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Friday, November 28, 2003

Spencer: for hire?

Warren Kinsella (who needs fixed links to individual posts) points out that Larry Spencer may not be the only asshat in Parliament. Check out this press release from the Alliance member for Yorkton-Melville, Garry Breitkreuz.

The punditry around this issue has been enlightening to me. In particular, I heard Progressive Conservative MP Scott Brison on a couple of occasions yesterday (I can hear the production discussions: "Hey, Brison's gay - let's see what he thinks of the merger now"), and he sounded smarter and more animated than at any time I heard him during the leadership. Not about how offended he personally was (though there was an edge of that), but about how guys like Spencer make the Alliance unelectable, and would make a merged party equally unelectable.

Peter MacKay must be thinking pretty hard about the merger now: "There is no place for such comments in the type of modern, inclusive Conservative Party we are about to build." I dunno - sounds to me like Harper is making room. His response that Spencer's statements "do not reflect party policy in any way, shape or form," are, as I heard a few different people comment, a little tepid.

In short, Tories have been sounding like reasonable, intelligent people - people who could govern this country - and Alliance representitives have sounded like cowards, trying to find political cover from these remarks even as they attempt to avoid saying that Spencer is wrong. After all, there's a certain part of the Alliance constituency that thinks like Spencer, and they don't want to lose those voters. That was made completely clear to me this morning as I listened to CBC Calgary's political panel, where the Tory Jock Osler spoke up in no uncertain terms to say that there was no room in any new Conservative Party for thinking like Spencer's, and Reformer Jocelyn Bergoner seemed upset only that Larry spoke out loud. (Link and correct spelling of names as they come available.)

In all the talk around what this will do to the merger plans, one has to at least consider the possibility that Larry Spencer knew his conversation with the Vancouver Sun would go over like a fart in hot tub among the Tories. The resistance to merger among the Tories comes from people who fear that the merger is really a takeover by the Canadian Alliance, but we haven't heard anything about any resistance to merger from old-timey Reformers. Is it possible that people like Larry Spencer are afraid of losing the social conservatism that was hand-in-hand with the economic conservatism in the early Reform Party days? I'm not sure Spencer has proved himself at any time in the past to be cagey enough to have come up with this sort of plan, but you never know.

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