Right all along - Macleans.ca

Right all along


In the wake of the gross bipartisanship and press-galleric cosyness at the unveiling of John Crouton’s portrait the other day, a few Ottawa journalists slapped themselves upside the head and remembered just what an enemy of parliament the ti-gars was, especially toward the end. It’s helpful to remember, as we fall over ourselves coming up with new ways of describing Harper as a fascist, that PMSH has always taken his lead from a man who was such a dictator that one prominent Ottawa columnist put him on the cover of his book mocked up to look like Pinochet.


A principal reason for this low ranking is that Mr. Harper tends to emulate Mr. Chrétien’s weakness instead of his strengths. He seems to feel that running roughshod over the system with ruthless tactics will score him points. — Lawrence Martin, today

The Conservatives are in power, but the danger is not that we have elected someone who wants to be George W. Bush. It is that we have elected someone who has no problem with a benign dictatorship, as long as he’s the dictator, for whom principle and politics are like church and state, if not oil and water. We have re-elected Jean Chrétien. — Me, four years ago

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Right all along

  1. A very valid apoint, although I think Harper has certainly exceeded Chretien in the past year.

    But the cover of that book, I always felt, was tasteless and overdone. And wasn't part of the thesis that the Liberals would never lose an election…?

    • Oh come on. What threatening cabinet Minister is Harper conspiring to undermine?
      The CPC only came to be in 2003, Harper has been PM for 4.5 of the 7 years since;
      and there are no wars in his caucus.

      • It's hard to undermine Cabinet ministers who have no power to speak freely about anything themselves, within their own caucus.

    • "…although I think Harper has certainly exceeded Chretien in the past year."

      Well, Harper's definitely exceeded most PMs in mismanagement and incompetence.

  2. Is this another in your series on the ongoing monkey uprising?

  3. Name one 'nice guy' led government that lasted longer than one news cycle before the media pounced on their weakness'…

    Joe Clark, Paul Martin, Stephane Dion, Ignatieff……

    If the media actually covered the NDP and BLOC,
    we'd see some headbanging going on there too.
    Face it, Canadians like their Bad Boys….

    • John Turner, Kim Campbell belong on the 'not a tyrant list'
      and we hear lots about how nice Mulroney was, put up disgraced MPs in his house etc……yah, and if Helena booted out Jaffer and Harper moved him in, just imagine what the media would do to Harper.
      This ain't 1980's politics nor 1980's media

    • "Name one 'nice guy' led government that lasted longer than one news cycle"

      Lester B Pearson
      Louis St Laurent
      RB Bennett

    • Wait.. I thought there was a leftward bias in the media.. yet the majority of those are.. *gasp* liberal.

  4. Yep, Potter hit the nail on the head right from the start.

  5. It's never appealing when someone says "I told you so" especially if they are right. ;-)

    • I disagree. As someone who usually told them so and was later proved right, I always find it refreshing and nourishing down to the core of my black, bitter heart.

  6. Its almost like when someone dies. The bad things are never recalled but only the good things are talked about.
    Chretien would not have won re-election in 1997 because of the broken Red Book promises. Canadians were angry with him but with no alternative he was re-elected.
    With the realignment of the Conservative forces in Canada the Libs began to lose popular support which saw them finally defeated in 2006.
    Since that time Harper has managed the country competently and while his opponents criticize him because of tactics and process the Canadian people still support him.

    • One-third of Canadians say they'd vote for him and/or his party, and only slightly more than that – between 40 and 42%, depending who you ask – actually think his government is going in the right direction.

      How is that equatable to a blanket statement that Canadian people still support him?

      • LynnTo……regardless of what you think more people support the Conservative party and the PM than support the only viable opposition party capable of forming government……the Liberals and Iffy. I readily acknowledge that the other parties have their supporters but that support is not high enough to beat the Conservative party.

        • So how does that support your blanket assertion that Canadian people still support him?

