The Prime Minister destroyed Stephane Dion’s political career by calling him, simply, not a leader. Stephen Harper walloped Michael Ignatieff by insisting the man who spent much of his life overseas was “just visiting” his Canadian homeland. Harper’s had no such luck pinning a label on NDP Leader Tom Mulcair—until now, possibly, maybe. Harper has taken to dismissing Mulcair as a conspiracy theorist, usually with a chuckle.
Today, Mulcair doubted that Canada’s much-celebrated free-trade deal with Europe was actually a done deal. His source was Reuters, a newswire that’s not your typical home for conspiracy theorists. Harper may actually have bristled at the story’s lede.
Canada and the European Union are struggling to finalise a multi-billion dollar trade pact six months after political leaders said it was sealed, an embarrassment for Brussels as it seeks a far bigger deal with the United States.
The NDP leader zeroed in on an anonymous source’s quote buried in the story.
“With hindsight, it was premature for Harper and Barroso to announce a deal,” said one person close to the talks. “There is a sense of embarrassment in many quarters.”
So, Mulcair asked, was the PM embarrassed?
That seemed a fair question, under the circumstances. Harper, however, laughed off the query. He bundled it together with Mulcair’s earlier concerns about the appointment of Daniel Therrien as privacy commissioner and the lack of a Canadian plan to curb carbon emissions in the oil and gas industry. To Harper, such questions are the ramblings of someone who fears airplane contrails—er, chemtrails—and believes in magic bullets. This could be the beginning of a long, sustained pre-election attack.