It seems that Stephen Harper is still on his trope of “strong” and “decisive” leadership when he had his one-on-one conversation with Peter Mansbridge last night. Wearing the all-important flag pin on his lapel, Harper offered no apologies and expressed no regrets for his actions or behaviours in the past few weeks. Quite the opposite, in fact.
You see, Stephen Harper wants you, the Canadian voter, to believe that he is the wronged party here. He wants you to believe that he’s being reasonable, and being consultative. In fact, he says that by his backing down two on the elements in the fiscal update that were so egregious – the party financing and the right to strike – that he’s listening to the opposition’s concerns and that he just wishes that they would come to him with those concerns beforehand. Really, he said that.
There was no mention that he was being partisan, or ideological, or that he was doing anything to poke them in the eye with sharp sticks, as he is wont to. He is also playing martyr, saying that he was the victim to a “conspiracy” (Mansbridge’s words) by the opposition to bring him down no matter what was in the fiscal update. And most galling, he says, “I’m not there to play Parliamentary games.” Really?
Meanwhile he keeps targeting the Liberals, and talking about the “national” parties, thus isolating the Bloc (because we really need a unity crisis to accompany the fiscal one we’re in). Given his hypocritical position on the role of coalitions or the Bloc in Parliament, it all sounds like more game playing to me.
Meanwhile, today is the big six-hour Liberal caucus meeting, and we’re expecting Michael Ignatieff to make his first public statements on his leadership coronation afterward.
There was talk yesterday about what the past week means for the Liberal party going forward. The decision by the party executive regarding a process for selecting an interim leader means that the party will likely never be able to choose one without consultation. Rae’s abdication might mean that the grassroots furore at not getting a voice in leadership selection could be blunted, but it still leaves them vulnerable to criticism that the process wasn’t all that democratic. These are extraordinary times, and who knows – the actual nomination process for leadership candidates doesn’t close until February, so if some dark horse outsider still wants to run, they still have a chance.