Stephen Harper’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-him approach

Paul Wells on why Harper works harder than any prime minister in his lifetime to take himself out of the picture

The blink-and-you'll-miss-him approach

Adrian Wyld/CP

On the eve of his meeting with national Aboriginal chiefs, Stephen Harper sat down with a Radio-Canada reporter to talk about some other stuff. She asked him why he doesn’t get along with Quebec voters. The federal Conservatives’ boosting of the royals, their nomination of a unilingual auditor general, their tough-on-crime bills don’t go down well with Montreal commentators.

As any of his predecessors would, Harper disputed the question. Quebecers like our sensible policies just fine, he said in effect, and we like Quebecers too. Then he made a bold claim: “I think our approach to federalism truly weakened the Bloc Québécois,” he said, “and we saw the downfall of the Bloc.”

Really? When I posted that excerpt on my blog, a lot of readers made fun of it. If Harper did chop down the mighty oak that Lucien Bouchard and Gilles Duceppe built, it fell in an odd direction: toward Jack Layton’s NDP, which won 59 seats in Quebec. The Conservatives won five. Even the Liberals, with seven Quebec seats, did better there.

And yet it’s true that Harper led the government of Canada while a party built to complain about Canada popped like a balloon. If he contributed, it was not by handing separatists a juicy target. His government does less in traditional areas of provincial jurisdiction like health or education than any federal government has for decades. (His detractors west of Quebec call that a big problem.) He had the Commons recognize “the Québécois,” a term left artfully undefined, as a nation. He handed the provinces a whack of money, early on, to settle the “fiscal imbalance,” and while I was always pretty sure it was a made-up problem, damned if provincial governments didn’t stop complaining about it. So, you know, whatever works.

Canadians have grown used to a certain image of a federal leader who is “saving Canada.” It’s all big speeches and grand gestures: Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Charest in his 1995 role as passport-waving referendum orator. Just about all Harper did was take a giant step back, out of the way. His occasional faux pas since—the unilingual appointments, the cuts to some arts programs—do not compare to the messes his predecessors made, the failure of Meech Lake, the wall-to-wall TV coverage of testimony about sacks full of taxpayer cash.

I’m not going to muster a wholehearted defence of Harper’s claim, because I suspect his role in the fall of the Bloc was comparable to the first George Bush’s role in the fall of the Berlin Wall: he was simply the guy on duty when a decrepit institution ran out of gas. But you can see why Harper believes he brought the Bloc down. Which helps explain his curious behaviour in other circumstances.

Take this week’s meeting with First Nations leaders. I’ve never seen a prime minister work so hard to avoid the spotlight at a meeting he convened. For the longest time he was going to leave early. When that went over like a lead balloon, he invited selected chiefs to a closed-door meeting the night before the summit, and stayed for more sessions on the day itself, but again, behind closed doors.

At least the chiefs got a summit with the Prime Minister. The provincial premiers, as a group, haven’t since 2008. They do meet Harper, but one at a time, in one-on-one meetings that are not announced by either participant and therefore go unreported. As far as the public imagination is concerned, they never happened.

This spectacle of a prime minister leading from just outside the spotlight is novel mostly because politics has been so personalized in recent decades—basically since Pierre Trudeau. He chaired as many federal-provincial conferences, 23, as all of his predecessors from Confederation until 1963. Brian Mulroney chaired 14 more. Jean Chrétien, determined to take the heat off federal-provincial relations, chaired “only” seven, although his Team Canada trade missions were essentially informal flying first ministers’ conferences. Maybe they’re where Harper got the idea that he could get more done without cameras and a set agenda than with them.

Harper’s influence on federalism has been profound, but it hasn’t been collaborative. With Jim Flaherty, he set the terms of the “fiscal imbalance” settlement. He sent Flaherty to announce the terms of the next decade’s transfers to the provinces for health care. His office got spitting mad when we asked too many questions about his presence at this week’s First Nations gathering, pointing out that ministers and bureaucrats would be there by the bushel, so questions about Harper did “a disservice” to the rest.

Despite his reputation as a control freak, Harper works harder than any prime minister in his lifetime to take himself out of the picture. The contrast with the iconography of Conservative election campaigns is striking. The ads are full of Harper, chatting with ministers at sunlit breakfast tables, labouring late into the night. Between elections, his influence is felt everywhere—but the guy can be hard to find. Maybe that’s part of the key to his success. He is in no hurry to wear out his welcome. Ten or 15 years hence, when they unveil his official portrait, it should show him in shadow, with his back turned.

