Globe asks: Has Dion’s wife ‘gone rogue’? Gone rouge, more like it!

Janine Krieber in black, with white hat. A sign of things to come? Below: Stephane Dion. Time to take a walk, cowboy?

Reports emerging from Montreal Saturday said Janine Krieber, the wife of deposed federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, had posted to her Facebook account a scathing commentary about her husband’s replacement at the helm of Canada’s former Natural Governing Party.

Michael Ignatieff, that person, has since his successful palace coup in December 2008 led the once great national party down to 23 per cent in the polls from 26 per cent under Mr. Dion. This is a remarkable achievement, given that the person Mr. Ignatieff must inevitably be compared with is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a man with all the charm of a dyspeptic badger.

“Dion’s wife goes rogue?” the Globe and Mail wondered in its Ottawa Notebook blog, which reprinted Ms. Krieber’s entire Facebook comment in its original French and also provided a convenient if clunky English translation for those of us who are, as Dear Oscar once observed, condamné à parler la langue de Shakespeare.

So, has she “gone rogue”? Far from it. Gone rouge more like! Leastways, what she had to say made sense – even if it had disappeared down the memory hole by mid-day Saturday – and needed to be said. It may even forecast the best way forward. So if indeed this statement is evidence she has “gone rogue” – a la Sarah Palin, an obvious reference for our U.S. obsessed media – it is a sorry commentary on the pathetic state of the once great Liberal Party of Canada.

Ms. Krieber speaks a profound truth when she states that “by refusing the historic coalition that would have placed (the Liberal Party) at the helm of the left, it will be punished by history.”

It gripes me to this day that Mr. Harper and his dittohead supporters managed to persuade Canadians that the coalition idea – a profound expression of the will of Canadians through our elected Parliament – was somehow “undemocratic.” It was the opposite, of course. Meanwhile, the unprecedented and unconstitutional prorogation of Parliament to prevent a vote of non-confidence by the elected members of the House of Commons was absurdly portrayed as an expression of democracy.

Had Canadian democracy not been suspended in the scheme hatched between the prime minister and the governor general, Canadians would have had about three years of stable and sensible policies from a democratically elected coalition of moderate Liberals and New Democrats. It is not much of a stretch to imagine that such a government could have been re-elected.

It is a national disgrace that last December’s suspension of the Constitution produced barely a whisper of dissent, let alone the “colour revolution” it deserved!

Shamefully, Ms. Krieber’s voice is almost the first one we have heard on this topic.

Mr. Ignatieff, of course, fled from the coalition idea, imagining to the joy of Mr. Harper and his supporters that he could somehow have all the glory himself. We see the results of that miscalculation in the polls cited yesterday by Ms. Krieber.

In the context of the current Afghanistan torture scandal dogging the Conservatives, she questions if a sometime intellectual apologist for torture like Mr. Ignatieff is the right man to speak for the majority of Canadians at this juncture, when the leader of the government so manifestly does not.

Of Mr. Harper and his unprogressive Conservatives, she said: “They are, slowly, like any dictatorship, changing the world. Torture doesn’t exist, corruption is a fabrication.” She then asked, sensibly: “Do we really have the right leader to discuss these questions?”

Ms. Krieber concluded, in the Globe’s awkward sounding translation: “I am starting a serious reflection. I will not give my voice to a party that will end up in the trashcan of history. I am looking around me, and certain things are attractive. Like a dedicated party that doesn’t challenge its leader at every hiccup in the polls. A party where the rule would be the principle of pleasure, and not assassination. A party where work ethic and competence would be respected and where smiles would be real. Maybe I’m not dreaming.”

Does she have a particular party in mind? The Canadian Press describes this comment as cryptic. Maybe it’s not so cryptic, though. And maybe she isn’t dreaming, seeing as there is a party in Parliament right now that fits the bill.

We spend a lot of time out here in Alberta gossiping about potential floor-crossers in the House. But maybe we’re talking about the wrong legislature? Maybe it’s time for Ms. Krieber’s husband, who is still the honorable member for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville after all, and four or 10 of his Parliamentary colleagues to make the long walk to the party of the centre-left that is not going to end up in the trashcan of history?

They could even dress in black if they like!

7 Comments on "Globe asks: Has Dion’s wife ‘gone rogue’? Gone rouge, more like it!"

  1. Patrick Ross says:

    Right. A Liberal-NDP coalition government mortgaged to the Bloc Quebecois, hatched in complete secrecy, and about which Canadians still don't know what the Liberals and NDP conceded to the Bloc.

    Not to mention the extent of the power given to the Bloc under that arrangement.

    "Legislative repeal of the Clarity act? Do we really have a choice?"

    The vast majority of Canadians realized very early how disastrous this coalition would have been, and rejected it.

    So what was that democracy argument, again?

