Guergis, Bernier, and the PM's secrets -

Guergis, Bernier, and the PM’s secrets

PAUL WELLS: What the scandals say about Harper’s management style


Sean Kilpatrick/ CP

Every act tips its author’s hand, and with Helena Guergis’s departure from cabinet we are beginning to understand what it takes for Stephen Harper to remove a minister.
In these matters it will never do to set the bar too high. Harper did not invent the dud minister, and a rule of thumb established by a long line of his predecessors holds that undue haste in firing a minister for garden-variety offences—simple incompetence, inertia or unflagging incuriosity (breathe easy, Lawrence Cannon)—sets unhelpful precedents.

But twice Harper has reached the end of his rope with a minister. First Maxime Bernier left cabinet, now Helena Guergis has. In each case the last straw was similar. Weeks of public controversy didn’t do it. Harper greeted the revelation that Bernier’s girlfriend Julie Couillard was a biker moll with public protestations that mere gossip couldn’t be germane to Bernier’s worth.

He mustered comparable nonchalance at the stories about Guergis’s airport tantrum, the coverage of her husband Rahim Jaffer’s arrest for drunk driving and drug possession, and the news that her staff spent a surprising amount of time writing letters to the editor marvelling at qualities in the junior minister that eluded a broader audience. Even when the Toronto Star reported that Jaffer, settling with some difficulty back into life in the private sector, had bragged about his political connections to shady business associates in a Toronto strip joint, Harper stood by his minister.

To a great degree, Harper’s insouciance in the early stages of the Guergis controversy should come as no surprise. The Prime Minister has his own history of tense relations with air transport. In 2005 Harper flew back from war memorial ceremonies in the Netherlands with then-prime minister Paul Martin and his fellow opposition leaders in a vile mood. He rejected his assigned seating near the front of the airplane and scolded Martin’s photographer, Dave Chan, for trying to take his picture. “You do not have permission to be taking my picture,” he said.

After the 2006 election, a Globe and Mail columnist reported that Harper was not thrilled when a Canadian Forces pilot asked him to turn off his BlackBerry for landing. The pilot, the paper reported, was reassigned. The PMO protested after the column appeared that Harper does not own a BlackBerry, a narrow defence indeed.

But onward. With both Guergis and Bernier, a moment came when Harper was finally ready to cut the offending minister loose. Both times it happened quickly. Both times the weight of the last straw was at best debatable. Bernier left a classified briefing book behind at Couillard’s house. Now, a lot of stuff gets stamped “classified” in the nation’s capital that would surprise no one and harm no interest. But no matter: out the door went Max Bernier’s toned and coltish ass.

Guergis, in turn, was ratted out with a stack of allegations—tropical bank accounts, slush funds, suggestions that there might be photos of the Guergis-Jaffer couple in close proximity to hookers and blow—delivered by Derrick Snowdy, a private gumshoe who would later turn out to be $13 million in the hole and curiously willing to pause from his investigations to shop his choicest nuggets around to one political party or another (he had tried the Liberals before knocking at the Conservatives’ door).

But before any of that extenuating information came to light—Snowdy’s debt, his chattiness, the fact that the whole lurid mudbath was based on the claims of Jaffer’s associate Nazim Gillani, a cheerful braggart who would waste no time distancing himself from his own allegations—Harper had announced Guergis’s departure from cabinet, her suspension from caucus, and his speedy notification of the RCMP and the ethics commissioner.

Now here’s what connects both cases. With Guergis as with Bernier, Harper withstood weeks of public controversy. Then he cut his ministers loose as soon as he had private information his adversaries and the Canadian people didn’t yet possess. Well, “information.” A flimsy tissue of gossip might, in Guergis’s case, be the more accurate label. But what mattered was that after weeks on the defensive, Harper could be one step ahead of everyone else.

Being one step ahead is a special feeling. No politician in our time values it more highly than Harper. His eagerness to price his own insider status higher than its realistic value in the political market is turning out to be a consistent weakness.

He had great fun appointing Michael Fortier, a dapper Montreal lawyer, to the Senate and his cabinet in 2006. Ha! Nobody saw that one coming. But Fortier had no perceptible impact on the Conservatives’ fortunes in Quebec, his relations with the Harper PMO became a constant thorn in everyone’s side, and the way he combined extravagant scorn for the Senate with a cushy post in the same chamber detonated Harper’s credibility as a parliamentary reformer. The benefit wasn’t even close to being worth the cost.

Later, Harper lost a minister due to resignation, not scandal, when he implemented a 180-degree turn on the notion of recognizing Quebec as a nation without bothering to inform his own intergovernmental affairs minister, Michael Chong. And of course the classic case of Harper believing he would astonish and amaze everyone with a sudden move was his decision, five weeks after the 2008 election, to eliminate public funding for political parties.

A lot of people actually think that’s a pretty good idea. That it handicaps the Conservatives’ opponents disproportionately because they have not developed a comparable ability to appeal to private donors is no skin off many voters’ noses. Harper’s plan would have attracted some support to the Conservatives, at no cost, if he had simply campaigned on it when he was supposed to be telling people his plans for government.
But this Prime Minister cannot help himself. If he knows something you don’t, he values that thing out of all proportion to its true worth. So he sprung his party-financing scheme on his opponents and an unsuspecting country and provoked the entire lurid coalition-prorogation psychodrama of late 2008. And he took the dime-store novellas peddled by Snowdy on Gillani’s say-so at face value, simply because he was privy.

In some ways that instinct is a product of the Conservatives’ minority status in a Parliament where every opposition party, a consistent majority of the electorate and the bulk of the press gallery sits well to the government’s political left. That’s inclement weather for a government that would like to survive for a while, and Harper has survived it by playing a particularly ruthless brand of game theory.

The easiest game to win is a game of asymmetrical information, where one player knows more about his opponents than they know about him. Harper spends a lot of time setting up that steep gradient between what he knows and what everyone else does. During the 2006 election, one Conservative staffer was assigned to stake out the coffee shop where Liberal staffers would pause from long days in their party’s campaign war room. History doesn’t record that the overheard chit-chat did the Conservatives any good, but it made the leader feel better. Today, reporters seeking comment on any story are quizzed at length about their intentions. They may or may not get a call back with any information. But the information they surrender is collated and analyzed for trends on the issues that interest the media.

Formal requests for documents are ritually stonewalled. Last week the interim information commissioner, Suzanne Legault, said the right of citizens to information about how they are governed is “at risk of being totally obliterated” by delays. Legault has been interim information commissioner for 10 months while she waits to hear whether the same government she criticizes will accept her application for the full-time job. That arrangement would seem custom-designed to keep Legault in line indefinitely, but she has decided she will keep doing her job with brio for however long she might continue to hold it. Harper’s instinct—hoard information, dole it out in as miserly a way as possible, act on insider information rather than on what’s obvious to all the world—persists.

What is left over, after all of this, is the lives of a husband and wife who used to be of great value to Harper’s party. Rahim Jaffer was a key early guarantor of the Reform party’s claim to diversity, urban appeal, and—because he speaks French—a measure of interest in the French language and the peculiar currents of Quebec politics. He was the Canadian Alliance’s deputy House leader when that shattered party was trying to recover from Stockwell Day’s disastrous leadership. There’s just nobody in Ottawa who dislikes the guy, or there wasn’t six months ago. His wife was carefully stationed in the camera shot right behind Harper for years, the better to improve perceptions of the party among women voters. She was famous in Conservative circles for being a hard boss to work for, but her own boss, Stephen Harper, would not hear a word sent against her.

Now they have been cast aside. The evidence against them started out solid enough. He really did blow over the limit at that cop stop outside Toronto. She really did hurl footwear while P.E.I. airport workers were simply trying to do the job Canada’s federal cabinet obliges them to do. The excuses on offer have been flimsy. Guergis had two miscarriages, but to suggest that should be her defence insults any number of women who held on to their dignity in the face of comparable challenges.

Perhaps all that can be said about the couple’s decline, up to a point, is that the life they signed up for can be rough on anyone’s dignity. In his autobiography, Think Big, the former Reform party leader Preston Manning devotes considerable space to “the sad but oft-proven truth that if you are suffering from a financial problem, a marital problem, or a substance abuse problem, it will only get worse, not better, if you become a member of Parliament.” Very few are the denizens of the capital who would long survive serious scrutiny of their behaviour off duty. That’s not an excuse. Perhaps it is context.

But we cannot judge Jaffer and Guergis because we literally have no idea what the former minister and her husband stand accused of doing. The Prime Minister’s love of secrecy did not stop him from hinting darkly that there were nasty allegations against them. Then he clammed up, as if all that is now happening to them were none of his problem. This started out as a story about the things Rahim Jaffer and Helena Guergis should be ashamed of. It’s starting to look like they’re not the only ones.


Guergis, Bernier, and the PM’s secrets

  1. Interesting article. I also think having others refer to the secret information as too sensitive to speak about was unnecessarily cruel.

    • Surprised Paul Wells isn't working for CBC…
      On the CBC interview he gave this evening – he looked like a wimpy schoolkid, who wanted to squeal on the popular kids. So did the little fellow he was with.
      He stay away from public appearances, it makes him look weak and whiney.

      • As compared with the strong and distinguished Ezra Levant, I suppose.

        • At least Ezra looks somwhat intelligent & strong.

          • Pure proof that the old adage is true – Looks can be deceiving!

          • Hahaha, in this case they surely do!

          • *choke* Somewhat intelligent & strong? Did you have the sound turned off? What a good idea. Except he still looks like a dweeb.
            Levant is good only for interruptions and self-indulgent indignation. I only watch him to see how long it is before his face goes red and blotchy and his eyes start bulging because someone/anyone shoots down his belligerent and nasty arguments.
            Talk about an unarmed opponent.
            What he and Kory are doing on CBC I have no idea. Thank god for Kady.

          • No you didn't, Ezra.

          • Put on your glasses, or take them off.

  2. This is Stephen Harper's Government and his "Secret Agenda On Everything"!! This is perhaps the worse Prime Minister Canada has ever had and the one were his people hold the most contempt! There will be more dirty tactics to follow as the blue eyed devil prepares his alixer that he believes we as Canadians must drink, to prime him in the next Federal Election, voting him in a majority. All I can sayis, in your dreams Stephen Harper you sad sack of Reform Party Not So True Conservative Hacker!

    • First – what is "alixer "? (did you mean elixer?)
      Next – what is the point of your crude attack & hateful rant? It speaks of someone with very little knowledge of Canadian politics.
      And someone who is jealous of anyone with blue eyes.

  3. I am surprised that such a solid journalist as Paul Wells, missed one entirely potent fact. Anybody that has been around Harper's PMO's Ottawa knows that this Prime Minister uses privates investigators as commonly as brushing one's teeth. Harper's paranoid need for control is such that it extends to his hyper-partisan appointments to such organizations such as Rights and Democracy Agency, where Harper's attacks dogs, once appointed to the Agency, spent tens of thousands of dollars of the R&D Agency on private investigators. It is why Harper has been so secretive on his supposed "allegations" against Helena Guergis. For a Prime Minister to hire a private investigator to spy on one of his own Cabinet Ministers…would send a chill through his entire Cabinet and Caucas. J. Edgar Hoover held onto power and the FBI for decades.

