Canadian political awards for the year 2010

I just finished watching the At Issue end of year edition, which is always fascinating for the political junkie crowd. Everyone has their opinion, so here are my thoughts on the questions (feel free to add you own):

BEST POLITICAL PLAY

This one is a slam dunk for me, based on sheer ability to wiggle off the hook. When the Speaker ruled on the Afghan detainee file, it appeared a complete and utter rebuke, the Conservatives had lost, Parliament supreme, the opposition position vindicated. However, as we learned the details of the subsequent agreement, we saw that the Conservatives had managed to make lemonade out of lemons. The government found a process which would delay, which would take the issue off the table and basically forgotten. As we sit here seven months later, it requires some impressive spin to argue that the government didn’t make the best out of a perceived failure, so much so, it looks like a downright win at this stage. Factor in the stipulation that this "agreement" ceases to exist when this Parliament dissolves and it’s hard to think of better political play.

WORST POLITICAL PLAY

Most people probably don’t realize that the day before the UN Security Council membership vote, the Conservatives had attack ads in the CAN, ready to spin any failure as Ignatieff’s fault. Those ads never actually saw the light of day, a testament to the ridiculous thought process hatched this strategy. The Conservatives did try to blame Ignatieff, but the unrelenting mockery from all quarters forced them to quickly abandon. When the Conservatives finally argued the loss was due to standing up for Israel, taking tough stands (what they should have spun from the outset), only then did they find cover, but in many respects it was to late. That nobody in the PMO waved a red flag on the "blame Ignatieff" strategy is surprising. 

MOST UNDER REPORTED ISSUE

Rights And Democracy. Unless you read Paul Wells– who’s been on the story throughout- or the occasional poorly read blog post somewhere, you’d be hard pressed to hear anything on this issue. I confess, I wouldn’t have a clue what was going on, if not for Wells work. A bit sad isn’t it?

MOST SHAMELESSLY EXPLOITED ISSUE

Crime. We are at the point of absurdity, and yet the Justice Minister can still play offence on the crime agenda file. This government has failed to push some of their bills, let them die, prorogued Parliament necessitating "square one", and yet it remains a central thrust in attacking the opposition. The issue is all the more "shameless" when you consider NO factual basis for much of the argument, the government merely playing off the sensationalist fears to manufacture a crisis where none exists. In some ways, the Conservatives deserve praise, but really it all boils down to nonsensical attack lines, in the name of exploitation.

MOST UNDERRATED POLITICIAN

Gregg picked Paul Dewar. A few months ago I pointed to Dewar as the one to watch, so I wholeheartedly agree with this pick. Dewar is quite nimble, he has a wide range, able to tackle many issues with intelligence and an even temperament, that makes him attractive. I think Dewar is the rising star, that increasingly looks like an heir apparent. Dewar represents the new NDP in my view and he is somebody that might have appeal beyond their traditional base. 

MOST OVERRATED POLITICIAN

Peter MacKay. The Dubai affair tells us one thing, MacKay isn’t as plugged in as we tend to assume. However, I pick MacKay as overrated because when the heat is on, he is anything but impressive. On the detainee file, it was hard to keep up with the evolving rationalizations and admissions, MacKay almost caught daily in "mis-speaks". We are witnessing a bit of the self inflicting wound routine again on the F35 file, MacKay seems to prefer definitive statements, that later bite him and lead to backtracking. For a supposedly seasoned politician, I find MacKay’s inability to show nuance when the spotlight comes, a serious flaw. MacKay is affable, but I still see an empty suit for the most part. 

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