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Monday, May 21, 2007

Give Me Prentice Over Harper and Hill Any Day


I was struck by the juxtaposition of CPC stories in today’s Globe and Mail. Off the top, let me disclose I was a Jim Prentice supporter for the leadership of the CPC and still hold out a hope that one day it will happen. I have known him for a number of years, as a PC Party member and a fellow lawyer. We were on opposite sides over the environmental and expropriation issues surrounding the building of Old Man River Dam by the government of Alberta in southern Alberta. He was a young lawyer and second counsel on the matter but his compassion, wisdom and sound judgment was very self evident even in his “younger” days.

So in the Globe and Mail today we see Jim Prentice adding fairness and equity in a proposal to “shake up” the process for aboriginal land claims settlements. The issues are the back log of claims and a means to dispense with the stacked deck our aboriginal people face in pursuing settlements. When the “government of Canada acts as defendant, judge, jury and research body” in such matters, it is had to seen the balance and fairness and equity of such “negotiations.” Talk about conflicting roles!

Prentice sees the Indian Clams Commission, an independent body where he once served as a co-commissioner in the Mulroney days, as the means to his ends. The ICC under Prentice’s idea will be delegated the power to actually settle treaty and land claims itself, not the conflicted government of Canada. According the G&M front page story, this approach “marks a “seismic shift in the way land-claims treaties have been negotiated in the past 60 years.” I agree!

Then, by way of contrast, we have the page A4 story and picture of the co-conspirators of Stephen Harper and Jay Hill (CPC Whip) presumably mulling over their latest masterpiece a “manual on disrupting committee meetings.” We have the Keystone Kons shifting their share of the blame many times before in a masterful display of “Bush-league” tactics. They justify this travesty again blaming the opposition by Hill claiming all they are doing is “to push back when we see the opposition parties basically getting together and trying to put together a coalition government between the three of them.”

HELLO! What do you expect in a minority government? The Kons and the “other parties” did the very same thing in order to bring down the Martin Liberal minority government when it pleased…save and except the dearly departed (in more ways than one) Belinda Stronach. The reaction to disrupt and abdicate the responsibility to govern is not an acceptable response Mr. Hill!

The CPC is a minority government selected by Canadians with expectations that they would work towards finding compromises and actually actively govern, perhaps with a tad of integrity and alacrity from time to time. We see delay tactics from both sides but especially from the Cons. Worse yet we see our “government” engaged in cheap tactical gamesmanship designed to “push back!” Again we see the character flaws of the current PM shining through. He seems always to be more intent on winning skirmishes in Question Period and now at Commons Committee instead to showing a capacity for meaningful leadership.

I can’t help thinking that if Jim Prentice were the CPC leader today we would have a socially progressive and a fiscally conservative government with enlightened and compassionate leadership that respects people as citizens and taxpayers. We could trust our leader as a person of integrity and character with new approaches and new ideas and a personal capacity to govern.

But alas my desire for change is not much more than thinking and hoping. Unfortunately thinking doesn’t make it so and hope is not a method to achieve meaningful change.