    • What makes you so certain that Harper uses private investigators? Is this something that you feel, or do you have something to back this up?

      • The Harper appointees to Rights and Democracy Agency spent a good portion of 400 thousand dollars on private investigators to look in the lives of long standing board members. Do you really believe these Harper appointees came up with such tactics on their own…Harper has a deep stake in destroying Rights and Democracy Agency…Harper doesn't appointee attack dogs without a plan…and that plan always involves smear and sleaze.

        • So to answer SamDavies's question, it's just something you feel, not something you can back up. Thanks for sharing your vivid imagination with us, but try not to present your imagination as "fact".

          • I guess the "freelance communications company that interim president Jacques Gauthier has hired, to go along with the freelance office manager, the freelance private investigator, and the blue-chip audit firm he's put on the public payroll" were all in Paul Wells' imagination.

            I think in the interests of full disclosure you should change your name to "Critical Theory" which is, of course, based on the premise that reality does not exist but is simply a superstructure of relations built on, in your case, Conservative fantasy.

          • You really need to brush up on your reading comprehension skills, Mulletaur. It's annoying that I have to explain things like this to you.

            The fact that R&D's Gauthier hired a freelance private investigator is NOT evidence that the "Prime Minister uses privates investigators as commonly as brushing one's teeth.", which is what jackthewack claimed.

          • Anyway, why would Harper use private investigators when he can use the RCMP and CSIS, just like Mulroney did ?

          • It's true that they brought a private investigator into the Rights & Democracy mess. Has the Conservative minority government hired private investigators in other issues? Does anyone have evidence?

            I would not be at all surprised to learn Harper was spying on other people and on his own MPs, but I do not know if this is in fact happening.

          • If you don't believe that Stephen Harper hires private investigators to dig up sleaze on opponents you are sadly mistake. And sadly naive of the power that a Prime Minister possesses and the avenues open for abuse. It is the way its done in a sociopath's mind. You don't negotiate you extort. As this very same Prime Minister attempted once to bribe a dying for his parliamentary vote; Chuck Cadman. What was the offer of the bribe. "We'll take care of your family." And this was before the man was Prime Minister.

          • I prefer evidence to fevered imaginings.

          • So true Holly … where are the facts ???

          • The facts are held within the monster's clutch hiding under Holly's bed……..BOOH!

          • How old are you, 4? You are demonstrating difficulty in following the conversation here. Or did you just not bother to read it at all?

          • Holly, I'm totally pursuaded by you, like, I'm 4 years old, yeah, and I can't read, or pretend not to read, because, like, it seems to work for your kind of people, like I know totally believe that Harper is evil and that he hides everywhere, like, he hides under our beds, BOOH, and like his eyes, they are so scary, like, yeah, evil, and all those christian followers, creepy!, like, it seems to work for the likes of you, I want it to work for me too, totally pusuaded now by Holly and her enllghtened group, like, totally awsome, and then some, like………………….

          • So….. hitting the sauce, are we?

          • In other words – you sense the truthiness of the matter? You need to work on being able to distinguish between the "actual" and the "plausible". One of the things that bugs me most about the Cons is their abuse of the plausible. I feel the same when others do so too.

          • Kudos to Holly Stick for at least having the honesty to state: "but I do not know if this is in fact happening.". Too bad Mulletaur and jackthewhack don't have enough sense to distinguish between what they imagine to be true, and what they know to be true.

          • Wow, more 'Critical Theory', Conservative style.

          • Would that he were as demanding of his fellow Conservatives when it came to substantiating their assertions.

            He even inserts himself into conservations no one's having with him to impose his rigorous (though highly selective) rules of evidence.

          • C'mon kids – play nice!

          • Hey, Crit, you're a Con-Bot!! Who knew?

          • I know, eh? Every time I point out the gaping holes in Mulletaur's wonky partisan logic, he labels me a Con-bot or "Critical Theorist" or something.

          • "Kudos to Holly Stick for at least having the honesty to state: "but I do not know if this is in fact happening.". Too bad Mulletaur and jackthewhack don't have enough sense to distinguish between what they imagine to be true, and what they know to be true. "

            I must come to the conclusion that merely stating after the assertion that the assertion may in fact not be true, to be the underminer of public discourse.

            For instance, if I would say (often enough) that I've read somewhere that Ignatieff taps into Liberal MP's office telephone lines, but then add (equally often enough) that I've forgotten where I've read such allegation, and it may not be true, but it is believed that Ignatieff likes that sort of thing, tapping into Liberal MP's office telephones.

            How high is the proportion of readers who might read the first part (the tapping into telephones) but who might not read the second part (forgotten where I've read such and such, and whether its even substantiated)

          • And another tidbit, Critical_reasoning.

            On the At Issue panel the other night, Mansbridge introduced the topic of discussion of the scrapping of the gunregistry as " a conservative mp even referred to the police force as a cult….."

            But Mansbridge had that completely wrong. He was completely negligent on relaying the "cult" hick-up. Yet, by using the 'cult" association in a new and revised version, Mansbridge towed a false line of introduction. Indoctrination by means of false allegations come to mind. Yet, the general public doesn't even notice what Mansbridge had managed to slip in, and THAT I find so dangerous, for I believe Mansbridge must have been aware of his revising of story, and if he had not been aware, he should not be considered worthy of leading the At Issue political panel.

          • Just so you know, Mansbridge actually said "…even one conservative went so far as calling the police a cult this week…"

            No mention of a conservative MP, just a reference to a conservative. Minor difference? Maybe. Convenient reverse Freudian slip on Mansbridge's part? Possible. Intentional "sleight of hand" by Mansbridge (left-leaning media and all)? Also possible.

          • And the memo actually said: "It's like a cult that is led by organizations of police chiefs who pretend the registry helps them do their jobs. They should be ashamed."

            So, I think Mansbridge oversimplified the incident of the memo, because when taking the obsessiveness of the gunregistry into account (some say it's used 11000 @ day!) yet, the effectiveness of the registry in regards to reducing long gun involved crimes has not been proven, and so yes, in that sense the obsession with the gunregistry could be considered a form of cult.

            Cult: A group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

            Cult: Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing

            (adjective) of, for, or attracting a small group of devotees: a cult movie.

          • What I am saying is that Mansbridge should not have inserted his simplified version. If he wanted so desperately to insert the mentioning of the "cult" word, he should at least have put it in context.

            By not putting things into context, Mansbridge in fact snack-feeds the gun registry cult culture already existing. So very sublte….drip,…. drip, …..drip…that is the dangerous acgtion I am talking about,…drip, drip, drip, and before we know it, opinions are slightly turned in favour of this or that. People do it all the time, it's true, but it should not be done by "trusted men" such as Mansbridge. Very unprofessional.

            Or, perhaps our collective standards for what's considered "professional conduct " have changed, a lot….

          • Sorry, not following you, at all….

            In your view, "cult" is used in the memo to refer to gun users or registry supporters or some other group of people?

            And when Mansbridge used the word, you think he was trying to paint gun users or registry supporters as cultists?

            Bottom line, which group do you think was wronged by Mansbridge's action?

          • ok, let's try again:

            if the gun registry has not at all been proven that it prevents long gun crime in any way, but a group of people keep on insisting to keep the gun registry in place so that police can check it "sometimes over 11000 times a day" then would you not say that such gun registry supporters are a bit much obsessed? In fact, they would be obsessed with the gun registry itself, not the prevention of long gun crime.

            And so the memo stated: ""It's like a cult that is led by organizations of police chiefs who pretend the registry helps them do their jobs. They should be ashamed."

            So the word cult here is being used in specific context.

            Mansbridge just as easily could have asked this leading-in question:
            "Is it reasonable to suggest that supporters of the gunregistry are a bit obsessed with the ideology of the gun registry if it has not been proven to be effective, and if so, does the police in fact lead this group into this make belief?Chantel, what do you think?" etc.

          • [Scratches forehead]

            Ummmm, OK tell you what, at this point I will stop posting on this thread, come back in a few days and see if anything has become clearer.

          • Do you actually believe that Harper was directly involved in advising Gauthier to hire a PI?
            I'm not a fan of Harper, or of what has gone on at R&D, but this does not mean I get to make speculative allegations that have zero actual proof. There is a difference between saying that you suspect something is going on, and saying that for sure something is going on. If you say "for sure", but have no actual real proof, then all you are doing is drinking a different flavour of Kool-Aid.

          • Of course, the whole Snowdy business does raise eyebrows. I've seen speculation that he was hired by the Conservatives and sent by them to the Liberals who would not bite, so the Conservatives had to do their own dirty work. But then again mqybe he had the idea all by himself of finding a political party that would hear his story. Either sounds plausible to me, but Ockham's Razor would tend to favour the second.

          • "I've seen speculation"

            Yes, of course, and now you are making sure that a lot of people will further see this speculation.

            Such a brave warrior you are, Holly.

          • Was that the standard Harper was using when he took the word of Snowdy?

          • Good question.

          • I was shocked that Harper acted without consulting Nicholson.(Nicholson admitted such in an interview). If Snowdy was a stranger to Harper, and he did what he did based on solely what Snowdy told him, without seeking any kind of a legal opinion, it's evidence oif pretty rash decision making.

          • Plus Harper claiming he had referred the matter to the Ethics Commissioner, when he did not bother to tell her what he thought should be investigated.

  4. I see the workers in the OLO have already contributed their piece to the Harper-Bashing essay.
    I think Mr. Wells is grasping for the obvious if he wants us to believe that the overriding reason for demotion of Ministers is secrecy on the part of the PM.
    Of course he is careful about doling out information to press corps who are like jackals and would like nothing better then to see Harper gone and if a few lives are ruined along the way……well that`s the price of politics.

    • There you go. The proof from my comment below.
      The logic is similar to – "Honey – I beat you because I really love you."

      • And why he is like he is: from my comment below.

  5. Wonderful article, but maybe this is all part of Harper's grand strategy, Inkless. The more scribes like you spend time anlayzing the man, the more mysterious and chock-full of "leadership and strategic abilities" he becomes.

    The truth, however, may simply be that the man is in a job that is way out of his league, that he knows it, and it's that insecurity that makes him resistant to any form of scrutiny or criticism. Hoarding information, restricting access, lashing out at critics etc etc may just be the tools that allow him to do that.

    I don't think it's been working for him, but it may just be as simple as that.

    • "The truth, however, may simply be that the man is in a job that is way out of his league, that he knows it, and it's that insecurity that makes him resistant to any form of scrutiny or criticism. Hoarding information, restricting access, lashing out at critics etc etc may just be the tools that allow him to do that."

      My thoughts exactly. Harper's skills are seriously overrated. This mythology that has developped around his so-called "strategic abilities" boggles the mind.

    • Anon, you and PolJunkie reminded me of what a very astute, 80–something-year-old friend said to me the day after Harper was elected PM: "I've never seen a man so out of his depth."

      • Is she senile?? Is she personally familiar with him, other than what journalists with Paul Wells jealousy issues care to disclose about their impressions of him?

        • Nice. And twisted.

