As you may know, after the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, called the Liberal Green Shift environmental plan presented by the Leader of the Opposition, Stephane Dion, "crazy" and declared it would "screw everyone" Dion invited Harper to participate in a public debate on the topic. Harper declined.
Then, Dion offered to hold the debate in Calgary. In the Lion’s Den. Oil Country. Where they eat Liberals for dinner. Particularly mild-mannered Quebecois professors that wear glasses and have dogs named Kyoto and mothers from France. Still, Harper wimped-out:
Accusing the prime minister of indulging in "low blow politics and character assassination," Liberal leader Stéphane Dion challenged Stephen Harper yesterday to a one-on-one carbon tax policy debate in Calgary, the Conservative PM's riding and the energy capital of Canada.How could we have missed the start of a high-minded debate? The talking oil spot really should have given it away. Maybe if Dion agrees to let Harper’s mom be the moderator, and hold it at a Calgary Tim Horton’s, they’ll go for it.
Harper dismissed Dion's challenge for a leaders' duel on his home turf over "which plan - his plan or my plan - on climate change is the best, both for climate change and for the energy sector."
"Mr. Dion hasn't even realized that the debate started weeks ago," Harper's spokesman Dimitri Soudas said.
Seriously, it’s all rather silly. No one expects Harper to agree to a debate on this. But if there’s one thing the Conservatives have proven, it’s that good politics is often silly. And by being seen to dodge Dion, while offering up unintelligent retorts like “it’s crazy” it portrays Dion as a leader and Harper as having something to hide.
Throughout this drama I’ve been reminded of an incident during the last election campaign. During one of the televised debates Paul Martin challenged Gilles Duceppe to debate him anywhere, anytime on unity and sovereignty. Duceppe said ok and Martin sheepishly backed away.
Since the Vancouver leaders' debates last week, when Martin challenged Duceppe to "meet him on every street corner, in every city and in every town and village in Quebec," Duceppe has been calling for a direct exchange with the prime minister.Then Harper stepped-in and said I’ll debate you Gilles, I’ll speak for Canada. Gilles then sheepishly backed away, with the Liberals imploding in Quebec there was no benefit for him to elevate Harper’s stature in the province.
That dramedy though was a turning point (one of many) during that campaign. By taking-up that debating challenge, Harper was seen as Prime Minsiterial. As a leader. People began to take him more seriously.
Harper also took a jab at Martin for turning down Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe's offer of a one-on-one debate in French between the two.
"I'm prepared to take that challenge, instead," said Harper to loud cheers as he made a farm-support announcement. "I look forward to debating Mr. Duceppe in the near future."
Duceppe appeared less than eager to take on Harper's challenge -- possibly because of the positive reception that the Conservative policies have been receiving in Quebec.
"There were no challenges made by Mr. Harper, telling me to meet him anywhere in Quebec," Duceppe said.
I wonder what happened to that Stephen Harper, the one that picked-up challenges, that led? Maybe the Liberals stole that part of his personality too. Either way, by Harper ducking Dion’s challenge, this time it’s the Liberal leader gaining credibility, while the Conservative sheepishly backs away.
P.S. Speaking of Harper's personalities, remember this golden oldie?
Harper, however, is refusing to back down from his statement.
Campaigning in Chatham, Ont. on Wednesday, Harper said he doesn't go around demanding apologies, and even boasted that he can "take a punch."
Whatever happened to TakesPunches Harper? Instead we've got Lawsuity McDemandAlottaApologies Harper.
Could he have multiple personalities? Did someone else give the above quote (I'm looking at you Rahim Jaffer)? Will the real Stephen Harper please stand up? Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers