 is somehow needed, even at the expense of our democracy and civil liberties.  Or the Trudeau Libs can allow themselves to be seen as willing to sacrifice our democracy and civil liberties in a cynical effort to retain their edge over Harper.

The trouble with C-51 - for starters - is that it presupposes that our existing criminal and state security powers aren't adequate to meet the terrorist threat. That's never been demonstrated.  Where's the proof?  There is none, none at all.

It's telling that we haven't explored what, if anything, went wrong with our homebrew terrorist attacks or what we can do within the existing system to shore up our vulnerabilities.  We have pretty clear laws.  We have lots of personnel and we can hire more if needed.  We have some pretty solid intelligence resources. No one has made the case for C-51 and, here's the important part, Conservative or Liberal they're not even trying.

There's been no attempt to balance the often conflicting objectives of freedom and security.  Ben Franklin warned that those who sacrifice freedom for the sake of security deserve (and usually get) neither.

C-51, for so long as its odious provisions remain on the books, alters the relationship between the Canadian people and their government.  Our freedoms are diminished while the government's powers over us are increased.  Dissent can be criminalized.  The state security apparatus can be invoked to intimidate us. An American energy company snaps its fingers and the Stasi RCMP are on your doorstep demanding explanations.  Tell them to "go to Hell" and see what happens, what lists your name is entered on.  In the eyes (and ears, and surveillance labyrinth) of the state, you've gone from being a nobody to a duly noted suspect.  That's the mutated status of your citizenship.

Taken on its own, C-51 is bad enough.  Add it to the multi-layered cloak of neoliberalism that has infested all three of our major parties and it becomes something else again.

Harper is steaming ahead with C-51 precisely because he knows the Trudeau Libs will crater just as they're doing.  He knows that Trudeau fears (yes, that's the word "fear" and it comes with an inescapable stench) that standing up for Canadians by opposing C-51 could cost the Liberals votes in October.  What Trudeau doesn't realize is that his capitulation to Harper's will can only further divide and weaken Harper's opposition.  Harper gets to play to his base.  Trudeau gets to fracture his support. Meanwhile the undecided are increasingly less able to distinguish the Conservatives from the Liberals by what they each stand for and, worse, what they both stand for.

You know what else Harper sees in Trudeau's boot-licking?  It's the perfect set up for yet another electoral Donnybrook between the NDP and LPC.  It's a gift to Tom Mulcair and to Stephen Harper and there's little doubt that Mulcair will use Trudeau's perfidy as a club to beat the Liberal leader to a pulp.  If Ignatieff hadn't been enough to drive me out of the Liberal ranks, I expect this would have.  Sap the NDP's uncertain strength, focus its energies mainly on Trudeau, while compelling Trudeau to defend the Liberals from attacks on both fronts and the ultimate winner is - Stephen Harper.  Mulcair can't resist a second term as leader of the official opposition.  It's just too good to pass up and he won't.

At the end of the day the real losers will be you, me, and Canada.


astone said...

Yup!!Your analysis is, as always, spot on. Trudeau should be standing on every pulpit beating Harpocrit over the head with C51! What a wuss! I guess I am going to have to waste my vote on the Greens here in Selkirk inter lake.

The Mound of Sound said...

Fortunately for me, I don't consider voting "for" something I can believe in to ever be a waste of my vote. What's the alternative except voting for something I don't believe in.

I have confidence in the Greens, Astone. They're the only party with policies that address the change that's coming to Canada. In Europe, Syrzia in just three years rose to win power in Greece just as Podemos is poised to do in Spain.

Lorne said...

Another aspect to Bill C-51's misdirection, Mound, is that it distracts from the fact that Harper has been underfunding our present security protocols; why worry about that when a prime minister can be fairly confident that his demagoguery will carry the day?

Owen Gray said...

Your prediction may become reality, Mound. But Harper seems to be stumbling on his own message.

And there's no one left to tell him when he's making politically stupid decisions. Perhaps there's still some hope.

JasonS said...

