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So if you had any doubts….

Posted by ealboim under All, Election 2011, Election 2011 Campaign strategy, Election 2011 Faculty links, Election 2011 Media commentary

Elly Alboim

Yesterday, with its dueling leaks of AG drafts, was probably the most bizarre and most newsworthy pre-debate day in Canadian electoral history. It also provided a coda to a remarkable two weeks of cavalier political behaviour.

Adding it up.

Both the Liberals and Conservatives produced platforms that were outdated before they were published. They manufactured proposals on the fly or matched proposals by others. Chief among them was the extension of the 6% escalator on health transfers.

Both parties trumpeted fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets as their core guiding principles and proceeded to break the fiscal frameworks they had set for themselves. And neither could produce a plan to accommodate the new spending that even a first year policy studies student would accept as real.

And yesterday, both parties trafficked in confidential AG drafts. The first leak was identified by the reporter as coming from a supporter of the Opposition. The second leak was identified by the reporter as coming from the Conservatives directly — not that there was much doubt as both the Conservative spokesperson and designated Minister clearly acknowledged they had copies of a subsequent draft – copies they were not supposed to have. The fact that the AG’s office utterly depends on confidentiality and iterative transactions with government departments did not seem to matter to either. The willingness to risk undermining the institution was palpable in the face of what the parties saw as a potential game changing political event. And despite stern warnings from the AG for people to suspend judgment until reading the final report, the political characterizations and battle roiled on. Shortly afterwards, it was revealed that government members saw fit to misuse a six year old quote from the AG in a minority report. The government was forced to apologize to a furious AG.

And tonight the leaders will be live to the nation arguing about accountability and fitness to govern and suggesting that only they can be entrusted with safeguarding our institutions.

Good thing we didn’t have another week of campaigning before the debate to further test that proposition.

Elly Alboim is an associate professor of journalism and a former CBC TV Parliamentary Bureau Chief.