Need to know: Stephen Harper’s little act of rebellion

Also: scientists make cancer breakthrough, China heads to the moon


Jeff McIntosh/CP

Stephen Harper’s ace in the hole, whenever he wants to win over the already sympathetic hearts and minds in any room, is his band, Herringbone. Only a month after the Prime Minister played to a bunch of partisans in Calgary, he and his friends took the stage at the sprawling Negev Dinner, an annual fundraiser spearheaded by the Jewish National Fund of Toronto. A smiling crowd was a guarantee, given that the 4,000 attendees were there last night to pay tribute to the PM.

Herringbone played a set of harmless classic rock, the kind of garden-variety covers of British bands of yore that might echo around any sleepy pub on any sleepy Tuesday evening. Controversial is not this Prime Minister’s cup of tea when he’s playing piano.

But there’s something hinting at subversive about Harper’s adoration of the British Invasion. Herringbone opened with a cover of The Who’s The Seeker, which songwriter Pete Townshend once told Rolling Stone was about a man who was “fantastically tough and ruthlessly nasty and he’s being incredibly selfish and he’s hurting people.” The song includes the lines: I learned how to raise my voice in anger / Yeah, but look at my face, ain’t this a smile? / I’m happy when life’s good and when it’s bad I cry / I’ve got values, but I don’t know how or why.

Maybe when the Prime Minister sings that song, he’s just having a good time. Maybe he just likes the song. But it sure sounds like he’s stickin’ it to the man—where The Man, in this case, is his collective political opposition. Harper’s giving voice to a character that, he knows, resembles his critics’ image of him. He’s doing it awkwardly, as would any middle-aged dad with precious little stage presence. But, hey, screw it. Rock n’ roll, baby.

This morning, as the convention centre in downtown Toronto recovers from Herringbone’s set, The Globe and Mail ran a small note on A2 about a very special anniversary: On Dec. 2, 1973, The Who were jailed in Montreal for trashing their hotel room. Such are Harper’s rock idols. The Prime Minister is a law-and-order leader, usually standing behind a podium in a suit and glasses, but with a soft spot for rule breakers: his own little act of rebellion.


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Need to know: Stephen Harper’s little act of rebellion

  1. It has to be tough times, when your a PM, and you have to be out singing in a garage band to keep your job. Bother way, harper is a really terrible singer, call a spade a spade.Take away the instruments and you have nails clawing on a blackboard. Trudeau dosnt even have to sing a tune, and he always gets rock star status, its called natural charisma and mystique, which seems to lack from other parties.

    • The brief clip they showed on the news, him bobbing his head, was really cringe-inducing.

    • Oh dear… I’m not a big fan of Stevie but did you just a) make this a pro-liberal post and b) did you actually base said arguement on “rock star status”? Charisma is a trait that is NOT indicative of a ‘good’ leader (examples: Hitler, Stalin, Kim Il Sung), and mystique is about the last thing I would want in a politician! Finally, can we just admit that perhaps the media likes to guide politics to it’s own accord? Perhaps the media has some magical way of pumping up peoples’ “rock star status” regardless of that person doing anything substantial? Have we ever seen such a thing before? Could it possibly have something to do with your infatuation with Trudeau? Bieber?

      I don’t like any of them frankly, but the fact that so many people seemed to “Like” your comment lead me to this rant. Hopefully it leads to some thoughtful debate at least.

      • You came to the wrong place if you were looking for thoughtful debate.

        • This from the man who writes that Justin Trudeau has “got the intelligence of a 14 year old.”
          Now you are free to have any opinion about JT that you like, but when you make comments like that and then call for more “thoughtful debate.” you come off sounding like Paul Calandra or Dean Del Mastro.

          • Where did I “call” for more thoughtful debate? This is where people with Harper Derangement Syndrome come to put their ignorance on display.

          • Well. If there’s no “thoughtful debate” here, why do you come here?

          • Because I find the hypocrisy and stupidity to be entertaining. There used to be some interesting debates and intelligent people around here, but they’ve for the most part been bullied away by screaming high school Trudeau fans who find anything critical said about the trust fund baby to be beyond heresy.

