Monday, 24 March 2008

More on that "Hack-Led Apparatus"...

David Orchard’s recent humiliating gelding at the hands of Liberal Party apparatchiks (and the party’s consequent, richly-earned karmic creaming) cannot fail to recall to one’s mind the spectacularly sordid conditions under which the CPC slithered out of the swamp during those sad, fag-end days of 2003.

Most political parties begin as the literal incorporation of an idea, a mission, or an aspiration. The CPC, though, is what remains of the chalk outline Peter MacKay drew around the corpse of a once-proud organism whose “leader” slaughtered it lest it be re-made into something truly worthwhile though the magic of a reanimating spirit. As a David Orchard organiser and 2003 delegate, I had front-row seats to this degrading auto-da-fé.

David Orchard was a nuisance to the P.C. Party hierarchy, as it was worm-eaten with fierce Mulroney loyalists whose mission--as they saw it--was to perpetuate the great man's legacy and redeem his shattered reputation among Canadians. They were willing to sacrifice the party in the process since, for them, a party without Mulroney (or one that rejects his ideas) simply was not worth having. This explains much bizarre behaviour. Think of their decision to have Mulroney as the keynote speaker at the 2003 leadership convention. Were they worried about featuring, for the delectation of thousands of Canadians watching from home, Canada’s most universally loathed figure? No, because they had already begun to euthanise their own party.

Their Mulroney-worship explains their FTA-obsession. The FTA is a crucial component of Mulroneyism but is only tangentially related to Conservatism. To say otherwise is to say that all Conservatives must believe that wage and price controls are the solution to inflation, since that was the position of a Conservative party leader in 1974.

Alas, since the FTA was Mulroney's only successful initiative, his loyalists carry the thing around on their shoulders--as if it were the Ark of the Covenant--to ease the pain of their hero's crashing fall and of his party's annihilation. It is a way of saying, "Despite everything, we won".

Thus, Orchard was, indeed, targeted for termination, but his political assassination was but one element of a grander scheme. Nobody can sensibly deny that the collapse of the party was an inside job, perpetrated with the knowledge and collusion of Harper and the Alliance leadership.

Let us cast our minds back to 2002-2003. The P.C. leadership candidates have to beg and scrape for pitifully inadequate donations. They go deeply into debt--all except Peter MacKay, who has thousands, even millions, to throw around. Where does this virtual unknown get this kind of coin, when even the whole P. C. Party fundraising apparatus had been coming up dry for years? Corporate Canada had placed its hopes on the Alliance and had been funding it to the hilt since Stockwell Day's tenure; Stephen Harper obviously gave MacKay access to well-heeled Alliance donors. In exchange for what? One can only guess.

Meanwhile, things go to plan. MacKay monopolises the youth delegates, those voters most susceptible to being bought with free CD's, booze, pizza parties and all the other inducements so freely used in ridings where the MacKay machine is strong. The result? The 2003 convention is awash in MacKay youth delegates, most of whom think that John A. Macdonald is an ex-defenseman for the Maple Leafs and that the P.C. Party is something to which you wear a toga. Imbeciles, all.

Throughout his campaign, MacKay makes speech after speech of excruciating dullness--upon which a real idea never seems to trespass--with all the charisma and passion of over-ripe eggplant. That's fine, though, because the MacKay machine subverts the delegate selection process virtually everywhere, with the tacit support of P.C. Party Headquarters.

Naturally, the Orchard campaign is MacKay's main target: in one riding, the Riding Executive tells known Orchard supporters to vote at an address which turns out to be a derelict pawn shop. MacKay's operatives take no chances and cast a wide net. At a function in Ottawa, leadership candidate Heward Grafftey is brought almost to tears while telling me how MacKay militants had bribed Brome-Missisquoi voters he had known for years, finally saying, "I don't want to be in a party that allows this."

I go away wondering why MacKay would risk having these misdeeds leak to the press and destroy the credibility of the party. I never suspected then what I know now: MacKay knew that there was no longer going to be a party.

Until a journalist decides that this sorry tale is worthy of a full investigation, we may never know how deeply Stephen Harper was involved in MacKay's manoeuvres, but we can reasonably assume that Harper helped bankroll them and that he expected delivery of the P.C. Party in return. He then sat back and watched the “leadership” campaign (probably smirking every time MacKay angrily denounced the very notion of a merger). In short, Harper may well have helped fund and plan one of the most egregious acts of political fraudulence in living memory. The merger was technically an indictable offence, since Harper was literally the receiver of stolen goods.

One may say, "But this isn't like the Sponsorship scandal. Nobody lost any money." No, we just lost our dignity and self-respect. Watergate didn't cost American tax-payers a dime: Nixon simply established a parallel government that operated above the law, yet democracy is a treasure above all price, and, like Nixon, Harper and MacKay debased what is most precious to us; thus, what they did is far more ignoble, far more sinister than anything scoundrels like Chrétien and Guite have done.

