When Stephen Harper steps out on the world stage, he never fails to offend. Last week, he spoke before the Mother of all Parliaments. He praised David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher:
In his speech, Harper told Cameron how much he has admired the prime minister’s “determined efforts and your wise and principled leadership during these last few years as we have dealt with the difficult and critical issues facing our countries and the world issues which require the best of what has always made Britain unique and strong, and which you have plainly demonstrated.”
Of Thatcher, Harper noted what he called the late prime minister’s refusal to accept any thought of inevitable decline and did so “not as an expression of good cheer, but as a matter of resolve and action and so Britain rose once more.”
He neglected to notice that he was speaking to British parliamentarians of all stripes -- and, thus, he left a bad taste in some mouths. John Spellar, the Labour Party's shadow minister for foreign and commonwealth affairs, told iPolitics' Colin Horgan:
“Saying how wonderful Margaret Thatcher is – he might have noticed that this was a controversial issue,” Spellar said Friday. “Now, of course he’s a conservative, but throughout the speech to be obsessing about how only Conservatives had the answer and therefore he and David Cameron were the right people, is not the way to do it.”
Spellar said it was “not prime ministerial,” and that a number of his Labour party colleagues expressed how “disappointed they were” with the address.
Thatcherism died in the economic meltdown -- five years before the Iron Lady. But, then, Harper has never been impressed by facts. But, more importantly, whether he is at the United Nations or at Westminster, Harper always trots out his most salient characteristic -- tunnel vision.
The rest of the world has his number. Spellar understands that Mr. Harper does not represent Canada's best and brightest:
“Canadian prime ministers in the past have had that broader perspective, so it’s not a case of saying ‘Here’s someone from Canada, they’re bound to be parochial’. That’s not the case at all,” he said. “It is that someone’s really not speaking for Canada, which is a G8 member, a G20 member, a major player in international affairs. And this wasn’t a speech from a big figure from a big country.”