Friday, August 03, 2007

Harper Snubs Another Premier

Did Harper skip diplomacy 101? Put this under the "missed opportunity" category, and another example of Harper's political tin ear:
Stephen Harper is in Newfoundland to visit areas damaged by post-tropical storm Chantal, but Premier Danny Williams is fuming that the prime minister didn't tell him he was coming.

Harper's office revealed his plan to visit the province about two hours before he was to board a coast guard helicopter in St. John's.

"We just heard this morning through the media that he was coming to town,'' Williams said in an interview.

"Our (federal and provincial) ministers were talking last night on the phone and there was no mention made of the PM coming to town. So I'm just disappointed. In an emergency situation like this, at least the common courtesy of a phone call to say he was visiting ... I could have attended at the site with him.''

The obvious:
"It's would be nice in situations like this if leaders, especially the prime minister of the country, can rise above other differences ... because when people's homes are being washed away and their lives are being washed away before their very eyes, that's the time that they see their government there to support them."

This was a golden opportunity, for Harper to stand beside Williams, showing that people can still come together during a crisis. If Harper was shrewd, his staff could have contacted Williams, made it clear that the visit should focus on the flooding, and enjoyed a nice photo-op to help repair his battered image in the province. Instead, Harper snubs another Premier, which leaves a negative impression, for a appearance that was supposed to convey sensitivity.

This incident is a perfect contrast to Harper's earlier claims of "national unity" in PEI. No dialogue whatsoever, with anyone who dares to offer dissent. Kumbaya, kumbaya.


Scotian said...

Not to mention that Williams' popularity in the Province is far higher than Harper's so by snubbing he only further aggravates the damage he has already done to the federal Conservative brand name in the Province. It is in things like this where Harper's pettiness and vindictive nature shows itself clearly, because you are right Steve V the way to have maxed out the political benefits for Harper would have been to go with Williams at his side showing that in a crisis he can put his differences with Williams aside for the good of hurting Newfoundlanders (and by extension Canadians generally whenever they are in a crisis). Instead though he looks petty and out only for the photo op and possibly trying to make the Premier look bad (although this one's a bit of a stretch I freely acknowledge) in some manner, which will almost certainly continue to blacken the name of Harper and the CPC in that Province.

This was really stupid of Harper politically speaking, and yet again shows that far from being a political strategic genius he is anything but. However, it is exactly what I would expect from Harper given everything I have seen from him over 2 decades, and it only underscores why I have such serious concerns/issues with him being given power. I still find it hard to grasp that we have a PM whose record clearly shows he dislikes and is contemptuous of the clear majority of Canadians and the vision of Canada that they hold to, and actions like this only underscore that nastiness within his nature and that he is quite willing to use his Office in ways to try to punish those that do not conform to his every desire/wish. Sad really.

Anonymous said...

Yes it would be nice if leaders could rise above their differences, but instead of that, Danny Millions is going to run around stamping his feet and whining to the media.

The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister of the whole country, that includes Newfoundland and Labrador, he nor anyone else needs a passport. Sheesh.

northwestern_lad said...

Anonymous.... you obviously feel so strongly about that view that you decided to attatch you name to that statement...

The fact is that it's just a simple curtosy for Harper to invite Williams. A natural disaster is not a time for this kind of political B.S. This just shows that Harper's pettyness knows no bounds. It's sad that we need to tell our Prime Minister to Grow up already.

Ti-Guy said...

Yeah...national unity. What a stinky little liar Harper is.

Mark said...

I'm a liberal, and I can't stand Stephen Harper. But in this instance I think he may have done the right thing.

Every time Stephen Harper goes to Toronto, Renfrew, or Montreal, or to Red Deer or Calgary or to Northern BC he doesn't call the premiers of those provinces. Why is Newfoundland and Labrador any different.

Ideally, tournig the areas hit by the storm would involve leaders and officials from all relevant levels of government. As they did after Hurricane Juan in Halifax or in Manitoba on several occasions in recent memory when the Red River flooded.

Your post ignores the context of yesterday's media outburst when Williams showed up in some of the flood damaged areas to say absolutely nothing more than the "federal government stinks". The morning after reading that, why would you bother calling the guy? He's an immature twit.