The worst is that they got away with it and now serve as exemplars of the dictum that corruption works. I'm sure the 2003 youth delegates were well instructed: I gather that a new generation of disillusioned drop-outs and amoral hacks was birthed that year, and, as a degrading influence upon national morale, that out-reeks the Sponsorship affair…by far.


Aeneas the Younger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aeneas the Younger said...

Great Post. Bang-on. I was invited to the PCPC's "National Leadership Institute" in 1987. The Conference was open to invited Youth Delegates who were thought to be the Future MPs of the Party.

My disillusionment with party politics began that week. Almost everything was about media (and thus voter) manipulation and the ideology served was extremely neo-liberal.

At the time, I was a somewhat more economically right-wing person (many of us were - coming out of the stagflation era ...), but the rest of my views were pretty much standard Macdonaldian conservatism. My full evolution as a thinker on such matters was in mid-flight at that point, and I was fast becoming a sceptic on the issue of FTA.

It became apparent to me, especially in talking with the Albertans at the Conference, that this Party was populated with some folks I could not countenance.

Some months later, I came to fully realise that the whole thing had the stamp of the US Republican Party on it. Later-on, my source would confirm that the concept was lifted from them.

At a later University campus Association Convention, I led the fight to squash a formal alliance between the Young Tories and the Young Republicans. This was a bitter fight on the floor and my nataionalist arguments won the day - but at a price. The neo-liberals saw me as a (if you will allow) powerful and charismatic Tory capable of rallying people to the Loyalist Standard. Later-on, I would provide critical support to a notable Red Tory from Queen's University as OPCCA President.

The right-wingers never forgave me, and I later learned that they ran a smear campaign against me behind my back.

It didn't matter anyway. After FTA passed, I retreated from formal politics, and eventually would abrogate any allegiance to the party after NAFTA was promulgated.

I can completely identify with your story. I too, lived it.

Never underestimate the forces at play in all of this.

Red Tory said...

Interesting. I have to confess that during the period of the PCs catastrophic demise and Liberal majority rule, my already somewhat apathetic interest in the Canadian political scene had waned to the point of paying hardly any attention to it at all. Most of my interest was focused on the more worrisome events transpiring south of the border and in Britain (I used to listen to BBC live all day long while working at home). By the time I came around to surveying the domestic scene with a bit more scrutiny, the prospects were a rather bleak choice between the hapless, addle-brained, scandal-plagued Martin government and the resurgent quasi-Republican “Conservative” Party. Hoo-boy! Lesser evil time.

The Trusty Tory said...

"Alas, since the FTA was Mulroney's only successful initiative, his loyalists carry the thing around on their shoulders--as if it were the Ark of the Covenant--to ease the pain of their hero's crashing fall and of his party's annihilation. It is a way of saying, "Despite everything, we won"."

What about the GST? The elimination of the NEP? There are a heck of a lot more accomplishments then the single one you mention. And I think you know that.

By the way, I linked to your site...expect me often..;)

Red Tory said...

Well, there goes the neighbourhood. ;)

The Trusty Tory said...

"Well, there goes the neighbourhood. ;)"

He loves it.

Ti-Guy said...

Congratulations on this new blog "Sir Francis." A much-needed addition the the mix of political discussion.


Aeneas the Younger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aeneas the Younger said...

DBT is lurking here?! I think I just vomited in my mouth ....

You can't teach the unteachable - as it were.

The guy only knows the reality he imagines, or has selectively read about.

Aeneas the Younger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aeneas the Younger said...


Son ... the POINT that DT is making is that real conservatives do not hold to a policy proposal, or even a law passed, as being a something fixed permanently on the Party's soul. Times change. And as times change, and conditions change, policies need to be revised, revamped, and perhaps even rescinded.

FTA is not sarcosanct, or a litmus test on someone's conservative committment. It is merely a policy - one from 1988, and one that has probably proved to be untenable.

However, the CPC has elevated it to an article of faith - thus disproving that they are even conservatives.

Conservatism - by its very nature - eschews ideology. Do you even understand that cardinal principle?

By the way, principle is different than ideology. Do you even understand etymology and semantics?

Sir Francis said...


Thanks for stopping by. I'm not sure how often I'll manage to up-date, but I'll do my best to ensure that my pebbles have meaningful ripples...

Sir Francis said...


You can't teach the unteachable...

Oh, I don't know. DBT hasn't yet convinced me that he's utterly unteachable. I've cracked harder cases.

He's a Libra, so he's bound to be flakey, but I'm holding out hope for him... :)

Red Tory said...

I don’t know that DBT is all that concerned with ideology, or principles for that matter… It seems that politics is for him more of a “sport” thing and backing a particular party somewhat akin to supporting a football club. It’s all about loyalty, allegiance, and being part of the winning team. How ends are achieved is of little consequence, defeating “the enemy” is all-important. There is no “higher purpose” involved.

That’s just my impression, of course. The same could be said of any number of people who unconditionally support their party of choice irrespective of its shortcomings or outright failures. There are plenty of such knee-jerk boosters in all parties. Being utterly predictable, they tend to be quite tiresome for the most part.

