Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Word From Carson

Bruce Carson has written a book about his years as a Harper operative. Now he is doing the interview circuit. Jason Fekete writes in The National Post that:

A former senior aide to Stephen Harper says the prime minister is prone to fits of anger, that his public dispute with the Supreme Court’s chief justice is ill-advised and that Harper is the kind of leader who would want to have known details of the $90,000 payment to Sen. Mike Duffy.

Bruce Carson, a former senior aide to Harper from 2004 to 2009, also said Tuesday in an interview with CBC News that the prime minister “has always been isolated” and is becoming increasingly so partly because he does not have a regular group of advisers across the country to whom he reaches out for advice.

Carson was particularly critical of the fight Harper has picked with Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. He claims it was the result of bad advice:

“I think that’s particularly unfortunate. If I’d been here, if (former Harper chief of staff Ian) Brodie had been here, if others, even (another former chief of staff Guy) Giorno, others, no one would have advised him to take on the chief justice of Canada on anything, especially in a public way,” Carson said in an interview on CBC’s Power & Politics.

 “I just think it was just, I don’t know if bad judgment is the right word, but my goodness, it’s certainly not a fight a prime minister should be picking.”

Perhaps. But Harper is known for not accepting advice from any and all quarters. It's truly comforting to know that the country is in such good hands.


Lorne said...

It is a bad sign indeed for the Prime Minister, Owen, when even disgraced former advisers have more credibility than he does.

Owen Gray said...

Normally, I would not be inclined to believe what Carson says, Lorne.

But this time -- and given what we know of Harper from other advisers, like Tom Flanagan -- what Carson says is quite believable.

The Mound of Sound said...

There's a critical mass building against Harper. It's well known that Harper is vindictive and brutal in retaliation. Would Flanagan or Carson have spoken out if they didn't perceive him as a spent force?

If Harper was intending to lead his party in the 2015 election would he have his PMO staffed with mere errand boys?

I don't know, Owen, but maybe there's something to that rumour of Harper clearing out this summer.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps it's a case of hope triumphing over experience, Mound.

But there may be something to the rumour. Too many of Harper's old allies have turned against him.

Dana said...

Maybe we'll get really lucky and one of them will stab the asshole with his letter opener.

Scotian said...

Don't forget about Harper's past history of running away whenever he faced certain/near certain defeat. I've been wondering privately for some time which part of him would end up making that call, the cowardly chicken-shit part or the overweening proudly arrogant part that feels now that he has been PM for so long and controls so much that he is nigh on invincible. Not to mention his pet hatreds for anything to do with the name "Trudeau" and the once in a lifetime chance to defeat/destroy one. I can see it going either way, but the fact that I can see him pulling either resignation a la Mulroney or a sudden snap election later this year is one of the main reasons I have started to resume my political commenting again. I plan on being ready and informed when the next election comes and to do what I can to ensure this nightmare ends (and also that the NDP does not profit from their treachery of the nation, I am going to hold that grudge for a long time to come, and leaving aside all the actual practical reasons why I don't think they are the best choice to follow the CPC in governing I also don't like seeing people profit from the misery of others that they created, something about it really rubs me the wrong way).

As to Carson and what he said last night on P&P, not exactly much new information there to the experienced Harper watcher, although I also found his bafflement at Harper picking fights with the Chef of the Supreme Court interesting and a bit telling of just how far into his own world/bubble Harper has gone. It is that bubble BTW that leaves me wondering whether Harper thinks he can still win the next election easily or whether he can see the forces he has been building against himself, but only Harper knows that one. Carson though was quite clear that there is no reason Harper did not know of all his history, he reported it to his CoS, and any competent CoS would make sure the final OK for someone with that kind of potential political risk was signed off on, if only because of how exposed to political damage that record makes the PM. This idea that there is all kinds of plausible deniability practiced in the Harper PMO has never been supported by anything we have learned out of it about the way Harper has been operating, so I find it difficult to give him that benefit of the doubt when it would serve his interests best to do so.

As to MoS's point, I don't know how much is that they see him as a spent force, and how much is that they are trying to prevent him from taking his party into that iceberg and are willing to risk the vindictiveness for it. As to the errand boys point, given how much Harper has narrowed his choices down and made personal fealty his primary hiring factor, not to mention the more qualified possibilities having seen what happens to you if you get into trouble doing his work a la Nigel Wright, it is not that hard to understand why he may be left with no other pool of applicants even though he is a sitting PM. This is part of the problem with trying to understand the thinking of someone who has been in that deep a bubble for as long as he has held the office as he has, especially once he finally made it to majority status where he could finally really get to work on his vision. Not that I am dismissing your thoughts on this MoS, just presenting what I feel is also valid possibilities to explain the points you raise.

Owen Gray said...

I wouldn't put it past Harper to call a snap election, Scotian. He may truly believe he can be re-elected.

