Friday, August 26, 2011

On gullibility

I'm pretty sure I've read columns and articles purporting to be written by Murray Mandryk over a period of several years. But I'm having trouble making sense of that recollection after he's gone out of his way to demonstrate that he was born yesterday.

Of course, it's indeed rather typical for right-wing politicians in Saskatchewan to make a show of independence from each other at convenient intervals - the better to put some distance between different parts of the movement in case one of them turns toxic, while also allowing the politician involved to bask in the glow of media declarations of mavericky goodness.

But it's not hard to tell the difference between genuine and faux independence. And Brad Wall - on the opposite side of today's column - serves as the leading recent example.

Throughout Stephen Harper's tenure as head of a minority government, he could count on Wall to serve as a spokespuppet whenever it counted. Any time the Cons have needed a premier to bash the idea of coalitions, defend the indefensible decision to prorogue Parliament at will or push austerity in the midst of an economic slump, while generally remaining silent about his province's interests where they could possibly affect the federal Cons' choices, Wall has been entirely happy to comply.

But once an election was over with or a Con budget already set to pass, Wall would make a conveniently-timed statement of disappointment in the Cons - before going back to serving as a conduit for their talking points by the time any outcomes were again in doubt.

Now, Pat Fiacco's timing in making demands for a new stadium isn't quite as glaring as Wall's in his past budget commentary. But the same principle is still largely at play. And indeed it's arguable that Fiacco's choice to try to grab public attention for an issue which will inevitably divide Regina from the rest of the province - at a time when the NDP needs to gain ground in both by pointing out common concerns to win back power - is no less helpful to the Sask Party cause than an outright statement of support.

Unfortunately, as long as the press is so willing to reward the political games we've come to expect from both Wall and Fiacco, they'll never have any reason to stop. And so we can all too likely count on much more acting to come - at the expense of any meaningful defence of our actual interests.

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