When historians sit down and -- with the advantage of hindsight -- evaluate the Harper years, they will certainly mention the Wright-Duffy Affair. They may conclude that it was the beginning of the end for Stephen Harper. But they will also point out, as does Lawrence Martin, that Wright-Duffy was only one of the prime minister's serial abuses of power -- the Afghan prisoners episode, the F35 debacle, and Harper's two prorogations of Parliament.
When they put these incidents in context, they may conclude that prorogation was Harper's prime directive. Paul Wells wrote in Maclean's last week that Stephen Harper's legacy really is the number of government agencies he has shut down:
Since the 2011 election, Harper has shut down the Health Council of Canada, the National Council of Welfare, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Rights and Democracy, the First Nations Statistical Institute and the National Council of Visible Minorities. The Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the Council for Canadian Unity and the Canadian Council on Learning were shut down a little earlier. The end of the mandatory long-form census was only the beginning of sharp cuts at Statistics Canada.
But Harper has preferred not to announce most of that. His goal is to last long enough in power to durably limit the federal government’s ability to intervene in Canadian public life. The only part of the job that seems to interest him is the part that involves wandering around Ottawa, boarding up old government offices. And it’s work he’s reluctant to admit to.
Harper has moved beyond policy into the murky realm of pathology. He came to Ottawa to get even with a lot of people. First on his list was Pierre Elliott Trudeau. But there are darker demons which drive the man.
He would fascinate Dr. Freud.