The Flipper in Chief

Some call him... Flipper

This morning’s Toronto Star provides a handy list of Harper’s most recent “turnarounds”:

The Senate. He was adamant he would not resort to the old politics of stacking the upper chamber with party cronies. But faced with the possible defeat of his minority government, Harper moved fast before Christmas to fill 18 vacancies with loyal Conservatives, many failed candidates or with party ties.

Fixed election date. In May 2006, Harper proposed fixed election date legislation that would set the next election date in October 2009, to stop political leaders from “trying to manipulate the calendar.”

Instead, Harper called an election last September, saying that Parliament had reached an “impasse.” But he was also hoping to capitalize on his own promising poll numbers and a weak official Opposition before the economy worsened.

Supreme Court appointments. In December, Harper appointed Thomas Cromwell of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, bypassing a parliamentary hearing process he championed to more openly scrutinize nominees.

Government appointments. The Prime Minister had promised to implement a public appointments commission to eliminate cronyism in such appointments. It was to be part of the government’s much-vaunted Accountability Act. It never happened and, since winning its first minority government in January 2006, the Tory government has made some 1,500 appointments, many based on political pedigree.

Of course, we all know that. What’s more interesting are the remarks by Harper’s mentor (or Svengali, if you prefer), Tom Flanagan.

Tom Flanagan, a former Harper campaign organizer and strategist, said Harper has transformed from a conservative ideologue to a political survivor, but remains a victim of his own dark side. “Both sides are real … but what you see more and more is the political Harper,” said Flanagan, author of the acclaimed Harper’s Team: Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power.

Flanagan said the “Machiavellian” side is far more troubling than his political transformation, given that it almost cost him his government. “He lost the initiative by provoking the other parties into this potential coalition against him … and now he finds himself having to put together a budget which is really a coalition budget … the government’s hand is fairly weak right now.”

Isn’t karma a bitch sometimes?



Filed under STEPHEN HARPER Govrnment of Canada

28 responses to “The Flipper in Chief

  1. Big Winnie

    “Instead, Harper called an election last September, saying that Parliament had reached an “impasse.” But he was also hoping to capitalize on his own promising poll numbers and a weak official Opposition before the economy worsened.”

    I agree 100%.

    I still can’t believe he was re-elected…

  2. It was a big mistake not hammer him on that point repeatedly. The Libs and NDP should have consistently referred to it as an ILLEGAL election. Over and over and over.

    One of many screw-ups on their part.

  3. Ti-Guy

    The unworkable marriage between neoliberal economics and a conservative system of values was doomed to fail. The social decay that has set in is a product of neoliberal economics and not, as the conservatives maintain, the product of “liberal values.”

    What the conservatives needed to do long ago was to champion traditional conservatism that everyone embodies, to varying degrees; caution, discipline, restraint, respect for institutions, respect for authorities, stoicism and communitarianism. These are all incompatible with neoliberal economics, which champions risk-taking, indiscipline, libertinism and hedonism, short-term planning and individualism. What they ended up adopting was the playbook of neoconservatism, which was a con game to fool the population into agreeing to impose conservative values, which is illiberal and eventually requires intolerable authoritarianism and/or dishonesty and, as we’ve seen, just isn’t popular with enough Canadians to provide government with any degree of widespread legitimacy.

    I’m sure the failure of this ideological worldview is what’s plaguing Harper (and may others) right now. And I’m sure the reaction that this has resulted in, a return to big government and government intervention in the economy, increased social spending and large deficits is causing them no end of grief.

  4. Ti-Guy

    One of many screw-ups on their part.

    The illegal election was brought up. The media, however decided to hammer on about other things. Certainly, the CanWest papers that all endorsed Harper didn’t make a big deal out of that issue.

    We’d do well to remember just how the average gets information about issues of common, public or substantive interest; it’s generally not by going to the sources themselves but through the gatekeepers of the corporate media.

  5. Geez – he really looks like he’s having a hell of a good time in that shot. Hey, Harper, try to show some enthusiasm about something – maybe a beer or two (my hubby has to have that when he BRBQ’s) would help.

  6. jay

    This list is part of the reason that Layton has said that the NDP has lost confidence that the Con govt will actually implement the budget no matter how much like a coalition budget it is.

    Gerrard Kennedy has been more vocal than Ignatieff regarding the trustworthiness of Harper. He pointed out that Baird’s infrastructure announcement was for $7B might simply be a re-announcement (something that the LPC would be familiar with – couldn’t help the snark) and if it isn’t he still doesn’t trust the Cons because they have yet to cut cheques for the infrastructure money they have promised in the past.

    So we are left with the question…will the Liberals support this untrustworthy government in the face of the rapidly deteriorating Canadian economy?

  7. They’ve been sitting on that Infrastructure Fund for about six months now and must have announced it about five times over. I’m sure the Libs were bad for that kind of thing as well, but the Conservatives really seem to have a knack for re-announcing programs without actually doing anything.

