What you don’t know about Stephen Harper

His backroom battles, diplomatic scraps, betrayals and secret insecurities

What you don't know about Stephen Harper

Blair Gable/REUTERS

1. CRISIS POINT: The day he almost gave up power

Stephen Harper’s life and work made no sense to him if he wasn’t the prime minister of Canada. Having the title wasn’t his goal. He needed to hold on, long enough to change a country. Everything he had done in politics since 2002 was designed to unite his base and divide his enemies. Now his enemies were united. He was lost.

It was Monday afternoon, Dec. 1, 2008. On Harper’s desk sat a copy of the coalition deal Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe would sign in a public ceremony a few hours later. Its demure title blackened his mood even further: “A policy accord to address the present economic crisis.” The first paragraph gave the game away: this was about a “new government.” Not his.

At times like this, other leaders have been visited by close friends or trusted confidants who helped them look past the crisis of the moment toward history. But Stephen Harper has no close friend in politics, so the three men waiting outside his door would have to do.

Jim Prentice was the chairman of the cabinet operations committee, which had been holding its weekly meeting down the hall. The job of “ops” is to put out fires, and this mess qualified. Jay Hill was Prentice’s vice-chair, rough-hewn where Prentice was smooth. He had known Harper longer than the others, since they had first sat in the Commons as Reform party rookies in 1993. James Moore was the youngest minister in cabinet, just 33, eager, intense.

Ray Novak, the guardian at the PM’s door, let them in. Haltingly, Prentice laid out the ops committee’s consensus: Harper should ask the governor general to prorogue Parliament, suspending the legislative session almost before it had begun. Only three days earlier, Harper had promised Canadians he would put his government to a confidence vote that would determine its fate. Prorogation would cancel that vote. It was for the good of the country, Prentice said. Give everyone a chance to cool down.

Harper was tempted by another path. Let them win, he said, with no great conviction. Let Stéphane Dion try to run the country, with Jack Layton calling the shots and Gilles Duceppe sitting in judgment over the whole mess. It’ll fall apart in six months. We’ll pick up the pieces in the next election. Come back stronger than ever.

James Moore cut in. Prime Minister, he said, you can’t be sure it will work that way. They’ll be so terrified of facing the voters they’ll cling to one another for a long time. They may even make this thing work. You can’t know.

The Prime Minister was unconvinced. It fell to Jay Hill to make the strongest appeal. “Prime Minister,” he said quietly, “If you give up power now, I don’t know if you can survive as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.”

It is hard to pick a highlight in Stephen Harper’s five years as Prime Minister, but that’s the low point right there. Harper started fighting back within hours. The coalition crisis ended so soon that already its details blur. But it indelibly marked the thinking of its near-victim. At every point since the immediate crisis ended, Harper has insisted, over the objections of Dion’s successor Michael Ignatieff, that the opposition parties will reunite if they see a chance.

Whenever the next election comes, he told Maclean’s in January 2009, “the electorate will know that if you’re not electing the Conservative government you’re going to be electing a coalition that will include the NDP and the separatists.”

“I really think he believes this,” one of his ministers says. “This is not a line.” On its face, it means the biggest confrontation of a career built on brinksmanship still lies ahead.

WATCH COYNE V. WELLS ON FIVE YEARS OF HARPER (VIDEO)

Meanwhile it is getting time to take stock. He has been Prime Minister for five years, longer than Lester Pearson. Not by accident, because in a House where the Conservatives have no natural allies, an accident is politically life-threatening. By tenacity. While he survives, he chips at the way the country is governed, avoiding grand gestures that could provide an easy target. It’s why he is determined to endure: because he needs the time. His method is not revolution, or even evolution. It’s erosion. The object of his steady attention isn’t the way Canada works, its laws and transfer dollars, not primarily, anyway. It’s the way Canadians think. That is what he wants to change. “Is this a centre-right country?” one of his closest campaign advisers asks rhetorically. “No.” Harper’s game is to change that.

New interviews with Conservative caucus members and current and former Harper advisers give fresh insight into Stephen Harper’s method. This winter, with no crisis looming, Harper’s circle has been more relaxed and frank than at some earlier moments. They feel freer to reminisce about the boss’s temperament and method, and to speculate on his goals. But sooner or later, even now, any discussion about how Harper manages to keep winning turns to the moment he almost lost it all.

The food in Lima was treacherous. Of 8,000 delegates at the APEC summit in Peru, Nov. 22 and 23, 2008, more than 100 developed upset stomachs or worse. The Peruvian government put out a news release blaming the weather in Lima, “characterized at this time of year by midday heat, but cool breezes in the mornings and afternoons,” for “upset stomachs” among “unprepared diners.”

Stephen Harper was one of the victims. The APEC food knocked him off his feet. After he landed back in Ottawa it mutated into a sullen and thuggish flu. His mood was foul and his body weak for days before Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled his fall economic update.

That moment came on Thursday, Nov. 27. The stakes were high. The election had ended as a debate about how to handle the looming recession. Harper had won by promising to avoid recession and deficit. Already those promises were fading, at least in the memory of the man who had made them. Before the ceviche cut him down in Peru, Harper had told Asia-Pacific heads of government that a jumbo dose of fiscal stimulus would be needed in many countries. But Flaherty’s fall update didn’t mention anything of the sort. What it did propose was an end to the $1.95-per-vote taxpayer-paid subsidy for political parties.

The idea, sources say now, came from the Conservative caucus, not from the top. Government MPs were not pleased to beat the Liberals, NDP or Bloc in their ridings, only to see voters bankroll the losing candidates’ future comeback attempts, whether they wanted to or not. The Conservatives figured the opposition parties might yelp at the end of those subsidies, but they wouldn’t bite. Conservatives got more votes than other parties, after all. They’d lose more free money.

Almost as soon as news of the vote-subsidy cut leaked on Wednesday night, though, it became clear the opposition parties meant to do more than yelp. “This means war,” the quote-o-matic NDP MP Pat Martin said.

Thursday, Flaherty tabled his statement in the Commons, making the threat real. All three opposition leaders spoke against it.

Friday, Dion’s Liberals announced they would table a no-confidence motion at the first opportunity. Friday afternoon, Harper walked downstairs to a scrum mike in the Centre Block foyer and announced he was postponing all votes in the Commons for a  week. Plainly, he was buying time. Plainly, he had no better idea yet. Saturday, Transport Minister John Baird showed up at the CBC building on Queen Street in Ottawa to announce the government would not go ahead with the vote-subsidy cut.

RELATED: Andrew Coyne argues that the Conservatives’ drive to stay in power imperils the state of politics itself

No matter. In hotels across the capital, negotiating teams organized a coalition government, led by Dion, seconded by Layton, with a pledge of confidence-vote support from Duceppe. The negotiators showed up at the annual Press Gallery dinner on Saturday night flushed with excitement. In the cold outside the Museum of Civilization, Doug Finley, Harper’s dour Scottish campaign manager, stood cradling a scotch and taking a smoke break. One reporter suggested Harper’s options came down to “fight” or “contrite.”

“Oh, we won’t be contrite,” Finley said.

But the boss had no fight in him as late as Monday, Dec. 1. He just looked deflated in question period. It wasn’t until nearly 5 p.m. that he saw his shot. The coalition partners gathered in Parliament’s Railway Committee Room to sign their astonishing manifesto. Gilles Duceppe was one of the three, seated and treated as an equal.

“There are moments when this government talks to the country, to our supporters and our networks,” one member of Harper’s government said much later. “This wasn’t that. This was the country talking to us. Immediately after the press conference it was a kind of electric shock. Every phone line, every email, every blog, every radio commentary lit up like Vegas on jackpot day.”

“There had been a bit of a sense of defeat,” Chris Froggatt, a former ministerial chief of staff, said, “and then when that happened it was just a sense that we were handed an opportunity. It was like a gift to us.”

Yet later that evening, as Tories gathered for their annual Christmas party at Ottawa’s Westin Hotel, many of the rank and file were still in a coalition funk. In fact, one Conservative official says Harper himself seemed unsure what tone to take in addressing the crowd. It was his wife, Laureen, in a quiet moment in a kitchen off the main hall, with only a few other staffers in the room, who told him the faithful expected him to show leadership. So he needed to rally his own spirits. Harper ignored a prepared text and delivered a rousing attack calling the coalition a separatist-led attack on democracy. “It sounded like a come-from-behind speech by a coach in a basketball movie,” one partygoer said.

The next day Harper just about ate Dion in question period. “Mr. Speaker, the highest principle of Canadian democracy is that if one wants to be prime minister, one gets one’s mandate from the Canadian people, and not from Quebec separatists.” In the gallery above, Harper’s staff cheered and pumped their fists until Hill security guards shushed them.

As always, Harper’s instincts were bolstered with as much polling as his staff could hurry to gather. “We reached out to Tories who were in the market-research community who were already in the field and asked them to add questions about the coalition,” one staffer said. “Whatever they were originally polling on. It could have been about corn syrup.”

What they found was a high level of concern about what Dion and the others were up to. Duceppe’s presence was the biggest source of concern, followed by the prospect of Dion as prime minister. The presence of New Democrats in the federal cabinet fell a distant third on the list of hot buttons.

Conservatives started hitting those buttons with every tool at hand. “The whole gamut,” the staffer said. “Paid advertising, grassroots mobilization, events, a media blitz.”

Perhaps the campaign’s biggest target was the involvement of the Bloc. Never mind that the party would have no members in the government; its support for the Liberals and NDP, and Duceppe’s presence at the announcement, was enough for the Harper crew. “This was so hot among NDP-Reform switchers in Western Canada,” one of them said. Some Conservatives, including some who spoke on cable-TV political shows for the party, were very worried that all this talk about a “coalition with the separatists” would hurt the Conservatives in Quebec, where the Bloc’s legitimacy is unquestioned. Harper’s campaign team was well aware of the danger.

They ignored it. “Everyone knew that the use of the word ‘separatist’ was inflammatory,” one of them said. “But that was a problem for another day. We had to save the government.”

In the end they did. On Wednesday night the party leaders broadcast statements to the nation, making the case for keeping or rejecting the coalition. Dion’s video was delivered late and out of focus. The fight went right out of the Liberals. On Thursday, Harper paid a long visit to Rideau Hall and Parliament was prorogued. Four days later, Dion announced his resignation as Liberal leader.

The attempted coalition was gone. But not forgotten. Conservatives marvelled at the spike in support for their party at the height of the crisis, with well over 40 per cent saying they would vote for the besieged party. Thousands backed that sentiment with cash. “We’d never raised so much money,” the senior campaign official said. “It was a banner month for fundraising.”

Within a month, Harper was telling interviewers the coalition crisis would be replayed if Conservatives don’t win a majority at the next election. He has not swayed from that message. In some ways, it’s an odd message: if the choice is Conservative majority or all-but-Conservative coalition, then how will the Conservatives be able to govern with a minority like the one they have now? A member of Harper’s government simply shrugged when that question was put to him.

What’s clear is that Harper hasn’t forgotten the day his enemies almost took his job from him. He cannot believe they won’t try again. Until then he governs as he believes he has governed for every day he has had this job: under siege.

Next page: TAKING ON OTTAWA

The secret to moving to the country right

Todd Korol/Reuters

2. TAKING ON OTTAWA: The secret to moving the country right

Someone who was there paraphrased Harper’s message to his ministers at his first cabinet meeting in 2006: “I am the kingpin. So whatever you do around me, you have to know that I am sacrosanct.” Harper was telling his ministers that they were expendable but that he wasn’t. If they had to go so that his credibility and his ability to get things done were protected, so be it.

“It wasn’t personal,” this source said. “It was his office.” The office was fragile. Harper limped into the PMO with 124 seats out of 308, 31 short of a majority. The Liberals had kept 103 seats. The gap between the two was 15 seats narrower than it had been, in the Liberals’ favour, after the 2004 election. The Liberals still outnumbered the Conservatives in Ontario. Harper’s party had been shut out of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

“He believed it would be a much shorter term of government than it actually ended up being,” this insider from the early days said. “That had everything to do with the design of his of?ce and the government. Everything was about control over message, delivering the five priorities, and writing the mandate letters so they would be specific.”

Harper brought in Derek Burney, a former chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, to run the transition. Burney had been involved in throwing together a hectic last-minute transition plan in 2004, when the Conservatives were amazed to discover they had a long shot at winning. They didn’t, but Harper read the package Burney, Hugh Segal and others had prepared, and asked Burney to lead the exercise if it was ever needed again.

By 2006, Burney still didn’t know Harper well. He says his marching orders were clear: “Keep it simple, keep it focused.” With a small team composed mostly of veterans from the Mulroney years, they designed a plan for a smaller cabinet than Martin’s, with far fewer cabinet committees. “The PCO”—the Privy Council Office, the bureaucracy’s central organizing hub—“had become a mammoth operation under Martin,” Burney said. “It was more than three times the size that it had been in my time, in the late ’80s.”

A trimmer organization would permit the government to focus. “I know it sounds silly to say it now,” Burney says, “but it was also intended, indirectly, to get more power back into the hands of the major departments and less at the centre. I mean, that was the plan.”

But that plan often conflicted with another plan: ensuring that Harper wasn’t blindsided by his rookie ministers. He kept them on a short leash. Ministers traditionally receive “mandate letters,” prepared by the bureaucracy and political staff and signed by the PM, telling them what’s expected of them over the medium term. The tasks they set out usually cover a year or more. Harper’s covered only six months.

“He actually went over them line by line with me, and in a very meticulous fashion,” Burney said. “There was not a lot of chit-chat. This was not a Rotarian kind of guy.” If something in one of the mandate letters conflicted with language in the Conservative election platform, Harper would spot it and give Burney the wording for a correction. “It was very different from what I was used to,” Burney says. “Mulroney would have said, ‘Well, what do these letters say, Derek?’ And you’d explain them for five seconds and he’d sign them, or not.”

The whole operation was designed, ?rst of all, to deliver the “five priorities” Harper had used to get elected. Badly outnumbered in the Commons, he expected he would have to go back to voters soon. He would need to show them clear results.

WATCH COYNE V. WELLS ON FIVE YEARS OF HARPER (VIDEO)

“The first four of the five things I’ve talked about are things that, quite frankly, we can do fairly quickly,” he’d told reporters three weeks before the election. And indeed, soon enough he cut the GST, introduced an Accountability Act to disinfect Ottawa’s culture of easy money, started mailing cheques to parents of young children, and introduced the first of many tough-on-crime initiatives. The fifth priority, a health care wait-times guarantee, would be a tougher nut to crack. Five years later Harper still hasn’t made serious progress on it.

But go back to those first four. During the campaign Harper didn’t only say they were cinches to accomplish. “They will have longer-term impacts,” he added. “The country will be different because of them.”

That’s the game. Harper wanted to lock in change quickly so the country would be more clement for conservatives, even if he was swept away. Economists will tell you the GST cut is bad economics. But it is very good at reducing federal revenues—and hard to ratchet back up without a fight. Similarly, try telling working mothers they won’t be getting their child care cheques any more.

This business of changing the culture of the country obsesses the group around Harper. It crystallized in March 2002, when an article by Kevin Michael Grace appeared in the money-losing little magazine The Report (formerly Alberta Report). The article carried the headline “A self-hating nation.” But it was mostly about the perception that Canadian conservatives didn’t care whether the country flourished or disappeared. “A reliable source claims that a famous right-wing pundit, a star of the National Post, was heard to say, ‘The Post has a problem. It was started to save Canada, but Canada isn’t worth saving.’ ”

This raises a question, Grace wrote. “Does the right hate Canada?”

While the article was on the newsstands, Stephen Harper became leader of the Canadian Alliance. Of course not a lot of people were reading The Report, but many who did were on Harper’s staff. They were badly rattled by its implications.

“We didn’t have a competing narrative,” one of them says now. “What are the symbols people talk about when they talk about Canada? Health care. The Charter. Peacekeeping. The United Nations. The CBC. Almost every single example was a Liberal achievement or a Liberal policy.

“We had gotten to a point in Canada where the conservative side of politics had been marginalized—where we weren’t even recognized as legitimately Canadian.”

That’s what you get when the Liberals run the country for most of a century: a party that starts further back in the public debate than any opposition party anywhere else. “Nobody believes that the Democratic party in the U.S. is not an American party. In Australia, both of the major parties are recognized as legitimate parts of the debate.”

In Canada, Harper had to carve out a patriotic vocabulary that was different from the Liberals’. “We didn’t have any illusions about displacing the Liberal vision and the Liberal narrative of Canada,” the strategist says. “But we needed to give the conservative side something to rally around.” So almost from the beginning, Harper started building a distinct right-of-centre, patriotic new vocabulary. “It’s the Arctic,” this strategist said. “It’s the military. It’s the RCMP. It’s the embrace of hockey and lacrosse and curling.” In policy terms, it included the child care cheques and the accompanying rhetoric of families able to make their own choices.

Some internal debates over this clash of visions were almost surreal. It galled some within the Canadian Alliance, and later the Conservatives, that the only colours on the national flag were red and white, and the Liberals had a monopoly on red. They even considered adopting red and white as the official colours of the Canadian Alliance before deciding to fight their battles on other terrain.

But in these early debates we see the impulses Harper has brought to so many of his decisions, long past the six-month window after January 2006. A few issues with a lot of emotional significance get way more attention from Harper’s office and from senior ministers than others. An issue gets special attention if it has the potential to shift the national debate onto terms favourable to Conservatives. “We’ve implemented a series of shifts,” the strategist said. “On foreign policy. On defence. On criminal justice. On federalism. On the tax system, especially as it affects families.”

The result was on display on Jan. 23 at an Ottawa-area rally to celebrate Harper’s five years in office. A central theme of Harper’s remarks was patriotism and love of country. This helps explain why Conservatives are so pleased to face a Liberal leader like Michael Ignatieff, whose many years living abroad make him vulnerable to attack on the very ground where Harper used to play defence.

And Ignatieff has had to laboriously learn his party’s ancient rules and culture. Harper built his party from scratch to do what he wants it to do. The Conservative Party of Canada has existed for only a few months longer than he has led it. Which helps explain the seamless connections between the government, the party’s campaign team and its fundraising shop.

“It’s not the old Progressive Conservatives, it’s not the old Reform-Alliance party,” says Peter Harder, who served as deputy minister of foreign affairs during Harper’s first year in office. “It’s a party that was formed so recently before coming into power that this focusing on the party is logical.”

Harder contends that the Harper team’s constant attention to the party’s political fortunes has made Ottawa feel more like Washington. “It’s an Americanization of our political culture. It’s more a White House operation than a parliamentary, prime ministerial operation.”

One measure of the heavy emphasis on strategy is who matters most in the PMO, and who is missed when they leave. One of Harper’s close collaborators says the biggest change in the PMO over Harper’s years was not the exit of two chiefs of staff, Ian Brodie and Guy Giorno. It wasn’t the departure of two clerks of the Privy Council, Alex Himelfarb and Kevin Lynch. No, the hole Harper has been unable to fill was left when electoral strategist Patrick Muttart left in 2009 to work in the United States.

“The one difference with big structural implications is when Patrick left,” this senior Conservative says. “To call him the marketing strategist is an under-pitching of his role. He has a whole discipline and methodology for keeping track of today but keeping an eye on the big picture. I still don’t think they’ve replaced him in the organization.”

Through it all, Harper has been able to count on far greater caucus solidarity than other recent prime ministers did. It’s a mystery to outsiders, but it’s very real. It took time to build, and it was greatly bolstered by a departure from his caucus.

First came Belinda Stronach’s spectacular defection to Paul Martin’s government in 2005. “That had reverberations for years,” one long-time Harper adviser recalls. “The revulsion at her. At that moment, a whole slew of people who were kind of dancing around, not sure if they were in the pool or out of the pool, were in the pool.”

That kind of marquee defection can destroy a party leader. In fact they often have. Mulroney’s career never recovered from the departure of Lucien Bouchard to form the Bloc Québécois. Paul Martin’s revolt ruined Jean Chrétien. But it wasn’t just the leader. A whole party was shaken to its foundation in both cases.

Harper notices these things. In office he has never let a minister rise high enough to form an independent power base. The Harper operation is built for survival, armoured against threat from the inside and out, designed to protect the one component its leader believes is indispensable: himself.

Next page: TAKING ON THE WORLD

Harper's war on two fronts

Peter Andrews/Reuters

3. TAKING ON THE WORLD: Harper’s war on two fronts

If there is an area where Harper has been likeliest to indulge a preference for going it alone, it is foreign policy. That’s not how he planned it. He cannot have expected the rest of the world would take up so much of his time. He had barely travelled outside Canada before he became its head of government. Foreign diplomats stationed in Ottawa—whose own career prospects depended on their insights into Canadian politics—were nearly frantic when this man who had turned down almost every request for a meeting became the Prime Minister.

Of course he hadn’t paid the world much mind. Foreign policy doesn’t win elections. Which doesn’t mean it ever leaves a guy alone. Harper would not have to wait long to learn that lesson. The day after the 2006 election, his transition team had to junk most of the day’s schedule because Harper had to field congratulatory calls from overseas.

Soon Harper found himself tossed into the summit routine that defines much of the travel schedule of any large country’s leader. Canada belongs to the Francophonie, the Commonwealth, the G8, APEC and the “Three Amigos” North American triumvirate with the United States and Mexico. Harper’s presence was requested at all those meetings. And truth be told, they were the sort of thing that made him self-conscious about his limited experience.

He had a chance to assuage those nerves at his first G8 summit, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July 2006. The mood at the summit was grim. George W. Bush’s relations with European leaders had been strained by the Iraq war. The late-inning troop surge that would largely rescue the whole operation still lay ahead. The other leaders didn’t know much about Harper, but most figured he was likely to be very close to Bush. Yet at the table, Harper used his fluency in French to build a quick rapport with Jacques Chirac.

“Chirac had sent signals that he was not too keen on the new government in Canada. Chilly,” recalls a Tory official who worked at the summit. “The personal dynamics between him and Bush were so bad at this point.” Yet Harper found a way to carve out a role for himself, especially with Chirac. “Harper learned that he wasn’t out of his league at these summits, and if he mastered a couple of agenda items, he could move the dial in a way that he hadn’t been at all sure he could do,” his adviser said. “The Americans and French, to a lesser extent the others, were in a big fight about what the G8 was going to say about the ongoing Israeli incursion into Lebanon. In the end there was a summit declaration that was more balanced than either the European or the American drafts. And Harper really talked Chirac off a very hardline position on that.”

Peter Harder, who was Harper’s “sherpa”—or diplomatic advance man—for that first summit, also credits the Prime Minister with a surprisingly sure-footed performance in St. Petersburg. But Harder says this was far from an isolated event: “He is a very good summiteer, and you could argue that the crises we have been managing play to that tactical strength. He’s very analytical. He intervenes very effectively. Away from the cameras, he can build rapport with other leaders.”

