It doesn't happen very often. But, every once in awhile, someone gets under Stephen Harper's skin. It's then we get to see the chip on Harper's shoulder -- a chip which has deformed his approach to people and the world they live in.
Yesterday, Bob Rae got under Harper's skin. Rae rose in the House and, on the subject of the government's Budget Implementation Bill, said:
“The Prime Minister has stated over the years, certainly back in 1994 as a member of the Reform party, that omnibus legislation was in itself bad,” Rae said in Question Period on Tuesday.
“He stated very clearly that you could not have this kind of an effort being made without causing a serious attack on the privileges and rights of Members of Parliament. I’d like to ask the Prime Minister: has he simply been corrupted by power?”
At first, Harper refused to take the bait. He followed the standard government strategy -- answer with a non- answer:
“We are in a very difficult international financial situation. That’s why we need to take all the steps that are necessary,” he said. “I know that the Liberal party rejected all this … but we’ve been working hard and we’re prepared to get this done.”
But Rae would not back down:
This is becoming more and more like a dictatorship,” said Rae, who went on to admonish the Tories for how they have conceded power to themselves.That's when Harper lost his cool:
“Let’s look at the record. The government has increased its net debt by $117 billion. Unemployment since 2006: up from 6.4% to 7.3% … That’s some record,” he said. “The Prime Minister has no right to boast to other countries.”
“In terms of power and corruption, I noticed the man who said he would never run for the permanent leadership of his party is now currently prepared to accept, which I guess proves down in that corner of the house lack of power can corrupt.”
One can argue -- as Liberals are currently doing -- about whether or not Rae should seek the permanent leadership of the party. Some wish that Justin Trudeau would reconsider his decision to stay out of the race. But, as Lawrence Martin has pointed out, the Trudeau name would be a gift to the Harperites. Perhaps Justin knows that they don't deserve such good fortune.
But, more importantly, yesterday provided another insight into Stephen Harper's personal quest to destroy his enemies Like Richard Nixon, he has a long list of them.