Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Arctic Shadow

Michael Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, writes that during his recent Arctic Tour Stephen Harper tried to look like Vladimir Putin:

Photos showed Harper standing awkwardly in front of a campfire made of logs that must have been flown in specially, because the camp was 800 kilometres north of the tree line. Putin would have killed a seal with his bare hands and ignited its oil by striking a rock against his teeth.

Harper’s rifle was one of the 65-year-old relics used by the Canadian Rangers, relics that Harper once promised and then failed to replace. Putin does his target shooting with a Kalashnikov. Just for fun, he hunts Siberian tigers with a tranquilizer gun.
Harper, bundled up like a toddler at the rink, went for a ride in a motorboat. Putin swims naked in Arctic lakes.

His Northern Trek was an attempt to project Canadian power and abundance. Unfortunately, he projected neither:

Harper just announced $5.6 million to build a centre for mining innovation in Whitehorse. In the Arctic, $5.6 million buys you a website, some letterhead and antifreeze for the truck. Putin funds the Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy in Novosibirsk, which employs 700 scientists and technicians.

The prime minister desperately wants to play with the big kids. But he winds up looking like a pre-schooler peering through the chain link fence as the other kids enjoy the playground.

He is The Arctic Shadow.


Anonymous said...

Does Vladimir Putin own a sock puppet?

Lorne said...

Owen, Harper is desperate to cultivate an image, an image that more and more Canadians are discovering has no substance behind it.

As is always the case with this guy, the emperor has no clothes.

Owen Gray said...

The man desperately wants to project power, Lorne. But he has always been awkward. And that awkwardness underscores his own insecurity.

Owen Gray said...

I doubt it, Anon. I half expect the mitten to say, "So right? So kay!"

sassy said...

Whenever I see harper in one of his pretend outfits I envision a windowless room (build since 2006) at 24 Sussex with three sides being a large closet of various outfits (many of them military garb) and the forth a wall of full length mirrors.

Mr. pretend pm DRESSUP

Owen Gray said...

I suspect, sassy, that -- even though Mr. Harper has his fervent supporters here -- a lot of people in the international community have the same impression you do.

Anonymous said...

I'm an American. I don't usually make comments about Canadian politicians or political parties.

That said.

Any time I see Stephen Harper's picture, I have an enormous desire to just slap the snot out of him.

Owen Gray said...

According to the polls, Anon, the majority of Canadians feel as you do. But -- with a divided opposition -- he will stay where he is.

Feverish said...

Gordo Campbell & Steve Harper - a fearsome duo on the international stage. Who would dare mess with these mittened men?!

Embarrassing in so many ways.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect they are men who feel that power and influence follow them wherever the go, Feverish.

And I suspect they are comfortable in their delusions.