  2. David J. Climenhaga says:

    I feel that – unlike the editors of the SunMedia newspapers, say – I should be grownup enough not reply sharply to commentators who take issue with what I have to say. But, really, Mr. Ross's comment is a little rich, even fanciful, given the recent history of this country. What governing party perpetrated the last constitutional near disaster by dancing too closely with Quebec separatists? It wasn’t the Liberals or the NDP. What politician was largely responsible for the Clarity Act that this reader now so stoutly defends? It was Mr. Dion, for heaven’s sake! Warts and all, I’d trust a Liberal-NDP coalition led by Mr. Dion with protecting the Clarity Act and its principles far ahead of a government led by either current leader of the two largest parties in the House of Commons.

    To suggest the coalition was hatched in secrecy is risible. If it had been – and perhaps it should have been – it would probably be the government today, to the great satisfaction of most Canadians outside of Alberta. Moreover, there’s little real evidence that Canadians truly rejected the idea of a coalition. Certainly they were subjected to hysterical claims and outright lies by the government, its then-desperate supporters and the chorus of neo-conservative voices that dominate the media echo chamber. Despite that, support remained strong, and would have grown stronger with a coalition government in power and making sensible policy decisions for Canadians.

    I can understand, however, how a supporter of this particular government would have trouble with the democracy argument. But it’s pretty simple, really. We have by constitution a Westminster-style Parliamentary democracy in Canada. Guaranteed in our constitution, explicitly (in the Preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867) and implicitly (by constitutional convention) is the right of democratically elected MPs in our system of “responsible government” (meaning the ministry is responsible to the House of Commons) to indicate by their vote that the ministry has lost their confidence. When the ministry loses the confidence of the House, it must resign or request new elections. It was clear in December 2008 that the House would vote non-confidence in the government. If the Governor General had allowed the vote to proceed and then required that an election be held despite the fact the Liberals and the NDP together had enough votes to try to form a government, she would have been acting controversially but within the bounds of the constitution. Prime Minister Harper’s Conservatives might very well have won that election. However, by allowing Parliament to be prorogued without a vote she acted with contempt for democracy and for our constitution.

  3. Sparky says:

    Speaking of rich.

    What Mr Climenhaga declines to take note of is that the bulk of the Clarity Act was derived almost entirely from a similar piece of legislation introduced by Stephen Harper.

    Not to mention that to accuse the Conservative party of "perpetrating" the national unity crisis of 1995 would overlook the actions of the Trudeau Liberal government prior to 1984 and after 1993.

    Brian Mulroney at least had the courage to attempt to settle the National Unity crisis for good. Trudeau was in such a rush to get his name on the constitution that he willfully overlooked the consequences of doing it without Quebec's assent, even if that meant waiting for a non-Parti Quebecois government in Quebec.

    Whereas, during the 1995 referendum, Jean Chretien fiddled away while Rome nearly burned to the ground.

    But I'm not shocked that a supporter of the coalition would have such difficulty with the "democracy" argument.

    If Canadians viewed the Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition as an expression of their democratic will, why did Canadians so fully reject it?

    In fact, the Conservatives briefly polled at 51% support during the coalition "crisis". Not only would the Conservatives have won the repeat of the election that had just been held, but they likely would have won the largest majority in Canadian history.

    Not to mention the efforts here to overlook the amount of secrecy in which the coalition is hatched. Frankly, this is simply hilarious.

    Mr Climenhaga doesn't know what was conceded to the Bloc — and it's simply naive to think that the Bloc willingly went along with the deal without some kind of shiny bauble — anymore than any other Canadian does. Except, perhaps, the Liberal and NDP negotiators.

    Last but not least, the idea that the government could be mortgaged to a separatist party and it be considered "responsible government" in any sense of the word "responsible" is as laughable as such claims come.

  4. Ti-Guy says:

    If you're tempted to reply to anything more Patrick Ross has to say, I suggest you google a bit first. You'll find that it is always an exercise in futility.

    Great post, by the way. I don't believe going to the NDP is any solution, but a sober analysis of a problem is always the first step.

  5. Sparky says:

    So "Sparky" takes onus with the coalition formed b/w Liberals, NDP and the Bloq
    And yet we have…
    Bloc part of secret coalition plot in 2000 with Canadian Alliance
    See Patritck-Sparky wants to forget all events that happened that don't support his little worldview.
    We can see that when Patrick-Sparky says things like "Trudeau Liberal government … after 1993" when Trudeau retired in 1984.
    Yes, facts and Patrick never really got along…

  6. David J. Climenhaga says:

    OK, children! Order, please! A food fight seems to have broken out among respondents to this particular post. Some readers may have confused this space with the Edmonton Sun comments section. Comments about this post will continue to be accepted, but they should be related to the content not to other commentators’ commenting histories and possible strategies. That said, anyone caught using another poster’s nickname will be sent to the principal’s office.

  7. Audrey II says:

    In deference to your above comment, let me express that while it's heartening to see that there are some out there who have a good grasp of the construct of responsible governance and the intentional fusion of powers, the number of Canadians who do not (and the increasing exploitation of this) is of considerable concern.

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