Smug Tories condescend to Canadians

Russell Wangersky
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You miss some of the sycophantic over-the-top smugness if you don’t actually see the performance online. But here is the Hansard version of a question posed to the federal minister of finance, Jim Flaherty, in the House of Commons. The question was asked by a fellow Conservative MP — Durham, Ont.’s Erin O’Toole — as if that isn’t plainly obvious.

“Mr. Speaker, while the NDP calls for job-killing taxes on business, our government is getting results for the economy, creating over 900,000 net new jobs created since the worst of the recession, with 90 per cent of them full-time. Our economic action plan leaves more money in the hands of entrepreneurs to hire more Canadians and grow their businesses, not tax them out of business like the NDP.

“In recent weeks, many Canadian retailers have announced their intentions to expand, something that the NDP has not bothered to mention. Can the world’s best finance minister update the House on these good news announcements?”

The clearly prepared question is followed by a clearly prepared answer from Flaherty, extolling the growth in the nation’s Wal-Marts and their attendant wage-rich jobs.

But wait: don’t just feel insulted that government members enjoy wasting your time and money: watch just how smugly delighted the happy Tories are at

If you’ve ever wondered what a culture of entitlement looked like, all you have to do is freeze the video for a second and count the number of politicians in the frame who clearly believe there’s no problem treating you like a fool and treating Parliament like a joke.

But while I’m talking about people who clearly think that the voters are fools, stop to consider the game the Tories tried to play in Saskatchewan.

In that province, there is a plan to restructure federal ridings.

Based on traditional voting patterns in the province, the changes would mean a better chance for opposition parties to capture federal seats.

People in the ridings suddenly started getting political robocalls from an unidentified political party — the calls were a “push poll,” something that purports to be a public opinion poll on an issue but  actually represents issues in a particular way to try and shift opinion.

Turns out, the calls were coming from the Tories even though they denied the charge at first. Coming from far up in the Conservative party, apparently, right up to national political director Jenni Byrne. Even some Tories are saying she should take responsibility.

How were they caught out? When the media went to the expense of using voice analysts to match the voice on the calls to a well-known Tory pollster.

Then, the Conservatives started classing their denial as “internal miscommunication.”

“Oh? You caught us? Well, when we denied doing it, that was because we didn’t know we were doing it, so our strident denials were just an accident.”

Right. That’s like saying, “I said I didn’t steal your apple, because I didn’t know the apple I stole was your apple. Miscommunication. Ummm — would you like the core back?” 

Who the heck would believe that kind of tripe?

Without the voice analysis, you can bet we’d still be getting a Conservative chorus of “No, it wasn’t us.” 


Because the Tories didn’t ’fess up until the voice analysis evidence was slapped in front of them.

You shouldn’t have to resort to voice analysis to find out if your federal representatives are lying — or should we say “miscommunicating”?

You would think that, at this point, robocalls would be the last tool you’d trot out from the political toolbox, especially as Elections Canada continues its search for the people behind the last election’s robocalls fraud that sent non-Tory voters to non-existent polling stations.

But no: for the Tories, it’s apparently robo-business as usual.

Asked about the shoddy little performance during question period, Prime Minister Stephen Harper could only come up with “The party has already explained what happened with these calls. The party obeyed the rules set out in the act. Our public position on the commissions is very clear. Obviously, parliamentarians and the party try to influence the placement of the new electoral boundaries. These efforts will continue, as encouraged by the law.”

It was an answer as staged as Flaherty’s had been, just one day earlier, and every bit as mealy-mouthed.

Is there a message in all this?

Of course there is.

The message, dear voters, is that someone believes you are idiot sheep with memories so short you can only remember yesterday’s meal of grass, and who wouldn’t recognize that you were being played if your life depended on it.

Political parties act like this until they are punished for their behaviour.

Eventually, they become willing to blatantly and shamelessly waste our time and insult our intelligence.

I think we’re there.

Russell Wangersky is The Telegram’s

editorial page editor. He can be reached by email at

Organizations: NDP, House of Commons, Conservative MP Wal-Marts Conservatives Conservative chorus Elections Canada

Geographic location: Durham, Saskatchewan.In

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Recent comments

  • asd
    February 12, 2013 - 15:16

    stooge lizzie, cap and trade creates an incentive? Yeah because you can levy fees on industry and they won't pass those along as socialized overhead. Your "created" "incentive" is imaginary. Apparently breathable air isn't incentive enough but corrupted tools like you think derivatives are the way to go..... brilliant.

    • Lane
      February 13, 2013 - 09:50

      @ASD: You clearly don't understand cap and trade. High-emitting companies have to buy credits from low-emitting companies. They cannot pass the cost on to consumers because they have to remain competitive with the companies from whom they are buying credits. In the end, the high-emitting companies have no choice but to lower their own emissions as a way of remaining competitive, or else they go out of business.