          I don't argue that Ignatieff and the Liberals are popular. I'd have to be an ostrich to attempt that feat. I argue that your assertion is without statistical foundation.

  7. Harper is certainly not upholding principle very well, but he has a ways to go before he falls to the level of a Chretien.

    • but he has a ways to go before he falls to the level of a Chretien

      I disagree with you, but regardless, if that's the view you hold, do you really want this guy to stick around in office long enough for you to find out if it does get to that point?

      I'm going to compare it to a bad relationship: if your SO isn't treating you right and you dump 'em, and then start dating someone new who displays the same red flags as your ex, do you stick with the new flame? Or would you dump them, too?

      • The alternative is Ignatieff. He strikes me as worse. Best to replace Harper as leader of the CPC than switch to the party that's already proven themselves disastrous on numerous occasions, both pre and post Harper.

        • At this point I'm not sure what's best, but as Phil notes below, the point is let's all pause a moment and consider that if we stick on this path because he's not yet the worst thing ever, that's a dangerous path indeed.

      • I don't think you can compare a PM to relationship simply because with relationships you can always go decide to just be single (ie. go with "none of the above"). But we need SOMEONE at 24 Sussex, and I don't see anyone waiting in the wings (Opposition leaders or other CPC MP's) that would do any better than Harper.

        • While Lynn's analogy is not perfect, it should cause all of us to take at least a moment to ask "Yeah. At what point would it be bad enough to move on?"

          • Yesterday? The day before he announced he didn't care about the very rules which governed our nation? the first prorogue?

          • Uhhh, sure. Some people have already made the assessment and are ready to move along, as you appear to be; fair enough.

            Just as I hope that Harper supporters take a moment from time to time to review their support, I also hope that his detractors take a similar moment to review their support for Igantieff or Layton or whoever, as well as making sure that their dislike of Harper is still valid.

            And just to add that "moving on" could involve moving your support to a different party OR indicating that you would be supportive of a change of leadership within a favoured party.

          • Well, I was starting to drift myself, but recent events pushed me back to the Tories, largely based on the Liberal push to the left.

            Even if Harper isn't the conservative leader you've dreamed of, he's better than the alternative. The opposition has to be interested in representing me rather than antagonizing me.

    • Yeah, I guess that's why Harper has won two minorities and Chretien won three majorities.

      • Yes, because Canadians always base their vote entirely on how principled a leader is.

        • Well, I'm sure that's part of the reason why a majority of people vote for a person, or a majority doesn't vote for them in Harper's case.

      • Chretien won majorities because limited government advocacy only gets so far in this country, and cannot ever afford the fracturing that occurred during the Reform-PC era. As long as the Bloc is around to muddy the waters in Quebec, I figure we need to get used to this minority government thing. Unless the "right" wants to split itself apart again, in which case the Liberals will stand some chance of majorityhood with minimal effort. Actually, given the effort the LPC is currently offering, maybe that's their plan.

        The more Harper's party fails to conduct itself as a small-C-conservative party when in power, I suppose the greater likelihood that true conservatives will realize they had better get started with a new party.

        • madeyoulook……The right learned its lesson and there will be no split on the right again. The fact is Harper understands that this is a centre left country and if a party wants to get elected they cannot go to far left or right.

          The Libs are not going to get back to power with this feckless leader. The fact is the polls suggest that the Libs may lose seats rather than getting an additional 40 seats to win a minority government. Tell me with the polling today where is Iffy going to get 40 seats. He has only 7 seats west of Ontario. Polls suggest he is no better today in the West than the last election, maybe worse depending on the poll.

          If the Libs/NDP talk about a coalition it will split both of their parties. Conservative Libs will vote Tory and the hard rock NDPers will vote Green or not vote at all. So they are caught in a catch 22 situation.

          • The right learned its lesson and there will be no split on the right again.
            Uh, ok, but please tell me, where is the "right" at the moment in Canadian federal politics? I see no one.