        • Then there is Julie, who is out of her depth as a blog commenter. Julie, use your fingers less and your eyes more.

          • Says the girl with the floating head

  6. A very thoughtful and insightful article.

    • If only for "Max Bernier's toned and coltish ass"

      • I have to admit, I got a bit confused at that line.. then I realized he wasn't referring to Peter MacKay.

        • Now that's an ass.

          • A very well toned one- as is his chest, and arms – very hot!!

          • If only David Orchard had spent more time at the gym, they could have arm-wrestled instead of that other business.

  7. Excellent artricle. I think Paul Wells has articulated Harper's paranoia, and his obsession with secracy and power, very well. Let's hope the Canadian public wake up and realize that this guy has the wrong job!

    • D'uh…did you see him & his little "friend" on TV this evening. (CBC show with the guy who always seems to have a frog caught in his throat – Evan Solomon)
      I thought he looked and sounded like a sulky wimp.
      After reading this article, this confirms it.

      If this is the quality of MacLean's writers, so glad I cancelled my subscription.

      • — so glad I cancelled my subscription —
        Yet you can't help but come here to see what you're missing. Nice touch.

        • Like some of the comments- they're quite amusing. The printed edition doesn't offer the same level of amusement.

      • Yeah, we already know from your MacKay comment that you prefer your men to be buff and open to expedient betrayals.

  8. "Harper spends a lot of time setting up that steep gradient between what he knows and what everyone else does. "

    I would imagine most people in power do such a thing. They want to present an image that they are totally on the ball, ahead of everyone else. His iron clad control of information is forgiven by his followers, as they truly believe that the alternative would be a leftist media that would distort everything against him. Sadly, there is a grain of truth in this, which makes people sympathetic to Harper's plight. After hearing "wolf" cried so many times for anything and everything, the public is desensitized.

    • Not all people in "power" hoard and exploit information like SH.

      Many good leaders become more powerful when they are transparent with the information – when they entrust/ empower their subordinates and constituencies to make their own decisions about the information.

      • He's bound to be critisized by 2/3 of the voting public. But that doesn't make him bad at his job. Not everything needs to be put before constituents. As in any gathering of people with huge egos, and the need to be heard- there will be a certain amount of grandstanding & blowing some things totally out of proportion in relevance to their importance in the overall business of the day.
        This call for transparency is the latest buzz phrase in the media – they seem to love scandals. So sad that people get sucked into the call for useless inquiries into the most mundane topics, as though they are going to make a difference to average Canadians trying to manage in this economy……

        • Your vision of an "average Canadian" is apparently a person who can only hold one set of thoughts. Which is pretty much a perfect illustration of why I don't want people like you in power anymore.

        • "This call for transparency is the latest buzz phrase in the media"

          One recalls caterwauls for transparency back in, oh, ought six. Wait, wasn't that the horse you carpetbaggers rode in on? Culture of entitlement, that sort of thing? Ring any bells?

          Oh, well, carry on. Keep on managin'. The media will keep chasing mundane topics. Like torture, 'non-lobbyist lobbyists', information choke ….you know….real-mundane like.

        • So when Harper ran on transparancy – it was just a buzz word for him. Thanks for clearing that up.

    • Many do, but it's a counter-productive strategy, because it means when things go tits-up, you're looked on as the one responsible.

      On the other hand, a leader who is transparent and generous with credit/praise finds that when things go tits-up, his own people are willingly getting out in front and not only defending him, but helping to isolate where the real problem is and making sure it doesn't happen again.

      It's kind of funny, if you can avoid trying to take credit for yourself, you'll find it gets heaped upon you.

  9. Hit it out of the ballpark again, PW. Congratulations.

    I was just reading another columnist, who wrote: "What is so remarkable about the whole degrading process of the last few months is that the prime minister, encased in that intellectual cocoon that shields him from real life, appears astonishingly immune to the rising contempt of the electorate.".

    The author was the original owner of the Back Page, Dr. Foth, and he was writing in 1978, about Pierre Trudeau. Who says history does not repeat>

    • You're saying that Harper and Trudeau have a lot in common?

      • Or that this Dr. Foth is maybe getting a little long in the tooth to be making any assumptions about how the electorate feel? And maybe jealous that he never had the notoriety of either of these men, so is prone to be a tad bit jealous of the attention they receive?

        • Julie has problems with reading comprehension.

          • Holly Stick has problems with differing opinions..

          • Julie, go back and read in what year Foth wrote the quotation above. Do you think he was jealous of Harper way back then? For that matter, why would anyone be jealous of Harper now? Who would want to be just like him?

  10. Interesting that Mr. Wells mentioned Preston Manning. I think if one were to investigate the main reason why Harper is the leader he is, then he should look , between 1993 and 1997, at how Harper observed how the Reform Party was treated by the press, the civil service, and the gov`t of the day.
    Actually, I don`t think most of you even understand the disillusionment the several million supporters of the Reform Party felt for a system that seemed to value a separtist Party from Quebec more then a loyal Party based in the west that just wanted some changes within the confederation.
    So Harper decided he would probably be treated the same way as Manning. He also decided that if he was going to survive, he would react a little differently then the very decent but passive Manning.

    • What a load of hogswallop. Harper acts and reacts differently than Manning because he is no Manning at all. Never was, never will be. Harper is merely an empty — and angry — suit, who clings to power for power's sake. No vision. Weak team. Invisible principles.

      • Here`s the problem: you seem to think Preston was a good man; I agree with you. But did you support him when you had a chance; I don`t think so. Therefore, to use your words, what you say must be a load of hogswallop.
        You should back your words with actions.
        I`ve also noticed that the anger one sees in those who describe Harper in an angry tone is far greater then any Harper has displayed.

        • *Blush*
          I was briefly seduced by Manning back in the day, and voted Reform.
          Woah! I feel so much better now. This is like therapy!

        • I, too, will admit to a brief flirtation with the Reform party. But that was more out of a realization that the PC's were toast and the last thing I wanted to see was a LIberal government. As a matter of fact, I maintained the member database for the Reform Party in my riding before they had the computer software to do it. I quite liked Mr. Manning for a time, and thought he was plainspoken and reasonalbe.

          Does that give me the credibility to provide a response?

          I agree with Patchouli, 100% and will never vote for a Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper. I do not trust this man.

        • I have never, and likely will never vote for anything Reform-like. I did, however, respect Preston Manning for having a vision, demonstrating integrity and walking his talk – in other words, for demonstrating leadership abilities.

          • People say this stuff about Manning now that he's gone. When he was around and actually involved in politics, most of these same people mercilessly slagged him.

            It's a bit like with Dion.

          • Yeah, in some ways I agree OB.

          • And losing. You mostly respect him for losing.

          • Yeah, Joe Clark gets a lot of respect for that too. He was a great loser.

          • Must be comforting to know you have peers.

      • and you sir, are full of hot air…….

    • That is total bunk. Harper stabbed Manning right in the back — and I'm sure it's only be sheer willpower that Manning has remained supportive over the years. Apparently his wife isn't so supportive though. Harper's colours have been obvious right from the start – he's a p*rick, and not much more.

      • Jeez, what is it with all the angry women on the left.
        Check your history: Harper left federal politics in 1997 and did not return until 2002 after Stockwell Day had succeeded Manning as leader of the Canadian Alliance.
        I would agree with you that Harper had some fundamental disagreements with Mannings` approach to leading a viable opposition party. The CPC would not have won the 2006 election with Manning as leader. Change cannot be acheived without power. Manning probably knows that now. Therefore I`m sure he would disagree with your assesment that our PM is a p*rick.

        • Are you kidding? I bet Manning knows very well that Harper is a pr*ck. No love lost there, I'm sure.

      • gossip and insult, aren't you a prize.

    • So what's the next lesson to be learned after Harper then?
      Will the next leader become even more controlling and secretive, in order to further the aims of the party?
      Does he become ever more indecent, learning from the lesson that nice guys finish last?

      • While I would not refer to Harper as indecent, I would say that, like any good leader, he is controlling and a little ruthless if needed.
        The next leader can be anything he or she wants but if they want to survive then they should not model themselves after Clark or Campbell or Manning. Until the culture of the Ottawa observers changes then we will probably continue to have secretive and thoughtful CPC prime ministers or mediocre but acceptable Liberal PM`s.

    • When Stockwell Day was running to take the leadership away from Manning, I saw Day give a speech addressing Manning directly and implying that Manning was old and out of date and the party had moved on beyond him. I have heard that Harper wrote that speech for Day; I don't know if if is true – but the speech was condescending and vindictive and that sounds like Harper to me.

      • ………which reminds me, there was a time I think about 15 years ago when a certain member of the Liberal Gov`t had some help in writing a speech from a former actor on Baywatch, and it was way condescending and vindictive speech; now I don`t know if this is true but I`m jusy trying to come up with an appropriate response to Holly.

        • To quote you above "…Change cannot be acheived without power. Manning probably knows that now…" Manning started the Reform Party because he realised that very well. Neither Day nor Harper could have done what Manning did, though they benefited from his work. You need to learn a little rightwing history instead of making up fairy tales.

          And if I haven't forgotten Day's nasty little Harper-like speech, you can bet that Manning has not forgotten it.

      • Tee hee… you can always count on Holly to drag the conversation down into irrelevance. In this case, through random, spurious, likely made-up-on-the-spot rumours.

        BTW, Harper supported Tom Long in that leadership race, so I doubt he was writing speeches for Day.

    • One thing that is I think never discussed is just how discreditied the three traditional federal political parties Liberal, NDP, and PC are in Alberta and the broader west. The same is also true in much of francophone Quebec with the Liberals post patriation and the PC's post Meech failure. Now people like Paul in places like Ontario can say how blatently unfair this to the traditional political power structure of Canada however these events or facts on the ground so to speak are still defining issues of Canadian politics. Harper made somewhat of an attempt to build the Conservatives back up in Quebec post Meech although I think everyone would agree his efforts at this point are completely stalled out. I actually think someone partially to blame for this situation is Ralph Klein who could have and had the power to pushed for someone such as Jim Dinning to be head of the Canadian Alliance in 2000 instead of using it as dumping ground for Stockwell Day who everyone wanted to get out of Edmonton in a not positive way. Dinning would have had a big Conservative majority an eternity ago in 2004 notwithstanding the bias many in west think eastern canadians have to them.

  11. The irony is that it's the pathological secrecy that creates the conditions for the Gillanis and Glemauds and Jaffers to skulk around and trade on their supposed influence or "expertise." If the process for funding was open and transparent, if Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries simply referred prospective applicants to the appropriate funding officers, there would be no influence (real or imagined) to peddle.

  12. This was a really good article.

    I also think that it shows how limited Harper's future growth is. A minority is as far as he goes because unlike the liberals of old, Harper doesn't get that he has to create an effective and broad based narrative around what he brings to the job. People don't have to like him, they just have to appreciate what he brings to the job. To date he's just been benefiting from a weak and out-of-gas liberal party. Interestingly over and over Harper also lets others (moslty the media) define him to Canadians. Just as he does to the Liberals. How ironic eh? Harper has no narrative, no brand, no story line for why we should vote for him. As Well's points out all we know about him is that he's mildly paranoid, gossipy, and highly controlling. I think if he had even a very basic narrative he could actually win a majority. But given his personality, and the advisors that he's got, I doubt that its going to happen.