  • asd
    February 12, 2013 - 15:14

    cons are just an extension of the chamber of commerce which is just an extension of corporate lobby groups at arms length. Completely and utterly corrupt. I won't vote for a system of this nature again and insult my own intelligence in doing so. The great fallacy is that "the economy is people my friends". It isn't. It's the corporate bankbook, and it always will be with traitorous clowns such as this stealing the show.

  • asd
    February 12, 2013 - 15:10

    cons are just an extension of the chamber of commerce which is just an extension of corporate lobby groups at arms length. Completely and utterly corrupt. I won't vote for a system of this nature again and insult my own intelligence in doing so. The great fallacy is that "the economy is people my friends". It isn't. It's the corporate bankbook, and it always will be with traitorous clowns such as this stealing the show.

  • saelcove
    February 11, 2013 - 09:15

    Ottawa guy, The fiberals were in power until 2005 or there about you do not get out much

  • Aunt Lizzie
    February 10, 2013 - 14:38

    Speaking of the fine line between "lying" and "miscommunicating" by politicians who "shamelessly waste our time and insult our intelligence", perhaps Wangersky's next article can talk about the NDP denials that their platform in the last election called for a massive new $21 billion tax, when that proposal is in black and white in their own platform document. See the last line item on the last page of the NDP's own costing document here:

    • W McLean
      February 11, 2013 - 09:57

      "Aunt Lizzie", cleverly spouting CPC HQ talking points, care to distinguish this from the Conservative Party's carbon tax?

    • Aunt Lizzie
      February 12, 2013 - 10:25

      @W McLean: I am happy to answer your question. You see, a cap-and-trade system is one in which government imposes a cap on emissions by industries or individual companies. If they exceed their cap, they have to buy credits from another industry or company. This creates an incentive for companies to reduce their emissions to levels below their caps, so they can be sellers of credits instead of buyers. A cap-and-trade system does not generate revenues for the government - in other words, it creates incentives without taking money out of the economy. The NDP plan involves the collection of $21.5 billion from industry by the federal government - meaning less total money in the economy for things like investment (including in green technologies) and job creation. When the government collects money from industry, it is a carbon tax, and not a cap-and-trade system. There is no "trade" involved in the NDP plan - it's really a cap-and-tax system.

  • Actually
    February 09, 2013 - 19:27

    It would be more in line with truth to say, after the Conservatives spend the surplus and drive Canadian debt to astronomical heights, elect the liberals to straighten things out. But what Con deals in truth anymore?

  • Corporate Psycho
    February 09, 2013 - 15:27

    ABC all around.

  • Ottawa Guy
    February 09, 2013 - 14:40

    SAELCOVE, still having flashbacks from the 1990's are we?

  • david
    February 09, 2013 - 11:50

    Canadian Politics. Smug. Condescending. Now I really think I am not blindly partisan one way or another.....fact is, I think all politicians are self-absorbed hypocrites and crooks. Having said that, the very first names that come into my mind from those 3 clues are Pierre Trudeau (by a landslide), Jean Chretien, and Brian Mulroney. .....Harper? Really?

  • david
    February 09, 2013 - 10:48

    Russell, how about an article on this topic: How "smug" Newfoundlanders, who live, eat and breathe politics to the point of presuming they are SO politically astute as to be piously judgemental, could be so completely unproductively insane as to continue with the partisan, Danny Wassisname-induced, completely inequitable crucifixion of one of the objectively more effective Canadian governments (that bar is certainly NOT high) in recent memory? Rex Murphy is on record as sharing my amazement on this issue, which gives me great comfort that I am not completely mad to question this manic, pointless pasttime.

  • saelcove
    February 09, 2013 - 09:40

    If you ever wondered about the culture of entitlement ask a fiberal

    • Chantal
      February 09, 2013 - 11:31

      Ha ha, "Fiberal." Like a fibber and liberal together. Classic word play! You Tory apologists are soooo clever. I bet you went to private school.

    • Aunt Lizzie
      February 12, 2013 - 10:30

      Hey, Chantal... If you really want to laugh at over-the-top childish wordplay, take a look at the post by Liberal apologist "Scott Free." Judging from his spelling, he definitely did not go to private school.

  • mainlander
    February 09, 2013 - 09:05

    They get their tricks straight from the Republican playbook in the US. Disgusting. Too bad Canada doesn't have recall laws.

  • Justin
    February 09, 2013 - 08:44

    cons = cons

  • Pierre Neary
    February 09, 2013 - 07:56

    Corruption and hypocrisy has become the norm for this government. One doesn't have to go far to find examples.

  • Scott Free
    February 09, 2013 - 07:11

    Proroguie Steve and his Con Party Harperites perform in the only way they know; they are following to the T, the Tory hallmark platforms of lies, deceit, corruption and cover-ups. And, sadly, the tactics of Republican North has spread to other provinces in the dominion; ours is awash with it. Our own Blunderfest Administration is a direct cousin; democracy died in this province during the Danny Damage Era. The Con Party distain for democray on both the Federal and Provincial levels is dispicable.