just how different is this harper government?

Wmtc reader Lisa sent me this scathing piece from Paul Wells, which I also saw at Idealistic Pragmatist. I've had some trouble following the Federal Government Hates Ontario campaign, and even more difficulty understanding why Harper wants to go this route. To my mind, alienating Ontario can only backfire. Voters will not remember the details. They will just remember that the Harper government dissed us.

In our emails, Lisa had this to say about what we've been witnessing, reprinted here with her permission.
...I think Harper's style is finally wearing thin. Thank god. His pettiness, intense focus on partisanship rather than focusing on governing, permanent negative campaigning, and utter disregard of the conventions of cdn federal political culture were/are driving me slowly insane. I've NEVER seen a federal govt like this one. He's completely debasing the political discourse. It used to be different...really! You know, the major political parties used to actually get along. They really did.

And later:
[Paul Wells' piece is] also sort of a "demonstration" that Harper et al is not politics as usual here in Canada (which I imagine you've gathered), esp the way he treats the media at such arms length. And it's pissing people off. . . . Their approach to governing is really at odds with how things are usually done. Slipping immigration bills through by attaching them to other ones, federal ministers interfering in provincial affairs (in a really partisan way), the micromanaging of Cabinet ministers, picking partisan fights with civil servants, the constant negative ads about the Liberals outside of election time etc. It's just not the way things are done here.

Reporters in Ottawa, who've been following govts for years are definitely noticing this.

You (like me and everyone else) probably have no sense at of the Harper cabinet for example (other than Flaherty), because they're never in the media. This is really really unusual. In the past, even if you only followed federal politics in passing, you'de be able to name and visualize most Cabinet ministers.

This is really interesting to me! I am sick to death of Stephen Harper and can't wait to see the end of this government. (And I'm sick of the Liberals for handing him a de facto majority!)

But Lisa's email made me think: perhaps I don't realize just how different this Government is from previous Governments, because I have nothing to compare it to. We moved here at the end of August, 2005; the Martin government fell in late November, and Harper was elected in January 2006.

Your thoughts and observations are welcome.

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