Thursday, April 08, 2010

What does it take for Harper to punt a minister?

Reading Kevin Donovan’s explosive Toronto Star investigative piece linking Rahim Jaffer to an alleged conman, booze and drugs and, yes, busty hookers, I can’t help but wonder what it takes for someone to get fired from Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

Now, I’m not saying it’s fair to hold Helena Guergis responsible for the sins of her husband, alleged or otherwise. I think Guergis has done plenty on her own to merit her punting from the cabinet room, from her airport tantrum to the letter writing to her sheer incompetence for the job. (I think the mortgage stuff is stupid, for what it’s worth.)

It’s not fair to hold her responsible for Jaffer’s sins as well as her own but, let’s face it, fairly or not, as long as she’s in cabinet Jaffer’s indiscretions are a drag both on her and the Conservative brand. And it has to be pissing Stephen Harper and the PMO off mightily.

Guergis and Jaffer have become a distraction for the government, and are throwing them off message. The latest story will only intensify that. This isn’t an inside the Queensway story. This is a Tim Horton’s story, and erodes the very image the Harper Conservatives have been trying to portray: work hard, play by the rules. Already we’re hearing about Conservative fundraisers being told no more donations will be coming while Guergis remains in cabinet. The Conservative grassroots are angry, and the Conservative talking heads – likely with PMO permission – have been turned loose to attack her.

Still, Harper has publicly maintained his support for her. While he clearly would like her to quit and seems to be encouraging that, he seems unwilling to fire her only for fear of handing the opposition a victory. Give them snarling masses one trophy, the old Ottawa theory goes, they’ll only be back for more.

At some point, though, you’d think enough would be enough. At some point you have to weigh giving the opposition a trophy vs. the constant embarrassing revelations and distractions, even if they’re not all on her, and say it’s just not worth it keeping this person on. It's not like this guy has ever been known for personal loyalty. Just ask Jim Hawkes and Preston Manning.

Will Harper reach that breaking-point soon? I think many would have long ago.

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JimBobby said...

Whooee! Ol' King Steve's gettin' his sorryass squashed between a rock and a hard place, sez I. On the one hand, RahimHelena keeps the attention off inconvenient revelations on Canadian complicity in torture and top level culpability for war crimes. Keeping the beauty queen-of-mean minister and her hapless whoremaster hubby around for distraction has served the purpose well.

Yet, the power couple's endless antics may just be starting to tip the scales. Their liability as Cons in good standing is starting to outweigh their usefulness in the, "Look! Over there!" department.

MichaelB said...

And just ask Deb Grey who once referred to Harper as "shallow".

The Mound of Sound said...

It's not like Harper is awash with talent in his caucus. It'd sort of resemble replacing a burned out bulb with a burned out bulb. Keep an eye on Mr. Guergis' threat to sue the Star. That could spell big trouble for the Tories if it gave the paper a chance to peer into what deals Rahim brokered with the feds and on behalf of what clients.