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One-Trick Ponies

The governing Conservative Party of Canada has launched its latest attack ads against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and there has been a slight shift in strategy. They have decided to employ a two-tier advertising strategy.

The first tier is to have taxpayers pay to advertise the Conservative election platform and the second is to attack Justin Trudeau as usual, although in a kinder, gentler way. The new Conservative attack ad is – embarrassingly – a retread of an NDP ad from 2011. The staging is identical, the script almost the same only the NDP weren’t talking about Justin Trudeau.

Oops!

Like one trick ponies, the Conservatives have used the same basic approach against the Liberals in election after election and the polls are indicating that it has begun to wear a little thin. They’re like the guy who has worked for twenty years doing the same thing he did the first year he worked. He thinks he twenty years experience but in fact, he has only one year’s experience repeated nineteen times.

But I digress.

The gist of the Conservative message, as it always is when it’s Conservatives and not taxpayers who are paying for the ad; Justin Trudeau doesn’t have the experience to be Prime Minister.

That may well be true but when it comes to politics, it seems to me that experience may not be all that cracked up to be. There have been more than a few experienced political leaders who did a complete cock up once they were elected.

Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne (along with her predecessor Dalton McGuinty) had considerable experience before being elected premier. She was a long-serving MPP who had been a Cabinet Minister under Dalton McGuinty. That experience doesn’t seem to be working out too well for the folks that elected her. Hydro rates continue to climb faster than a squirrel chased up a tree, there is considerable labour unrest in the elementary and secondary school system both, record debt levels, the economy is being threatened as company after company pulls up stakes and leaves and both she and her government are the subject of no less than two police investigations.

One shudders to think how much worse it could be if Premier Wynne had even more experience before coming to office.

Then there’s former Conservative Premier Jim Prentice. The golden boy of conservative politics parachuted in from his high-flying job as a senior VP with a chartered bank which he took after resigning his seat and cabinet position with the federal Harper government. Mr. Prentice brought just ever-so-much experience to his office but it was too no avail. He was in and out of office almost faster than former Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell who I believe still holds the record for the shortest serving Prime Minister.

Ms. Campbell, it should be pointed out, had significant levels of experience prior to being elected to lead the Conservatives. It didn’t serve her – or us – very well. A former federal Cabinet Minister, she was Prime Minister for less time than it takes me to find my glasses in the morning.

Former Quebec Premier, Pauline Marois, had led the Parti Quebecois for years and had ample experience in politics. She is also quite affluent which indicates some level of personal experience.  She lasted about a year before the unforced errors and stupidity caught up to her and – boom boom – out the door she went.

The list of failures who brought a considerable amount of experience to the job is quite long when you take the time to look at it.

So, think about it for a moment. What did Wynne, Prentice, Marois or Campbell actually accomplish with all of their pre-election experience? If you answered not much, give yourself a star.

Contrast that with the current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, whose only experience before going into politics was working in the mail room and briefly in the accounting department of an oil company. He became a political strategist, ran for office provincially and lost, ran federally and won and then united the conservative factions into one party and eventually, led that party to a majority government.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that he was able to overcome his lack of real-life experience in fairly spectacular fashion.

BC Premier Kristie Clark is another one who had little political experience before coming to office. She used to be a radio talk show host but since becoming premier, despite a couple of slip ups here and there, has done a reasonably good job of governing British Columbia.

Nelson Mandela spent most of his adult life in prison and yet when he was released and became President of South Africa, he piloted that troubled nation through the difficult transition from Apartheid. Now South Africa is being governed by far more experienced politicians and that country is undergoing serious social and economic distress.

Ronald Regan had no political experience when he was first elected Governor of California and nothing in his acting career prepared him for the responsibilities of high office. And yet, he was a successful governor that went on to become the President of the United States.

Barack Obama, by contrast, is a lawyer by profession and had been a United States Senator before being elected to the presidency. That experience did not guarantee a solid performance by any system of measurement. For their parts, Congress and the United States Senate are almost dysfunctional despite being full of folks with years of experience.

And that’s the point.

Political experience isn’t the be all and end all. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but the real issues are – and should be – character and ability. I’ll take an inexperienced leader with principles, integrity and no small amount of natural ability over one that has a great resume but who lacks the values and capability a nation needs from its leaders.

