Saturday, December 06, 2008

Is Harper Truly Concilatory or Still Scheming Behind Closed Doors?

The big question on the Hill is will Prime Minister Stephen Harper spend the next seven weeks reconciling with the opposition or will he launch attack ads in an effort to get the populace to believe his lies and weaken the opposition?

"As Harper struggles to contain the national psychodrama he sparked, the amateur psychoanalysis is reaching a fever pitch." (Robert Benzie, The Toronto Star, 6 December 2008). I'm part of that amateur rank, I'm not ashamed to admit!

After his very long meeting with Governor General Michaëlle Jean, he sounded contrite. He took responsibility, partly, for the mess in Parliament. But this effortful attempt to admit he was wrong makes me wonder about his ability to seek the wisdom of humility, for after the election, he spoke of working with the opposition, he spoke of investing in infrastructure as a way to stimulate the economy, he adopted Stéphane Dion's economic plan (spoke of it anyway). In short, he led us to believe that with the election fray out of the way, with purring contentedly over his win like a cat over cream, that he'd lead this Parliament to be a beacon of calm and co-operation. Yeah, right. His co-operative attitude didn't last.

With his economic statement, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty flashed the we're-on-to-the-next-fight sign on behalf of his master Harper.* Harper, it seems, doesn't savour victory too long before he's spoiling for another fight, another grab at more power, another attempt to crush his opponents to prove he's smarter, stronger. More, more, more. Harper is never content with what he has.

Although it is human to aspire to more, to not sit on one's laurels too long before thinking about what's next, Harper does not have the intuition and wisdom to know when one needs to channel that instinct to more productive paths by setting aside the daggers and donning the mantle of peace so as to work with his opponents, as Barack Obama has just done with his choice of cabinet. And so I doubt his conciliatory attitude will last. Seven weeks is a long time for Harper not to be scheming on how to undermine his opponents, the coalition, and to focus his energies on something other than his rise to more power. I hope I'm wrong, for Canada has passed the point of being able to prosper in spite of him.

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And on a completely trivial note, Harper looks like mad Data in The Toronto Star's photo of him on page A25 today! Is there a Trekker in the Star's photography department?

*For those not familiar with the Mike Harris government in Ontario, let me tell you it's hard to be more partisan, more vicious, more adolescent in attacking opponents -- why Toronto is in such a bad state as Harris and cohorts hated it -- than the members of Harris' cabinet, including Flaherty. Yet Flaherty was starting to look disgusted in Question Period with his master, and that is incredible to me.

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