            Tell me with the polling today where is [Ignatieff] going to get 40 seats.
            Ignatieff will not lead the LPC to a minority government unless he hopscotches over Harper with Layton as his Siamese twin in some sort of coalition, plus-or-hopefully-minus Duceppe. Which brings us to:

            If the Libs/NDP talk about a coalition it will split both of their parties.
            I see enough rabid (bordering on deranged) Harper-hatred out there to seriously doubt your assertion.

  8. The image of Chrétien as dictator is greatly exaggerated and created to sell books. I have never heard of a dictator who's had so many enemies in his inner circle. Chrétien's enemies were in his caucus, sitting in the house and in the senate. Whatever differences existed between Chrétien and Martin, they were able to set them aside, on eliminating the deficit, for example. One only has to check the voting records to find out that Liberal MP's often voted against government initiatives, both under Chrétien and Martin. I can't recall the last time a conservative voted against one of Harper's bill.

    • Actually, I think it was created to help make Paul Martin PM.

      The fact that the very campaign Martin's fanclub fed the media rendered the whole dictator concept null and void never seemed to dawn on anyone.

  9. Chretien may have had a troubled denouement to his career (partly due to Liberal infighting with Paul "I-can't-wait-any-longer" Martin) but objectively he did a hell of a lot of good work in a Parliamentary career spanning four decades. Too bad some Canadians (including large portions of the media) forget recent history so easily… and it's no wonder why some of our best and brightest are hesitant to have careers in politics.

    • Dee…..it was Chretien and Trudeau who started the deficit financing and created a significant amount of Canada's current debt load. It was only fitting that he was the one stuck with cleaning it up. Talk about Karma.

      Chretien was a manager, not a leader. He did not do much to improve the country but I admit he did steer the country to finally get rid of the deficit. However, when he won his 3 majorities he became very arrogant and today it is the same. The Libs think they won their 3 majorities because of their policies and their wonderful leadership. It is a myth.

  10. I think Jean Chretien was a pretty good prime minister. Certainly the best Liberal prime minister since Pearson. But all prime ministers and political parties have a "best before" date. Paul Marin not only drifted his party too far left, he did not understand how to set priorities; he also inherited a party that was arrogant and could not understand the difference between the interests of the party and the interests of the people. That doomed him to a short life as a leader. Harper received the support of the Canadian people because he understood that.

    • I think Jean Chretien was a pretty good prime minister. Certainly the best Liberal prime minister since Pearson

      Not a Trudeau fan, eh?

      • "Not a Trudeau fan, eh?


        Johnny Rotten

  11. Thank you, Potter. I, too, am convinced that Harper et al watched Chretien and his abomination of an administration, saw that msm and many Canadians did not care, and now we have Harper cocking a snook towards Parliament all the freakin' time.

    Chretien is going to go down in the history books as one of the worst PMs ever because of his thuggery and corruption.

  12. Every time the media calls Harper a dictator/fascist/ruthless thug he gains a voter and they lose a subscriber. Moar, plox!

    • If that were really the case, you wouldn't be pointing it out as a warning to them.

  13. Good on you. Turns out you were "Right all along".

    I thought using the word "tribal" was brilliant – turns out we have Mr. Coyne to thank for that. But your article was great.

  14. What always impresses me about Prime Minister Harper is his efficiency.

    Harper turned into Chretien in less than half the time it took Chretien to turn into Mulroney.

    • Now that's funny. And true.

    • LOL.

    • Great line, LKO.

  15. By the way, Radio-Canada.ca has a biography on Chrétien stating that:

    •Il se joint à un groupe de conservateurs, qui élaborera, en 1987, la plateforme politique de ce qui deviendra l'année suivante le Parti réformiste


  16. Although never a fan of Prime Minister Chrétien's, at least he said "No" to sending Canadians off to die in Maerican "show" wars.

    Now we seem to have have a PM who condones torture…