Wednesday, July 21, 2004

From Neo-Cons to Neo-Liberals
 
Yesterday, I'm afraid, having been spent proofreading my wee Rohanna's Master's thesis, I found myself unable to present the promised Tuesday Schadenfreude. And the opportunity to take a timely crack at reviewing our Mr. Martin's cabinet choices presents itself today, so we'll all have to agree to wait for a Thursday Schadenfreude, instead...
 
So: the cabinet.
 
I think it's pretty safe to say that the Prime Minister's claims to some sort of ascendancy of vision were all but invalidated by both his first six months of obsessive poll-watching, his attendant silence on issues, and his subsequent inability to advance any other agenda than a status-quo one during last month's cynical, ugly political campaign.
 
And it looks like Junior's near-defeat at the hands of the Conservatives (not to mention his resounding defeat in his 'home' province) has done nothing to shake his firm illusion that he is some kind of born leader, however lacklustre his actual capacity for mould-breaking political thought.  
 
Changes to the cabinet, and more importantly the lack thereto, seem to have been the order of the day. The retention of the Neo-Liberal faithful: Goodale, McLellan, Pettigrew, Valeri, etc. deals a decisive blow to any notions that the business-centred small-'l' Liberal agenda could be shaken by the fallout over the 'sponsorship scandal' (a scandal largely the work of a business-centred small-'l' Liberal agenda). While it can be argued that the PM had little choice but to retain Landslide Annie and Ralph 'John Goodman' Goodale given their statuses as the only legitimate Liberal representatives of their respective provinces, assigning 'Manly-Locks' Pettigrew and Mr. Valeri (both of whom barely eked out wins vs. more socialist candidates in their ridings) important portfolios looks an awful lot like an act of Neo-Liberal solidarity on the part of the Junior Martin.
 
And Valeri is a special case. The man who arrogantly suggested that he and the pro-business wing of the party represented the future, whereas Rat Pack stalwart Sheila Copps and the socially responsible Liberal wing should sit down and shut up, has been assigned the role of House Leader. In a minority Parliament, the governing party needs a uniter in the mould of Lester Pearson, not a 'uniter' in the mould of George W. Bush, and Martin's loyalty to the divisive Valeri  therefore has the capacity to end up costing him his job.

For the most telling example of whither Junior's vision for a better Canada, however, we are indebted to John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail. In his column today, Ibbitson posits that it was a genuine belief in Martin's dedication to ideas that cost Victoria MP David Anderson his long-held environment portfolio. Having criticised the PM's unwillingness to depart, during the election campaign, from tried-and-true issues about which every political party has roughly the same vision (Anderson attempted to convince Martin to go out on the proverbial limb and talk about more unique issues, such as the environment), the only bearded man in the federal cabinet has found himself on the outside looking in. Perhaps, for our Mr. Martin, the truth about his inexceptionality actually did get through. Too bad for Mr. Anderson, however, that the response was not re-examination, but vicious reprisal.

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