Some people believe that Stephen Harper has left the building. Michael Harris writes that they're wrong:
The Conservative Party continues to be haunted by the spectre of Harper, who led them to three national victories on the improbable basis of his northern Republican policies. Even though Harper was trounced by Justin Trudeau in 2015, he has never really released his grip on the party he built.
The Conservative Party of Canada is still Harper's Party. Need proof? Consider the way people deemed troublesome are sent to the dustbin:
In the wake of his defeat, Scheer had vowed to fight to keep his job — until leaks from Conservative party sources revealed the party was subsidizing his children’s private school fees. Never mind that the party’s executive director, Dustin Van Vugt, had approved the expenditures. It was off with his head, too. The party ordered a forensic audit on the guy it was pushing for prime minister just a few short months earlier — honest, affable, trustworthy Andy.
It’s not clear who leaked the damaging information, known only to relatively few in the party.
But reports — again based on anonymous sources — quickly emerged that Harper was “furious” about the expenses.
And, of course. there are the sagas of Mike Duffy, Helena Guergis and Rahim Jaffer:
Leaks from unnamed senior Conservative party sources portrayed Senator Mike Duffy as a scoundrel living off a fat public expense account, who then took a $90,000 cheque from Harper’s chief-of-staff to put things right that were never wrong. Duffy was tossed out of caucus and faced 31 criminal charges. The Crown failed to win a single conviction.
And Duffy wasn’t the only one to feel the wrath of Steve. Information sent directly to the RCMP from Harper’s PMO in 2010 triggered a major criminal investigation into former Conservative cabinet minister Helena Guergis and her husband Rahim Jaffer. Harper kicked Guergis out of caucus, effectively ending her political career. And, lastly, look at the people lining up to replace Scheer -- Pierre Polievre, Rona Ambrose and Peter Mackay:
The trouble with Skippy, and former colleagues like Rona Ambrose and Peter MacKay, is that they are zombie relics of the Harper past. They are all former ministers who served a government that hated the press, suffocated the flow of government information, walked away from the Kyoto Accord, stifled scientists, sucked up to the energy industry and ran up the national debt over 10 years while professing to be fiscal conservatives. They all sat around the Harper cabinet table like bobbleheads.
Harper is still the man behind the curtain.