The late Jim Flaherty, the Harper government’s former Finance Minister, brought experience, ability and character to his job but political leaders like him are few and far between unfortunately. Unlike many these days, he knew the difference between lusting for power and public service. He chose the latter.

There have been others like him but mostly we tend to get people who are experienced at playing the game, people who know how to manipulate, obfuscate, deceive and double talk their way to electoral victory but who have no real ability or principle beyond the ability to get elected.

They remind me of dogs chasing a car. Once they’ve caught it – they’ haven’t got a clue what to do next.

That brings us back to the point of the latest Conservative attack ad. Is Justin Trudeau ready to be Prime Minister? Who knows? Some people grow into the job – some don’t. I do know this, however, like many Canadians I’m tired of the constant Conservative harangue about Trudeau’s lack of experience. If the truth be known, Trudeau actually has more experience than Stephen Harper had when he was first elected.

That doesn’t mean anything, of course, because ability and character will trump experience every day of the week and my issues with Justin Trudeau have more to do with his ability than his level of experience.

Besides, how do you define what is or is not the necessary experience for politics? Defense Minister Jason Kenney has no military experience, for example, but he is masterminding Canada’s war effort in the Middle East.

To be perfectly frank, I’m weary of the strategic attempts of political parties to try to paint their opponents for being pretty much what they themselves are. Everybody starts out with an equal lack of experience – it’s ability and character that are distributed less equally. What we need in this country are leaders who don’t treat taxpayers with contempt by undermining our democratic systems and values with their cheap and tawdry games. We need leaders with ability beyond that of fund raising for their parties and scoring cheap political points in debates and sleazy advertising.

A little vision and competency would go a long way in compensating for a lack of experience.

I’m also tired of hearing what the Conservatives think about Justin Trudeau. Enough already. We heard you the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth time and most of us have drawn our own conclusions.  Some of us even agree with you. Christ in Heaven, are you really that afraid of him that you have to go on and on and on about him? Give it a rest and tell us something important.

How about you stop wasting our time with annoying ads that, based on the polls, don’t appear to have accomplished much to improve your popularity and start advertising what you intend to do for the next four years if you’re re-elected. I’m not talking about the current fluff ads telling us how great you are for which taxpayers are paying. I’m talking about coughing up your own dough to tell us what mandate you’re seeking.

(You are applying for a job after all. Good Lord, imagine going for a job interview and spending your entire time bad mouthing the other applicants.)

Beyond the illusion of tax reduction, what are you planning to do? How are you going to meet your new greenhouse gas emission targets after having failed to meet the ones you previously set? How do you intend to protect the civil liberties of Canadians once Bill C-51 becomes law? How are you going to fix Canada’s crumbling infrastructure, get pipelines built, take better care of our vets, properly equip our military, reform the Senate and work with the provinces to improve our failing health care system?

How are you going to address all those things you promised last time but have failed to deliver?

I think most of us would rather see advertising that addresses those issues rather than the adolescent nonsense about Justin bloody Trudeau. It seems to me that expecting to get elected because you want everyone to believe that Justin Trudeau has no experience, isn’t much upon which to hang your hat – or your electoral expectations.

Give us a reason to vote for you rather than continuously hammering us with a reason why you don’t think we should vote for someone else. We’re not bloody idiots – we can figure this stuff out for ourselves once we have all the information.

If you want the job – quit talking about Justin Trudeau’s experience and tell us why your experience will benefit Canadians. We’re quite capable of figuring Mr. Trudeau out for ourselves thank you very much.

(And while you’re at it, hire an ad agency and a Communications Director with some imagination. Plagiarizing the NDP seems a bit desperate,)

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  • rkd2.3

    Today being Wed June 24th , Yesterday we saw a glimpse of the Justin Waffle Trudeau & his decree that HE would soften how Canada deals with ISIS

    WHAT?? What sort of symp is this ? Terry Milewski asked him : “But if you don’t want to bomb a group as ghastly as ISIS, when would you ever support real military action, as opposed to just training?