Early success at the summit table gave Harper the confidence to handle foreign policy himself. This prospect greatly displeased the legions of superbly educated, urbane, multilingual career diplomats who staffed the Pearson Building, the hulking Foreign Affairs headquarters on Sussex Drive. To Harper, that wasn’t a problem, it was a bonus.

In many ways, the Harper government worked well with the bureaucracy. There was always suspicion, because Conservatives saw the civil service as a vast repository of ancient and unquestioned Liberal assumptions. But many ministers worked well with their deputies. Where there was conflict, the deputy minister could usually be encouraged to retire quietly without putting up a fuss. And in a few cases, the Harper crew came to genuinely value the work bureaucrats did for them.

One such case was Gérald Cossette, who was rushed into service to handle a backlog in passport applications when the U.S. imposed new restrictions on Canadian travellers in late 2006. Panicked travellers complained to their MPs, who complained at weekly caucus meetings. Cossette was conscripted to fix the mess, double-time. Almost overnight, the long lineups at passport offices vanished.

“The PM was so impressed by the turnaround, caucus was so impressed because all the complaints evaporated, that he actually phoned Gérald Cossette to thank him,” one adviser says. “It was very unlike him. The PM was not in the habit of phoning folks like that. Cossette’s career just took off after that.”

WATCH COYNE V. WELLS ON FIVE YEARS OF HARPER (VIDEO)

The elites at Foreign Affairs—“that self-satisfied coven of right-thinking high priests,” as one minister called them—were a different story. To Harper’s staff, the department headquarters at Fort Pearson was a supply house for the internal opposition against conservatism, and Canada’s global network of embassies was a problem to be managed, not an asset to be flaunted. Budgets for “public diplomacy”—art exhibits, public lectures and the other soft-sell techniques for raising Canada’s image abroad—were slashed. Ambassadors were forbidden from talking to reporters without clearing everything they planned to say through Ottawa. When Laureen Harper visited Paris and voiced sticker shock at the opulent Right Bank residence that ambassador Marc Lortie had inherited from his predecessors, panicky word spread among Canada’s foreign missions: ixnay on the conspicuous consumption. Don’t make yourself a target.

By 2009, Embassy magazine was reporting that diplomats were barred from using specific terms that smelled too strongly of Liberal roots. “Among the changes identified are the excising of the word ‘humanitarian’ from each reference to ‘international humanitarian law,’ replacing the term ‘gender equality’ with ‘equality of men and women,’ switching focus from justice for victims of sexual violence to prevention of sexual violence, and replacing the phrase ‘child soldiers’ with ‘children in armed conflict,’ ” the magazine reported.

Experts in the field were outraged. They pointed out, for instance, that “international humanitarian law” is a specific subset of international law with its own jurisprudence, so that eliminating references to it amounted to calling a hammer a saw because “hammer” sounded too Liberal. To say the least, the Harper government was unsympathetic to such arguments.

“I’ve told my people that this is the policy that we carry out,” Lawrence Cannon, the foreign minister, said when the vocabulary story appeared. “And if anybody is not happy with these policies that we’re carrying out, well, all they have to do is go and run in the next election and get themselves elected and support a policy that is different from ours.”

If any foreign policy issue came to define Harper’s time in office, it was the war in Afghanistan. Kandahar was one of his first travel destinations after the election. “There will be some who want to cut and run,” he told about 1,000 cheering soldiers. “But cutting and running is not my way and it’s not the Canadian way.” He took to telephoning the family of every soldier killed in action. That simple decision ensured he would receive regular, harrowing reminders of war’s cost.

Almost immediately, the cost began to skyrocket. Eight Canadians had died in Afghanistan in the four years before Harper was elected. In his first year in office, 36 more died. The escalation in violence would continue.

And so by late 2007, Harper was not disguising his impatience with the fighting. “You know, the United Nations and our allies will have been in Afghanistan 10 years in 2011,” he told Maclean’s. “For God’s sakes, Germany was basically fully restored within four years; Germany joined NATO 10 years after it was conquered.” He wasn’t willing to accept anything like an open-ended commitment in central Asia. “To say that Afghanistan would need decades and decades just to do the basic security work, I think is pushing credibility,” Harper said. “Not just pushing the patience of the Canadian public and the military, pushing the credibility of the effort.”

Which is how Harper came to be sitting down with a roomful of reporters during the 2008 campaign, announcing, as if they had already heard the news, that Canada’s military commitment in Afghanistan would end in 2011. “You have to put an end date on these things.” He repeated this message often, including in December 2009: after 2011, he said, “we will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy.” When Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, came to Ottawa in April 2010 looking for military trainers to hang around in Afghanistan after 2011, Harper and Lawrence Cannon all but ran her out of town.

What was striking here was that Harper’s government repeatedly dismissed any suggestion that their policy could ever change. Then it changed again. Last November, while Harper was on a trip to China, his staff started to leak word that up to 1,000 military trainers would stay in Kabul after the combat and development-support mission in Kandahar ends this year. This was precisely what Hillary Clinton had asked for. It repudiated Harper’s own call for an end date. “Look, I’m not going to kid you,” Harper said when reporters finally got him to comment. “Down deep, my preference would be, would have been, to see a complete end to the military mission. But as we approach that date, the facts on the ground convince me that the Afghan military needs further training.”

Sources say neither Peter MacKay, the defence minister, nor Canada’s senior military command, had any advance word of the reversal. Harper’s handling of the Afghanistan file reflected a level of incoherence he would not have accepted from a subordinate. But increasingly, he was becoming comfortable with the notion that he had no subordinate on foreign policy.

Diplomats whose predecessors once tried in vain to book a lunch with Harper when he was opposition leader now compared notes on how hard it was to get the attention of his successive and interchangeable foreign ministers. When David Emerson had the job, his staff once blocked a phone call from Germany’s foreign minister. When he had it, Maxime Bernier amazed another European foreign minister with the depth of his ignorance on major bilateral files. “Many, many people trying to hold him up,” an ambassador from that country said later, referring to Bernier’s staff. “It was a disaster.”

No matter. Harper was learning that, contrary to the old adage, foreign policy can win elections, or at least help. He sharply increased the size of Canada’s diplomatic missions in India, a move that was noticed in large South Asian communities around Toronto. He showed unwavering support for Israel’s Likud government.

He paid an extended visit to Ukraine, even though its pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, had been the bad guy during that country’s 2004 Orange Revolution. An Ottawa-based reporter for the Kyiv Post put Harper on the “Ukraine’s 10-best” list for 2010—and Michael Ignatieff on the 10-worst list. The third-largest Ukrainian population in the world, after Ukraine and Russia, is Canada’s. If the world was going to insist on Harper’s time, he was going to make sure the world paid him some political credit in return.

Next page: FRIENDS AND ENEMIES

Tipping the balance of power

Tom Hanson/CP

4. FRIENDS AND ENEMIES: Tipping the balance of power

When you’re trying to remake a country, it helps to have steady allies. Harper had one, for awhile. Then he got distracted. Then he decided he didn’t need an ally after all.

In Quebec, he said a few days before Christmas 2005, the choice was clear. “We can pick the Liberals, who can’t wait to see a PQ government.” Or he said Canadians could elect the Conservatives, who would “work productively with the federalist leader of Quebec, the most federalist premier we’ve had in my lifetime: Mr. Charest.”

It was a familiar ode to an odd champion. Jean Charest and Stephen Harper were not pals. They had often been at loggerheads between 1993 and 1997, when Charest was half the Progressive Conservative caucus and Harper was a rookie Reform MP with a fondness for saying politically incorrect things about Quebec nationalism. But Harper does not base his business on friendships. His business was to remake the federation.

It was high time, he said as early as 2002, to “allow our institutions to evolve away from the 40-year-long Liberal experiment in centralized federalism.”

But his goal was not merely to protect provincial prerogatives. “The call for firewalls is about refocusing the federal government on its own responsibilities as much as it is about giving provinces greater control.” After the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, the cost of Liberal meddling in provincial jurisdictions like health and education was obvious. “The spotlight on Ottawa’s core functions—defence, justice, solicitor general and immigration—revealed that they have been suffering what might at best be called benign neglect.”

In office, he moved quickly to shift the balance. He sharply increased defence spending. He made Justice Minister Rob Nicholson the busiest guy in cabinet—although largely because Nicholson’s tough-on-crime bills kept dying on the order paper and needed to be reintroduced every time Harper prorogued Parliament. In recent years he has made Immigration Minister Jason Kenney one of the most influential ministers in his cabinet. That’s the spotlight on Ottawa’s core functions.

Giving the provinces greater control has been accomplished in a bunch of ways. The GST reduction sharply curtailed Ottawa’s ability to pay for incursions into provincial jurisdictions. Harper’s health ministers have essentially given up policing provincial compliance with the universality and accessibility requirements of the Canada Health Act.

Harper’s government has refused to renew the Vancouver Agreement, which made the federal government a partner with British Columbia and Vancouver city hall in developing the city’s downtown core. The Harper team argues that is none of Ottawa’s business. (How can that position be squared with the Harper government’s continuing court fight to shut down Vancouver’s InSite safe-injection drug facility—which means appealing a lower-court ruling that said InSite is none of Ottawa’s business? It can’t. Consistency is for monks.)

If any provincial premier could be expected to welcome these moves, it was Charest. After 15 years in federal politics, he has never had to stop proving his bona fides as a true Quebec nationalist. Any transfer of power from Ottawa to Quebec City is good news to him. In office, Harper concentrated on Charest more than any other premier. He travelled to Quebec City for their first meeting, in itself an almost unheard-of concession by a sitting prime minister of any party. He gave Quebec a permanent representative in Canada’s delegation to UNESCO. He turned Jim Flaherty’s second budget into a huge transfer giveaway to the provinces and billed it as the settlement of the “fiscal imbalance,” a term that had political resonance only in Quebec. Quebec’s share alone came to $700 million.

At which point the relationship between Charest and Harper went right down the tubes. Dan Gagnier watched it all and he still has trouble explaining it. Gagnier became Charest’s chief of staff in mid-2007 and left in 2009. He had served the same role for an Ontario premier, David Peterson, in the late 1980s. To him the relationship between Harper and Charest was based on mutual interest. When the interests diverged, the relationship evaporated.

“They’re different people, right?” Gagnier said of his former boss and the Prime Minister. “One’s a Progressive Conservative and the other is—well, he’s much more conservative, let’s put it that way.”

Two events turned the Harper-Charest alliance sour. Each man did something that got on the other’s nerves something fierce. First, Charest used every dime of the $700 million windfall to finance personal income-tax cuts, a Hail Mary pass during a 2007 election he was on his way to losing. Harper likes to proclaim that there are no bad tax cuts, but this one comes close. Quebec still receives equalization payments, financed by taxpayers in other provinces, and delivers generous social programs other provinces can’t match. Cutting Quebecers’ tax bill in those circumstances just didn’t seem cricket.

WATCH COYNE V. WELLS ON FIVE YEARS OF HARPER (VIDEO)

But neither, to Charest, did Harper’s decision soon after to attend a lunch in Rivière-du-Loup accompanied by the local member of the national assembly: Mario Dumont, Charest’s hated opposition leader. “It was an unpleasant moment, if I can put it that way,” Gagnier recalls.

Diverging interests. Charest needed to save his bacon on the federal dime. Harper sought to build a durable Conservative electoral base in Quebec. Since most Quebec Liberals who own a federal party card are federal Liberals, he saw Dumont as a more consistent ally.

In each case, it was nothing personal. The two men finally concluded there simply couldn’t be anything personal between them. After the 2007 election, Charest decided a friend in Ottawa was not nearly as handy as an opponent in Ottawa. “It was Charest realizing that within the bubble, the way you do politics in the national assembly, you can work together and get results with the federal government, but there’s always got to be a list of demands,” Gagnier says.

But what a lot of people are learning is that Harper is good at ignoring demands he doesn’t want to hear. Early on, he invited premiers to 24 Sussex for a traditional first ministers’ dinner. Speaking to reporters afterward, he quipped, “I’m glad I didn’t bring my wallet.” It was a signal: he would transfer power and resources to the provinces, but only on his terms.

These days Harper meets with his provincial counterparts far more rarely than Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien did, and almost never as a group, where they could outnumber him. Earlier prime ministers had a powerful intergovernmental affairs minister to coordinate the interrelationships between Ottawa and the provinces. Harper does not believe there should be close interrelationships, so his intergovernmental affairs minister is the answer to a trivia question. (Josée Verner. Don’t worry, it won’t be on the exam.)

Harper and Charest no longer bother even keeping their antagonism fresh. “It’s probably matured to the point where there’s a respect for the two offices, but it’s a cool thing,” Gagnier says. “Not a warm relationship.” In federalism as in world affairs and political strategy, Harper finds himself alone.

But here too, he rather likes it that way. The agenda he described in that 2002 speech remains. Provincial revenues, after cash transfers from Ottawa, are much higher than federal revenues. Federal tax revenue, as a portion of GDP, is at its lowest since the mid-1960s.

Of course, deficits and federal spending have been sky high. Harper’s failure to announce stimulus spending was the opposition’s pretext for launching the 2008 coalition bid. He had to spend big to survive. He has worked hard to make that necessity a virtue.

It helped that his finance minister was as flexible as he is. Jim Flaherty entered Harper’s government as a paragon of small-government conservatism, a man who’d run unsuccessfully as a right-wing outlier to replace Mike Harris as the Ontario Conservative leader in 2002. He has presided over ballooning spending and deficits. It doesn’t seem to have hurt his good cheer.

Flaherty has no equivalent in cabinet. While foreign ministers and environment ministers come and go, he is the only minister (save Marjorie LeBreton as Senate leader) to have held the same cabinet job for the full five years of the Harper government.

The wild ride of late 2008 sorely tested that relationship. During the campaign, Harper and Flaherty sounded like they were living in different economic universes. Harper called the battered stock markets “some great buying opportunities.” Three days later, Flaherty injected $25 billion into the banks. His sense of urgency was much closer to the real world than Harper’s nonchalance. Was the Prime Minister caught off guard? Far from it.

As early as the summer of 2007, insiders say, Bank of Canada officials were conveying a sense of deep, growing unease in their regular briefings to the Prime Minister’s Office. Harper was fully briefed on trouble in the U.S. subprime mortgage markets. Reporters and the opposition remained oblivious. “It was amazing: a huge s–tstorm could hit the markets and not affect the political class in Ottawa,” marvels one Conservative strategist.

After the 2008 election, of course, the cat was out of the bag. Flaherty and Harper hunkered down for some emergency budget-making.

“It strikes you how seriously Harper takes this,” says one person who was in the room for key budget planning sessions. “Sometimes we have a tendency to overstate how Harper micromanages. But when it comes to the big things, he’s involved.”

“Flaherty’s mindset was that his biggest concern was that we wouldn’t do enough,” another participant in the budget process says. “He wanted to act as boldly as he possibly could. He wasn’t concerned about the size of the deficit, he wasn’t concerned about the short-term political prospects. He wanted to make sure it would happen quickly.”

Harper worked with him constantly. Finance officials drove up to the Langevin Building, where Harper keeps his office, constantly. Sometimes the group was very small: Harper, Flaherty, Kevin Lynch, who was then the clerk of the Privy Council, and Derek Vanstone, who was Flaherty’s chief of staff and has since moved to the PMO as deputy chief of staff.

The budget they crafted, which kicked off at least three years of deep deficits and probably more, is in many ways a huge departure for a Prime Minister who likes to think of himself as a small-government conservative. But if he stays in office, it will all become part of his long game. He has already said he will protect transfer payments to the provinces when it comes time to cut spending and rein in those deficits. That means the only place he can cut is in areas of federal activity.

In 1995 and 1996, the Liberals cut heavily into transfers when they finally vanquished a generation of deficits. They used their restoration of transfers as a chance to enforce national standards, set by Ottawa with the help of a few allies among the premiers, on provincial spending.

Harper remains fully capable of flip-flopping, here as everywhere. But his statements so far suggest he will play this recovery very differently from the way the Liberals played the late ’90s. The flow of money and power from Ottawa to the provinces, unaccompanied by federal oversight into how the provinces use their relative bounty, will continue.

Next page: MIND GAMES

What Harper really thinks

Lyle Stafford/Reuters

5. MIND GAMES: What Harper really thinks

When Stephen Harper had been prime minister for only a few months, a visitor to his office asked what he had learned so far on the job. Harper considered the question briefly. “I just wish I’d been tougher,” he said.

Tougher how? On which files? Against whom?

“Just…tougher,” Harper said, before ushering his visitor out of his Centre Block office.

Most voters supported somebody else’s party over his. On any day of the week, his opponents could try again what they tried to do in 2008. He is persuaded they will try again after the next election, should the Conservatives get another minority. In the meanwhile he sees them scheming against him, ganging up in committees, sucking up to reporters. If he is not tough they will cut him down.

But then toughness is a relative thing, isn’t it? A member of his government notes that Harper’s cabinet has grown steadily, due partly to his aversion to firing anyone. Max Bernier had to go because of the documents at the girlfriend’s house. Helena Guergis had to go because of all the icky claims against her. Lawrence Cannon is fine. Bev Oda is fine. Diane Ablonczy was too quick to lecture young Stephen when they were both rookie Reform MPs, so he has made sure she rises very slowly indeed. But she rises.

So he’s a pussycat? That may be overstating things. But Harper’s bark is so fierce that few have ever bothered to test his bite. It’s easy in Ottawa to find prematurely retired bureaucrats who decry Harper’s management style. But just try to get one of them to detail their complaints for the public record. Even when they’re off the public payroll, they would rather avoid the trouble. You will already have noticed that close collaborators of Harper prefer not to speak for the record—even when they’re saying nice things about him.

It all baffles Derek Burney, who has been a public servant and a political staffer and who marvels at how cowed the bureaucracy, and Harper’s own ministers, are. “If you joust with these guys, you just might win a few,” he said.

For now almost nobody is in a mood to joust with Harper. The opposition parties deny they are plotting to form a coalition to replace him. And you know what? They are not plotting to form a coalition. But neither are they performing the day-to-day consultation and collaboration opposition parties always do to clip a government’s wings, because they are too afraid of looking like the coalition he warns against. They have had him outnumbered for five years. For a week in 2008 they acted like it. Now he will not stop using that week as a stick to beat them with.

It is a cliché to say somebody is his own worst critic. In Harper’s case it is true in two ways. First, he has not exactly surrounded himself with the kind of person who is fearless about speaking truth to power. “Stephen Harper is always at his best when there are people who say, ‘What the f— are you doing?’ ” says a former staffer from his first years in office. “But he organized his life so that nobody was saying that to him.”

This produces nasty surprises. He was amazed at the political turmoil that followed when he had Linda Keen, head of the Nuclear Safety Commission, fired for refusing to run the Chalk River reactor, and then called her a Liberal plant with a mandate to safeguard the Liberals’ legacy “from the grave.” He’d managed to make Keen a martyr. “Why did nobody tell me that?” he asked later when an acquaintance told him what he’d managed to do.

But the “own worst critic” label also really does mean he is often harshly self-critical. As a result, he goes through a conscious and intense process of preparation—before every public appearance—to convey an aura of unflappable certitude.

“It’s not like people who have to go and check their hair or tie,” says one Conservative insider who has worked closely with the Prime Minister. “To prepare for making sure that every word that he plans to say is delivered correctly, and that he’s leaving the right emphasis, and he’s not going to be caught out by questions that he’s not going to want to answer, and he’s going to limit how he reacts—does he want to be angry? Does he want to be more placid?—this doesn’t come naturally to him. His own personal emotional preparation for a press scrum takes up a lot of energy.”

His aim is to avoid the sorts of blunt, impolitic assertions that plagued him before he took office—like his reference to the “culture of defeatism” in Atlantic Canada. Mistakes from others are easy enough to correct. Harper simply shuts them out, denies them plum posts, ignores their counsel. He did it to Scott Reid, the eastern Ontario MP who used to be one of his closest advisers, after Reid made comments about bilingualism in 2004 that gave Harper a rough couple of days on the campaign trail.

But Harper cannot shut himself down after a gaffe. So he goes to extreme lengths to avoid making them.

Does all this effort and calculation, all these years of survival, add up to anything? Opinions on that question diverge so wildly that claiming Harper is a significant prime minister will not change the minds of anyone who thinks otherwise. At a minimum, he endures.

“I don’t think there’s a Harper conservatism in the sense of an easily identifiable ideology,” a member of his government says. “There’s an approach to government, which is informed by what some would call principled, others would call ideological conservatism. But it’s conditioned by the day-to-day requirements of running a government and maintaining a broad base of support.”

Yes, but again: does this add up to anything? This source decided to try explaining it a different way. “He has a clear set of principles, which he tries to implement in a responsible and prudent way. That may sound trite, but it’s actually, in the history of modern Canadian conservatism, almost revolutionary at the federal level. Previous conservative governments were simply brokerage parties, all about constant calculation of electoral advantage.”

Surely nobody would claim Harper is immune to the temptation to calculate electoral advantage. “The Mulroney refrain, when the base was complaining about that government’s profligacy…they would always say politics is the art of the possible,” this Conservative said. “Margaret Thatcher said, what is your sense of what’s possible?

WATCH COYNE V. WELLS ON FIVE YEARS OF HARPER (VIDEO)

“Stephen Harper has a much more expansive sense of what’s possible than his predecessors as national conservative leaders. That is understood implicitly in the party. That’s why the right wing of the party continues to support him, notwithstanding particular policies that bug them. They understand he’s more Thatcher than Mulroney.”

His first big decision in electoral politics was to abandon the Mulroney Progressive Conservatives in 1987 for an upstart movement that wasn’t even named the Reform party yet. He knows what a furious conservative base looks like. It looks like him. He pays it much closer heed than he does a bunch of Ottawa columnists. Why did he hold his ground on the long-form census, but abandon a Throne Speech promise to find gender-neutral lyrics for O Canada? “The census wasn’t burning up Lowell Green’s show,” says one former staffer, referring to a popular Ottawa talk-radio host. “But O Canada sure was.”

His national campaign director, Doug Finley, has been responsible for implementing Harper’s plans since 2004. Already they are well ahead of the schedule they imagined they would adhere to. “Certainly Stephen Harper’s first goal was to unite the parties,” Finley says. “Having done that, we felt at the time that it would take probably at least one full election cycle—by that I mean five years—to get us in a position where we could aspire to government.”

The sponsorship scandal and the Gomery inquiry sped everything up considerably. Where are they heading now? Finley is responsible for delivering a majority to Harper. He is realistic about the odds.

