What’s eating Stephen Harper?


 

Gerald Caplan considers Sarah Palin, Mike Harris and Richard Nixon in an attempt to understand Stephen Harper and that outburst in Italy.

Why is Harper such a troubled man? Why are those who disagree with him enemies, not opponents? No one has a clue what’s eating him deep down. He’s not a small-town nobody as Mike Harris had been. He wasn’t an outsider in his own universe the way Richard Nixon was. He seems to have had a happy, typically middle-class upbringing. In fact, he grew up one of the luckiest human beings on earth, with privileges that only a fraction of humankind has ever enjoyed, and has remained lucky and privileged ever since. Yet he’s such an angry man.

Stephen Harper seems incapable of suppressing resentments that are unfathomable to the rest of us but that lead him to the most outrageous and self-destructive partisanship. His dismissal of socialists and separatists is just conservative boiler-plate. But his loathing of liberals/Liberals surpasses all understanding. No doubt he is a very smart man about some things. But for such a smart man he sure does some troubling things.


 

What’s eating Stephen Harper?

  1. Caplan's piece reads like dime-store psychoanalysis: "But his loathing of liberals/Liberals surpasses all understanding."

    • But it's a damn good question he asks. Why is Harper so angry?

      • Did he enroll in the John baird Anger Management" course? That would one explanation…

      • Maybe he's just a dick.

        That's my conclusion about a number of conservatives who are irrationally angry people – Cheney, Krauthammer, Limbaugh, Hannity… not to mention John Baird and Doug Finley, off the top of my head.

    • Gee, not as gushy as usual, Crit. What's wrong?

      • T-G, I'm only gushy 50% of the time, after my mood elevators kick in. ;-)

  2. "Be careful when you fight monsters lest you become one." Nietzsche

    • LOL,

      I don't know if that's meant to warn Harper about fighting socialists and traitors, or to warn the rest of us about fighting Harper. Which is chicken, and which is egg?

      • With a $55 billion deficit, bailouts galore, and a very cheery sponsorship program of his own, maybe Harper is turning into a socialist/Liberal.

        • You must have slept through the 90's when the Liberals eliminated the federal deficit.

          You must have also slept through the 80's as well as this decade, featuring mind-blowing deficits courtesy of Saint Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and George W Bush, not to mention Brian Mulroney, Mike Harris and Stephen Harper.

          The idea that Liberals = deficits is belied by the evidence. But then, reality does have a well-known liberal bias.

          • In other words, Harper is as typical a "borrow and spend" conservative as any other.

  3. yawn.

    "unfathomable to the rest of us" ??? Saying what you believe? Ya, hard to understand.

    Not to say Harper can't be petty – because he sure can – but this is over-the-top drivel.

  4. Yikes! A little dime store psycho babble? He was hardly privileged … middle class yes, from a working family, yes, blessed with extraordinary intellect, yes.

    Why is everyone else so angry that Harper has become PM? I have rarely witnessed such baseless attacks on a person in politics or anywhere else as those heaped on Mr. Harper.

    • "I have rarely witnessed such baseless attacks "

      Leaving aside Stephane 'the rat' Dion, Elizabeth 'bucky the beaver' May, Taliban Jack, Dithers the Pedaphile…

    • He was hardly privileged …

      Well, the section where his privileged status refers to "Earth" and "humankind" so, yes, in that context Harper has led a HIGHLY privileged life (as have I, as have you, as has I suspect everyone commenting on a blog… heck, everyone with access to an internet connection). Don't get me wrong, I take your point, but I think Harper was being described as privileged in a global sense, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

      Now, "blessed with extraordinary intellect"? That's crazy talk.

      lol

  5. A couple of weeks ago, another leftish "politician" tried similar dollar-store (get with the times CR) analysis, and I thought Kelly MCParland did a good job of calling them on it:

    Kelly McParland: Elizabeth May off her meds

    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomm

    • Thanks, Dot. I enjoyed the McParland piece.