    I cannot begin to explain how terrifying the concept of Justin as PM , would be for Canada

  • ApatheticAB

    Bear, I really appreciate your stance on accountability and substance. I’ve been following your blog for a couple years now and don’t think I’ve ever commented, although I’ve linked to it a few times because I often agree with your position. I strongly hope that you continue in your writing and calling for accountability and responsibility in politics.
    I’m a conservative at heart, and I loath the direction that politics in Canada has taken. I very much agree with what you have written today. Why use attack ads? Show me what you will do for Canadians if you are elected. I don’t really care what politicians think about each other. I want to know what each politician plans to do to improve the lives of Canadians, and how they intend to achieve that goal. I want to see a politician that listens to and respects their constituents and is willing to stay firm in their position, rather than flaking off when things aren’t going quite how they want.
    Being from Alberta I look at our new NDP government with some trepidation and curiosity. I didn’t vote for them and I don’t support many of their positions, however it was definitely time for a change. We had way too many ‘experienced’ politicians who were so out of touch with reality and average Albertans that there was no possible way to continue. Blaming Albertans for Conservative spending problems, and then coming hat in hand asking for a mandate to continue on with the same system? While I’m concerned about how things will play out here in Alberta over the next 4 years, I am hopeful that the toppled dynasty will wake up conservatives here so that we can work together to correct the problems and continue to grow together.
    Sorry for being long winded there. Anyways, thanks.

    • MaggiesBear

      I appreciate your support.

      The bottom line for me is that I would prefer to have a conservative government in place that provides transparency, accountability and good common sense government. I believe that a government that governed according to fundamental conservative values would be in office a very long time because the country would prosper. The fact is, however, that the conservative movement in Canada is in trouble. We’ve dropped from governing five provinces to just two and the Harper conservatives can barely scrape up 30% popular support no matter how much money they give away. I resent what self-serving politicians who have betrayed our values have done to our movement and even more so to our democratic principles and institutions.

  • Lesley Presley

    I didn’t read your whole post, but I believe I read enough of it to get the gist of it. You make several very good points: including, experience in and of itself doesn’t prove much, and continuing to criticize everyone else wears thin. However, these tactics seem to backfire more on conservatives than on liberals or the ndp, which I find curious. Perhaps subconsciously we all hold conservatives to a higher standard.

    I don’t like everything the Harper gov has done, and some things I am downright ticked off about. However, I still believe that the CPC is the best choice, if only because the other choices are far worse IMHO.

    From a fundamental perspective, there is no political party that adequately represents my views. So, I am left to choose from the best of the worst, because that is the hand that has been dealt. The CPC comes closer than the rest (if only in theory).

    Also for wiw, I don’t think you are a “lefty”. I think you are disappointed and discouraged by what you see in the Conservatives in comparison to what you expect. I feel the same way.

    Have a good day everyone!

    • MaggiesBear

      You make valid points. There is no question that right now, it is the Conservatives that get criticized more than the progressive parties but that is to be expected. They’re the government. When the Chretien Liberals were in power, it was the Liberals that got criticized severely and often by progressive commentators like Michael Harris who was a caustic with them as he has been with the Harper government. The simple fact is that no matter which party is in power, they have a record and they should be evaluated on that record, not on how clever or vicious their advertising campaign is.

      • Lesley Presley

        “…no matter which party is in power, they have a record and they should be evaluated on that record, not on how clever or vicious their advertising campaign is.” ~ Agreed. However, the liberals and ndp seem to get away with (critical, vicious, whatever) ad campaigns more so than conservatives – possibly because they have third parties such as unions doing their dirty work for them, which is often based on a twisted version of facts or outright lies.

        • MaggiesBear

          It’s not a conspiracy. Conservative support groups do the same thing but that isn’t the issue. The party in power has a record and it is appropriate that they be evaluated on that record. This is our democracy not a cheap and sleazy partisan game. We can either defend our democratic values or be enablers of their erosion. Everybody gets to choose for themselves.

          • Lesley Presley

            Who said anything about a conspiracy?

            • MaggiesBear

              I took the inference from your last paragraph which states that the Liberals.NDP seem to get away with more than the Conservatives. If it isn’t what you meant, I apologize but what your wrote would suggest that somehow, the left media and unions gang up on Conservatives. The fact is that it’s a free for all with all sides bashing each other. The only reason the Conservatives are in the news more often is because they are the government of the day. If they were the third party in the House, nobody would bother writing about them.

