Out here in the real world, people go about their end of summer routines. A good portion of my office is on vacation this week, for example. Myself, I'm going to cover an event about software piracy this afternoon. Exciting stuff. Inside the bubble that is Ottawa, however, the election cauldron Stephen Harper is brewing consumes all, and it looks about to boil over.
Most people out here in the real world have no idea. I mentioned to a colleague yesterday that we were probably going to be in an election in a week or two. He had no idea, hadn't heard a word of the elaborate theater being played-out in the nation's capital, and didn't much care, other than not being keen on an election. He has been hearing lots of negative Conservative radio ads, though they didn't seem to have much impact on him. But then he's a dipper anyway.
I mention this because I don't think the extraordinary lengths that everyone, particularly Stephen Harper, seem to be going through to not “get blamed” for triggering an election will really matter one iota. As I've said before, how we get into the vote is a one-to-two day story at best. Campaigns have a life of their own, and we'll quickly move on.
Still, the kabuki play those of us who are paying attention are watching (and if you read political blogs, that includes you) is telling to the personalities of the different leaders, and particularly Stephen Harper.
Here's the latest election hysteria update:
The rush for a snap election is quickening as senior Conservatives indicated that Prime Minister Stephen Harper might not wait to meet Stéphane Dion before calling a vote if the Liberal Leader does not agree to talks next week.
That could set the stage for a campaign triggered next week, with some Conservatives circling Sept. 5 as the most likely date.
Mr. Harper indicated last week he wanted crisis-atmosphere meetings with opposition leaders within a few weeks before deciding whether to call an election, but that has led to a cat-and-mouse game over the timing of the tête-à-têtes.
We've talked before about the influence of the Mike Harris crew on the Harper regieme. Well, hearing Harper talk about a wanting a “crisis-atmosphere” I'm reminded of Harris-era education minister John Snobelen, who talked of wanting to “create a crisis” in the education system in order to enact drastic reforms.
If there's a crisis here, it's one of Harper's own making. We've long talked about his control freak tendencies, and they're on full display here. He's looking increasingly like a petulant child, lashing-out when he can't get his way.
He wants all the leaders to drop everything and rush to Ottawa to have “crisis-atmosphere meetings” when no actual crisis exists. The leaders agree to meet but not just this moment, they have busy schedules to coordinate too. And what's the hurry? It's not until Sept. 15 that the HoC is scheduled to return anyways. That's not good enough for Harper though. And Kory Teneycke even seemed to suggest they do this by phone or something:
“In the age of modern communication, if somebody's saying they can't find a way to talk to you, with cell phones and telephones and the fact that they live in the same city, only a handful of blocks apart etc., I think you're getting an answer.”
Or why not just text, Kory? Here's how that might go:
HarperPM1: Will u vote my balls?
DionLib: Eww! ROTFL. Wat?
Harper PM1: Bills!
DionLIB: Wat bilz?
HarperPM1: My bilz!
DionLIB: MayB, will c. :)
Harper PM1: Not good enuf! Election!
DionLIB: WTF? Need more 411.
HarperPM1: Election now!
DionLIB: OMG, seriouz?
HarperPM1: Take u down!
DionLIB: LOL watevr.
Not the best way to decide the fate of this parliament, but then the meetings were always to be just theater anyway. Window-dressing. Harper wanted to be able to come out of the meeting, have a presser, and say despite his best efforts at trying to make this parliament work, the unreasonable Libs refused to agree to his very reasonable demands, so now he's off to the GG to ask for an election and it's all Stephane's fault.
But since all three leaders are refusing to rush to Ottawa, Harper is now threatening to go to the GG before the meetings. After all, if he waits the by-elections will go off first, and he'd rather now have headlines of four Conservative losses following him into the general. Not to mention more ethics committee hearings, his own Elections Canada lawsuit, a tell-all from Julie Couillard, and much, much more dogging him just before a campaign.
But back out in the real world, people are barely aware of all this, if at all. They'll know there's an election when they start to see signs around town and canvassers knocking on their door. They'll half pay attention, and then trudge down to an elementary school on e-day and do their democratic duty before taking the kids to soccer. They won't care who met with whom or didn't and whether there was a vote in the house or not.
In Ottawa though, and for those out there in the world that are paying attention, far from being the strong leader he once seemed, as I said Harper seems increasingly the petulant child that stomps his feet when he doesn't get his way. When people, this time the opposition leaders, refuse to give him what he wants, when it looks like his carefully crafted plots may go awry, he gets angry. And history shows us when Harper gets angry he lashes out, and it costs him support.
In a campaign, Steve's anger is his kryptonite. If the opposition parties can keep knocking him off his game like they are now, he could be in trouble.
UPDATE: Coyne is funny. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers