Friday, June 07, 2013

Things Fall Apart

Humpty Dumpty is teetering on his wall. Michael Den Tandt writes in the Postmedia papers:

Edmonton MP Brent Rathgeber’s resignation from the Conservative caucus, which dropped inside the Ottawa bubble like a little concussion grenade late Wednesday, represents more than the loss of a single MP among the 164 Tories in the Commons. It is a dagger straight to the heart of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper's standard defense when he has been cornered is to blame those "others" -- primarily Liberals -- or "separatists" and "socialists." But Rathgeber is from Harper's heartland, the political real estate which is supposed to be in the prime minister's iron grip:
To gauge the importance of this, we must first appreciate where Rathgeber comes from, whom he represents, and why he quit. This is no feckless Atlantic Red Tory, or an ambitious Ontarian disgruntled at his pending exclusion from cabinet. Rathgeber is a true-blue conservative, fiscal and social, from the heartland. He has a history of taking principled stands on issues that matter to the Conservative base: democracy, accountability and fiscal probity. His departure therefore represents a sharp rebuke, if not a repudiation, by the base – in effect, by the Conservative party’s conscience.

One would have thought that with Duffy's $90,000 cheque floating around in the politosphere, the last thing the Harperites would do would be to shield all those who earn less than  $444,761 a year from public scrutiny. But they did it -- and they did it without explanation:

Rathgeber pointed out that while not one of the Tory committee members spoke about the need for amendment at committee, all seven of them voted in favour of the changes the government wanted.
"It's a hollow shadow of the bill it once was, and to me was sort of evidence of a bigger problem in government," he said, adding that he doesn't believe the Tory members of the committee had a problem with the original bill, but gutted it on orders from the top.

The Conservative committee members were engaged in the same exercise as their Senate colleagues who whitewashed Mike Duffy's audit. The difference this time is that the information comes from one of their own. You would think that Mr. Harper would not be stupid enough to try the same ploy which has gotten him in so much hot water. But Harper, like a callow adolescent, thinks he's invincible.

Humpty Dumpty  fell to earth, the worse for wear. Likewise, Stephen Harper's political universe is imploding.


Kirby Evans said...

Like I said yesterday, I can't help thinking that theses people will finally come to their senses and, at the very least, revise their centralizing, iron-fist strategy. But then I think it is not really a strategy, and as Chantal Herbert said yesterday, the PM has now made the fatal mistake of surrounding himself only with old-time loyalists and insiders. Like Stalin, the PM is getting wrapped in a cocoon and is looking around blaming everyone else for problems which are rooted in his own political MO.

If I were a conservative MP I would be thinking we have to get rid of this guy before he destroys the party brand for a whole generation

Owen Gray said...

True conservatives should be thinking exactly about that, Kirby.

But, as I said yesterday, I'm not convinced that the majority of Harper's followers are true conservatives.

Ck said...

Like I said yesterday, Rathgeber is insignificant. So, he's a True Reformer social & fiscal con from the heartland. However, so is Jason Kenney. Now, if Jason Kenney, a high profile cabinet minister, often seen as Harper's potential successor leaving, then they're'd something to really talk about.

Watching Jeffrey Simpson and Craig Oliver on Power Play last night, Simpson said that Rathgeber will have his 15 minutes of fame and they are soon up.

Independents generally don't fare as well and many are calling this a political suicide on his part, and those are journalists from the heartland too.

He'll fade.

Also, word has it that Goldring (the drunk driver from yesterday is asking to come back and word also has it that Harper will take him back with open arms now that the charges have been dealt with.

So, in the end, Harper still has pretty much the same numbers in his little clan.

Owen Gray said...

The Harper caucus doesn't have the guts to leave, ck. They know that, if they do -- like Rathgeber -- they'll soon fade and become targets of the Harper attack machine -- like Garth Turner and Bill Casey before them.

The real question is how this will fly with Harper's base and whether Harper -- who does not want to go down in history as a loser -- will leave before his fifteen minutes of fame are up.

Kim said...

Peter MacKay bears watching. Read the story about Harper's paintjob on CBC. The Minister is quite openly not happy.

Owen Gray said...

Harper and Mackay have always been an odd couple, Kim. It would not be surprising if Mackay called it quits.

I suspect Harper would feel no remorse.