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Stephen Harper’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-him approach

  1. Harper is essentially paranoid in my opinion.  His security staff as become enormous, he surrounds himself with paid worker ants that must give him the false impression that he’s the queen and the more he’s in the public the more likely he’ll be asked hard questions he has no good answers for.  Like why is the debt so big, why are voters asked to give up so much while him and his corporate bosses can have so much?  Why does my Harper MP never ever show his face either?  For all the years we have to suffer the Harper party we will have only shrivelled and lost pieces of ourselves rather than blossomed as a nation.  It’s a bloody shame for what it is costing us.

  2. The reason you see Harper less is he only makes himself available when there will be no dissenting opinion for the cameras to record.  Hockey rink with Christy Clark? Check. Walk down Main street? Not on your life.

    • Maybe it’s a lot simpler than we think and it’s just that all the wall space in the PMO is filled and he simply has no room for any more heroic pictures of the dear leader in action.

  3. I’d suggest that staying out of the spotlight and being a control freak are in no way mutually exclusive. Harper appears to enjoy pressing the levers, but not so much  that pesky thing about brooking public questions about what he’s done, and is doing. 

  4. Mr. Harper is getting the job done and Canada is in good solid shape throughout this economic downturn all the rest of the world has suffered.That’s what counts in the mind of Canadiens.

    • Don’t tell that to the lefties on this board who are absolutely terrified that Harper is going to be elected again next time out. All they can do is insult him, make ups stories as if they are based in fact i.e. Tarnfeathers above. The fact is Harper will be re-elected again in 015. He will have changed the country and made some tough decisions over the next four years. Of course the left will deride him but most Canadians will think he did a good job whether he shows up on TV or not.

      • Strawmen: fun to build, fun to knock over, fun to re-build, fun to knock over again.

      • … while he keeps pumping tar sands juice up our veins !!  He’s just an oil pusher.

        • You should be damn happy he is pushing “tar sands” juice. Your very way of life relies on it and will for many more years to come. Wake up and smell the coffee my friend.
          Without oil where would our economy be and the precious social programs that the left loves so much.

          • … spoken like a true climate change / global warming naysayer… It’s time to green shift gears, not maintain the status quo into oblivion… (one million PhD scientists can’t be wrong !!! ) Harper recently said In Davos that he wants to invest more in R & D. Well we should invest in green technology and wean ourselves off of oil, not promote it for heaven’s sake. They’re all greedy dinosaurs and don’t give a rat’s butt about future generations and planet Earth … bla bla bla… what the hell, it’s like talking to a brick wall … 

          • You are right it is like talking to a brick wall.

            Unless you can show me where there is a switch that can be flipped that will turn us into a green economy without wiping out the middle class then I will listen.

            McGuinty’s green economy spending has been a disaster for Ontario.

            I will say one word for you Solyndra. Any government that would invest as risk capital $500 million of taxpayers money is an idiot. Governments are not suppose to be venture capitalists with taxpayer money.

          • Whatever, promoting the oil sands is NOT the answer !

          • Sure lets just shut down the only thing that’s driving our economy and call it a day.
            Are you that stunted in your thinking that you cannot be rationale.
            If you are so smart what is the answer? You know if you are reading the science that the oil sands contribute only a small of the global warming problem. 

          • it’s funny, how I remember in the 60’s while living in Wpg.
            how fast the switch was flipped to natural gas and the under the city steam plant fell to oblivion……which might be resurrected to a form of solar………haven’t other countries succeeded and in relatively short times?  When I sought to work in the prov. of AB in late 90’s it’s funny at all the conferences I attended, it was doom and gloom run out of oil and look for alternate energy……….by the year whatever, we would have no natural resource.  Astounding the way things are now and have been constantly to the tune of investment dollars that damn oil keeps persisting.
            I’m for solar and alternate energy and always have been but hey I am old.

          • It is pointless to discuss with “greens” economy . They are ever ready to ask questions but are unable to comprehend the answer.

          • I agree. None of them have the answer to what happens if we shut down the oil sands today. They believe, falsely, that a green economy will somehow not require a significant increase in taxes in order to change behaviour. That means higher taxes for the working stiffs of this country. As Harper said in the Green Shift debate it will be a tax on anything that is produced in our economy.

          • Geez… stop already with the notion that people want to “shut down the “sands.”  Even Green leader May quotes Peter Lougheed and Preston Manning…  Nothing about closing down, but rather about responsible development while transitioning to more sustainable fuels over the next 25 years.  NO ONE is saying shut off the flow tomorrow.  What is being said is… use some of the wealth from our resources to develop cleaner energy.  It would be nice if you could quit being so painfully partisan.

