Vic Toews resigned from the Harper cabinet -- and politics -- yesterday. His is the latest departure from Team Harper, as the prime minister tries to put a new face on his government. But, writes Michael Harris:
It won’t work. Everyone knows who pulls the strings, no matter who is offering up the speaking points on television — and the puppet-master himself is not popular these days.
The Harper government has always been a one man show -- and now that one man is in the doghouse. The Wright-Duffy Affair is something which Canadians instinctively understand. And they know that Mr. Harper is desperate:
The PM has been all over the map on this file. First, the government’s line was Senator Duffy had paid back the money and was displaying “leadership” in the expenses scandal. That Edsel didn’t get very far down the road.
Then Harper’s robots tried the narrative that Nigel Wright gave Duffy $90,000 because he was the soul of friendship and generosity, just trying to help out a guy who was in over his head. Stephen Harper endorsed that fiction by saying shortly after the story broke that Wright had his “confidence” and would not be resigning.
Then funny things started to happen on the way to the RCMP investigation. In the prime minister’s eyes, Senator Duffy went from being a “leader” in the expenses scandal to being a person who had some questions to answer. Gone from caucus.
Next, Nigel Wright was no longer Robin Hood and no longer had the PM’s confidence. Instead, he resigned and became the man who “acted alone” in doing the secret deal with Duffy.
Stephen Harper -- the ultimate control freak -- has lost control of the story; and, for the first time since he became prime minister, his machinations aren't working. Mr. Harper and truth have always been distant relatives. But now truth has finally caught up with the prime minister.
And, when it comes to cabinets, the truth is that all the members of the inner circle sound like Stephen Harper