      • I am sincerely curious… why is McParland's to your liking and Caplan's "dime-store psychoanalysis"? I suspect it's because you don't respect May.. I don't agree with you on Caplan's but I'll explain why in the general thread.

        • MacParland was lampooning Ms. May's dime store psychoanalysis. Ms. May wrote a piece explaining why Wafergate ™ proved that Mr. Harper was sacrilegious, and his Canada Day military salute proved that he has "no grip on the history of the country he presumes to govern".

      • The McParland piece came across as kind of…….angry.

  6. Chantal Hebert referred to politicians like, say, Chretien as 'scrapers'- people who've worked their whole lives climbing up on the inside, often ending up ahead of their perhaps more advantaged or intelligent compatriots because of pure pig-headedness. One can see how politicians like Chretien or, hell Harris, may become very argumentative and see their opponents as enemies simply because if you've worked that hard for so long you can start to get the feeling that the knives are for you, or feel a sense of disdain for people who you feel haven't made the effort that you have. It's hard to see where Harper would come by that, though. All things considered, he's had a pretty charmed career and a fairly easy (if there is such a thing) rise to the top. Maybe with that comes a sort of hubris, the 'smartest guy in the room' idea, where you begin to see your opponants not just as wrong but as intellectually inferior and therefore worthy of your disdain?
    There we go, I'm done my crap amateur psychoanalysis of random politicians now.
    Dear lord, I need a life.

    • There we go, I'm done my crap amateur psychoanalysis of random politicians now.

      Don't be so hard on yourself, Sophie. Your amateur psychoanalysis was much better than Gerald Caplan's. The only thing I disagree with is your point that the PM had an easy rise to the top. I think he's been working 16-hour days for the last seven years, which may have contributed to his cranky disposition.

      • Oh no, I agree that he's worked very hard, I just think that his rise has happened remarkably quickly, and some of what he's managed to accomplish is extraordinary. It's simply that his career has remarkably few real falls, whereas if you look at the careers of other pols who seem a bit on the angry side, it seems that they've been knocked down a few times to know to punch first before the other guy has a chance, whereas it's hard to see those occurances in Steven harper's career.

      • There's no "psychoanalysis" here. It's just observations many Canadians have made.

        *ahem* Harper's problems are "mommy issues."

    • Your analysis is worth way more than the dime-store or even dollar-store offerings above. Heck, its worth at least a twoonie!! Where can I send payment?

  7. While this is an abysmal article, it contains a wise question

    Just why does Harper hate progressives so much? If you read some of his pre-prime ministerial speeches, you'll understand that his feelings for leftists (the NDP in particular) ranks somewhere between total loathing and utter disgust.

    • I agree, it's weird. You can disagree with someone- I'm quite pleased to spend hours arguing with those of the c/Conservative persuasion over why they're wrong, damnit!, but even if it becomes heated, I think it's generally understood that most people (and politicians, for that matter) do not have souls of darkness and are just trying to do the right thing as they see it. (I make exceptions for genocidal maniacs, because although they may be trying to so what they see is right… well, they're genocidal maniacs.) I believe that tolerance of other worldviews is the rule, not the exception, so it's odd to see someone so acrimonious towards people who, after all, are just trying to do the right thing. After all, as the late (politically speaking) Stephane Dion said "Liberals do not have a patent on good ideas." He's right, and nor do C/conservatives, socialists, or liberals.
      Or, in short:
      Can't we all just get along?

  8. Harper is angry because like so many of his associates — Baird, Polievre, Kenney — he is at his core a teenager trying to measure up in a world of grown-ups.

    George Bush was the same way. He was able to mask it better, though, because his down-home aw-shucks charm softened the bitterness.

    Harper, like Nixon, does not have that same gift. He wears it on his sleeve. He soaks in his own bile, the poor man, and history will not be kind to him.

  9. I have been thinking recently that Harper has been so intemperate/peevish as PM because he's not governing like a conservative. If Harper and the Cabinet had been implementing con policies, and not ditched them for supposed electoral advantage, maybe Harper would be more magnanimous. I think these little outbursts of his are way to show that, to himself at least, he is still a conservative.