          • The right doesn’t love social programs?  Oh… you mean like schools… and hospitals?  Stuff like that?  Damn lefties and their feelings of entitlement!

          • What are you talking about. Nobody believes that education and hospitals are a social program. Healthcare is a social program but it is one that virtually every Canadian supports. However, to suggest that nothing can be done to fix the system would be a mistake. The left simply wants to talk about the healthcare system but any time somebody wants to talk about changes they are shouted down.

        • I read this column and of course now you want to blame Harper for the provincial deficits. McGuinty has been a profligate spender and he should have been thrown out of office in the last election.
          Tell me when the other countries report the Debt to GDP ratios do they report for example all the debt carried bythe various states in the United States. So when the U.S. reports its Debt to GDP does it include the $40 billion owed by California alone. Lets make sure we compare apples to apples.

          Anything that Stephen Maher writes I take with a grain of sand.

          • McGuinty isn’t the only profligate spender; Harper has been racking up quite a debt as well. McGuinty’s green spending, which you criticized above, hasn’t worked out nearly as well as he hoped, but it does display a vision – something Harper seems to lack.

            For example, instead of exporting raw bitumen, why not refine it here? Build a petrochemicals industry that will employ still more people?

            He might also try looking at other sectors, rather than focussing on just one industry / region.

          • Can you imagine trying to get approval to build a refinery? The enviro nuts would be out in full force as they are with the pipeline.

            McGuinty is trying to use venture capital provided by taxpayers to build a green economy. That is not his job.

      • yes, many countries fall to dictatorship…and no right to question.  He is on a decisive course and well planned.  Bet anything he has a well known social disorder.

        • I think it is you who has the social disorder. He is the Prime Minister of Canada duly elected by the people of Canada. He has the interest of the country at heart and will do what he thinks is in the best interest of the country. We have many problems in this country as a result of Liberals ruling the country for 80 of the last 100 years.
          There is no hidden agenda here as much as you would like to believe there is one.
          As for a dictatorship when he bans the opposition parties and closes up the media then we can talk. Otherwise quit being silly.

          • “He has the interest of the country at heart and will do what he thinks is in the best interest of the country.”

            Hahahaha! Good one!

    • Have another sip of that koolade.

    • Taking credit where none is deserved. This man has done nothing but put us further into debt.

      • Hey chevy – buy a Ford

  5. I go back to when he was first elected in 06 and at one of his first press conferences mouthy Julie Van Dusen of CBC asked why he had been hiding. He looked her straight in the eye and said you will see me when I have something to say. Funny Van Dusen is rarely seen on CBC anymore commenting on the Conservative government.
    The strategy I believe is to keep the government out of the face of Canadians. This is a different strategy than the Libs who were constantly issuing press releases and making grand announcements about this, that or the other thing, having ministers showing up all over the place. Frankly I think Harper’s approach is the right one. In the States when Obama shows up on TV which is most days people just switch the channel.
    Other than for the political junkies and the media i suspect most Canadians are busy living their lives and could care less what the government is doing. They are looking for results and that is what they will judge the government on when the next election comes about.

    • Ask 2012 Harper where 2006 Harper disappeared to…that should be good for a laugh.

      “The strategy I believe is to keep the government out of the face of Canadians.”

      Well that one’s going swimmingly over the pipeline isn’t it?

       Quit your bssing. When he wants something enough he’s willing to be as ruthless and a whole lot less open and democratic about it than some of his predecessors.

      The libs may have had big mouths at times but at least they didn’t conduct half of their business behind closed doors and incamera.

      • “The libs may have had big mouths at times but at least they didn’t conduct half of their business behind closed doors and incamera”. Prove it. You made the comment now prove it. You can’t.

        Compare Harper today to 06? What the hell does that mean?

        Hey they called a spade a spade on the pipeline. I know it hurts the sensitivies of the left but that is too bad. Once again you suggest he is more ruthless than his predecessors. Prove it . Sweeping statements without support are just simply talking points.

        I have never claimed Harper was beyond playing tough politics. However, he has had to do that to survive. Trouble is he is beating the Libs at their own game.

        • Prove what? Prove that the libs didn’t do business behind closed doors and incamera at any point in their history as much as Harper has so far in his majority?
          How do you expect me to do that, short of going through every parliamentary sitting they’ve ever had.It can be done but your’re a fool if you think i’d go to the trouble for you.
          A quick read through any decent selection of news reportage covering this Harper majority would likely turn up dozens of articles chronicling his abuse of power.
          Really you need to read around a bit more this has been covered by journalists with many years of experience covering national politics.
          So it comes down to whether i can be bothered to troll through news coverage for you – i can’t.
          But the next time you make a sweeping unsupported statement i’ll try to resist asking you to prove it ok?

