Monday, May 12, 2014

Time to storm the taxpayer castle to turf "Jeb" out on his ass!

Stephen "Jed Clampett" Harper

Canadians seem to be getting tired of the often nasty man at 24 Sussex

Stephen Maher
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Gordon Moore, Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion, left, pins a poppy on Governal General David Johnston to launch the National Poppy campaign at Rideau Hall in Ottawa last October. Moore was angered this week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to receive the last Canadian flag to flyover Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday's Day of Honour for Canadian veterans of the Afghan mission. The honour rightfully belonged to Johnston, Moore said. (Photograph by: Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press/Postmedia News)

This week, as Ottawa got ready for the National Day of Honour to mark the end of the Afghan mission, Gordon Moore, the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion President, got angry.

Moore told reporters that the government was unnecessarily secretive, that the Legion wasn’t given enough time to plan events across Canada, that many veterans and their families would not participate because they are angry about how they are being treated.

Moore was also upset that the Prime Minister was to be presented with the last Canadian flag to fly over Kabul.

“Governor General David Johnston is the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces,” Moore told Maclean’s magazine's John Geddes. “He and he only should be receiving the last Canadian flag that flew in Afghanistan.”

Moore was right. Stephen Harper was being unacceptably presidential, and he wisely backed down at the last minute, and agreed to pass the flag to Johnston.

But I wondered briefly if Harper would back down or go after Moore.

It’s an absurd idea. You can’t attack the Legion. But the Prime Minister’s ever-growing list of enemies includes unlikely names.

The newest name on the list is Beverley McLachlin, Chief jJstice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who the Prime Minister bizarrely attacked for having advised the government that it might run into problems if it tried to appoint Marc Nadon to the top court.

Harper’s office accused McLachlin of having acted inappropriately, setting off a week’s worth of stories in which lawyers and professors called on the government to stop being so darned foolish and apologize for their unwarranted attack.

This was not a clever strategy to get at the piggy banks of social Conservatives. It seems to have been launched out of Harper’s anger at five losses at the Supreme Court. Never mind that the government’s lawyers had likely advised Harper of the risks he was taking.

As Andrew Coyne wrote this week, the episode leaves one wondering if Harper “is temperamentally suited to the job.”

His former Chief of Staff, Tom Flanagan, writes in his new book: “There’s a dark, almost Nixonian, side to the man. He can be suspicious, secretive and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia.”

The list of officials who have felt the sting of Harper’s white-hot rage is long: Remy Beauregard, Marty Cheliak, Richard Colvin, Sheila Fraser, Linda Keen, Paul Kennedy, Marc Mayrand, Adrian Measner, Kevin Page, Munir Sheikh and Nigel Wright.

Then there are the political opponents. Harper has systematically bombarded Stephane Dion, Michael Ignatieff and Justin Trudeau with simple-minded attack ads.

Politics is a nasty business, since a key part of convincing people to vote for you is convincing them that your opponents are bad news. But Harper has brought it to a new level, bringing to Canada a style that appears to have been inspired by Lee Atwater’s brutal dismantling of Michael Dukakis for George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election.

Conservatives can take pride in many things Harper has done — steering the country through the recession, cutting taxes, cutting spending with less suffering than the Liberals did in the 1990s — but it was all accompanied by Machiavellian machinations and ugly denunciations of perceived foes.

The Prime Minister has built a fearsome team, promoting remorseless MPs like Dean Del Mastro, Pierre Poilievre and Paul Calandra, and overlooking gentler characters like Ted Menzies and James Rajotte.

Harper gains advantage from his authoritarian attacks, because everyone in Ottawa is afraid of crossing him, but it has all made our national discourse unnecessarily unpleasant.

You ought to be able to say that you don’t agree with Sheila Fraser’s criticism of the elections act without implying that she is making her comments for money, as Poilievre did.

It feels like all of this nastiness has started to catch up to the Prime Minister, and he is in trouble in Ontario, the key to the next election. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is attacking him daily on the campaign trail, which can only be because he is less popular than Tim Hudak. Eve Adams didn’t move from Mississauga to Oakville for the scenery.

If even the Legion is attacking Harper then a lot of people are surely ready to see the back of him.

But he shows no sign of having had enough. If Jim Prentice thought Harper might go, it’s unlikely he’d be considering a run for the leadership of Alberta’s governing Tories.

Canadians seem increasingly tired of the often nasty character who lives in 24 Sussex, but there are no signs that his caucus has realized they would likely do better in the next election with a different leader.

Not yet, anyway.


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