Wells on Harper on CBC


It was a great pleasure to be a guest on CBC Radio’s The Current this morning. We discussed my new Maclean’s e-book, The Harper Decade.

Here’s an audio archive of the interview.

Here’s the Q&A we did last week about the project, with links to the book in its various release formats.

What’s newest since we launched The Harper Decade last week is that it’s now available for Kindle, in addition to the original .pdf and iPad app formats. Here’s a link to The Harper Decade at the Kindle Store and, while we’re at it, to the e-book that preceeded mine, Michael Friscolanti’s extraordinary coverage of The Shafia Honour Killing Trial.

We’re still working to get it out on Kobo. These things apparently take longer than you’d think sometimes. I’ll keep you posted.

And, since some have asked, I continue to work on a full-length traditional book full of new reporting on Stephen Harper’s time in power. Random House will publish that book in 2013.


Wells on Harper on CBC

  1. One thing that struck me in the interview was the really very underlying thread of Harpers chameleon-like personality. He has shifted and morphed to be what is needed at the time.

  2. There wasn’t any discussion of Stephen Harper’s legacy on the topics of parliamentary democracy, election campaigning, civil discourse, and respect for and the treatment of politicians of differing views. 

    • Why should there be? There is little to differentiate Harper from his last 2 predecessors in that regard. Name anything he’s done that’s any worse than what Martin or Chretien did (usually to him)?

      • Called Martin a supporter of child pornography?

        • No he didn’t, and you know better than that. That was a dumb war room staffer who got fired for it. But if we’re going to drag in anyone who is associated with the party and tar the leader with it, I can reference Joe Volpe calling the Conservative party the KKK.

      • Though I do agree (outside of the more ..uhh … proactive use of conventional powers), I do wish that it could go beyond the incremental comparisons to PMs in the past (and particular immediate past) in order to demand something a little better than we’re getting. Of course, if we’re really happy with the situation, we’ve got a funny way of showing it.

        • I’ll agree with you there. While I think the criticism of Harper is over the top, it’s not completely without merit, I expected better from Harper than the thuggery we got under the Liberals, not the status quo. There is certainly lots of room for improvement; unfortunately, not a lot of realistic options to get it at the present.

      •  Contempt of parliament.  Twice.

        That was leading with your chin there.

        • Oh come on. He’s been no more contemptful than any of his predecessors (no less either, but no more)…The contempt charge was political theatrics which passed only because of a minority government, and after being “convicted” of it, he was subsequently awarded a majority by a population who saw the contempt charge for what it was.

          •  I can’t help it if 37% of the country hates democracy.

          • Interesting comment. I take it you support the Liberals? What do you think of how Bob Rae is going about securing the leadership of the party? Does that just scream “democracy”?

            The fact is, the finding of “contempt” was for stuff that’s been going on since the beginning of time. Hiding costs from Parliament? It’s not right, but it’s hardly new ground either. What government hasn’t been accused of that? Bev Oda? Please…

            Find me something…anything…that Harper has done, which wasn’t done by anyone before, to be worthy of the “monster” status people here bestow on him. At the end of the day, all I see is another flawed politician…no more or less flawed than any who have come before him.

          •  I am afraid at this point you are just the lost, blinkered and refusing to see reason.

          • Yes, all Conservative voters hate democracy.

      • Well we’ve already seen military and police harnessed for political purposes, show trials (Keen) , hate campaigns, election fraud, threats of riots in the streets against the GG, mission accomplished military/political pageants, parliamentary democracy through committees and independent officers curtailed. More? 
        Chretien and Martin? rank amateurs.
        I’m thinking of a legacy 200 years from now. But I don’t know and maybe Wells doesn’t know either what the end game really is for this party.

        •  No matter who forms the next government, probably the most important long term change the country needs is  ending the kind of behaviour harper has made the norm.

      • Killing the long form census.

        • I think we’re going a bit off topic here. While I also don’t agree with the census decision and agree the published rationale behind it was beyond stupid, I’m not sure I see what this has to do with discourse, campaigning, tone, etc. Governments make short-sighted, unpopular decisions sometimes. It makes him wrong, but not a monster.

          • Ah. You’re right. I was going off of your message, not the topic message you were responding to. My mistake.

