BTC: The Kremlin


The National Archives in Ottawa are housed in what is surely one of the capital’s least appealing buildings. With its broad grey face and neat rows of small, square windows, it vaguely resembles a prison. Or at least a relic of Khrushchev’s Moscow.

The Prime Minister, soon to be flying north once more, chose this place to make his latest claim to arctic sovereignty. His men are sure this issue will be a winner when they get that election they now seem quite determined to have. No doubt it projects the sort of strength and aggression they want Canadians to see in this PM, a man unafraid to do battle with the Russkies (not to mention those pesky Danes).

He was flanked by a colourful map and eight Canadian flags and introduced by little Gary Lunn, the National Resources Minister requiring a small riser, supplied by a PMO aide, to see over the podium. Mr. Harper proceeded then to gamely read from the teleprompter a few remarks about polar bears and gold and ice and something called geo-mapping. It was all mere preamble, of course. Little more than an excuse to call a news conference.

To the questions then, all but one of the 13 having to do with this government’s sudden desire to cease governing (the lone exception being a query about why, with a dozen people presumed dead from a bacterial outbreak, the Health Minister had skipped town to hobnob with the Democrats in Denver). Mr. Harper, at least at first, seemed only too happy to answer, to explain in pleading detail the burdens he must bear.

For one, as his men have been whining to reporters, the opposition leaders have not yet rushed to Ottawa to throw themselves at his feet as requested. Seems they have better things to do. As if. “Sounds like you’re having a hard time getting a date,” one TV reporter chided.

More generally, his complaints were many. The opposition parties won’t tell him if or when they plan to topple the government. They seem determined to express opposition to his government’s legislation. They hold different opinions about the future of the country. They reserve the right to change their minds. They propose ideas that differ from those of the government. They have their own agendas and visions. And, worst of all, his government’s lack of a majority in the House leaves him unable to run roughshod over all of this.

His complaints were, essentially, about the basic premise of parliamentary democracy.

Asked about his own legislated desire for fixed election dates, he sobbed. Surely, he begged, you could not expect him to stick with his previously stated desire when it was most opportune to do otherwise. The questions turned mocking and the Prime Minister grew angry. A slow burn that culminated in a particularly fiery explanation of his government’s approach to arts and cultural subsidies.

Shortly thereafter one of his men wisely called an end to questions. Another few minutes and surely the Prime Minister would have been in his socks, banging his shoes on the podium in protest, demanding the sort of deference he seems always to think he is due.


BTC: The Kremlin

  1. Is there any video of this?

  2. It sure would be a lot easier to govern if everyone would just get in line behind him, since he does know what’s best for the country.

    Could do away with election dates altogether.

  3. Wherry paints it as worse than it really was, you may be able to see the replay on CTV Newsnet, that’s where I caught it.

    However, you could see that he was definitely getting P-O’d that people didn’t seem to understand that as Prime Minister, he should have the ability to do whatever he wanted.

  4. He used to complain that reporters don’t stand when he comes into the room. Today the room was stacked with archivists and people from the, uh, geo-mapping community who didn’t rise when he came into the room. They’re everywhere.

  5. Jumping on the least important detail in all this, but doesn’t protocol in countries following the Westminster traditions not afford some respect for the PM, at least the respect one would afford a municipal traffic court judge? Would it kill people to stand up when Her Majesty’s First Minister entered the room on official business? Hell, if you walked into the room I was in I would bloody well stand up, come to you and shake your hand.

    Judging from other commenters, there appears to be some poetic license overkill on the part of the people’s witness here. Darn, now I’ll have to go to the tape m’self, to get a fair picture. The fourth estate’s job is to challenge the ruling leaders; the ruling leaders are not required to accept the challenge without rebuttal. So the conversation becomes a bit confrontational, as opposing viewpoints are expressed. This is a problem? What were you expecting? “Wow, the CBC, G&M, Star and Maclean’s have it in for me? Gee, I’d better re-think everything.” Perhaps, on these rare moments when the PM actually holds a press conference, the press could keep the hyperbole to a minimum.

  6. Aaron,

    That was poetic. Thank you.

  7. I’m sorry, JK, I watched the CTV newsnet clip and would suggest you could actually witness the thunderclouds gathering on steve’s weary brow when Paul Wells asked his question. And then it was shut down.

    It seems that no matter how foolish harper looks in this situation that is totally of his own fabrication, conservative supporters wholeheartedly buy into what he says. But he won that slim minority with a lot of soft support, and I think that will disappear in the upcoming election.

    You know, that election that harper doesn’t want. He should licence the Eagles’ Desperado for his campaign theme…

    In other news, Globe and Mail reports that Julie Couillard’s book is out Oct 14.

  8. I think this was an utterly pathetic performance by Harper. Based on this, he deserves a good thrashing at the polls.

  9. A lot of “I will reflect”, “I will decide”, “my decision”, yadda yadda… *he* really is guy in charge, *he* is the guy that decides when an election is called (the nerve of that Dion guy to state otherwise…gonna show him!)

    The boy in the corner of the sandbox trying to assert that he *really* is king of the castle, (really he is), and don’t you be mean and imply otherwise, or else he’s gonna stop talking to you and start holding his breath, okay?


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