Stephen Harper has never been a man to admit a mistake. And now -- confronted by the biggest mistake of his political career -- he refuses to admit that the problem he faces is of his own making. Lawrence Martin writes:
In the face of Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair’s heavy artillery, Mr. Harper has contradicted himself several times on aspects of the story. The Commons has never seen him squirm so much. But on the matter of not knowing how Mike Duffy’s expense claims were repaid, he has held firm and likely will continue to do so no matter how much evidence is adduced to the contrary.
He will hope his support holds in the same way that support for someone with worse problems, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, appears to be holding. Mr. Ford has stuck to the line that he represents the average guy. He doesn’t. He’s an insult to the average guy. I suspect this will register before long and his support will unravel before long, as Mr. Harper’s likely will.
Mr. Harper has been extraordinarily lucky. He has never really had to pay for his mistakes. The problem is that he confuses luck with skill -- his own. Most of all, he refuses to recognize how he has destroyed his own credibility, now and in the future. Martin writes:
Now that the nature of the PMO operation has been laid bare in an RCMP report, a major problem arises for the Conservatives. If more controversies arise, how credible is the PMO’s word going to be? For example, if more incriminating evidence is forthcoming on electoral-fraud allegations related to the 2011 election, are people going to believe that no one from Mr. Harper’s inner sanctum knew or was involved?
The PMO has been trying to put the blame on one rogue operative, a kid named Michael Sona. With party lawyer Arthur Hamilton looking on, several Conservative staffers have given statements to an Elections Canada investigator alleging that Mr. Sona boasted about his robo-calls work. Last week, we learned that two staffers who gave some of the most damaging testimony said they had met with Mr. Sona during a certain time frame. We then learned from Mr. Sona’s travel records that he was on a beach in Aruba during that period.
Having succeeded several times before, he believes that denial will get him through this crisis. But -- as countless politicians before him have discovered -- when the people stop believing you, you're finished.