          “Once again you suggest he is more ruthless than his predecessors. Prove it ”

          I didn’t atually say that but it is an opinion based on my 30 odd years of watching national politcs….tell me how do you suggest i go about doing that precisely? Would you like a essay footnoted perhaps?

          * edited…i messed it up earlier, so this is my final reply/

    • They don’t keep the government out of the faces of the people; think of all those Economic Action Plan ads, for one. They are very good at spending our dollars trying to brainwash us into thinking good thoughts about them. They just don’t show up when they might have to answer questions.

      • So then the premise of the story is wrong right? If the Economic Action Plan was sufficient to keep them in front of Canadians I guess they were in contact. If you are brainwashed by this kind of stuff then I feel sorry for you.  I don’t Harper does give interviews i.e. Mansbridge CBC. I see cabinet ministers talking. You need to take a breath and think about what you are saying.
        As I said most Canadians are looking for results.

        • The premise of the story is that Harper tries his damndest to stay away from the press and tries to avoid answering questions except under controlled conditions. That’s different from pushing the party and government (two separate entities, by the way – though party members keep confusing that fact) – unless you think Harper is the government and the rest are his meat puppets.

          As to the brainwashing, you’ll note I said “trying”. He apparently succeeded with you; I’m not that gullible.

        • It’s not about the story. It’s about you saying “The strategy I believe is to keep the government out of the face of Canadians.”

          If that’s what you think, it’s you that’s brainwashed.

    • ehm, you do realise the marketing budget for the government has risen exponentially, and that our Canadian Government has been ordered rebranded the Harper Government. These are facts, not opinions. 

      The strategy is not to keep the government out of the face of Canadians. The strategy is just not be straightforward about it. It’s buying media instead of having press conferences. 

      It’s despicable.

  6. Liberals are such cry babies.  Harper is the man, get over it.

    • Excuse me this is a man who is on a mission to destroy Canada, and all that we believe in!
      At the end of his term you people will be crying, because of his power hungry tactics, and his cons, and you will have no one to blame,but yourselves!

      • @2d386082b72d8d88d7b82dce775942e3:disqus Have you ever considered that he’s not our a mission to destroy Canada?  Does anyone truly, really think that any politician wants to destroy Canada? While I don’t agree with a lot of policies various political parties trot out, I never once think for a second that they’re actively trying to ruin Canada; rather they have a different idea of how Canada should be.

      • you mean like 13 years of JC as PM;  did not vote for him – still cried.  Something us Cons as you put it understand is all gov’ts become arrogant and think they know better; that’s when we don’t show up for the vote and they loose; unlike you Libs who keep voting the bastards in,no matter how much they steal from us.  if you do not believe me…think Brian, when he lied to us once too often.  down to 2 seats, bye bye Bri.

    • Harper — the man derides opponents as “Enemies of Canada.”  Sounds like a dictator.

      • You obviously have never seen a dictator. It’s stupid comments like yours that make people think you lefties are morons.

        • I’d like to add, I don’t go around personally insulting people. If you can prove me wrong, then do it. You’ve decided to attack me so I can only assume you can’t back up your assertion. BTW, I can name 2 (possibly 3) ex-PMs that have publicly stated the same thing about Our Glorious Leader.

    • Yes sir, Harper is the man.
      He’s the man who drove the country to record debt levels for one. $559 Billion as of last year. He’s the man who promised to help women’s rights, then slashed funding to SWAC until they had to shut down all but one of their offices. He’s the guy who had an Evangelical Christian who didn’t believe in Evolution as his Science Minister who cut funding to facilities doing stem Cell Research. He’s the man who said women’s reproductive rights were a non-issue but has not muzzled his own ministers who are actively working on that very issue. (He also cut funding to groups supporting women’s productive rights as well.) He’s the man who prorogued Parliament twice to avoid messy situations. (Non-confidence motion over his budget and the Inquiry over handing detainees in Afghanistan over to be tortured.) He’s the man who promiesed to fund teh CBC at “present or greater levels” before the election, then worked to slash their budget right after.
      He is _also_ the man who threatened NGO’s who support enviro groups who support protests about the oil pipelines just last week.
      He’s the man all right… Except I would spell it “LYING corporate funded jerk.”

      • I agree with everything you said except for the last word. A jerk is a stupid idiot. Harper is a right-wing would-be dictator, a very dangerous man, out to destroy all things Canadian – pensions for seniors, medical care for all, secular charitable organizations, programs for youth, gun safety, national daycare programs, education, regulations for food safety, agriculture, other democratic political parties – you name it.