“The reality is, with four parties, each capable of getting around 40 seats, the continuing likelihood of minority governments is strong. And you would be a fool not to be ready for an election at any time. We’re now at a stage, I think, where our base is strong. We’ve shown five years of stable government. Our attention to our knitting, which is particularly the economy, job creation, tax reduction, is resonating well with the Canadian public.

“I believe we’re ready for a majority. Certainly the seats are there. Will the tactics change? No, not considerably.”

What’s the goal? A majority for what end? “I’ve heard people say that Stephen Harper’s number one goal in political life is to get rid of the Liberal party. I’ve never heard him say that. Obviously we’d like to beat them every time we run against them.”

All of which is fine enough, but it still doesn’t address what Harper would do with five more years if he had them. Probably it’s safest to say he will do more of the same: incremental changes that change the country in ways his opponents, when they finally do push Harper or his successors out of office, will have trouble ratcheting back. Money out of Ottawa. Ottawa out of the provinces’ business. An alternative narrative of Canadian patriotism that gives conservatives a flag to rally around.

“I’m pretty sure the Prime Minister has a pretty good idea where he’s going,” Doug Finley says. “He is, as many in the media have described, the prime strategist. He’s the leader in every sense of the word. He’s not the micromanager that people describe, or the sort of sour-faced bully or whatever. I’ve never seen that in the years that I’ve known him.

“But I know in his mind there are plans constantly forming.”




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What you don’t know about Stephen Harper

  1. c'mon guys, enough with the propaganda fluff pieces. after reading this, i feel like screaming

    ALL HAIL KING HARPER!!!

    • speaking of propaganda…

    • Living in Toronto, I've heard all kinds of comments about Harper, from outrageously misinformed critiques about his northern sovereignty efforts to queen-street dwellers outright calling him the anti-Christ…
      But I propose something; let's all grow up a little, swallow our pride, and finally accept that we were at least a little bit wrong about him.. and that he has demonstrated solid leadership and it is no accident his mandate has lasted this long.

      • nah, i'm not going to do that – i think he's been a disaster on the highest order and that his mandate is, in actuality, little more than to hold the fort until the liberals can pull their collective heads out of their collective asses (hasn't happened yet).

      • Indeed.. I was a little bit wrong about him. When the CPC first came to power I was disappointed (I knew then the GST cut was a bonehead move economically, and fully expected the deficit to come roaring back) however I held hope in the silver lining that at least he'd be standing up to the American logging industry in defense of Canada's sovereignty unlike Martin and as he promised, that there'd be a proper focus on the arctic, and that, at least for a while, we'd have a government which would be vigilant against hypocrisy.

        Then Fortier happened.
        Then the BC Billion Dollar Giveaway
        Then Cadman started to come to light.
        And In-and-out.
        Then the Accountability Act — which delivered accountability only in its title.
        Then the icebreakers became icebreaker became patrol boats.
        Then the fixed election legislation was broken

        Solid leadership? He's hidden from every controversial issue, and created controversy where there shouldn't have been any. Mandate? 1/3 the voting public is not a mandate. I will grant you that it's no accident he's held power this long, but rather a calculated attempt — as this article shows — to place himself above all else, including Canada.

    • Did you even read the entire article? I know it's rather long, but please put in the effort to get through all five pages before you comment. That's right, you need to click the little number "2,3,4, and 5" at the bottom of the article to see the entire thing.

      I, for one, can't see how an entire section of the article devoted to how Harper surrounds himself with "yes-men" who fail to challenge his assertions is remotely 'fluff' or propaganda. It's probably not an image the CPC wants associated with Harper.

      • i know it's been a while since i've frequented these boards, but you don't know who you're talking to, do you?

        the cpc has being trying very hard to present harper as a "strong leader". the piece runs off exactly like something out of the politburo, an attempt to turn harper into an idol – much like what was done to stalin, mao or…yes….recently, obama.

        this idea of harper as a dictator, strong man, shepherd, etc is *exactly* what the cpc wants to project because they have the ideological view that the masses are lost sheep that need to be led. this is what they've been selling us for years now….

        • I'm pretty sure the CPC would have never approved of the line "Consistency is for monks" when their entire pre-election Ignatieff campaign-jabs revolve around his inconsistencies. There are many more slights against Harper within the article, if you care to peruse.

          I stand by my previous assertion that this article is a well-balanced breath of fresh air.

          EDIT: And no, I have no idea whom I'm speaking with. I get around Ottawa a fair bit, and I don't believe I've met any named dgtlflflfkffhlfhla. Besides that, I studiously avoid people who use any variation of the phrase "Do you have any idea who I am?" as it's an unfailing indicator of an inflated self-worth and deflated reasoning capacity.

          • within context, the line was meant to demonstrate that harper leads with his strong-arm; this is consistent with my argument that the article was constructed with the aim of portraying harper as a national patriarch.

            i don't own a television, and if i did i'd ignore the political ads, so i'll have to take your word on the advertisements, which i haven't seen. i will say that i was under the impression that the conservatives were primarily focusing on ignatieff's time out of the country….

            nonetheless, if you've ever sat through an episode of o'reilly or beck then you know that the contemporary right does not put an emphasis on intellectual consistency. in other words, i think you're giving them too much credit.

    • yeah, facts are hard to read when you're used to digesting anti-Harper rhetoric

  2. c'mon guys, enough with the propaganda fluff pieces. after reading this, i feel like screaming

    ALL HAIL KING HARPER!!!

  3. I've always regarded MacLean's as a conservative political organ but this article takes the cake. Depicting Harper as senitive and uncertain in times of great personal turmoil – willing to throw it all over in a vainglorious act of self-sacrifice – oh the religiosity-humanity of it all!! What I really mean to say is – what a load of crap. Further – the timing of this new spin about the Prentice as originator of prorogation as the tactical political tool of choice makes it opportunistic rewritten history of the first order. Isn't it odd that this story never surfaced after the maelstrom of public opinion following prorogation? It's a blatant move to re-position Harper in the public's mind as a kinder, gentler leader prior to a gratuitous election call. (BTW, what ever happened to regularly scheduled elections?) One thing is certain, I don't have to change my opinion of MacLean's political affiliation or purpose. No wonder I don't subscribe.

    • in reference to "stalinization", i think the correct term to use is "harperization".

    • So what you're saying RossM is that if you're confronted with a well researched and well writen piece of political commentary that doesnt fit with your narrow and frankly childish view of our prime minister, you will throw a little fit?

      You should just come to grips with the fact that Harper is not the caricature his political opponents have painted of him. Then you'll be able to participate in adult conversations again.

    • Anyone who would call an article like this "spin" and an "opportunistic rewritten history of the first order" says more about themselves than the article in question. Unless of course you were actually there in the PMO when that conversation about prorogation happened, and presumably there for many other conversations as well? Well, were you?

  4. I've always regarded MacLean's as a conservative political organ but this article takes the cake. Depicting Harper as senitive and uncertain in times of great personal turmoil – willing to throw it all over in a vainglorious act of self-sacrifice – oh the religiosity-humanity of it all!! What I really mean to say is – what a load of crap. Further – the timing of this new spin about the Prentice as originator of prorogation as the tactical political tool of choice makes it opportunistic rewritten history of the first order. Isn't it odd that this story never surfaced after the maelstrom of public opinion following prorogation? It's a blatant move to re-position Harper in the public's mind as a kinder, gentler leader prior to a gratuitous election call. (BTW, what ever happened to regularly scheduled elections?) One thing is certain, I don't have to change my opinion of MacLean's political affiliation or purpose. No wonder I don't subscribe.

  5. Absolutely fascinating read, which remarkably will reinforce the opinions of those on both sides of the love/hate SH divide.

    • Agreed. Very good article.

  6. Absolutely fascinating read, which remarkably will reinforce the opinions of those on both sides of the love/hate SH divide.

  7. in reference to "stalinization", i think the correct term to use is "harperization".

  8. An interesting read. Thank you.

    For me it crystallizes around one sentence: "This business of changing the culture of the country obsesses the group around Harper."

    A PM is there to do the bidding of the people, he is not there to 'change the culture of the country'. He has no mandate for that.

    Moreover you can't change the culture of a country by force, by fiat, by 'shock and awe'…..people will just resist that, sometimes vehemently. and It becomes a very emotional thing.

    You can LEAD a change to the culture if you're a good salesman, if you explain why it's necessary and make a good case for it. People will at least listen to, and consider it, in a rational way.

    And this 'group' around Harper seem to be merely yes-men, more concerned about pleasing the boss and staying in power than they are about our national interests…or even reason.

    It has become so bad that if Harper announced we needed to build giant paper planes and attack Iran, they would all dutifully spread out across Canada to promote that plan, without once allowing themselves to think ‘Whaaaat?'

    • ''A PM is there to do the bidding of the people, he is not there to 'change the culture of the country'. He has no mandate for that.''

      Or

      a political leader has indicated which direction he would like to go if elected and his election is the mandate to carry on.

      • Except that Harper said nothing about changing the culture of the country when he was campaigning.

        • Oh that's right only the Liberals are allowed to do that.

          • I don't recall the Liberals setting about to 'change our culture', and not mentioning it.

          • Mojo, I waited 4 weeks for your reply to this. Still no word?

    • Quite similar to the die hard Liberal lemmings.

  9. An interesting read. Thank you.

    For me it crystallizes around one sentence: "This business of changing the culture of the country obsesses the group around Harper."

    A PM is there to do the bidding of the people, he is not there to 'change the culture of the country'. He has no mandate for that.

    Moreover you can't change the culture of a country by force, by fiat, by 'shock and awe'…..people will just resist that, sometimes vehemently. and It becomes a very emotional thing.

    You can LEAD a change to the culture if you're a good salesman, if you explain why it's necessary and make a good case for it. People will at least listen to, and consider it, in a rational way.

    And this 'group' around Harper seem to be merely yes-men, more concerned about pleasing the boss and staying in power than they are about our national interests…or even reason.

    It has become so bad that if Harper announced we needed to build giant paper planes and attack Iran, they would all dutifully spread out across Canada to promote that plan, without once allowing themselves to think ‘Whaaaat?'

  10. for once macleans is partialy right, harper would be gone by now if the liberals would of nominated kennedy instead of dion i think we can blame bob rae partially for that, bob blew his chance in ontario by not keeping his promise on public auto insurance ,hell screw up any party .

    • If memory serves me right, Kennedy was the king maker in Dion election as the leader. Bob Rae would not tell his troops which way to go after losing, which pretty well took care of Ignatieff

  11. for once macleans is partialy right, harper would be gone by now if the liberals would of nominated kennedy instead of dion i think we can blame bob rae partially for that, bob blew his chance in ontario by not keeping his promise on public auto insurance ,hell screw up any party .

  12. I remember the nausiating years of Creetin's gang and his arrogance while in command. He bullied and batted everyone out of his way to keep his control for the corruption of his party and Quebec. Giving small usless promises to the Canadian people, only to wiggle out of them once more.

    I certainly remember and want no part of any Liberal running the country again.

    Well there, I've said my piece.

    • Thank you for your objective and reasoned contribution. While it fails to speak to any point in the article, I'm sure you feel better getting that off your chest.

      It also warms the cockles of my heart to learn that there are people in this world who will studiously avoid examining proposed policies in favour of historically-derived prejudices. Certainly, for myself, I steadfastly refuse to purchase any Coke product after how they so completely bungled the introduction of "New Coke" in the 1980's.

    • Absolutely fair and reasonable in not liking Chretien, in my opinion.

      Now the problem is, Harper's no better, and in many ways, worse. The article spells it out, the most important thing in the Harper government isn't you, or me, or Canada, it's him.

    • Please learn how to spell.

      • You haven't been reading these kinds of posts long, have you! Bad spelling comes with the territory it seems. After a while you get used to it. : )

      • Although I must say, the spelling on this site is a LOT better than on the CBC posts.

  13. I remember the nausiating years of Creetin's gang and his arrogance while in command. He bullied and batted everyone out of his way to keep his control for the corruption of his party and Quebec. Giving small usless promises to the Canadian people, only to wiggle out of them once more.

    I certainly remember and want no part of any Liberal running the country again.

    Well there, I've said my piece.

  14. So what you're saying RossM is that if you're confronted with a well researched and well writen piece of political commentary that doesnt fit with your narrow and frankly childish view of our prime minister, you will throw a little fit?

    You should just come to grips with the fact that Harper is not the caricature his political opponents have painted of him. Then you'll be able to participate in adult conversations again.

  15. If the conservative vision is merely to let the provinces do whatever they want, then they don't have a vision for the country — they have a vision for an EU of Canada. Why wouldn't you want to have strong national standards? Do you WANT to live in a country where by accident of birth you get no healthcare if you're poor if you live in the wrong province? Or you get different rights and sentences in criminal courts, or you can be discriminated against in on province versus another over things like sexual orientation? That's not a nation, that's a failed state. My problem with the conservative approach is that all it does is give people with more money, more power and that's not fair. The amount of money one has is often too arbitrary — inheritances, lottery winnings, real estate bubbles in certain parts of the country that nobody anticipated, etc. Why should a poor person be denied healthcare one day then get first class care the next because they won the lottery? Or their rich uncle died and willed a fortune. Canadian citizenship doesn't seem to mean much to conservatives. They seem more concerned with provincial power. It's a small vision and it leaves too many people out in the cold, leaving us all worse off.

    • Are you sure you read the same article as the rest of us ?

    • Well said. The Conservative approach is to divide Canadians and then because of a minority split vote take the reigns and lead us nowhere, because they have no vision (except as part of di-vision)!

    • Where is there a desire for more provincial power in promoting politices such as a national securities regulator and sales tax harmonization?

    • Re: Criminal sentencing, Discrimination – you should REALLY take a CLOSE look at sections 2, 7, and 15 of the Charter of Rights, and sections 91 and 92 of the British North America Act.

      And while the concern for national free health care is certainly a valid one, I have my reservations about it every so often. The main point is that when my brother tore his ACL & MCL, he had to wait 6 months just for the MRI, then 18 months for surgery to remove the damaged parts (not reconstruction.) When my dad's dog blew out her knee, she had a new knee within 2 days.

      If anything, that's a failure of the free market. But healthcare reform has problems: a mixed sector would leach the good doctors into private practice, marginally degrading the quality of public care (they are still med school grads, right?), while public only systems ignore the possibility to generate tax revenue and causes unnecessary delays, the private only option doesn't work as evidenced by our neighbour to the south.

  16. If the conservative vision is merely to let the provinces do whatever they want, then they don't have a vision for the country — they have a vision for an EU of Canada. Why wouldn't you want to have strong national standards? Do you WANT to live in a country where by accident of birth you get no healthcare if you're poor if you live in the wrong province? Or you get different rights and sentences in criminal courts, or you can be discriminated against in on province versus another over things like sexual orientation? That's not a nation, that's a failed state. My problem with the conservative approach is that all it does is give people with more money, more power and that's not fair. The amount of money one has is often too arbitrary — inheritances, lottery winnings, real estate bubbles in certain parts of the country that nobody anticipated, etc. Why should a poor person be denied healthcare one day then get first class care the next because they won the lottery? Or their rich uncle died and willed a fortune. Canadian citizenship doesn't seem to mean much to conservatives. They seem more concerned with provincial power. It's a small vision and it leaves too many people out in the cold, leaving us all worse off.

  17. A very well thought and dare I say accurate synopsis of the recent past and current situation – although he drives left wing nuts to new lengths of frustration and despair of which to be honest I find a truly endearing qualtiy. Harper is placing a stamp on this country of ours that will most assuredly go down in the history books as unique and perhaps even ' greatness '.. now hurry and thumb me down Harper haters before your lattes get cold!

    • Funny, I just thumbed you up while taking a sip of my very own latte!

      • Vanilla Bean in case you were curious ;)

    • The biggest risk is that by insulating himself from the electorate and political winds–by virtue of how he has structured his internal circle–he runs the risk of having history remember his leadership through the lens of some ridiculous contrived yet avoidable crisis that he completely missed because people were afraid to contradict him.

      Conversely, perhaps fate will favour his leadership and he'll skate through the next few years without incident. In any event, the mantra in most other positions of leadership, such as airline pilots, military commanders, business executives, etc have all moved toward encouraging internal discourse and discussion to minimize the risk of being blindsided and caught flat-footed. Harper *is* playing a dangerous game by maintaining his opinion as sacrosanct.

      • Noob;
        You have been reading too many Liberal propaganda reports. Harper has not even approached the Chretien dictatorship. We are an extremely lucky Country to have had the Govt we have through the world financial crisis or we would have been in the same financial mess as the rest of the world.
        A happy Canadian.

        • You're truly ignorant aren't you?

          It was Harper et al who were screaming at Chretien to let our Canadian banks merge freely into behemoths mirroring their American counterparts. His government was the one that loosened mortgage rules to the same low standards that nearly bankrupted America. His is the government that ate through almost the entire surplus before the first winds of the recession were seen on the horizon, and then promised us there'd be no deficit as it crashed onto our shores.

          The only reason we haven't been in the same financial mess is because we were already top of the economic performance pack for the previous 15 years or so.

        • Irrespective of my personal beliefs, which aren't really relevant to this discussion, your response made me smile. Are you really satisfied with comparing Harper's government to Chretien's? The way you've positioned your response makes it seem that Harper hasn't raised the bar at all; indeed, that the bar is so low he doesn't even have to lift his leg in order get over it.

          The message I keep hearing isn't "here's what we've done to make Canada a better place", but "here's what we've done to not screw up the country more than these other bozo's would have if they were in our position".

          In all honesty, as someone who doesn't have a lot of love for the Liberals or NDP and doesn't see anything better coming out of any party, the tone of Conservative messaging makes it sound like Harper is auditioning for the role of janitor, instead of architect. "I promise to keep the place clean and tidy for the length of my term".

    • Yes, you deserve to b thumbed down. How astute to not think for yourself on any of this. How great you and Harper are (in your own minds!). Ideology and denial are the mantra that Harper (and apparently you) prefer to follow. Harper is void of any ideas to address things. He is often than not forced to do things. His vision is di-vision! If smaller is better then he certainly has everyone else beat as his view of the greatness that Canada was or could be is so SMALL!

  18. A very well thought and dare I say accurate synopsis of the recent past and current situation – although he drives left wing nuts to new lengths of frustration and despair of which to be honest I find a truly endearing qualtiy. Harper is placing a stamp on this country of ours that will most assuredly go down in the history books as unique and perhaps even ' greatness '.. now hurry and thumb me down Harper haters before your lattes get cold!

  19. Great job, guys… good, well-balanced piece.

  20. Great job, guys… good, well-balanced piece.

  21. John, Paul…

    A most fascinating read. Thank you. No one else in Canadian journalism is capable of producing a well thought out epic like this. Kudos to you both, and say hello to George and Ringo.

  22. John, Paul…

    A most fascinating read. Thank you. No one else in Canadian journalism is capable of producing a well thought out epic like this. Kudos to you both, and say hello to George and Ringo.

    • Damn. We were trying not to be The Walrus.

      • Actually i had the feeling you guys talked to many of the same insider sources L.Martin did for Harperland. Not a criticism. Martin's book was surprisingly fair and so is this piece…er not surprisingly :)

  23. If memory serves me right, Kennedy was the king maker in Dion election as the leader. Bob Rae would not tell his troops which way to go after losing, which pretty well took care of Ignatieff

  24. speaking of propaganda…

  25. ''A PM is there to do the bidding of the people, he is not there to 'change the culture of the country'. He has no mandate for that.''

    Or

    a political leader has indicated which direction he would like to go if elected and his election is the mandate to carry on.

  26. Except that Harper said nothing about changing the culture of the country when he was campaigning.

  27. Funny, I just thumbed you up while taking a sip of my very own latte!

  28. Vanilla Bean in case you were curious ;)

  29. Damn. We were trying not to be The Walrus.

  30. I like Emily's comments about "A PM is there to do the bidding of the people, he is not there to 'change the culture of the country'. He has no mandate for that. "

    The fact that Harper has never even attempted to work with the opposition (who represents 2/3's of Canadians) and keeps his intentions on what his plans for Canada are hidden, should be pretty disturbing to most mainstream Canadians.

    This amounts to requiring a great deal of "trust" towards giving him carte blanche to make those changes he's been afraid to within a minority government.

    Canadians definitely don't trust him with total power and never will.

  31. I like Emily's comments about "A PM is there to do the bidding of the people, he is not there to 'change the culture of the country'. He has no mandate for that. "

    The fact that Harper has never even attempted to work with the opposition (who represents 2/3's of Canadians) and keeps his intentions on what his plans for Canada are hidden, should be pretty disturbing to most mainstream Canadians.

    This amounts to requiring a great deal of "trust" towards giving him carte blanche to make those changes he's been afraid to within a minority government.

    Canadians definitely don't trust him with total power and never will.

    • Harper has had the support of the majority of Parliament since he came to power. That's how our system works, in fact.

      • Well, not quite. There was a time he didn't have the support.. but then he delayed the votes for a week, and prorogued before the week was up.

        • Interesting how that little stunt somehow managed to gain him back the support of the majority of Parliament. hmmmmmm….

  32. Anyone who would call an article like this "spin" and an "opportunistic rewritten history of the first order" says more about themselves than the article in question. Unless of course you were actually there in the PMO when that conversation about prorogation happened, and presumably there for many other conversations as well? Well, were you?

  33. "At every point since the immediate crisis ended, Harper has insisted, over the objections of Dion's successor Michael Ignatieff, that the opposition parties will reunite if they see a chance."

    a) Ignatieff did indeed sign his name on that coalition agreement. So, when the chance strikes, he's obviously up for it.

    b) I don't recall a categorical denial of any future coalitions from Mr. Ignatieff.

  34. "At every point since the immediate crisis ended, Harper has insisted, over the objections of Dion's successor Michael Ignatieff, that the opposition parties will reunite if they see a chance."

    a) Ignatieff did indeed sign his name on that coalition agreement. So, when the chance strikes, he's obviously up for it.

    b) I don't recall a categorical denial of any future coalitions from Mr. Ignatieff.

    • Google is your friend, Dennis_F. There are plenty of sources showing Ignatieff's denial of a future coalition. The visceral response of Canadians to the first episode has made the mere mention of 'coalition' a political third rail.

      Which is kind of unfortunate, as it leaves an election as the only mechanism for keeping a minority government accountable.

      • I'll let you in on a poorly-kept secret around here — Google is most emphatically not Dennis_F's friend.

    • After Gilles Duceppe little stunt last week, I can not for the life of me imagine that anyone at the federal level would want to have anything to do with the bloc.

      Even Jean Charest told him to stop helping.

      • I can not for the life of me imagine that anyone at the federal level would want to have anything to do with the bloc.

        I would have thought that to be true long before last week, you know.

