Regarding Andrew Coyne's posts today on his Blog. Mr. Coyne apparently disagrees with Joe Clark's statements regarding Stephen Harper. Mr. Coyne is a far superior writer in comparison to me, but that doesn't make him right.
In fact both the National Post and the Globe and Mail ran polls on the topic of Clark's statemets this week. In the case of the Globe poll, 65% agreed with Clark. In the National Post poll, the last time I checked the percentage of respondents agreeing with Clark was at 66%.
So I'll take a moment and critique a few of Coyne's comments regarding Clark and Harper:
1) Coyne "Harper now says he would not have sent troops to Iraq, but would only have offered "moral" support."
You'd think that there was an election coming up or something. Harper is saying that he wouldn't have sent troops to Iraq, but at the time he was standing up every day in the House of Commons, fist raised in the air and body shaking with indignation, demanding that the Prime Minister send troops to Iraq.
Hansard, Jan 29, 2003
(Stephen Harper):"We have called for participation in the predeployment exercises."
(Stephen Harper): "Make no mistake, Saddam's behaviour to date indicates that he will not honour diplomatic solutions so long as they are not accompanied by a threat of intervention. The least sign of weakness or hesitation on our part will be interpreted as incitement.... We believe that Canada cannot stand on the sidelines in such a moment.... Canada will be counted."
Is it just me, or does it sound like Harper wanted to send Canadian troops to Iraq? Now I'm all confused.
2) Coyne "Mr. Clark led the Progressive Conservatives to their worst-ever popular vote showing in 2000, just barely over 10%, where they remained, more or less, ever since. When the time came he was repudiated by 90% of his party in the vote to merge with the Canadian Alliance. So Clarkism represents, at a rough estimate, somewhere between 1% and 2% of the population."
Is this voodoo math? 12% of Canadians voted for non-Canadian Alliance, moderate conservatism (aka non-Liberal, moderation) in the last election, a small percentage admittedly.
But Mr. Coyne makes a giant leap in his conclusion that since a large number of PC Party members voted to join the Alliance (and don't even get me started on the number of Tories I know, including me, who were not contacted once regarding becoming involved in this vote), that that means more than 10 percent of Canadians have instantaneously decided they aren't interested in either moderate conservatism or non-Liberal moderate, pluralistic government.
Which is what Mr. Clark represents, of course, more than any other politician in the country.
Coyne "UPDATE: Now he's endorsing Ed Broadbent. Question: How was this man allowed to pass himself off as a Conservative all these years? Should we now conclude he was in fact a double agent?"
I'm not sure how long Mr. Coyne has been a political reporter. Obviously not long enough to remember the days before the 1993 election, when people and politicians from different political parties could have enormous respect for each other despite their differing political opinions.
I could give any number of examples, but instead I will use just one, the story of when Pierre Trudeau introduced his son Justin to Joe Clark and his daughter Catherine, from Justin's lovely eulogy at Pierre Trudeau's funeral.
"But at eight, I was becoming politically aware. And I recognized one whom I knew to be one of my father's chief rivals.
Thinking of pleasing my father, I told a joke about him -- a generic, silly little grade school thing.
My father looked at me sternly with that look I would learn to know so well, and said: "Justin, never attack the individual. One can be in total disagreement with someone without denigrating him as a consequence."
Saying that, he stood up and took me by the hand and brought me over to introduce me to this man. He was a nice man who was eating with his daughter, a nice-looking blond girl a little younger than I was.
My father's adversary spoke to me in a friendly manner and it was then that I understood that having different opinions from those of another person in no way precluded holding this person in the highest respect."
Full Text of the Justin Trudeau Eulogy
With those words in mind, I think it's fitting that Mr. Clark, at the end of his career, has decided to show respect to one of his old adversaries by campaigning at his side.