Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius


In Defence of Rona Ambrose. Sort of.

Rona Ambrose is having the bad hair week from hell. (Okay, tacky reference to her coiffure. I know it's wrong. Very wrong. And sexist. Sorry.) First she's viciously ambushed at Nairobi by those snaky Liberals and ingrates from the Quebec delegation, then she's late, then she's sliced and diced by various U.N. functionaries, and if that isn't enough, gives a speech resembling the post-prandial wanderings of the Peterborough County Senior Euchre Club Awards Banquet. And that's only in three days. It's enough to make any girl cry.

Though Ambrose has been thoroughly pilloried (here and here and here, and also here, here, and here) including by your humble ob't servant, repeatedly, I have to wonder: how much of the blame does she really deserve?

Before you fall out of your seats in fits of excessive jocularity, consider this: in days of yore, traditional constititutional theory held, a la Bagehot that the Prime Minister was primus inter pares, first among equals. In practice, in the Canadian polity, this hasn't been true for some decades, as successive prime ministers have concentrated power in the Prime Minister's Office, the first and last resort of government policy. Stephen Harper's New Government is just the last extreme example of this tendency. Ministers of the Crown, holders of the great offices of state are reduced to a brigade of brainless barking seals, unable to pee without express authorization from the PMO. It isn't coincidental that when the Glorious Leader trots out some new initiative, the minister actually responsible is carefully placed in the backdrop as some vacant-eyed golem, ready to spring into life at the word of some PMO flunky.

Which brings me back the the tribulations of Rona Ambrose. The Conservative green plan and the subsequent fiasco at Nairobi was orchestrated not by the scientists and advisors within Environment Canada --- who in any case weren't included in decision-making process --- but by those whip-like minds in the PMO. Unfortunately for Rona Ambrose, she now has to weather the volleys of horse fruit from the likes of me, importuned by a policy she had virtually no voice in creating. Because she's the minister responsible.

Stephen Harper, keen politico that he is, will let Ambrose twist slowly in the wind as the symbol of government incompetence and have her take the fall for the policy he ultimately approved. Then he'll sack her. No mud will stick on him. In such ways are teflon politicians made. If we let them.


Blogger Paul Vincent said...

I wouldn't just slap away all the responsibility from Rona Ambrose just yet. A lot of people consider her to be a potential future leadership candidate for the Conservatives. Chances are she does not care about environmental reform, she is after all a libertarian. However to say she could never had said anything about the portfolio she holds...

All ministers have certain powers in Canada. The usage of these powers has generally lead to some form of corruption or scandal but nonetheless the options are available to her.

I think she truly does believe in a more laxed environmental policy, less policy is better policy and that is one of her core beliefs.

Thursday, 16 November, 2006  
Blogger robert mcbean said...

airing her grievance about the liberal party at an internation conference was what i found irritating. i don't think people in other countries care much about that. i think you can seperate that behaviour from the actual environment policy and comment on it.

it also seems pretty obvious to me that there were not a lot of people happy with the LPC track record on the environment either.

Thursday, 16 November, 2006  
Blogger Saskboy said...

Interesting view, yet I think someone who has the brains to make it to Minister in the federal government, has more sense than to pitch such drivel. I guess being a Minister doesn't mean you have guts, and would be willing to stick it out with Garth Turner should it come to that.

Thursday, 16 November, 2006  
Anonymous Mark Francis said...

True enough... but she can always resign.

Thursday, 16 November, 2006  

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