    • Hey, wise Parliamentarian….it is perfectly right in saying that coalitions are formed, may be formed, could be formed, will be formed. How do you think Harper has stayed in power with a Minority government? He has been supported by gathering others to accept what he has proposed…..in other words they have grouped together, forming a coalition around an issue! Anyone who thinks or espouses or repeats like Harper and the Conservatives keep saying that a coalition is disastrous should really start to educate themselves. Coalitions are forged time and again within Parliament, and this is done not to the detriment of Canada but to move Canada forward! Stop being a lapdog and stop repeating untruths. Coalition is not a dirty word. Harper (Stockwell Day and crew) did the same when they were NOT the government, they entered a formally signed agreement to work together (the NDP, the BLOC, and the Conservatives) in an effort to defeat the Liberals! Harper will make deals, with the BLOC, the NDP, even the Liberals if it means he continues to hold the reigns of the government!

      • I suggest you learn what the term "coalition" actually means, then get back to me. Hint: there's only been one at the federal level in Canadian history, and it happened during a world war. Of course, this last coalition effort was justified with an issue of similar seriousness, wasn't it? I mean, what a disaster it would have been if Duceppe wasn't pulling the strings at the top, right? But a "wise Parliamentarian" like yourself would know all this, wouldn't you. lol. Next.

    • Harper organized a coalition of the reform, Alliance and PCs. Chretien benefited from the divided right. Harper's biggest nightmare is that the centre-left will do the same to him. And he won't rule because of a divided centre-left. What is democratic about rule by the minority over the majority of the country?

  35. I thoroughly enjoyed this article as well. Just when I'm beginning to wonder about the state of political journalism in Canada I get treated to a well-researched and balanced article that lobs criticism and acclaim to both sides of the aisle.

    Well done, Paul and John. It would significantly enhance the level of political awareness and discourse if one of our nations broadcasters would turn this article into a 1-hour prime-time documentary.

  36. Living in Toronto, I've heard all kinds of comments about Harper, from outrageously misinformed critiques about his northern sovereignty efforts to queen-street dwellers outright calling him the anti-Christ…
    But I propose something; let's all grow up a little, swallow our pride, and finally accept that we were at least a little bit wrong about him.. and that he has demonstrated solid leadership and it is no accident his mandate has lasted this long.

  37. Harper has had the support of the majority of Parliament since he came to power. That's how our system works, in fact.

  38. Did you even read the entire article? I know it's rather long, but please put in the effort to get through all five pages before you comment. That's right, you need to click the little number "2,3,4, and 5" at the bottom of the article to see the entire thing.

    I, for one, can't see how an entire section of the article devoted to how Harper surrounds himself with "yes-men" who fail to challenge his assertions is remotely 'fluff' or propaganda. It's probably not an image the CPC wants associated with Harper.

  39. Okay, let's think this through a little…

    You seem to assume that "the people" are completely autonomous and without influence in the way they think. When you say that you are suspicious of someone trying to "change the culture of the country", I think you are assuming that "the people" have decided of their own will and volition that the culture we currently have is the culture that we want and the one that works best for us. I would suggest that this is not the way the culture of a country works. Consider that we are all bombarded day in and day out, not to mention second in and second out, with images and messages and this and that telling us what beauty is, what is good, what is ugly, what is nutritional, what is economic, what is cool, and so on and so forth. That should be obvious to each and every one of us on the popular culture level. I would further suggest that the realm of politics is not immune to this type of culture. Even in politics, people are told all kinds of things, and I don't just mean by the political parties, but also the media and the pundits. Culture is a difficult thing to pin down at any given moment, and this is partly because it is not some static monolith which simply exists as a result of our collective will.

    Again, let's look at popular culture. There are certain actors and certain fashion designers, who when they same something is in style, suddenly within the culture that thing is in style. Right? There are certain people, who when they grab hold of a certain cause, they can rally the culture around that cause as well. Even this is not as simple as it may seem. There was a sub-culture that understood the threat of global warming and the need to be responsible users of energy prior to "An Inconvenient Truth", so Al Gore did not just decide that this mattered in his own wisdom. But let's face it; Al Gore, through that movie, created what we could safely call a broad culture of environmentalism.

    So in politics. Let's keep things simple, for the sake of discussion. Let's assume you're right: 2/3rds of Canada are left leaning, and 1/3rd of Canada is right leaning. Our discussion so far would suggest that that is not necessarily because most people have decided to be left leaning based on reason and logic. Rather, it would suggest that Canada has developed, in some complicated fashion, a culture of left-leaning politics, such that the majority of people end up falling into that camp. I mean, we need look no further than Alberta vs. Toronto/Montreal/Vancouver to see the way this plays out.

    Thus, when Harper sees himself as trying to change the culture of the country, he is not doing something that is inherently good or evil. He is simply doing something that always happens, except that in his case he is trying to shift the dominant culture away from where it currently finds itself. Hypothetically, we could imagine Harper succeeding, and a few more conservative leaders continuing what he has started, and then my grandchildren living in a country where the "norm" is 2/3 right leaning and 1/3 left leaning.

    All right, I'm just going to stop there, and leave it to others to build upon and course correct all of that.

  40. For sake of National security I will always support Conservative Party . At least we could be sure Canada will not be run by those who do not belive in Canada .
    This should be considered a shame. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/12/01/coaliti

  41. For sake of National security I will always support Conservative Party . At least we could be sure Canada will not be run by those who do not belive in Canada .
    This should be considered a shame. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/12/01/coaliti

    • Canada is being run by someone who doesn't believe in Canada.

      That's rather his point, remember. He wants to change Canada to something which it is not today. Ergo, he doesn't believe in what Canada is now.

    • It all depends on what Canada yopu grew up in. I am quite content with the one I grew up in and have watched change happen to meet the needs of technology and social thinking. This is required change. The change I hear Mr. Harper spouting is "his" Canada which he has never explained. One of the things in the MacLeans story that really rings true is Harper's steps to slowly dismantle aspects of what Canada has been. The Constitution Act requires federal involvement and this concept of pulling federal involvement out of provincial jurisdiction is a big step towards the American form of government or as a previous commentor stated an EU of Canada. That is not my Canada.

  42. Wow. Amazing piece of reporting – judos to Paul Wells and John Geddes. The introduction of the low point was quite revealing. Sounds like Harper was willing to let Canada fail economically – in his estimation – out of spite, and it was only Jay Hill's reminder that he might not survive as Conservative leader that spurred him to action.

    Again, wow.

  43. Wow. Amazing piece of reporting – judos to Paul Wells and John Geddes. The introduction of the low point was quite revealing. Sounds like Harper was willing to let Canada fail economically – in his estimation – out of spite, and it was only Jay Hill's reminder that he might not survive as Conservative leader that spurred him to action.

    Again, wow.

    • Judos??? Kudos!!

    • So you think that Jay Hill may have saved the Canadian economy by convincing Harper that the coalition must be prevented from taking power, because even though they would self-destruct, they would do major damage to the country in a short time.

      • Read carefully. The "in his estimation" was the key. Kaplan wasn't saying anything about what might actually happen to Canada, just that Harper was willing to let anything happen to Canada if he thought it'd bring him more power later.

        • I think Kaplan was right to point out the close call we had in the attempted coalition of Dec. 2008.

          Those three stooges could have done irreversible damage to our economy in a short time. If Hill was correct and they had managed to hang onto power for a longer time we could now be in the 26th month of their self-declared tenure. That`s 26 months of PM Dion, cabinet ministers Layton and Libby, and Gilles pulling the puppet strings in the background.
          That oughta give you a shiver on a cold January day.

          • Would rather have the threes stooges at the helm then one mad man. The three stooges always seemed to overcome whatever obstacle they faced; in the end the guy ended up with the girl and everyone lived happily ever after. Whereas; in the end, the mad man got his just rewards and usually ended up behind bars.

          • Not really. Dion always struck me as a person driven by knowledge and research, not gut and fear.

            Layton's the populist, and would have worked to soften the blow where Dion opted for the long view over the immediate welfare of Canadians.

            Libby is total fabrication on your part — or in other words, a lie.

            And Gilles would have been a non-entity, tied as he would be by the agreement to not vote against a confidence measure.

            If anything, the coalition would have been the end of the Bloc — for two years they would have been ineffective because of the confidence agreement, and unable to fan the flames over demands such as you see him presenting to Harper now. Given the situation for the Bloc at the time and their levels of support, having a government that simply took steps not to piss Quebec off while the Bloc was hamstrung would have left many Quebec people questioning it's use.

          • Jeez—If your ideas about the Bloc disappearing because of their ineffectiveness in a Dion-Layton coalition is prevalent in the Liberal Party, then we dodged a bigger bullet then I thought. I suppose there might be less notice about the troubles in Quebec because we would be so preoccupied with the revolt in the West.

            I am thinking we should seriously be promoting Jay Hill for the Order of Canada—maybe a knighthood–yeah Sir Jay Hill, that would do.

          • Try not to trip over your own hyperpole – not everyone in the west is as myopic as you appear to be.

          • The more I hear Duceppe`s demands and the excuses made by power-hungry Liberals, the more I believe the voters will think a Conservative majority is the only sensible option.

    • Isn't it amazing that Harper needed to be told that Canada should not be allowed to fail economically! WOW! Our PM does not have the smarts to know that Canada should not be allowed to fail without being told! That's some leadership by Harper, eh! Just for spite he would have let Canada tank! Well, if Canadians don't now see why Harper's ideology will some day come back and bite Canada then we really do deserve to have Harper's partisan politics leading us! Wouldn't it be great if Harper (and the Conservatives) were more focused on Canada and ALL Canadians vs just being worried about their minority Conservative base being kept happy! You know, what's best for Canada may not be best for Conservatives….but it would be BEST FOR CANADA! Get over yourself, Harper, before you take Canada to complete ruin!

      • Well, at least you are now admitting that Canada would have failed economically with the reckless Lib-NDP-Bloc Coalition.

        • Still don't get what "in his estimation" means do you?

      • Finally somebody gets it, between you and Emily, you just made my day. Thanks. =^..^=

  44. Judos??? Kudos!!

  45. The biggest risk is that by insulating himself from the electorate and political winds–by virtue of how he has structured his internal circle–he runs the risk of having history remember his leadership through the lens of some ridiculous contrived yet avoidable crisis that he completely missed because people were afraid to contradict him.

    Conversely, perhaps fate will favour his leadership and he'll skate through the next few years without incident. In any event, the mantra in most other positions of leadership, such as airline pilots, military commanders, business executives, etc have all moved toward encouraging internal discourse and discussion to minimize the risk of being blindsided and caught flat-footed. Harper *is* playing a dangerous game by maintaining his opinion as sacrosanct.

  46. However, the image of Harper battling intestinal flu is not a pretty one. Really could have done without that, guys! :)

  47. However, the image of Harper battling intestinal flu is not a pretty one. Really could have done without that, guys! :)

  48. Very good read – thanks guys for all the "meat".

    Finally the truth about who suggested getting rid of the $1.95 vote subsidy. There was only one accurate main media storey on this while the rest were screaming "it is all Harper's fault".

    The elites at Foreign Affairs—“that self-satisfied coven of right-thinking high priests,” – This is so true and gives one some insight as to why there has been friction between the Harper government and "Fort Pearson" as they want to keep their status quo.

    All the yammering about how Harper/Flaherty dropped the ball on not seeing the coming recession and deficit – well they did to a certain extent. Did they get up and scream OMG the sky is falling while there were runs on the banks in the UK and US? It was be calm, stay the course which is what a leader is supposed to do in a crisis.

    Is he starting to look "prime ministerial" yet Mr. Coyne??

  49. Very good read – thanks guys for all the "meat".

    Finally the truth about who suggested getting rid of the $1.95 vote subsidy. There was only one accurate main media storey on this while the rest were screaming "it is all Harper's fault".

    The elites at Foreign Affairs—“that self-satisfied coven of right-thinking high priests,” – This is so true and gives one some insight as to why there has been friction between the Harper government and "Fort Pearson" as they want to keep their status quo.

    All the yammering about how Harper/Flaherty dropped the ball on not seeing the coming recession and deficit – well they did to a certain extent. Did they get up and scream OMG the sky is falling while there were runs on the banks in the UK and US? It was be calm, stay the course which is what a leader is supposed to do in a crisis.

    Is he starting to look "prime ministerial" yet Mr. Coyne??

  50. Thank you for your objective and reasoned contribution. While it fails to speak to any point in the article, I'm sure you feel better getting that off your chest.

    It also warms the cockles of my heart to learn that there are people in this world who will studiously avoid examining proposed policies in favour of historically-derived prejudices. Certainly, for myself, I steadfastly refuse to purchase any Coke product after how they so completely bungled the introduction of "New Coke" in the 1980's.

  51. This is Canada. Al Gore is not all that important here, except to the wannabe-American rightwingers. Environmentalism has been around for decades, though the politicians have ignored it.

  52. Brilliant piece—-
    I think Harper does believe that after years of King and Pearson and Trudeau and Chretien, we were wrongly being labeled as a country where the Liberal Party was considered the natural governing party. He thinks it is wise to have a credible alternative political party, from the entitled Liberals, that would appeal to the common sense and strong work ethic of most Canadians. The best way to show that the Conservatives are that credible alternative is to just govern competently for as long as possible. Thanks to Adscam, the coalition, and the unwillingness of the Liberals to be a competent opposition Party, then the Conservatives will probably have many more years to become the Party that people just naturally vote for. Harper does not want to kill the Liberal Party—he just wants the end of that " natural governing party " marketing ploy they have been using.

  53. Brilliant piece—-
    I think Harper does believe that after years of King and Pearson and Trudeau and Chretien, we were wrongly being labeled as a country where the Liberal Party was considered the natural governing party. He thinks it is wise to have a credible alternative political party, from the entitled Liberals, that would appeal to the common sense and strong work ethic of most Canadians. The best way to show that the Conservatives are that credible alternative is to just govern competently for as long as possible. Thanks to Adscam, the coalition, and the unwillingness of the Liberals to be a competent opposition Party, then the Conservatives will probably have many more years to become the Party that people just naturally vote for. Harper does not want to kill the Liberal Party—he just wants the end of that " natural governing party " marketing ploy they have been using.

    • So… how long in before he starts governing competently? Please note that governing is not the same as campaigning.

    • If this was the original PC party I could be a little bit more supportive but it isn't. This new conservative Party of Canada is not the party of the likes of King, Pearson, Laurier, St. Laurent, Diefenbaker or even Sir John A. I am left wondering why everyone thinks the Liberals are the natural party of Canada considering that the Conservatives won the very first Canadian election which did give them a step up.

      • I always beleived that Pearson was a Liberal…when did he become a PC?

  54. Are you sure you read the same article as the rest of us ?

  55. Google is your friend, Dennis_F. There are plenty of sources showing Ignatieff's denial of a future coalition. The visceral response of Canadians to the first episode has made the mere mention of 'coalition' a political third rail.

    Which is kind of unfortunate, as it leaves an election as the only mechanism for keeping a minority government accountable.

  56. The LIberals need to start fresh, and that doesn’t simply mean importing a man who identifies himself as an American as their leader.

    All Grassroots liberals need to dump each and every Liberal MP who served under Chretien and Martin, because the taint of corruption still permeates. Then they have to purge themselves of the backroom boys and bagmen who find great profits in having the Liberals in charge.

    IN fact, if you take out these aspects of the LIberal party…

    -connections to organized crime
    -connections to biker gangs
    -connections to corporations (Hello Power Corp)

    you get………the NDP.

    Except of course, the NDP are too inept to be involved in organized crime.

    • Funny.. I thought you were going to say "you've taken out Maxime Bernier"

  57. The LIberals need to start fresh, and that doesn’t simply mean importing a man who identifies himself as an American as their leader.

    All Grassroots liberals need to dump each and every Liberal MP who served under Chretien and Martin, because the taint of corruption still permeates. Then they have to purge themselves of the backroom boys and bagmen who find great profits in having the Liberals in charge.

    IN fact, if you take out these aspects of the LIberal party…

    -connections to organized crime

    -connections to biker gangs

    -connections to corporations (Hello Power Corp)

    you get………the NDP.

    Except of course, the NDP are too inept to be involved in organized crime.

  58. So you think that Jay Hill may have saved the Canadian economy by convincing Harper that the coalition must be prevented from taking power, because even though they would self-destruct, they would do major damage to the country in a short time.

  59. Readers still don't get Paul Wells and his agenda. I find this fascinating.
    Read his Right Side Up!
    Paul Wells is a cross between a social democrat and a libertarian. He supports Harper's long term goal of creating a major Canadian political realignment. He favours, like Harper, but for different reasons the emergence of two major national parties, Stephen Harper's right of centre Conservative Party and a left of centre, social democratic party, namely New Democratic Party, under Jack Layton or another leader.
    Wells, like Andrew Coyne, but again for different reasons, believes that Canada's Liberal Party is doomed to extinction because its form of 20th century liberalism is outmoded and no longer serves the needs of a majority of Canadian citizens who have moved beyond its credo and values. For Wells Canadian Liberals and Liberalism need to be shoved into the dustbin of Canadian history so that a more dynamic social democratic party, attentive to libertarian concerns and values, can replace it as the official opposition party and eventually form a government.
    Don't get angry at Paul Wells. Just read him and try to understand what his agenda is because every journalist worth his or her salt has an agenda.

  60. Readers still don't get Paul Wells and his agenda. I find this fascinating.
    Read his Right Side Up!
    Paul Wells is a cross between a social democrat and a libertarian. He supports Harper's long term goal of creating a major Canadian political realignment. He favours, like Harper, but for different reasons the emergence of two major national parties, Stephen Harper's right of centre Conservative Party and a left of centre, social democratic party, namely New Democratic Party, under Jack Layton or another leader.
    Wells, like Andrew Coyne, but again for different reasons, believes that Canada's Liberal Party is doomed to extinction because its form of 20th century liberalism is outmoded and no longer serves the needs of a majority of Canadian citizens who have moved beyond its credo and values. For Wells Canadian Liberals and Liberalism need to be shoved into the dustbin of Canadian history so that a more dynamic social democratic party, attentive to libertarian concerns and values, can replace it as the official opposition party and eventually form a government.
    Don't get angry at Paul Wells. Just read him and try to understand what his agenda is because every journalist worth his or her salt has an agenda.

    • Is this Paul Wells' agenda, or your own? Because if you've read any one of his R & D/education pieces, you can't quite claim he's a libertarian.

      • Hello Bill Kaplan,
        I said he was a cross between a social democrat and a libertarian.
        This explains his penchant to support policies of either persuasion. As he stated in his article: "Consistency is for Monks."
        Paul Wells is thrilled with Harper's ability to triangulate on policy so as to undermine the liberal centre. Once the Liberals are out of the way, then Harper will focus on a full-scale, comprehensive set of right of centre policies and programs.
        My longstanding position is that you can't achieve a dynamic social democracy without first have a healthy and credible liberal democracy. This is normally achieved by having a political party whose central tenets are those of procedural liberalism – that is, basic democracy. As Trudeau proclaimed in the 1950s – Democratie D'abord! Democracy First.
        Canadian democracy is on life support – Representation by population is a sham. Citizens in Ontario and the Western provinces lack the appropriate number of MPs.
        Harper's stacking of the Senate with excessively partisan hacks is a disgrace and undermines our Parliamentary institutions that he promised to reform.
        Harper's accountability act is a sham! It is all hypocritical window dressing but very effective politics because it shores up his base in Western Canada.

        • How should Harper have reformed the Senate? Would he really have earned any kudos from anyone by falling on his sword, leaving all those Senate openings vacant, only to allow Liberals, when back in power, to automatically and with glee, fill those empty Senate seats with another generation of Liberal Party patronage.

          You may yet be proven correct that Harper's intent is all a sham but who else in the Canadian political landscape dared utter the words. Abolish or reform the Senate. We may not get to find out until Harper gets his majority and a bit of breathing room to contemplate such change while under the ever watchfulness of the Charter.

          If nothing else happens, at least for a while there is more balance in the Senate, thanks to a change in government the past four years. Now maybe Jack Layton has other druthers about the Senate. Unsurprisingly.

          • "who else in the Canadian political landscape dared utter the words. Abolish or reform the Senate. "

            If that is a question (hard to tell) then I'll answer it – Jack Layton for one. The NDP has been in favour of abolishing the Senate for years.

          • That is only because there have never been any NDP senators.

    • All self serving liberal crappola!
      And da proof is in da proof!

  61. Oh there's some good stuff in this piece but you guys left a lot out; like his absolute failure to face up to Canada's most important problems: how to avoid becoming just a petrostate, how to deal with climate change today and in the future and the many problems it will cause, from food shortages to wildly increased immigration and refugee claims, to moving to a post-oil world. His anti intelligence behaviour, destroyiing the long-form census, cutting research on climate funding, putting creationist idiots in charge of funding science.

  62. Oh there's some good stuff in this piece but you guys left a lot out; like his absolute failure to face up to Canada's most important problems: how to avoid becoming just a petrostate, how to deal with climate change today and in the future and the many problems it will cause, from food shortages to wildly increased immigration and refugee claims, to moving to a post-oil world. His anti intelligence behaviour, destroyiing the long-form census, cutting research on climate funding, putting creationist idiots in charge of funding science.

  63. I enjoyed reading this. One point caught my eye:

    He has already said he will protect transfer payments to the provinces when it comes time to cut spending and rein in those deficits. That means the only place he can cut is in areas of federal activity.

    How is he going to cut federal spending, build all those new jails, and buy all those fighter planes? How can you square that particular circle?

  64. I enjoyed reading this. One point caught my eye:

    He has already said he will protect transfer payments to the provinces when it comes time to cut spending and rein in those deficits. That means the only place he can cut is in areas of federal activity.

    How is he going to cut federal spending, build all those new jails, and buy all those fighter planes? How can you square that particular circle?

    • From page 4: "How can that position be squared with the Harper government's …? It can't. Consistency is for monks."

    • Yeah – and let's not forget those hockey arenas.

    • I think this will ultimately be the Harper government's downfall – they will not be able to grow their way out of a deficit and they aren't well positioned to make any real progress on the deficit.

      • Indeed, and as soon as they start slashing in order to address the deficit their polling numbers will plummet. It's quite a corner to be painted into.

        • You're assuming they're going to address the deficit in any manner other than promising to. Precedent so far is against you on that.

    • You're all typical liberals.
      With a majority he will invoke neo-liberal "Paul Martin conservatism" and bring the budget to order.
      Sit back and watch my friends as true conservatism takes hold!
      Read it and weep!

  65. This was an excellent and thoroughly engrossing read. I wish more Canadian political journalism measured up to the high standard set by Geddes and Wells.

  66. This was an excellent and thoroughly engrossing read. I wish more Canadian political journalism measured up to the high standard set by Geddes and Wells.

