Monday, January 11, 2010

Has Harper Squandered The Olympics?

The Olympics have been on the Conservative radar for months. A feel good affair, that fits nicely into their budget timetable, many Conservative strategists had salivated at the potential "bump" that might transpire. After all, with the country immersed in a sea of patriotism and pride, hard to envision how this sentiment doesn't play well for the government of the day. The PMO has planned to maximize benefit, with Harper high profile and centerstage, an international ambassador welcoming the world. The Conservatives have been wrapping themselves in the Olympics since last fall, and it was all supposed to climax for them in a few short weeks.

One has to wonder now, if Harper's prorogue has not only neutralized the preceived political positives of the Olympics, but turned them into a symbol for negative narratives. The Conservatives have volunteered the Olympics as partial rationalization for this prorogue, and with the blowback now apparent, has Harper tarnished his image? When Canadians see Harper at events and whatnot, will they be reminded of his democratic slight? Harper at the Olympics doesn't seem to have the same appeal, as it did when Conservatives were first plotting their strategy. In many respects, Harper's prorogue might have undermined this signature event, at the heart of Conservative plans.

The government thought they could shutdown Parliament, avoid scrutiny, then ride the positivity that surrounds the Olympics, to deliver a budget that no one dared oppose. The fact the Conservatives haven't found it necessary to consult the opposition on the budget, speaks to their Olympic assumptions, they see a bounce and the "hammer". So, not only are the Conservatives paying a political price today, but their decision might also have nullified what should have been a winning scenario, from their perspective. In joining the Olympics to the prorogue decision, Harper has squandered the stature he would have enjoyed. Expect no "bounce" as was previously expected.


Jeff said...

Just think what will happen if Jarome "Iggy" Iginla leads Canada to Olympic hockey gold.... ;)

Dan F said...

I never thought the Olympics were going to produce the bounce that the Cons were hoping for, but especially now, after this insult to democracy, I can't imagine that Harper will be cheered very loudly, and may even get boo'd when he makes his appearances at the games. No way that's a good story for them, and it will only serve to give the prorogation story further legs.

Steve V said...

As a Leaf fan, I can't wait to see some real hockey ;)


That's a point I failed to mention. There is the very real prospect of Harper getting jeers as he travels the Olympic venues. It oculd prove very embarrasing.

Tof KW said...

I always thought using the Olympics to boost any politician’s stature was a dubious prospect at best. I don’t recall the 1976 Montreal summer games as helping Trudeau any, and with the 1988 Calgary winter games more clear in my memory I didn’t see Mulroney benefiting from that much either. If I’m wrong on this (my memory isn’t what it used to be) someone please feel free to correct me.

Outside of the athletes themselves, the host city, and national pride as a whole, how does an international athletic meeting raise any federal or provincial government’s stature? I know Gordon Campbell’s counting on this same ‘bounce’ for the BC Liberals, but I just don’t see it happening for him or Harper (even if he didn’t prorogue and all things were hunky-dory in CPC-land). Or am I somehow different from the average Canadian in that my national pride does not spill over to elected officials?

Now that said, with all that’s gone on since Dec31st and Canadians shocking me by actually taking notice for a change, I have to agree that the Olympics are now about to become an anchor around Harper’s neck every time he attempts to use them for political gain. Sports events may not help politicians much, but they sure can sink them if the public sees the event used for partisan political benefit.

And yes I think Gordon Campbell should be careful too, thought he’s not in as much hot water as Harper is at the moment.

JimmE said...

What happens if the Canadian teams keep to the Canadian Hosting Olympics tradition of ZERO gold medals? (The only host nation to not win Gold -TWICE, 76 & 88. )


RuralSandi said...

No other prime minister has prorogued during an Olympic event and no other country has stopped governmental business during the Olympics. It's not supposed to be a vote getter.

I'm losing interest in the Olympics.

I have a friend who saw an ad on TV about buying touques to support homeless children. She says she's going to do that instead of supporting the athletes - most of them are fairly well off. Well, that's what she said anyway.

I will not buy any Olympic items with the Cons "C" on them.

Supporting the homeless children is getting more inviting every day.

John Prince said...

Someone on the FB Prorogue page suggested Canadians 'snowball' him. Not a bad idea, I think? :-)
The RCMP are going to have a nightmare with this one.

Steve V said...

The Canadian "shoe" :)

rockfish said...

Anyone noticed that CTV and gobaltv have 'retired' the footage of the first 2010 olympic celebration? The footage of the announcement, when Campbell and Chretien jumped and shouted? I know someone in one tv editing room who said that that footage is 'old hat'; funny, last person I remember saying that was Harper...

rockfish said...

Another thing -- its very likely that Harper hopes the 'bounce' will also allow him to force an election before BCers and Ontarians feel that first whiff of hst pain. Those two provinces really hold a lot of the hope for his party. Scoring another 15-20 seats would require some legs elsewhere, but in BC and Ontario all things are possible. I dare say though I don't see arrogance being a very good slogan. And wait 'til BCers get that olympic bill.