First, an item Allan spotted from our (un)friends at the National Post.
Inner-circle exodus spells trouble for Tories
Don Martin, National Post
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
When the Prime Minister's Office starts hemorrhaging senior staff with proven loyalty, something is amiss.
Then again, as Freud allegedly noted, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
But strange things are happening in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's close-knit office. A senior advisor and at least one strategist are moving on, which has some Conservative observers concerned about internal morale and questioning the operation's top official.
MPs confide there's a darkening mood in the big guy himself, hardly surprising given the stormy economic challenge Mr. Harper faces. One source says there was a blowup between a furious Prime Minister and key players last week. And PMO chief of staff Guy Giorno is now plotting the second major internal shuffle in eight months.
What does all this mean? Search me. But some who orbit just outside Mr. Harper's innermost circle speculate that a Conservative party with no heir apparent could lose its leader before the next election.
Next, a similar idea through a wider lens, from The Martlet, from the University of Victoria.
The end of Harper's conservative rule
by Cody Willett
After January's load-blowing, deficit-spending budget, conservative pundits are furiously harping on about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's betrayals of conservative dogma — he might as well be a Liberal for all they care.
At least back in the day when Brian Mulroney was PM, he could be excused for flip-flopping this way. But Harper? His career was born out of the anger that "true" conservatives from the Reform and Canadian Alliance Parties felt toward Mulroney. In their minds, Mulroney screwed up so badly that it destroyed his party and ushered in almost a decade and a half of Liberal rule.
Harper used to be the evangelical poster boy for the most "admirable" of conservative stances — restricting immigrants from transforming Canadian culture, reforming the Senate, free votes for MPs, supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq — to name but a few.
And then he won his first election, albeit with a minority in Parliament. Out the window went the rhetoric about gay marriage. Talk about revisiting the abortion issue was hushed.
Now Harper has appointed Senators en masse, kicked MPs out of his party for voting their conscience, challenged the U.S. foreign policy on the Arctic and gone on a deficit spending spree to save Canadian jobs — most notably his.
So is the Right Honourable Stephen Harper now a Liberal? When you size up the new Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, you get the sense he and Harper could've been buds in another life.
Harper's duplicitous talk about balanced budgets, no recession and finding deals on the stock market sure doesn't sound like the maverick-esque straight talk you'd expect from such a clean-cut heir to the conservative movement's throne — just another reason to conclude that Harper is a fraud, deluded and seduced by attaining and retaining power in Ottawa.
"The West Wants In" used to be Harper's rallying cry. When he won the election in 2006, he declared his own version of "Mission Accomplished." Now that his pal George W. Bush is soaking up the sun, clearing brush on a ranch somewhere deep in the heart of Texas, Harper and his western "conservatism" are all alone — the Coalition of the Willing's last bastion of pseudo-conservatism that Bailout Bush's last acts as President exposed as hollow.
Clearly, this all points to Harper being the wily strategist all his subordinates once feared him for: if at first your ideals don't succeed, try the opposite, try again.
This is Canada of course, glorious and free — home of legalized gay marriage, ethnic inclusiveness and universal health care.
Harper can deport American war resisters and ignore climate change all he wants to pay lip-service to conservatism, but he's gradually becoming just another pebble on the banks of the Ottawa River — subject to the forces of erosion that Canada's cherished progressive identity has on hard-hearted conservatism.