Monday, January 29, 2007

Manning Advises Against Extreme Politics - Is Harper Listening?

Preston Manning strikes another positive blow for political reason and democratic reform. In his Op-Ed in today’s Globe and Mail Manning is asking politicians to “Drop the Extremes in the Green Debate.” Once again Manning is showing how well he is aligned with the public sentiment - at least that is how I see his message.

Manning points out “…Canadians place a very high premium on tolerance and avoidance of extremes.” Remember how “Scary” Stephen Harper was in the 2004 elections because of his affiliation with extremists social conservatives? The extremists kept very quite in the 2006 election and that helped to get Harper elected as a result

Manning’s Globe piece points out that political party’s rhetoric and political positioning, especially on the environmental front, are not usually based on analysis and criticism of the actual policies of the various opposing parties. The political effort is more concentrated on intentional mischaracterizations of the opponent’s position as “extreme.” The Liberals and Conservatives are both guilty of this and the NDP will not doubt be doing it soon - to the Greens.

Manning decries the newsworthiness judgement calls made by the main stream media of such stylized conflicts dominating the greater need for informative content around complex issues. Citizens understand all this and it just adds to the cynicism about politics and that undermines our democracy.

The timing of this Op-Ed is likely merely coincidental to the release of the Conservative Party attack ads” that were no doubt authorized by Manning’s protégé, The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. Why are the ads running now? It is really “…because Dion has been getting a free ride in the media as a guy who gets the environment issues.” That is the reported motivation according to Jason Kenney – Harper’s point man on all of this messaging extremism.

What better and more ironic example could we possibly have of that “green extremism” than these Harper Cons attack ads on Dion? This is exactly the kind of stuff that Manning is advising against. They "ads" are more focused on his competency as a person and his capability leader, than on his policies or his vision. We can make that competency and leadership judgement at election time. What we want to understand now is what policy alternatives are the various parties offering us. These attack ads may generate some heat but they will not shed much light.

But the Cons have lots of cash and they are not restricted in how they spend it right now. After all we are in a “non-election time frame” (sic) so the rules about campaign advertising and spending limits don’t apply.

This is clever politics for sure. But it is also a questionable governing technique. Canadians want better government not more politics. Thanks Preston Manning for your wisdom once again. You flirted with the Alberta PC leadership last year. Would you reconsider the leadership of your federal party one more time? The country could use you.