    • "I have been thinking recently that Harper has been so intemperate/peevish as PM because he's not governing like a conservative."

      Isn't that the damndest thing? Nobody ever does.

      "If Harper and the Cabinet had been implementing con policies, and not ditched them for supposed electoral advantage…"

      The fact that "conservative" "principles" must always be ditched for electoral success (north and south of the border) suggests that they're not popular in practice. When people get past the tough-guy sloganeering and understand what conservatives actually want to implement, they stop supporting them.

      The result: so-called conservatives create a godawful mess when they govern.

      • Other than a few minor law/order changes, there is little that Harper et al have implemented that can be considered conservative, or at least how I understand the word. I have no idea why libs/progs have got their knickers in a twist about Harper because he's done nothing to roll back the state and its tentacles.

        I agree that Cons and government are not a natural fit because proper cons think government is useless/anti-freedom/ evil … etc and most wouldn't want to be part of it. Which leads to another problem, Con party only attracts the second/third rate cons, as far as I am concerned, so we inevitably get these freak shows.

        And Cons ditching policies is chicken/egg question: they get elected with con policies but refuse to follow through on them and then they get turfed a short time later. If con policies are so hated, why are they getting elected.

        • "If con policies are so hated, why are they getting elected. "

          Two consecutive minorities in three years is hardly a broad endorsement of conservative "principles" by the electorate. For the love of god, consider the overwhelming advantage the Harper Party had in the most recent election:

          – Massive financial advantage
          – A consolidated right wing
          – A centre/left split between four parties
          – A disorganized Liberal party
          – A bookish, uncharismatic Liberal leader
          – Control over election timing
          – A massive pre-writ advertising campaign to destroy the image of the Opposition leader
          – A first-past-the-post system that worked in their favour

          Etc. And even with all imaginable advantages, they pulled off another minority. I'd say conservative principles have not been endorsed by the Canadian electorate.

        • Why are the knickers in a knot?
          I suppose because (all other things being equal) most folks would prefer to have their party at the helm rather than applauding from the opposition seats.

          Why are they getting elected?
          To send a warning shot to the Natural Governing Party perhaps?

    • that in an interesting thesis, esp. considered alongside one of Sophia's posts above. Harper was a 'scrapper' in his own way on his way up (see his time at the NCC). the shift seems to be a scrapper on particular issues for the sake of principle on the issue (e.g., personal electoral contributions) to nearly exclusively his partisan enemies (i.e., the Libs; the Dippers and Bloc don't rate) or occasionally issue as coverage for partisan enemy (e.g., state electoral subsidies designed to bankrupt the Libs and as per Flannagan's writings mere months earlier). In that context I could see a ew things underpinning his anger: 1) joylon's suggestion; and, 2) his lack of success in his new endeavor (the Libs are not decimated and are in fact still tied with the CPC). I am sure there are other plausible fits here.

      I also wonder though if we was just not ready for how painful the job is once you get it. It is one thing to be roundly critiqued and criticized for what you might do if you won power….but once you are there you have a torrent of people -some supposedly your friends, some supposedly your competent colleagues and employees; some the media, and some just plain ol' citizens (not to mention the opposition) – together questioning, criticizing, 'screwing everything up constantly. he does at times seem think skinned in a way that mulroney and chretien never did and he also seems more annoyed by it all.

    • that in an interesting thesis, esp. considered alongside one of Sophia's posts above. Harper was a 'scrapper' in his own way on his way up (see his time at the NCC). the shift seems to be a move from a scrapper on particular issues for the sake of principle on the issue (e.g., personal electoral contributions) to focus nearly exclusively his partisan enemies (i.e., the Libs; the Dippers and Bloc don't rate) or occasionally on an issue as coverage for the partisan enemy (e.g., state electoral subsidies designed to bankrupt the Libs and as per Flannagan's writings mere months earlier). In that context I could see a few things underpinning his anger: 1) joylon's suggestion; and, 2) his lack of success in his new endeavor (the Libs are not decimated and are in fact still tied with the CPC). I am sure there are other plausible fits here.