Only one politican is turning this flood damage into a political issue. And it isn't Stephen Harper.

Steve V said...


You can talk about Williams forever, that doesn't excuse the common courtesy of telling the province of intention, particularly when the article mentions discussions between both governments the night prior. The omission was intentional.


"This was really stupid of Harper politically speaking, and yet again shows that far from being a political strategic genius he is anything but."

I was thinking the exact same thing on the "genius" meme, the more we see, the less it applies. People can say what they want about Williams, but he is quite popular in his province, why allow him an easy opportunity to distract from the visit?

Steve V said...

A quick sampling of the glowing headlines:

N.L. premier fuming over Harper's visit to province- CTV

Harper takes quick tour of Nfld. floods
Williams irked that PM didn't inform him, permit joint visit to region hit by Chantal- G and M

Harper tours N.L. flood zone, fails to tell premier of visit- Macleans

PM’s surprise visit angers Newfoundland’s premier- National Post

Flood tour PM's surprise visit to Newfoundland in wake of tropical storm angers premier- Ottawa Citizen

You don't pull the tiger's tail. A novice could forsee the fallout of snubbing Williams.

Calgary Junkie said...

You guys might want to post your anti-Harper feelings over at the Globe, as Danny is getting beat up pretty bad.

Steve V said...


The G and M comment section is Conservative neanderthal central, hardly surprising. The last time I bothered to read the commentary on a global warming piece, I felt like jumping off a bridge.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

I never bought into the idea of Harper as a political strategic genius, for if he were he would have managed to accomplish far more in his 20 years than he has. After all, how much genius does it take to run against a scandal ridden 13 continuous year governing party claiming to be the only ethical choice to support? Indeed, the fact that despite the perfect storm in his favour in the last election that Harper got as weak a minority and the Libs got a third of the seats in Parliament despite all the winds blowing against them actually shows just how poor a campaign Harper actually ran, which when one considers the craptastic campaign the Libs were running plus having the RCMP come out in the middle and state they were investigating the Min of Finance (which came to nothing in the end except I believe a civil servant having been a leaker but no one on the political side despite all the claims of such by the CPC and NDP in the election when the news broke) and the lousy ads they ran shows just how poorly Harper did in the crunch.

How much political genius does it take to try to buy off the Quebec vote with tax dollars and with claiming suddenly they are a nation (after spending 20 years stating the exact opposite)? How much does it take to spring a surprise sham vote on the Afghan deployment while stating it was to drive wide open the wedges between the various Liberal leadership candidates (not to mention playing domestic political games ahead of national security affairs)? How much political genius does it take to take your unelected Quebec bagman and appoint him to the Senate and to your Cabinet as Minister of Public Works aka pork and patronage aka the Sponsorship department?

I could go on and on in this vein, the bottom line being that Harper is clearly not any kind of genius political or otherwise, yet believes he is and needs that perception stroked/reinforced by his followers/supporters. What Harper is though is willing to use tools and approaches that were not considered fair game in our political culture that he has ripped off the GOP lock stock and barrel, again as we have discussed many times in the past. Harper is a genius in his own mind, not his own time, and the only genius I have seen from him is in how to alienate and divide Canadians to try and take advantage of, which personally I don't see as a healthy/good thing regardless of what ideology it is in service to.

Anonymous said...

This isn't about Danny - it's about the people who are victims and Harper should stand side by side with their premier in this instance.

All it was was a "quick stop for a photo-op".

Harper has now snubbed Calvert, MacDonald, McGuinty and Williams.

Harper is no statesman that's for sure.

It's about the flood and victims, not Harper's pettiness.

Harper IS AFRAID of the premiers he's pooped on - no doubt about it.

Steve V said...

"how much genius does it take to run against a scandal ridden 13 continuous year governing party claiming to be the only ethical choice to support?"

The only strategy needed, stay out of the way and let the Liberals implode. A massive majority, then maybe a tactical mastermind, a pultry minority, win by default.


I'm curious if anyone remembers the last time we went so long without a first ministers meeting?