Friday, September 12, 2008

In defence of Craig Westcott

I've watched Craig Westcott get kicked around for a few days now, by both bloggers and media. Now, lord knows Westcott is a big boy and doesn't really need anyone to rush to his defence. But I think what amuses me the most is the shocked "But why on Earth would he run for the shudder....Conservatives?"

Ummm, because he is one?

Now, understand, I've never had a discussion with Westcott (and I hope he forgives the rudeness of me using his last name and the presumption that he needs defending. From what I've read, he seems to be doing just fine so far) about his politcal party leanings. However, I'm guessing he's a Conservative just by observation. Westcott created a business newspaper. Prior to that, he was also editor of publications focusing on the oil and mining industries. He's very comfortable, in fact enthusiastic, in writing about subjects that would put me in a coma if I tried.

You don't have to be a conservative to find these things interesting, but it helps. And he also runs in these circles a lot, knows the people, gets along with them and understands their problems and, I suspect, to a degree empathizes with them. Remember, he's a businessman. He's running the Business Post practically by himself. It's something that tends to get overlooked when focusing on his journalism background.

So yeah, I think he's probably a Conservative.

What people have a hard time grasping is that he's not a Harper Conservative. And he's certainly not a Williams Conservative (whatever the hell defines Williams particular brand of conservatism). I suspect he's just a Conservative whose particular brand of it isn't popular right now.

Can you be these things? Sure, why not. Look, in the United States there are plenty of Republicans who are horrified by George Bush and aren't thrilled by what they see in McCain/Palin. But they still get involved because, hey, they believe in a certain kind of Republicanism and think it's worth fighting for. Should they not run and give over the party to a fringe wing that they despise, or should they get in there and fight for it?

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Westcott believes in a certain kind of conservatism and believes that's worth fight for, even if it means he has to fight or, even harder for him, cozy up to people that he might not particularly care for. And before the usual suspects cry "sell out!", no, it's politics. Grow up. And that means every politician, at some point in his or her career, has had to make friends with someone they'd just as soon strangle in order to achieve their long-term goals.

"But it's Harper! He's evil!" cry the masses.

Yes, and who says he's going to be around for much longer? Perhaps others have said this, but this election is a huge gamble for Harper. He needs to win a majority or at the very least a very solid minority. If he only gains a seat or two or, worse yet, loses some, he's in real trouble. Some people are going to start asking this very legitimate question: "If you can't win a majority when the political left is as fragmented as it is, and when the Liberals have a leader with virtually no charisma, what exactly are the conditions required for you to win a majority?"

That's a very serious question. Don't be surprised if the results of this election don't go the Conservatives way that Harper's iron grip on his caucus starts to severely fray. He might be out of a job sooner than anyone thinks.

As for Westcott, all I can say is that he's my friend, and that obviously inserts a high degree of bias into what I have to say. And it's not like I have anything really bad to say about Jack Harris either. He's a nice guy.

But if you ask me which one would do a better job representing constituents in Ottawa, which one would be more vocal in fighting and defending the interests of Newfoundland, I'm going to go with Westcott. I watched this man stand up at a Senate Committee on media ownership and accuse his employer - Transcontinental - of deliberately trying to ruin the Express (and hey, how is the Express doing these days?) knowing full well how negatively that action was going to be viewed by his bosses. He has a family to help provide for and he did that anyway because he believed it was true, that it needed to be said and that it might possibly help a growingly desperate situation with the paper.

If you think that doesn't require guts and conviction, then you don't have a clue.

If nothing else, I look forward to the candidates debate. Someone tape it and stick it up on Youtube. It should be highly entertaining.

Last Five
1. Avenue A (Live) - Tom Cochrane
2. Lives in the balance (live) - Jackson Browne
3. Shame on you - Hot Hot Heat*
4. Win, win - Sean Panting
5. City of blinding lights - U2


Edward G. Hollett said...


Congrats on an excellent post that lays out a whole bunch of issues.

Craig has been on the receiving end of too much bile and spittle, ins ome cases from people who should be showing him considerably greater respect for his frankness and his courage.

That serves some peoples' partisan or other interests but for the majority it just serves to lower, debase and otherwise poison our political system.

I learned a long time ago that one can disagree on a policy issue or disagree with someone's political choices without lacing into them personally with words like "quisling" and "traitor" or, as in Craig's case, dismissing him with trumped up, ridiculous arguments.

If people want to understand why our political system is suffering, politicians are regarded with disdain and more and more people don't vote, just read or listen to some of the crap directed at Craig.

There are too many people with nothing to offer our community but anger and aggression and who freely express that without a thought of any kind for anything else.

Dale Kirby said...

There are too many people with nothing to offer our community but anger and aggression and who freely express that without a thought of any kind for anything else.

Wow! This brings everyday hypocrisy to new heights.

Edward G. Hollett said...


You've made it a bit of a habit of periodically dropping these short, sarcastic comments around without ever justifying them or supporting them with evidence.

Let's see an example or two of what you are referring to as hypocrisy.


Ron Knowling said...