        • seriously people – you lost the election get over it, see you in 4 more years. take this time to learn to be nicer;  as for the debt, it was when the left and the traitors were running things due to the minority.  as someone mentioned earlier, please look up the work dictator, think really bad people, not someone who just disagrees with  you.  remember be nicer!!

      • You lousy hypocrite Noel….Don’t you recall that we had a major recession and that the Libs and the Dippers were crying for Harper to spend more to help workers, seniors, municipalities, etc.  Now that he’s about to cut on spending, I bet you will be one of those dorks that attack him by saying he has a secret agenda and he cares not for the poor.  You lousy hypocrite!

      • JC as PM prorogued parliament 8 times, think again – parliament has been prorogued approximately once every 1.7 years since confederation. its true look it up. so stop using this, it only makes you look dumb.

        • True – but you ignored the key phrase there: “to avoid messy situations”. It’s the why that’s truly important. Normally, proroguing is done to wind up a session that has completed its scheduled business; that’s not why Harper prorogued on the two occasions that raised people’s hackles.

      • He made a mistake with the cbc-it should have been 0

  7. By not meeting in a public setting with the premiers en masse or (and maybe more importantly) pre-columbian leaders PMSH is reinforcing the point – missed by his predecessors – that the prime minister of Canada is their equal – he is their superior – that the Canadian government is higher ranking than pre-columbian and provincial.governments.

    • The federal government does not “out-rank” the Provinces, nor the First Nations. Harper understands this point moreso than many previous PMs. Each has their own jurisdictions under the constitution and Harper respects those more than many previous PMs – all the better to protect his jurisdictions.

      The power of the Crown is divided between Federal and Provincial governments – PMs and Premiers have equal standing in the Privy Council pursuant to their jurisdictions. The First Nations have legally binding treaties with the Crown that are so much older than Canada their status was incorporated into the constitution.

      Harper is definitely cultivating a particular image for particular strategic purposes, but it is not about out-ranking the Premiers and First Nations – if anything, that was the attempt of Trudeau and to a lesser extent Mulroney and Chretien.

  8. Last time I checked, first ministers conferences are not part of the constitution.  However there are clauses specifying the separation of powers.  It is clearly better to let the premiers meet amongst themselves, and not provide them, and Quebec an easy target.  They can never agree on anything anyways, so they will be “a house divided against itself”, so Harper wins by default.

    Harper knows that he is the best choice of the options, including Quebec.  When you are the best options, one just has to let the worse options fall away, as they are shown wanting.  He is Quebec strategy is just sitting-and-waiting, letting the other parties strike out.  Rope-a-dope. Ali beat Foreman by letting Foreman throw all the punches, except the last one.

    When Harper realized he disagreed with Manning’s strategy to grow the Reform Party, he didn’t conspire against him like Turner did against Trudeau, and Chretien did against Turner, and Martin did against Chretien, and Mulroney did against Clark, etc, Harper stepped aside, went home to Calgary, and let Manning fall on his face.   He then waited until Conservatives united to come get him out of his self-imposed exile.

    If the other guys are digging a hole and burying themselves, let them keep digging. 

    • “When Harper realized he disagreed with Manning’s strategy to grow the Reform Party, he didn’t conspire against him like Turner did against Trudeau, and Chretien …”

      Sorry to kick over your nice pile of bricks, you were buliding such a pretty little house there; but Harper did conspire against Manning, i don’t recall all the details, but i believe he leaked info on him for a damaging book, article or he may well have authored it himself – someone will probably come along with the details – but is no secret he was actively undermining Manning, he probably did the same thing to Stockwell too – which was a good thing for us.
       Sorry, but SH likes to dig holes for other people as much as the next ambitious pol.

  9. IMO, this is just the actions of a coward. It’s not about not wanting to stand in front of Camera’s, it’s about having other people take the fall for his decisions. If something doesn’t work out than its not Harper that is going to take heat from it.

    The man is a coward through and though.

    • The man who hides behind GG’s skirts when he can’t stand the heat!

  10. I think Harper is just a very intelligent family man who has been interested in changing Canada for the better and has worked to do so for over twenty years. Now he finds himself PM, a very rare opportunity. So he wants to make the most of his time, and spend as little time in pointless political rituals and photos ops as he can. He wants to get things done while his “window is open” and his hands are on the levers of power. What could be worse than becoming PM, then looking back and feeling you didn’t accomplish much because you were too “busy” chairing First Ministers Conferences that were 90% show and 10% substance?

