It has been written of Orwell’s newspeak that it “suits the totalitarian regime of the Party, whose aim is to make any alternative thinking (”thoughtcrime”) or speech impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom…” This is a remarkably accurate description of the rhetorical tactics of the Liberal party.
If not guilty of newspeak, the Liberals are certainly guilty of doublespeak. They apparently have no conscience at all about vilifying others for actions they themselves take without reservation. Consider the following comments by Michael Ignatieff in the last week, quoted on the Liberal party website:
“This government has …insulted Elections Canada inside the House.”
“the Conservatives’ reaction …shows disregard and lack of respect for Canada’s public institutions.”
“This lack of consideration for Elections Canada goes along with the lack of respect for other institutions…”
“They are trying to circumvent institutions in our country. Why is the government refusing to respect independent institutions?”
The context of Mr. Ignatieff’s accusations of contempt for Elections Canada as an “institution of our country” is made clear by the following exchange between himself and Government House Leader, Peter Van Loan in the House of Commons:
[Peter Van Loan] “…I am comfortable telling the House that the dispute we are talking about is one between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada. The position of Elections Canada in this dispute is that Conservative candidates are not permitted to campaign promoting our national leader and our party policy.
We happen to think that is an absurd position. We further think it is unfair that it is an interpretation that applies only to Conservative candidates and not to those of other parties equally. That is why we took Elections Canada to court, and that is what this is all about.”
[Michael Ignatieff] “Mr. Speaker, that answer illustrates this government’s contempt for Elections Canada. This is indefensible.
This disdain for Elections Canada is on par with their contempt for our national institutions… This government is trying to undermine our country’s independent institutions. Why is this Prime Minister refusing to respect the independent institutions of our [country]?“
[Peter Van Loan] “Mr. Speaker, I understand why the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore [M. Ignatieff] raises this issue. It is a terrible thing for someone to take on Elections Canada, which is what the member for Toronto Centre [Bob Rae] just did with his lawsuit against Elections Canada.
Do members know what that member proved? He proved that Elections Canada’s interpretation was wrong. He received $50,000 as a result of that, as did the member for Etobicoke Centre. I will bet they are pretty happy that Elections Canada lost that one.”
Here are the facts of Bob Raes lawsuit against an Elections Canada ruling as reported in the media:
Toronto Star, February 25, 2008: “…the Liberal leadership got a break today from a Federal Court judge as they scrounge to pay off almost $4 million in combined leadership debts.“
“Immediately after the December 2006 leadership convention, the Liberal party executive voted unanimously to return the deposits to each contender. The party had made a profit on the convention and wanted to help candidates repay their debts within the 18-month deadline.
However, Elections Canada vetoed the move as an illegal cash transfer.
Rae, who went to court to challenge the election watchdog’s interpretation, was gratified by Monday’s ruling, which he said “restores my faith in good judgment and common sense.”
“…it only seems fair to let (stand) the decision of the Liberal party executive to return the money to the individual candidates,” Rae said. Justice Harrington ruled that Elections Canada was interpreting the law too literally…”
“Rae wins battle for leadership race fees” - boasts Bob Rae’s own website! (see graphic above)
“Former Ontario premier Bob Rae has won his legal battle to be refunded the $50,000…“
“When it asked Elections Canada if it could reimburse the entry fees to each of the candidates - many of whom were indebted by the contest - the agency said no. Elections Canada said recent amendments to the Elections Act, designed to limit campaign contributions to individual candidates, did not allow the party to transfer money to the contenders.
Rae asked the Federal Court to intervene.”
So the Liberals cheer Bob Rae when he sues Elections Canada to recover $550,000* of cash that Canada’s elections watchdog said was “an illegal cash transfer” within the Liberal party.
Yet when the Conservative Party disputes and Elections Canada ruling in court, they are guilty of “contempt of Canada’s institutions” and heaped with scorn for defending transfers within their party which have always been considered legal.
There certainly is a double standard; the only question is whether it is more appropriately “newspeak” or “doublespeak.“