It really is time to bury the notion that Stephen Harper is a brilliant strategist. Andrew Coyne writes:
We are so heavily invested, we media types, in the notion of Harper as master strategist, able to see around corners and think seven moves ahead and what not, that we tend not to notice how many times he has been screwing up of late. The sudden and more or less complete rewriting, on the same day as the Supreme Court decision, of the colossally misjudged Fair Elections Act, after weeks of waving off any and all criticism as self-interested or partisan or both? Merely a prudent bid to cut their losses. The unusual public goading of Barack Obama (“a no brainer … won’t take no for an answer… etc”) into making a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline project, six years after it was first proposed? Either a play to the base or a wink to the Republicans or a deliberate raising of the diplomatic stakes, anything but what it looks like: a catastrophic fumbling of a key file.
It should be pretty clear by now that Mr. Harper has always had a chip on his shoulder. A majority government only made that chip bigger. And that chip always sabotages his plan. And the plan has always been transparent -- to create as much carnage as he can for as long as he can.
Coyne writes that Tom Flanagan has the prime minister's number:
It is telling that among the prime minister’s most trenchant critics these days is Tom Flanagan, once one of his closest advisors, an academic-cum-political strategist who is at once both deeply conservative and shrewdly pragmatic. This government is neither. It is reckless, not in the style of governments that overread their mandate, but in an aimless, scattershot way. It is partisan, but for no purpose other than stubbornness and tribalism. It will take every fight to the limit, pick fights if none present themselves, with no thought to the consequences of either victory or defeat but seemingly out of sheer bloodlust. Like the proverbial dog chasing the car, it has no idea what it will do when it catches it.
In the end, Mr. Harper's "strategy" has but one objective -- to prove that he is the big dog -- whose privilege it is to relieve himself on other people's lawns.