Here we go again. The attack ads haven’t aired (yet?) but the attacks have begun. As the Conservatives did to former Official Opposition leaders Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, so they are doing to Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel.
In a missive to the party faithful, Stephen Harper’s strategists try to demonize Ms. Turmel for a speech she made last week to the Public Service Alliance of Canada – the union Ms. Turmel used to lead.
“In her first address to PSAC since the election, Turmel told the union that as a PSAC ‘member for life’ the union is ‘her family,’ adding that ‘it’s like coming home’,” the memo says, citing Ottawa’s Le Droit newspaper.
The Tories are banking on the fact that in this economic climate, cozying up to the unions is not a popular move. “Caring more about union bosses than about jobs and the economy is yet another worrying example that the NDP is not up to governing Canada,” they say.
Both former Liberal leaders have blamed negative television ads and other Tory attacks on them for their inability to connect with Canadians. Most recently, Mr. Ignatieff was defined by the Tories as someone who was “just visiting” and who was only in politics for himself – having swooped into Canada from his post at Harvard University to seek power.
But unlike the Liberals, the New Democrats are fighting back. Brad Lavigne, the leader’s principal secretary and architect of the NDP win at the polls on May 2, is accusing the “summer interns” at the Conservative Party of failing to do their homework.
“While the NDP indeed want an effective federal public service, who exactly wants to swell its ranks? In the last five years under Stephen Harper, the federal civil service has grown by over 13 per cent or over 33,000 personnel,” he pointed out in an interview with The Globe Monday morning.
“Attacking the Official Opposition for something the government itself has done is just another worrying example that the Conservatives just aren't up to the job,” he added.
The Tories allege in their note that the only way to pay for “the bigger government Turmel is calling for is through higher taxes, as the NDP promised in the May election.”
“But it’s already hard enough for Canadian families to pay their bills, and the last thing they need are NDP tax hikes to pay for Turmel’s big government agenda.”
Ms. Turmel has come under tremendous scrutiny since she was appointed Interim Leader, stepping in to help out Jack Layton after he was sidelined by a new cancer diagnosis.
The Globe and Mail revealed that Ms. Turmel had been a card-carrying member of the separatist Bloc Québécois. It also came to light that she was a member of the provincial sovereigntist party, Québec Solidaire.
Lawyers get a viceregal tongue-lashing
His predecessor ate seal heart and attracted controversy. But Governor-General David Johnston has upped the ante on Michaëlle Jean’s gastronomic adventures.
Mr. Johnston is taking on the legal profession, calling out lawyers and judges for being complacent and not serving their clients professionally. He called on lawyers to change and for the profession to change and better itself.
Delivering the keynote address to the Canadian Bar Association’s annual meeting in Halifax, he even went so far as to criticize lawyers for contributing to the 2008 collapse on Wall Street.
“How many lawyers ‘papered’ the deals that involved fraudulent statements of assets, liabilities, income and valuations?” he asked, according to a report in The Ottawa Citizen.
It’s rare for a Governor-General to be so frank in his assessments. Mr. Johnston, however, is the former dean of law at the University of Western Ontario.
Liberal justice critic Irwin Cotler isn’t surprised. He was a colleague of Mr. Johnston’s at McGill University’s law school.
“He has a long understanding of the legal profession and law,” Mr. Cotler told the Globe Monday morning. “He sees lawyers as being trustees of the public ... lawyers have got to contribute to the wealth of the human condition and not through their work diminish it.”
Mr. Cotler says the Governor-General has a “very strong ethical sensibility” which “finds expression in whatever he does.”
“Few people are better placed to comment on this than David Johnston,” he said.
In addition, The Globe is reporting that the CBA has condemned the Harper government’s justice agenda, especially questioning mandatory minimum sentences and its “eagerness to put offenders behind bars.”
In fact, Mr. Cotler said the government’s justice agenda is hardly that. Rather, it’s a crime and punishment agenda that is misguided in these difficult economic times.
Called the Conservative approach to crime as “overly simplistic,” he said the government is “spending billions on mega prisons at a time when evidence shows that crime not only declined in the last decade” but is continuing to decline.