Stephen Harper is about to shuffle his cabinet. And those who are presently in it -- but who will not run in the next election -- are taking their leave. Among them is Ted Menzies. Jeffrey Simpson writes:
Mr. Menzies was the last former Alberta Progressive Conservative left in the new Conservative Party created by Stephen Harper. When Mr. Menzies sought the nomination, he ran against a clutch of Reform Party types who cancelled each other out and allowed him to slide to victory. Once nominated, the election was a formality.
All the other Alberta Conservative MPs are either from the old Reform Party or weren’t involved in electoral politics before running for office. With his departure, the Alberta caucus will shift just a bit further to the right.
And, even if the players change, they will all be singing from the same hymnal:
This government’s tone and style are beginning to wear on more and more Canadians. The ferocious partisanship, the excessive secrecy, the negative television ads, the mendacity directed at opponents, the overwhelming sense that enemies (including most of the media, of course) abound, the almost manic preoccupation with spin and image and now the little scandals from the Senate have created the impression, outside the Conservative core, of a government that has ideology and agenda but not much heart, empathy, feeling or understanding for anyone who doesn’t share that ideology and agenda.
Simpson ends with a seminal question:
Ask yourself: How many senior Conservatives smile? Most are so scripted by the Prime Minister’s Office that they dare not show whatever humour they possess, or they turn it into sarcastic blasts at the opposition.
The Conservative Party -- like the man who heads it -- is now officially, and thoroughly, a nasty piece of work.