    • My way or the highway. Dissent? You’re an “Enemy of Canada.” When the going gets tough? Hides behind GG’s skirts.

    • Gets things done while his”window is open”,Like he did when he secretly signed the Border Deal allowing American police to enter Canada and arrest Canadian citizens without any debate at all.Sounds like the act of a Dictator to me. Obviously Harper didn’t do to well in History class.That’s how Hitler took over control of Austria and Checkoslovakia in 1937.Is that the kind of decisons you want him to make on his own?

      • I used to try to police the appalling crap you people write on these comment boards, but I decided it wasn’t worth my time. 

        • There are certainly similarities even if you refuse to acknowledge them. That’s on you and no one else.

          • If you think there are “similarities”, then you’re a moron.  I can’t express it any more plainly than that.

          • Stop pretending Hitler was something he wasn’t.

            He was a human being just like Stephen Harper is a human being, he wasn’t an alien or some genetically manipulated human, he as regular human being and look what happened. 

            And if you don’t see the similarities in propaganda than it is you that is the moron.

          • @NikolaTesla1

            Of course Hitler was a human being. We are all human beings.  It takes a special kind of nitwit to think that this  somehow legitimizes comparisons to Hitler.

            Stop tarnishing Nikola Tesla’s good name with your mindless blather.  Based on your faulty logic, one could compare any politician to Hitler because they all generate so-called “propaganda”.  People like you are the reason Mike Godwin created his law in the first place.

          • I wasn’t the one who brought Hitler into this, I’m just responding to the idea that just because it is Hitler we are not allowed to see similarities between the propaganda machine and tactics he used and that of what Harper has and uses. And come on, be real, Stephen Harper’s propaganda machine is not your average run of the mill politicians propaganda machine. It is huge, relentless and unremorseful. His secrecy and obfuscation is unprecedented in Canada. His tactics, lying and basic disrespect for our parliamentary institutions is uncharted. I don’t think it’s a stretch to see some similarities between the two.

            I explained below why I don’t think I’m tarnishing Tesla’s name. In fact the only reason I have it is so people may be introduced to him for the first time because for some crazy reason, the greatest inventor to ever walk this earth, isn’t really that popular or even well known… you can decide for yourself why that is.

        • I used to try to counter the appalling crap that deranged Harper-haters wrote on these boards, but then I decided it wasn’t worth my time.  Why bother responding to a motley collection of sixth-rate amateur polemicists, conspiracy theorists, and underemployed partisans?

          • I think it’s only appalling to you because you don’t want it to be true.

            And really, stop calling out Conspiracy Theorists, at least they are searching for the truth and trying to hold their government accountable. What are you doing? believing everything your government tells you? how hilarious lol

            Next thing you know, you’ll be trying to tell me that buildings fall at the rate of free fall due to weakening support beams… lol or that the USS Liberty was really mistakenly attacked by Israel even though Israel pilots fly over the USS Liberty earlier that day, waving to the American crew on deck, while searching for Egyptian submarines or that it is common in criminal investigations to ship all the evidence of a crime scene over sea’s to be destroyed before the investigators get to comb through it. 

            Are you starting to see how crazy your line of thinking is yet? Hell, do you even know who the guy in my avatar is? If you don’t than I really suggest you google Nikola Tesla so you can see for yourself how this world works and how far some will go to get power and retain power and prevent some technologies from getting into the hands and homes of the people.

          •  Next thing you know, you’ll be trying to tell me that buildings fall at the rate of free fall due to weakening support beams

            Are you one of those freaking 9/11 truthers? It figures.

            Nikola Tesla was a magnificent scientist.  Shame on you for stealing his name in a futile attempt to add legitimacy to the ramblings of yet another run-of-the-mill internet conspiracy theorist.

          • No CR, I am a truth seeker and that is all. I don’t want to be lied to and don’t want to live in a world based on lies. Hence  my absolute distaste for propaganda and manipulation. If someone is truly altruistic in their intent than they do not hide behind walls of secrecy, propaganda and manipulation. 
            To dismiss facts and reason so readily about 9/11 is a disservice to yourself and humanity. There is ample evidence to suggest that a new independent investigation needs to take place to get to the truth of what happened that day.In regards to Tesla, he was probably the greatest Inventor to ever live and had an understanding of the world that probably hasn’t been surpassed yet. He was destroyed for a reason and his inventions and theories have been stolen and concealed from the public for a reason. Tesla once quoted the following:“The day Science begins to study nonphysical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all previous centuries of its existence. To me that sounds like a man who wasn’t afraid to go places that some are. A man with an open mind who wasn’t going to let other people tell him what to think or especially how to think. You may want to live in a sheltered world with your little box around you to keep you secure but I will not cower from the truth and or run away from reason. 
            It truly baffles me how some can think the world is what the media tells them it is..

