It's no secret that Stephen Harper lacks people skills. What he really lacks, Tasha Kheiriddin writes, is empathy:
But Harper displays little understanding of human emotions. And that’s where his best-laid plans come crashing down.
He didn’t read the tea leaves on Senator Mike Duffy; stripping Duffy of his senatorship might have been the right thing to do, but wouldn’t it leave Duffy with a desperate need to defend his reputation? Harper didn’t realize that the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline might hinge on Canada’s environmental reputation; bashing the treehuggers might please the base at home, but why would President Barack Obama risk his green legacy on an environmental laggard? And Harper didn’t get that the Fair Elections Act would be perceived as unfair; Elections Canada’s get-out-the-vote campaigns are of limited effect, so why would people care if it could no longer run them?
It's remarkable that a man with so little understanding of people could succeed as a politician -- because, in the end, he screws up. His failure to appoint Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court is his latest debacle:
Harper assumed the law is the law, and there was no way the SCC could get around it. When the appointment was challenged, the prime minister decided to safeguard it by changing the rules and amended the Supreme Court Act in the House of Commons.
But judges are not robots on a bench. They are human beings, with egos and feelings. They are also members of a community that takes itself very, very seriously. They apply the law that governs all Canadians; they act as guardians of rights and freedoms; they keep overreaching governments in check. And above all, they are independent — and they must maintain that quality to preserve their reputation, and that of the legal system itself.
Which raises the question, how can such a man be elected in a democracy? The answer is hiding in plain sight: by subverting that democracy.