We all know Harper to be a control freak, so little stories like this make me chuckle.
Two Conservative MPs have broken ranks with the government over support for the asbestos industry as Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff faces criticism in Quebec for opposing the export of what he called such "dangerous substances."
Conservative MP Dona Cadman of British Columbia told Canwest News Service Thursday she would love to see asbestos mining operations in Quebec shut down, adding "I could get myself in a lot of trouble for this."
Ontario Conservative MP Pat Davidson told the Sarnia Observer last week — after the Canadian Medical Association called for a ban on asbestos use and exports — that "I'm definitely not supporting the mining or exporting of asbestos."
Now, as things go, these two backbenchers aren't going to make a whit of difference in terms of party policy, but the dynamics are worth noting. Both MP's, are relative newbies, obviously aware of the risk but still willing to stake their claim. Once the House resumes, will they still have the chance to make such proclamations? We'll likely never know because the press doesn't exactly hound these people.
Oddly though, they are aligning themselves with Ignatieff. Ohh, that has to tick off the PMO. I mean, Harper is not one to seek allies, nor one to push his party to seek common ground for resolution. EI anyone?
His loyalists, like Dimitri Soudas, have to of course make this all about Ignatieff. I mean really...whenever something happens in the Conservative Party...it's all about the Liberals. (I hear therapy is cheap these days.)
Harper's spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said Conservative MPs can say what they like, but that does not change the government's policy to "defend and promote the safe usage and export of chrysotile (asbestos)."
He blasted Ignatieff for flip-flopping on the issue and accused him of readiness to shut down a one-industry region. "He's a touring recession," Soudas said.
Ha! Who exactly is a touring recession? Could it be the guy running around the country announcing, re-announcing, and issuing cheques? Have you read the latest debt numbers? Are mirrors verboten in your party?
During a visit to the Thetford Mines region in early August, Harper reiterated the government's support for the export of asbestos, and blasted the Liberals and the NDP for being "urban" parties that don't understand Canada's rural regions.
"We're a nation of regions. We can't travel across Canada and threaten to shut down regional economies without compromising Canada's future," he told a local newspaper in an interview. "These parties have a completely urban perspective. They don't understand regional economies and the nature of the Canadian economy."
Uh, translated that means, 'Can't touch that! (sans music). We need seats...to hell with health!'
To be serious for a minute though, the plight of the countries we export to is certainly not top of mind for this government. The 'Pull yourself up from the bootstraps' screed comes to mind...addressing an audience with no boots of course.
Kathleen Ruff, a longtime human rights activist who lobbies MPs to take a stance against asbestos, praised Ignatieff as "very gutsy" for making his statements in Quebec. She reiterated her criticism of the government for blocking an effort since 2006 to have asbestos listed as a hazardous substance under the international Rotterdam convention.
Being gutsy involves taking thoughtful stands. It's so much more than talking 'tuff' and taking positions built on ideology.
Sadly, that's all our PM seem to know.
He must really hate, when this stuff happens. It highlights his obduracy and that makes me chuckle.