          • I used to try to counter the appalling crap that deranged Harper-haters wrote on these boards, but then I decided it wasn’t worth my time”

            You might have slightly higher credibility if you had bothered to counter some of the appalling crap put out by deranged Dion-, Ignatieff- and Layton-haters as well.

          • In fact, I did.  Check my comment history if you don’t believe me.

          • Crit

            Maybe so, but I don`t recall seeing you counter the more deranged types on their comments, thats what I was referring to.

        • Considering the appalling crap that comes out of Harper’s bunch, it was only a matter of time.  Unlike Harper, the “you people” you refer to aren’t subtle about it.

      • I don’t need to waste my time arguing with someone who compares Harper to Hitler and thinks a popularly elected prime minister is a dictator. Your own words discredit you.

        • Although I don’t like the comparison between Harper and Hitler, wasn’t Hitler also a “popularly elected” leader?

          • The original poster didn’t say Hitler was a dictator, nor did I. Hitler was elected. So was Obama, and Kennedy, and Reagan. So was Trudeau, and Mulroney. So what? Harper has been elected prime minister by the people of Canada three times in six years. He’s not a dictator, and people who post such things merely make themselves look foolish.

      • Godwin’s Law took longer to appear than usual in an article about Harper.

         @twitter-100842674:disqus, take these small victories where you can get them.

        Also, in @intotheknight:disqus’s comment, doesn’t that leave Obama playing the role of Hitler, and we’re playing the role of “Checkoslovakia” (sic)?

      • Ooops – a Hitler comparison. Sorry, since PW won’t do it, I must – I’m invoking Godwin’s Law and declaring you the loser.

        For those unfamiliar with Godwin’s Law –

        • Next time I’ll read all the comments – seems I was beat to the Godwin’s Law punchline.

    • “…and spend as little time in pointless political rituals and photos ops as he can.”

      LOL…his whole presidency…oops…prime ministerialship has been nothing but one long, endless cup of bottomless tasteless of Timmies and hockey photo opps. He’s the most free spending PM we have ever had as far a govt paid advertising and proselytizing goes.

  11. Prime Minister Harper is smart, shrewd, and hated by the far left. They will have to wait until 2020 to get over it.

    • He’s hated by many of us center-right types too (you know, the blue liberal/red tory types).

  12. I was going to quibble about whether Harper’s election expenses fraud was worse than adscam, but upon second reading I think the column reads as the “mistake” being the wall-to-wall coverage itself.  Is this the case? If so, in hindsight, its interesting and very possibly correct: certainly no government is likely to take as much responsibility for wrongdoing in our lifetime.  

  13. “He had the Commons recognize “the Québécois,” a term left artfully undefined, as a nation…. So, you know, whatever works.”

    Ok AC is sadly no longer here so some one has to step up – ” WHAT! ARE YOU CRACY PAUL”!…[too much huh!]…

    Isn’t that part of the problem [ or maybe the solution?] – whatever works? It’s been that way since around the time old fuddle hung them up. What politician can go into the lion’s den these days [not just Harper, who used to talk this way] and utter the words: national standards, for all Canadians, or Canada’s national identity without setting someone’s hair on fire? Oh sure you can mouth some them after first genuflecting before the altar of provincial autonomy – hell it used to be you only had to do this in Quebec; theses days you have to pretty well take your federal hat off before you enter any province – they’ve all become prima donnas to some extent.

    Sure Mr H has stepped back all right, but i’m not so sure that’s entirely a virtue. Besides he’s not exactly consistent in doing so. Apparently when he has something he feels needs pushing like Royalty rampant, crime legislation or fire arms regulation he becomes Capt. Canada reincarnate. To be consistent i don’t think it’s entirely inappropriate to push those policies to the degree they make sense – which they don’t but what the hell” whatever works.” But here your word collaborative might come in handy, no?

    Granted it’s a tough balancing act being the PM… 
    [ with all respect to Jack, but i can imagine he would have had to stand on one leg, rub his tummy one way and his head the other while switching back and forth between mon pays and o Canada  as most of our modern PMs have increasingly had to do – only more so, had he lived an become PM. But at least he could mouth the word collaborative without grinding his teeth]
     ,,,of Canada and Quebec at one and the same time for any PM, but that doesn’t mean being invisible has done more to strengthen our country then say Pierre’s option of actually sitting down with the principles and trying to reach some kind of national consensus while upholding the concept of one country not ten or however many SH thinks is necessary.One might also say that policies such as multiculturalism and bilingualism were a tad more proactive than making oneself invisible?

