Friday, July 17, 2009

Now is the summer of Harper's discontent...

Ahhhh summer! A time to kick back and relax, weekends spent at the cottage or camp site, burgers and hot dogs on the bbq. A time to leave our problems behind as we bask in the warm sun.

Stephen Harper's summer got off to a glorious start. Michael Ignatieff had backed himself into a corner by threatening to topple the Harper led Conservatives. The Bloc and NDP were on-side....the puck was on Iggy's stick, all he had to do was shoot. But then the leader of the official opposition back tracked, deciding to cycle the puck rather than taking a shot on net.

It made Iggy look weak, his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. He'd threatened the governing Tories with defeat if they didn't address his concerns. Harper said no, but tossed a small bone to the Liberals in allowing them to sit in on discussions about the future of EI. The summer was looking almost perfect for Conservative supporters.

Stevie was off to Italy for the G8 meetings, a chance to look all Prime Ministerial on the world stage for the hosers back home. A stop at the Vatican to visit the Pope would make for a great photo-op. All was going according to plan. Soon the Liberals would be knocked back in the polls, the result of Iggy's failed ultimatum and Tory attack ads making the rounds.

Why did that priest have to offer him a communion wafer at Romeo Leblanc's funeral? In fairness to the PM this should really have been a non-issue. Did he eat the wafer or pocket it? He says he ate it, okay. But doesn't he know communion in the RC church is only for confirmed members? Why wasn't the priest properly instructed? Okay, there was some damage....but like a rainy day in July, you know the sun is coming out soon. And besides this wasn't a downpour, more of a light drizzle.

Then the heavy rains came, and kept on coming.

Toronto's Gay Pride festivities received $400,000 in stimulus funding. Big deal. Well...for Harper's Religious Right base this is a very big deal. Backbench MP Brad Trost went running to a socially conservative news service to assure the Bible thumpers that the government wasn't going to let something like this happen without there being some consequences. Diane Ablonczy, who was handling the file, had her responsibilities stripped for handing over the cash according to this Saskatchewan MP.

Out the window goes all the effort at appealing to Canada's moderate urban voters, nice job Brad. It reeked of the old Reform/Alliance days when Ontario proved a wasteland for Canada's conservative movement. Worse, it makes the Harper Tories look like a house divided against itself. You can just picture Liberal strategists salivating at the prospect of western reformers and eastern progressives within the party gouging each other's eyes out.

Okay...okay, its been raining for a week now, but surely the sun is coming out soon!

Sorry Stephen, the next gaffe was all your own. A misattributed quote caused our pit bullish Prime Minister to froth at the mouth in front of the world's cameras in Italy. Harper couldn't resist the opportunity to attack Ignatieff over comments made by some academic...only thing was, the academic in question wasn't Ignatieff. Even if the words had been Iggy's, the G8 conference was no place to launch a partisan attack. The fact that the words weren't Ignatieff's only made matters worse.

Talk about Chevy Chase 'Vacation' type material. I doubt many would have blamed our Prime Minister if he packed up the station wagon and headed back home. Strap Aunt Edna to the roof and don't stop driving til you're back at 24 Sussex Steve.

Thankfully he got a bit of a reprieve from the republicansforignatieff website, but not much. Tom Flannagan chipped in by calling the Liberals a bunch of whiners. Maybe, just maybe the sun would finally come out?

Uh uh....the rain keeps pounding.

The press is full of economist projections about how the Conservatives are managing the economy, and the projections aren't good. While finance minister Jim Flaherty was busy trying to tell the street that "all is well", others like Dale Orr of Economic Insight were backing the words of Kevin Page, parliament's budget watch dog. Page is warning Canadians that the deficit the Tories are plunging us into will be systemic, that we'll be stuck borrowing billions for years longer than Flaherty is projecting. Even TD bank's chief economist is on side with the Mr. Page in snubbing Flaherty's numbers.

Now there's talk that Harper may or may not be making a stop in Canada's north. It was reported a few days back that the Prime Minister would be heading up to Nunavut. The purpose of the visit being the announcement of a northern economic development agency for the region. Now it seems the trip is up in the air according to CBC reports, with nothing having been confirmed.

Who can blame the poor guy? I can just see Harper chastising his caucus right now.

"Can't I go away for a couple of weeks without you guys wrecking the place? Yes, I know I screwed up when I blasted Iggy back in Italy, but I wouldn't be so damn edgy if you guys weren't giving this country's liberal press so much ammunition".

Go up north Stevie, take the wife and kids. Lock the liquor cabinet and put duct tape over all your member's mouths. And if you're asked to eat a raw seal're on your own. These days, you can't win.

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