May 202013
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Harperites' difficult week opens serious fault lines between collaborators, media.

by John Baglow

Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, has resigned.

This caps what must have been the week from hell for our Conservative rulers. And it has been particularly satisfying, yet galling at the same time, to behold the usually complacent Parliamentary Press Gallery turn in lockstep against the government, penning reams of hostile commentary, from scathing criticism to angst to amazement to open ridicule.

To be fair, columnists have expressed occasional concern in the past over Harper’s undemocratic excesses, and more recently Andrew Coyne pronounced himself unsatisfied with the government’s style. Those of us who sounded the alarm from the beginning, however, found few allies in the punditocracy. Until recently.

This government is flailing.

But the cracks in Harper’s thin blue line of PPG collaborators have begun to show. You can’t, after all, just wish away a missing $3.1 billion, spend a fortune of taxpayers’ money on blatant party advertising (the new Adscam?), or come out with a series of — even for the Conservatives — unusually childish attack ads that manage to be both demeaning and incomprehensible, while emitting homophobic dogwhistles at the same time. Or claim with a straight face that Peter Penashue’s defeat in Labrador was a Liberal loss. Or, as House leader Peter Van Loan has witlessly attempted, deflect attention from rampant Senate corruption by amateurishly smearing Thomas Mulcair.

This government is flailing.

And now it’s become open season. From continuing installments of the sordid adventures of a venal Senator (who, one can confidently predict, will soon be sharing his disgrace with colleagues) to a truly impressive takedown of archbrat Pierre “Skippy” Poilievre — in the Ottawa SUN of all places — the worst has happened. Outrage is turning to mockery. We’re laughing at them.

The worst has happened. Outrage is turning to mockery. We’re laughing at them.

That formerly tight ship, the seemingly impregnable HMS Harper, has taken an unprecedented barrage. It’s listing, the masts are askew, the rigging is fouled. Surly sailors are giving jaw to the captain.

The damage can no longer be contained, even with Wright nobly falling on his sword. The connections are being made, and those connections are ramifying. A sad gaggle of impugned Senators trails away to become Independents, while it now appears that an internal Senate report on improper claims and expenditures was hushed up to give Mike Duffy a break.

The RCMP, while it has acted like Harper’s Praetorian Guard in the past, is investigating, and the pressure will be on to get this one right. With its incredible shrinking credibility on the line, it just may.

And this one goes right up and into the PMO, all the way to Stephen Harper himself — the obsessive micromanager who, the chattering apparatchiks will now insist, had no idea what his right-hand man was up to. But Harper earlier defended him. Now that a fuller story has emerged, he has lapsed into a sullen silence.

This circus has had a wonderful sideshow, too. Mike Duffy’s body double in Toronto, the darling of the yawping Right, stumbling and bumbling from one boorish misadventure to another, has likely taken one too many hits.

But let’s not be distracted. The Big Top is where the good stuff’s happening, and we’re all in the front row. Praise the Lord and pass the popcorn.

About John Baglow

John Baglow is a former Executive Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. He is currently a writer, researcher and a consultant in the fields of public and social policy
You can read his blog at

© Copyright 2013 John Baglow, All rights Reserved. Written For:

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