    • Well said.

    • A hollow man. I agree.

    • "Harper has no narrative, no brand, no story line for why we should vote for him."

      As opposed to, say, Michael Ignatieff . . . (ahem)

  13. Here's a quote from Preston Manning, Stephen Harper's old boss back the the good old days of the Reform Party. Remember, Stephen was hired to direct Reform Party policy.

    “Stephen had difficulty accepting that there might be a few other people (not many, perhaps, but a few) who were as smart as he was with respect to policy and strategy. And Stephen, at this point, was not really prepared to be a team player or team builder.”

    I couldn't have put it better. Preston Manning was so prescient.

    Basically, Canada has voted themselves a Prime Minister that thinks he's smarter than everyone else. To Mr. Harper, governing is the ultimate control. We've fed his character by electing him to the highest post in the country. He sits at the top of a bureaucratic pyramid and has access to information that 99.99% of Canadians will never be able to access. To Mr. Harper, this is power and control.

    He does not and never will give one whit about what Canadians want, think or need unless it affects whether or not we vote for him the next time there is an election. Everyday Canadians are regarded as the simple proletariat who don't really know what's good for them or what they really need. We just don't meet his intellectual standard.

    This is both frightening and sad when you look back in history at leaders that had the same character issues.

    • You are so right Open-D.

      • Thank you. I am more than a bit afraid!

        • Oh give it a rest.
          How can you or anyone else figure out from what the press writes what is going on in Harper's mind.
          Suppose you think that your tin foil hat will protect you from alien mind control waves as well…

          • My quote was not from the press. It was from Preston Manning. I think he knew Stephen a little too well.

            My conclusions were based on observing Mr. Harper over the past 18 years since he first appeared on the scene in Calgary West. The Calgary press had no axe to grind at that point and no pre-conceived notions of his character BUT I've seen little that has changed my mind about him since then. Of course we never really know our politicians and yes the press has a lot of control over how we regard them (for instance, I always thought Joe Clarke was short from the way the media presented him but he's actually quite tall), however, a lifetime of experience and observation about a person's behaviour does give one at least a passing idea of their character and with a passing idea of their character, you develop some idea of how they will react to a given situation or in other words what is going on in their mind.

            There is far too much secrecy in governments at all levels, usually for no good reason. We elect our politicians and unfortunately, they seem to forget it once they get a taste of power. That is wrong.

            Back to the mind meld.

          • Quite simple. All you had to do was follow Feschuk's twitter feed! Duh!

  14. Excellent article. I hope it burns Harper's ego.

    I wonder if Guergis would have grounds for suing Harper on the basis that he's destroyed her career – what about wrongful dismissal?

    • That is silly. A PM can chuck anyone from his cabinet at leisure. Naturally, the PM avoids this, because he would be held accountable for making the choice to begin with. If there were no political ramifications, I think the PM would make even more changes. Too much changing would also diminish loyalty.

    • Ask Garth!

    • Oh I see….she is not responsible for any of her choices.

    • She was hired by the people of Simcoe-Grey. Only they can dismiss her. That she's not in caucus anymore isn't a dismissal, it's a role change. As such.. no.

    • Margaret, you are so anti-Harper it makes one wonder what his policies have done to you. Oh, you enjoy paying higher taxes. Is that it?

  15. A very disappointing article by Paul Wells. It is rare that he is got up in the media-driven over-analysis of a nothing scandal. But this time he has. Unless he has information he is not telling us, he doesn't know what the PM knows. Like everyone else, he is speculating, i.e. gossiping

    The media craves scandal, I imagine even MacLean's, but Harper is so disciplined that his Government remains scandal-free. So scandals have to be manufactured and over-blown in order to to be noticed and commented about (i.e. sell newspapers).

    For weeks every media columnist screamed that Guergis"must" resign/be fired. But Harper does not fire Cabinet ministers because the media (and opposition) says he "must." He does it for his own reasons.

    Paul Wells et al can claim that Harper's reasons are concocted. I doubt it but maybe its true. But right now that claim is pure speculation.

    • He's a columnist – it's his paid job to speculate and he's really good at it.

    • "He does it for his own reasons. "

      Isn't this speculation as well? You also have no idea why Harper does what he does.
      You simply choose to believe in the myth of Harper the altruistic disciplinarian.

      • Either he did not for a reason or for no reason. I tend to think he did it for a reason. He said so himself . It doesn't appear to be whimsy.

    • A very disappointing response by orval to Wells' article. You suspect he's missed the point when in his third sentence, he says, "Unless he has information he is not telling us, he doesn't know what the PM knows," but then, when all he offers to support his thesis are stock complaints about the media's supposed persecution of PMSH, well, you're kind of left wondering why he went to the trouble at all.

      • Ooh, tough crowd tonight.

    • One must agree and it is painful to find Mr Wells engagning in the same tired What If journalism that seems to plague the Canadian punditry to the exclusion of any kind of even-handedness at all. With the howling pathetic opposition and ignorant and biased press in Ottawa, one understands and supports the PM's penchant for playing his cards close to his chest.

      • On the contrary. Playing one's cards close to one's chest is inexcusable in a democracy. The voters have a right to access information from their elected officials, and if it is denied, we have a right to howl…and we rely on the media and opposition to do that howling on our behalf.

    • Well said! An intelligent analysis of this article. Hooray!!

  16. Steven Harper probably gets along well with Jean Chretien. Mr, Harper not only keeps an ace up his sleeve, but also the whole deck. According to Harper, don't trust the people! He doesn't know better than most but thinks he does. Hopefully he will always be the Prime Minister of a minority government.

    • I have it on good authority that Chretian detests Harper – and with good reason.

      • Yet another point in Harper's favour. If this keeps up I'm going to start thinking well of the guy.

      • So you know these people's thoughts?
        How's that tin foil hat working for you?

  17. You really should write a book about Harper. His need to surprise is indeed an interesting aspect to his personality, especially since it makes an interesting counterpoint with the steady, careful public persona he works hard to project. At their worst (ie. when done out of spite) his surprises are arrogant and reckless (recognition of Quebec, the troubles). At their best they can be inspired politics (first trip to Afghanistan, piano playing at Niagara-on-the-Lake).

    However, I am deeply shocked by your treatment of Helena. After referring to the ass of Bernier as not only toned but positively coltish, your silence wrt her derriere is clearly a slap in the (face?). This controversy you have started about ministerial butt may reach the proportions of Bruni versus Letizia.

    toned and coltish

    • Good stuff……you`re having a little fun.

  18. "That's inclement weather for a government that would like to survive for a while, and Harper has survived it by playing a particularly ruthless brand of game theory.

    The easiest game to win is a game of asymmetrical information, where one player knows more about his opponents than they know about him."

    Ha ha, Wells has totally busted the 'Vulcan Chessmaster' – he's nothing more than an information hoarding old gossip. The way he's been playing lately, Harper probably struggles at checkers …

    • A comment like this pops up in every Macleans thread since Mr. Harper became Prime Minister, what, 4 years, 3 months and 17 days ago? And counting. Which isn't to suggest he's foolproof, or that he wouldn't be further ahead if he was better at checking his worst impulses, but I wouldn't be surprised to be reading the same comments here 4 years from now.

  19. Has Mr. Harper actually accomplished anything significant in his time in office? He promised a government of openness, accountability and transparency. Is there anyone in Canada who believes he kept his promise?

    • Alas, not many seem to notice, and not many seem to care.
      It is pretty good slight of hand when no one looks at what you are doing, because they are too busy looking at the faults of the other guy. There's a sucker born every minute……

      • Please share with us, Sam just what has Mr. Harper accomplished?

        He damn near managed to unite the opposition, but ran away from that conflict,
        He damn near deep 6ed the country economically denying there was a global economic down turn,
        He did manage to humiliate the country in front of the world at Copenhagen, but that does not count.
        He did manage to piss off the American Sec. of State with some of his cro-magnon foreign policies.
        He did manage to expose the Liberals as conservative's by another name when they supported him 79 times in confidence votes – WITHOUT GETTING ANYTHING FOR IT.
        and he has managed to raise secrecy and back door deals to an art form …

        okay – name something good he has done.

        • You're playing to the choir. I'm not a fan!

    • "Has Mr. Harper actually accomplished anything significant in his time in office?"

      Like what?

      Or to put it another way, please complete this sentence:
      "I would like to see PM Harper accomplish something major, like when PM <fill in the blank> successfully <fill in the blank>."

      • Like when Prime Minister Chretien successfully balanced the budget.

        Like when Prime Minister Mulroney successfully negotiated NAFTA.

      • Deifenbaker – Bill of Rights
        Pearson – Health Care
        Trudeau – Charter/patriation of constitution
        Clark – zip
        Turner – zip
        Mulroney – NAFTA, GST
        Campbell – zip
        Chretien – Clarity Act, eliminate deficit
        Martin – zip

        • My point exactly. Harper's lack of major accomplishment is pretty much par for the course, especially when you consider he hasn't the years in offic eor the majorities of many of them.

          I will quibble with your Chrerien answer though:
          1) If Chretien scores point for the Clarity Act, then I'd give Harper equal credit for Quebec as a "Nation."
          2) If Chretien gets points for eliminating the deficit, which was largely thanks to the GST (which he fought), and NAFTA (which he fought), then Harper should get credit for Canada weathering this recession far better than almost every other country.

          • Chretien's Clarity Act is a statute that provides for conditions for a possibly valid process for any province to potentially secede from Confederation. I'm honestly not sure what Quebec as a nation accomplished or means. If it can be shown to have allayed separatist pressures or the attendant sense of alienation, then I agree.

            On point 2, I also agree, to a point. Chretien fought both and it was policy to eliminate both. He also owned up to the fact that it would be a mistake to do so. Can any of the Maclean's regulars find or recall CPC/Canadian Alliance/Reform pressures to reduce regulations on banks to make them more internationally competitive? If so, and they can be cited, then PMSH still has to take that step and admit that the regulations he inherited – not invented – were the main reason our banks were not imperiled to the same degree as the rest of the international banking community.

            And I should not have given the impression I didn't have an answer for Harper – Public Bills Officer, increased resources for the military, Accountability Act (?).

            Pearson served a short time as a minority PM. From a G&M article of March 18, 2009, here is Andre Steele's list of his accomplishments:

            Pearson (1965-68)
            Mike Pearson is Canada's Harry Truman. While he was in the top job, everyone thought he was in over his head. After he was gone, his legacy looks more and more impressive.
            Here are just some of his successes:
            Canada Pension Plan
            Canada Student Loans
            The Maple Leaf Flag
            Modern labour legislation, including the minimum wage, two-week vacation and 40-hour work week
            Balanced budgets
            The Royal Commission on the Status of Women
            The Royal Commission on Bilingualism
            The first race-free immigration policy in the world

          • The banking regulations – Chretien/Martin have been ignored here. You know the issue that Harper is bragging out BUT lobbied against and voted against.

