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Notes for an Address

by

Senator W. David Angus, QC

to

The Royal Montreal Curling Club

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

1:00 PM

 

“THE EAGLE HAS LANDED”


 

Gentlemen, dear friends, Mr. Chairman,

Good afternoon. Thank you for that generous introduction, Boyd. It is a real pleasure for me to return as your luncheon speaker today after a seven-year absence and to be back at this wonderful, historic curling club where I enjoyed so many happy hours as a Member during the nineteen seventies and eighties. Given today’s topic of politics, it is ironic that the reason I found it necessary to resign from the Club was my almost full-time involvement with Brian Mulroney before, during and after his election as Leader of the PC Party of Canada in June 1983 and as Prime Minister of Canada in September 1984.

As to topic, the truth is that Boyd left it entirely up to me, saying “You’ll be great. Just talk about the MUHC crisis with complementarity and, of course, your friends will want to know your take on the Federal General Election”, which had just been scheduled for Monday, January 23rd, now just five short days away!!

Well, as it turns out, the subject matter is a no-brainer!  The Hospital crisis has been resolved, at least temporarily, and the Election has turned out to be perhaps the most significant and interesting one since Confederation — 139 years ago.

Yes, my topic is The Election, and I have entitled my remarks as “The Eagle Has Landed”. The significance of this title will become apparent later on.  In short, the 2006 General Election has been incredible. Volumes will be written about it and I have zero doubt that it will be the subject of analysis by political scientists around the free world for months and years to come. There will be theories and “spin” of every description, with second guessing and recriminations by all and sundry.  But you have given me the privilege of sharing with you my “take”, even before January 23rd.

On the face of things, my CV, Boyd’s introduction and your own knowledge of me, I am Conservative (small “c” and big “C”), and thus I could be presumed to lack objectivity and have a Blue slant to my views.  Notwithstanding this, though, I believe what I am about to suggest is fair, balanced, objective and based on the evidence. I hope you will agree.  I will attempt to treat the subject in three parts.

1.         My observations about Canada’s contemporary federal political scene prior to November 15, 2005;

2.         My observations about the Election;

3.         My outlook as to what you might expect to see in Ottawa after next Monday’s votes are counted.

I became personally interested in Canadian federal politics whilst a student at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs during the period 1956-1959. You may recall that was when the tired post-war Liberal regime of Rt. Hon. Louis St. Laurent came to an end and the Progressive Conservatives under the charismatic John George Diefenbaker and his appealing “Northern Vision” came to power in the successive general elections of 1957, which produced a tight Tory minority (112-105 out of a total of 265), followed by the massive PC sweep of 1958 (208-49), which included 50 PC MPs elected here in Québec.

I found that I was a natural small “c” conservative, very much influenced by the writings and speeches of Edmund Burke and his principles, such as small government and “Big Brother” only when necessary for an orderly society, a good day’s pay for a good day’s work, tangible incentives for entrepreneurship, rewards for risk-takers, reasonable redistribution of wealth, strict fiscal responsibility and accountability for public policies, plus progressive social values. Thus, it was not surprising that I gravitated to the PC Party when I was back here in Canada. I worked as a canvasser in NDG in the 1957 election and shared in the excitement of electing the Hon. William “Bill” Hamilton as one of only nine Tories elected in Québec. In the 1958 sweep, I worked here in Westmount and — can you believe it?? — we elected Ross Webster, who turned out to be the last Conservative candidate to be elected or even come close to being elected in Westmount. In Westmount, like TMR, where it is believed by most that even a “lame dog” in a Red Liberal sweater could win), one good Tory candidate after another (many of them Members of this Club) has gone down to ignominious defeat in every election over the past 48 years.

The deal was closed for me when Rt. Hon. John Diefenbaker (by then Prime Minister) came to Princeton in June 1959 to receive an Honorary Degree and give the Commencement Address at my Graduation Ceremony. As one of a handful of Canadian graduating students, I was invited to dinner with Dief at the University President’s home the night before graduation!  He asked me my politics — I waffled. He then nailed me, “You must join the Young Progressive Conservatives as soon as you get home.  Here, phone Miss Flora MacDonald at my office and she will fix you up!”  That was it.  I have remained a loyal, committed and active Member of the PC Party ever since, a Member of the Conservative Party of Canada since the PCs merged with the Canadian Alliance in December 2003 and I have been a PC and Conservative Senator since June of 1993.

