04.26.2010 06:27 AM

Rahim-Helena: In today’s Hill Times

KINSELLA: What has been interesting, to me, in the Rahim-Helena mess hasn’t been the ill-fated couple, per se. It’s been how the Harper Reformatory government has dealt with the whole mess.

Early on, for example, I opined online about Guergis’s now-infamous tantrum at Charlottetown’s airport. On my Facebook page, one of the first folks to comment about my comment was none other than Kory Teneycke—until recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s powerful director of communications, and now one of the most adept Conservative pundits in Canada. Teneycke let it be known that he was no fan of Guergis or her behaviour—and, later on, even seemed to suggest she deserved to be Tasered for her misdeeds.

That evening, I did CTV’s Power Play show with Canada’s only other highly-adept Conservative pundit guys, Tim Powers. Powers, too, mused that Guergis needed to reflect on what she had done. He didn’t sound impressed.

Nobody pays any attention to me, and for good reason, but I told CTV’s Tom Clark that I was amazed by Teneycke’s and Powers’s public utterances, and that it could only mean that the all-seeing PMO was about to cut her adrift.

There’s no way—no way—either of those two guys would ever say something that didn’t meet with the approval of the PM. “Helena, start packing your bags,” I advised. “You’re done.”

Precisely no one, then, should have been surprised to see Guergis and her unlucky husband kicked to the curb by Reform-Conservative officialdom mere days later. It was always going to happen. The only question was when, not if.

That is what intrigues me about all of this sad tale. I don’t see it in any way harmful to the Conservatives’ long-term prospects. For Team Angry, it did two useful things: one, it allowed them to separate themselves from two too-urban, too-hip people whom many in government had come to dislike. Two, it allowed them to look proactive and tough on crime. (Memo to Liberals: when a brown envelope is handed to you, in the future, take it.)

At the end of this drama, I feel sort of sorry for Guergis and Jaffer. The moment Teneycke and Powers started expressing their disapproval, it was all over but for the proverbial fat lady singing. And I don’t get the impression that Mr. Harper dislikes the sound of her voice.


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    Catherine says:

    Harper wins the fickle finger of fate award.

    He will always do what is best for his own interests.

    And his bench-mates serve that goal.

    Nothing less. Nothing more.

    But, that Tenecke guy, is starting to look angry. Not much content. Just angry.

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    JH says:

    Warren – always enjoy your utterances even if I don’t always agree. Quite frankly this week-end, strolling main street so to speak, I’m more convince than ever that this whole affair has damaged the opposition somewhat, but the biggest losers have been the press. A lot of folks out here feel whatever reputation the media had is in tatters after their 3 week long excursion into partisan National Inquirer type journalism. As for Frank Graves and the CBC – theirs was shot long ago.
    Have a good day.

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      MJH says:

      Tabloid journalism for sure. In the big picture of life this is a minor diversion. There are other much more important things to be concerned about.

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        smelter rat says:

        Nobody called it tablod journalism when the press was all gaga over previous Liberal “scandals”.

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          hugger says:

          I agree about the press taking it on the chin for their irresponsible witch hunt tactics. Especially the CBC. Even when there is nothing fresh coming from the organ grinder, they rehash what they wrote about earlier.

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    Martin Partridge says:

    Liberals are not and should not be fooled by Conservative damage control or concerned about the inevitable ennui-induced swing toward blaming the press and the opposition. The evidence is clear and mounting: wantonly free conversations took place among hall-wanderers like Jaffer on the one hand and the secretive powermongers in Cabinet and the PMO on the other. Ottawa is a hive of money movement; the Conservatives are even more scheming, self-interested and dirty than anything before them; and ultimately the truth will come out. Remember, it was not entirely obvious, right up until the end, that the Mulroney, Harris/Eves, or Martin governments would crash so spectacularly. The drip-drip-drip accumulation of scandal and affrontery never evaporates; it pools, and builds, and eventually becomes meaningful.

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    Brian says:

    You are too kind.