      I also wonder though if we was just not ready for how painful the job is once you get it. It is one thing to be roundly critiqued and criticized for what you might do if you won power….but once you are there you have a torrent of people -some supposedly your friends, some supposedly your competent colleagues and employees; some the media, and some just plain ol' citizens (not to mention the opposition) – together questioning, criticizing, and 'screwing everything up constantly. he does at times seem rather thin skinned in a way that mulroney and chretien never did. and, he also seems more annoyed by it all. maybe he just hates his job….

  10. Actually he is only angry at libs and dippers, I can live with that.

    • Given that he's only leading a minority government, that's a lot of Canadians to be mad at.

    • SH, so you can live with Harper being angry with the majority of Canadians. I still hope that when there is a Liberal government, you do not get to experience what it is like to have a Prime Minister who you know despises you and most of the things you value. All Canadians deserve better, even if you can't see that.

      • "you do not get to experience what it is like to have a Prime Minister who you know despises you and most of the things you value"

        Been there done that,…… we had umpteen years of liberal rule that are exactly as you decribe, Martin, Chretien come to mind.

        • Chretien definitely had a thuggish streak, but I don't recall thinking that Martin despised his opponents.

  11. Soooo…. you're okay with equating a leader of a democratic party with an extremist group currently in the game of killing Canadian soldiers, not to mention all the lovely stuff like repression and torture?
    I have a feeling you'd be pretty up in arms if someone made a George Bush- Taliban comparison.
    You're also good with portraying someone as a traitor to their people for standing up for what they believe in?
    Glad to hear it.

    • 1) George Bush could never have been accused of siding with the Taliban 2) I am a registered Democrat and have been my entire life 3) And if the shoe fits …

      • I can think kof some of the more tasteless comments made surrounding the issue of torture and Bush which, frankly, I found disgusting. Also, how is your being a registered Democrat remotely relevant? I'm a registered skeptic, because I'm a cheap sod who will gladly donate time to a cause I believe in and the party which promotes it, but have no intention of giving away my hard-earned school money, and finally: I'm so glad to hear that you think Quebec federalists are traitors to their people. Being a fan of, say, sanity, I disagree. But so be it.

      • Democrats for Harper? How bizarre…

      • "3) And if the shoe fits … "

        So you're saying that comparing Jack Layton to the Taliban is apt.

        You stay classy buddy. Conservative "principles" all the way.

  12. I agree that the anger issue is a real question. Sure Caplan is hardly disinterested (nor is Ms.May) but in various forms others such as Flanagan, Manning and others have raised the same issue as has virtually every credible political commentator from both sides of the spectrum.
    While Harper's anger has coloured Question Period since his arrival, I do not think it is correct to lump him in with Baird, Polievre and Kenney. While I disagree with their approach to politics, they seem to be having great sport. On the other hand Harper appears completely joyless.

    Perhaps it is reasonable to postulate that someone with either dual citizenship or a well used passport is not Canadian enough to be PM.
    In that case, it is surely reasonable to ask that a PM displaying all of the signs of a severe personality disorder seek attention. From that always reliable source of dime-store medical info
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissocial_personalit

    ICD-10 Criteria for Dissocial Personality Disorder

    Specifically, the dissocial personality disorder is described by the World Health Organization by the following criteria:

    1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
    2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
    3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them.
    4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
    5. Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
    6. Marked proneness to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict.
    7. Persistent irritability.

    • Posting DSM-IV criteria for personality disorders, in an attempt to link them to politicians, is one of the dirtiest tricks in the book. Hillary Clinton had to deal with this in the primaries last year, when her opponents circulated an email listing the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I think other politicians have been attacked this way in the United States, including Palin and Obama.

      • But it's OK to accuse your opponent of being a pedophile?

        • When did Harper do this?

          • Sorry, let me rephrase: Saying your opponent is soft (or sympathetic) of pedophilia to score cheap political points with the supposed Law and Order crowd is somehow above saying your opponent may have a personality disorder?

