On 'dirty tricks' and the practice of modern politics

00191b0f_nuncscio.jpg Canada's opposition parties, the parliamentary equivalent of a Three Stooges movie, are working themselves into a lather over the Conservatives alleged book of dirty parliamentary tricks. While I agree a manual for parliamentary chaos is a real problem for a healthy democracy, I find the shock and outrage a bit bemusing.

We know the following about the Conservative Party of Canada: they are conniving and generally desperate to maintain their power. They are also, by and large, idiots. The only thing surprising about a Tory dirty trick manual is that they managed to keep it hidden for so long.

Of course, being conniving, power-hungry idiots doesn't make the Tories unique. On the contrary, these characteristics are shared by most political parties across the globe. And when I say 'idiot', I'm referring to a very particular kind of idiocy. Whether it's Karl Rove's puppetmaster act or Alastair Campbell's 'total message control', modern professional politics is obsessed with turning the mechanisms of government- on which we all depend- into a permanent campaigning organ. In this respect, Team Harper is only practicing the politics found in most mature democracies across the globe.

Citizens, by and large, are pretty well aware this is how modern government works. The challenge is not to bust politicians for playing dirty tricks. The challenge is to re-assert a vision of government where dirty tricks, and the permanent campaigns that demand them, are irrelevant.

This is a message likely not to be welcomed in the Liberal, NDP and Bloq camps. They'll yell themselves hoarse over the dirty trick manual, while quietly playing the same game.