Thursday, September 18, 2008

Elections Laws and Listeriosis: A Party Run Amuck

On two fronts, the dark face of the Conservative Party and the people that run the show has been on full display in the last 48 hours. First there was the new revelations in the In and Out scandal. Conservative top brass bellittling candidates who wanted to RESPECT THE LAW, calling them idiots, "turds", and saying that the "fear of God" has to be put into them and they should "send some heavies down from Ottawa to come down like a ton of bricks". What kind of party operates like this? Intimitadation of those wanting to make sure they are following the rules? When the Conservatives have admited they were national ads? This is the law and order party?

Then there is the listeriosis crisis. The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published an editorial saying that "government policy errors helped bring about this epidemic" and that the government response of a watered down inquiry is weaker than what's been done for any serious public health crisis in the past, such as SARS. Harper's response? Apparently impugn the credibility of the one person who he thought wrote it. Except it was penned by seven people, almost all of them doctors. I think Canadians deserve a more serious response from our Prime Minister to a serious public health crisis don't you? Shouldn't the media demand a more serious response?

But maybe now we have an idea why Harper may have preferred a watered down inquiry, as his Agriculture minister seemed to be most worried about government fallout over this above all else. Not only was Gerry Ritz' priorities in the wrong place, his heart seemed to be too. He was already an appalling minister who should have resigned before, but joking about the deaths of Canadians and your chief political critic (Wayne Easter) is beyond the pale. Ritz should have resigned before all this, he definitely should now (and this isn't the first time for this party either: Clement is also guilty of making appalling jokes on this matter). Conservatives have to ask themselves is the kind of character they want carrying the party banner? If they are fine with that, what does that say about the Conservative Party of today?

Belittling elections laws, questioning the credibility of fathers of dead soldiers and doctors concerned over a public health crisis, linking your opponents to terrorists, joking about dead Canadians, constant lies about your official opposition. Have we ever had a government like this? This is a party run amuck.

But the media have a job to do too. While I grant that they are covering the Ritz story, the CMAJ editorial and the In and Out revelations have been buried. These are serious issues, a lot more important than polls and lights going out in a plane, and the media are letting us down. In this election the choices made will have a major impact on then next few years, is it too much to ask that the media cover the real issues of this campaign and the real record of its politicians? Must horse race coverage dominate every day?

At least some commentators at the Globe get it. Nonetheless, with each day more stories are coming to show that Stephen Harper and his party are nothing but wolves in sheep's clothing.

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