Sunday, May 31, 2009


Pedigree, accomplishment and choice of beverage don't make one an elitist. Inability to relate to, and participate with ordinary Canadians is a far better measure. One of the most laughable frames is this idea that Stephen Harper is more a man of the people, more in touch with average Canadians, more "regular". In fact, Stephen Harper is probably the most guarded, detached, elitist Prime Minister we've seen in some time. Stephen Harper doesn't like Canadians, in fact he does everything in his power to avoid interaction. Outside of a room full of gushing partisans, Stephen Harper is uncomfortable conversing and interacting with Canadians, the last thing in the world you will see is Harper actually visiting a Tim Horton's. Oh, he might make a tightly scripted appearance in a venue that conveys a sense of connectedness, but that presentation evaporates when one entertains the unthinkable- actually MINGLING.

I've met Ignatieff in a very informal setting, speaking, answer questions, mingling with people who weren't necessarily "fans". I watched the sense of ease, very much like this telling post by Aaron Wherry, Ignatieff is quite comfortable with the "masses". That's really no surprise, because Ignatieff has spent considerable time in his life "diving in", not content to pen observations from a hotel room, but from the streets of the world, in place far less "sophisticated" than our latte loving destinations. I've lost count at how many times Ignatieff has done town halls, taking all comers, including hostile partisan plants. The measure of a man in many respects, when speaking of detachment and "air" is their capacity to relate, a genuine sense of comfort. Education doesn't make you an elitist, worldliness and travelling in intellectual circles doesn't make you an elitist, DETACHMENT and lack of respect and recognition make you elitist.

This brings us to the champion of the people, Stephen Harper. There are certain moments that crystalize the nature of a person. During the last election, all party leaders were invited to take part in CBC's "Your Turn", which basically provides ordinary Canadians a chance to interact with their leaders. It's really a pretty pedestrian affair, the questions are screened and generally they deal with the big issues, no real surprises. All the leader's agreed, except one, who DEMANDED that he take NO question from a Canadian or else he wouldn't APPEAR. Think about that for a second, the man of the people was so concerned about actually interacting with average Canadians, he issued an ultimatum and sadly CBC agreed. In the last election, Stephen Harper didn't answer ONE question from a ordinary Canadian; come to think of it he hasn't answered ONE since. What is Harper afraid of? I mean, this is the guy who could waltz into Tim's and feel at home? Truth of the matter, Stephen Harper would be TERRIFIED at the prospect of an unscripted dialogue with the people he claims to represent.

When Barack Obama visited Canada, people will remember his arrival at Parliament Hill. Harper waited indoors, greeted Obama and then began to walk towards the receiving line of elites. Obama stopped Harper, apparently oblivious, and said "do you mind if we go outside", because he understood the crowd waiting outside, he understood that a simple wave, a recognition, is what a true man of the people does instinctually. Harper didn't give the commoners a second thought, because Harper really isn't a "people" person, that sort of display makes him uncomfortable. Harper has no relationship with Canadians, the only time he wades into a crowd, it's a bunch of party hacks bused in, to convey some presentation. Harper doesn't want to speak with the media, he doesn't want to speak with YOU, he doesn't want your input, he doesn't find it necessary to INTERACT. Stephen Harper is a detached, social misfit that conducts himself like an ivory tower elitist. Meanwhile, the cultured international intellectual, grabs his expresso and heads out week after week speaking with Canadians of all stripes, in a way Stephen Harper never COULD or WILL. An interesting contrast, given all the presumptive talk.


RuralSandi said...

From the people who know him:

In a sense, people are so enraged at the Liberal government, that they're giving Stephen Harper and his government a bye. They should take a look at what he proposes."

- Former Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark, April 26th 2004, accusing Conservative Leader Stephen Harper of harbouring a "hidden" agenda. Reported in the Globe and Mail.

"Stephen [Harper] had difficulty accepting that there might be a few other people (not many, perhaps, but a few) who were as smart as he was with respect to policy and strategy."

- Former Reform Party founder and leader Preston Manning on Stephen Harper in his memoirs. the Manning comment shows Harper is arrogant...

ottlib said...

You have to give the political right credit.

They have managed to convince the "masses" that tax cuts that benefit mostly the wealthy and corporations are good for them as well.

They managed to convince them that the unfettered free market and globalization is good for them.

They have managed to convince them that intellectuals are out of touch elitists while their CEOs are down-to-earth types you could have a beer with.

It is sad really at how easily the "masses" can be manipulated by those without any scruples.

Thankfully, the election of Obama seems to be reversing some of the above and since trends that begin in the US inevitably spill over into Canada there is hope for us yet.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic commentary! I think all should read this as it nails it.

Thanks. The Libs really need to get out front of this and show the people this reality. That creep gets a free pass and it is bizarre that people think of him as a man of the people and a great patriot.

Harper hates Canada! That is obvious. He maybe just hates people. He's just an angry mean person with no redeeming qualities.

Geordie Tom said...

Let's see. "I have met Iggy in an informal setting and he's OK." I have not met Harper in an informal setting so he must be an anti-Canadian ogre. I have seen that Iggy doesn't eat babies but I have not seen that Harper doesn't eat babies. Etc etc.
Iggy is being remade in the image that his party wants. Wish he would appear as the real person who initially came back to Canada.

Steve V said...

Horrible logic, but apart from that the point is NOBODY, outside of party hacks, has met Harper in an informal setting, nor has he found it necessary to speak with Canadians. That's just a fact, I don't need personal reference to know it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Post!