            Most of you people can’t even fathom the idea of NOT criticizing anything Harper does. As an example, the Liberals introduce Mandatory Minimums for certain crimes, and it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Until Harper adds some crimes to that list, then suddenly, miraculously mandatory minimums all need to be repealed, because Harper is evil, even though most of the mandatory minimums were passed by Liberals. The list could go on much longer, but explaining myself is taking time away from trolling the morons, and you’ll just reply with “Shut Up” or something equally clever.

        • It’s obvious by the state of your comments.

          • and yours

          • join the club i guess.

          • likewise

      • No im not infatuated with Trudeau, im just trying to explain the difference between new and improved, instead of old and drab. I find new and improved a lot better than repackaging the same old same old. Harper and Mulcair are just trying to regift themselves, and it smells of nothing but pandering. If your going to get into politics, and any party would agree with me when I say this, it dosnt hurt to have a little rock star attraction, policies will come over time. It could add to increasing party funds. Just ask Harper, he just dumped 2 rock star journos that helped give him a majority government in 2011.

        • Firstly, sorry for the delay in my response.

          You’re right that any party probably would invite any rock star status they could. But why is that? If they’re going to be ideological one would hope that having rock star status would be completely irrelevant in aspiring to be a good public representative. To be blunt, I believe the reason parties would aspire to rock star status is because they realize the truth:

          Elections are won by eliciting the most votes. A party can draw more votes by appearing favourable relative to other candidates, and by targeting demographic groups more likely to actually vote. To appear favourable to these likely-to-vote demographic groups, is overwhelmingly NOT determined by presenting a thorough and logical analysis of key issues, but through presenting the representative to be some who “gets” the average voter and their needs.

          In admitting that parties should want rock star status we are admitting that the reality is the average voter is ignorant of the issues, and easily swayed by narrow talking points, regardless of substance.

    • Trudeau’s “mystique” is actually just him being as dumb as a bag of hammers. And his “rock star status” is actually just the lingering smell of recently smoked marijuana.

      • Look everybody! Rick is in thoughtful debate mode.
        You are a full fledged harpercrite.

        • Hey, I like “The Who”…I say everyone should just calm down and just play more rock ‘n roll.
          Mr. PM Harper, might I suggest a new set, Neil Diamond’s “Solitary man” followed by Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t fear the Reaper” ending with Dylan’s “Stuck in the middle with you” ?

          • That’s what I say about harper, he is yesterdays man. he still lives in the past. A country has to move forward, not in the past.

          • Your idea of “moving forward” involves peeing your pants in anticipation of voting for a guy who’s daddy was PM 40 years ago? Most people call that “moving backwards”.

        • I explicitly stated this is not the place for thoughtful debate. I know it’s Monday, but try to at least comprehend what you read.

      • What’s that smell coming off you, Dick? Why, I believe it’s the aroma of CPC desperation!

    • Why don’t we just admit, and get it over with, that Junior is trying to ride on his Father’s coat tail. If his name wasn’t Trudeau, and if the old dowagers in TMR had any sense, he would be assisting his wife’s Yoga classes.

      Cheers, Adam.

    • How do I score you a +1 for most of the post, then -1 for the bit about natural charisma? :s

      I haven’t seen any charisma myself. Has he actually said or done anything that shows that? I think his “popularity” comes from branding by the press, who desperately need something to sell.

  2. Yeah…patently unfair that Harper has to sing for his supper at a charity event, and Justin Trudeau just has to play with his flowing locks and he can charge charities $30,000 for a platitude filled 30 minute speech.
    As for Justin’s natural Charisma…..sorry. It was his father’s charisma…….Justin’s just a pretender to the throne. Don’t worry…he may get it in any event.

    • Justin Trudeau couldn’t sing, because singing would involve having an actual talent for something, and a bit of hard work. Totally not his style.

  3. So many people being so jealous of Harper.

    Too funny.

    • Jealous??… hardly not. Embarrassed.

    • Im not jealous at all, I just want to him to give up singing. maybe he would do better if he had a hurdy gurdy and a monkey on his back.

      • It’s a fundraiser which you care not a wit…but you cannot resist putting in your negative two cents worth….just to childishly piss on the PM.

    • Jealous? Jealousy springs from resentment or envy of another’s assets, abilities, or talents. Singing off-key in public displays nothing that would evoke such reactions.

      I just wish Harper would turn his minimal musical “talent” into a full-time job.

      • In his mind it IS his full time job

    • Next time you go on one of your rants about Justin, just take your comment and substitute “Trudeau” for “Harper” and you’ll understand how incredibly vacuous your comment is.

