Jeffrey Simpson writes this morning that:
Those who thought the Harper government would ease up a bit after winning a majority were wrong. Noblesse oblige is out, or, rather, was never in. If anything, the Harper government is more bullying, scornful of dissent, intent on controlling every utterance, contemptuous of the media and determined to carry on political war at all times and by all means.
Stephen Harper has a chip on his shoulder as big as the country. Some may wonder where it came from. I'm no psychologist: but it seems to me that, like all bullies, Stephen Harper is a painfully insecure human being. And I'm willing to bet that the root of that insecurity goes back to Harper's relationship with his father.
A recent article in The Vancouver Sun gave Canadians some perspective on young Stephen Harper: When he dropped out of the University of Toronto and headed west, Harper boarded with Imperial Oil Executive Frank Glenfield and his wife, Mary. Glenfiield told reporter David Staples:
"Stephen had broken with his family because they had wanted him to be a chartered accountant at the University of Toronto, where his brothers were. He decided he was going to be a pioneer, he was going out West. He was going to find his own way.
"I was virtually told to hire him, but I did. And he was a very troubled boy when he came. I think what upset him the most was rebelling against what the family wanted him to do.
Harper was not the first son to knock heads with his father. Nonetheless, that relationship was critical. The elder Harper made sure that his son found a job. And, Mary told Staples, the rebel's opinions were decidedly different than they are today:
Harper was conservative in his habits, "dead dull in some ways" as Mary puts it, but he wasn't Conservative at first in his politics. As Frank said: "When Stephen first came to Edmonton, he was a Trudeau Liberal. He thought Trudeau was God."
But, essentially, "He was very self-absorbed," Mary said. "I would say he's absorbed by two things. One is himself and the other is: Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing the thing that I should be doing?"
Harper was promoted to a job in the computer services department; and, when the department moved to Calgary, Harper moved with it. Later he enrolled in the University of Calgary, which according to Glenfield was "right . . . of the Ayatollah Khomeini, as you probably know, and he became very much under that influence." Like many converts, Harper became more Catholic than the Pope. And he became a man who brooks no rebellion and no opposition.
Harper's story is a cautionary tale for all fathers. Like George W. Bush, the prime minister had something to prove to the old man. And his fellow citizens are bearing the consequences.