Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Desperate Loneliness of Stephen Harper

I've watched a lot of Stephen Harper speeches over the years, but the farewell speech he gave for Peter MacKay yesterday had to be one of the most bizarre.

For not only was Harper strangely agitated, and managing to look both cheerful and horribly lonely at the same time.

What was supposed to be MacKay's political obituary ended up sounding like an obituary for his own government.

As well it might be. 

Because yesterday couldn't have been more of a disastrous day.

For not only was Mackay's sudden departure politically damaging. 

Even senior Conservative ministers, still reeling from an announcement most did not see coming, could not spin this one: losing Justice Minister Peter MacKay leaves a big hole in their party. 

"I'm sure our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee and talking about sinking ships and deck chairs on the Titanic and whatever other allusion they can draw," Treasury Board President Tony Clement told CBC Radio's The House.

And the sight of yet another Con abandoning the Harper ship no doubt deeply discouraging...

The timing couldn't be worse. His prospects in Atlantic Canada are even dimmer than they were before.

"Harper's approval ratings are worse in Atlantic Canada than anywhere else, including Quebec," says Éric Grenier, the poll analyst from and regular contributor to and Power & Politics. "Having a name that represents the old PC wing go away can't help."

And the departure of the leader of the so-called Red Tories will make it even harder for Harper to win the support of others like him.

Grenier points out that when the federal Conservatives are polling nationally at around 30 per cent, as they are right now, all of the so-called "Red Tories" are parking their votes elsewhere.

And as Chantal Hébert points out that could be fatal.

If it were not for Peter MacKay, Stephen Harper would never have become prime minister and it is an open question whether he can secure another majority mandate or, for that matter, another election victory, without him.

Preventing red Tory voters from turning into blue Liberals (or taking on a shade of NDP orange) will be harder in his absence.

And to make matters worse, not only does the Con ship appear to be listing, the economy is also sinking. 

Statistics Canada says the Canadian economy contracted at an annualized rate of 0.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year as lower oil prices halted economic growth in its tracks.

The drop leaves the economy in its worst condition since the recession, according to experts.

Which also couldn't come at a worse time. Because Harper will not be able to claim he's a Great Economist Leader, or the steady hand on the helm...

Not when it's now painfully clear that his oily policies have driven our economy on to the rocks.

And that will do to his chances of winning a majority, what the iceberg did to the Titanic.

And then there was a new Ekos poll which shows that although the party standings are hardly moving, more Canadians than ever now support the idea of a coalition government.

As more Canadians realize that no party is in a position to form a majority, we see rising support for both coalition government and strategic voting. In fact, these options may be emerging as the best tools to serve the interests and values of a frustrated majority.

The graph above shows that Canadians’s previously strong aversion to a coalition government — which may have been critical to Mr. Harper’s late drive to a majority in 2011 — has softened dramatically. In the lead-up to 2011, voters were even divided between a preference for a Harper minority or for a coalition. 

Today we see a profoundly different picture: By a margin of almost two-to-one, the voters of today would send Mr. Harper packing in favour of a coalition.

Which of course also couldn't be better news. Because it tells me that Canadians are more determined than ever to do what it takes to sink the Con regime.

So while today his Cons are abandoning ship.

Soon it will be his turn...

Now isn't that good news? 

Don't I always find something cheery to end the week?

Now I think I'll take advantage of the favourable winds and go sailing myself eh?

From up there I think I can see victory in sight.

Have a great weekend everybody !!!

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  1. Anonymous9:12 AM

    It always amazes me how groups can intuitively figure out the score. Anything east of Ontario does not fit into Harper's oily dream. All he needs from them is a pipeline and a federal port to export oil. everything else is a burden. Although Ontario is not energy rich it houses the financial district which makes it an essential part of his vision of Canada as an energy super power. Its not about what can the PM do for all of his fellow Canadians but how can he manipulate them to achieve his oily vision.

    1. Until yesterday, I thought that slithery steve might get to the Ontario border with 10 seats. Now it looks like 9. His mania for insulting, lying to and mistreating voters in NF_L, PEI, NS abn NB to please his Alberta bullies may just result in a terrible arsebiting.

    2. hi anon...Harper was so fixated on that oily vision he did enormous damage to our manufacturing sector. In all those years in power he never even bothered to develop an industrial strategy. And so crippled is our industrial base that even now when the dollar is so much lower, our manufacturers are struggling to profit from it. He can call himself what he likes but he is no great economist...

  2. It's funny because Harper has been the best *and* the absolute worse thing to happen to the Conservative Party. I think it speaks to his lack of good judgement that he has stayed on to fight another election. His own bloated ego has trumped what is good for the future of his party. But, for the rest of us, that's a good thing.

    1. hi Omar...yes I think you're right, he did create a successful and united party, and if he had played his cards right he could have created a dynasty. But his fatal flaws prevented him from doing that, and it's hard to see his party thriving after he has gone. Which as you happily point out is good for us...

