Thursday, March 09, 2006

Harper Blows It

It is simply amazing to watch Harper bungle the Emerson affair at every turn. A self inflicted controversy, which only gets worse with every miscalculation. The blowback from all quarters over Harper's snub at the ethics commissioner may prove to be a bigger blunder than the actual Emerson appointment.

Almost everyone agrees that the ethics inquiry is on shaky ground at best. Why fan the flames with arrogant refusals, when there is little chance of actual reprisal? Harper, the self-appointed "ethics P.M." doesn't seem to grasp the nuance of appearances. In refusing to co-operate, Harper has in effect introduced an entire different set of talking points, none of them flattering. The scope of the inquiry has moved from a question of Harper's appointment, to the legal question of whether he is bound to co-operate.

Today I saw a news story with video of the campaign Harper pontificating about the necessity for accountability and an ethics watchdog. Juxtaposed with his personal attacks on the office of the ethics commissioner, Harper comes across as hypocritical and downright foolish. Liberals speaking of the illegality of refusing to participate. Broadbent, who was recruited by Harper for said posting, lambasting Harper's stance. Pundits jumping on the chance to watch Harper fall from his perceived ethical pedestal. Global News declaring the "honeymoon is now over".

What a massive miscalculation, given the objective feeling that the case is flimsy. In over-reacting Harper has emboldened Shapiro, who is now receiving support from unlikely sources. Did Harper decide to belittle the inquiry on his own, or did his handlers concoct this warped approach? I'm inclined to think Harper made the call, and in so doing demonstrated his political tin ear. Harper prides himself on his ability to "think ahead", but clearly on this issue it is one nightmare after another, that reveals little foresight. I almost shudder to think the reaction when Emerson is taken to court in B.C., an avenue that actually has a strong argument. Harper is blowing this issue, big time.


Dana said...

I concur. I will go further. What this imbroglio is showing me is that in point of fact Harper has no strategy. It's all off the cuff, top of the head, ask questions later. Not only does this show a tin ear but a tin megaphone as well.

Steve V said...


I think Harper places too much confidence in his own political instincts, or lack there of as the case seems to be. Harper has a great strategic team, as evidenced during the slick campaign and the recent offensive in Quebec. He better cede some ground in the decision making, because this whole affair demonstrates a complete lack of political polish.

catnip said...

Harper comes across as hypocritical and downright foolish.

Because he is. It's that simple.

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Joe Harper.

Lots of comparisons between Joe Clark and Stephen Harper:

• both won narrow minority governments.
• both faced a former governing party in a temporary state of transition.
• both thought they were the first of a long-term wave of Conservatism to sweep over Canada and become the "natural governing party".
• both underestimated the real support for their party.
• both came into power due to voters wishing to spank the governing party and send them to the penalty box for a while.
• both acted as if they had a majority government.

But there are two major differences between Joe Clerk and Stephen Harper:

1. Joe Clark did not behave in ethically questionable ways from the get go.
2. Joe's arrogance was political, not personal.

Of course, what happened to Joe will now happen to Stephen: a footnote in Canada's decorous but tempestuous political history.