  67. Great piece…,makes Aaron look even worse for all his spin and slant.

  68. Great piece…,makes Aaron look even worse for all his spin and slant.

  69. Sure, and a later article from this magazine itself states "No Coalition, Period".
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/29/there-is-no-co

    There's a difference between stating that coalitions are a viable entity within a parliamentary democracy and stating that one is ready to enter a coalition with another party.

  70. jon——-very good synopsis of how a nation`s culture and tendency to vote for a certain party will change over time. It is something that naturally evolves over time and it`s healthy.
    I`m not sure why Holly feels you were talking about a energy-efficient house in Regina.

  71. jon——-very good synopsis of how a nation`s culture and tendency to vote for a certain party will change over time. It is something that naturally evolves over time and it`s healthy.
    I`m not sure why Holly feels you were talking about a energy-efficient house in Regina.

    • Sorry you can't follow a line of reasoning.

  72. Stephen Harper is a self-avowed social engineer.
    He has decided to use the enormous power of the Prime Minister's office and his government to change the way Canadians think about themselves and the role of the state in the 21st Century. He is convinced that he now has all the tools at his disposal to continue this social engineering. All he needs is a majority government and several terms in office to complete this gargantuan mission, a largely Christian nationalist inspired mission.
    Harper really is an American New Right Politician, imbued with Christian values, and he will, if given the full opportunity, transform Canada's largely procedural liberal constitutional democracy into an American conservative Republican form of democracy.
    Canadians will have to decide which of these two roads to take. Unfortunately for Canadians the defenders and promoters of the Canadian liberal constitutional democracy road are badly divided, poorly organized, underfunded, and led by political leaders who have been defined by Harper and his gang in the PMO and the Conservative War Room.
    Mr. Wells should be wary of what his wishes for. He may well get his wish and then bemoan the results.

  73. Stephen Harper is a self-avowed social engineer.
    He has decided to use the enormous power of the Prime Minister's office and his government to change the way Canadians think about themselves and the role of the state in the 21st Century. He is convinced that he now has all the tools at his disposal to continue this social engineering. All he needs is a majority government and several terms in office to complete this gargantuan mission, a largely Christian nationalist inspired mission.
    Harper really is an American New Right Politician, imbued with Christian values, and he will, if given the full opportunity, transform Canada's largely procedural liberal constitutional democracy into an American conservative Republican form of democracy.
    Canadians will have to decide which of these two roads to take. Unfortunately for Canadians the defenders and promoters of the Canadian liberal constitutional democracy road are badly divided, poorly organized, underfunded, and led by political leaders who have been defined by Harper and his gang in the PMO and the Conservative War Room.
    Mr. Wells should be wary of what his wishes for. He may well get his wish and then bemoan the results.

    • I disagree with your entire post, with the exception of the reference to "the enormous power of the PMO".

      The funnelling of government operations through the PMO is most disturbing to me, and adds all sorts of inefficiencies into governmental transactions. It's the main reason it takes months to get responses to letters and project proposals and days/weeks to get comments on policies or news articles.

      • And I disagree with PP`s entire post including that about the PMO.
        The PMO is no more powerful now then under Chretien. If you want to see how Harper is changing Ottawa, then I think it would be best to follow Wells and Geddes lead and look at how the cozy relationship between the civil service, especially the embassies, and the Liberal Party will no longer be tolerated.

        • I think the advent of "Message Event Proposals" alone makes the PMO significantly more powerful than it was in any previous government. If not more powerful, it certainly makes it significantly less responsive.

          • Add to that the PMO's funding has increased significantly. I'm with you. The PMO [ largely unelected body] needs to be taken down a peg or two.

    • I simply disagree.

      As to your pejorative labelling of Harper as a "social engineer", I have contributed to this discussion in reply to a comment above.

      As to your accusation that Harper's hidden agenda is inspired by some Christian nationalism, the main goal of which is an Canadian version of the American Republican party, I simply see no evidence for this. Furthermore, I think the opposition parties (who make their careers, by the way, in politics) also see no evidence for this. Otherwise, why would they not create this narrative about Harper, and run with it. If they did, and if as you assume the majority of Canada would find this appalling, they should have no problem winning the publics support.

      Well, the reality is that your view is that of a somewhat vocal minority, a minority that is simply not taken seriously, as far as I can tell, by most Canadians.

      Also, it always amazes me how many people are so willing to assume that Canada's true and noble path lies somewhere within the sphere of what they describe as "liberal constitutional democracy" (read: Liberal (read: Liberal Party of Canada) constitutional democracy), and then in the same breath note how "badly divided, poorly organized, underfunded, and led by [inept] political leaders" they are. Perhaps the current state of affairs within that oh so noble cause is trying to tell you something about the general attitude of Canadians toward it?

    • Steve Harper has no real religious views. He just wears them for political advantage.

      Steve Harper, President, the Corporate Party of Canada

      Harper's Neoconservatism: This entire movement is a crock.

      It is not a religious movement or a moral movement.

      It is a corporate movement.

      http://pushedleft.blogspot.com/2010/11/democracy-

      .

    • Mr. Harper is not changing Canadian thought my friend. It was here long before myself, Mr. Harper or you and your secular progressive ilk.
      Mr. Harper is preserving what our forefathers fought wars over.

    • Enough with the comparisons to the States! Have you ever travelled there? Conservatism (like many things) in the US is totally wack and really nothing like Harper's brand. Harper didn't travel or study in the States – he studied in Ontario and Alberta (the latter of which is also nothing like the US, despite what many non-Albertan Canadians would love to believe). Plus Harper seems more comfortable with the current liberal leadership in the US than he did with the previous insidious one. I do agree however with Wells & Geddes' comparison of Harper to Thatcher.

  74. I would dispute the statement that he is "imbued with Christian values"; if anything, he is imbued with fundamentalist values which are not all that close to mainstream Christian values.

  75. Sorry you can't follow a line of reasoning.

  76. "This is Canada"

    Oh yeah!!!! Thanks so much for the reminder.

    "Al Gore is not all that important here, except to the wannabe-American rightwingers."

    Okay, and so you also deny that "An Inconvenient Truth" had an impact on Canada's culture and it's general attitude toward global warming?

    "Environmentalism has been around for decades, though the politicians have ignored it."

    Well, I believe that was more or less my point, though you obviously put it much more elegantly. So we agree!

  77. "This is Canada"

    Oh yeah!!!! Thanks so much for the reminder.

    "Al Gore is not all that important here, except to the wannabe-American rightwingers."

    Okay, and so you also deny that "An Inconvenient Truth" had an impact on Canada's culture and it's general attitude toward global warming?

    "Environmentalism has been around for decades, though the politicians have ignored it."

    Well, I believe that was more or less my point, though you obviously put it much more elegantly. So we agree!

    • "The Nature of Things" and "Quirks and Quarks" are more likely to have influenced Canadians over the years. We did not need "An Inconvenient Truth" so much because we Canadians are less ignorant about science and the environment than Americans in general.

  78. He's saying that there is no coalition, which of course is true. It lost. However, he's now on record saying there could be one after the next election, right? That's when they happen — semantic tricks aside.

    It's funny how the same people who supported the coalition, and would do so again, are desperately trying to minimize it and its possibility. Hidden agenda? Only, it's not actually all that well hidden.

  79. He's saying that there is no coalition, which of course is true. It lost. However, he's now on record saying there could be one after the next election, right? That's when they happen — semantic tricks aside.

    It's funny how the same people who supported the coalition, and would do so again, are desperately trying to minimize it and its possibility. Hidden agenda? Only, it's not actually all that well hidden.

    • You're correct in that I assumed you were making a reference to a coalition between the Liberals, NDP, and BQ, which he has stated is not in the cards. However, it was my fault for not recognizing that you were referencing *any* coalition, such as one between the CPC and Liberals, or Liberals and Green Party, or whatever may come forward. Certainly, I don't see how anyone could categorically eschew use of a parliamentary tool in perpetuity.

      Perhaps we should reference the generally-accepted Lib/NDP/BQ coalition as "The Coalition" and any other form of parliamentary coalition as "coalition", to avoid future confusion. Ignatieff does not appear to support "The Coalition" but has not ruled out any future coalition.

      • I assumed you were making a reference to a coalition between the Liberals, NDP, and BQ, which he stated is not in the cards

        He has never stated any such thing. He supported such a coalition the last time, and is still open to doing so the next time. Right?

        Not quite sure why this is such a hard issue for coalition supporters. You wanted this coalition. You should be prepared to defend it, shouldn't you?

        • It's interesting, and somewhat revealing, that you would lump me into such an amorphous category as 'coalition supporter' without knowing what my views on that would be. Like any political calculus, it's a complex issue. I support the idea of a coalition as a parliamentary mechanism that forces accountability for minority governments, but that the purveyor of those mechanisms should also anticipate the inevitable impact a failed initiative would have on their political fortunes. In a similar way, I appreciate any group who makes use of the full slate of parliamentary tools to ensure that government remains accountable to the people who elected it. In any minority situation, the government remains vulnerable to any sort of collaboration between opposition parties. And as it should be, because the government is elected by a minority of the population.

          Ignatieff signed on to The Coalition last time, and continues to carry the political repercussions of that to this day. Any future coalition would be informed by the impact of his previous experience with that form of parliamentary tool. So I disagree with your earlier assertion that "when the chance strikes, he's obviously up for it", as his past experience will likely sway him against any similar arrangement.

          EDIT: But to close my thought, I don't think a coalition between the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc was good idea for the Liberals or NDP at all, which was borne out by the polling numbers released subsequently. However, it was a good effort at maintaining the institutional effectiveness of government, which has been proven by the fact that this minority government has survived for longer than any other. Had a coalition not threatened Harper, it's possible he would have triggered another election, where he either would have received his majority or been forced to retire from the party.

          • It's interesting, and somewhat revealing, that you would lump me into such an amorphous category as 'coalition supporter' without knowing what my views on that would be.

            Were you or were you not a supporter of the last coalition?

            So I disagree with your earlier assertion that "when the chance strikes, he's obviously up for it", as his past experience will likely sway him against any similar arrangement.

            He did in fact support it when he had the chance and has not ruled it out for the next time. And, he's a politician. If given the chance for power, I'm sure he'll take it.

            Again, I'm not sure why he has to run away from it.

            As for the wisdom of coalitions in general, and of this one in particular, I think there are better ways of holding a government to account than trying to take power right after an election, and I think the electorate agreed.

          • "Were you or were you not a supporter of the last coalition?"

            No, I thought it was a move of desperation by the opposition parties, and I expected it would have significant repercussions. However, it led to two years of relative peace within the HoC as Harper realized that there were limits to how far he could push the opposition whilst in a minority position.

            "And, he's a politician. If given the chance for power, I'm sure he'll take it."

            Only if he's willing to trade a short-term power gain against any long-term chances of forming a Liberal minority or majority government. And given the inherent instability of many minority coalition governments, I'm not convinced he would take that option.

            "I think there are better ways of holding a government to account than trying to take power right after an election, and I think the electorate agreed."

            I absolutely agree; there are a host of parliamentary tools that would have been equally effective and would have carried far fewer political repercussions. I'm not arguing in favour of a coalition, I'm just supporting the idea that one can never rule one out, just as one could never rule out using an esoteric parliamentary procedure such as a prorogue, or a hoist motion, or any other interesting manoeuvre used after the 2008 election.

  80. Great work gentlemen!

  81. Great work gentlemen!

  82. I disagree with your entire post, with the exception of the reference to "the enormous power of the PMO".

    The funnelling of government operations through the PMO is most disturbing to me, and adds all sorts of inefficiencies into governmental transactions. It's the main reason it takes months to get responses to letters and project proposals and days/weeks to get comments on policies or news articles.

  83. After Gilles Duceppe little stunt last week, I can not for the life of me imagine that anyone at the federal level would want to have anything to do with the bloc.

    Even Jean Charest told him to stop helping.

  84. I simply disagree.

    As to your pejorative labelling of Harper as a "social engineer", I have contributed to this discussion in reply to a comment above.

    As to your accusation that Harper's hidden agenda is inspired by some Christian nationalism, the main goal of which is an Canadian version of the American Republican party, I simply see no evidence for this. Furthermore, I think the opposition parties (who make their careers, by the way, in politics) also see no evidence for this. Otherwise, why would they not create this narrative about Harper, and run with it. If they did, and if as you assume the majority of Canada would find this appalling, they should have no problem winning the publics support.

    Well, the reality is that your view is that of a somewhat vocal minority, a minority that is simply not taken seriously, as far as I can tell, by most Canadians.

    Also, it always amazes me how many people are so willing to assume that Canada's true and noble path lies somewhere within the sphere of what they describe as "liberal constitutional democracy" (read: Liberal (read: Liberal Party of Canada) constitutional democracy), and then in the same breath note how "badly divided, poorly organized, underfunded, and led by [inept] political leaders" they are. Perhaps the current state of affairs within that oh so noble cause is trying to tell you something about the general attitude of Canadians toward it?

  85. You're correct in that I assumed you were making a reference to a coalition between the Liberals, NDP, and BQ, which he has stated is not in the cards. However, it was my fault for not recognizing that you were referencing *any* coalition, such as one between the CPC and Liberals, or Liberals and Green Party, or whatever may come forward. Certainly, I don't see how anyone could categorically eschew use of a parliamentary tool in perpetuity.

    Perhaps we should reference the generally-accepted Lib/NDP/BQ coalition as "The Coalition" and any other form of parliamentary coalition as "coalition", to avoid future confusion. Ignatieff does not appear to support "The Coalition" but has not ruled out any future coalition.

  86. That's all fascinating, but I don't care about the brinkmanship, the coalition, the flu, the caucus or any over trivia. I care that any reasonable observer of the process who gave a damn about parliamentary government and constitutional democracy could clearly see that the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue was an act of pure subversion, made legal only by the equally questionable behavior of a weak Governor-General who was more interested in her reputation than in her job.

    I still want someone to answer for that, because some day, that decision will come back to bite our democracy in the ____. And for the record, I voted for the Conservatives. Foolishly, I guess, because I believed they were the sort of people who'd do exactly the opposite in a similar situation. If Harper really did think it was his job to resign, then his instincts were still better than his actions have made them seem to be – because I want to vote for people who know that some things are more important than the color of the party card of the clowns who happen to be in office that particular day.

  87. That's all fascinating, but I don't care about the brinkmanship, the coalition, the flu, the caucus or any over trivia. I care that any reasonable observer of the process who gave a damn about parliamentary government and constitutional democracy could clearly see that the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue was an act of pure subversion, made legal only by the equally questionable behavior of a weak Governor-General who was more interested in her reputation than in her job.

    I still want someone to answer for that, because some day, that decision will come back to bite our democracy in the ____. And for the record, I voted for the Conservatives. Foolishly, I guess, because I believed they were the sort of people who'd do exactly the opposite in a similar situation. If Harper really did think it was his job to resign, then his instincts were still better than his actions have made them seem to be – because I want to vote for people who know that some things are more important than the color of the party card of the clowns who happen to be in office that particular day.

    • We don't have democracy.
      For god's sake we have a parliamentary system.
      Unequal representation.
      Harper is the glue that holds this nation together in spite of liberal nabobs!

      • nabob: (Informal) a rich, powerful, or important man

        So you're saying that there's a group of rich, powerful, important liberals who are attempting to destroy the country? Does this mean that we need a group of rich, powerful, important conservatives in order to balance this threat? A Bilderburg/Illuminati Cage Match? Or maybe Harvard Lampoon vs the Gun Club?

  88. From page 4: "How can that position be squared with the Harper government's …? It can't. Consistency is for monks."

  89. Absolutely fair and reasonable in not liking Chretien, in my opinion.

    Now the problem is, Harper's no better, and in many ways, worse. The article spells it out, the most important thing in the Harper government isn't you, or me, or Canada, it's him.

  90. i know it's been a while since i've frequented these boards, but you don't know who you're talking to, do you?

    the cpc has being trying very hard to present harper as a "strong leader". the piece runs off exactly like something out of the politburo, an attempt to turn harper into an idol – much like what was done to stalin, mao or…yes….recently, obama.

    this idea of harper as a dictator, strong man, shepherd, etc is *exactly* what the cpc wants to project because they have the ideological view that the masses are lost sheep that need to be led. this is what they've been selling us for years now….

  91. I can not for the life of me imagine that anyone at the federal level would want to have anything to do with the bloc.

    I would have thought that to be true long before last week, you know.

  92. nah, i'm not going to do that – i think he's been a disaster on the highest order and that his mandate is, in actuality, little more than to hold the fort until the liberals can pull their collective heads out of their collective asses (hasn't happened yet).

  93. I'm pretty sure the CPC would have never approved of the line "Consistency is for monks" when their entire pre-election Ignatieff campaign-jabs revolve around his inconsistencies. There are many more slights against Harper within the article, if you care to peruse.

    I stand by my previous assertion that this article is a well-balanced breath of fresh air.

    EDIT: And no, I have no idea whom I'm speaking with. I get around Ottawa a fair bit, and I don't believe I've met any named dgtlflflfkffhlfhla. Besides that, I studiously avoid people who use any variation of the phrase "Do you have any idea who I am?" as it's an unfailing indicator of an inflated self-worth and deflated reasoning capacity.

  94. He just glows with intelligence, wisdom, strategic foresight, his motives pure and clean from the beginning to the end of this wonderful article. But where do they keep destroyer Harper we see hear from almost everyday?

  95. He just glows with intelligence, wisdom, strategic foresight, his motives pure and clean from the beginning to the end of this wonderful article. But where do they keep destroyer Harper we see hear from almost everyday?

  96. My GOD how many of these pieces can Paul Wells write in one year?

  97. I don't expect you to accept this answer. I like to try to remember the entire context of that situation. Namely, mere weeks after a federal election, in which the Conservatives were given a stronger mandate (by which I simply mean they won more seats) and the Liberals were categorically rejected. Dion, obviously on his way out as leader of the party, categorically rejected as PM, suddenly seeking to grab hold of power. The proposed coalition still have 29 seats less than the Conservatives, and therefor completely and totally dependent on the Bloc (whether they were official coalition members or not). All of that and more creates in me a little understanding for Harper's decision to prorogue.

    By the way, I agree that Harper's own instincts were probably the better choice, and would have loved to see things play out that way. I do believe we would have a strong Conservative majority already if they had, as I simply don't think Dion would have done well as PM. Of course, irony of ironies, here is an example of Harper following the advice of his caucus (something some people here would have you believe he NEVER (original emphasis) does!)

  98. Canada is being run by someone who doesn't believe in Canada.

    That's rather his point, remember. He wants to change Canada to something which it is not today. Ergo, he doesn't believe in what Canada is now.

  99. Read carefully. The "in his estimation" was the key. Kaplan wasn't saying anything about what might actually happen to Canada, just that Harper was willing to let anything happen to Canada if he thought it'd bring him more power later.

  100. I assumed you were making a reference to a coalition between the Liberals, NDP, and BQ, which he stated is not in the cards

    He has never stated any such thing. He supported such a coalition the last time, and is still open to doing so the next time. Right?

    Not quite sure why this is such a hard issue for coalition supporters. You wanted this coalition. You should be prepared to defend it, shouldn't you?

  101. So… how long in before he starts governing competently? Please note that governing is not the same as campaigning.

  102. PoliticalPundit believes:
    "He has decided to use the enormous power of the Prime Minister's office and his government to change the way Canadians think about themselves and the role of the state in the 21st Century"

    close, but not quite. Rather, Harper is trying to get Canadians to think FOR THEMSELVES, and not rely soley on the state.

    PoliticalPUndit continues to err with:
    "Harper really is an American New Right Politician, imbued with Christian values"

    Let's forego for a moment that you are completely wrong and focus on your assumption.

    Christian values. Yep…that's dangerous. Who wants to have people who believe it is wrong to:
    -steal, rape, assault, murder, lie, and cheat. Yep….keep an eye out for those Christians. They make horrible neighbors. I hate the way they come to your door and sing at Christmas. I am sickened when they go door to door collecting money for charities, or providing for the poor. All those soup kitchens they run….HOW DARE THEY!!!.

  103. Don't they know our poor people HATE it when they go to the food banks run by Christian groups only to find out the food is free.

    What really ticks me off though, is living near Christian people who have very well behaved kids, having to listen to words like "please" or Thank you"……it's enough to make one vomit.

    Damn christians.

    Too forgiving and polite if you ask me.

    That's why I'm an atheist.

  104. PoliticalPundit believes:
    "He has decided to use the enormous power of the Prime Minister's office and his government to change the way Canadians think about themselves and the role of the state in the 21st Century"

    close, but not quite. Rather, Harper is trying to get Canadians to think FOR THEMSELVES, and not rely soley on the state.

    PoliticalPUndit continues to err with:
    "Harper really is an American New Right Politician, imbued with Christian values"

    Let's forego for a moment that you are completely wrong and focus on your assumption.

    Christian values. Yep…that's dangerous. Who wants to have people who believe it is wrong to:
    -steal, rape, assault, murder, lie, and cheat. Yep….keep an eye out for those Christians. They make horrible neighbors. I hate the way they come to your door and sing at Christmas. I am sickened when they go door to door collecting money for charities, or providing for the poor. All those soup kitchens they run….HOW DARE THEY!!!.

    • Well stated James!

    • So you're saying Canadians are stupid who don't think for themselves?

      Well.. good to know your point of view. However, I think what's going on here is a case of projection.

      • Thwim asked:
        "So you're saying Canadians are stupid who don't think for themselves?"

        Actually, Thwim…..Canadians who don't think for themselves are known as Liberals, or NDP supporters.

  105. Is this Paul Wells' agenda, or your own? Because if you've read any one of his R & D/education pieces, you can't quite claim he's a libertarian.

  106. Political pundit's hilarity continues:
    "Unfortunately for Canadians the defenders and promoters of the Canadian liberal constitutional democracy road are badly divided, poorly organized, underfunded, and led by political leaders who have been defined by Harper and his gang in the PMO "

    Why yes…those Liberal saints. How wrong I have been. Just imagine, when we saw the millions of dollars the Liberal party has been stealing, wasting, or otherwise misusing……it was all about defending our Canadian values.

    Silly me. I thought they were just being crooks.

    Thanks for setting me straight PoliticalPUndit. Just tell me where I send the cheque to continue to receive such outstanding synopsis' of our Canadian Politics.

    ( o) ( O) <—eyes glazing

  107. Political pundit's hilarity continues:
    "Unfortunately for Canadians the defenders and promoters of the Canadian liberal constitutional democracy road are badly divided, poorly organized, underfunded, and led by political leaders who have been defined by Harper and his gang in the PMO "

    Why yes…those Liberal saints. How wrong I have been. Just imagine, when we saw the millions of dollars the Liberal party has been stealing, wasting, or otherwise misusing……it was all about defending our Canadian values.

