The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Thursday, March 20, 2003

On Wednesday, I wrote that I'd heard Opposition leader Stephen Harper call for "regime change" in Canada during Question Period in the House of Commons. The Hansard shows that he didn't explicitly call for "regime change", but he did some close. Here's the statemnt in context, with some accompanying commentary. The exchage begins with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien answering a question from Harper about why the Iraq situation is different from the one in Kosovo in 1998...
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do not think at this moment it is the same situation because the question of when he committed genocide against the Kurds with chemical armament at one time, it was at the beginning of the 1990s.

I am going back. I said the United Nations has never debated the change of regime. Why not change the regime in North Korea? Why not change the regime elsewhere? We will never stop. The question is that--
[Rhetorical devices cut off by the 35-second limit placed on questions and answers during Question Period.]
The Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): All I can say about that kind of answer, Mr. Speaker, is we cannot change the regime here in Canada quickly enough. Yesterday the Prime Minister said--
"Regime change" has a loose definition. In its more benign form, it would mean replacing one government with another at a general election. However, in the context of the Iraq debate, those two words have been synonymous with the forcible overthrow of a government by a foreign power. Uh-oh. Dangerous ground, Steve.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Stephen Harper: Well, the Liberal members want a change.
Sure, there are about 100 pro-Paul Martin MPs in the 169-member Liberal caucus who want to see the back of Prime Minister Chrétien. By this time next year, their man Martin will almost certainly be in power. Nice try.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
The Speaker: Order, please. I realize regime change is an important topic of discussion and one that generates some enthusiasm on every side but we have to be able to hear the question from the Leader of the Opposition.
How Speaker Peter Milliken manages to keep control of these yahoos while maintaining good humour and civility amazes me. Then again, I'm a hothead.
Mr. Stephen Harper: Mr. Speaker, I got that line from the member for LaSalle—Émard.
Really, Stephen, at that point it wouldn't matter if the Pope gave you that line. By bringing up something that, at this time, means the overthrow of a government and applying it to a democratically elected one, you've blown this question. You could make the most pertinent, incisive query, and...
The Prime Minister has said that Saddam is currently contained and that this containment is working. He knows that Saddam is contained by a quarter of a million allied troops, British, American and Australian, at his doorstep.

Does the Prime Minister really expect these troops to stay there indefinitely and if this strategy was working, why was his government not participating in it?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, talking about change of regime, they did that in the opposition and they went from 25% to 9% in the popular vote.
... the PM will blow it off with a zinger about the Alliance's inability to act as a unified opposition to the government.

So what's the point of all this? In the odd cross between a high-stakes debating club and Weekend Update joke-off that is Question Period, you really do have to watch your words, lest your wily opponent get the better of you. This especialy applies to Harper, who with a little over 4 years in the House is a Parliamentary pup compared to the Prime Minister. This won't be the last that Harper hears of that line. You can bet your bottom dollar that the good people at the Liberal party will file that away for future use against Harper whenever they want to expose his undemocratic tendencies.

Just for fun ('cause I'm a jerk), here's another Alliance supporter asking for the Americans to come in and change the Canadian government. I think that it was tongue in cheek. I hope so...
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