Joined: 02 Mar 2009
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Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:03 pm Post subject: The biased canadian press strikes again
( saw this artcile this morning and wasn't surprised it came from joan bryden and the canadian press and they found some poll from harris decima to back up there over the top attack on the conservative government )
Prorogation backlash hits Tories hard
Poll says Canadians see break as vacation
By Joan Bryden, THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA - The Harper government has jettisoned its bunker-style media strategy and the parliamentary calendar as it scrambles to undo the self-inflicted damage over its decision to suspend Parliament.
The suddenly media-hungry Conservatives trotted out a pair of cabinet ministers Thursday to assure Canadians they're hard at work - and that a new proposal to cancel two parliamentary spring breaks is not just a cynical political ploy.
But a new poll suggests Canadians think the government isn't doing enough with Parliament out.
As part of a concerted campaign to dispel that impression, the government is proposing to sit two extra weeks once Parliament does finally resume business on March 3. They want to cancel a week-long break in March and another in April - and they appear to have the consent of all three opposition parties to do so.
"The two break weeks need to be cancelled so we can work hard," Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis said. "We want to sit as much as possible in order to get the measures passed that we think Canadians want to see passed."
That assertion raised obvious questions about why Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament - which was to have resumed Jan. 25 - in the first place.
Critics insist it was largely to avoid politically damaging parliamentary hearings on the Afghan detainee controversy. But Paradis and Industry Minister Tony Clement continued to insist the time-out was necessary to "recalibrate" the government's agenda as it prepares for the second phase of its economic action plan, to be unveiled in a March 4 budget.
"We've used the intercession quite strategically to make sure that we are connected to Canadians' concerns, their hopes, their aspirations," said Clement. "That's a perfectly appropriate thing for a government to do."
Clement's eagerness to demonstrate government activity was in contrast to his contention a few weeks ago that only the "elites" care about prorogation.
Thursday marked the second time in as many days that ministers have met with reporters to offer a summary of their work at a pre-budget cabinet retreat. Their sudden accessibility is in stark contrast to the Harper government's normal routine, which is to refuse to even disclose when cabinet meets, much less what went on.
Over the past two weeks, Harper and his ministers have held a series of news conferences, photo-ops and briefings to demonstrate they're hard at work. Harper has also shuffled his cabinet and appointed a raft of new senators.
None of it appears to have convinced Canadians, according to a recent poll by The Canadian Press Harris-Decima.
The survey suggests 39 per cent believe the government has been not at all active or working hard since Harper prorogued Parliament on Dec. 30. That's more than triple the 12 per cent who said the government has been very active and hardworking.
Another 37 per cent said the government has been somewhat active.
Whether or not Tories will admit it, Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg said prorogation was a big political mistake and "they've paid a fairly significant price for it."
Gregg predicted that cancelling spring breaks and other shows of activity won't help the Conservatives recover from the error. That's in part because the Tory slide is not simply opposition to prorogation, but a reflection of Canadians' uneasiness with Harper's reputation as an "extremely partisan," bullying tactician.
"It's much larger (than prorogation). It's a reflection of character, it's a reflection of an individual who will use - or in this particular instance misuse - the tools of democracy, Parliament, in order to further their own vested interests," he said.
"So they're not going to solve that problem by sitting through the spring break."
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said he has no problem with the government's plan to cancel the parliamentary breaks, but suggested it would be better if the Tories simply came back to work now. He said Harper's excuses for the shutdown have disappeared and now the PM is "in a scrambling act to ... catch up to the Liberal party," which has been garnering headlines by holding roundtable discussions on Parliament Hill since Jan. 25.
"This is a government desperate to repair the damage that its own follies have committed," Ignatieff said.
"Parliament should not have been shut down. Canadians are prepared to get Parliament back to work. Why is the prime minister not prepared to do that? And now, he wants us to work during the break weeks in March and April.
"We're perfectly prepared to do that but we're wondering why we couldn't have started working on the 25th of January."
The usual procedure after a prorogation is to follow the established calendar which would mean the MPs would have had a break week after March 15, just days after returning to the Commons. After nine days of sitting they would have had another two weeks off in April, including the week of Easter.
Bloc Quebecois House leader Pierre Paquette said his party won't object to cancelling the break weeks because "we at least want to get back part of the wasted time." But he said the extra weeks won't undo the damage caused by prorogation, which shut down a parliamentary investigation into the Afghan detainee torture scandal.
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