  8. halttfoot

    This is unfair to Harper. I see him more as a …rennaisance man. Adaptable. Flowing with the wind. Listening to “His”, people. always at the ready to change course as required by the needs of…the country. A true Canadian spirit; Canada first; “Me”, too.
    And whoa! Not to forget this true Canadian has been a hockey historian and author for lo the many…1.5 years.
    He is one of us; one with us. We change; he changes. Why by spring I believe Stephen Harper will be…a Liberal…if necessary…to meet the needs of the country, you understand.

  9. All I’ve got to say really is imagine what would have happened if he had gotten his majority in either election, even by the slimmest of margins. There is a reason why I have been as hard line about Harper and the need to remove him from power for the past several years (and it had and has nothing to do with any political ideology or partisan preference I have, despite those that have claimed such of me from both ends of the political spectrum online), why I maintained that a corrupt and tired Liberal government under Martin was still seriously less damaging to Canada and Canadian interests, and sadly time has proven me correct. I said then that money corruption is far less damaging than abuse of power corruption, and far more typical of Canadian political abuses historically.

    Harper is a true example of the say anything to get elected politician, and worse, he rarely delivers any actual governance, a first I would argue in our history by ANY prior government. All he has shown concern over is getting power, and then staying in power and trying to utterly destroy his main political rival by any means available, including the abuse of governmental tools which are not supposed to be put to partisan purposes, that enemy being the Liberal party of Canada. It is one thing to oppose your opposition, it is quite another to wage an at all costs war of total destruction against them, which has been the one truly consistent policy of the Harper government since it came to power, all else has been in service to keeping it in power to continue waging that war.

  10. sandy crux is going to sue you.


  11. Kind of ironic given that for as long as I can remember Conservatives have bleated on about the Liberals only care about Power, everything they do is about Power, blah, blah, blah… Power.

    What say they now, when it’s abundantly clear that the Dear Leader and his party will do anything and say ANYTHING to hold onto… Power. It’s always all about POWER.

  12. KEv — Oh really? Why would that be?

  13. Gayle

    Kevron – she will never venture out of the safety of the moderated “progressive free zone” of her blog, so I think RT is safe.

  14. Am I missing something here… What are you guys talking about? What’s she going to sue me for? You can’t defame the character of someone who doesn’t have one.

  15. Gayle

    I don’t know what KEvron is talking about RT, I just know it does not matter. She cannot communicate in a venue where she cannot control everyone’s responses.

  16. Ti-Guy

    I should sue her for making me blow chunks every time I read her blog.

  17. “Oh really? Why would that be?”

    oof. who thought anyone ever read me?! easy, folks. i’m just cracking on her List of Harper’s Accomplishments®, which she claims as intellectual property, unauthorized use subject to blabbaduh-blabbaduh. so, like, she’d sue you, you know…. yes, it was a reach.

    look, you should know me by now….


  18. Ah, I see. It’s hard to say with that one. She takes herself pretty seriously — talk about being full of oneself!

    That pathetic List of Accomplishments® is deserving of nothing but ridicule.

  19. “That pathetic List of Accomplishments®”

    just to cheese her off, you oughta get one o’ them fancy ®’s of your own….


  20. aaaaand if i had looked more closely, i’d have seen that the star supplied that list, so i’ve really stunk up the joint.

    g’night, everybody! you’ve been a shitty audience!

    (dodges flying tomato)


  21. back on topic, does this mean the connies get to saddle the opposition with the deficit?


  22. It’s kind of an interesting dynamic at play here in that respect. Obviously, if the Liberals support the budget then they’re going to wear it along with the Conservatives if it falls flat and doesn’t produce the desired “stimulus”… Then, I presume it will become a debate over how it was implemented by the government, etc.

    The other aspect is the long-term debt implications and whether the way the stimulus package is crafted will end up contributing to a structural deficit that might prove incredibly difficult to eliminate without having to cut spending programs down the line. You’ve got something similar going on down there with Obama’s proposed stimulus package and how much of a tax-cut component is going to be included.

    Tax cuts are going to be the sticking point with this one too. More on this in another post later tonight or tomorrow morning if I’ve got time.

  23. “how much of a tax-cut component is going to be included.”

    you gonna mention how tax cuts are just a political pacifier?


  24. Of course, it’s entirely political. Introducing permanent tax cuts is insane. If they want to cut taxes, then they have to cut spending. You can’t spend and cut revenue at the same time.

  25. sharonapple88

    If they want to cut taxes, then they have to cut spending. You can’t spend and cut revenue at the same time.

    You’d think that they would have learned from Bush’s mistake. I know Harper once called the Conservative movement in the US a light and an inspiration to people, but seriously, if the lemming thinks it’s a great idea to jump off a cliff, does he have to follow too?

  26. Ah yes, that was a classic. I was just re-reading that one the other day.

  27. sharonapple88

    Definite classic. The part that gets to me is when he decries the lack of checks and balances — calling the Senate and the GG as just pals of the PM. Well, he’s got what he’s wanted — the Senate’s Liberal not Conservative dominated and the GG wasn’t his appointee… can’t feel that he’s happy though.

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