This is from Question Period yesterday:
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we are an island of stability because we have been posting stronger job growth and economic growth numbers and lower deficit numbers than others, but the Liberal leader is conveniently leaving out the fact that his own party is arguing that it should also join the Leader of the Opposition and have us send money abroad.
In fact, the member for Markham—Unionville said the following about the Spanish bank bailout: “Well I believe Canada should make a contribution. …Canada should contribute its share to this process. This is a question of putting massive funds into the scene.”
With the greatest of respect, we do not agree. That might be the kind of approach that worked in Ontario to get them into one of the deepest debts ever, under the leadership of that member. We will not do it here in Ottawa.
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what has just been spoken reminds me very much of a distinguished Conservative predecessor of his, Neville Chamberlain, who said in 1938 at the time of Munich: “How horrible, fantastic, and incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.”
That is the kind of isolationism—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
I’m fairly certain that Mr. Rae did not come up with that quote off the top of his head. However, I’d say it’s a bit of a reach to refer to the world situation pre-World War II for a negative metaphor.
For those of you you don’t know Godwin’s Law, it states that as an argument progresses, the probability of a comparison involving the Nazis or Hitler approaches 1, at which point the argument can be said to be over. As Mr. Chamberlain was Prime Minister of a different country, during the time that the Nazis were in power but pre-invasion of Poland, I’d say Mr. Rae comes fairly close to invoking it.
Why is this important? Because the corollary of Godwin’s Law is Reductio ad Hitlerum, the concept of the side who invokes the Hitler/Nazi comparison being the losing side. By quoting Chamberlain and invoking that era, Mr. Rae has in effect ceded the argument over financial aid to Europe’s financial sector to the Tories, which isn’t really something an Opposition party would want to admit. In short, a form of rhetorical silliness that Mr. Rae should know better than to use.