My last blog post of 2012 made some guesses about politics in 2013 and included a throwaway line about Tom Mulcair: “Note the lack of photos with hunger-striking Chief Theresa Spence.” Today, following an orchestrated campaign of leaks of a new Deloitte audit showing that it has, for some time, been impossible to tell how federal money is spent in Attawapiskat — and the reappearance of some damning reporting a year ago by the CBC — let us note again Mulcair’s decision not to show up at Spence’s side.
Others played Chief Spence’s protest differently.
Joe Clark was quick to visit with Chief Spence, which led Keith Beardsley, who has worked for both Clark and Stephen Harper, to make the kind of amazing suggestion that
Harper should appoint Clark as his envoy to… to… to “this file.” [UPDATE: Beardsley tells me that's a misreading, and he was suggesting only that Harper ask Clark to brief him on Clark's visit with Spence. Sorry for the confusion - pw] Paul Martin, who presented himself as an improvement over Jean Chrétien in government accountability but who was prime minister during part of the Deloitte Attawapiskat audit period, visited Spence and returned to call her an inspiration, a term now open to multiple interpretations.
From Mulcair, nothing. Well, nothing visual. He did write an open letter that mentioned Spence, but reading it now what’s striking is that Mulcair did not call on Harper to meet Spence, only to “act swiftly to avoid a personal tragedy.”
This now looks like becoming prudence on the part of the Leader of the Opposition. My new suspicion is that last year’s slightly weird Conservative Party “Get to Know Mulcair’s Team” web ads were based partly on Conservative worries that Mulcair would not serve up as many gaffes as Harper might like, so he should be tied as closely as possible to his less cautious back bench. Mulcair, after all, comes from the province where this ad nearly sunk an opposition leader on the road to power: