At the time of the spontaneous public outburst against Prime Minister Harper for proroguing parliament, I told anyone who would listen that he probably had only one more gaffe left before the people decided to give him the boot.
Since then, there have been four of them – his continued stonewalling of the detainee issue, his over-the-top pandering to the ladies by proposing to change the words of the National Anthem, the profane hissy fit of status of women minister Helena Guergis and his failure to do anything about it, and now the embarrassing kid gloves treatment given by a Tory appointed judge to the ideal husband of the fetching Ms. Guergis after he copped out to a careless driving charge.
Although Harper’s klutziness and ministerial incompetence is nothing new (See: STEPHEN HARPER AT THE G8: HOW TO MAKE A SOW'S EAR OUT OF A SILK PURSE; PRIME MINISTER HARPER: CANADA'S INSPECTOR CLOSEAU; KEVIN LYNCH RESIGNS AFTER A BELLY FULL OF CLOSEAU AND MAN SERVANT KATO), these events which follow so closely his sly and cowardly attempt to bury the detainee issue by proroguing parliament, will surely do him in.
On the detainee issue, his stonewalling shows that his education has been too directed towards the Milton Friedmans, William Kristols, and perhaps the collected works of Margaret Thatcher. He should have left some time for Woodward and Bernstein and Daniel Ellsberg. If he had he would have known that stonewalling and cover-ups are a mug’s game, something like paying off a blackmailer. The guy who covers up, just like the blackmailer’s victim who pays, almost always winds up on the short end of the stick. In politics, the cover-up usually leads to a leak, then another, and then another. With each leak the politician loses support and credibility – something like Chinese water torture does to one’s sanity. If the cover-up and leaks go on long enough, there is no support or credibility left. The detainee issue is starting to rain leaks and they are likely to continue given the popularity of Harper and his government within the Canadian bureaucracy. See: http://impolitical.blogspot.com/2010/02/big-leak-in-afghan-detainee-file.html
About the shortcomings of cover-ups Harper should have read a Nixon biography, or drew some lessons from Brian Mulroney’s excellent adventure with Karlheinz Schreiber. Alas, he didn’t. He was too busy studying his lecture notes from Tom Flanagan and Ted Morton and plotting how he was going to stab his former boss, ex-Tory MP Jim Hawkes, in the back.
The ‘O Canada’ lyric change proposal so that our Anthem would become gender neutral was Harper at his pandering worst. What made it so outrageous was that while he and most of his Conservative followers have always ranted against political correctness, here he was acting as a champion of the movement. Even his followers couldn’t swallow it, and forced him to quickly abandon his crazy idea to get the girls on side - after he had trashed their $ 5 billion child care program, closed a dozen status of women offices and reduced by half the number of women in cabinet.
The fetching and kvetching Ms. Guergis’ behaviour at the Charlottetown airport was not the fault of Harper. The former beauty queen was late for her flight and in a hurry to get home to her prize of a husband and former super-stud, Edmonton MP Rahim Jaffer so they could celebrate their birthday together. Arriving late for her flight, Guergis gave the security and airline staff hell for being slow and even called the very charming Charlottetown “a shit hole.” When asked by security to remove her boots she said, “Happy fucking birthday to me. I guess I’m stuck in this hell hole.” She continued her class act by chewing out an Air Canada employee who was trying to explain to her the rules, saying, “I don’t need to be lectured about flight time by you. I’ve been down here working my ass off for you people.” See: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/775222--goar-no-medal-for-guergis-s-performance-at-un
Although Guergis apologized for the outburst, her temperamental display of arrogance, pique and entitlement screamed for further disciplinary action from her boss. Sadly, none was forthcoming from tough-guy Harper. That was a big mistake. This incident will linger over Harper’s political world like the smell of rotting, dead fish - which when you come to think about it, is altogether appropriate given that the dust-up took place in the Maritimes, which Harper has insulted before. See: Culture of Defeatism http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2002/05/29/harper_atlntc020529.html
The Guergis event and Harper’s failure to act as well as his past Maritime sins spell big trouble for Harper in Atlantic Canada in the next election.
And just yesterday Guergis’ dashing husband Rahim Jaffer had his day in court in respect to drunk driving, possession of cocaine and careless driving charges he faced as a result of an earlier encounter with the gendarmes in rural Ontario. A Tory appointed judge fined him a measly 500 bucks for a cop-out guilty plea on a careless driving charge. The ugly stuff had been withdrawn by the crown. Whether or not anything was untoward in the proceedings is unknown. What is known is the revealing statement of the judge when he said to Jaffer after he pronounced sentence, "I'm sure you can recognize a break when you see one." Ouch!
Its not Harper’s fault that Jaffer retained good lawyers or that the prosecutors gave him a sweetheart deal, or that the judge was terribly indiscreet in his choice of words. But politics being what they are, Harper has already began to take shots from opposition politicians and the public at large who are up-in-arms over what they view as special treatment for a high profile ex-MP of the law and order party. See: http://www.calgaryherald.com/columnists/verdict+sweetheart+sentence/2664956/story.html
So from here on in, it will be all down hill for Steve Harper. And you can take that to the bank.