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    Eugene Parks says:

    Warren is right. As a political event, it is over. As a legal matter, time will tell.

    Now back to war crime allegations, the economy, and healthcare.

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    Catherine says:

    “The drip-drip-drip accumulation of scandal and affrontery never evaporates; it pools, and builds, and eventually becomes meaningful.”

    Nope! Busy living life to give a crap Martin. I’m with Warren on this only because Ignatieff’s still bumbling and causing more of a distraction TO HIMSELF rather than any of his three opponents.

    That’s why every MP past & present, ALL parties better be checking and rechecking their baggage and “influence” connections thoroughly because I would assume that the Conservative war room’s all over those folks only to spring a surprise at a most opportune moment.

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      Martin Partridge says:

      Today’s 29% for the Conservatives (Harris-Decima) suggests an accumulation of negatives. The stimulus free-for-all, the Olympics and the other “successes” of the Harper government still aren’t enough to outweigh that all-pervasive stinky feeling that everyone outside the 29-club has about Harper’s regime.

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    Riff says:

    I agree completely with Warren on this matter. The Harper government is like the Survivor reality show! The Harper run show is based on a perverted version of the Darwinian law of ‘survival of the fittest’. I use the term perversion because those deemed ‘fittest’ are chosen by Harper himself. The candidates do not survive based on their own wits and instincts but rather are deemed to be ‘unfit’ to belong to the ‘tribe’, ie Cabinet, by the self proclaimed chief.
    The Harper Jaffer/Guergis fix has been in for some time.
    The Harper PMO crunched all the options and decided that there was much more to be gained politically than lost in voting Jaffer and Guergis off the island.
    The PMO then put into motion a series of talking points and tactical moves to shift all the blame to Jaffer and Guergis for their demise thereby protecting the remaining members of the Harper Conservative ‘tribe’, ie Cabinet.
    Jaffer is correct when he states that the Tory lynch mob is out to get both himself and his wife. It is not a pretty sight!
    Harper’s image as a Louie Long Strongman has been affirmed and it is clear that no MP and cabinet member is immune from Harper’s wrath. Once the calculus has been made by the PMO and an MP’s or a Cabinet minister’s negatives outweigh the positives then he or she is toast. Harper’s modus operandi is brutal but it works.
    Tenecke and Powers play central roles in Harper’s governance style since they are being rewarded in a myriad of ways to say what Harper can’t really say publicly.
    Harper has Bonapartism tendencies and these tendencies will only grow to become more central to his governance style as they prove to be highly effective in keeping his loose coalition intact as he moves towards the next election.

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    sj says:

    To use Warren’s Tim Horton analogy, Helana and Rahim were never comfortable with the TimBits crowd and not only because he used to own a upscale coffee shop himself. And when this scandal started being discussed by folks lining up for their double-doubles, it was clear she was gonna be gone. The sad reality is that Iggy isn’t anymore comfortable with the Timmy’s crowd that H+R.

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    jbro says:

    no conservative dare cross regis stevis, and the ostracization of rahim-guergis is totally consistent with harper’s reign of intimidation.

    i think the barely suppressed rage is a strategic signal for the extreme right, telling them ‘look at how much it hurts to hold back my righteousness, but it will be worth it when we get a majority’.

    the strategic anger is analogous to the ‘tough on crime’ vacillation between whipping up a frenzy and conservative own-bill-killing.

    i feel canadians are more disposed to strategic calm, because it suggests an individual’s ability to think for her/himself. being yelled at/frozen out/jerked around…….not gonna win over anyone new in the longterm, as we’ve already seen.

    my concern is how much harper can shift the center toward his liking, keeping the keys to the PMO by keeping the minority govt alive. i think we can all do with less self-righteous rage in our lives, not more.

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    auntie-em-m says:

    jbro : good post.

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    Riley says:

    This is all going to disappear when oil prices skyrocket by the end of summer. (as they will). Jeff Rubin’s column in the G&M needs to be read, regularly.

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