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PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:42 am    Post subject: Phil Hahn Reply with quote

I just read Phil Hahn's summary of Stephen Harper's interview with CTV. I have to say I'm disappointed. He clearly gets some poll numbers wrong and talks about Canada's neutrality. I posted it all in my blog (in my signature), but I wanted to post it here. There are hyper links to back up my argument on my blog.

I was just browsing around on www.ctv.ca and I came across an article by Phil Hahn talking about Harper's recent exclusive interview he did with CTV. The article that I will be talking about in this post can be found here. First off, I knew I was in trouble when I read the opening line:

"After nearly a year in power, approval ratings reflect the waning of the Tories' political honeymoon."

I don't really understand what Phil is talking about here. Harpers numbers now are virtually identical those he had way back in January, the same numbers that gave him this current minority government. Back in January the Conservatives were at 36% while the latest poll puts them at 34%. This would be within the margin of error, and that means that there is about the same amount of support as before. The only difference that I see is between the NDP and Liberal levels of support, and I attribute the higher Liberal support to all the people who lent Jack Layton their vote giving it back to the Liberals after the they finally got around to choosing a new leader.

Knowing what the numbers actually were, I can't help but wonder what Mr. Hahn was thinking when he wrote this:

"Polls show support for the Conservatives have dropped to the low 30s, from around 40 per cent when they took power on Jan. 23."
I don't know, maybe that's just how he remembers it. Honest mistake right? Can happen to anyone, right? Even paid journalists that are supposed to fact check, be impartial and all that junk, right? Ok, fair enough. I continue to read the article when I come upon this in the very next paragraph:

"But a confident, relaxed and effusive Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who sat down recently for a year-end interview with CTV, didn't seem to give a damn."

Interesting language to say the least, not quite the norm of what I'd expect to hear from a national news report (I'm talking about the "damn" part). That hardly seems like professional language to me, although being an Albertan who used to work in the oilfield I can't say such language is offensive to me anymore. At least he used to the "seem" as to give that perhaps he did give a damn, because who is to say whether Harper gives a damn or not except Harper, right? I guess I'm just shocked that someone writing for CTV would swear in such a flippant way.

Moving on from that, I went on to read a good portion of the rest of the article without any major complaints until I came across this:

"With Canada's image as peacekeeper and honest broker in world conflicts all but erased, Harper's hawkish, pro-Israeli stance, compared to relatively neutral policies under previous Liberal governments, has concerned many Canadians."

He goes on to say that Harper thinks that we've done nothing to deserve this image (of neutrality), but he clearly disagrees with the above comment. I don't know why he thinks Canada's "previous Liberal governments" have had "relatively neutral policies" because he is clearly wrong, and to back up that statement, I will cite former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley:

"We have never been neutral in the Middle East - we have always been a friend of Israel"


"Recently, the Canadian policy has been wrongly portrayed in the media as having moved away from a "neutral" position on the Middle East conflict and toward one which is more "pro-Israel."

A few facts are worth remembering.

First, Canada has steadfastly supported the state of Israel, its right to exist and its right to defend its borders against those who would do it harm. This has been the policy of the Canadian government since the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

Second, Canada has also recognized that the Palestinian people also have fundamental rights, including the right of refugees either to return to the land from which they were displaced or to receive just compensation.

Third, Canada has always been prepared to offer its constructive views, no matter who might be criticized as a result. Successive governments have criticized Israel for its ever-expanding settlements in areas occupied after the 1967 war, while the PLO, and later Hamas, were chastised for refusing to acknowledge Israel's right to exist as well as for their willingness to condone and promote violence against their Israeli neighbours.

But this does not constitute neutrality. Canada has never been a neutral or pacifist country. Rather, Canada has sought to pursue a fair-minded and balanced foreign policy based on principle. This does not mean not taking sides. On the contrary, if you have principles, you must take sides." (Emphasis Added)

The certainly sounds like "previous Liberal governments" have had "relatively neutral policies" to me, how about you? I can handle Mr. Hahn's spin of the numbers to tell the story he wants to tell, but he is blatantly making things up with his relatively neutral policies crap. Maybe if Mr. Hahn gave a damn about journalism, he'd bother to do things like fact check and tell the story the way it is rather than the way he'd like it to be.

But hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Phil Hahn isn't a journalist at all, Right?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps the reporter was quoting out of context, but if you are a CPC member, you cannot be happy with the polls. With tax cuts, surpluses, low unemployment, and virtually no opposition, Team Harper is barely treading water in Ontario and just about completely submerged in Quebec. Imagine what will happen once (if ever) Team Dion get their rapid response and related acts together in the New Year!

I thought the most interesting thing in Hahn's piece was the revelation that Harper's idol is British PM Tony Blair.

In a ctv.ca article Phil Hahn wrote:
(excerpted) .... And in one revealing moment during the interview, Harper named British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a political leader he holds in high esteem -- a bit of a surprise given the fact that Blair leans to the left of the political spectrum.

"I like his style," said Harper.

"Obviously he's a Labour prime minister but I like his style of leadership. It's one that appeals to me. I think he's been very forceful at getting the country and his own party to focus on what he believes to be the national interest rather than the narrow partisan interests -- which is what I think a good leader ultimately does."

My first reaction was surprise - Gee, I thought Australian PM John Howard was his guy. You would have thought that Blair would have stopped by if he had known that Harper was such an admirer.

My second reaction was alarm - I wonder which aspect of Blair's "style" has so captivated Harper's fancy. It can't be his monthly hour long free format press conferences; or the easy accessibility to the press for all of his Ministers; or his complete delegation of the Finance portfolio to 11 Downing; or his championing of Kyoto; or his advocacy of - and participation in - talks with Hamas and Hezbollah in pursuit of a Middle East peace settlement; or his vacationing in the estates of famous rock stars.

Why? Because none of these can be linked to Blair's - and his party's - steep slide in the polls, and thus cannot be reasonably argued to have been "going against the grain" of either Labour Party or British consensus.

Unlike, say, the decision to join the war in Iraq.

Is this what Mr. Harper finds so appealing in Mr. Blair: his willingness to stand by a decision that history will undoubtably judge as being manifestly ill conceived, dreadfully executed, and demonstrably in neither the British nor the American (nor the Israeli, Saudi, Jordanian) "national" interests? It can't possibly be that, can it?

So, is there something else in Blair's tenure that we don't know about, or is this some sort of lame strategic outreach to "progressive" voters in the 416/905 area code?

Somewhat puzzling, no?

Update Dec 25/06: The purpose of this post is not to undermine the leader - which one could presumably do more efficiently by posting anonymously elsewhere - but to point out the logical incoherence in some of his declarations. Harper may be a super-duper strategist, but when you are lagging in the polls in the two provinces key to your career longevity, clearly the strategy - whatever it may be - is not working. Since the PMO apparently does not encourage "devil's advocate" role playing, contributors (especially those who care about the long-term health of the conservative movement) on blog forums such as these would necessarily have to pick up the slack. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

Last edited by cbasu on Mon Dec 25, 2006 12:00 pm; edited 3 times in total

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cbasu wrote:
Somewhat puzzling, no?

I feel like we're in an episode of charlie brown.

It seems to be pretty evident why he would admire Tony Blair. Aside from his steely resolve on foreign affairs, and his appropriate choice to send troops to the unfortunate(but necessary) war in Iraq. Your misunderstanding probably stems from you feelings on that very war. Because in most other ways Blair is a decisive, and intelligent leader.

Lets not forget that it looks good for the PM to support a well-known political figure that is not only NOT american, but also is NOT conservative.

When do you start working for Craig Oliver and co.?
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