A Tory Bounce?
The Conservative party is about to head into a caucus retreat. Most observers and reporters acknowledge the governing Tories have had a rough time in office, thanks to public opinion if not because of anything any opposition parties or members could muster in the Commons. Almost certainly the Conservatives will be talking about policies and programs they feel will give them that much needed public opinion bounce, and perhaps give them at least a fighting chance at forming another government when the next vote is called.
There is a possibility that foreign affairs might get addressed. But in reality that’s only the slimmest of chances. Insofar as the Tories are likely concerned, only Afghanistan is to get serious attention, and policy for and in that country will get talked about only because of how serious a domestic Canadian issue the war in that country has become. Some observers suggest fixing the public relations nightmare caused by Afghanistan may be the main if not the only problem PM Harper will have to fix if he expects to salvage his regime. Even respected academician and author on military affairs, the Calgary-based David Bercuson, is now on record stressing: “Afghanistan has got to be very high on the list of problems he [Mr. Harper] has to fix...The public is getting the perception that Ottawa is all over the map on this issue, and this isn't the way to manage a war...He has to improve the unity of the message of his people, find someone who will be the chief spokesperson or change out the Minister of Defence” [Dr. Bercuson cited in Alan Freeman and Jane Taber, ‘Minister’s Rift with General Erodes Support, PM Warned,’ Globe and Mail
, 31 July 2007. Story posted at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070731.wHillier31/BNStory/Afghanistan/home
But will this Tory caucus really exist to address the fundamentals of foreign policy, or of any kind of policy? One reporter observes: “With the Tories stalled in the polls and licking their wounds from a rough spring in Parliament, the party needs to come up with a fresh approach at the meeting that begins tomorrow in Charlottetown. Shaping this strategy will no doubt be the main topic when 149 Tory MPs and senators gather... But whatever the rank-and-file propose in Charlottetown, all evidence indicates that their ideas will qualify as little more than suggestions...Despite years of championing accountability and the importance of MPs' independent voices, Harper has established an unprecedented one-man hold on Ottawa” [Les Whittington, ‘Harper Maintains Firm Grip on Agenda,’ The Toronto Star
, 31 July 2007. Story posted at http://www.thestar.com/News/article/241535
]. One has to wonder just how much policy the Conservatives really even had when they blundered themselves into office.
Posted by Stan Markotich
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