Monday, June 25, 2012

The Problem With Cheerleaders

Yesterday, Tim Harper speculated about who would stay in and who would be tossed
out of Stephen Harper's cabinet. To qualify for Harper's cabinet, you have to be a cheerleader. But the truth is that every member of the Conservative caucus has to be a Harper cheerleader. Those with any doubts -- like the hapless David Wilks -- soon learn how to stick to the script.

Ralph Surette quotes former Reform Party MP Bob Mills on the problem with cheerleaders:

“I have always said, if you’re smart, you surround yourself with a bunch of really smart people; and if you’re dumb, you surround yourself with a bunch of cheerleaders.”

Which begs the question, "Just how smart is Stephen Harper?" I note this morning that Harper spent the St. Jean Baptiste weekend in Conservative MP Jacques Gourde's riding, addressing an invitation only crowd. After the speech, Christian Paradis -- one of the Prime Minister's most foolish cheerleaders -- declared that the Conservatives are prepared to work with the separatist Parti Quebecois.

Such a strange turn of events, given the fulmination before last year's election about the treachery implicit in any "separatist coalitons."

One wonders how Canadians can take these people seriously anymore. They're obviously not the sharpest tools in the shed.  Remember: George W. Bush got his start as a cheerleader.


ck said...

Harper, I suspect, is now panicking. I don't think he wants to be known in the history books as the PM who broke up the country. I mean, going to Mulroney, he of the failed Meech Lake Accord and Charlottetown Accord. Mulroney, who's party was splintered into a Western based right winged populist party led by Preston Manning, angry at the idea of Quebec getting special powers among other things, and the Bloc Quebecois, led by Mulroney former environment minister, Lucien Bouchard.

He also sought advice from our Premier, he, who could never gain popularity with Quebec Francophones. Charest, who is embroiled in the middle of a decades old systemic scandal pertaining to construction and public contracts.

Harper may well be willing to work with the PQ, but is the PQ led by Marois willing to work with him is the question? (Assuming, of course, they win the next provincial election--I can't make a prediction yet).

While Mulcair and Bob Rae, flanked by their respective Quebec MPs are celebrating Fete St-Jean in Montreal, to be seen, Harper hides out in a tiny rural village, population 1000, approx, in Jacques Gourde's riding on the South-Shore of Quebec City.

I also think that this is quite telling for a few reasons. As you know, there are many rumours and speculations of a major cabinet shuffle come August. Will Jacques Gourde move up to cabinet? He is, after all, (other than Denis Lebel, of roberval, of course), who has kept out of trouble out of the tiny Quebec caucus.

Rumour has it that Christian Paradis will be shuffled out of Industry and quite possibly, out of being Quebec lieutenant due to his ethical problems. And these problems are huge. The Charbonneau Commission promises to be quite interesting come the Fall. I wouldn't be surprised if Paradis's name comes up in the inquiry. Harper and his helpers must know this. Rumour has it that Denis Lebel, who has actually gotten semi-positive ink, may get to be the new Quebec lieutenant, and quite possibly inherit Industry, though I find the latter less likely, unless it is to add to his transport portfolio.

Given that Harper has such little wiggle room pertaining to his Quebec caucus, and let's face it, those ministers (with the exception of Lebel, again and perhaps, groan, Maxime Bernier in tourism and small business, but that, I think keeps him out of Harper's hair and more in his riding of the Beauce) are not performing spectacularly in their portfolios I'm wondering if Jacques Gourde will move up to cabinet, as mentioned?

Also, Harper has more serious problems should there be another referendum on sovereignty. Unlike Chretien, he has no would be allies to wave the Maple leaf with him. Plus, he also has a credibility problem of his own pertaining to national unity. If I were a strategist on the "yes" side, I would make sure that 2001 Alberta firewall letter to Ralph Klein be thrown in his face.

I give a more indepth explanation of why Harper would have no allies for the Federalist side here.

Anonymous said...

How true that a smart leader is not afraid to surround him/herself with other smart people (the smarter the better)! In fact, the leader then only has to be smart enough to listen to those who are smarter, no?

That is why I think that Harper is cunning (and devious) but not intellectually smart. I suspect that he was not exactly a "star" student, having taken what seemed a long time (6 years) to complete his M.A. in Econs. when the average time for an M.A. degree is likely 1-2 years:

Even if he had done it part-time, I am surprised that he took so long. There usually is a limit of 5years for an M.A./M.Sc. degree. Granted, he might have other extenuating circumstances that we are unaware of (e.g. no helpful phone calls from Toronto to move Young Steve along, eh: LOL

The Harper Party had demonized the proposed coalition between the Liberals and NDP as being in bed with people who were committed to breaking up the country. They had no qualms suggesting that the BQ were somehow illegitimate even though they were legitimate representatives of QC voters.

Having said that, I think that Harper is cunning enough to realize that many in his base are as hypocritical on this issue.

So, unfortunately, I do not think that many Cons supporters would be upset that he is now apparently very enthusiastic about working with those evil Separatists. I would be happy to be proven wrong on this issue.

Owen Gray said...

I'm watching Quebec from as distance now, ck, but I have the impression that Peter White speaks truth to power -- even if Mr. Harper doesn't like to hear it.

Perhaps Harper is listening to White. But my bet is that, in Quebec, Steve has passed his "best before" date.

Owen Gray said...

If there is any justice, Anon, you'll be proven wrong -- and you can rejoice. But I wouldn't start rejoicing just yet.

Rural said...

How strange is it that they "are prepared to work with the separatist Parti Quebecois" but not with the duly elected federal MPs of whatever party, parliamentary officers such as the PBO, Elections Canada etc etc .... or for that matter with their own backbenchers?

Lorne said...

I think too, Owen, that this clumsy and transparent overture to Quebec also says a great deal about the contempt in which the Conservatives hold the intelligence of the average voter. They seem to think that by making an appearance and a pronouncement essentially hits the rewind button on their poor treatment of la belle province.

They might like to remember that Quebeckers seem to have longer memories than other Canadians.

Owen Gray said...

How true, Rural. "Working with" anyone is equivalent to training a dog.

When they learn to come on call, the Conservatives will throw "them" a biscuit.

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely true, Lorne. The Conservatives are committed to the idea that everything goes down the memory hole after thirty days.

Quebecers don't forget. It's stamped on the bottom of their license plates. They remember.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I just finished reading an article on the Sun News website of the results of a survey that shows that the majority of Canadians do not like Stephen Harper. . . . a sign of hope!!!

Owen Gray said...

Hope springs eternal, Philip!