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.