            I still think that ignoring a parliamentary vote specifically requesting documents goes well beyond anything done previously.  While it’s true other governments have ignored requests from individual members for information, Harper’s is the first government that has ignored the will of the full House of Commons in a request for information.

          •  There have also been contempt motions that have been probably unfirly blocked by majority MPs.  but often that’s stuff that’s been already done like Eggleton not giving information in a timely manner, rather than an ongoing breach like not handing over documents.

          • Further to this, the census, in particular, in my eyes makes Mr. Harper a monster because there was simply no good reason to do such a thing. You can’t use the justification of protecting people’s privacy, because the short form remains mandatory. You can’t use the justification of it costing too much, because they spent more for their unreliable version.

            The only reason to do it is to attempt to hide from Canadians reliable information on how we are doing as a country — how our government dollars and programs are working, or not. Where we have problems that might be systemic in nature and need legislation to help deal with. Where we have particular successes that we may want to emulate elsewhere. All of this he’s act to hide by destroying the reliability of the census — and as Paul points out, he’s done it not for just his own government, but for many governments to come after him because now the statistical trail is broken.

            That’s not just wrong, in my opinion. That’s evil.

          • Yes, Harper is an evil monster.

          • Edit: Screw it. You’re not lowering myself for. Maybe if you had anything of substance to say, but as you seem to be content to just go for these pathetic snipes, I’ll just call you an ass and move on.

          • I don’t get it.  You call Harper a monster.  Then you call him evil.  I call him an evil monster, and that seems to upset you.  Strange.

          • Ass.

  3. I just heard on CBC TV that e-books are mostly erotic. I don’t even want to think about that in this case.

  4. I think you over analyse Harper. He was an idealogue, schooled in the most provincial of provinces, and with greater exposure to the rest of the world, he has grown as a person. And some of his “new policies” reflect this.
    Speaking of overanalysis – why no mention of Terry Glavin’s piece on R&D?  Didn’t fit your Harper narrative?

    A conspiracy? A dud? All the facts? Not according to an R&D staffer who was directly involved in a senior position with the UN Human Rights Council’s Durban preparations panel. The former staffer does not want to be identified, and I’m content to leave the person’s name out of it. The R&D employee’s involvement in planning the Durban conference was made available to R&D management at the time.

    It’s all set out in two reports that have come into my possession that the staffer filed with R&D management, from Geneva, dated Oct. 30 and Dec. 22, 2008.

    In the lead-up to the Durban debacle, at least seven R&D employees were working in Geneva, but oddly, the Deloitte & Touche auditors concluded that it was “impossible to identify” how more than $140,000 in R&D contributions was spent there. Odder still, Dewar ended up claiming not only that the Deloitte audit cleared R&D, but that the agency was being subjected to a “witch hunt.” Former R&D staff have since come out in support of Dewar’s NDP leadership bid.

    But the R&D employee’s Durban assignment reports, which were apparently not made available to the Deloitte investigators, were addressed to R&D management, and they state that “the Durban Review Conference was a priority for my unit.” The unit in question was, among other things, assigned to vet and manage NGO participation in the Durban conference.

    Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Replace+Rights+Democracy/6339741/story.html#ixzz1qQVAscY5

    • “schooled in the most provincial of provinces”


      • Thought that would get your gourd. But, to paraphrase, in a “classy” sort of way:

        Smith attacks Redford for wanting to change Alberta

        The attack was touched off by comments Redford made Tuesday about her desire to “change the character of our province,” by implementing “concrete plans and ideas that allow us to change our role in the country, and to define our future differently.”Smith said she likes Alberta just the way it is and doesn’t want to change it.

        The political spat is evidence of the important and profound difference between Wildrose and Conservative plans for Alberta’s future, with Smith appealing to Albertans’ proud independence and fiscally conservative roots, and Redford looking to nurture the province in its emerging role as a cosmopolitan global leader.http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/alberta-politics/6373315/story.html

        • Well, I guess if you think that Danielle Smith, an opposition politician, speaks for all Albertans, I guess it’s equally fair to say that Tim Hudak is perfectly representative of all Ontarians.

          • I think I myself have argued in a Colby Cosh blog that Alberta has changed significantly from 20-30 yrs ago. 

            I should have qualified my Harper reference by suggesting that his formitive years in the 70’s/80’s (extending into the Klein years as premier) were when the province was quite different.

            For the confusion, or perceived slight, I apologise.

          • Thanks for the memories  :)