I Went to the Same 'Secret' Think-Tank

By:  Rachel Marsden

Watching Prime Minister Paul Martin during the leaders' debates this week, I cringed just like I do every time I see Madonna on MuchMusic, writhing around in those ballet tights for her new video. Both are trying way too hard.

Martin was once the darling of Bay Street, and the more "conservative" alternative to Jean Chretien. Now the former big businessman has morphed into the "prime minister who believes not in a fend-for-yourself society, but in identifying a destination down the road and doing what it takes to ensure that we get there together ... everyone coming together, standing side by side in pursuit of the common good."

I guess that means all of our Canada Steamship Lines shares are in the mail.

This guy has spent the entire election campaign going on about the collective good and railing against America like he's ripped a page out of Fidel Castro's playbook. No doubt Castro would be pleased with the Liberals' take on private property, the protection of which they feel "would leave workers, children, the poor and the environment to fend for themselves," according to a new press release.

Martin has also come out in favour of eliminating the only recourse that the people in this country have against nutty decisions made by unelected, unaccountable judges (a.k.a. the judicial arm of the Liberal Party), and has been criticizing the notion of the majority determining what's best for the minority. If that's the case, then he sure won't like this democratic election thing we have coming up in 10 days!

When did "Canada's values" become indistinguishable from Cuba's or Karl Marx's?

As for the now-infamous attack ads, here's a good rule: If your aim is to horrify voters, make sure your brand of fright is actually scary, not funny -- more Silence of the Lambs than Scary Movie. The Liberal charge that Harper would put soldiers with guns in major cities would only be scary if we had a military with ammo in the first place.

Martin's ads desperately attempt to link Harper to American conservatives. I've worked in the Republican movement in Washington, and Stephen Harper is (unfortunately) no U.S.-style conservative. American conservatives, for example, would not have come out, as Harper did this week, in favour of getting a permission slip from the United Nations before acting militarily in Canada's best interests.

The ad about Harper having spoken to a "secret, ultra-right-wing American think-tank ... off-limits to press and public" had me laughing when I realized that the Liberals were referring to the Council For National Policy meetings, which I have attended.

The CNP is about as much a conspiratorial think-tank as the Boy Scouts. It's nothing more than a glorified right-wing shmoozefest that takes place a few times each year.

I've never considered myself some sort of international woman of mystery as a result of my attendance. But I guess when lefties get together, it's a convention; when conservatives do, it's a conspiracy.

If I were Stephen Harper, from now until election day, I'd run a single TV spot, modeled after the ad Hubert Humphrey used against Nixon running mate Spiro Agnew in the 1968 U.S. presidential race. It would consist of a single line of text across the TV screen -- "Prime Minister Paul Martin" -- accompanied by an audio track of some guy laughing his butt off.