Remember when the Stephen Harper Conservatives had a reputation for being shrewd and savvy master political strategists and technicians? Well, what a difference a few days can make. Now Harper is on the verge of losing government, and he has no one to blame but himself, and his own supposed political acumen.
Harper backed-down today on taking away the right of public sector unions to strike, and he agreed to move the next budget up by a few weeks. This followed his two-stage backdown on ending public funding of political parties. All minor concessions that don't go far enough to placate an opposition that clearly has had enough.
But the Conservative coup de grace today was to be their much hyped proof that the NDP and the BQ have been in cahoots to bring down the government preceding the economic update.
This smoking gun, a recording of a private NDP caucus conference call, was naturally leaked to CTV's Bob Fife, who with breathless enthusiasm gleefully and dutifully recited the Conservative talking points. Funny thing happened though when the Harper PMO released the recordings to all the media, and everyone could read the transcripts themselves, minus the spin: the smoking gun turned out to be nothing of the sort.
What the tapes revealed was that Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe had talked about cooperating to get things done in Parliament, about common ground, and how they could work together. Kind of what parties in parliament, particularly opposition parties, are supposed to do. Exactly like Harper did with Layton and Duceppe when they were in opposition. Heck, they even wrote a joint letter to the Governor General asking her to give them a crack at forming government should the Paul Martin government fall.
With NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulclair having demolished the Conservative spin during his press conference, he raised the issue of just what the heck the Conservatives were doing covertly listening-in on private NDP caucus conference calls. Mulclair says the NDP is consulting legal counsel on the matter to see if there may be legal recourse.
Criminal or not (I have my doubts), at the very least it's pretty sleazy and unethical, and will repulse Canadians, costing the Conservatives even more in public opinion. All that, and the call only revealed that the NDP and the BQ talked strategy just like they did with the Conservatives.
What this all shows is that the Harper Conservatives are increasingly desperate. They've overplayed their hand and they know it. They're losing the battle for public opinion. They attempted to play games during an economic crisis, and they've shown an utter unwillingness to provide the economic relief Canadians are demanding. They're tone deaf to the concerns of working Canadians, and to their desire to see their representatives work together. They're willing to do anything to defect and distract from their own incompetence.
The fact that they're considering proroguing Parliament until the new year to avoid defeat, to avoid accountability, confirms just how scared and desperate Harper has become. How ridiculous would that be, to end this sitting after one week? To bring back Parliament in the new year with ANOTHER throne speech? It would be an admission that Harper has lost the confidence of the HoC, and is too much of a coward to face the people's representatives. Any public support left would evaporate for a government that would have demonstrated just how morally and ethically bankrupt it had become.
Whether he wants to admit it or not, Stephen Harper's days in 24 Sussex are numbered.
And all Stephen Harper's horses, and all Stephen Harper's men, couldn't put Stephen Harper's government together again.
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