  4. Harper’s lost it.

    • Hardly. Justin Trudeau is likely to win the next election but what then? Based on current polling, Trudeau would lead a weak minority government. And Trudeau is uniquely unsuited for the task.

      The nature of Trudeau’s candidacy is that he is an empty vessel into which we can pour our aspirations (or nostalgia for the summer of ’69). As a result he’s cobbled together a group of supporters that, at their core, have disparate desires. His support base is not sustainable, as was the case for Obama once in office, and Paul Martin ca. 2003.

      Once Prime Minister Trudeau is forced to make decisions, he is likely to alienate some of those supporters (his relative inexperience, and that of his future MP’s – not a lot of survivors from 1993 left – could yield additional snafus). As a result, he is likely to drop in the polls.

      The beneficiaries of a decline in Liberal support would be the Tories and NDP – the very two parties Trudeau needs in order to pass legislation. Thus the opposition is likely to pull the rug out from under Trudeau at an opportune time, early in his reign.

      The irony is that Justin Trudeau is likely to take on the role of Joe Clark in 1979. Harper will certainly have to take a walk in the snow after losing the 2015 election, but he also might well say “I’m staying”.

      • And you got all that from Harper singing??

        Sorry….Harp losing his mind is no basis for predicting a minority Lib govt 2 years hence and Justin’s swift demise.

      • You’ve been studying chicken entrails, right? While you’re at it, can you tell us what the weather will be this winter? Oh, and who will win the Stanley Cup?

        • “…. weather will be this winter? ”

          I can do this one – it will be cold and snowy.

          • Hah…that’s lame! If you were forecasting with the specificity offered by chicken entrails, you’d break that out month-by-month on a regional basis.

        • Won’t be the Leafs………
          but that’s as far as I’ll go.

      • The dippers wont make that same mistake twice like they did in 2006 and vote with the cons to bring down the grits in a minority government, in 2015, no matter how bad the blood is between them. This time dipper voters know they will get more from Trudeau than the would from Harper. The cons cant rely on the dippers or the grits in 2015, to prop up a conservative minority government, its not going to happen. The grits and dippers will allied, to defeat harper in a minority government. In order for the cons to ever have control again, they will need a majority to do it.

        • There`s a lot of bad blood around. The Greens have stole enough votes in two by elections to eject a Conservative. That won`t be forgotten either. Lizzy May wouldn`t have a voice in the HoC except for the good grace of P. Martin and the Liberal Party. Martin thought they would bleed votes from the NDP and the exact opposite happened!! The vote counts in Calgary Centre and Brandon-Souris proves the point. I`m pretty sure this hasn`t been lost on the backroom boys over at Red Machine.

      • Now that’s projecting! In the end you’re probably right. A spot as official opposition leader is Likely to be more beneficial to someone so inexperienced. As long as Harper is gone that might be for the best.

      • I hate to have to agree with you but.. For JT`s sake, the Liberals are hoping for a weak Conservative minority and a weak NDP in the HoC after the 2015 vote. If JT moves into 24 Sussex in 2015, like you said his reign would be slightly longer than his speech in Bourassa. I could go on with other scenarios but I`ll stop running off at the mouth like a soup sandwich. I have to thank you for your input!!

    • He’s trying to present himself as a regular guy you can hang with & have a beer. The singing; the hockey book…
      This is “soft” Harper Mk II; the sweater vests and kittens weren’t doing the trick, so…

      • It’s better than running around the country telling kids how cool it is to smoke pot.

        • And it’s much better than stinking up the comments section with troll droppings like Rick Omen.

          • Oh come on now Paul Calandra Rick Omen is calling for more thoughtful debate!

        • I don’t know why i’m bothering, but to be clear, Trudeau was responding to high school students when asked about his views on the legalizing pot.


          James O’Connor @MonstereditorFollow

          FACT CHECK: #LPC @JustinTrudeau answered question on pot policy from high school students & adults. No #bdnmb-Souris children. 2/2 #cdnpoli

          • Yes, he was asked about pot, and then told the students that he was trying to make it safer for them by legalizing it. Not trying to keep it away from them, trying to make it safer. Which is odd, considering I thought the argument for legalizing weed was that it already was perfectly safe, certainly safer than alcohol. If that’s the case, why does it need to be safer?