    Silly me. I thought they were just being crooks.

    Thanks for setting me straight PoliticalPUndit. Just tell me where I send the cheque to continue to receive such outstanding synopsis' of our Canadian Politics.

    ( o) ( O) <—eyes glazing

  108. For me, the biggest concern about the Harper government is the combination of the following:

    - His apparent unwillingness or inability to consult or collaborate before making a decision. (This may be understandable, given the options available to him in Cabinet – but I don't think he is willing to consult with outside experts either.)

    - His inflexibility: once he makes a decision, he considers it an act of weakness to change his mind. Harper, like the Pope, must be perceived as infallible.

    I think the real reason why we're going to have those fighter jets, or get rid of the mandatory long-form census, despite enormous opposition, is because Harper made up his mind to have the jets and not have the census, and no one around him can persuade him otherwise.

    I've never met the man, but he must be a formidable presence indeed. No one in his party seems to be willing to ever question or disagree with him at any time.

  109. For me, the biggest concern about the Harper government is the combination of the following:

    - His apparent unwillingness or inability to consult or collaborate before making a decision. (This may be understandable, given the options available to him in Cabinet – but I don't think he is willing to consult with outside experts either.)

    - His inflexibility: once he makes a decision, he considers it an act of weakness to change his mind. Harper, like the Pope, must be perceived as infallible.

    I think the real reason why we're going to have those fighter jets, or get rid of the mandatory long-form census, despite enormous opposition, is because Harper made up his mind to have the jets and not have the census, and no one around him can persuade him otherwise.

    I've never met the man, but he must be a formidable presence indeed. No one in his party seems to be willing to ever question or disagree with him at any time.

    • As jon has pointed out above the irony is that Harper did consult with others and took the advice of others when he did not resign and hope the coalition would self-destruct. So he changed his mind and did what he thought was best for the country—- Very patriotic of him to keep the coalition away from power.

    • Consult with outside experts?
      Give us a break.
      There are no left wing experts.
      Only nabobs!

    • Out There wrote:
      "I've never met the man, but he must be a formidable presence indeed"

      Actually, I've met him twice. If by formidable presence you mean tall….then yes, he has a formidable presence.

      Otherwise, he's surprisingly soft spoken when you speak with him one on one. Hardly the tyrant the media makes him out to be.

  110. It's interesting, and somewhat revealing, that you would lump me into such an amorphous category as 'coalition supporter' without knowing what my views on that would be. Like any political calculus, it's a complex issue. I support the idea of a coalition as a parliamentary mechanism that forces accountability for minority governments, but that the purveyor of those mechanisms should also anticipate the inevitable impact a failed initiative would have on their political fortunes. In a similar way, I appreciate any group who makes use of the full slate of parliamentary tools to ensure that government remains accountable to the people who elected it. In any minority situation, the government remains vulnerable to any sort of collaboration between opposition parties. And as it should be, because the government is elected by a minority of the population.

    Ignatieff signed on to The Coalition last time, and continues to carry the political repercussions of that to this day. Any future coalition would be informed by the impact of his previous experience with that form of parliamentary tool. So I disagree with your earlier assertion that "when the chance strikes, he's obviously up for it", as his past experience will likely sway him against any similar arrangement.

    EDIT: But to close my thought, I don't think a coalition between the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc was good idea for the Liberals or NDP at all, which was borne out by the polling numbers released subsequently. However, it was a good effort at maintaining the institutional effectiveness of government, which has been proven by the fact that this minority government has survived for longer than any other. Had a coalition not threatened Harper, it's possible he would have triggered another election, where he either would have received his majority or been forced to retire from the party.

  111. a tale of a political party fighting for itself, and its' entitlements.

    Fighting against democracy, against the Westminster system, against focusing on sound public policy and the common weal.

    Party loyalists and sycophants giving each other reach arounds, staring at the mailbox for the next government cheque to come.

    Politics as usual in Canadia.

    Librano or Con, it's still the same song.

  112. a tale of a political party fighting for itself, and its' entitlements.

    Fighting against democracy, against the Westminster system, against focusing on sound public policy and the common weal.

    Party loyalists and sycophants giving each other reach arounds, staring at the mailbox for the next government cheque to come.

    Politics as usual in Canadia.

    Librano or Con, it's still the same song.

  113. Who's Lowell Green? I think that says that a lot right there. It'll be interesting to see what path the census story takes when it jumps back to life once they actually start arriving in the mail.

  114. Who's Lowell Green? I think that says that a lot right there. It'll be interesting to see what path the census story takes when it jumps back to life once they actually start arriving in the mail.

    • CBC listeners and talk radio listeners truly live in separate countries. The only time I get in arguments about this stuff is drunk at my local karaoke greasy spoon with my (also drunk) fellow patrons who are talk radio listeners. In my regular work and social life (and this is unhealthy to a degree I know), I never come across people who are CPC devotees. Bad on my part I know, and bad on their part. Andrew Sullivan had a long sequence of posts on this under "Epistemic Closure," and this closure seems to be almost as prevalent in Canada as the US. Now I can't wait for replies trashing Sullivan from both left and right, which will bloody well prove the point.

  115. Oh that's right only the Liberals are allowed to do that.

  116. I think Kaplan was right to point out the close call we had in the attempted coalition of Dec. 2008.

    Those three stooges could have done irreversible damage to our economy in a short time. If Hill was correct and they had managed to hang onto power for a longer time we could now be in the 26th month of their self-declared tenure. That`s 26 months of PM Dion, cabinet ministers Layton and Libby, and Gilles pulling the puppet strings in the background.
    That oughta give you a shiver on a cold January day.

  117. It's interesting, and somewhat revealing, that you would lump me into such an amorphous category as 'coalition supporter' without knowing what my views on that would be.

    Were you or were you not a supporter of the last coalition?

    So I disagree with your earlier assertion that "when the chance strikes, he's obviously up for it", as his past experience will likely sway him against any similar arrangement.

    He did in fact support it when he had the chance and has not ruled it out for the next time. And, he's a politician. If given the chance for power, I'm sure he'll take it.

    Again, I'm not sure why he has to run away from it.

    As for the wisdom of coalitions in general, and of this one in particular, I think there are better ways of holding a government to account than trying to take power right after an election, and I think the electorate agreed.

  118. liberalism is an evil entity that has and will continue to destroy this once great nation of ours.
    It must be squeezed like a piece of rotten fruit to prevent the odiferous political correctness from spreading.
    Leftism is fast becoming a thing of the past. Globalism has and will adapt fiscal responsibility once and for all.
    Both Canada and our neighbours to the south need federal elections to rectify the continued appeasement to the left.
    Fiscal / Social responsibility must rule to ensure effective governance.
    Neo liberalism = conservatism…….why can't the so called and self anointed liberal intelligentsia link the two ideological titles. Blue liberals will be jumping ship in the next election. The left will see Mr. Harpers government propel itself to a majority.
    How can this happen you ask?
    The left wing media has been called up on the carpet. It's still spinning its wheels over the B.S. propagated over global warming issues (hello Dr. David Suzuki – please reference Lorie Goldstein for all pertinent rebuttal information).
    The left wing medias agenda now has a look of desperation. Canadians are fast becoming aware of its self serving intent and complete lack of credibility in reporting news as opposed to making news. They've become so self absorbed they want editorial licence now to "invent" news!
    Mr. Harper……you do a great job and we the Canadian public are very proud of the way you represent Canada.
    Please continue the course.

  119. liberalism is an evil entity that has and will continue to destroy this once great nation of ours.
    It must be squeezed like a piece of rotten fruit to prevent the odiferous political correctness from spreading.
    Leftism is fast becoming a thing of the past. Globalism has and will adapt fiscal responsibility once and for all.
    Both Canada and our neighbours to the south need federal elections to rectify the continued appeasement to the left.
    Fiscal / Social responsibility must rule to ensure effective governance.
    Neo liberalism = conservatism…….why can't the so called and self anointed liberal intelligentsia link the two ideological titles. Blue liberals will be jumping ship in the next election. The left will see Mr. Harpers government propel itself to a majority.
    How can this happen you ask?
    The left wing media has been called up on the carpet. It's still spinning its wheels over the B.S. propagated over global warming issues (hello Dr. David Suzuki – please reference Lorie Goldstein for all pertinent rebuttal information).
    The left wing medias agenda now has a look of desperation. Canadians are fast becoming aware of its self serving intent and complete lack of credibility in reporting news as opposed to making news. They've become so self absorbed they want editorial licence now to "invent" news!
    Mr. Harper……you do a great job and we the Canadian public are very proud of the way you represent Canada.
    Please continue the course.

    • What world do you live in? Without basic procedure liberalism and democratic institutions that flow from it you would never be able to vote for the party of your choice.
      Harper and his populist majoritarian democrats from Western Canada understood this fact very well. They exploited Canada'a rather warped and unrepresentative democratic system to achieve power with just over a third of the votes and a rather sick participation rate that worked to his and his party's advantage.
      When I discuss procedural liberalism I am not referring to Canada's national Liberal Party!
      I am referring to our constitutional democracy and Canada's Constitution that has at its core procedural liberal democracy and the rule of law! Political Parties and regimes on the far right and on the far left usually descend into autocratic regimes in order to maintain themselves in power. This is why they usually undermine true procedural liberal institutions.
      Witness what is going on in the Arab world. Citizens are demanding basic political liberalism and democratic institutions.

      • He has a right to his opinion, just like you do!

        • Nigel's confusion of "Liberalism" and "Leftism" is not an opinion, it's an error.

        • Of course he has a right to his own opinion! I was not saying otherwise.
          There is a vast difference though between having a reasoned and well-founded opinion and merely being opinionated!
          Too many posters confuse both of these terms, that is emotional outbursts, revealing an opinionated, closed mind rather than a thinking persons mind.
          This state of affairs is really depressing.
          A dynamic democracy and democratic institutions rely upon citizens being properly educated and informed. They must be able to over reasoned and substantiated opinions in order to advance the public discourse.

          • You know most of the posters here are off, too much to say with little substance, is not worth wasting your time with them most of the time they really don't get it, you want to engage in a healthy debate, not someone who has to have the last word making things up and talking nonsense!

          • You are absolutely right.

            I guess it is foolish to think that one can educated these loud-mouth louts. But reason and logic, not emotion and revenge, have to prevail or we will all be the losers.

            This ongoing ideological division between the extreme right and the extreme left reminds me of the same development that took place throughout all of Europe in the 1920s and 1920s.

            Anyone who was a political liberal or a moderate social democrat was shouted down and considered a public enemy by the emerging socialist and fascist regimes. Liberal governments were smashed and liberal minded intellectuals and journalists had to flee.

            We all know how this played out – a World War in which millions were slaughtered, 6 million Jews sent to the gas chambers, the destruction of all of western Europe, and the emergence of the Cold War that lasted until 1990.

            The restoration of political democracies and moderate social democratic governments gave the world five decades of relative peace. This stage has now come to an end.

            The same scenario as was played out in Europe in the 1920 to 1945 era is now developing but on a much larger global canvas. The Muslim Middle Eastern and Far Eastern societies and states are now in utter turmoil. They are all in the midst of, or on the verge of, major civil wars. Their governments and elites are telling their citizens that the Judeo-Christian Western countries and their citizens are to blame for all Arab and Muslim problems.

            It is not very difficult to predict where all this will take us and how it will all end.

          • Political pundit observed:
            "I guess it is foolish to think that one can educated these loud-mouth louts"

            Translation: Politicalpundit's pride is offended when people don't take him seriously.

            Sorry PP….If you took the time to climb down from the soap box, you may realize that your opinion is only one of many, and not necessarily the correct one.

            You are blinded by (and to) your own hubris.

            But keep trying…..it's kinda funny in a way.

          • PP goes on:
            "This ongoing ideological division between the extreme right and the extreme left reminds "

            Sorry PP….but those on the extreme left and extreme right don't have a voice in Canada. All of our Federal parties are fairly tame in comparison to truly extreme parties.

            PP's hyperbole continues:
            "We all know how this played out – a World War in which millions were slaughtered, 6 million Jews sent to the gas chambers, the destruction of all of western Europe"

            That's right PP……if we keep Harper as PM…it's all gonna happen again.

            Admit it PP…..you're a Greenie right?

      • The Arab world is being dominated by Marxists and the Moslem Brotherhood!
        You secular progressives are destroying western civilization by your acts of cowardice, political correctness and self professed levels of entitlement.
        The third of votes garnered was still more than the leftists idiots who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag!
        Are you referring to the rule of law that espouses "Justice must be seen to be done"?
        Talk about a crappy cop out.
        Justice Must Be Done…..period! Leave it to liberal democracy to chicken out on getting tough on crime.
        Islam is not demanding liberalism…..it is demanding Sharia Law.
        Egypt is NOT demanding liberalism. The mob rule of anarchists will be demanding Marxism and supporting the Moslem Brotherhood.
        liberalism is cowardice
        liberalism is evil
        liberalism without conservative balance is the end of western civilization altogether

        • Balance is a rare commodity in this world. Indeed, there is a large population of unbalanced individuals.

          Thankfully, you're a beacon of light showing us the way.

        • I'll tell you what will be the end of western civilization altogether: A Western superpower with nothing besides its own self interests taken into consideration (of which many of those interests are quite lame – guns, basketball, country music. Lame!). Mr. Davenport, please don't align yourself with a major screw up that doesn't give a sh*t about you or anyone else. And don't blame an ideology like "Marxism", Nige. Blame actual activity done by an actual country.

    • I'm letting my ghouly drooly fangs drip with evil reptilian kitten-eating glee as I read your post.

    • You poor soul. The emerging economies of Brazil and India, and the strenght of the Chinese economy is primarily due to investment in education and health care. Countries with a rich poor split are precarious, hunger and poverty ,witness Egypt, make uncertainty certain..

  120. And I disagree with PP`s entire post including that about the PMO.
    The PMO is no more powerful now then under Chretien. If you want to see how Harper is changing Ottawa, then I think it would be best to follow Wells and Geddes lead and look at how the cozy relationship between the civil service, especially the embassies, and the Liberal Party will no longer be tolerated.

  121. Hello Bill Kaplan,
    I said he was a cross between a social democrat and a libertarian.
    This explains his penchant to support policies of either persuasion. As he stated in his article: "Consistency is for Monks."
    Paul Wells is thrilled with Harper's ability to triangulate on policy so as to undermine the liberal centre. Once the Liberals are out of the way, then Harper will focus on a full-scale, comprehensive set of right of centre policies and programs.
    My longstanding position is that you can't achieve a dynamic social democracy without first have a healthy and credible liberal democracy. This is normally achieved by having a political party whose central tenets are those of procedural liberalism – that is, basic democracy. As Trudeau proclaimed in the 1950s – Democratie D'abord! Democracy First.
    Canadian democracy is on life support – Representation by population is a sham. Citizens in Ontario and the Western provinces lack the appropriate number of MPs.
    Harper's stacking of the Senate with excessively partisan hacks is a disgrace and undermines our Parliamentary institutions that he promised to reform.
    Harper's accountability act is a sham! It is all hypocritical window dressing but very effective politics because it shores up his base in Western Canada.

  122. "Were you or were you not a supporter of the last coalition?"

    No, I thought it was a move of desperation by the opposition parties, and I expected it would have significant repercussions. However, it led to two years of relative peace within the HoC as Harper realized that there were limits to how far he could push the opposition whilst in a minority position.

    "And, he's a politician. If given the chance for power, I'm sure he'll take it."

    Only if he's willing to trade a short-term power gain against any long-term chances of forming a Liberal minority or majority government. And given the inherent instability of many minority coalition governments, I'm not convinced he would take that option.

    "I think there are better ways of holding a government to account than trying to take power right after an election, and I think the electorate agreed."

    I absolutely agree; there are a host of parliamentary tools that would have been equally effective and would have carried far fewer political repercussions. I'm not arguing in favour of a coalition, I'm just supporting the idea that one can never rule one out, just as one could never rule out using an esoteric parliamentary procedure such as a prorogue, or a hoist motion, or any other interesting manoeuvre used after the 2008 election.

  123. What world do you live in? Without basic procedure liberalism and democratic institutions that flow from it you would never be able to vote for the party of your choice.
    Harper and his populist majoritarian democrats from Western Canada understood this fact very well. They exploited Canada'a rather warped and unrepresentative democratic system to achieve power with just over a third of the votes and a rather sick participation rate that worked to his and his party's advantage.
    When I discuss procedural liberalism I am not referring to Canada's national Liberal Party!
    I am referring to our constitutional democracy and Canada's Constitution that has at its core procedural liberal democracy and the rule of law! Political Parties and regimes on the far right and on the far left usually descend into autocratic regimes in order to maintain themselves in power. This is why they usually undermine true procedural liberal institutions.
    Witness what is going on in the Arab world. Citizens are demanding basic political liberalism and democratic institutions.

  124. As jon has pointed out above the irony is that Harper did consult with others and took the advice of others when he did not resign and hope the coalition would self-destruct. So he changed his mind and did what he thought was best for the country—- Very patriotic of him to keep the coalition away from power.

  125. It all depends on what Canada yopu grew up in. I am quite content with the one I grew up in and have watched change happen to meet the needs of technology and social thinking. This is required change. The change I hear Mr. Harper spouting is "his" Canada which he has never explained. One of the things in the MacLeans story that really rings true is Harper's steps to slowly dismantle aspects of what Canada has been. The Constitution Act requires federal involvement and this concept of pulling federal involvement out of provincial jurisdiction is a big step towards the American form of government or as a previous commentor stated an EU of Canada. That is not my Canada.

  126. A good read and much better than anything previously written about the last 5 years, and about Harper, but inevitably, I have a quibble.

    You write: "Harper's government has refused to renew the Vancouver Agreement, which made the federal government a partner with British Columbia and Vancouver city hall in developing the city's downtown core. The Harper team argues that is none of Ottawa's business. (How can that position be squared with the Harper government's continuing court fight to shut down Vancouver's InSite safe-injection drug facility—which means appealing a lower-court ruling that said InSite is none of Ottawa's business? It can't. Consistency is for monks.)"
    This isn't inconsistent. How Vancouver look s and grows and feels is for the people who live there; no central planning, nanny-state, big government, know-it-all oversight required. But how Canadians are expected to abide the laws of the land and how they are treated by agents and agencies of any government does have standards. This is both a moral and legal imperative, and has as much to do with acts of governing and government being constitutional as with sustaining a respect for the constancy and consistency of citizenship imperatives.
    The best government governs least, but we have a developed nanny state culture and media which and who still expect the government's heavy hand to be ever-involved except when their personal peccadillo is involved. And that's fine until that peccadillo, or addiction, threatens the social fabric (i.e. the rest of us and our futures).

    One other quibb: it certainly was worth underlining that Harper has had a mine-filled 5 years to traverse, inheriting a hot war and an environment of international terrorism, economic bubbles and meltdown, and a list of terrible natural disasters (both domestically in floods and storms, but also in world tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes), but also a world in turmoil and war, all of which were a much bigger challenge than what Pearson faced in the 1960s. Yes, Pearson brought in Medicare, but that was supported by the NDP and by Diefenbaker (who had put his friend in charge of the Royal Commission which led to it).

  127. A good read and much better than anything previously written about the last 5 years, and about Harper, but inevitably, I have a quibble.

    You write: "Harper's government has refused to renew the Vancouver Agreement, which made the federal government a partner with British Columbia and Vancouver city hall in developing the city's downtown core. The Harper team argues that is none of Ottawa's business. (How can that position be squared with the Harper government's continuing court fight to shut down Vancouver's InSite safe-injection drug facility—which means appealing a lower-court ruling that said InSite is none of Ottawa's business? It can't. Consistency is for monks.)"
    This isn't inconsistent. How Vancouver look s and grows and feels is for the people who live there; no central planning, nanny-state, big government, know-it-all oversight required. But how Canadians are expected to abide the laws of the land and how they are treated by agents and agencies of any government does have standards. This is both a moral and legal imperative, and has as much to do with acts of governing and government being constitutional as with sustaining a respect for the constancy and consistency of citizenship imperatives.
    The best government governs least, but we have a developed nanny state culture and media which and who still expect the government's heavy hand to be ever-involved except when their personal peccadillo is involved. And that's fine until that peccadillo, or addiction, threatens the social fabric (i.e. the rest of us and our futures).

    One other quibb: it certainly was worth underlining that Harper has had a mine-filled 5 years to traverse, inheriting a hot war and an environment of international terrorism, economic bubbles and meltdown, and a list of terrible natural disasters (both domestically in floods and storms, but also in world tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes), but also a world in turmoil and war, all of which were a much bigger challenge than what Pearson faced in the 1960s. Yes, Pearson brought in Medicare, but that was supported by the NDP and by Diefenbaker (who had put his friend in charge of the Royal Commission which led to it).

    • All cities require central planning, or you end up with Rio or Calcutta.

  128. Political Pundit:

    The Conservative Party of today, would actually be classified as a "Classic Liberal" Party.

    The NDP are a socialist party (nothing really democratic about them. Which…we would see if they ever fluked their way into power)

    Liberal Party of Canada: Nothing Liberal about them. They are quite unprincipled, and their sole reason for existence is to be in power. That is why the Liberal Party can steal ideas from the Left and the RIght……they have no ideas of their own. they just go with what they think will work.

  129. Political Pundit:

    The Conservative Party of today, would actually be classified as a "Classic Liberal" Party.

    The NDP are a socialist party (nothing really democratic about them. Which…we would see if they ever fluked their way into power)

    Liberal Party of Canada: Nothing Liberal about them. They are quite unprincipled, and their sole reason for existence is to be in power. That is why the Liberal Party can steal ideas from the Left and the RIght……they have no ideas of their own. they just go with what they think will work.

    • You know, JamesHalifax, you can use the "Reply" button under a specific post to respond to that post. It makes it much easier to follow your conversation than to have randomly-spread responses in the main page.

      Just sayin'.

      • You're assuming he's actually writing to have a discussion.
        I suspect he's a troll, hence why he puts his comments at the top level, so that they can get more attention.

        • Thwim surmised:
          " I suspect he's a troll"

          If by Troll, you mean someone who isn't a LIberal or NDP supporter……..I guess you would be correct.

    • Again, I am not arguing about the existing parties. They are all over the political map, so-to-speak.
      Centrist parties usually float to the right or left depending on the circumstances.
      Right-wing and left-wing parties do the same.
      See A. Coyne's strong argument about Harper having become far too opportunistic and power hungry to be considered a Coyne Conservative. Funny indeed.
      It has been a very, very, very long time since the NDP and its predecessor the CCF were socialist parties. Indeed, the founders of the NDP in 1960-61 ran away from any and all forms of socialism and what members were in the party left!!
      It is time to go back to basics and refrain from a distorted discourse.

