Friday, August 13, 2010

The Miserable Summer of Stephen Harper

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. This column by Don Martin sums it up well as
"the summer where Harper lost his census, at least in terms of the once-mandatory long-form version, and put worried frowns on senior staff and even some ministers.
Harper's decision and its fib-laced justification has tarnished a once-capable minister so badly that Tony Clement would, if he had an ounce of self-respect, resign from cabinet.
Clement should've done what former industry minister Jim Prentice did when he was asked to consider ending the mandatory filing of the detailed census form several years ago.
He told the idea's proponents to shove it.
This is not a singular vote-changing issue, of course, but, when added to other odd moves, has redefined this pragmatic prime minister as prickly, ruthless and needlessly ideological.
The dramatic ouster of MP Helena Guergis from cabinet, caucus and any future Conservative candidate lineup appears excessively thuggish given there's been no supporting evidence of inappropriate behaviour.
The flaccid results from billions spent on G8-G20 summits featuring bogus infrastructure spending has hurt the Conservatives' competent management reputation.
The end to prison farms without a rehabilitative replacement seems ideologically petty.
And then Stockwell Day -- arguably one of the best performers in cabinet -- became a laughing-Stock after he linked federal prison expansion to unreported crimes which, by definition, leaves criminals unconvicted and free from locked-cell accommodation.
No wonder Conservatives can't wait for this summer to end. It's been a non-stop series of bad decisions complicated by worse communications to appease a hard-right support base with nowhere else to go.
While Michael Ignatieff's road-tested image enhancement and Jack Layton's return to active duty were bad news, Stephen Harper's biggest headaches were all self-induced."

The polls reflect a new reality. The Census in particular (read this about how badly they have handled the issue) and the other Conservative shenanigans have taken their toll.  More on that later in the weekend.