          • Good question, stupie.

          • WTF does food inspection have anything to do with this? Are you suggesting that food used to be illegal until the government came around and regulated it?

            Jesus Christ, that’s a whole new level of idiotic! Are you actually Justin Trudeau?

          • Yup, stupie, that’s just what I’m saying.

            Hoo boy, the world must be a baffling place for you.

          • More troll droppings. You think you’re being clever but your twisted logic only reveals how abjectly stupid you are. STFU troll.

          • Brilliant response. Have you considered that perhaps it’s not my logic that’s flawed, but Trudeau’s? Or maybe he just says whatever he thinks the current crowd wants to hear at any given time?

            Anyway, thanks again for proving that “thoughtful debate” will not be tolerated by Liberals here, who’d rather tell someone to “STFU” instead of pointing out how or where they may be wrong.

            I’m guessing that’ll be Justin Trudeau’s response to about 80% of the questions in televised debates…. that should be fun to watch!

          • Make a thoughtful comment and maybe those responding will correspondingly rise to the (exceedingly rare) occasion.

          • It’s hard to imagine that he’s a stupid as his comments suggest. Maybe he’s an anti-Conservative having us on.

          • A bit of a misunderstanding I think. Trudeau has said many times that he wants kids to be safe and legalization would help by regulation.

          • Sp to be clear, you now admit he was NOT telling kids how cool it is to smoke pot.

            When you make stuff up, you lose your point. Just sayin’.

          • Using Justin’s logic……..that would also apply to heroin or cocaine.

          • Actually,
            I suspect Trudeau found out someone was holding on to the info that he was found to have been smoking pot (probably with a Parliamentary Press Gallery type) and thought he out himself to lessen the damage.
            Maybe he’s not as stupid as he appears or sounds.

        • If all you can gripe about is some inaccurate facts about Trudeau pushing pot on kids you’re living in a pretty sad world indeed. If those are your views and I question your ability as a parent if you rely on media and politicians to raise them…

        • I hope you’re not a parent if you let media and politicians raise your children.. If you can’t parent because someone in the world smokes pot, you’re in for a sad awakening one day.

  5. I am 89.3% certain that Taylor-Vaisey has social science degree, or english, if he has a degree at all.

    Conservatives In The Mist – National Review:

    “….. whenever I read liberals reporting about the goings-on of conservatives I always get the nature-documentary vibe. A liberal reporter puts on his or her Dian Fossey hat in order to attempt to write another installment of Conservatives in the Mist. I’ve followed this particular brand of reporting for years, it’s almost a fetish of mine. Most attempts fail. Of these lesser varieties, there’s fear (“Troglodytes!”), mockery (“Irrelevant troglodytes!”), condescension (“I had to explain to them they’re troglodytes.”), bewilderment (“Why don’t they understand they’re troglodytes?”), astonishment (Dear God, they’re not all troglodytes!”), and a few combinations of all the above.”

  6. “He’s doing it awkwardly, as would any middle-aged dad with precious little stage presence. But, hey, screw it. Rock n’ roll, baby.”

    That’s an awfully nice way of saying he sucks at it!

    • There are a few good lines in this post. Nick is showing potential.

      • Nick’ll make a good replacement for AW when he takes PW’s spot[ you can hear howls of anguish in the wind if you listen carefully] and he moves up to the senate.

        • LOL

  7. Ford for prime minister!!!

  8. I don’t really care if he wants to play in a rock and roll band. In fact, I would encourage him to quit his day job and make a career of it!

  9. Canada has no Hollywood…..so the only way to become famous here is hockey
    and politics….we’re stuck with people who can’t play hockey…

    • or politics

      • Well there is that….

  10. The Canadian media are still freaked out by Harper. Are you still worried that the emperor will ban you like the soup nazi if you report anything resembling reality about him? Seriously. His little act of rebellion? How about his huge act of rebellion? How about all the ways that he has subverted democracy in Canada, starting with writing a handbook on how to get around the rules on parliament hill? Wouldn’t that explain the mindset of a man who then appointed ineligible senators? In his rebellious mind, he can’t break the rules if he makes the rules.

    Nothing Harper does is really law and order, so inferring that his liking the Who somehow makes him a badass is completely lame. If you want to make that point, take a look at his fishing buddy, the mayor of Toronto.