      • Mr. Pundit

        The fowl rank of your ill informed discourse has lead to my departure.
        It's all socialism.
        You can cut it, as well as your verbal bile…..with a knife.

      • Political Pundit wrote:
        "It has been a very, very, very long time since the NDP and its predecessor the CCF were socialist parties"

        I'm sorry PP….I must have misunderstood Jack Layton and other members of his party when they identify themselves as a socialist party.

        My bad.

  130. If this was the original PC party I could be a little bit more supportive but it isn't. This new conservative Party of Canada is not the party of the likes of King, Pearson, Laurier, St. Laurent, Diefenbaker or even Sir John A. I am left wondering why everyone thinks the Liberals are the natural party of Canada considering that the Conservatives won the very first Canadian election which did give them a step up.

  131. I think the advent of "Message Event Proposals" alone makes the PMO significantly more powerful than it was in any previous government. If not more powerful, it certainly makes it significantly less responsive.

  132. He has a right to his opinion, just like you do!

  133. You know, JamesHalifax, you can use the "Reply" button under a specific post to respond to that post. It makes it much easier to follow your conversation than to have randomly-spread responses in the main page.

    Just sayin'.

  134. Congratulations, great read!

  135. Congratulations, great read!

  136. Nigel's confusion of "Liberalism" and "Leftism" is not an opinion, it's an error.

  137. Would rather have the threes stooges at the helm then one mad man. The three stooges always seemed to overcome whatever obstacle they faced; in the end the guy ended up with the girl and everyone lived happily ever after. Whereas; in the end, the mad man got his just rewards and usually ended up behind bars.

  138. I'm left wondering if folks commenting on this board actually read the story, or my reading comprehension isn't up to snuff. It wasn't a stinging rebuke of the Conservatives, but it wasn't a ringing endorsement, either. Wells and Geddes documented well Harper's autocratic and controlling tendencies, and the piece certainly didn't come off as flattering. (Just look at all the unnamed sources who wouldn't talk on the record for this story. Doesn't that give anybody the willies?). Regardless, it certainly shone light on Harper's agenda, one that will never make it into an election platform: he wants to fundamentally change the way the federal government, and how the country, works. Now, some folks here will think this is a great idea, and others will think it's horrible. Either way, it's not being talked about and debated 'on the street' or in the media. A story like this gets people talking.

  139. I'm left wondering if folks commenting on this board actually read the story, or my reading comprehension isn't up to snuff. It wasn't a stinging rebuke of the Conservatives, but it wasn't a ringing endorsement, either. Wells and Geddes documented well Harper's autocratic and controlling tendencies, and the piece certainly didn't come off as flattering. (Just look at all the unnamed sources who wouldn't talk on the record for this story. Doesn't that give anybody the willies?). Regardless, it certainly shone light on Harper's agenda, one that will never make it into an election platform: he wants to fundamentally change the way the federal government, and how the country, works. Now, some folks here will think this is a great idea, and others will think it's horrible. Either way, it's not being talked about and debated 'on the street' or in the media. A story like this gets people talking.

    • Much folks no read good!

      • a story like this doesn't get people talking, it gets them yelling.

        its a tale of drama and histrionics. and at its' core is a political party wanting to hold on dearly to the patonage, appointments, and limo drivers they have.

        Just like Martin and the Libranos before them.

    • Nice find gottabesaid!
      (Just look at all the unnamed sources who wouldn't talk on the record for this story. Doesn't that give anybody the willies?).
      =^..^= Need I say no more.

  140. And I don't accept that answer, because it omits the even larger context – namely, that we're a parliamentary democracy, not an executive democracy. So everything you've said about the political situation, while interesting, is still superseded by the Constitution, the law and the basic principles of our democracy. Harper did get more seats in '08 than in '06. But so what? That's not constitutionally relevant. Period. As Mr. Harper well knows, his right to govern constitutionally depends on the confidence of the House as elected, not on whether he was able to squeeze more votes out in between sessions and sittings. It works that way for a reason, and that reason is more important than the Bloc, Dion, the recent election or any other temporary factor.

    I know the attack ads all said "Dion," and I know Canadian voters are lazy enough that they vote by party and PM and not by MP. But our system still operates as though they're not going to be lazy. And if Mr. Harper wants to change that, then he should change that with the public's express consent instead of simply operating as though it's a presidential system – not least because that's what he promised thinking conservative voters he'd do on countless occasions before he was safely cosy in the big fluffy chair. Notably, I showed up to vote for him grudgingly in '08, since I was rather upset at how casually he made the fixed election law look like a joke at our expense. Are you detecting a pattern yet?

  141. And I don't accept that answer, because it omits the even larger context – namely, that we're a parliamentary democracy, not an executive democracy. So everything you've said about the political situation, while interesting, is still superseded by the Constitution, the law and the basic principles of our democracy. Harper did get more seats in '08 than in '06. But so what? That's not constitutionally relevant. Period. As Mr. Harper well knows, his right to govern constitutionally depends on the confidence of the House as elected, not on whether he was able to squeeze more votes out in between sessions and sittings. It works that way for a reason, and that reason is more important than the Bloc, Dion, the recent election or any other temporary factor.

    I know the attack ads all said "Dion," and I know Canadian voters are lazy enough that they vote by party and PM and not by MP. But our system still operates as though they're not going to be lazy. And if Mr. Harper wants to change that, then he should change that with the public's express consent instead of simply operating as though it's a presidential system – not least because that's what he promised thinking conservative voters he'd do on countless occasions before he was safely cosy in the big fluffy chair. Notably, I showed up to vote for him grudgingly in '08, since I was rather upset at how casually he made the fixed election law look like a joke at our expense. Are you detecting a pattern yet?

    • Nearly all pro-coalition folks rely on some variation of Brian's words "I know Canadian voters are lazy…". To them voters should have their decision made for them. The coalition may have been constitutionally correct, but your "lazy" voters thought it stunk to high heaven. The Conservatives polling numbers at the time jumped to over 40% support and some polls showed over 50%. Your beloved coalition, after Harper called a time-out, only lasted four days then Dionne resigned. Harper did the right thing to call his time-out (prorogue).

      One more "Lazy" voter

      • The participants in that debacle earned their political fall-out, no question.

        While there certainly was a great deal of indignation during the entire episode, especially from the Conservative side, I think the polling numbers reflected sheer shock and confusion from voters than anything else. Voters were concerned–rightfully so–that a coalition would be unable to effectively govern and that the country would have suffered. Had the coalition survived for a year I'm pretty sure we would have seen a reversal, as people became more comfortable with the idea.

        But we'll never know for sure.

        If Harper had managed to prorogue government without all the "separatist" table-banging it would have been a windfall for him. As it stands, he basically destroyed his ability to gain a majority government.

        • "shock and confusion" .. ludicrous. come on. There is a visceral revulsion in English Canada against the bloc. Outside the country's most elitist Toronto and Ottawa elements, average NDP and Liberal voters hate Quebec separatists more than they do Harper, and always will. History could have been very different if Dion crew had been un-stupid enough to hide Duceppe in a closet and downplay his role.

        • There is that same disrespect of the voter. Noob states "I think the polling numbers reflected sheer shock and confusion from voters".

          Wrong! The voters were outraged, and rightfully so, that the Liberals worst defeat in history led them to band with separatists to wrest back to leadership power after repeatedly denying the possibility in an election campaign 6 weeks earlier.

          It was a stupid and disgusting ploy by Dionne and his fellow rogues.

          The next election will prove I am right. Voter turnout will increase and Harper will sail to a clear majority.

      • "Pro-coalition."

        "Your beloved coalition."

        Maybe you missed the part where I said I voted for the Conservatives months just weeks before the crisis began? Or maybe, like the PMO, you don't actually care what voters say if it doesn't fit into the tidy partisan box you've already drawn around the issue?

        I'm not pro-coalition, nor was I. I was pro-parliament and pro-constitution. I was also under the mistaken delusion that the party I'd voted for also supported those things, not least because its leader said so on countless prior occasions.

        • "mistaken delusion"…*giggle*

        • Brian, I missed that you said you voted Conservative. You really sound like a Liberal to me when you consider voters "lazy".

          It is the coalition who "don't actually care what voters say", not me and not the PM. Nothing PM Harper did went against parliament or the constitution. What Dionne did was also not illegal and almost worked, but the electorate was horrified to learn their vote was respected so little by the coalition. When Harper stood up in Parliament and rejected the coalition, he had the voters on his side. I expect the voters will remember this at the next election also.

  142. Again, I am not arguing about the existing parties. They are all over the political map, so-to-speak.
    Centrist parties usually float to the right or left depending on the circumstances.
    Right-wing and left-wing parties do the same.
    See A. Coyne's strong argument about Harper having become far too opportunistic and power hungry to be considered a Coyne Conservative. Funny indeed.
    It has been a very, very, very long time since the NDP and its predecessor the CCF were socialist parties. Indeed, the founders of the NDP in 1960-61 ran away from any and all forms of socialism and what members were in the party left!!
    It is time to go back to basics and refrain from a distorted discourse.

  143. Experts in the field were outraged. They pointed out, for instance, that “international humanitarian law” is a specific subset of international law with its own jurisprudence, so that eliminating references to it amounted to calling a hammer a saw because “hammer” sounded too Liberal. To say the least, the Harper government was unsympathetic to such arguments.

    “I've told my people that this is the policy that we carry out,” Lawrence Cannon, the foreign minister, said when the vocabulary story appeared. “And if anybody is not happy with these policies that we're carrying out, well, all they have to do is go and run in the next election and get themselves elected and support a policy that is different from ours.”

    Honestly messrs Wells and Geddes, do we really need any more comfirmation that Minister Cannon, while to all appearances being a nice man, is almost certainly also a blithering idiot?

  144. Experts in the field were outraged. They pointed out, for instance, that “international humanitarian law” is a specific subset of international law with its own jurisprudence, so that eliminating references to it amounted to calling a hammer a saw because “hammer” sounded too Liberal. To say the least, the Harper government was unsympathetic to such arguments.

    “I've told my people that this is the policy that we carry out,” Lawrence Cannon, the foreign minister, said when the vocabulary story appeared. “And if anybody is not happy with these policies that we're carrying out, well, all they have to do is go and run in the next election and get themselves elected and support a policy that is different from ours.”

    Honestly messrs Wells and Geddes, do we really need any more comfirmation that Minister Cannon, while to all appearances being a nice man, is almost certainly also a blithering idiot?

  145. Of course he has a right to his own opinion! I was not saying otherwise.
    There is a vast difference though between having a reasoned and well-founded opinion and merely being opinionated!
    Too many posters confuse both of these terms, that is emotional outbursts, revealing an opinionated, closed mind rather than a thinking persons mind.
    This state of affairs is really depressing.
    A dynamic democracy and democratic institutions rely upon citizens being properly educated and informed. They must be able to over reasoned and substantiated opinions in order to advance the public discourse.

  146. Yeah – and let's not forget those hockey arenas.

  147. Much folks no read good!

  148. Nearly all pro-coalition folks rely on some variation of Brian's words "I know Canadian voters are lazy…". To them voters should have their decision made for them. The coalition may have been constitutionally correct, but your "lazy" voters thought it stunk to high heaven. The Conservatives polling numbers at the time jumped to over 40% support and some polls showed over 50%. Your beloved coalition, after Harper called a time-out, only lasted four days then Dionne resigned. Harper did the right thing to call his time-out (prorogue).

    One more "Lazy" voter

  149. Not really. Dion always struck me as a person driven by knowledge and research, not gut and fear.

    Layton's the populist, and would have worked to soften the blow where Dion opted for the long view over the immediate welfare of Canadians.

    Libby is total fabrication on your part — or in other words, a lie.

    And Gilles would have been a non-entity, tied as he would be by the agreement to not vote against a confidence measure.

    If anything, the coalition would have been the end of the Bloc — for two years they would have been ineffective because of the confidence agreement, and unable to fan the flames over demands such as you see him presenting to Harper now. Given the situation for the Bloc at the time and their levels of support, having a government that simply took steps not to piss Quebec off while the Bloc was hamstrung would have left many Quebec people questioning it's use.

  150. I don't recall the Liberals setting about to 'change our culture', and not mentioning it.

  151. The participants in that debacle earned their political fall-out, no question.

    While there certainly was a great deal of indignation during the entire episode, especially from the Conservative side, I think the polling numbers reflected sheer shock and confusion from voters than anything else. Voters were concerned–rightfully so–that a coalition would be unable to effectively govern and that the country would have suffered. Had the coalition survived for a year I'm pretty sure we would have seen a reversal, as people became more comfortable with the idea.

    But we'll never know for sure.

    If Harper had managed to prorogue government without all the "separatist" table-banging it would have been a windfall for him. As it stands, he basically destroyed his ability to gain a majority government.

  152. Actually i had the feeling you guys talked to many of the same insider sources L.Martin did for Harperland. Not a criticism. Martin's book was surprisingly fair and so is this piece…er not surprisingly :)

  153. Stephen Harper is crafty, and out to have power for the sake of itself. He seems to enjoy power for the sake of power.

  154. Stephen Harper is crafty, and out to have power for the sake of itself. He seems to enjoy power for the sake of power.

  155. I think this will ultimately be the Harper government's downfall – they will not be able to grow their way out of a deficit and they aren't well positioned to make any real progress on the deficit.

  156. Nice piece – I was fascinated by the foregin policy section in particular.

    Question: I am concerned with the way the sources are presented in the first page. You more or less quote Prentice, Hill and Moore. It's not clear if you interviewed all three and are quoting directly, interviewed one of the three and are quoting/paraphrasing everyone via a single source, quoting someone else who was present or quoting someone who wasn't present at all.

    I'm uncomfortable with this because having that background information speaks to both credibility and accuracy. Could you give more information?

    But otherwise a very good piece.

  157. Nice piece – I was fascinated by the foregin policy section in particular.

    Question: I am concerned with the way the sources are presented in the first page. You more or less quote Prentice, Hill and Moore. It's not clear if you interviewed all three and are quoting directly, interviewed one of the three and are quoting/paraphrasing everyone via a single source, quoting someone else who was present or quoting someone who wasn't present at all.

    I'm uncomfortable with this because having that background information speaks to both credibility and accuracy. Could you give more information?

    But otherwise a very good piece.

  158. Good stuff gentlemen. This reads quite a bit like Harperland – minus some of Martin's more lurid passages on Harper's avowed intent to destroy the Liberal Party; wonder if you guys shared sources?Would this also constitute a bit of push back on a certain editor who recently hung the sobriquet : "killer of consequential politcs in this country", around the neck of SH?Still,lots of ammunition for Said editor in here too!

  159. Good stuff gentlemen. This reads quite a bit like Harperland – minus some of Martin's more lurid passages on Harper's avowed intent to destroy the Liberal Party; wonder if you guys shared sources?Would this also constitute a bit of push back on a certain editor who recently hung the sobriquet : "killer of consequential politcs in this country", around the neck of SH?Still,lots of ammunition for Said editor in here too!

  160. " When he had it, Maxime Bernier amazed another European foreign minister with the depth of his ignorance on major bilateral files. “Many, many people trying to hold him up,” an ambassador from that country said later, referring to Bernier's staff. “It was a disaster.”

    Best funny in the piece; made doubly so by the number of con supporter who have hopes Bernier will one day replace Harper. He's your Dion guys. Both are strongly princpled adherents of their respective ideologies, but the key is both are/were political incompetents.

  161. " When he had it, Maxime Bernier amazed another European foreign minister with the depth of his ignorance on major bilateral files. “Many, many people trying to hold him up,” an ambassador from that country said later, referring to Bernier's staff. “It was a disaster.”

    Best funny in the piece; made doubly so by the number of con supporter who have hopes Bernier will one day replace Harper. He's your Dion guys. Both are strongly princpled adherents of their respective ideologies, but the key is both are/were political incompetents.

    • Really, you can't compare Bernier and Dion. Bernier is an immature, ideologically confused and duplicitous incompetent. Dion was no Mackenzie King or even a Bob Rae (now there's a thought) but I'd fear for Canada's stability if Bernier was ever handed the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio. Dion, I would argue, was a patriot who skillfully, and tirelessly, defended, constantly, the Canadian idea against the separatists. Listening a few years ago to the Conservative propaganda about Dion leading a coalition of separatists was thoroughly disgusting.

      • Dion did do good work on the separatist file [ particularly those open letter debates with Bouchard, which he is widely thought to have won] but he was always under Chretiens watchful eye and supervision. A good 2nd banana – yes!
        Now, If you were to ask me who was the more accomplished of the two – well that would be different. Totally agree about his treatment by the Harper cons – disgusting – but he still had no political judgement.

  162. Great read..

  163. Great read..

  164. A well written glimpse through a window into thoughts of our Prime Minister.
    The point that stands out to mind is that his best work is when someone he trusts gives him a genuine critique of his thoughts. ( His time before becoming the Canadian Alliance leader shows this as well.) This applies to almost anyone but it sorely underscores the void in the PMO of functioning sound board.
    Harper's goal maybe in fact to rework the underling vision of government in Canada. However in the meantime, Canada needs it's government to govern.

  165. A well written glimpse through a window into thoughts of our Prime Minister.
    The point that stands out to mind is that his best work is when someone he trusts gives him a genuine critique of his thoughts. ( His time before becoming the Canadian Alliance leader shows this as well.) This applies to almost anyone but it sorely underscores the void in the PMO of functioning sound board.
    Harper's goal maybe in fact to rework the underling vision of government in Canada. However in the meantime, Canada needs it's government to govern.

  166. Jeez—If your ideas about the Bloc disappearing because of their ineffectiveness in a Dion-Layton coalition is prevalent in the Liberal Party, then we dodged a bigger bullet then I thought. I suppose there might be less notice about the troubles in Quebec because we would be so preoccupied with the revolt in the West.

    I am thinking we should seriously be promoting Jay Hill for the Order of Canada—maybe a knighthood–yeah Sir Jay Hill, that would do.

  167. How should Harper have reformed the Senate? Would he really have earned any kudos from anyone by falling on his sword, leaving all those Senate openings vacant, only to allow Liberals, when back in power, to automatically and with glee, fill those empty Senate seats with another generation of Liberal Party patronage.

    You may yet be proven correct that Harper's intent is all a sham but who else in the Canadian political landscape dared utter the words. Abolish or reform the Senate. We may not get to find out until Harper gets his majority and a bit of breathing room to contemplate such change while under the ever watchfulness of the Charter.

    If nothing else happens, at least for a while there is more balance in the Senate, thanks to a change in government the past four years. Now maybe Jack Layton has other druthers about the Senate. Unsurprisingly.

  168. Well said. The Conservative approach is to divide Canadians and then because of a minority split vote take the reigns and lead us nowhere, because they have no vision (except as part of di-vision)!

  169. Yes, you deserve to b thumbed down. How astute to not think for yourself on any of this. How great you and Harper are (in your own minds!). Ideology and denial are the mantra that Harper (and apparently you) prefer to follow. Harper is void of any ideas to address things. He is often than not forced to do things. His vision is di-vision! If smaller is better then he certainly has everyone else beat as his view of the greatness that Canada was or could be is so SMALL!

  170. I'll let you in on a poorly-kept secret around here — Google is most emphatically not Dennis_F's friend.

  171. Hey, wise Parliamentarian….it is perfectly right in saying that coalitions are formed, may be formed, could be formed, will be formed. How do you think Harper has stayed in power with a Minority government? He has been supported by gathering others to accept what he has proposed…..in other words they have grouped together, forming a coalition around an issue! Anyone who thinks or espouses or repeats like Harper and the Conservatives keep saying that a coalition is disastrous should really start to educate themselves. Coalitions are forged time and again within Parliament, and this is done not to the detriment of Canada but to move Canada forward! Stop being a lapdog and stop repeating untruths. Coalition is not a dirty word. Harper (Stockwell Day and crew) did the same when they were NOT the government, they entered a formally signed agreement to work together (the NDP, the BLOC, and the Conservatives) in an effort to defeat the Liberals! Harper will make deals, with the BLOC, the NDP, even the Liberals if it means he continues to hold the reigns of the government!

  172. from Cheryl MacIntyre – Now I know facts and reality are pretty scary things for con/reformers but some times it has to be done.
    $14 billion surplus – gone
    $3 billion slush fund that was supposed to help… them get the stimulus out the door quicker (which it didnt) – gone
    And that money wasnt included in the stimulus package.
    $1 billion in self advertising – more than every government in our history added together.
    $1 billion for the fiasco that was the g-20 (just security)
    $1 billion for the G8 / G20 meetings
    $30 million to get rid of the long form census, yeah its those nasty facts again.
    $ millions to relocate Camp Mirage
    $ billions in corporate welfare –
    $56 billion dollar deficit.

    Nuff said though I could go on I wont bother because then we would start counting the never ending scandals of this government.

    • Oh Nadine, don't stop now, it's hightime we give these conbots a run for their money. The truth shall win over all. Again, a great post by Nadine. I want to add something inwhich is very disturbing and maybe this magazine may want to do a follow up on the Veterans Food Bank in Calgary. How can this Conservative Government think this is ok?

      • I can't be the only one convinced that Nadine and 'Red' are the same person.

  173. from Cheryl MacIntyre – Now I know facts and reality are pretty scary things for con/reformers but some times it has to be done.
    $14 billion surplus – gone
    $3 billion slush fund that was supposed to help… them get the stimulus out the door quicker (which it didnt) – gone
    And that money wasnt included in the stimulus package.
    $1 billion in self advertising – more than every government in our history added together.
    $1 billion for the fiasco that was the g-20 (just security)
    $1 billion for the G8 / G20 meetings
    $30 million to get rid of the long form census, yeah its those nasty facts again.
    $ millions to relocate Camp Mirage
    $ billions in corporate welfare –
    $56 billion dollar deficit.

    Nuff said though I could go on I wont bother because then we would start counting the never ending scandals of this government.

  174. Steve Harper has no real religious views. He just wears them for political advantage.

    Steve Harper, President, the Corporate Party of Canada

    Harper's Neoconservatism: This entire movement is a crock.

    It is not a religious movement or a moral movement.

    It is a corporate movement.

    http://pushedleft.blogspot.com/2010/11/democracy-

    .

  175. a story like this doesn't get people talking, it gets them yelling.

    its a tale of drama and histrionics. and at its' core is a political party wanting to hold on dearly to the patonage, appointments, and limo drivers they have.

    Just like Martin and the Libranos before them.