            It was more the Bank of Canada and the banking system that saved us – not Harper

          • Ignored? That's exactly what I was talking about in my second point.

          • This alone should be shouted from rooftops.

          • Hmmm, not sure what you're saying. Here is an article on minority accomplishments, including those of Harper. My list was not meant to be exhaustive and each could lay claim to far more, apart from the zippos.

        • Thanks for the list Be-rad. To make a better comparison of accomplishments, you should eliminate from the list Clark, Turner and Campbell since they were PMs for less than a year; they did not have the time to accomplish much. Harper has been PM for more than four years. He hasn't shown me yet if he will leave us with a positive legacy/accomplishment.

      • To be fair, he doesn't really believe in government, so I'd say it's unfair to hold him to so high a standard as accomplishing anything..

    • Openness, in Ottawa? You have got to be kidding!

    • Yup, a few. But most don't really care as long as the sun comes up & we are safe in our homes, and the Taliban don't blow up Paliament Hill or the CN Tower.

  20. Arguing whether he did it for a reason or not is childish, considering I was questioning whether you can attribute it as his "own".

  21. Why do people insist on forcing their own views unto article like these?

    • Huh? They are note forced views. Thety are stated views and you can take them or leave them.

    • Because they have nothing to do on a Friday?

  22. ahh….because we live here and not Iran.

  23. Well, this article is a bit over the top. With both minsters the final straw was information which indicated that the material performance of their roles was no longer in the best interests of Canadians.

    Wells seems a bit obsessed with making dubious connections. In any individual Prime Minister's time in office there will be so many incidents and decisions to be made that almost any trivial pattern can be found (Harper was once in a bad mood on a plane? Shocking!). It's like trying to find a new constellation – there are enough stars out there that you can connect the dots and draw any picture you want.

    • Well said… my sentiments exactly.

      • Mine too!
        Wells seems like a pompous little person who doesn't matter, and I am surprised that ANYONE, including Macleans, would give this guy any credibility.

        • Yet you cannot look away, and thus continue reading.
          Thou dost protest too much.
          Paul Wells has seduced you Julie.

  24. "In some ways that instinct is a product of the Conservatives' minority status in a Parliament where every opposition party, a consistent majority of the electorate and THE BULK OFF THE PRESS GALLERY (caps added) sits well to the government's political left. That's inclement weather for a government that would like to survive for a while, and Harper has survived it by playing a particularly ruthless brand of game theory."

    Best and truest paragraph that I've read in MacLeans in a long while. Almost make up for another gratuitous shot at Lawrence Cannon on the first page. Did he steal your lunch out of the press gallery fridge or something, Paul?

    • Lawrence Cannon should have been fired a long, long time ago. Apparently $30 million in lawsuits, being chastised by a federal justice for "bad faith" behavior, waiting for incontrovertible DNA proof from a Canadian stranded abroad before issuing her an emergency passport home and displaying a complete contempt for our charter of rights is NOT enough to get you keep you from being Foreign Minister of Canada.

      Lawrence Cannon is an embarrassment to Canada and a world class a**hole.

  25. "The PMO protested after the column appeared that Harper does not own a BlackBerry, a narrow defence indeed."

    Sounds more like a DEFINITIVE defence. Did the G&M story have any corroboration?

    • It was probably a cell phone or a Trio. The PMO is very into "technically correct." Or it was a government blackberry (vs. one Stephen Harper owned).

      • Still, who cares? The reference to Harper "not being thrilled" once on a plane sounds like an unbelievably petty cheap shot.

        • Didn't the story imply that Harper got the guy reassigned? From presumably his dream job? Not the biggest deal ever, but a pretty nasty thing to do to a guy for his simply enforcing safety regulations.

          • Exactly! That's another thing that needs corroboration:
            a) Did the B'berry incident really happen?
            b) Was the pilot's subsequent transfer the result or was it for unrelated reasons?

            And to YYZ, if it turns out that it was just not technically a Blackberry, then I think the PMO deserves a gold medal in hair-splitting.

          • As in "I did not have interaction with that Blackberry."

          • They're the Michael Phelps of hair-splitting.

        • CR, in case you haven`t noticed, Wells has been firing off a lot of unbelievably petty cheap shots lately.

  26. Somehow, it seems relevant that today is the day that Shakespeare's birthday is celebrated. We ask ourselves, is Harper Macbeth (whose lust for power leads him to dark hidden deeds), Hamlet (who has trouble making up his mind, but then acts rashly on impulse), or King Lear (whose madness keeps him from recognizing true loyalty but causes him to reward flatterers and sycophants)?

    I vote for Bottom, who vastly overestimates his own powers, and looks like an ass without being aware of it.

    • And so Harper must fall into one of the characteristics acted out within a specific Shakepearian play? That's a new one to me.

      Perhaps he's more like Spock……………..lightyears ahead of his time…………………………………but then again, I have no idea when the Starwar's writer's birthday is………………………….would that count for a vote? Or a valid argument?

      • GONG!

    • Agree with your choice of play/ However, I see him more as Edmund, the bastard.

  27. I had to double-check if this article was written by a woman…”out the door went Max Bernier’s toned and coltish ass.”
    Paul, are you trying to tell us something?

    • He's been frequenting bathhouses — but purely for the purposes of investigative journalism . . .

      • Not from the look of him! Haha! Was surprised that he was interviewed by Evan Solomon, and he had a little guy with him who represented gays……
        They made a very sweet couple, except for their little hissy fits…. not that there's anything wrong with being open. But please, act like grownups, not little girls please.

        • Your uplifting contributions are so welcome. Please continue to shine your beams of sunlight in the form of informed insight. I simply can't do without.

        • And Ezra was incensed that anybody would accuse Conservatives of being homophobic? Ironic eh Julie?

  28. Chantal Hebert: Prime Minister has not put in place advance warning system that may have caught Bernier and Guergis. Michael Ignatieff said Harper should have had a chat with his Minister on Sept 9th and the P.M. said two weeks ago it was a sad day.

    • What Ignatieff says it doesn't matter at all!

  29. How is reporting that "Guergis had two miscarriages" any different than what Harper is allegedly doing – acting on rumour supplied by biased individuals? Oh, because it was from her younger sister, the one who claimed it was her fault as campaign manager that Helena claimed a $700 purse, shoes and socks (I wonder how she got the receipts in the first place, and forced Helena to approve her personal expenses – hair pulling?)


    • The excuses on offer have been flimsy. Guergis had two miscarriages, but to suggest that should be her defence insults any number of women who held on to their dignity in the face of comparable challenges.

      Who offered those excuses? It wasn't Helena, that's for sure. If I recall correctly that tidbit appeared in the Toronto Star, but in that context I'm not even sure it qualifies as an excuse – it's just another lurid detail. So I doubt that "women who held on to their dignity in the face of comparable challenges" have any reason to feel insulted.

      • It originated initially in a small (no doubt friendly) newspaper in her riding. Then it was picked up by the Star. Why not Helena for sure? What about indirectly? How else does personal info of that nature (in addition to her mother's ill health) become public without family complicity? Then once it gets picked up by the media, guys like Warren KinsellM, L. Ian MacDonald and now PW spread it around to elicit either disgust in the media for stooping so low, or sympathy for the still hiding Helena with her counsel. If it wasn't from her, why is it being repeated without verification (assuming it is even relevant)?

        • PW didn't mention the miscarriages in his column out of sympathy for Helena, that's for sure. The fact that he brought it up at all leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I don't think it's fair to characterize it as "the excuses on offer".

          • From the Toronto Star article:

            In an editorial published Wednesday, a local newspaper speculated that the miscarriages may be to blame for the minister's behaviour, and minimized the controversy surrounding Guergis and her husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer.

            “Yes Helena did throw a tantrum at Charlottetown airport but this was following her second miscarriage in a few months and when one's hormones are badly out of whack, life can be difficult,” said the editorial in The King Township Sentinel, based in a riding next to Guergis's riding of Simcoe-Grey.

            You don't go to press with that small town editorial without approval of the family. Andrew Cohen also wrote an oped piece the other day symapthetic to Guergis (someone he has met in the past) making this a part of his sympathetic case on her behalf.

            I'm with you. Don't even repeat it, especially if you risk being manipulated.

          • I had two miscarriages too, my hormones where out of whack and I haven't insulted anyone or threw any tantrums.

          • Sounds like you missed your chance.

          • My sympathies, Claudia. And the point that you and Paul both seem to be making are perfectly valid. Personal and/or family tragedy in no way justify despicable conduct.

          • Thank you Thwim and MYL, was a long time ago and shortly after I had my favorite guy in the whole wide world, my son Nick and 15 months later, surprised again ,with the birth of my little princess Camille.

            Again, when you make the choice to be in Public Service, you should know better, and there is no excuse at all for her behavior!

          • You don't go to press with that small town editorial without approval of the family.

            Is that a law or something? Couldn't find it in any statutes.

            Or maybe the local paper thanked "the family" for permission to share that little tidbit?

            Or are you talking out your– uh, let's just say, are you declaring alleged facts that are not in evidence?

          • Yes, it's a law in small town central Ontario where the family has deep roots and is very active in local politics in many areas, currently, and over the past two generations. Otherwise you would have heard retractions, threatened lawsuits, and expressions of disgust from her sister – not repetition of the alleged facts (unconfirmed of course, as they will remain, and should – no one will touch this with a ten foot pole).

            Btw – notice how the only media reporting/commenting on this are male?

          • Yes, it's a law in small town central Ontario

            Well, I guess that would make it a by-law. And what little awareness I have of this story (I only check out The Star a couple times a week…) has the entire family pretty much gone into a bunker somewhere. So maybe the story is false and the family is just fed up with the whole thing, so is wisely staying away from the cameras. Or it is true, unauthorized, but reasonably sympathetic and thus unworthy of yet another (public) spectacle. But thanks for saying it's actually in legislation somewhere, and so it is the equivalent of a family press release. I'd love to read that by-law.

          • Well, one law you could perhaps brush up on is the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act of Ontario (FOIPPAO) which protects individuals from release of personal info (such as medical records) without their personal consent.

          • I will assume that law basically prohibits hospitals, clinics and health professionals and others in the business from disclosing information without the patient's consent. Not what's going on here.

            Hey, did you hear, Phil down the street went to the hospital last night? No. Really? What was it? Heart attack? Stroke? Appendix? I can't tell you, because Dot next door threw FOIPPAO at me when I tried to tell him…

          • Any respectable newspaper, not just the local paper, but its owner (The Star) would never run this story without confirmation (ie permission/endorsement/call it what you like) from the family.

            Surely they taught you logic and resoning in engineering school.

          • "Hey, did you hear, madeyoulook was arrested last night?"

            "No, really? What for?"

            "Torturing an analogy."

            "Wow, what a cad!"

  30. Chantal Hebert: She paints this Conservative government as 'bullying' and Paul Szabo's ethics committee reminds me of this trait. He is a secretive man our P.M. and in hindsight Jaffer was a 'slick talker' but as printed Harper was a 'fanatic' as to scandals which word against the Liberals won him power and employed 'secret service' to get ahead of scandals but this did not work and Chantal again " Harper closes the barn door after the horse has boilted". If this again 'politics' we should think again who we put in power to run our democracy whether it be any party. This is rthe tragedy of the so called ' democracies' – we have to fine tune almost on daily basis closing all the loopholes which politicians have in 'power' and money(billions) they have control over. Politics is the citizens daily life – it is not removed from us we need to think and exert our control not their control. This is easily said but requires hard work – citizens forum a number of which have aired on CPAC – debate the issues and c`itizens and experts debating.