          • It was child porn:

            "A Conservative press release bearing the headline "Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography?" was sent to media outlets across the country at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday and recalled at 4:35 p.m."

            http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNe

            and than indirectly suggested the Bloc supported pedophilia by saying the Bloc was more interested in protecting predators than children.

            http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/07/03/ads-blo
            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tory

            Suggesting a personal disorder (that he does not have….although you have to admit those criteria do sound pretty familiar) pales in comparison to how low these two stunts are.

            I do love Guimond's quote making clear how dumb the Tories think the people who do not vote for them are:

            "They are crazy. They think they will have support of Quebecers with those type of pamphlets."

    • I was with you for the first paragraph or two, but then you hit the ditch. Hopefully you're not badly injured!

      Of the 7 criteria, this armchair psycologist (or should it be psychiatrist?) assesses that criteria #6 scores 44%, and #7 scores about the same. After that Mr Harper wouldn't score much different than every second or third 'man on the street'.

    • I don't know if Harper has any personality disorder and, if so, why would it matter? His personality, even without a medical disorder, makes him unsuitable to represent all Canadians. He clearly is mean-spirited and has trouble keeping his nasty side in check. Secretive and lies a lot too. There is some strange stuff with him liking to surround himself with pictures of himself – but that, in itself, is just a bit creepy and makes one wonder what kind of person one is dealing with. The other stuff combined is what makes him difficult to respect.

    • I think we've gone from dimestore psychology down to a nickel. You do realize that being A. this is just a screening test, and B. people need to display these things persistently and consistently. Even then this sort of idiocy doesn't hold up at all.

      1. Obviously we can't prove this one decisively – I posit that Harper loves his wife and children genuinely, but lets say for the sake of argument he doesn't.
      2. Harper clearly doesn't do this. He does his job, he doesn't break laws or norms (indeed he is often criticized for being being too much of a stuffed shirt in this regard).
      3. This is the complete opposite for Harper. Harper is not a very social person at all. However, he has been married for some years and has close friends.
      4. Violence? Definitely not. As to his tendency to attack his opponents (presumably the way you would construe this), you have to consider that Harper plans his attacks with a staff. His responses are almost never emotional ones. In ost of his non-scripted events – including each debate – he is practically sedated.
      5. Harper hasn't learned from experience? He moderated dramatically after his 2004 defeat, and changed his ad strategy as well in 2006. Guilt again we can't prove one way or the other.
      6. Yes publicly Harper blames a lot of things on other people. So does every single politician (particularly leaders of the opposition).
      7. Harper probably gets this one – though again, we only see him at work, and only for a small bit of his time working.

      I think politicians tend to "meet" the definitions of the DSM criteria because what is intended to be applied to a person is really being applied to a team of people trying to win at any cost. The problem with politics isn't that individual politicians are sociopaths, it is that collectively, political parties must often act like sociopaths in order to win.

      Even stretching the definitions you have given, Harper is most certainly not a sociopath.

      • 2. There is the social norm of keeping your word. You know, like when talking about softwood lumber saying "You don't negotiate when you've won", and then giving away a billion dollars. Or saying "A conservative government will never do that (tax income trusts) and then turning around and doing exactly that.

        3. Don't know enough to comment. Though I'd suggest looking at the case of Diane Ablocnzy.. someone who he quite quickly discarded when her usefulness was past.

        4. You missed the whole chair incident, didn't you?

        5. Of course we can't prove an absence of guilt, but we can certainly look for evidence. Things like telling Canadians that October was a great time to buy stocks, for instance. Has any guilt been expressed?

        6. Can you name a single thing he's accepted culpability for?

  13. "The loudest guy in the room is the weakest guy in the room."

  14. I think Lawrence Martin recently asked similar questions to Caplan's. I am starting to wonder if there is something we are supposed to read in between the lines about Stephen Harper… that there is something known around Ottawa by reporters that is not ending up in print.

