Conrad Black observed last week that the Harper government had "run out of steam." And Stephen Mahar suggested that Jason Kenny was ready and willing to fill the prime minister's shoes. Michael Harris writes that the Conservative base has tired of Stephen Harper for several reasons -- but, most particularly, two. The first is his lack of integrity:
Harper came to power promising to do things differently than the Liberals of the Ad Sponsorship era. The base expected a new integrity reflecting the best conservative values — integrity, frugality and respect for Canadians. Instead, Canadians have been fed a steady dose of behaviour out of the prime minister’s own office that redefines unethical and, in some cases, verges into the criminal.
Harper’s former parliamentary secretary, Dean Del Mastro, has been convicted of election fraud, including exceeding spending limits, failing to report a personal contribution of $21,000, and knowingly submitting a falsified document. This came on the heels of an earlier election-related sleight of hand — the in/out scandal — that saw the party plead guilty to election fraud.
Then there’s Arthur Porter, the man Harper appointed to oversee Canada’s spy agency, who is in jail in Panama fighting extradition to this country, where he faces a bevy of criminal charges. Finally, one of Harper’s closest former aides, Bruce Carson, is facing influence peddling charges. Carson was hired by Harper despite the PM knowing of his previous criminal record for fraud.
And lest we forget, there’s the whole Wright/Duffy mess and the murky robocalls business and self-serving rejigging of Elections Canada’s abilities to promote voter engagement and prosecute wrong-doing.
Harper also sold himself as a frugal manager of the nation's pocketbook:
This prime minister blew close to a billion dollars on the G8 and G20 meetings in Toronto and Muskoka. He blamed the debacle on “thugs.” He wasted $28 million on commemorating the War of 1812 when he was closing veterans centres to save a paltry $3.8 million. And he has doubled the cost of the PM’s personal security to a whopping $20 million and climbing. The once ostensibly cost-conscious politician now thinks nothing of spending a cool million to fly his own limousine to India for a state visit or burning $45,000 of taxpayers’ money to attend a Yankee game.
When it comes to matters that go directly to the Conservative soul, Harper's most fervent supporters have found him wanting. And they are encouraging him to take a walk in the snow.