      P.S. I hope you'll co-chair my Jason Kenney for Leader campaign ;)

  3. Have a wonderful weekend, Simon..........more FUN coming on Monday!

    1. Kady! Kady! Kady!

      Bad news for the crown during the hiatus - Donahue didn't die.

    2. hi too. But I'm afraid my best laid plans to go sailing were thwarted by the fact it's raining cats and dogs. Friday was so beautiful I forgot to check the weather forecast. !!#@!!!

  4. Anonymous10:26 AM

    Hurrah for that.


  5. e.a.f.2:03 PM

    This enables McKay to get his resume out before the rest of them. He and Baird can establish a consulting firm. How nice.

    McKay is smart, he knows Harper may not win. He can move along and come back to run for the leadership of the Conservatives at a later date.

    Red Tories, may not vote for the Liberals or NDP, but many may park their votes with the Greens, as a protest vote.

    It's always best to leave the stage when you're at the "top of your game". he and Baird have done this.

    McKay has spent enough time at the public trough. Now he can go earn a living like the rest of us. Of course he will be able to collect his pension at 55 instead of 67 like the rest of us. Must be nice. Oh, well good bye, good bye. nice to see him leave.

    1. MacKye is not smart - his daddy gave him a million bucks when he turned 18 and he thinks he earned it ( Conrad ) . Was any of that Karl-Heinz brown bag bootle? Is there more to come to Potato Pete in the near future ?

    2. hi e.a.f...I think I read somewhere that MacKay's decision to quit came shortly after he met Brian Mulroney, his dad Elmer's good friend. So I'm sure he will be well taken care of, and will be wearing several juicy corporate appointments by the end of next week...

    3. e.a.f.6:18 PM

      Mulroney also most likely told him to get out before the axe fell on all of them.

      MacKay is smart enough to get out while the getting is good. He may not be smart in a lot of ways, but he is smart when it comes to political games. He has done well for almost 20 yrs., daddy's help or not. MacKay looked after himself well. that is smart, if you're his type.

  6. Noah Patterson2:55 PM

    The most telling thing in that whole article was Clement's referral to other parties as "adversaries". We know that Harper has an Enemies List, and his entire reign has been one which frames an "us vs them, with us or against us" combative government.
    That's not what government is supposed to be, where the ruling party takes all and gives nothing to those who disagree and in fact calls them anarchists, radicals, malcontent, enemies.

    Clement just proves that mentality is pervasive through the entire cabinet, if not the entire party. I cannot wait to get rid of them... I want them gone, rendered impotent and all but dead. Once defeated, and if defeated completely, the shaky merger of PC, Alliance and Reform will, I bet, shatter.

    1. Harper always wanted rebuilt it.
      to destroy the Liberal Party. He has instead rebuilt it. The party he destroyed was the Progressive Conservatives Now he has the Reformers in his sights.

    2. And Harper's enemies list includes birdwatchers!

      Revenue Canada targets birdwatchers for political activity

    3. Michael Harris says in the interview about Harper: (16:08) "I don't think he's corrupt, but I think he's amoral."

    4. hi Noah...yes the Harper Cons started to change our political culture from the moment they came to power. They adopted the tactics of the Republican right, and set out not simply to defeat their opponents but to destroy them. And yes that is the pervasive mentality in the PMO, which as you know controls everything their MPs say or do. I too hope that we can soundly defeat them, because like you I would not be surprised to see the Cons shatter with the different components coming undone. They have a mighty facade, and a lot of money, but they are more fragile than they appear...

  7. So with MacKay going, are there ANY Red Tories left in Steve's cabinet?

    Can you imagine the fallout if Lisa Raitt or Michael Chong resigned in the next month, or jumped to the Liberals? I think with the Con-controlled Senate (controlled by Herr Harper, who else?) ragging the puck on Chong's Reform bill, it's as good as dead:

    If I were Chong, I would jump to the Liberals as payback. He probably would feel more at home with the Liberals anyway.

    1. hi David...that's good question, because as I mentioned in my post I didn't think that by the end of his time Mackay was a Red Tory any longer. His appalling endorsement of some of the Great War on Crime policies, and his abominable treatment of the Chief Justice, made him in my opinion just another ghastly reformer...

  8. A superb column by Andrew Coyne:

    Re: John MacKay


    His career at the top of Canadian politics tells us more about the state of Canadian politics than anything else. That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s cynicism, the media’s readiness to go along with the joke.

  9. Anonymous5:40 PM

    Canada never has been in such bad shape, with such bad name. Canada has been dirtied by oil, unjust wars, Zionism and the obscene support in mass killing Palestinians.

  10. e.a.f.6:20 PM

    for all we have said about the Cons, we must also acknowledge that it is Canadians who voted him and his into office for 10 yrs. Not a nice thing to think about our fellow Canadians, but at some level some of them are as awful as the Cons.

  11. Anonymous3:15 PM

    Watching question period this aft I was amazed how often the cons said that if the NDP or the Liberals got into power they would immediately raise taxes which might be true as to bring some sanity back to government spending that might be an answer.On the other hand if the Cons keep power they won't raise taxes but will keep on borrowing and running deficits as they have for a decade now.