    • Where IS Laureen Teskey these days?

    • Ray Novak:  Steve
      Harper’s Closet Confidant

       

      He used to live above Steve Harper’s garage.  Now he may be the second most powerful man in
      Ottawa.

       

      “Ray is effectively the Prime Minister’s closest confidant,”
      enthuses one government official. “Not only as a member of his staff, but as a
      personal and intimate member of the Prime Minister’s life.”

       

      http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/07/20/who-knows-what-harper-is-really-thinking-ray-novak/

       

      For nearly four years while Harper was opposition leader,
      Novak, then with the title of executive assistant, lived in a small loft above
      the detached garage at Stornoway—the opposition leader’s official
      residence—eating meals with the family and growing close to Harper’s two young
      children.

       

      This is the detail that has come to define an aide who, by
      some tellings, knows Harper better than all but the Prime Minister’s wife and
      mother. “Ray was with him more than anybody else for years and years and
      years,” says Brodie, who served as Harper’s chief of staff for three years.
      “They were literally hardly ever apart.”

       

      In addition to living with the Harper family at Stornoway,
      he oversaw Harper’s tour operations, coordinated with his security detail and
      served as the Prime Minister’s envoy to the families of the Air India bombing.  “Ray will get it done,” says a former member
      of the PMO.  “And he will do so with
      total discretion.”

       

      When Harper returned to federal politics in 2001 to pursue
      the Alliance leadership, he tabbed Novak as his assistant.

       

      As principal secretary, Novak travels with the Prime
      Minister abroad…

       

  15. (It applies to 'angriest guy' too)

    • Hmmm…reminds me of something my mother used to say "empty wagons rattle to most".

  16. Or, he could be mad because he's still waiting to become Conservative Prime Minister Steven Harper.

    As opposed to just, you know, Prime Minister Steven Harper.

  17. Some people just seem to be better, even at their best when on the attack when in opposition to… something. That is as true for the right as it is for the left, and much less true for those who naturally find themselves in the middle/moderate/centre.

    Harper has never set out a real vision for Canada or any higher objectives or priorities aside from his little policiettes here and there. He really comes alive though when he's on the attack and, frankly, the last two and a half years, ever since 3.5 of "The Five Priorities" (TM) were kind of sort of accomplished, it has been a LOT easier to be on the attack than governing and that's what he's provided much more of than actual governing or campaigning.

    That is why more than anything they keep asking Iggy for some policy or platform. They don't know what to do with themselves until they have something to attack.

  18. Martin supported Child Porn, or something…. My memories are a bit fuzzy of the Martin era. Still a bit of a non-sequiter, though.

  19. Harper is angry because he is prime minister of Canada. The rub is Canada. He hates the place, despises its citizens, its history. He firmly believes the dismissive, second-rate, failed experiment blah, blah that he has said and written about in the past. He hates Canada – but that's all he can get and that frustrates him.

    • Yes, Harper clearly hates Canada with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. He's worse than Hitler, really.

      • Godwin!

        • That was a sarcastic Godwin. Those don't count.

    • Perhaps if he had traveled a bit, spent the last few decades or so seeing some of the world…..

  20. "Stephen [Harper] 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."

    – Former Reform Party founder and leader Preston Manning on Stephen Harper in his memoirs.

  21. Since everybody's attempting dime-store psychological explanations, here's mine: Stephen Harper grew up in suburban Toronto in the late 1970s. He would have been totally out of place in that environment, and may have developed an outsider mentality from that. And it might be hard for him to shake that.

    Or he might just have been born the way he is; who knows?

    I think that the most telling critique of Harper came from Elizabeth May. During pre-election debates, leaders were told that they could bring in blank paper to take notes. According to May, Harper brought notepaper with him that was already covered in notes; it was as if he didn't believe that the rules applied to him.

    People have wondered, lately, whether Ignatieff is fully Canadian. They have also wondered whether Harper is fully human.

