We learned last week that the Prime Minister ignored the advice of his in-house lawyer. Alan Freeman writes:
When Perrin was asked by Harper’s then-chief of staff Nigel Wright to look into the whole issue of residency requirements for senators — just as the Mike Duffy expense scandal was catching fire in early 2013 — he soon found himself blindsided by the PMO’s other constitutional expert … Harper himself.
Perrin tried to object to his boss’s wobbly legal theory, but his carefully considered arguments soon ended up where all advice goes when it counters Harper’s will: the shredder. In the Harper PMO, the prime minister’s version of reality is the only one that matters. “The office obviously acts of the direction of the prime minister so his written word stands,” Perrin testified. End of discussion. Perrin was soon back at UBC.
Really smart leaders surround themselves with smart people who help them make decisions. But not Mr. Harper:
What’s truly remarkable about Stephen Harper’s one-man rule of Canada is that he really does seem to believe he is the ultimate autodidact — a master of all aspects of government policy, no matter how complex or obscure. He has experts on staff but, you see, he doesn’t really need them. And he can dispense with their advice when it becomes inconvenient.
But while Harper can claim some knowledge of economics by virtue of his master’s degree, since when is he an expert on constitutional law? Or climate science? Or statistics? Has he been going to night school without anyone noticing? Again and again, we’ve seen Harper personally determine government policy on his own, largely ignoring the views of experts — and certainly passing over any mumbled objections from his petrified cabinet ministers and shell-shocked caucus members.
The man who stubbornly refuses to take the advice of smart people -- people who know about things he knows nothing about -- is not a smart man.