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Prime Minister Harper [of Canada] Down for the Count

National Report by Lawrence Martin

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December 02, 2008 05:24

A week ago Stephen Harper was sitting pretty. He could comfortably look ahead to another long-lasting minority government.

There was no appetite in the opposition ranks to bring his government down.

But Stephen Harper, or Stephen Hubris as he is sometimes called, can’t help himself. His brutally partisan and spiteful political instincts have too firm a grip on his soul. At a time of global economic crisis, at a time when cheap political partisanship should have been forgotten, he attempted a naked political power grab that has sealed his doom.

These types of leaders are usually described as political animals. But that’s nowhere near strong enough for this PM. With this guy, there is no sense that politics is the pursuit of enlightened public policy. Rather, it is total Macbethian bloodsport. It’s about sucking the political blood out of every opponent in sight. He thrives off it, lives off it. He’s Count Stephen, political vampire.

And we can probably say now that the Count has given himself an expiration date. For a while he can run and consult his party’s dirty tricks handbook (200 pages) and hide.

He can avoid a confidence vote and the possibility of a weird and wobbly coalition government by proroguing parliament. That would risk derision for Mr. Harper, as in ‘Look at the coward run.’

And if he goes that route, it means he would have to come back with another throne speech early in the year. The opposition could vote him out then or, following that, on his budget.

Meanwhile, having made such a colossal miscalculation on his economic statement, the daggers in his own party will soon be out for him. There was already uneasiness with him for his failing to win a majority when conditions seemed so right in the last campaign.

His one hope is that the Governor General buys the line that a coalition dependent on a separatist party for survival is not a viable option and calls another election. Who knows what would happen then, if there was another campaign. The disgust among Canadians would be incalculable. Anyone could win, including Count Stephen.