  22. Since everybody's attempting dime-store psychological explanations, here's mine: Stephen Harper grew up in suburban Toronto in the late 1970s. He would have been totally out of place in that environment, and may have developed an outsider mentality from that. And it might be hard for him to shake that.

    I think that the most telling critique of Harper came from Elizabeth May. During pre-election debates, leaders were told that they could bring in blank paper to take notes. According to May, Harper brought notepaper with him that was already covered in notes; it was as if he didn't believe that the rules applied to him.

    People have wondered, lately, whether Ignatieff is fully Canadian. They have also wondered whether Harper is fully human.

  23. I am totally out of synch with some of you. To me, Prime Minister Harper does not appear angry at all. He seems to be an even-keeled, level-headed individual in spite of being continuously and unfairly sniped at. He answers the hostile media's questions fully and respectfully. His interviews are well-done, giving comprehensive, intelligent comments. He is a great guy, and a great Prime Minister. I don't know how he can put with what is thrown at him day after day. Also, he is a good family man. People who meet him and talk to him have nothing but praise for him. Many have said that he is not at all like the media portrays him to be.

  24. Since everybody's attempting dime-store psychological explanations, here's mine: Stephen Harper grew up in suburban Toronto in the late 1970s. He would have been totally out of place in that environment, and might have developed an outsider mentality from that. And it might be hard for him to shake it.

    I think that the most telling critique of Harper came from Elizabeth May. During pre-election debates, leaders were told that they could bring in blank paper to take notes. According to May, Harper brought notepaper with him that was already covered in notes; it was as if he didn't believe that the rules applied to him.

    People have wondered, lately, whether Ignatieff is fully Canadian. They have also wondered whether Harper is fully human.

    • well another question is why being a harvard professor is such a detriment…..in the mainstream in society it would be more revered than being a "backroom boy" or activist and economist as in Harpers case

  25. He's angry because he's not actually in favour of anything; he lacks a purpose. If he found a purpose, he would cheer up.

    • He needs to champion a program that will put his name in the record books.

      He can't go near national child care or national pharma care.

      How about High-Speed Rail? That would get him a legacy — he could start it, then anyone who came along later would wear any cost overruns, etc.

      • I'm a High-Speed Rail fan, so I'd like that; and you're objectively right that it would be a great legacy move. But therein lies the paradox: the PM retains his old loathing of government programs (if not, as we've learned, of grotesque government largesse), so he can't bring himself to be active in introducing a new one (or even in running the current ones conscientiously). Meanwhile he doesn't, and won't, have the votes to make the cancellation of programs his legacy. So he's stuck with no agenda or purpose, and that would make anyone bilious.

  26. Ray Novak:  Steve
    Harper’s Closet Confidant

     

    He used to live above Steve Harper’s garage.  Now he may be the second most powerful man in
    Ottawa.

     

    “Ray is effectively the Prime Minister’s closest confidant,”
    enthuses one government official. “Not only as a member of his staff, but as a
    personal and intimate member of the Prime Minister’s life.”

     

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/07/20/who-knows-what-harper-is-really-thinking-ray-novak/

     

    For nearly four years while Harper was opposition leader,
    Novak, then with the title of executive assistant, lived in a small loft above
    the detached garage at Stornoway—the opposition leader’s official
    residence—eating meals with the family and growing close to Harper’s two young
    children.

     

    This is the detail that has come to define an aide who, by
    some tellings, knows Harper better than all but the Prime Minister’s wife and
    mother. “Ray was with him more than anybody else for years and years and
    years,” says Brodie, who served as Harper’s chief of staff for three years.
    “They were literally hardly ever apart.”

     

    In addition to living with the Harper family at Stornoway,
    he oversaw Harper’s tour operations, coordinated with his security detail and
    served as the Prime Minister’s envoy to the families of the Air India bombing.  “Ray will get it done,” says a former member
    of the PMO.  “And he will do so with
    total discretion.”

     

    When Harper returned to federal politics in 2001 to pursue
    the Alliance leadership, he tabbed Novak as his assistant.

     

    As principal secretary, Novak travels with the Prime
    Minister abroad…