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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Beware the Ides of March (or June or July or...)

Well thank goodness the rest of Canada, excluding Alberta perhaps, has finally begun to figure out what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have known almost from day one.

Stephen Harper is not a national leader, in fact some might say he isn’t fit to run a third world sweat shop, let alone an entire Country.

Newfoundland and Labrador voters unceremoniously booted the Harper Conservatives off the island (sorry about the survivor reference Labrador but it was just too easy) during the last election by denying them a single seat in the Province. Now that the rest of Canada is starting to see the wisdom of that action its beginning to look more and more like the dark days of Stephen Harper will soon be over.

All the signs are there.

The Liberals under Michael Ignatieff are consistently trending higher in the polls as the weeks roll on. Mr. Harper himself can’t wait to race from international meeting to international meeting, far preferring life outside Canada to that inside the nation he so poorly leads. For most political junkies nothing underscores the end of a political career like massive travel expenses.

Even Conservative MPs and Ministers, who until recently had their mouths hermetically sealed by the PMO as a right of passage, have now begun to publicly disagree with and freely contradict their soon to be ex-leader. Could anything send a clearer message of Mr. Harper's future in politics?

All is not well at 24 Sussex Drive. Who knows, with any luck the packing may have already begun.

What was it Newfoundland and Labrador's Premier, Danny Williams, said after one broken Harper promise or another?

“He did it to us and he can do it to you (referring to the Canadian public)".

Those words might seem almost prophetic in hindsight, to anyone outside of Newfoundland and Labrador. Those inside the Province had already recognized what the man is like.

Or perhaps a better Williamsism might be his very public claim that, “I can assure you I’ll be around long enough to see the back of his (Harpers) head”.

It looks like Mr. Williams and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will get their wish sooner rather than later now that Stephen Harper’s true persona is not only recognized in Newfoundland and Labrador but more so across the Country.

Failing to win a majority government the last time out, against a bumbling and ineffective Stephane Dion, certainly didn’t cement Mr. Harper’s support within his party, nor has his penchant for Liberal style spending in an effort to buy Quebec voters (those aren’t side deals folks they're just good politics). Add to this the mounting deficit and a very public attack on the Conservative party’s iconic Grand Poobah, Brian Mulroney, and it isn’t hard to see the writing on the wall for the PM.

Outside the party itself, Mr. Harper’s denial and later miraculous epiphany, thanks to his party’s near death experience, that an economic crisis actually does exist certainly didn’t help his chances of re-election.

His mean spirited and divisive approach to both politics and leadership has manifested itself so often and in such a manner right across the Country that there can be little doubt left about his self inflicted fate.

There are only three questions left for the Conservative party to answer:

Who will replace Mr. Harper?

When is the best time to do the nasty deed of decapitating him? (Figuratively of course, though Mulroney supporters in the party may wish it otherwise)

What approach will least harm the party brand? (In other words should their leader die the death of a thousand cuts or will he be permitted to quietly fall on his own sword?).

It’s all just a matter of time now. Once the decisions are made in some dark, dank and secluded back room of the evil empire it will be done quickly and decisively. If it isn't done, before the next election anyway, the electorate will make the party's decision for it and make them pay a price for their delay.

It’s a sad thing that it's taken so much time for Canadians to understand what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians figured out, and tried to tell them, a long time ago. At least they've finally begun to do so.

Political ideology and ambition aren’t necessarily a bad thing, within moderation, but when it comes to actually running the entire show you can’t survive forever by placing your personal agenda above all else or by pitting one group, one region and one individual against the other.

Sooner or later those who have been wronged or damaged by your actions will reach a certain critical mass where by they begin to outnumber those who have benefited from them. When that happens, the game’s over, as it surely is for Mr. Harper.

For the rest of us, perhaps unfortunately, Mr. Harper's pending political demise means one of two things:

Either the devil we know is better than the one we don’t, or he isn’t.

Only time will answer that question. Let’s all hope the majority of Canadians aren’t as slow to figure it out as they were on this go around.

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