Thursday, January 14, 2010

Crossing the Line

I confess to thinking what I'm about to write, yesterday, but I was so caught up in the human suffering in Haiti, that I thought it inappropriate and pushed it out of my mind.

While I am still keeping abreast of what is happening in Haiti, the PM went a step too far today, so I am going to mention it.

Let me begin by saying that I think the military and our government have done a good job of getting relief to Haiti quickly. I was pleased to see today that they decided to match all donations made by Canadians (up to 50 million) and have also signalled that they will consider speeding up the immigration process. This is all good news that I don't think is diminished by what follows.

I first noticed that there were quite a few photo's appearing in papers and on TV of the Prime Minister on the phone, supposedly speaking with heads of state. Odd, I thought, but okay. Then yesterday, I was listening to the radio and was told that Michaelle Jean would be giving a statement at about 1420 I think, from Rideau Hall. Then it was moved to 1430, then as the clock ticked closer to 1500, the station said they had no idea what was going on and couldn't reach anyone to to find out.

Shortly thereafter, media was alerted to a photo-op only, (no reporters) in the PM's office. A video without sound, showed the GG along with the PM and various Ministers, discussing the issue around a table.

At that moment, I thought that someone in the PMO co-opted the GG and used the moment to present Harper. It chafed, but as I said, I pushed it aside and didn't want the cynical to take away from a disaster.

The GG did of course finally speak and while clearly shaken, she gave as powerful a statement as I have heard. Her statement certainly overshadowed anything the PM had done or said.

So, here we are, another day and more tragic news coming by the hour and what do we learn? The PMO staged yet another photo op.

Update: I just received this message from the PMO marked “Urgent.”

OTTAWA – Public event for Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Thursday, January 14th is:
3:00 p.m. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mrs. Laureen Harper will make a donation to the Canadian Red Cross

Crass doesn't begin to describe what this is. Whether it is the brainchild of one of the PM's staff or he thought of it himself can't be known, but either way, it is the lowest form of politics. I'm not sure it gets worse than riding on the back of tragedy to enhance your own image.

If you haven't already done so, please consider donating today by choosing one of the organisations outlined here.


Anonymous said...

You said what everyone in Ottawa has been thinking. Even a Conservative expressed their disgust to me today.

Anonymous said...

Never too busy for a photo op....

KNB said...

Anon, I think it's a tough thing to say at a time like this, but I suspected I wasn't alone.

calgarygrit said...

Well, you have a point. But on the red cross one, I don't really have a problem, since the photo op of the PM donating could help encourage other people to do likewise. Like when politicians give blood after a tragedy, or when Chretien ate steak at a photo-op after the mad cow outbreak. There is a purpose to it.

KNB said...

CG, you're entitled to your opinion and I take your point.

Had it been done in isolation I might agree.

It wasn't.

penlan said...

There are photo-ops all over the place now with Harper, Cannon, Mackay. 2 vids of Harper, one with sound, with the GG there too - a brief one. It's sickening. All this in hopes their numbers will go up. ANY Party that was in power right now would be doing it's utmost to get help to Haiti but I'm sure we wouldn't be getting superfluous photo-ops except with Harper. Narcissistic to the max.

Cari said...

Far and Wide did not like that photo-op at the Red Cross, either and called it crass. I agree, he is trying to change the subject, so his numbers move. I hope this bites him in his derriere but good.

Anonymous said...

At least the Harpers' donation will do some good. Way better than that single sandbag that Chretien added in Winnpeg during the 1997 Red River flood - right after he called a needless snap election (second shortest majority government in Canadian history btw).

marie said...

I saw Harper this moning on Tv doing another phot op with his blue sweater attitute. Sorry Haper,you don'y fool anyone anymore and your a fake and an opportunits and even your supporters are commenting on it.

Give it up Harper. Time to get back to the real word. We don't need you, we don't like you so get lost and take your goons with you. Maybe you can set up a new resident in Haiti where you can do the most good.

Gayle said...

I am not so concerned about the photo op.

I am a little more disturbed about the talking points memo regarding Dosanjh's tweet. Dosanjh eventually retracted that, by the way.

The YPM was sent out immediately complaining about how Dosanjh was politicizing this tragedy, and how the CPC would not do so, which of course, in itself was politicizing the tragedy.

penlan said...

Agree with you Gayle. Dosanjh needs to think before he says anything anywhere. He's too quick & is off the mark at times. Very bad optics in this case.

KNB said...

Gayle, Penlan...I think it's important to remember that when Ujjal made his first comment, he had limited info. Once he had more, he corrected.

That the CPC is messaging this is indeed political opportunism.

Penlan, I know him. He reacts yes, but he bases his comments on info.

penlan said...

"...I think it's important to remember that when Ujjal made his first comment, he had limited info. Once he had more, he corrected."

But that's the problem. He could have waited longer to get more info before tweeting something he had to correct. Then it becomes fodder for the Cons to use. It's already in the media with pics of Ujjal. It stands out. It just causes problems. I do realize the Cons are politicizing the whole thing as well. All this could have been avoided if he hadn't reacted so quickly to limited info.

KNB said...

I don't know penlan. I'd rather have someone who speaks from the heart and has the courage to say they were wrong.

The CPC will jump on a hiccup and blow it out of proportion. It's a tiny thing that the Taylor's of the world will work and go nowhere.

Gayle said...

I wish he had waited, but he retracted which is the adult thing to do.

Talking points memos complaining about politicizing, when a TPM is also politicizing is just a bit harder to accept.

Hugh said...

I watched the Prime Minister speaking to Canada last night about our Haiti disaster response .... and that was right and appropriate ....... but then I watched in great disbelief his cheque signing photo-op and my response was immediate, visceral and horrified at ... sorry, I don't have words to describe such crass political cynicism ....... and then you posted this ......

"Update: I just received this message from the PMO marked “Urgent.”

OTTAWA – Public event for Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Thursday, January 14th is:
3:00 p.m. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mrs. Laureen Harper will make a donation to the Canadian Red Cross"

.... and now I am saddened and angered .... by what he did, but also by my awareness, upon reflection, that I had instinctively grasped that this was a cynical set-up for a photo-op .... now confirmed.

penlan said...

I'm not "against" Ujjal, far from it. He's an ethical, honest person & I personally like him. Twitter makes it easy to dash off things & send them out without giving a person more time to think things through sometimes. All MP's need to take heed on this thing. Look at Baird & his cat Thatcher when she dies. It became a foreign relations snafu. It's good he corrected but again next time wait a bit. ;)

Tomm said...

I'm not sure I understand any of this post.

Firstly what is the problem with the PM giving his personal money and also showing Canadian's he is doing so, especially since the government has committed to matching grants?

Secondly, given the GG is born Haitian, what is the problem with her and the PM both showing their deep concern together?

Thirdly, what is the issue with Dosanjh, did he do some crass political thing?