I leave Ottawa for one single day and what happens? A tape of Harper letting loose “behind closed doors” gets leaked, and all hell breaks loose. Of course.
It seems that last week, at an event in Sault Ste. Marie, Harper was giving a speech to rally the troops – and in that speech, he talked about how his party really, really needs to win a majority, and that if it wasn’t for him that the courts and all the top jobs would be stuffed with left-wing ideologues, that the Court Challenges Programme was pure, unadulterated kitten-smothering evil (well, I’m only exaggerating the slightest bit there), and by the way, that totally undemocratic coalition between the Liberals, the socialists and the separatists is just lurking around the corner and it’ll come and steal you from your beds in the night like that monster in your closet that never did go away. No, seriously.
Naturally, the opposition parties have picked this up, and are going full-bore on it. “There have always been two Harpers,” said Ignatieff. “The real Harper always comes out when he think he can’t be heard.”
“It's something that you would expect in trash radio, but absolutely unacceptable coming from the prime minister of our country,” said the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair.
Gilles Duceppe said Harper sounded like a Republican, but not even a mainstream one – rather, one of the really fringe radicals who rails on about liberal judges.
Wait – do I hear an attack ad being spliced together by the busy little elves in the Liberal war room as we speak? Almost certainly – and you can bet this will come out during the (very likely) autumn election campaign.
So just where was I yesterday that I was out of the Nation’s Capital? I was over in Montreal, attending the American National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA)’s annual media summit, where I was on a panel about political reporting.
It was fascinating to talk to queer American political reporters because it was almost like looking into a time warp, where they’re still going on about Employment Non-Discrimination, and repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell,” and heaven forbid same-sex marriage with an administration that has little time for them, because it wants to expend its political capital elsewhere. And while certainly they’ve had better access under the Obama administration than the previous one, they’re not exactly getting traction on those issues.
But one thing came up right at the very end of the panel, where both of my American counterparts said that they figured that in five-to-ten years, after they get some “big federal gets” like the aforementioned Employment non-discrimination, or military service, or even marriage, that they figure queer political reporting can shut it’s doors and turn out the lights, and they can go home and write about mainstream issues, because their job will be over. And I was like “Really? You think it’s actually going to be that easy?” But the time was up.
That particular attitude for me resonated with a comment made by someone on a previous panel, who organises boycotts of companies who donated to the pro-Prop 8 groups in the States. “I’m glad we lost,” he said. “We needed a wake-up call.” And somehow I think that truer words have never been spoken. We can’t get too complacent, and that’s one reason why I think queer political reporting will be around for a lot longer than just after their big “federal gets.” That’s certainly been the case up in Canada – there are still battles to fight, even if it’s not as glamorous or accessible as marriage.
Up today – the Parliamentary Budget Officer is going to release his costing of the EI proposals, and Ignatieff is going to speak about it. Did he ever get the numbers from the department like he asked? Can they ever Make Parliament Work™ ever again? Tune in to find out.