There is a video on youtube that shows the moment that Zehaf-Bibeau arrives in his vehicle and it shows 4 "business" men loitering on the street and acting very strange. It only took me 1 view to see what was obviously 4 operatives waiting for their target to arrive.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Lorne - I wasn't aware that Harper had cut funding for our security apparatus. Can you tell me more?

@ Owen - I hope you're right but I'm not sure it will do much for the confidence deficit I have in the Libs or New Dems.

Lorne said...

Hi Mound. I had a few points of reference in mind about the underfunding. One was Paulson's recent testimony about having to move a lot of his force from other pursuits to concentrate on terrorism, the implication being that the RCMP doesn't have the funding it really needs. As well, there was the story about the RCMP and CSIS not being able to spend all of its budget since 2007 (

Finally, in his criticisms of Bill C-51, Ed Broadbent alluded to underfunding (

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks, Lorne. I hadn't read Broadbent's op-ed but I sure agree with everything he wrote.

Grant G said...

Not here to argue your main points.

C-51 is either going to be rammed through by Harper`s majority with, or more likely, without amendments, no Trudeau or Mulcair can stop Harper`s wanted way.

30% of Canada`s voters, don`t care about the loss of personal freedoms, another 30% of the populous are concerned about terrorism but want freedoms protected, meaning oversight amendments.

Mound, unless you are being deliberately disingenuous, omitting facts on purpose.

Mulcair wants the bill rejected, Trudeau has already brought forth oversight protection amendments, Harper is rejecting those oversights.

Trudeau has said, many times, on the public record that "If the Conservatives reject parliamentary oversight protections, and C-51 language amendments the Liberal party will make the added oversight protections and other C-51 amendments part of our Liberal election platform" snip

Mound, if you have watched every minute of the C-51 in Canada`s Senate hearing as I have, listened to every witness statement and answers to questions asked by the Senators, and by the NDP member asking questions to the testifying witnesses in hearing..

There are many honourable people not connected to the government or conservative party that have gave testimony at the C-51 senate hearings...

And these experts have said, almost all of them that "There are many parts of C-51 terrorism bill that are needed"

And literally every witness testifying has stated that amendments and oversight protections are required to safeguard Canadian`s charter rights...

So, you have experts giving testimony, experts saying that parts of C-51 terror bill are needed, you have experts saying oversight protections and amendments are required to FIX C-51...

Exactly what Justin Trudeau has tried to do, Harper has rejected Trudeau`s amendments, ....Trudeau has said the Liberal party`s amendments and oversight protections will be part of their election platform.

Perhaps Mound you haven`t watched the C-51 hearings on CPAC, perhaps you haven`t followed Justin Trudeau`s orated position, perhaps you do know Trudeau`s position and just by accident omitted it from this post.

And what position would Mulcair take if Harper adopted proposed amendments and proposed oversight protections.

You can start by watching this, senate hearing part 1

Mound, there are some very honourable people who testified that parts of C-51 can help law enforcement without harming civil liberties, however, almost all experts who have testified have stated that amendments and language changes must be made..

Lastly, one way or another C-51 is going through.

Let`s put it through with amendments.

Anonymous said...


The location in the video where people are 'loitering' is a bus stop serviced by about two dozen bus routes. That people would be 'loitering' around a bus stop is not unusual, even in mid-morning.

But you never know - I could be part of the conspiracy!

Trailblazer said...

Please look at the obvious.
A Liberal or NDP Government would not rescind Bill C51.
This ammount of control is a Governments wet dream.

The Mound of Sound said...

Grant, I'm sure the witnesses you reference were honourable but, if there's a case to be made for C-51, that has to be made to the Canadian people. This does change the relationship between the people and their government, with or without oversight. There's far too much going on these days with neither the public's knowledge nor their consent. It's the lack of that informed consent that, in this context, makes this whole business illegitimate and undemocratic - with or without honourable witnesses.

When a professor standing on public land taking pictures gets rewarded with a visit from the RCMP demanding explanations (and probably being added to one or several lists) this country is in trouble.

It's always been a dangerous world, Grant. Yet even in protracted periods of mass mayhem the people of many lands have stood up to those who would rule them by violence and fear.

This supposed threat has been purposefully distorted and, immediately that happens, we need to distrust those manipulating us no matter how many honourable witnesses they summon. I won't have it. You can do as you like.