But he isn't known for his foresight. Living in a bubble, he may not see or hear bad news.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps he will turn to Carson, Dana, and -- flummoxed -- say,"Et tu, Brucé?"

Anonymous said...

Harper denounces and threatens Putin for his annex of the Crimea. However, Harper says not one word to say, of Communist China doing the same. It is Communist China that is a menace.

Harper has a giant ego and will use every dirty tactic in the book, to stay in office.

Foreigners also have drivers licences and health care cards. Who will police the voters, to make sure the foreigners are Canadian citizens?

Harper hires his degenerates for specific purposes. The hell Harper didn't know of Carson's reputation. Some of Harper's degenerates are already in prison, others are on their way.

Wright did aid, abet, covered-up and paid the bill for a Senator who was stealing our tax dollars. The PMO sanitized Senators expense claims.

Make no mistake? Harper is one evil monster.

Owen Gray said...

It appears that all kinds of Canadians have figured out who Harper is, Anon.

The question is, "Will it be enough Canadians to send him packing -- either before or after an election?"

Anonymous said...

Carson had made several points which were consistent with what others (e.g. Flanagan) had said previously:

(a) that Harper is prone to fits of anger,

(b) that he has bad judgment, and

(c) that he is increasingly isolated.

Interesting that even a convicted felon would seemingly recognize Steve's flawed judgment while some of our pundits (e.g. Chris Hall at CBC) were busy crowing about Steve being a master tactician, suggesting that all his bad judgmental moves were but a brilliant tactic to checkmate his political opponents.

Owen Gray said...

It would seem, Anon, that those closest to Harper are clear-eyed about the man's flaws.

Toby said...

Yes, many Canadians have decided that they don't like Harper and don't want to vote for him or his cronies yet I hear many say there is no one else to vote for. They have no faith in Justin with the nice hair and won't vote NDP no matter how well he attacks Harper. Personally, I blame both the Liberals and the NDP for failure to deconstruct Conservative shibboleths such as the one about cutting taxes will create jobs. As long as the Conservatives can keep the public believing their one liners they will still get votes. The Liberals and the NDP have yet to come up with a vision for the country that will grab the hearts of Canadians. Liberal and NDP leadership must understand that their first job must be to slay the dragon; anything less will give Harper another majority.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Toby. They need to slay the dragon -- not each other.

the salamander said...

.. it would be great to see references to Harper's Party and Government become more accurate ans appropriate.

If as Stephen Harper proclaimed, it is The Harper Government (not the Government of Canada) fine, Amen. It follows then that the government has sprung from The Harper Party..

I would prefer to never see the word 'conservative' or 'Tory' used relative to Harper or his MP's.. It should be 'so and so, a Harper MP'. And the whole topic of 'rebranding' Harper as the warm, fuzzy 'environmental PM' is just more of the attempt to season smelly meat and get it sold before the flies hatch as maggots.

Carson exemplifies how shallow the gene pool is in Harperland. Arthur Porter, Peter Kent, Gail Shea, Baird (good gawd!) Tony Clement, Poilievre, Del Mastro, DeLorey, Arthur Hamilton, Gerstein, Duffy, Wright..

Tho its claimed these are solid citizens, wonderful public servants, the facts speak otherwise.. just partisan hoods and shills.. money men, bag men, yes men.. for whom the average Canadian is irrelevent, useless, bothersome.. but useful to spy on for some dubious unconstitutional reason that Harper thinks is just fine.

Though the list of these losers seems endless.. it does end.. and suddenly there is no farm system callup.. Stephen Lecce is no Ray Novak, and the Fantinos and Toews type dinosaurs.. are just that. Fat white old dirty men.. collaborating with greasy thugs like Van Loan, Brad Butt.. or bizarre evangilicals like Vellecott and Harper himself.. over abortion or Israel

Look for who holds Carson's old job.. or did Dear Stevie put Calandra in there or some other ethical weakling to hold the fort or circle the wagons..
whomever it is works closely with Joe Oliver to shill for secrecy, China, diluted bitumen and fracking uber alles

Owen Gray said...

There is not a star among them, salamander -- and no one to admire.

mogs moglio said...

mogs moglio said...

Harper has done him self in, celebrate this moment.

Owen Gray said...

Some people would vote for Harper after he'd been buried, Mogs. But one hopes that their ranks are dwindling.

mogs moglio said...

So it appears the veil of secrecy has been ripped off. I remember leaks about harpers chair throwing incidents in cabinet. Then in south America at a conference he threw a 'hissy-fit' and now the cat is out of the bag and at large is a large angry lump of a man who has no friends.

Welcome Stephen to humility, you may wear it well if you come clean.

Owen Gray said...

I read Tim Harper's column, too, Mogs. It seems that Stephen Harper is increasingly alone.

It's a case of bad karma. The mistakes he's made are coming back to haunt him.