I dunno Craig, politics is a contact sport. Wescott might be composed of large amounts of guts and courage and all, I don’t know and won’t venture an opinion but I can’t see this as helping his career. What oils the wheels of politics is money. This candidacy will probably make it more difficult for Wescott to be a journalist which isn't a reflection on him as much as it is a reflection on how we view people who run for political office. If he wins that won't be a concern... If he doesn’t will this adventure on the hustings position him to be a more effective commentator on politics in the province or simply set him up as an even bigger critic of Williams? If the point of this is just to get at Williams how does this really make Wescott’s candidacy any better than William’s “ABC” Campaign?

Wescott should get points as Ed mentions for sticking his neck out but one of the things I like least about our system of government is the concept of party solidarity. I find it hard to shower respect to anyone who has to submit themselves to the party whip. Does anyone remember John Efford? The other great thing about running for a party at the behest of the incumbent member is you get a voters list which is the political equivalent of money as it gives you the names of people willing to vote for you – come election day you get your buddies on the phone and call, call, call the party faithful out of the woodwork. Issues be damned, their dad votes for party ‘x’, they vote for party ‘x’ and their kids vote for party ‘x’. Such are the glories of democracy at work.

I admire the people who go out there and run independently – who might be called by some idiots because they have “no chance” of winning, as if the only point of a race was crossing the line first. But our democracy is so seriously broken that political pundits repeat a former PM’s line about not discussing issues in an election as sage political advice. So for Wescott’s sake, I hope he loses as this vapid and vacuous system seems to be able to co-opt anyone it encounters.

But Puhleese!! "Prior to that, he was also editor of publications focusing on the oil and mining industries. He's very comfortable, in fact enthusiastic, in writing about subjects that would put me in a coma if I tried. You don't have to be a conservative to find these things interesting, but it helps." Come on!! That's like saying you don't have to be heterosexual to like kids but it helps.

Having been a "Pink Tory" all my life I note that you use the terms "conservative" and "Conservative" interchangeably tho which is... interesting.

Dale Kirby said...

Let's see an example or two of what you are referring to as hypocrisy.

Try looking over here Ed. Good luck scraping the bile and spittle off your computer afterwards.

towniebastard said...

Dale, I posted that comment against my better judgment. Ed asked a legitimate question and that's a pretty snarky cheap shot.

If someone asks a legitimate question, at least on this blog, do have the courtesy of giving a serious answer or don't both responding at all.

Leave the snark to least here.

Gary Kelly said...

I have a great deal of respect for the parties that have "embraced" Westcott and Cleary despite their vocal criticism of the party elders and the party line.

This does not necessarily mean I agree with the things they have said but I respect it none the less.

In my mind, one of the greatest things we can do is consider opinions that are different from our own beliefs.

I recently read a piece about Westcott (damn if I can't remember the link - perhaps Geoff Meeker) where he jeopardized his career for wanting to pull an article.

That takes courage!

TB - I'm glad you posted the comment from Dale. There was nothing racist or inflammatory in his comments.

Sarcastic yes but.....

By publishing the comment, you allow us to form our own opinions about him and his blog.... just like we should do with Westcott and Cleary.

I have you book marked but I don't read Dale....

What does that tell you.....

Perhaps I enjoyed your Europe stories just a little too much.

towniebastard said...

Yeah, and I guess I should clarify a bit. I like Dale and he was tremendously supportive when I ran for the Board of Regents. He's a smart guy. I was just disappointed he went for the cheap shot like that. Dale's smart enough to be able to argue a point without going down that lane.

Plus, I was concerned this might become a pissing match between Ed and Dale rather than a reasonable discussion about Craig Westcott's candidacy. Which I would like.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Yeah, Dale, that's about the extent of what I'd expected.

If you are going to make a contribution, trying making one backing things up with evidence instead of relying on the passive aggressive stuff.

I don't know what the stardards of argumentation in the academy - things like presenting actual evidence to back up a contention - these days but evidently they've dropped considerably since I hung out there.

Hang on a sec. I'll make it easy for you.

You read Peter Whittle's stuff and I guess you like some of it. Go to the post where he does little more than call Hearn a "traitor" and a "quisling". it's all name calling all the time built around the contention, presumably, that goes along with Whittle's self-professed chauvinism.

Then just find one example - that's all, just one - example of the same thing at the URL you pointed every to.

Just one.

That should be easy enough.

Simon said...

I have some small knowledge of Craig Wescott. I've liked what I've known. Now I have a whole lot more respect for what I know.

Is he demented? I think so. I'm not sure that running at this time and in this way is the most rational or advantageous way to make his point but that's the method he's chosen. More power to him; I look forward to seeing him prove me wrong.

I'm not sure, Dale, what Wescott does to provoke such a negative response. One thing I do know: there are many shades of blue out there just as there are many shades of red and orange. There are some shades of the same colour which appeal to me while there are other shades in that colour which provoke in me a visceral response.

I'm not a Harper fan but I'd have no problem with Craig Wescott, MP.

Godspeed on your perilous journey.