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Tories fight back on Kinsella lawsuit

The Canadian Press is reporting that the Tories are fighting back against Warren Kinsella’s lawsuit.

The Conservatives sued the Liberals last year to silence allegations relating to an alleged $1-million life insurance offer for the vote of Independent MP Chuck Cadman.

But the party now says the cut and thrust of political discourse shouldn’t be silenced by lawsuits.

I am not a judge but when I read the press release, I saw them trying to link Kinsella to the ad-scam scandal and apparently Warren and his lawyers agreed.  I am not a big lawsuit kind of guy but if I was in his situation, I think I would sue as well.

For me the article is interesting because no matter what the outcome, the Tories lose.

If the Tories win the lawsuit and even if they humiliate Warren Kinsella so badly, his wife and family all take out Conservative Party membership cards, they are still seen as mean spirited against someone who has a personal relationship with the Prime Minister.  Plus, if they had read his book, Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics, they should have realized that Warren Kinsella is not the target politically (see 2000 General Election – The Canadian Alliance ran a website attacking Warren Kinsella but forgot that he wasn’t running for elected office) but Michael Ignatieff and to a lesser extent, Jack Layton is.

If Warren Kinsella wins, the Tories are still seen as trying to smear a Liberal strategist and taking a shot at a Chretien loyalist.  On top of that, they are out some money that is now going to be spent keeping a VW Beatle on the road (another example of the Economic Action Plan at work) or taking W@AL on a Western Canadian road trip. The other thing that those in the that bunker could learn, many us across Canada like Jean Chretien (who had a pretty good record in both general elections and with the economy).  I am not sure if they want to keep attacking him on the basis of his service to him.

If you have read Thomas E. Ricks‘ excellent book Fiasco, he makes the compelling point that many top American generals don’t know the difference between tactical thinking and strategic thinking which is why Iraq turned so badly so quickly.  Ricks uses the illustration of taking out a sniper with tanks and heavy artillery.  It was a clear tactical victory as you would need DNA samples to identify the body.  Yet at the same time there was all of the collateral damage to the community and neighborhood around them.  In winning each tactical battle, they were losing the war.  Politics is a lot like that.  I know Carville says that you have to respond to each charge made against you but you also have to keep your eyes on the big picture and that is winning the hearts and minds of Canadians.

The Conservatives risk doing the same thing.  They have a reputation for being mean spirited and partisan and you can’t be really partisan without coming across as being small minded.  That may be fine in some election campaigns but look around, people really suffered during this recession.  I want my government to take care of the economy, not call Warren Kinsella names.  If they do let a young staffer too close to the fax machine (it happens), then I want them to apologize, not try to spin things in more bizarre ways.  When you govern (and you want to continue to govern), you need to cut back on the Amp Energy Drink, take some time off from the Conservative War Room and maybe read, take up photography, walk the dog, and maybe take a road trip to the places in Ontario which have been hit hardest by the recession and listen to their stories.  Then decide if you need to be attacking Warren Kinsella, fighting him in court, or settling and then taking care of more important business.

Update: Apparently the Tories aren’t taking my advice and are planning to run ads attacking the Ignatieff family summer home in France.  Lay off small family cabins already!

6 Comments

  1. Allan says:

    It is good the tories are fighting back. Kinsella lawsuits against his opponents are a sign of Kinsella’s own weakness. Do you think Mr. Chretien would have tolerated such lawsuits from a volunteer during the 1993 election? Of cource not. In fact, when David Anderson was appointed to cabinet after the 1993 election he was forced to give up a lawsuite against the Crown before he could be a minister. And here we have a volunteer who has initiated claims against not only the conservatives, but also past liberal prime ministers… what ever happened to that claim of Kinsella vs Martin, Reid and the Crown after all? Any update on that one available?

  2. Jordon says:

    Hi Allan,

    I think there is a difference between David Anderson being a Minister of the Crown while suing the crown and a volunteer on a campaign.

    Also, the lawsuit isn’t really the point. The Conservatives seemed to be over the top in their press release and should really just have settled this quietly or apologized. My point was that even if the Conservatives win, they lose. They need to take the high road on this one.

    1. Allan says:

      Thanks, jordon. The person who needs to take the high road here is Iggy. He says he wants to do politics differently but then he uses volunteers like Tricky Dick Kinsella, the attack dog and self claimed ass kicker and prince of darkness in Canadian politics. No matter what happens, this whole ordeal just pushes more Canadians out of maintstream politics…

      1. Jordon says:

        Allan,

        I am a Red Tory by nature but I now tend to think of myself as non-partisan (if that is possible).

        I understand there is the normal battle of politics but as I said in the post, I read the release as slanderous. As someone who isn’t a lawyer and has an adversion to politics, I saw it as slander. As the article said, the Conservatives had no problems suing the Liberal Party over the Chuck Cadman comments.

        I think there is a line in politics and when you cross it, there should be some consequences.

        I do agree that this ordeal does offend many Canadians which is why I think it could and should be settled. For me the Conservatives have a lot to lose here but from what it looks like, they don’t agree.

        1. Allan says:

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Jordon.

  3. [...] I mentioned Thomas Ricks the other day, I thought I would post a link to his 10 most common strategic blunders from his blog at Foreign [...]