  176. Isn't it amazing that Harper needed to be told that Canada should not be allowed to fail economically! WOW! Our PM does not have the smarts to know that Canada should not be allowed to fail without being told! That's some leadership by Harper, eh! Just for spite he would have let Canada tank! Well, if Canadians don't now see why Harper's ideology will some day come back and bite Canada then we really do deserve to have Harper's partisan politics leading us! Wouldn't it be great if Harper (and the Conservatives) were more focused on Canada and ALL Canadians vs just being worried about their minority Conservative base being kept happy! You know, what's best for Canada may not be best for Conservatives….but it would be BEST FOR CANADA! Get over yourself, Harper, before you take Canada to complete ruin!

  177. I suggest you learn what the term "coalition" actually means, then get back to me. Hint: there's only been one at the federal level in Canadian history, and it happened during a world war. Of course, this last coalition effort was justified with an issue of similar seriousness, wasn't it? I mean, what a disaster it would have been if Duceppe wasn't pulling the strings at the top, right? But a "wise Parliamentarian" like yourself would know all this, wouldn't you. lol. Next.

  178. Really, you can't compare Bernier and Dion. Bernier is an immature, ideologically confused and duplicitous incompetent. Dion was no Mackenzie King or even a Bob Rae (now there's a thought) but I'd fear for Canada's stability if Bernier was ever handed the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio. Dion, I would argue, was a patriot who skillfully, and tirelessly, defended, constantly, the Canadian idea against the separatists. Listening a few years ago to the Conservative propaganda about Dion leading a coalition of separatists was thoroughly disgusting.

  179. Where is there a desire for more provincial power in promoting politices such as a national securities regulator and sales tax harmonization?

  180. It is interesting reading the comments of the left wing element of our Canadian society. They have had the national press and the educators in this country on their side spouting their propaganda for years. They are not prepared for or willing to read other opinions or more fair presentation of political ideas. Well done Maclean's for providing the large majority of Canadians, who have different or alternate views of what Canada is than that presented by the tools of the tunnel-vision left wing fanatics, with a wider view of political opinions and political thinking.

  181. . . . and this has exactly what to do with Wells' and Geddes' column?

  182. . . . and this has exactly what to do with Wells' and Geddes' column?

  183. CBC listeners and talk radio listeners truly live in separate countries. The only time I get in arguments about this stuff is drunk at my local karaoke greasy spoon with my (also drunk) fellow patrons who are talk radio listeners. In my regular work and social life (and this is unhealthy to a degree I know), I never come across people who are CPC devotees. Bad on my part I know, and bad on their part. Andrew Sullivan had a long sequence of posts on this under "Epistemic Closure," and this closure seems to be almost as prevalent in Canada as the US. Now I can't wait for replies trashing Sullivan from both left and right, which will bloody well prove the point.

  184. I'm letting my ghouly drooly fangs drip with evil reptilian kitten-eating glee as I read your post.

  185. All cities require central planning, or you end up with Rio or Calcutta.

  186. We don't have democracy.
    For god's sake we have a parliamentary system.
    Unequal representation.
    Harper is the glue that holds this nation together in spite of liberal nabobs!

  187. Consult with outside experts?
    Give us a break.
    There are no left wing experts.
    Only nabobs!

  188. Mr. Pundit

    The fowl rank of your ill informed discourse has lead to my departure.
    It's all socialism.
    You can cut it, as well as your verbal bile…..with a knife.

  189. The Arab world is being dominated by Marxists and the Moslem Brotherhood!
    You secular progressives are destroying western civilization by your acts of cowardice, political correctness and self professed levels of entitlement.
    The third of votes garnered was still more than the leftists idiots who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag!
    Are you referring to the rule of law that espouses "Justice must be seen to be done"?
    Talk about a crappy cop out.
    Justice Must Be Done…..period! Leave it to liberal democracy to chicken out on getting tough on crime.
    Islam is not demanding liberalism…..it is demanding Sharia Law.
    Egypt is NOT demanding liberalism. The mob rule of anarchists will be demanding Marxism and supporting the Moslem Brotherhood.
    liberalism is cowardice
    liberalism is evil
    liberalism without conservative balance is the end of western civilization altogether

  190. Liberal press now in full attack mode hey. lying scum!

    • If this is full attack mode, I'm overpaid.

      • Maybe he means you teaming up with Geddes – that's a liberal twofer.[ in his mind anyway] If you could have got Aaron to contribute as well it probably would have pushed some folks off the deep end.

      • Must.. resist.. easy.. jab..

        :)

  191. Liberal press now in full attack mode hey. lying scum!

  192. Indeed, and as soon as they start slashing in order to address the deficit their polling numbers will plummet. It's quite a corner to be painted into.

  193. All self serving liberal crappola!
    And da proof is in da proof!

  194. You're all typical liberals.
    With a majority he will invoke neo-liberal "Paul Martin conservatism" and bring the budget to order.
    Sit back and watch my friends as true conservatism takes hold!
    Read it and weep!

  195. nabob: (Informal) a rich, powerful, or important man

    So you're saying that there's a group of rich, powerful, important liberals who are attempting to destroy the country? Does this mean that we need a group of rich, powerful, important conservatives in order to balance this threat? A Bilderburg/Illuminati Cage Match? Or maybe Harvard Lampoon vs the Gun Club?

  196. Mr. Harper is not changing Canadian thought my friend. It was here long before myself, Mr. Harper or you and your secular progressive ilk.
    Mr. Harper is preserving what our forefathers fought wars over.

  197. Lunacy…..sheer lunacy!
    Get a job!

  198. Balance is a rare commodity in this world. Indeed, there is a large population of unbalanced individuals.

    Thankfully, you're a beacon of light showing us the way.

  199. Well, at least you are now admitting that Canada would have failed economically with the reckless Lib-NDP-Bloc Coalition.

  200. Well stated sir!

  201. Well stated sir!

  202. Well stated James!

  203. Something approximating balance,

    has the leftists who inhabit this site seething with anger, that their daily fill of total anti-Harper partisan pablum was not fed to them.

    Their hunger continues.

    I suggest a trip over to Wherry's, for at least an appy, if not the main course.

    • There's easily as much anger from those who hate any kind of criticism of Harper here. The question also arises: what are you doing here? Providing balance…i think not!

      • I'm not a "journalist" or political "analyst' holding myself as some impartial arbiter of issues.

        Though, given the raving anti Harper crowd that hangs out at Macleans blog, I'd say my two cents doesn't come close to balancing out the other comments. Indeed on most threads, I'm like an invader threateing the comment nest, with the leftists swarming me like wasps with the first "incorrect" comment.

        Tolerance. I don't think it means what the progressive left thinks it means.

        • "Though, given the raving anti Harper crowd that hangs out at Macleans blog, I'd say my two cents doesn't come close to balancing out the other comments. Indeed on most threads, I'm like an invader threateing the comment nest, with the leftists swarming me like wasps with the first "incorrect" comment."

          Maybe you take yourself far too seriously. Conceit is also a sin don't you know.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Krug

          This strike a chord Chet…i'd guess not.

          • You're right.

            My right to post here isn't questioned ("what are you doing here") nor am I personally attacted (you''re "conceipt[ed]") by comment policing leftists (TimesArrow).

            What ever was I thinking?

  204. Something approximating balance,

    has the leftists who inhabit this site seething with anger, that their daily fill of total anti-Harper partisan pablum was not fed to them.

    Their hunger continues.

    I suggest a trip over to Wherry's, for at least an appy, if not the main course.

  205. Add to that the PMO's funding has increased significantly. I'm with you. The PMO [ largely unelected body] needs to be taken down a peg or two.

  206. Dion did do good work on the separatist file [ particularly those open letter debates with Bouchard, which he is widely thought to have won] but he was always under Chretiens watchful eye and supervision. A good 2nd banana – yes!
    Now, If you were to ask me who was the more accomplished of the two – well that would be different. Totally agree about his treatment by the Harper cons – disgusting – but he still had no political judgement.

  207. Try not to trip over your own hyperpole – not everyone in the west is as myopic as you appear to be.

  208. Still don't get what "in his estimation" means do you?

  209. "As early as the summer of 2007, insiders say, Bank of Canada officials were conveying a sense of deep, growing unease in their regular briefings to the Prime Minister's Office. Harper was fully briefed on trouble in the U.S. subprime mortgage markets. Reporters and the opposition remained oblivious. “It was amazing: a huge s–tstorm could hit the markets and not affect the political class in Ottawa,” marvels one Conservative strategist "

    What is also amazing is given how well briefed Harper was how he could utter statements [ around or during the election??] to the effect: "if we were going to have a recession we would have already have had one" – and then using the D word shortly after. To top it off we got that surreal FU form Flaherty promising no deficit and small surpluses?But which future were they seeing given we are now told they were much better briefed than the opposition? Did they also know about the US housing crisis before they instituted 40 year mortgages here? I'm throughly confused – something doesn't add up here – that is apart from JF's math. .

  210. "As early as the summer of 2007, insiders say, Bank of Canada officials were conveying a sense of deep, growing unease in their regular briefings to the Prime Minister's Office. Harper was fully briefed on trouble in the U.S. subprime mortgage markets. Reporters and the opposition remained oblivious. “It was amazing: a huge s–tstorm could hit the markets and not affect the political class in Ottawa,” marvels one Conservative strategist "

    What is also amazing is given how well briefed Harper was how he could utter statements [ around or during the election??] to the effect: "if we were going to have a recession we would have already have had one" – and then using the D word shortly after. To top it off we got that surreal FU form Flaherty promising no deficit and small surpluses?But which future were they seeing given we are now told they were much better briefed than the opposition? Did they also know about the US housing crisis before they instituted 40 year mortgages here? I'm throughly confused – something doesn't add up here – that is apart from JF's math. .

  211. The more I hear Duceppe`s demands and the excuses made by power-hungry Liberals, the more I believe the voters will think a Conservative majority is the only sensible option.

  212. "shock and confusion" .. ludicrous. come on. There is a visceral revulsion in English Canada against the bloc. Outside the country's most elitist Toronto and Ottawa elements, average NDP and Liberal voters hate Quebec separatists more than they do Harper, and always will. History could have been very different if Dion crew had been un-stupid enough to hide Duceppe in a closet and downplay his role.

  213. Agreed. Very good article.

  214. Political Pundit wrote:
    "It has been a very, very, very long time since the NDP and its predecessor the CCF were socialist parties"

    I'm sorry PP….I must have misunderstood Jack Layton and other members of his party when they identify themselves as a socialist party.

    My bad.

  215. If this is full attack mode, I'm overpaid.

  216. At the Dollar Store you can buy a calculator for $1.00 plus tax.

    Take the calculator and add 77 ( Lib ) and 29 ( NDP ) and you will see the 106 result is considerably less then the 143 ( CPC ) and far from the 155 needed for majority.

    That is why Duceppe would not stay in the closet.

  217. Maybe he means you teaming up with Geddes – that's a liberal twofer.[ in his mind anyway] If you could have got Aaron to contribute as well it probably would have pushed some folks off the deep end.

  218. There's easily as much anger from those who hate any kind of criticism of Harper here. The question also arises: what are you doing here? Providing balance…i think not!

  219. yeah, facts are hard to read when you're used to digesting anti-Harper rhetoric

  220. Noob;
    You have been reading too many Liberal propaganda reports. Harper has not even approached the Chretien dictatorship. We are an extremely lucky Country to have had the Govt we have through the world financial crisis or we would have been in the same financial mess as the rest of the world.
    A happy Canadian.

  221. I'm not a "journalist" or political "analyst' holding myself as some impartial arbiter of issues.

    Though, given the raving anti Harper crowd that hangs out at Macleans blog, I'd say my two cents doesn't come close to balancing out the other comments. Indeed on most threads, I'm like an invader threateing the comment nest, with the leftists swarming me like wasps with the first "incorrect" comment.

    Tolerance. I don't think it means what the progressive left thinks it means.

  222. Re: Criminal sentencing, Discrimination – you should REALLY take a CLOSE look at sections 2, 7, and 15 of the Charter of Rights, and sections 91 and 92 of the British North America Act.

    And while the concern for national free health care is certainly a valid one, I have my reservations about it every so often. The main point is that when my brother tore his ACL & MCL, he had to wait 6 months just for the MRI, then 18 months for surgery to remove the damaged parts (not reconstruction.) When my dad's dog blew out her knee, she had a new knee within 2 days.

    If anything, that's a failure of the free market. But healthcare reform has problems: a mixed sector would leach the good doctors into private practice, marginally degrading the quality of public care (they are still med school grads, right?), while public only systems ignore the possibility to generate tax revenue and causes unnecessary delays, the private only option doesn't work as evidenced by our neighbour to the south.

  223. "Pro-coalition."

    "Your beloved coalition."

    Maybe you missed the part where I said I voted for the Conservatives months just weeks before the crisis began? Or maybe, like the PMO, you don't actually care what voters say if it doesn't fit into the tidy partisan box you've already drawn around the issue?

    I'm not pro-coalition, nor was I. I was pro-parliament and pro-constitution. I was also under the mistaken delusion that the party I'd voted for also supported those things, not least because its leader said so on countless prior occasions.

  224. "Though, given the raving anti Harper crowd that hangs out at Macleans blog, I'd say my two cents doesn't come close to balancing out the other comments. Indeed on most threads, I'm like an invader threateing the comment nest, with the leftists swarming me like wasps with the first "incorrect" comment."

    Maybe you take yourself far too seriously. Conceit is also a sin don't you know.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Krug

    This strike a chord Chet…i'd guess not.

  225. Quite similar to the die hard Liberal lemmings.

  226. To witness what he has gone through and still manage to lead the country, Steve deserves his majority. He is currently the only one that displays leadership abilities. None of the others even come close. And that's what it should be about…who is the right person for the job regardless of party affiliation. And right now hs is that person. If he doesn't perform vote him out 4 years from now and hopefully by then Iggy will be replaced. A win win situation for all. And who knows maybe he'll do such a great job he'll get voted in for a second majority.

    • If PM Harper was the leader you're building him up to be, he wouldn't have a problem securing a majority.

      It can't be a communications/image issue, as no one spends more on image and publicity than the CPC.

    • Sorry but if we were electing a president then we would vote for the leader. That's not how it works in this country.
      Respect has to be earned and a majority mandate is the same way; Harper simply has not earned it and will not get it.

  227. To witness what he has gone through and still manage to lead the country, Steve deserves his majority. He is currently the only one that displays leadership abilities. None of the others even come close. And that's what it should be about…who is the right person for the job regardless of party affiliation. And right now hs is that person. If he doesn't perform vote him out 4 years from now and hopefully by then Iggy will be replaced. A win win situation for all. And who knows maybe he'll do such a great job he'll get voted in for a second majority.

  228. This comment was deleted.

    • Kindly spam elsewhere.

  229. "mistaken delusion"…*giggle*

  230. Finally somebody gets it, between you and Emily, you just made my day. Thanks. =^..^=

  231. Paul Wells has written a very interesting article. This week we are witnessing the state of Egypt imploding after 30 years of abuse by a corrupt dictator. Paul's article is littered with examples of how similar Stephen Harper is to Hosni Mubarak. Examples: Arrogant one man rule with debate or criticism fobidden. Intimidation and absolute control of cabinet members. Adhering to the idea that a small cabal of elite politicians know better than legislatures or voters. Breaking electoral laws. Dismissing legislatures that dare to oppose. Abusing independent officials such as judges, comissioners. Abandoning principles and flip flopping on policies simply to stay in power. Total lack of substantive policy legislation (Andrew Coyne) in favour of initiatives that are symbolic to supporters (Coyne and Wells). Extreme focus on manipulating and in some cases manufacturing the message and information, to the extent that black is presented as white. Extreme secrecy and refusal to provide unedited documents to the public or legislators. Slashing ptograms to the poor in favour of tax cuts and subsidies to corporations and friends. Muzzling of bureaucrats and diplomats. ____Protest anyone?

    • Sunshine Coaster wrote:
      "Paul's article is littered with examples of how similar Stephen Harper is to Hosni Mubarak. Examples: Arrogant one man rule with debate or criticism fobidden."

      I don't think Paul would agree that he's comparing Harper to Mubarak, but hey….if you let your imagination run wild enough……I'm sure you could squeeze in a hitler comparison soon enough.

      • Agreed. This is like Godwin Lite. Yeesh.

      • I AGREE. THE COMPARISON IS MORE THAN SELF-EVIDENT.
        THE ARTICLE IS A SLIMY PUFF PIECE AND DISQUIETING

  232. Paul Wells has written a very interesting article. This week we are witnessing the state of Egypt imploding after 30 years of abuse by a corrupt dictator. Paul's article is littered with examples of how similar Stephen Harper is to Hosni Mubarak. Examples: Arrogant one man rule with debate or criticism fobidden. Intimidation and absolute control of cabinet members. Adhering to the idea that a small cabal of elite politicians know better than legislatures or voters. Breaking electoral laws. Dismissing legislatures that dare to oppose. Abusing independent officials such as judges, comissioners. Abandoning principles and flip flopping on policies simply to stay in power. Total lack of substantive policy legislation (Andrew Coyne) in favour of initiatives that are symbolic to supporters (Coyne and Wells). Extreme focus on manipulating and in some cases manufacturing the message and information, to the extent that black is presented as white. Extreme secrecy and refusal to provide unedited documents to the public or legislators. Slashing ptograms to the poor in favour of tax cuts and subsidies to corporations and friends. Muzzling of bureaucrats and diplomats. ____Protest anyone?

  233. Speaking of food banks, this Con Serve a Nobody Party, Con Artists, think it's ok to have a Veterans Food Bank in Harper's riding of Calgary. Shame.

  234. Speaking of food banks, this Con Serve a Nobody Party, Con Artists, think it's ok to have a Veterans Food Bank in Harper's riding of Calgary. Shame.

  235. Nice find gottabesaid!
    (Just look at all the unnamed sources who wouldn't talk on the record for this story. Doesn't that give anybody the willies?).
    =^..^= Need I say no more.

  236. Oh Nadine, don't stop now, it's hightime we give these conbots a run for their money. The truth shall win over all. Again, a great post by Nadine. I want to add something inwhich is very disturbing and maybe this magazine may want to do a follow up on the Veterans Food Bank in Calgary. How can this Conservative Government think this is ok?

  237. Well he is still a creep to me. Canadians will be foolish to give another term to this man and his band of incompetents. Internationally embarrassing, nationally divisive and I believe not entirely balanced. Canada has already changed and it is not the respected compassionate country it was once and nor is it the fiscally responsible one that he inherited. He is spendthrift, ridiculously so and his continuous compaigning with attack ads only serves to define his leadership and that is a very destructive one. I am getting old, but too bad for my children, the country they grow up in will not be so nice with these kind of people at the helm.

    • l.ibby21 – I think there are a few unfair statements in your entry. You say that Mr. Harper is "a creep" who has in someway changed Canada from being the "compassionate country it once was". Yet if I am not mistaken, in 2006 Mr. Harper stopped his official airplane in Cyprus to pick up Canadian citizens who were fleeing war-torn Lebanon. If anything, he was a role-model for compassion. With regard to the fiscally responsible situation he inherited…things did not go off the rails until the entire world was immersed in a global recession. Who exactly do you think would have done any better under the circumstances?

  238. So it turns out Harper's whistleblower watchdog was appointed to do exactly the opposite of what the position required. Squelch whistleblowers before the problem became an embarrassment for the Harper Gov't.

    There is no limit to the schemes of the Harper Gov't and nothing Harper wouldn't do to get closer to his coveted majority.

    MPs call disgraced integrity watchdog on carpet
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/mps-

  239. Well he is still a creep to me. Canadians will be foolish to give another term to this man and his band of incompetents. Internationally embarrassing, nationally divisive and I believe not entirely balanced. Canada has already changed and it is not the respected compassionate country it was once and nor is it the fiscally responsible one that he inherited. He is spendthrift, ridiculously so and his continuous compaigning with attack ads only serves to define his leadership and that is a very destructive one. I am getting old, but too bad for my children, the country they grow up in will not be so nice with these kind of people at the helm.

  240. So it turns out Harper's whistleblower watchdog was appointed to do exactly the opposite of what the position required. Squelch whistleblowers before the problem became an embarrassment for the Harper Gov't.

    There is no limit to the schemes of the Harper Gov't and nothing Harper wouldn't do to get closer to his coveted majority.

    MPs call disgraced integrity watchdog on carpet
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/mps-

  241. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opin…ions/o…

    Integrity Commission to submit more than 200 complaints to outside review (200 complaints that were never investigated)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/inte

    Tory-appointed watchdogs reluctant to probe wrongdoing, critics charge.( “I think trying to hold Officers of Parliament accountable is like trying to grab smoke.” )
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tory
    Who's Watching the Watchdog? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/chri

    Ottawa cuts blemished integrity watchdog's deputy loose

    .. <a href="http:// .http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/ottawa-cuts-blemished-integrity-watchdogs-deputy-loose/article1836975/“ target=”_blank”> <a href="http://.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/ottawa-cuts-blemished-integrity-watchdogs-deputy-loose/article1836975/” target=”_blank”>.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/ottawa-cuts-blemished-integrity-watchdogs-deputy-loose/article1836975/

  242. •Whistleblower watchdog attacked her own staff, Auditor-General finds.( Treasury Board President Stockwell Day has named a new whistleblower watchdog -> Mario Dion.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/whis
    Integrity Commissioner's office urged to reopen files .

    Auditor General found former commissioner Christiane Ouimet spent the past three years doing very little in response to disclosures of wrongdoing from whistleblowers.
    http://www.theglobe…andmail.com/news/politics/i…

    There is no limit to the schemes of the Harper Gov't and nothing Harper wouldn't do to get closer to his coveted majority.

  243. You poor soul. The emerging economies of Brazil and India, and the strenght of the Chinese economy is primarily due to investment in education and health care. Countries with a rich poor split are precarious, hunger and poverty ,witness Egypt, make uncertainty certain..

  244. Indeed.. I was a little bit wrong about him. When the CPC first came to power I was disappointed (I knew then the GST cut was a bonehead move economically, and fully expected the deficit to come roaring back) however I held hope in the silver lining that at least he'd be standing up to the American logging industry in defense of Canada's sovereignty unlike Martin and as he promised, that there'd be a proper focus on the arctic, and that, at least for a while, we'd have a government which would be vigilant against hypocrisy.

    Then Fortier happened.
    Then the BC Billion Dollar Giveaway
    Then Cadman started to come to light.
    And In-and-out.
    Then the Accountability Act — which delivered accountability only in its title.
    Then the icebreakers became icebreaker became patrol boats.
    Then the fixed election legislation was broken

    Solid leadership? He's hidden from every controversial issue, and created controversy where there shouldn't have been any. Mandate? 1/3 the voting public is not a mandate. I will grant you that it's no accident he's held power this long, but rather a calculated attempt — as this article shows — to place himself above all else, including Canada.