Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Harper's Perfect Storm

It's easier to deal with returning chickens -- or kids -- if they don't all come home at the same time. During the Mulroney years, Michael Den Tandt writes, scandals had the good sense to occur annually:

It’s not like it was in the Mulroney years, when the government parceled out its catastrophes at a leisurely pace, on average one a year. That was so 20th Century. In 2013 everything happens at full throttle ­- especially, it seems, when the wheels come off what was previously a well-oiled, ruthlessly efficient machine.

Now the man who sold himself as distant but competent is watching, as the consequences of all his mistakes hit the fan at the same time:

First of course is robocalls, a pattern of gerrymandering first unearthed by my Postmedia colleagues Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher in February of last year. Last Thursday Federal Court judge Richard Mosley ruled that in the May 2, 2011 election, electoral fraud occurred in ridings nationwide, albeit not to a degree great enough to change outcomes. While he did not point fingers at any individual or party, the judge found the perpetrator or perpetrators had access to the Conservative Party’s CIMS database. The fraud was high-tech and widespread. Elections Canada continues to investigate.

Next is the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and its patronage-tainted hiring of Kevin MacAdam, a former staffer of Defence Minister Peter MacKay. Monday the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported that a Public Service Commission draft report on the 2010 hiring was edited to delete a paragraph suggesting political interference. The edit was done at the behest of MacKay’s office, according to the account by the Chronicle-Herald‘s Paul McLeod.

Moving from patronage back to alleged fraud, one-time Stephen Harper appointee Arthur Porter is back in the news. Porter, whom the Harper government named chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee in 2010 and who resigned in 2011 following a National Post investigation into his dealings, was arrested in Panama this week and charged with fraud. As head of the SIRC, Porter had access to state secrets.

All of this, of course, was prequel to the Duffy-Wright Affair. And, Den Tandt writes, if the Keystone Pipeline goes down, that will be the coup de grace. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.


thwap said...

What's to stop harper from proroguing Parliament until the time is right to call another election and win it through fraud?

Owen Gray said...

I wouldn't put it past him, thwap. But one gets the impression that even his own party is beginning to wish that he were gone.

The Mound of Sound said...

Harper's greatest strength, Thwap, is a hyper-shrewdness. It allows him to gauge when his own fortunes have stabilized and some vulnerability appears in his adversaries.

Look at how he trounced Ignatieff. He took advantage of a long summer break to allow scandals of the previous spring to abate, caught the Liberals utterly unprepared, and sprang a snap election. Because the IgLibs were so hapless, Harper was able to seize the narrative of the election and shift it from his own, scandal-riddled record into a referendum on Iggy.

That's exactly the strategy Christy Clark used to demolish Adrian Dix. Her government's years of scandal were not the focus of the election but rather than NDP leader and whether the public could trust him. Game, set and match.

This time, though, the scandals may remain active through the summer, particularly now that even Duffy has been handed over to the cops. Still, it's up to Mulcair and Trudeau to stoke the fires throughout the summer, to keep these scandals alive in the public's mind.

Owen Gray said...

I agree with Mound, thwap. Harper will try to run out the clock. Mulcair and Trudeau must make Harper the issue.

Kim said...

I agree with Mound too, and want to offer a caution to anyone who underestimates the determination of the 1 % that the corporate lackies achieve power. Beware the Ides of BC.

Owen Gray said...

It's all about shifting blame, Kim. Harper has taken credit for previous decisions which left our banks in fairly good shape.

But he'll make Nigel Wright the scapegoat and claim that Wright is "solely responsible" for interference in the Duffy Affair.