    • Most citizens aren't even remotely interested in debating any of the issues. Most of them are interested in namecalling. I would say this (the namecalling) is as a result of not knowing how to debate properly.

      Any evidence of the contrary?

  31. Maybe the answer is, instead of psycho-babble and pop-analysis, we focus on facts

    Fact: Harper is not a celebrity whose job is to be famous. Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada. It is his job to hire and fire Ministers to help him run the Government. This is what he is paid to do.

    How about he is just doing his job?

    • O, puhlease. If Harper were actually doing his real job, there'd be little to complain about. But all this waiting around for the US to tell him what to do next, keeping busy messing up a good country (that he doesn't understand or appreciate) while he waits, not to mention posing at photo ops and getting his makeup done–I was going to say it's like something out of a bad dream, but in truth it's a nightmare. No wonder Laureen moved out.

      • Maudie – read the tabloids much? You sound like what the CBC want everyone to believe.
        He isn't a rock star, or a soap actor. He's not Batman or Spiderman either.
        And it's doubtful he's ruining the country – Trudeau got that ball rolling many, many years ago.

    • The ethics commissioner has said there's nothing to investigate, the RCMP has not confirmed whether they'll be starting an investigation. Is his job to hire and fire people on rumor? I mean, we know from Raitt leaving confidential files behind at a media station it's certainly not because of lax information handling.

    • Exactly.
      SOunds like some of these critics expect him to be like Michel Buble or that kid with the Trump comb-over ( Justin Beiber)…or Celine Dionne.

    • "How about he is just doing his job? "

      Stephen Harper – He's just punching the clock! LoL!

  32. You're right of course. I got caught up in useless petty argument…in my attempts at being technically correct!

  33. If the information on which Harper is acting re Guergis / Jaffer really is just patently unfounded gossip then Wells's argument makes sense. That's pure speculation, however. This piece is going to look pretty ridiculous if the "hidden information" – whatever it is – turns out to be credible and serious.

    Regarding Bernier the PM acted when the classified documents issue arose. Up until then it was about Bernier's personal life (not anyone's business), whereas at that point it became about Canadian classified information (everyone's business). Whether the documents were actually contained information that would have harmed any interest is entirely beside the point.

    And finally, regarding the per-vote subsidy / prorogation fiasco, I think Harper was simply trying to take advantage of the age-old military tactic known as "surprise". Catch the opposition off-guard and the battle is half-won. The only problem in that case was that he also managed to catch the entire electorate off-guard, and Canadians are not terribly good at handling novel shifts in public policy with great speed and adroitness.

    In short I think this article, while an interesting perspective as always, is making connections that likely aren't there.

    • I had the same thought.

      The Bernier analysis in particular does not ring true. There was no "hidden information" that Harper seemed to have…he turfed Bernier when the news came out that he had left classified documents at her apartment. That was a firing offense, and Harper fired him once he committed a firing offense that was made public in the media. Perhaps my memory is wrong, but I believe that the news of this was public at the time Bernier was asked to resign.

      To me this shows that Harper will not fire a minister without a solid basis, just because the media demands blood and is willing to create a firestorm out of simple innuendo to get it. This is a necessity…people will not go to the wall for a boss who won't stick up for them when the going gets tough. You have to show some loyalty to your people and be willing to take some heat on their behalf.

      But at the same time, once actual evidence appears that the line has been crossed, you're history. I think Harper has handled both the Guergis and Bernier controversies as well as could be expected by anyone.

      • I also thought what Wells posited re: Bernier was a tad unrealistic and unworkable. So a lot of documents get stamped "confidential" or "top secret" or whatever. So some of them arguably don't deserve that label. Wells seems to be suggesting that someone (not really identified) is supposed to make some judgment call such as "I know it SAYS "confidential" but really it's not . . .".

        Utterly unworkable. I work in a field where confidential means confidential. And if you start cutting corners on that maxim, or otherwise breach confidentiality, you will end up in trouble. That's the way it is, and that's the way it has to be. Wells was stretching the facts to try to fit his pet theory.

      • Well put.

    • if the information turns out to be serious, the bigger issue will be that it should have been made public to Canadians post haste.

      • The information was referred to the RCMP,
        Harper is already 5 steps ahead of that smear.

        • your funny

          • He is our Wilson and we love him!!

          • Speak for yourself. That abusive troll should be banned from Internet entirely.

          • You must be one of those tolerant left-leaning types who inspires us all toward the brave new progressive world.

          • Yes. Tolerant of all views — except those with which they disagree.

          • Careful, G, you are dangerously close ("tolerant left-leaning types") to a certain phrase that induces allergic reactions around here

      • What is it with some people that seem to think every little thing should be put before the Canadian public? What is the point? Aren't there more pressing issues than making sure every Tom, Dick, & Sanjay on the street is informed of each and every little political news – true or flase – that is going on. What is really the point? It isn't going to change my life, or my neighbour's or their relatives.

    • "And finally, regarding the per-vote subsidy / prorogation fiasco, I think Harper was simply trying to take advantage of the age-old military tactic known as "surprise". Catch the opposition off-guard and the battle is half-won. The only problem in that case was that he also managed to catch the entire electorate off-guard,"

      What in this is so radically different from what Wlells described? If Harper thought the "battle would be half won" he greatly overestimated the value of this, as Wells explained.

    • The only problem in that case was that he also managed to catch the entire electorate off-guard, and Canadians are not terribly good at handling novel shifts in public policy with great speed and adroitness.

      Pardon? Which part indicates that Canadians lacked adroitness?

      • Adroitness would have entailed agreeing with Harper's decision to defund his Opposition.

    • "Canadians are not terribly good at handling novel shifts in public policy with great speed and adroitness. "

      Canadians don't take kindly to such "novel shifts" that were not campaigned on, that's for sure.

    • Surprise ! I jumped over a cliff !

      (Boy, that sure fooled them.)

  34. Skulking around…makinf deals? At least this was never the case with the former Liberal government.


      That was a joke, right?

  35. That's why they call him 'Back Door Stephen' – with all his talk of transparency, he never goes through the front door, he always takes the back door. Throughout his early mandate, we were wondering: with all this secrecy and keeping his people quiet on contentious issues, how is he planning to get the word out? The answer is, he had no intention of telling people how he planned to re-invent Canada; he was simply going to wake us up with the news when he was finished. But then, I'm still waiting for my elected senate! lol

    • And here I thought that was referring to how he was going to screw Canada.

  36. Thanks for demonstrating your grasp of "reality".

  37. I was rolling my eyes when Wells suggested he shook something new from this story, but I have to say, he was successful. Harper does indeed suffer from the over-ambitious little Tory Boy fantasy that life in the Big Leagues operates primarily on the judicious withholding, manipulation and dissemination of valuable information. It's just too bad his paranoia and the absence of decent counsel from colleagues prevent him from properly assessing that value.

  38. Stalin had the same faults as Harper does

    • But with more personality. Maybe Harper should grow a mustache.

      • Holly Stick, you know what the problem is with empty heads? They no longer have the capacity to understand their heads are empty, and that's why it's up people like me to tell you about it.

        • Good One!

        • But if you fill an empty head from an empty head, isn't it still an empty head?

      • Mustaches are hugely over-rated.
        Sure – they make some guys look virile & masculine, but they are really germ traps. Same with beards. Be careful when you kiss a mustached man – they could be giving you more than second hand spit! Take a good sniff of it before locking lips ladies. You never know where that beaver tickler has been.

    • So Harper has killed some 40,000,000 people? Wells didn't mention that. Citation please.

    • Variant of Godwin Alert! Variant of Godwin Alert!

  39. I can't wait for Harper's biography. In fact, maybe I should start writing an (unauthorized) version. It would be better than winning the lotto and a heck of a lot more fun.

    • Why? Is he a friend of yours? Do you know how to research & verify facts, or would it be a Kitty Kelly style tell all…

      Can't imagine he would have any juicy scandals in his closet that would rivet your readers..

  40. The sacking of Guergis was always as much about Harper's style of governance – very Bonapartish I would say – as it was about getting rid of both her and Jaffer once the Star got on to the story. Harper was ready to tolerate both of their self-serving behaviour as long as they did not pose a serious risk to his Party manufactured image of being squeaky clean.

    • That's BS. They were elected by their constituents. You wouldn't be fired (if you work at a legitimate job) for heresay and rumors.

  41. I think Paul Wells, and others, are not inclined, have never been inclined, to see Harper in any other light than "shady".

    It could be said that it is your shortcoming not being able to understand big thinkiing which leads you to condemn Harper outright but it would be your shortcoming, not his.

    • Amen!

    • How sweet. You've got yourself a groupie.
      PS – re: your comment – What a TWIST!

  42. What sillyness to pretend that Harper threw in the political party subsidy cut because he could up one to all!!

    Has it ever occurred to you, Mr.Wells, that during the previous election, the BQ had grossly distorted Canadian politics by using the art's community's false representation of reality (no cuts the arts were made, just redirected) to further it's won cause, namely to win as many seats possible for a provincial party running within federal elections.

    Now, Mr.Harper had been very aware of that fact. He had also been very aware of the fact that hardly anybody in the MSM would come to his defense regarding the art's community's distortion of reality, or the Duceppe shamefull ride into renewed power on sentimental tail coats.

    Now, Harper has always known, and was much more aware after the last election, that going against the BQ directly would make Harper the public scapegoat once more, and so he proposed to do away with all party subsidies rather than single out just the federal subsidies recieved by the BQ. Yes, even that much could not be grasped by most Canadians or members of the MSM.

    • This has been another edition of Conservative Fairy Tales.

      • Holly, since you assume that your reasoning skills are much better than mine, it would not be difficult for you to argue the facts then, rather than throw around another byline:" it must be the fairies spreading dust once more"

        Was it in fact true that overall funding to the arts had been cut by the current Harper government?

        Does our Canadian federation financially support a separatist party in the name of the BQ?

        Do you think it would undermine our Canadian federation to financially support a separatist party participating within federal elections, by which means the truly federal parties are undermined?

        • Why would I waste time arguing with someone who asks such dishonest questions?

          • There are but two remaining questions on my part:

            How old are you Holly Stick?


            What are you really trying to accomplish when participating on this blog?

            These are two very straightforward questions, and not difficult to answer. In fact, they could be answered in a heck of a hurry simply by being honest.

            It's all very uncomplicated for me: I like honesty. A lot!

          • Probably old enough to be your mother. It would be an acceptible accomplishment to help bring down Harper and the meanspirited, willfully ignorant rightwingers who follow him and mirror his unpleasant character.

          • Holly, I doubt you would be old enough to be my mother, but it could be true so I will not dispute it.

            But one thing is also true: I do have a mother who is much too old for participating on anything related to computers, but she always had more than enough reason to teach me, and my siblings, that ignorance is no excuse for anyone's behaviour.

