Rick Mercer is a Canadian satirist, and one of our smartest public figures; think Jon Stewart in a parka. Today on his blog and in the national newspaper The Globe & Mail, he has an an opinion piece, “It’s Not the Economy, Stupid”, from which:
Not long after Stephen Harper took office as Canada’s 28th Prime Minister an infant polar bear was born in a Berlin Zoo. Known as Knut, this cub was summarily rejected by his mother and so was nursed by human beings. Now two years later animal psychologists admit that he has become so addicted to human laughter and applause that the instant those things disappear he becomes desolate and cries for attention. This has lead to irrational behaviour never seen before in a polar bear. Experts fear that without constant applause Knut the polar bear could simply lose the will to live.
Enter Stephen Harper.
During our current crisis, Conservative staffers are being ordered to stand outside 24 Sussex Drive starting at 6:15 in the morning. Their job is to stand there in dark, in temperatures well below zero. Their instructions are to applaud, wave and sing Oh Canada loudly as Stephen Harper’s motorcade pulls out of the gates and drives him to work. Harper, by all accounts, actually believes that the young people are there on their own accord and represent a ground swell of love and support for his actions. It’s easier this way. Nobody wants to suffer at the hands of the inconsolable bear.
Enter Stephane Dion.
Stephane Dion is a humiliated and beaten man. Nothing prepared him for the thrashing he took in the last election, and the subsequent rejection by his own party just made matters worse [it continues today, courtesy of former Liberal deputy Prime Minister John Manley]. The applause and cheering stopped for this man a long time ago. Given the chance to exact revenge he will seize it at any cost.
And so is it any surprise that these damaged men are the architects of a crisis in Canada the likes of which we have never seen?
With leaders like this we shouldn’t be blamed for asking why bother.
But I do know this. If this parliament was a dog it would be brought out behind the shed and shot. Rabid dogs aren’t reformed, given second chances or trusted ever again.
At first this little crisis of ours in Ottawa was nothing but good old fashioned fun. For political junkies it was simply blood sport and made for great entertainment.
It began of course with the economic statement, a colossal misstep for Prime Minister Harper. The nastiness and partisanship caught everyone off guard – including the Conservative cabinet that once again were kept in the dark. Sane cabinet ministers were forced to grin and bear it as the leader revealed a strategy that not only highlighted the very worst elements of his personality, but reinforced the nagging cliché that this Conservative party cares more about inflicting pain on those they dislike then offering support for anyone in need.
For most casual observers it seemed like a game of hardball Stephen Harper would easily win. The opposition under Stephane Dion is, without a doubt, the weakest official opposition that Canada has ever seen. The leader is on his way out, the party is broke, and discipline is non-existent.
But then a funny thing happened on the way to the vote in the House of Commons.
Stephane Dion may lack the basic skills needed by all political leaders but he seems to have a grasp on basic math, something Stephen Harper, the economist, seems to have lost.
Dion crunched the numbers and quickly realized that if his party, along with the other two parties in the house, opposed Harper the government would fall – in theory Dion could even become Prime Minister.
The only problem with that scenario was that no Liberal leader would ever consider such a gambit because it would mean getting in bed with both separatist and socialist forces in the House of Commons.
The difference this time around is that those forces didn’t spend the last two years destroying this Liberal leader’s personal reputation. That was Stephen Harper’s doing. A coalition could ruin Stephen Harper and that’s the only motivation Stephane Dion needs.
This is personal.
Stephen Harper loves being the Prime Minister of Canada. Under Harper the motorcades have gotten longer, the office more presidential, the trappings more grand. The idea that within a week he could be standing in line at the airport with regular Canadians, photo ID at the ready, attempting to board an Air Canada jazz flight to Moncton so he can explain to party faithful why he now travels in a Jiffy Taxi gnaws at his very being.
Knut the polar bear could not survive such a humiliation and nor can Stephen Harper. So Stephen Harper tore up his economic update; he blinked and backtracked – behaviour not before seen in this political animal. …
Read the rest here. And you can have fun watching Rick here. Because at this p0int, we can laugh or we can cry. We certainly don’t seem to be able to explain to “outraged” Canadians here in the conservative Prairie Provinces — many of whom didn’t even bother to vote in October — that Stephen Harper arranged all of this, not the Liberals, NDP, or Bloc Quebecois.