The Diefenbaker Government, even with its huge majority and large Québec contingent of MPs, did not become a dynasty.  It had great trouble governing and was thrown out in 1963 by the well-disciplined Liberals led by Lester B. Pearson. Back to the wilderness went the Tories.  We laboured thereafter, with great frustration, until the Brian Mulroney breakthrough of 1984, repeated in 1988, but followed by the horrendous 1993 (Kim Campbell) Election when our Party was virtually wiped out by the Liberals, reduced to two paltry seats in the Commons and “unofficial Party status”.  Then, as we know, it was back to the wilderness for four more elections and thirteen years of Liberal Rule.

During all these intervening years — 1957 to the present (at least to 2003) — I was able to observe and learn why the Liberals have been in power for fully more than 92 of the 139 years since Confederation. They truly have deserved their sobriquet of “Canada’s Natural Governing Party”, but why?

In fact, my friends, it’s dead simple. They have strictly adhered to and religiously followed six basic principles:

(1)          STRICT PARTY DISCIPLINE and LOYALTY. Liberals faithfully followed the 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt never speak ill of another Liberal!!”

(2)          In Public Policy terms, strong central government and centrist policies to the greatest extent possible. Recognition that Canadians will never elect a Party based on well-to-the-Right policies.

(3)          In political terms, strict control from the top, amongst a few strong Party chiefs based generally in Montréal and Toronto, and occasionally Halifax and Vancouver.

(4)          Total control over the federalist vote (75 seats) in Québec and almost always led by a Quebecer or a fluently bilingual non-Quebecer (with Québec experience) such as John Turner.

(5)          Constant nurturing of the multicultural and immigrant vote in the major cities by perpetuating the myth that the Liberal Party made it possible for them to come to Canada.

(6)          The six principle could be called many things. I call it “THE BIG LIE”.

I will explain “THE BIG LIE” concept in our discussion later. But first, let me say this. Everything changed in 2003, the year of the CA/PC merger and the election of Paul Martin as Liberal Party Leader.  It was remarkable. I witnessed it day after day, right in the Senate Chamber, but also in Liberal circles here in the province of Québec, in Ottawa and needed all across Canada.

Ø      Liberals lost their discipline.

Ø      Liberals started washing their dirty linen in public.

Ø      Liberal factions grew up daily.

Ø      Chrétien Liberals literally hated Martin Liberals.

Ø      Incriminating “brown envelopes” started flowing from the disgusted bureaucracy, previously tightly controlled and politicized by the Liberals.

Ø      The Leadership became careless and arrogant (not traditional characteristics of the kind and gentle Natural Governing Party!!)

Ø      The Liberal culture of entitlement, previously well-concealed and disguised as a genuine function of the Just Society, well-deserved rewards for the hard-working Party loyalists!! (e.g. André Ouellet, Dingwall, Gagliano, HRDC, sponsorship, etc.).

Ø      The Liberals had suddenly become openly bitter, undisciplined, arrogant and incompetent, traits which had always been well concealed in the past.

Ø      The usually loyal Liberal national press, in the face of the massive unfolding evidence, finally began to question THE BIG LIE and to dare to criticize, even make fun of the Liberals.  This in turn led them to take a second look at the carefully thought-out policies and proposed programmes of Stephen Harper and his Conservatives.

And so, here we are on the threshold of voting day faced by an unprecedented and unexpected set of circumstances.

             (i)            There are five days left to go. But, by even the most conservative poll, the Conservatives are this morning 18% points ahead of the Liberals, including an astounding five to ten point lead over Les Rouges in Québec. Can you believe it? The morning papers today, all across Canada, are saying, “The Election is over — the Tories will win with a majority, including up to ten seats in Québec” … Some pundits are predicting 20 or more!

          (ii)            Editorialists across Canada have been endorsing the Conservatives one after the other. Imagine —

Three days agoThe Globe and Mail wrote “Vote Tory!”.

Then came La Presse (unbelieveable!!), “Votez Bleu”.

And now, The Gazette, Le Droit, Le Soleil, The National Post and respected newspapers across Canada are endorsing Mr. Harper’s Conservatives and heralding a Blue Wave leading to a Conservative majority government.