            She has told me, more than once, that running away from a challenge won't make me stronger. In fact, I do recall vividly that her spoken mantra was and still is: be up for the challenge.

            And so I will ask you again, in all sincerity:

            Let it be resolved: "What then is reason?"

          • Again , this is personal, Harper is the devil just because you don't like him and that's your right.

  43. What does it take to call Mr. Harper and his CPC sock puppets on their BS?

    To paraphrase Captain Renault from 'Cabalanca', "I'm shocked!…." .


    ……'The Emperor has no clothes, etc.'

  44. You perhaps want a letter to the editor, and not an off-topic forum post.

  45. Politics is a game of nuance, and not only the Conservatives or any of the opposition parties do play the game; people like Paul Wells and others are also playing a nuanced game, except they're not being called on it, AND they do not have to stand for election when the time comes.

    In essence, people like Paul Wells can play the political game of nuance unhindered and unchecked. Do we like that? I don't!

    • You get to criticize him – on his own blog no less. What more do you want?

      • What I want is for journalists to profess journalism and for opinion makers to be reasonable. But most of all, I want for all people to understand the difference between jounalism and opinion making. I'm more and more convinced that a lot of people do not understand the difference and I think people like Paul Wells could be in a position to make that more clear.

        • Why do you think journalists are not supposed to have opinions?

          • Did I say that?


            (Actually, I've changed my mind on wanting to go back to university. I'm certain I scored an A on comprehensive reading way back when I was in elementary school. Them were the days: going to school, elementary no less, to learn how to read and write, and yes, we did some math too. I will never forget it.)

    • Go look up the word "nuance".

      Honestly, some people learn a new word and think they can throw it into any old sentence any old way.

      • I did, Holly, I did, I looked it up right away. Something to do with "shades" of something, probably like, shady, eh, but I don't think you're happy with me using that word, and so, tell me Holly, because I so wanna belong, what words should I use to fit into your group. I'm soooo convinced I wanna be part of your group bashing Harper. Harper has to go, Harper has to be defeated. We need to be liberated from evil…..That sound nice, Holly? Please, please tell me what kind of words work best, like, hidden agenda, I've heard that before, it seems to work, and evil, but I haven't looked up the word "evil" but it sounds so good, so evil, and Down with Harper, and something about onion rings, I caught something on facebook, but I'm not sure,

  46. Here's another one for Paul.

    How do you think a PM could function effectively if more and more people offering opinions act like Holly Stick, to name just one of the emtpy headers in our midst. She contributes nothing, yet her constant empty drivel needs tobe addressed, supposedly by members of the media. Why? Why always take the low road, Paul? Have you not attended university? Have you not learned how to deal with emotions through reason?

    Could it be possible that Harper has anything of value? Just wondering if, according to your standards, that is possible?

    • I've attended university, FV, and know more about reason than you do. Harper's ineffectiveness is not a result but a cause of my criticism of him.

      • Na Na Na Na Na…..So There!
        How's that foil hat workin' for ya?
        Just because someone has gone to university doesn't make them smart. A lot of the time it's because
        Their parents told them to
        They went because their friends did
        They didn't know what else to do that year
        Their parents told them to or they'd have to get job & pay board
        They wanted to say they had gone to university so they wouldn't feel dumb.

      • Holly, you say you have attended university. That is not so special. Many people have attended university.

        You go then on to say that you know more about reason than I do. That is in fact a very special statement to make, but I'm glad you''ve made it. for now we could actually enter into a debate and deal with the act of reason head on. I have not attended universtiy much, about one semester worth. Oh, don't let that bother you: I won't hold it against me and so neither should you, so please, don't withhold your reasoning skills on my behalf. Let's get on with it, I'd say. In fact, I'm looking forward to it. Are you game?

        But it would be such a pity to find out that you won't enter into a reasonable debate with me because you suddenly don't feel like it. When there's a will, there's a way. The choice is yours.

        Let it be resolved: "What then is reason?"

        • So is Julie your sock puppet?

          • Holly, why is it so difficult for you to enter into a reasonable debate? Did you noitce while attending university that other students had significant trouble sticking to a particular subject in order to reach deeper rather than shallower, or were you the only one afflicted with attention deficit disorder?

            Perhaps I am looking in wrong directions. It could very well be that paranoia has overtaken your reasonable assessment of the world we live in.

            For the record: at Macleans, I post as FVerhoeven exclusively. On other newspaper websites I comment as hialath, or Francien. I am responsible for postings coming out of the names mentioned and I am not responsible for any comments other may make.

            Now that all possible obstacles are cleared out of the way, and considering the act of paranoia to be not one of your most flattering states, could we get on with it? Let's show our stuff!

            Let it be resolved:"What then is reason?"

          • I'll give you good advice for university instead. Learn to edit yourself. Try to be concise when you write and try to achieve clarity. Try not to refer to yourself too often.

            If you want a philosophical argument, you can make a philosophical remark and see if someone takes you up on it. But don't expect many people to be other than bored by the idea, and don't imagine that you can nag them into such an argument.

          • Holly, you are making a spectacle of yourself.

            Never did I propose for you to go into a philosophical debate. I simply want to understand what your definition of reason is, since it is reason we must certainly employ when trying to come to political solutions.

            I am not circumventing the major questions facing us: you are!

            I am not running away from a proposal to debate: you are!

            I am not stating that your reasoning skills are better than mine: you are. Prove it!

          • Go back and read our respective comments.

          • Holly, I truly wish people like you would want to contribute something positive here. But since you don't want to, I will stop wasting my time. Hopefully for you, others will fall for your emptyness and call it a good time. Good luck!

          • Holly and her peers are mostly addicted to the premises they have never questioned. Largely as a result of their post-secondary experience they adopt a leftist world view, manufactured by faculties populated with leftists, reinforced by reading lists which almost exclusively focus on "the oppressed" and the guilt we all bear as oppressors. When we are young we tend to accept the views of our "learned betters" as gospel. The fact we realize as we age is that mostly they are malcontents and losers who are simply the progeny of the system that manufactures them. It is a path I traveled and have abandoned.

          • I know what you are saying, Peter, but there are so many of them "out there"!

            How then to try and come to practical solutions for the well being of our societies if so many of them cannot even think for themselves, yet want to have a loud voice in how to organize our societies.

            It can't work that way. It is impossible.

            I really have this sense that the more our population is institutionally educated, the less we are able to move forward in a reasonable way. There never seems to be a willingness to discuss the issues, but it's mostly emptyness which is thrown around from all corners. It's very discouraging, to say the least.

          • What a pile of pompous nonsense.. You know nothing about me or what influenced me. I've been an Albertan all my life and the university I earned my degrees in was not particularly leftist, but had professors with a wide range of opinions, as it should.

            You poor dim rightwingers have no idea what a big world there is out here, where we people actually do think for ourselves.

          • Having lived "in the belly of left" as a libertarian for ten years I was recently sent packing as I counseled moderation and engagement. Ten years of listening to mindless hating, based on ill-understood social theory and naive assumptions about the nature of man and society, has left me pessimistic about a better future for my children. The sad truth is Holly you would probably like me if you knew me and I'm certain you aren't evil…it's just that that which you advocate has led to nothing but disaster throughout history. Even the Consevative agenda is the will of the bureaucrats with brown envelopes. Minority PMs don't hang on for four years because they are clumsy or thoughtless and I pray you come to understand this.

          • Libertarianism is not a particularly leftwing doctrine.

            Wheatver you think I am advocating probably has its genesis in your own frenetic imaginings.

            Minority government, including the person who happens to be PM, hang on when they have a fractured opposition. That says nothing about the quality of their governing capability, which is sadly lacking in the current minority government.

          • In fact, combined with Austrian economics it is the antithesis of left wing doctrine. Ironically it shares a naive hope for a condition of man that is inconsistant with observed reality, congruent with socialism. It does however recognize that "group think" is dangerous to the INDIVIDUAL. But the point I'm trying to make is sort of Platonic…it is an ideal, casting a shadow on the walls of our "Canadian cave". The CPC is by far the best shadow on the wall to empower the individual and move us toward, rather than away from a better future. Socialism breeds bureaucrats who claim to know what you want and need and feel no guilt at "liberating" your treasure and mine to get it.

          • "…the point I'm trying to make is sort of Platonic…" And here I thought it was just dishonest.

          • Yeah, I guess referencing the foundation of Western philosophy is a stretch. You know, the individual who first articulated the notions you profess to believe in…democracy elections etc., who schooled Aristotle, whose teaching and influence were to help form low brows like Thomas Aquinas' thinking…and we all know he had nothing to do with western thought! I sympathize with Jane Goodall, she must have felt the same way as the chimps were flinging poo at her.

  47. I thought this was a terribly unfair article, and so are most of the comments. So many paragraphs can be easily refuted, but unfortunately I don't have the time right now to do it. Will just say that you in the media are disingenuous. We have a great Prime Minister who is thoughtful, self-controlled and good at what he does. I guess his press would be great if he pandered to these all-knowing, all-wise

    • The problem is that when he talks nice to the press, they can magically hear his real thoughts about them being all-knowing, all-wise jackasses.

      • The problem is that when people like you open their mouths or write their thoughts down, people can magically see the air in your head, where there should be a brain.
        Ding dong – how about that tinfoil cap! Wow.

    • And there's so much proof that Harper is a ravenous demon from the netherworld, but unfortunately I don't have the time right now to do it.

      Pull the other one, it's got bells on.

    • Well said.
      The media is always looking to boost sales & circulation – whether TV, radio, internet, magazine….and if it's boring – it doesn't sell ads.
      Remeber that when you read some of these over the top stories.

      And the squeaky wheel seems to get the grease.

    • "So many paragraphs can be easily refuted, but unfortunately I don't have the time right now to do it."

      Our loss.

  48. Just for the anti Harper posters on this board. Wells is speculating. He has no first hand knowledge of that which he proposes as if he is the confidante of Stephen Harper. Go ahead people keep arguing about process, tactics and strategies. Meanwhile Harper will achieve his majority in the next election regardless of the left wing media. He is the best on offer and while the polls say no majority don't be surprised.

    • I don't see how Harper so easily attains the majority territory you predict. Can you explain how that works out, or is this mostly wishful thinking on your part?

  49. This post doesn't make any sense, it's too cryptic, and has no relation to the story.
    So what are you trying to say?
    And how does it matter to anyone else?

    Sorry about your cancer. Hope you feel better soon…

  50. That last comment was for the Holy dip Stick.

    • Are you stalking Holly? Creepy…..

      • Yeah, she wears a false mustache and tries to hide behind street signs.

  51. "In his autobiography, Think Big, the former Reform party leader Preston Manning devotes considerable space to “the sad but oft-proven truth that if you are suffering from a financial problem, a marital problem, or a substance abuse problem, it will only get worse, not better, if you become a member of Parliament.”

    Paul Wells, has it ever occurred to you that it is possible for Harper to be capable of thinking big, that the smallmindedness generally speaking around him is what holds him back (all the petty-pitty-heckling ongoing, by you as well as many others) and that Harper has nothing to hide in his personal life which could be used against him.

