Tuesday, July 09, 2013

New Faces, New Puppets

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


Kirby Evans said...

Though I obviously never liked Harper or his policies, I was surprised when it became clear that he is quite mad. I guess it is like most such cases. We always find it difficult to come to grips with the fact that a person who gets through university and holds down a job and some semblance of a "normal" life, is in fact a deeply troubled narcissist. But I suspect that though Harper has always been a little off kilter, it was (as it often is) the office and the power that truly sent him over the edge. Power and the offices that go with it exacerbates narcissism and magnifies its hold over a man pushing his buttons of paranoia and defensiveness. And the troubled rightwing imagination of a certain group of voters gets infected with the virus as they see their holy-man gradually fall from grace.

Jean Chretien was sometimes Machiavellian and always strategic but far from mad. Harper is increasingly looking like a figure from a novel or a Shakespeare drama - slowly descending into the madness of his own self importance. A Cabinet shuffle is just political theatre in a drama that is ostensibly about a madman falling into an abyss of paranoia and self-importance.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps nobody understood Harper better than Herman Melville, Kirby. Captain Ahab is in charge.

Danneau said...

...and Toews, apparently, not only knows when to debark from a troubled vessel, but reports indicated that his future is secure on a bench somewhere, and not a park bench, after which he will collect a generous pension as a different sort of a guest of Her Majesty (ref, Mick Abraham's liner notes for the second Blodwyn Pig album).

Anonymous said...

First order of the day -

Ministers lead the seal imitation vocally - backbenchers provide the clapping...

Here endeth the harper lesson -

Go forth and enlighten the masses

BemusedLurker (just having some fun - oh yeah, senators keep their maws in the trough - no photo ops there)

Owen Gray said...

One suspects, Danneau, that Toews has played and replayed that old Guess Who hit, "Looking Out For Number One."

Owen Gray said...

It's all about learning how to sing, Anon. No one is allowed to sing off key.

astone said...

God help Manitoba, if he ever gets on the bench!!!

The Mound of Sound said...

Toews didn't so much resign as he pulled the handles and ejected. Every instinct in my body tells me that the timing of Vic's departure wasn't of his own choosing. The possibilities are boundless.

Remember when, at the outset of the RCMP's investigation into Duffy's dealings, Commissioner Paulson e-mailed his 50-most senior officers absolutely forbidding them to have any contact with opposition MPs without prior approval of Toews' office? Think that was a coincidence?

What else has Toews done in the interim? Has some of that caught up with him? There'll be no judicial appointment for Vic if he comes under a cloud.

Things done with such undue haste as Vic's resignation from his cabinet post and his seat in the Commons usually reflect other factors in play. There's a "get out of Dodge" element to it.

The way people are starting to roll over in Ottawa suggests we may learn a lot more about Vic Toews in the weeks ahead.

Owen Gray said...

If Louis Riel were alive, there might be another rebellion, astone.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Mound. There's something about the haste of Toews' departure which suggests that he was dumped unceremoniously.

But, come to think of it, that's the usual way Harper cuts his ties.

e.a.f. said...

What was curious about Toews "leaving" wasn't that he "decided" to retire but that he resigned his seat in the house at the same time. First thought was, his ego couldn't stand being in the House without being a Cabinet minister, but now, who knows. Perhaps there is more to the story then we know. Oh, where is Wikileaks when you need them.

Seeing as the boy hasn't been able to "keep it in his pants" perhaps there is something.....? Just asking.

Owen Gray said...

There comes a time, e.a.f, when it becomes impossible to defend blatant hypocrisy.