Grant G said...

You just made my point, watch the senate hearings, the "honourable" guests testifying make the exact point you just did, that the bill needs changing so CSIS and the RCMP can`t target environmentalists..

C-51 has a phrase that says "legal Protests and protesters"...Which might seem ambiguous, however, many protests aren`t sanctioned, therefore those protesters could be deemed terrorists...

It is that language that these experts asking, demanding be removed...

If you don`t to these legal experts, constitutional experts, amnesty international, if you don`t listen to their arguments you don`t know the real issues, these people testifying are for the most part against granting these all encompassing powers..

There is also testimony saying C-51 will actually hurt the war against terrorism by scaring away possible confidential informants.

Much mention is about Australia`s version of an anti-terrorism bill, and to use it as a model, there are many built in protections and oversight in Australia`s legislation.

These is much discussion about finances, there has been no mention of new monies for an expanded information sharing and oversight, this too will cause lapses in oversight and review.

Let me be clear, I`m against c-51, but it is going through one way or another, and..

First nations and environmentalists are already on watch lists, being spied on, not sure about you but I`m on CSIS watch list, spyware found on my computer..

My emails are being monitored.

I don`t like it, but either way, with or without C-51 it is going to continue..

I want amendments, oversight and certain language changed, I want to be protected from unwarranted arrest..

I recommend you watch the senate hearings and listen to the non-government speakers, these speakers are not Harper friendly.


Grant G said...

Ooops..Meant to say..

"If you don`t listen to these legal experts"

Steve said...

All Justin has to say is the unconstiutional parts will be rejected by the Supreme court and the stupid parts I will fix.

JasonS said...

@anonymous yes I know when I wait for a bus I run up and semi hide behind cover looking back towards the street and when a random car pulls up all 4 of my friends face the vehicle that doesn't look like a bus. I know when im waiting for the bus I always scurry behind cover looking back fervently. I used to be a private investigator and once you know what to look for you can spot people doing surveillance pretty easily.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mound, I'm with Grant on this one on the main thrust of his argument, although I disagree with his reading of you lacking sufficient understanding of the issues and people involved. I may think you are wrong here, but ignorant/uniformed on these matters, nope, been reading and debating you for far too long to agree with that.

As I have said elsewhere, I think this bill is unnecessary for the most part and the elements that are needed mostly need some serious tightening up of the language before it is ready for prime time, and that we clearly need not just better review processes but actual, genuine OVERSIGHT of our intelligence infrastructure. It is a national disgrace that we still lack any such thing. I also maintain that this bill had as one of its primary goals of placing Trudeau in opposition to it so Harper could paint him and the Libs as unfit on security issues, he had clearly been weakened by how he handled the Iraq issue last fall, and if he had come out like May and Mulcair in full opposition then I am certain Harper and company had an entire campaign ready against him for the coming election. I noticed just how much the Harper government was thrown when instead of doing so Trudeau took the approach he did, and I thought then and still think know it is the right call for him.

I say this for reasons of political dynamics and the next election, and the need of Trudeau to peel off a lot of center right voters that left the Libs and went to Harper in the past couple of elections, especially the last one. They are going to be where the fall of Harper and the rise of the Libs is decided, more so than on the left/progressive side of the Libs. So for that reason I think Trudeau managed to reduce the poison aimed here at him in this legislation from lethal to mildly toxic, still causes some harm as seen by the problems it is causing him, but far less than the alternative would have.

On a policy perspective, I'm with Liz May all the way, and in a normal government environment I would consider the policy argument a major element, the problem being though this is not as you know I've argued time and again not that normal environment. That I see the defeat of Harper as essential and as an "at all costs" issue, which means even swallowing something as bad as this bill, at least Trudeau made clear the serious objections and is going to place those amendments in his election platform when the CPC doesn't use them, which also helps to flesh out his platform which is a bit of lemons to lemonade.