    Could it be possible that Harper is loyal to others (cabinet ministers for intance) untill he has enough prove that THEY have let him down in real terms? I mean, coming unglued in front of airport security guards is not something to be let down by, now is it? Really,

    • Wll said.

  52. And so, it is becoming clearer day by day, that indeed this seems to be true:

    How do you think a PM could function effectively if more and more people offering opinions act like Holly Stick, to name just one of the emtpy headers in our midst

    But there are many, many empty headers about who care for nothing but to throw empty rethoric at the PM no matter what he does.

    Now imagine trying to govern under such circumstances. It's probably impossible.

  53. Finally I thought! An article that identifies the similarities between the Bernier case and the Guergis/Jaffer lynching, but, no, not one hint at the ties to the Hells Angels.

    In the Guergis/Jaffer case Jaffer's client was a money launderer for the Bikers while in the Bernier case, well, let's just say that bernier was in bed with the Hells Angels angel…

    Nevertheless yet another publication that doesn't have the marble- at either extremities, to state the obvious.

  54. What happened to politicians who wanted to do the work appointed them? To be honest, hard working and most of to have a ear of what the Canadian public need for our future stability. I am tired of hearing of the number of politicians who have their personal interest number one, and their job number two! When is this going to change?

  55. I'll go ask monsieur Parizeau how much permission he gave for his hospitalization to be widely announced. Save some irony for me, I hear it's delicious around here…

    • It is rather obvious that Guergis agreed to let the piece run. Do you honestly think that her sister would spill the beans without approval? Duh….

  56. Yeah, that's the same. Good analogy.

  57. Its "gotcha" again, come on inkless you can do better than that.

  58. This is not news. This soap opera, this daily dose of sleaze, brain dead nonsense from CTV, CBC, the mainstream media, and its also a big part of the reason people are tuning you clowns out. You are no different then the comedy show that goes on daily on Parliament hill. Spin, lies, corruption, blame, scandals…what a joke this country has become. Like the politicians the media is as much to blame for the socialist cesspool this country has become. Yes it has left Quebec and is spreading across the country. The only difference between the CBC and CTV now is that one sucks 1 billion dollars a year out of the taxpayer's pockets. CBC, CTV, Liberal, Tory, same old story. Both have destroyed our economy and our proud English speaking, UEL history, all a disgrace to the country. What a mess.

  59. What a joke. This is not news. This soap opera, this is just a daily dose of sleaze, brain dead nonsense from CTV, CBC, the mainstream media, and its also a big part of the reason people are tuning you clowns out. You are no different then the comedy show that goes on daily on Parliament hill. Spin, lies, corruption, blame, scandals…what a joke this country has become. Like the politicians the media is as much to blame for the socialist cesspool this country has become. Yes it has left Quebec and is spreading across the country. The only difference between the CBC and CTV now is that one sucks 1 billion dollars a year out of the taxpayer's pockets. CBC, CTV, Liberal, Tory, same old story. Both have destroyed our economy and our proud English speaking, UEL history, all a disgrace to the country. What a mess. Poor Canada.

  60. "Guergis had two miscarriages, but to suggest that should be her defence insults any number of women who held on to their dignity in the face of comparable challenges." – This is weak

    The Prime Minister has his own history of tense relations with air transport. In 2005 Harper flew back from war memorial ceremonies in the Netherlands with then-prime minister Paul Martin and his fellow opposition leaders in a vile mood. He rejected his assigned seating near the front of the airplane and scolded Martin's photographer, Dave Chan, for trying to take his picture. – Weaker still

    I think you have mistaken The Prime Minister of Canada for Perez Hilton. He handled the situation as best he could; there is no reason to divulge why he punted Guergis from cabinet, as there is an ongoing RCMP investigation.

    Maybe your next article: The Reasons I think Mr Harper is mean, or I don't like the Prime Minister, because I think he is mean

    I am not sure whose column is worse today, yours or Coyne's

  61. Holly, should I also join Facebook and the onion something crowd, because if you think it'll help, I'll do it, anything to get rid of Harper, we must be saved, keep playing with me, Holly, I'm having so much fun, you are so dedicated to the cause, and I want to be dedicated too, it must feel so good, and. like,….ok, no more use of "nuance", I promise

    • Well if you can't use the word intelligently, then I would rather you did not use it; I mean "Paul Wells and others are also playing a nuanced game"? What the aitch does that mean? Does it mean anything? If you really are in university, you need to learn to express yourself clearly.

      • I didn't know I was in university, but I might go if you think it will help me for coming to understand big words like "nuance" and maybe Holly I will learn all about what the word "aitch" means, because I really don't know what that could mean. Does it mean anything? I get it, I get it, you are making fun of me! You are slipping in words that don't exist and you're trying confuse me, naugthy, naughty Holly. Do university professors sometimes confuse their students, 'cause that would be handy to know, just in case.

        But when I'm finished with university (I will go, I will go, it seems so much worth it) I will be able to use all them big words and then I'll be able to express myself. clearly. Clearly.
        Holly, you won't believe how happy I am now that I've found someone to look up to, Holly.

        • Oh, yawn…..

          • Bored already?

            Here I am, willing to learn all there is to learn about being wrong about being right.!

            I was under the impression that the Harper-bashing could go on indefinitely. That's why I was so willing to join the likes of you: to finally find infinity through emptyness (or through big words, such as evil and/or nuance, etc.).

            Now what's left to occupy the mind?

  62. Ah, I see. When you said you had attended only one semester, I assumed that you were a current student who just started this year, and as such you were clearly in need of advice.

    • "you said you had attended only one semester"

      Yeah, well, Holly, that's why it's important to read what people write. We have assumptions in overload, I don't think we need much more of that.

      However, you were very correct in assuming that I needed advice. I still do:

      Let it be resolved: " What then is reason?"

  63. When you look back in recent history, Canadians really loved Pierre Trudeau at least in the early years. He was a dynamic figure that engaged the Canadian public and made us proud to be Canadian. Unfortunately, this was not the case in the later years, but he was the Obama of the late 1960's.

    Stephen Harper never has been a figure that Canadians are enthralled with. I can't explain why but it's undeniable. Perhaps it's because we don't identify with him and he doesn't identify with us. Maybe that explains the 59% turnout of eligible voters in 2008.

    • A bit of reality therapy here — yes, Trudeaumania happened. In 1968. Four years later, Trudeau couldn't even get a majority government. That was back in the day when there was no Bloc, no Greens, nobody other than the Dippers, Tories and Liberals. And Trudeau couldn't even muster a majority. And any slight inroads that he had made west of Ontario in 1968 were absolutely wiped out by 1972. Never, ever to return. Trudeau was fabulously popular in Central Canada, and among certain left of centre elites elsewhere. Period.

  64. How bout the same 'need to know' coverage for flakes like George Smitherman and his "gay party" drug problem. What sort of company was he keeping.

    How bout Svend Robertson and his funny little story.

    Oh, I forgot they are "progressive," and are dealing with the pressures of being "progressive"

    • I remember Svend's little tale. I was so much in love with my partner I had to steal a $5000 ring – but I am left-wing and gay boo-hoo-hoo.- forgive me .

      "That's alright Svend, we understand how much love your partner, it is perfectly understandable to want to steal a big ring from a flea market; you have a mental health issue(not to be confused with any conservative shortcomings) – what can we do to support you?"

      or, how about the collective Quebec Wing of the Liberal Party:

      Uhhhhh, where is that $100 million you stole from us?

      You just understand French Culture, and the price of doing business in La Belle Province.

  65. Wells we all know you hate Harper, trying to link him in a negative way is very much a stretch. Your audition for a DOC c job with a Liberal Gov is ongoing, never to happen I hope. Are you related by birth to Frank Graves?

  66. FVerhoeven, I was trying to reply to Holly…

    I hope you are having a good day!!

  67. Very amusing and hits all the fringe 'right' spots, Wells! Although, I must confess, that as Canadians we should all be happy to experiment with a macho-misanthrope PM for a change! All that touchy feely stuff is for B men!*

    I don't think our very own Taliban-on-the-Hill Party will be reading this with relish, but wanna bet the delusional little Bonaparte who can't get his percentage up to the elusive "Majority" level of prestige and thus rule supreme and dictatorially over our beloved (ex)democratic Parliament….has read each and every word of yours, Paul, and has already hired a private dick at a discount?

    You betcha!

    P.S. Watch out for Snowdy (you have his pic, right?) hiding out somewhere close to your car. I've heard that they've got a great Alliance going between them. They apparently share the same "me first" philosophy, deregulatory zeal and IQ! Except that Snowdy only got himself in the hole for $13 mil, while Stevie Wonder inherited our $13 billion and dug us into a $55 billion hole!

    *Harper's Parliamentary Committee professional fillibusterer Tom Lukiewski as General Manager for the Sask. Reformers eloquently and conservatively said in 1991:
    *There's A's and there's B's. The A's are guys like me, the B's are homosexual FAGGOTS WITH DIRT UNDER THEIR FINGERNAILS that TRANSMIT DISEASES"!

    Let's hope our Great Leader belongs to the As, eh?

  68. Paul, this was deliciously laced with irony that only a spurned 'red Tory' would have in his cupboard!

    Guess you're right on the theory of "act first, think later" instinctive reaction of our Primadonna PM, Steve The Robot. He reminds one of a spiteful bully-boy with short pants who, upon seeing he can't get his own way, drops the ball and walks away huffing and puffing, to return with a crowbar to beat his unfortunate opponent (that's how he views the "team") over the head!

    "Herr Harper–every woman's first husband! " (I heard this and thought it may have merits for your next article)

  69. Paul, this arcticle is nothing but BS. It contains few facts because you don,t know the facts. The journalists are more dangerous to the country than Stephen Harper. There should be no articles written that are filled with stricktly opinions , innuendos, assumptions from someone striving to be clever. You criticize Harper but go look at yourself in the mirror. Is it no wonder Harper doesn't trust the media. Go write for the Inquirer.

    • "…There should be no articles written that are filled with stricktly opinions , innuendos, assumptions…"

      I guess you don't read the National Post?

  70. Harper is only as good as his opposition is bad. If the loyal opposition had any teeth or policies maybe there would be a horse race for the top job. In the mean time all we get to watch is a couple of nags fighting over a soggy bag of oats.

  71. While not condoning the actions of Jaffer or Guergis, I feel the way the PM dealt with the Guergis issue shows a serious lapse in judgement.
    As leader of the Conservative party, his job is to show leadership to party members and the nation, and support both in order to accomplish what is necessary.
    To state, publicly, that his MInister has his full support, and then to cast that Minister out of the party, and report her actions to the RCMP the next day, while basing that decision on dubious information, has me wondering how he can command loyalty from any party member. I know I couldn't work for someone who treated people that way.

  72. Brilliant. the most insightful thing I've read on the Guergis/Jaffer thing, but more importantly on the Prime Minister's "management style". Fascinating, if disturbing.

  73. Great article. Harper's paranoia is a central personality trait, both good and bad. Many journalists have documented it, those rotten scum information seekers.

  74. Even now, no longer Prime Minister, he is about catching people with their pants down.