Nine words won't soften up this turf
In London he didn't talk. Actually, he did. Nine words during a 71-second event billed as a "photo opportunity" at the General Dynamics Land Systems plant on Oxford Street East.
Staff from the Prime Minister's Office had stipulated only media carrying cameras or video recording equipment would be allowed to witness this moment in history. I had to borrow a palm-sized video recorder from a photographer to get around this ban. And then, once inside, a Harper staffer buttonholed me and said: "No questions. We let you in, but there can be no questions. Promise?" I agreed. Moments later, at the behest of the same PMO staffer, a General Dynamics official confrontedme again and warned: "No questions from the floor. That's the deal. Any questions and it's over."
Any questions, and "it's over"? Meanwhile, in another part of the province, Stephane Dion talks with voters, in a unscripted, spontaneous town hall, attended by friend and foe alike. The chasm is striking, and one has to wonder if Canadians are best served by rewarding an approach which treats them with such disdain. You will get our propaganda, our marketing campaign, but you don't deserve a dialogue. The arrogance is staggering, but it remains to be seen whether Harper is right to assume voters lack the sophistication to see through the staged presentation.
The strategy assumes you have something to hide, that in reality, the Conservatives don't trust their own leader to convey a message to the people. I wonder how it is that Conservative supporters can condone this approach, especially those with Reform roots, this strategy so diametrically opposed to the core tenets. Your leader is effectively a mascot, who waves and nods, but doesn't mingle with the masses. The most elitist, detached, top down organization in Canadian history, a complete departure from all the lofty rhetoric of the past.
Stephen Harper is a manufactured fraud, apparently so inept and wooden, he lacks the most basic of political characteristics, the ability to speak to his constituents. How anyone can endorse this approach, partisan or not, is beyond me.