One of the reasons Harper is an "at all costs" matter for me is because he unlike any prior PM is willing to use such serious issues and policies/legislation for purely partisan political purposes in ways unthinkable only a few short years ago. I dislike intensely defending Trudeau here because this is not how legislation on security issues should ever be handled here in Canada, but because it is Harper, whose naked hatred and passionate desire for the destruction of all things Liberal and especially Trudeau is beyond dispute, has created such a bizarre need. Any other PM Trudeau was up against I would say differently, but Harper is what he is, and you know where I stand on that.


Unknown said...

I've really enjoyed many of your posts, but this on exudes an uncharacteristic defeatist tone.

This year's election is about a lot more than bill C-51. Just a mere drop in the bucket compared to all the crap we have had to swallow in the past few years. Yes. This is omnibus dog, designed as such, and has nothing to do with fighting extremist terrorism.

C-51 is also a nightmare come true for anyone born before 1980. No amendments should be negotiated, as this would only lend credibility to the premise of the bill.

That said...It would appear that we understand the "damned if you do, and damned if you don't" scenario for the Liberals with respect to C-51. There is nothing they can do to stop the bill. Thus, declaring it significantly flawed and supporting it's intent was the political path chosen. (Hardly boot-licking) So far this has worked fairly well to publicize a number of these faults. While they have taken little flak from the right, progressives have stepped up to condemn them for it. Pity.

In regards to the "Liberals only having two choices", this seems to apply a very narrow band of logic. There are many options. Why should the have to specify what changes they would make if elected? Why would they put everything on the table now?

It appears to me that the more the Conservatives defend their position, the more they falter. Forcing them to spew more of their rhetoric, gathers more attention every day. More thinking people become engaged every day. Do you really believe these guys represent the majority of Canadians?

We must define a priority of objectives if we wish to succeed at anything. Everyone is still free to vote as they chose. However, if one has a prime objective, your vote should serve that objective. Not to be out of line....but, one more term of a Harper majority, and an argument for the existence of a Green Party will be moot.

Purple library guy said...

You know, I respect you for backing the Greens on principle. That's cool. And so presumably, you'd be happy if they got more votes, yes? Even if that meant they took votes from Libs and/or NDP, costing those other parties ridings that the Cons would then gain instead. I'm fine with that stance. It has drawbacks but I'm not a fan of lesser-evilism. I don't happen to feel as positive about the Greens as you do, but that's a matter of our interpretation of the parties, not really of a difference in values.

What I don't get is how you square that with apparently being mad at the NDP because you expect them to take votes from the Liberals by doing the right thing. Isn't that exactly what you want the Greens to do? How can it be a matter for bitterness when the NDP do it? Frankly, you always seem pissed off whenever the NDP seem likely to do well, even if it's because they're doing something right for once. You almost seem annoyed that Mulcair didn't cave along with Trudeau.

It is relatively unlikely that any significant number of Cons are going to be flipping straight over to the NDP any time soon. Increases in NDP votes come from the Liberals. The one thing you seem to retain from your Liberal days is a feeling that there is something fundamentally illegitimate about this. There isn't.
(NDP strength does have an indirect impact on the Cons, I think--it tends to shift the "Overton Window" leftwards. But capitalizing on that is the Liberals' problem, and the Liberals insisting on sucking at it is not the NDP's fault)

astone said...

I'm just saying that in my riding, I doubt the greens have a snowballs chance in hell; but,we do, at least, have a green candidate to vote for. They are the party of the future.

Anonymous said...

The Liberals an Cons have been tag teaming Canada for the last 148 years. Turn them upside down and they look like sisters. The Hair with no brain that walks is a sad rendition of Mini Me Harper.
Time for a hard left turn.


The Mound of Sound said...

@ CGHZD - there aren't many who have lamented the NDP's abandonment of the Left more than I. I don't believe the Mulcair NDP is capable of or even interested in any "hard left turn."

@ Astone. I do believe the Greens can be the party of the future. They're also willing to consider a merger with another party that's prepared to adopt their environmental policies.

Anonymous said...

So, since I make comments about your blog Mound especially regarding the environment, am I on a watch list? Second, I remember reading an article about bill C-51 where it stated Canada did not have funding to hire extra RCMP personel and would be using our retirement system to fund the RCMP in support of bill C-51. I cannot remember where I read this at this time but I did read it. Anyong.