I thought of you when reading the G&M's "man of the people" online poll "analysis" yesterday. It was a poll that defied logic in many ways, managing to to make it appear that Quebec (who got their own specific 750 respondents in some other polling format) was on another planet compared to the "rest of Canada."

The ROC consisted of 1000 people online answering questions like "who would be more likely to go to a Timmies?" Then they eliminated all "both" or "neither" responses, and whittled the lingering scraps of opinion to come up with the gem bottom line that Harper is more "common" but Ignatieff has "vision."

It was an insult to both of them, and just fluff for everyone else.

Man of the People. Yeah, you betcha! ;)

kirbycairo said...

Quite a good essay there. I think that what people have to wake up to is that Harper is a mentally disturbed man so bent on gaining power that nothing else means anything to him. And sadly he has managed to get his entire caucus to kowtow to his whims. I don't think this is primarily an issue of policies and politics but of personal pathology. I am certain that there are some good people in the Conservative caucus who could act with decency and respect but they have found themselves under the thumb of a cadre of petty dictators and lack the courage to stand up and say something. When Harper is finally gone the entire country will heave a huge sigh of relief because we will have realized that what Harper has been doing is destroying the principles of open discourse, genuine political debate, freedom of thought, and democracy.

Steve V said...


I just caught the "both" part on the patriotism question today, which made the 9% Ignatieff score terribly misleading. I also don't understand why Quebecers were sectioned off, because it would the equivalent of putting Alberta and Sask in a seperate group, then asking what the "rest of Canada" thought of Harper. Strange dynamic.


I keep saying this, but Harper's entire approach is predicated on voter apathy, that you can simply present a false characterization and nobody will bother to delve further. The way they manipulate, I wish somebody would tell Canadians, "they think your stupid".

Tomm said...


This is what your post has gathered:

"...It is sad really at how easily the "masses" can be manipulated by those without any scruples."

"...That creep gets a free pass..."

"...Harper hates Canada! That is obvious."

"...wake up to is that Harper is a mentally disturbed man so bent on gaining power that nothing else means anything to him."

This post promotes and encourages the creation of gulfs and wedges amongst Canadians.

I refuse to make snarky comments back to each of these individuals; because they have been goaded into being outraged.

Your post is trying to straighten a crooked leg, or squaring off a rounded corner.

You want your reader to see Ignatieff as a man of the people and Harper as an elitist. Their entire lives are proof of the opposite.

For example, Ignatieff didn't live in Canada because he preferred not to live in Canada. What is it about that statement that isn't sinking in?

Perhaps if the last 40 years didn't exist, you would have a case. Allow Ignatieff to address his past without apologizing on his behalf.

Anonymous said...

I keep saying this, but Harper's entire approach is predicated on voter apathy, that you can simply present a false characterization and nobody will bother to delve further. The way they manipulate, I wish somebody would tell Canadians, "they think your stupid".

Steve V, that's exactly what Harper is telling people and there are people are too stupid to notice. He could do anything at this point and they would still support him. I do think that the majority of his supporters are the 40 and under age group that have no interest in doing a little research about the history of the opposition. They simply take Harper at his word and that means disaster for all all Canadians even them.

I would cross the street to avoid running into this dictator Harper. I do not think he is a nice man and he certainly dose not have Canadians or Canada's welfare in mind. He is a compulsive liar, crybaby and deserves a good swift kink out of Canada as soon as possible. As for the NDP, they deserve to get the boot as well. They are not smart enough to beat Harper at his game and attempt to become the next opposition party. That's sleazy Layton for you, looking after his own skin never mind doing what's right for all Canadians. Actually he fits right in with Harper. They could be twins.


Steve V said...

"Allow Ignatieff to address his past without apologizing on his behalf."

Ignatieff doesn't have to address his past, he should be proud of what he's accomplished. People like you trying to turn it around, and conveniently IGNORE that Harper is a fraud on the "man of the people" front is telling. All I know, the guy who spent all these years out of Canada seems to be able to relate to average Canadians with ease, while the supposed populist doesn't let them get anywhere near him. Interesting that.

Tomm said...


vive la différence.

We will get the chance to select our next government based on the differences of the leaders.

But if you think Ignatieff is going to be perceived by the average Canadian as "just folks" and Harper as an "inaccessable elitist" without the LPC doing some image grooming and some negative attack ads, than you are deluding yourself. Because right now, that is not the impression Canadian's have.

I would suggest Iggy spend the summer on the barbeque circuit. Perhaps he can borrow Harper's black leather vest.

Those attack ads against Harper had better be doozies.

Steve V said...

"than you are deluding yourself"

I'm not deluding myself. I know the dynamic, but that doesn't make it true. If I were the Liberals I wouldn't waste my time on that narrative, plenty of other issues, that just happen to be ones that truly matter to ordinary folks.

Tomm said...


It will interesting.

rockfish said...

Of course Tomm is passionate about optics; don't let reality hit your ass on the way out.
Harper's cold, distrustful manner has rought a cold, distrustful government - one that prefers to govern as tho it is in opposition. One that creates fractures and divisions because it's easier to slip through its disjointed political 'wisdom' through an apathetic or dispeptic crowd than provide rational, reasonable arguments.
Go on and worship your shallow leader. No doubt all Canadians who found success around the globe are failures of some kind to you; they've lost the vision of the 'firewall' and the necessity of provincialism. In isolation, there is great ignorance. And that sums up your tin-foil so-called leader to a T.