Aeneas the Younger said...


Swimming with the School is something I have never been very good at. I am a Monrachist-Traditionalist-Progresive-Nationalist-Iconoclast. Chew on that !

Aeneas the Younger said...

... and a terrible speed-speller!

Red Tory said...

I thought you were just a contrary S.O.B. ;)

Red Tory said...

There's a certain paradox, wouldn't you say, in a self-described "iconoclast" adhering to a philosophy that venerates tradition and advocates a vigorous defense of what Burke called "the natural order of life"?

Sir Francis said...


Thanks for the Brookings link, by the way--upsetting, and all too predictable.

Sir Francis said...

There's a certain paradox, wouldn't you say...

I'm not so sure about that. A good number of prominent English Tories (perhaps most) have been deeply eccentric, fish-out-of-water characters, whereas the British liberal tradition is comprised of fairly conventional, well-adjusted chaps. Think of the difference between Gladstone and Disraeli, or of John Stuart Mill and Ruskin (or Carlyle).

Between them, who was the iconoclast--Addison or Pope? Lloyd George or Churchill? Alexander Mackenzie or Sir John A.?

liberal supporter said...

Good to see you back! I had to read through a whole bunch of comments to see who it is. Good on you, letting the pup have the name.

I like being reminded of real Conservatives, so keep at it. I learn a lot from reading you, ATY and RT. It is hard to describe the feelings I have reading you guys, it is warm, like a sense of comfort, a sense that there are people who care. I've voted Liberal for years, but mainly because I see them not making irrevocable changes. I don't get that same warm feeling as often. Contrast that with the great apprehension I feel when thinking about the Harper party. Then I feel very precarious, the feeling like one false move and they come to take you away.

I seldom voted for Conservatives, though my dad did on occasion. Generally from where I sat, the Conservatives were the party you would put in when the Liberals need a time out, or even a spanking.

In those days, you could vote Conservative with confidence, knowing that they might not do things the same way, but they were sincere, reasonably honest and at the end of their mandate, we would still have a country.

Not so with the Harper usurpers. I cannot think of one institution that they have not attacked, and I am concerned that majority power would lead to a banana republic style police state, complete with endless wars, people turned against each other and spying on each other. They want to institute an "I'm all right Jack" society bolstered and maintained by the shrieking stormtroopers that currently are limited to various blogs. In the name of "freedom", they want to dismantle all avenues of public discourse, sell them to their friends and we will have a complete brainwashing system in all media to keep us believing that "everyone else" thinks like them.

Welcome back!

Red Tory said...

SF — Oh, true enough. I just find it to be a somewhat curious paradox, that’s all. Perhaps it has something to do being unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd, to paraphrase Dame Sitwell.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Yes - seemingly - but my iconoclasm is directed at celebrities, politicians and business leaders. My iconoclasm is directed to the products of modernity. I typically have the greatest respect for The Royal Family, Old Money, and those with a Military lineage. I don't consider many of the latter as products of modernity.

As examples, I personally had no problem with the House of Lords or the idea of an appointed Senate.

Sir Francis said... paraphrase Dame Sitwell.

Ah, a Sitwell reference! Only you could pull that off, RT... :)

Aeneas the Younger said...


Tories fear mob-rule. Mob-rule meaning the dictatorship of the masses. Diversity is destroyed when we all feel the social pressure to conform and mouth the same ludicrous platitudes.

I support Civil Unions because same-sex relations have been with us since the Dawn of Time. Make no sense to oppose such things given the reality of its existence. It seems pretty puritan and liberal to me to claim that such policies will destory Western Civililsation.

If Gladstone and Mackenzie were alive today, they would be with the Radical Right on this issue. Tories were always a lot more lassez-faire when it came to matters of the boudoir. "School for Scandal" anyone? LOL

Sir Francis said...


Nice to see you here. I like your expression, "Harper usurpers". I'm tempted to view the current administration as an Interregnum, with all of the Cromwellian implications the term invokes.

Red Tory said...

ATY — Ugh, SoCons are the worst sort of meddlesome “social engineers” around. Following one of Ti-Guy’s links over at CC’s place (I should know better) I actually suffered through some kooky windbag bloviating in high dudgeon about the mortal wickedness of what he referred to as “sterile sex.” Not satisfied apparently with repressing homosexuals (an “odious form of sterile sex” according to this twat) some of them now want to control what’s going on in the bedrooms of everyone else as well. Unbelievable.

On a related note, I watched an excellent lecture the other night by Chris Hedges speaking at Harvard last year. Very powerful stuff. Maybe I’ll break my “hiatus” again and post it. I find it incredibly hard not to blog, even though I’m busy with other stuff.

Sir Francis said...

I actually suffered through some kooky windbag bloviating in high dudgeon about the mortal wickedness of what he referred to as “sterile sex.”

Why is it that neo-cons so often provide the most persuasive arguments for that which they ostensibly wish to discredit?