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  • reelmenfish .

    In Trudeau’s case he has pretty much no real experience at anything unless you count being a trust fund kid. That combined with what appears to be a huge lack of basic common sense on Trudeau’s part scares the crap out of me. Like him or not, Harper is the only adult out of the three.

    • MaggiesBear

      You may well be right but as I wrote, experience doesn’t seem to count for much. We’ve had lots of experienced people mess things up while in office. I’m more concerned with Trudeau’s lack of ability than experience. Beyond an ability to draw a crowd, I haven’t seen much else from him and that is of more concern to me than whatever experience he may or may not have.

  • Angus12

    Nothing to see here folks. Brain dead Liberal socialist under the guise of a Conservative. Nothing to see, move along, move along.

    • MaggiesBear

      Move quickly it could be contageous.

  • oldwhiteguy

    same old same old. all my life I have watched the same old, same old. all parties are socialist and none have the best interest of Canadians at heart. political office, all political office, should have term limits. who the he ll ever decided that being an elected politician should be both a lifetime and fulltime job? I was never a politician but I would lay money that I would reduce and improve both the cost and effectiveness of government.

    • MaggiesBear

      I agree. It’s common sense and integrity that missing these days. Too much vested political self-interest supported by a hard-core of brain dead followers who treat their politics like they belong to a cult rather than an exercise in democracy. I’m tired of politicians from all parties — but particularly the one I have supported — lying to me and corrupting our values and our democratic system of government for their own purposes. I’m even more weary of the mindless twits that support them but who are so bereft of any factual evidence to support their opinion, they are reduced to adolescent name-calling against anyone with whom they disagree. Politicians have always been a bit questionable when it came to ethics and vision but it’s only been recently that so many hard-core supporters of whatever party have become so amazingly stupid. It’s small wonder we’re in the trouble we’re in.

  • Guffman

    Again with slagging the Tories. This has become a full time job (obsession?) with you. There’s absolutely nothing that Harper does that you like. And anything he doesn’t do you don’t like either. Come out of the closet already Bear and openly support Justin, or Tom or Elizabeth instead of beating around the bush constantly, claiming you’re a conservative. Clearly Harper’s conservatives are the last party you want to win the next election. Constantly claiming you’re a conservative hardly makes you one.

    • MaggiesBear

      I’m beginning to think some of you can’t read. I gave Harper full credit for uniting the conservative movement in Canada and I gave Kenney credit for masterminding our effort in the Middle East. I also stated that my issue with Trudeau isn’t his lack of experience, it’s his lack of ability. Demanding that the political parties, including the one I have supported for decades stop wasting our time with pointless attack ads isn’t slagging the Tories; it’s a call for some maturity and respect for our democracy and our conservative values. I get really tired of people like you turning a blind eye to what is h happening to the conservative movement in Canada.

  • CanadaGoose1

    I haven’t seen the French ads yet, but I shudder to think. They are even more tone deaf. They never seem to try them out with real people on the ground and/or French speaking conservative loyalists in Quebec. Anyway the real threat now is the N.D.P. so they have missed the boat here.

    • MaggiesBear

      I honestly don’t get why the conservatives are more intent on trying to attack other parties rather than stand on their record. If you have a good story to tell — then bloody tell it. All this attack bullshit is self-defeating. Surely to God we can do better than this — surely we are better than this.

  • shakylady

    Go too he11 you dirty azzed liberal supporter. You and your liberal social servant family should leave Canada.

  • Annony Moose

    Okay… no party is perfect, but if you are no longer a conservative please say so and leave Blogging Tories

    • MaggiesBear

      You’re right. No party is perfect but I prefer to hold the party I supported to account rather than just follow blindly along. I have voted for Harper in every federal election in which he ran but I didn’t vote for the nonsense he’s pulling these days. I am a Conservative defending conservative values. I don’t know what he is but he isn’t a conservative. Quite frankly, I’m tired of people who believe that dissent and criticism are not permitted within the Conservative Party.

      • Jared Milne

        What’s truly amazing is that they actually believe they’re helping the conservative movement by demonizing anyone who dares to disagree with them or otherwise question the party line.

        • MaggiesBear

          Nothing wins someone to your way of thinking faster than screaming at them how stupid you think they are. :-)