Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I get a kick out of this picture (credit: Tom Hanson, Canadian Press) of the Prime Minisiter strolling through Times Square on Feb. 23, 2009 with his impressive security detail. He's got all those guys guarding him but no one is paying any attention. It's Harper's play on the Obama-mania just witnessed in Canada. It must make a guy feel important even if no one's paying any attention. Perhaps all those security guys will attract a little attention of passers-by as to who that guy is in the middle! Maybe the security guys could carry placards announcing Harper's presence. Then they would have a little parade!
This picture contrasts with my memory of seeing PM Lester Pearson strolling alone down Avenue Road outside the Park Plaza Hotel on a sunny Saturday morning...nary a security guy or anyone in sight. But hey, he was only a guy to win a Nobel Peace Prize, Act as President of the UN's 7th General Assembly, lay the groundwork for the creation of the State of Israel, and bring us universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada, and the Canadian Flag.
These days, a guy has to make the most of his moment in the sun.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Stephen Harper led the Canadian public to believe that the three opposition parties were pulling a cout d'etat when they agreed to form a coalition to govern as a result of their reaction to the Dec. 2008 Conservative Economic Statement that
1) removed political party funding which replaced private fund raising,All this without addressing any measures to avert the worst economic crisis since the great depression.
2) told parliament to expect legislation to erase women's equal pay for equal work legislation, and,
3)told parliament to expect legislation to erase Federal employees right to strike.
As you all know, Harper convinced the Governor General to prorogue parliament to close it down at that critical time. Hardly the honest and principled leadership Canadians needed or deserved.
Never once did Harper inform the Canadian Public that coalition governments were within the constitution when a government loses the confidence of the house and that the Prime Minister is any individual who has the confidence of the house. Nor did Harper remind the Canadian Public that he attempted to form exactly the same coalition with the Bloc and the NDP to displace the Paul Martin Liberals as the government scant years earlier.
Enjoy CBC's Rick Mercer's rant on the situation.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
So Superstar Obama has just taken off. While in Ottawa, "hermit" Harper tried to sequester Obama from the public and all but a few chosen politicians. Harper wanted to celebrate the President's trip here all by himself trying to minimize his exposure to the Canadian people while maximizing his own exposure with Obama. He even had Obama meet with the Governor General and the Opposition Leader at the airport rather than in the Parliament Buildings...perhaps over the lunch held in the Senate Speakers Dining Hall.
"Real" politician, Obama, however, asked Harper if he minded if he waved to the crowd once he arrived at Parliament Hill. Harper acquiesed and followed Obama's lead in acknowledging the people...the real purpose of being for a politician. And then, of course, the President detoured his entourage through the Byward Market to sample a famous "Beavertail". Could you imagine Harper doing this?
So why would Harper want to script Obama's visit here as tightly as he scripts his own interaction with the Canadian Press and the Canadian People? It's just one more proof that Harper is a "control-freak" one-man show.
In the TV coverage, however, it was obvious that Obama was the superstar politician while Harper looked like a little puppy at the master's political knee. Obama comes across as thoughtful, honest, open, and sincere while Harper acts, talks, and looks scripted. The President was even able to call press conference questioners by their names whereas Harper didn't seem at all interested in relating to them in any kind of warm or friendly way. Of course, he always tries to keep his distance from the press unless he has total control over the questions and the interaction.
Harper did seem to make a major turnaround over the environmental carbon footprint. While he bad-mouthed Dion's poorly sold "Green Shift" during the election saying it was a tax increase on everything, he now seems to have come "full-circle" on the importance of limiting carbon emissions with his signing of a "Clean Energy Agreement with the President. Too bad he didn't "come clean" over the importance of this issue during the election. This was blatant dishonesty with the Canadian people combined with "scare tactics". If Harper didn't agree with Dion's plan, he should have at least acknowledged the importance of the issue and proposed his alternative solution.
Hopefully, this meeting with President Obama is close to the end of the road for Harper's and his flight into the limelight.
To survive as a politician in the future, hopefully voters will be looking to cast their votes for more "Obama-like" politicians. To that end, Harper, if he hopes to survive, will have to cast aside his evangelical right wing dogmas which attempts to destroy opposition rather than involving or listening to them.