This Week in Cognitive Dissonance

Parliament Hill 2

All the pots, all the kettles, falling from the sky, calling each other black.

Whether you’re a sanctimonious New Democrat or an under-handed Liberal, this has been a week in trying, and failing, to change your spots.

On one end, you’ve got the orange hordes and their dogmatic cheerleading for hopeful Ford-slayer, Olivia Chow — the same Olivia Chow that was sitting in Parliament until yesterday.  On the other, you’ve got the good ship Trudeau, vowing and crossing their hearts that the nomination races for the 2015 election will be nothing but open and fair; sunshine and lollipops.

For the New Democrats, the hypocrisy would be farcical if it weren’t so sad.  Long the party of unwavering idealism, the whiff of power has led them to have principles of necessary, but not necessarily principles.

As Alexandre Boulerice so succinctly put it in a 2012 interview with iPolitics: “It is not appropriate for the taxpayers of Canada to pay for the precampaign of (a possible) candidate for the mayor.”

While that might aptly describe Olivia Chow’s electoral limbo of the past several months, he was actually talking about that nogoodnik Denis Coderre, whose naked ambition was as plan as the light of day.

In both cases, the mayors-to-be were organizing teams, scoping out office space and getting everything ready.

I ran into a Torontonian at an Ottawa bar one night last month.  I asked what he did.  “I work on the Olivia Chow campaign,” he tells me.  I gasp.  “So she’s going to run?”  And then he laughed at me.

Spin all the wool you’d like about Chow hemmed and hawed about her bid, but the fact is that she’s had her mind made up for months.  The fact of the matter is that you shouldn’t be sitting in the House of Commons if you’re running for another job, whether you’re Denis Coderre or Olivia Chow.

Speaking with partisans yesterday, when Chow eventually resigned, the same thing kept coming up — why shouldn’t we do it?  The other guys are.

Oh how far you’ve fallen, you beautiful angels.

But lest the smug ranks of the Natural Governing Party™ get high on their own supply, the Liberals had their own bout of flagrant self-contradiction in the banishing of Liberal candidate-to-be in Trinity-Spadina, Christine Innes, from running.  Now that would be fine — its a leader’s right to decide who runs and who doesn’t — but given Trudeau’s emphatic and incessant insistence that every nomination in the country will be as wide open as a Denny’s on Christmas?  It’s a bit much to stomach.

But maybe Innes screwed up.

It must have been something major.


“Derogatory remarks were made to several young, enthusiastic Liberals about one of our leading MPs.  Suggestions were made to volunteers that their future in the Liberal party would be in jeopardy if they were on the ‘wrong side’ in a nomination battle,” wrote Trudeau to the divested candidate.

Now let’s put aside the fact that telling voters they’re on the “wrong side” of a political battle sounds like awful like how politics is done, it was Innes’ response that really stirred the pot.

“These allegations are totally baseless and without merit and were never brought to my attention, as one would have expected in a Party governed by due process,” Innes wrote in an email that was forwarded to me by someone in the party.  But that’s not all.

“The party leadership had previously told me they would only approve my candidacy for the by-election in Trinity-Spadina, if I agreed in writing prior to the by-election to run in a pre-assigned riding that would be determined by the Leader of the Party’s unelected backroom advisors,” she continues.  (You can read the full email here.)

Lordy, lordy, that’s some rank hypocrisy.

What has also come out of this debacle is the existence of a “green light committee” that would vet candidates before they get onto the open political marketplace.

It’s a tough contest, between the wholesale selling-out of the Dipper’s professed moral superiority, and the translucence facade of the Liberals’ feigned commitment to open party politics, as they are both pretty gross.

And then you have to pit both up against Stephen Harper’s effective exorcism of the Reform-era grassroots populism that once haunted his new party.

Perhaps it is sufficient to say that these three parties stand on eroding ground as they attempt to criticize each others’ ethical shortfalls.



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Follow Justin Ling on twitter: @Justin_Ling


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