But, dear friends, let me be clear. The Election is NOT over! There are in fact five days left!  In politics, 24 hours can produce profound and vital change. Mr. Harper and his Team are continuing to beaver away, sticking to their disciplined and crisp Campaign Plan, staying focused and on message, and campaigning hard for every single available vote, taking nothing for granted. They know that the only vote that counts is the tally on next Monday night.

But notwithstanding this, I feel comfortable in suggesting to you here today (with no Press present, as promised), that the two Big Stories of this Election are:

  1. The total metamorphosis and collapse of the traditionally strong and bold “Natural Governing” Liberal Party. Today, the papers are not writing about who will win, but rather how soon will Mr. Martin resign, who will replace him and can the furniture be saved??  The reality is that the Liberal Brand has been sullied, discredited and all but destroyed — Grits are today anathema in Québec and, it now appears, all across the nation, with the possible exception of downtown Toronto and Montreal. They are now widely and openly viewed as corrupt, untrustworthy and in total disarray!! There are strong signs that the Party’s financial debt is so excessive that the only post election option may be bankruptcy.
  2. The breakthrough of the Conservatives in Québec, from a base of no elected MPs, no organization, no offices, no constituency bank accounts or fundraising programs.  (In 2003, 2004 and 2005, Mr. Harper had difficulty recruiting Québec-based staff and experienced organizers.)  It was a real challege recruiting a full complement of 75 candidates for the 2005 + 2005 elections.

And this morning, — can you believe it? — Paul Martin and Buzz Hargrove of the CAW were out on the hustings telling Quebecers to vote Bloc — “Votez Bloc Québécois” —, “Elect the Evil Separatists!” and this from the previously great Saviours of Canada, National Unity and our Federation!

Are you surprised? Perhaps not if you watched or read about the Gomery Inquiry, the Sponsorship Scandal, the HRDC Scandal, the Option Canada Scandal, the Via Rail Scandal, the David Dingwall Mint Scandal, the Federal Business Development Bank (François Beaudoin) Scandal, the Canada Post (André Ouellet) Scandal, shall I continue??  No, not enough time.

But, my friends, why did this happen and why now?  It is because THE BIG LIE has been exposed! Nobody believes the Liberals any more. Their friendly Press has abandoned them. They are in chaos and disarray. Their base of new Canadians and multi-culturals is abandoning them as well. They have nowhere to go. Canadians have craved for change for two or three years, since the extent of Liberal corruption was exposed by the Auditor General and their legendary discipline broke down. And at the same time, with such exposure and shedding of light on THE BIG LIE — or rather THE BIG LIES —, Mr. Harper and his Conservatives suddenly became the acceptable alternative, not “scary” or “demoniac”, no “hidden agenda”, not a “redneck”, not a “threat to national unity”, not a “threat to traditional Canadian social values”, and on a positive note, ready, willing and competent to govern, the whole as evidenced by their comprehensive and well-thought-out Policy Agenda, their Team of bright, young men and women ready to commit their lives and careers to making Canada a better place for their children and grandchildren, as well as for all Canadians, and the well-financed and planned Campaign they have developed, rolled-out and executed to a “T” over the past seven weeks.

And so, now, let me tell you about the title of my talk.  In totally unprecedented fashion, Canadians, including the media, are today publicly making fun of the Liberals. The internet is replete with anti-Liberal jokes and insults, some too crude for your tender ears. I have never, ever, in my days of politics seen or heard of such anti-Liberal joking in this country. My favourite is … Prime Minister Martin was invited to address a major gathering of First Nations people. He spoke for almost an hour on his future plans for increasing every Native American's present standard of living. Although the Prime Minister was vague on the details of his plan, he seemed most enthusiastic about his future ideas for helping his "red brother."  At the conclusion of his speech, the First Nations presented the Prime Minister with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name - Walking Eagle. The proud Prime Minister then departed in his motorcade, waving to the crowds.  A news reporter later inquired to the group of chiefs of how they come to select the new name given to the Prime Minister.  They explained that Walking Eagle is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longer fly.

 

Dear friends, The Eagle Has Landed.  The vaunted Liberal regime is over.  The Grits have been exposed!  I can feel you are as excited and surprised as I am. The new Blue Sweep appears to be on —big time. I now look forward to discussing the details of the BIG LIE(S) and other matters with you for as long as you and or your Chairman permit.

Thank you.

 

 


© Copyright Senator W. David Angus 2004
Senate of Canada