Tim Harper writes that the prime minister and the mayor of Toronto are a political odd couple:
Harper would treat a meeting with a voter in an unscripted moment as a crisis. Ford ditches his aides and wanders into crowds at a Saturday night street festival on the Danforth.
Harper works hard to avoid over exposure. Ford has his own open line show. The prime minister seeks political advantage in a squeaky clean image, proudly denying marijuana use in his younger years while
Ford laughs, and, without missing a beat, agrees he smoked “a lot.’’
What explains this oxymoron? The next election. Both men are shopping for votes:
Harper has signalled he believes in a Ford re-election in 2014 and he’s quite happy to help him, as long as the mayor lends him the support Harper will need to keep and grow his suburban beachhead the following year in the 2015 election campaign.
The next federal election could indeed hinge on the GTA and 905 suburbs that slavishly back Ford.
The prime minister and his finance minister, Jim Flaherty, have clearly decided that the scandal-prone, gaffemeister mayor will not have another nuclear misstep between now and voting day in 2014. This is not merely Conservatives deciding Ford is safe.
This is a full-out plan to embrace Toronto’s stumbling mayor Harper and Flaherty get a two-fer in one fell swoop, not only helping Ford with the subway announcement, but undermining the provincial Liberals as well, providing a potential bump for their other ally in Toronto, provincial Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.
So what if this feds distrust between the federal government and the government of the largest province? This is all about politics.
And they tell us it's all about principles.