    Hmmm, maybe more Rex than Coyne…I guess my real point is after all that is i see no compelling evidence [ as the PM would argue the case] that less inteference is preferable to collaborative nation building efforts on the part of the federal govt, in keeping this country unified, which has been forever prime directive for our PMs. It’s just easier and less wearing on the nations nerves. As always i really see Harper taking the opportunistic road, the easy road.     

    • Oops…just realized you didn’t say his method was better just different…slightly embarrassed.

  14. Unfortunately, we recall what former classmates had reported on the PM when he was in highschool:  he was always at a corner with his back turned, as if hiding, with a paranoid habit of holding on tight to his notebook and pad. Asked what the heck he was doing standing around and not participating in the dancing, or other fun around him, he simply said:  I am observing and noting everybody and everything down!

    Perhaps he missed his calling.  His job in the bowels of the mailroom and then computer room of his uncle’s Alberta big oil employer, obviously did not prepare this misanthrope and disturbing anomaly in Canadian politics for any contact with humanoids! 

    In fact his Citizen Coalition buddies used to call him…..”an emotionless robot”….Wonder why, eh?!
    God save us….

  15. This pathetic neanderthal with a Vision for Canada that’s taken straight from the Karl Rovian playbook and the Tea Party’s most failed ideological residue, will be “guiding” Canadian values!!!
    He should be back in his cave out west instead of reversing the clock in Canada on any progress made in the last half century!

    Now this odd tactician wants to rob pensioners of their rights.  First gays, then women, whom he hates most vehemently, now pensioners!

    He should quite while ahead. No Canadian in his or her right mind would vote again for this “Dismantle and Destroy Canada” pathetically out of touch guy. If it weren’t for Lady Luck, he’d be delivering envelopes to Enbridge!

  16. I just reread some of the posts here and there was one praising Harp for his ability to run the economy? 
    I recall when the meltdown struck in 2008, he had prepared two failed budges that refused to acknowledge the mere existence of the global disaster, and he told Canadians:  “Don’t worry, be happy, just buy bonds and stocks!!!”  Then he sent the Flaherty back to REDRAFT the Budget of despair and ensure enough stimulants were incorporated!

    Then he went on a partisan shopping craze and kept spending away his Surplus Inheritance of $13 billion….not on anything remotely concerned with Canada’s long term economic prospects like industyr and technology or make an effort to keep Nortel alive. We had an Avro Arrow and Canada lost it because of this man’s short-sighted Republic vision of Canada that exists only in his own mind.  Canada took huge steps in the last few decades and this PM is reversing them as fast as he can!

    But please, don’t call him an economist. His ideological baggage, from the failed anti-regulation policies (that got us into the ’08 meltdown mess) of Thatcher and Reagan will spell disaster for Canada.  But we all knoe what he’ll do.   Dismantle, Destroy and sell it off….bit by bit….until we no loger recognize our own country—as he promised in his firewall speech in the early 90s!!!
    Only the One Above can save us from this pathetically detached myopic bush-league view he has of our country….

  17. Someone whose name escapes me wrote an outstanding book on Harper titled Right Side Up.  It paints a very different picture of Harper than the commenters here seem to have imagined.  

    • Pretty good crystal ball gazing, lol

      “Many books about politics are not just heavy going, but carry an overt agenda, to persuade the reader of this or that cause. Wells not only offers a lively narrative, he enlightens the reader with the perspectives of a close observer with no visible axe to grind. His humour is a delightful bonus. All in all, this is a first-rate read. It brings recent history into focus and is good preparation for viewing the coming clash with the rejigged Dion Liberals. Whatever you may think of Harper, Wells leaves no doubt that as a political strategist you underestimate him at your peril.”

      Martin Loney (Books in Canada)

  18. Harper is right. The Bloc fell because they could not match the Conservatives. So Quebec tucked their traitorous tails and headed for the socialists. Simple math……the french always switch sides. Just ask the Tudors…….

    • Haha I like that!

  19. Loved article! Miss the smart comments, the good debate.

    • Where did they all go then?

  20. “Between elections, his influence is felt everywhere—but the guy can be hard to find.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, the art of subtlety in human form.  This is exactly what Harper excels at.

  21. great

  22. Payl Wells: You were a large part of why I unsubscribed Macleans years ago.  I see you haven’t changed a bit.  How much does Harpo contribute to your monthly pay packet?