    Harper is nothing that he pretends to be. Stop being intimidated by a man who can’t even lie properly.

  11. To think he would try to do a John Lennon song what a hypocrite.
    Lennon stood for everything Harper is not, not to mention he’d be in jail under Harper’s new laws for smoking pot.
    Lennon must be rolling in his grave.

    • What “new” laws has Harper passed against smoking pot?

      • Passing a joint is now considered trafficking ” 2 year minimum sentence”

        And I believe most kids that smoke pass it around.

        • No it’s not, you’re just making that up. Typical Liberal, you can’t find something legitimate to criticize, so you lie about things.

          • Rick you need to pay attention look up mandatory minimum sentencing Bill C-10

        • Passing a joint was always considered trafficking.

  12. Is this real or a joke? It’s a joke right? This may be the dumbest piece of political news I’ve ever read.

  13. I see a lot of Liberals here don’t like the idea that the PM would play nice with a Jewish crowd. I wonder why that is?

    I also noticed there were plenty of Conservative MPs at this event, but not a single Liberal or NDP MP…. what do they have against Jews?

    • CON deadenders are pathetic.

      • Rick has to say SOMEthing….all his years of work on here and Cons are tanking

      • What? That no Liberals would show up to a jewish event? Yes, I agree that is pathetic.

        • Maybe it has to do with the headliner…

          Speaking or singing, Harp would certainly keep ME away.

      • Would it also be “pathetic” of me to remind everybody here that Trudeau’s father had an ugly anti-semetic streak in him? Would it be “pathetic” to point out that such prejudices are often passed down through the generations?

        • ABSOLUTELY pathetic. And potentially libelous. And soooo typically Dickish.

    • Harper’s appreciation for Liberals is well known and I suspect he would not want any of them around while he plays the fool.

  14. Not to be negative but shouldn’t Harpers band be called Nero’s Fiddle and the Capitalist Pigdogs seeing how they pander to Capitalists appoint pigs and behave like dogs.

  15. harper has more nerve than rob ford………….

    • Rob is a great guy,leave him out of it !!!

  16. harper is a legend in his own mind………he’ll be remembered like mulroney is remembered…………

    • Down to a party of two and if that happens again,no way should they be back in parliament as you need a minimum of 9 I believe to be in the House.They were eradicated in the 90’s and they managed to crawl back in, so let’s not have history repeat itself.

      • That was the now-defunct PCs, not the CPC (which is largely rebranded Reform). And you are allowed to sit in the House (see Elizabeth May, party of one) – you just don’t get official party status and the perks that come with that.

      • I’m pretty sure the Liberals will be eradicated long before the CPC.

  17. Harper like someone said; doesn’t follow the crowd, he’s above the crowd.
    That’s what makes him a great leader.

  18. If things keep getting worse for Steve he’ll probably try busking in the Byward market. Jessus dude, it was clever politics the 1st time, and still mildly diverting the second time but what’s this? the 12th or 13th time he’s pulled this lame old rabbit out of that busted down hat?

  19. Awrite! So what was missing, dear friends, at Steven Harper’s Neveg Night jig?

    “Teflon” Stevie could have made a little effort and coupled a Bo Jingles number to the show. Or, avoid the humiliation and ‘fess up, and take the hit like a man.

    A little hoofing by Steven Harper PM. in black face, would surely have brought the audience to their feet, and made us all forget, if only for a magic moment or two, the skating, the spin, the evasiveness, the dodging, and the overall sham and shame of the recent past.

    But seriously, when nothing seems to work, why not try a song and dance number.

    When you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, there’s nothing left to lose.

    Cheers, Adam.

  20. Rick, you have astute observations about the “progressive” commenters here. In fact what the left calls “progressive” is decidedly more authoritarian than anything Western countries have experienced in the modern era. Debate is frowned upon. Opposing views are seen as wholly illegitimate. Obvious weaknesses in their positions or favoured leader’s traits are willed away, through personal attacks, name calling and shout downs. Bona fide positions held by conservatives are viewed as fake, cunning or as a result of stupidity. The general approach is reactionary: once a commenter is considered conservative, whatever the point made, however well said, logical or persuasive, the commenter must be unequivocally attacked, often in a very personal manner.
    How terribly sad.

    • Interestingly, nearly every point you just made sounds EXACTLY like the governing party.

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