02.07.2012 08:19 AM

In today’s Sun after all: goodbye Charlie Brown

With his intention to rob Canadian seniors of the old age benefits they’ve already paid for, Stephen Harper is in big trouble. But not for the reason you might think.

Politics is all about the effective use of symbols. Ask Jean Chretien or Brian Mulroney, they’ll tell you. Or they’ll show you.

Case study one: Summer 1993. Conservatives have just picked ex-justice minister Kim Campbell to be their leader. Campbell’s brainy, but she also doesn’t take herself too seriously. Earlier, someone circulated a photo in which a coiffed Campbell — bare shouldered — holds her Queen’s Counsel robes in front of her. The photo was republished around the world. One gushing account in Britain’s The Independent carried this headline: “A provocative picture may help Kim Campbell become leader of her country.”

The British paper wasn’t entirely wrong. Soon after her selection as Conservative leader, Campbell became the most popular prime minister in decades.


  1. Tim Sullivan says:

    The problem with the examples you cite is that arise because of the natural cases they are. Chretien was a smart and physically active, if not graceful, man. He could and did run up the stairs, jumping a few steps. Mulroney was a gregarious, approval-seeking liar. Chretien got his photo on one ski because he is smart politically and could do the one-ski thing. The photogs said they would show him falling if he did in fact fall. Mulroney got his time with Ms Denis because, purely by happenstance, Mulroney ventured into a crowd because he knew, or thought, everyone would love him, because in private, everyone did.

    Harper controls his environment. He does not get pictured (anymore) with anyone he does not script. There will be no Ms Denis to shout “Charlie Brown” at him.

    When you are not a democratic at heart, like I think our current PM tends toward, yelling from the masses and opposition means little. Evidence does not sway him. Public opinion does not sway him. His Cabinet does not sway him. Ideology only. And he can maintain that ideological stance so long as he can control his environment.

    You and all the readers of this blog can plit the $.02.

  2. ASME says:

    What the problem is regarding the raising of retirement age from 65 – 67 is this: people who have lost their jobs who have an MBA and are just 60 are not able to find jobs in Canada so how will people aged sixty and older find work. Personally, my experience has been…after returning from Asia…interviews with all men who are around my age..finding little things to turn a person down…you are over qualified; you don’t have this one computer course; how can I check on your reputation while working overseas? The mindset of people in a hiring position will need training in hiring people over the age of 60 including those who are 65 and older. Another problem is what happens to people who are unable to work..who have serious medical problems. People who are now retired on OAS and GIS alone are living below the poverty line now. Women who are retired and have been for a number of years, who were stay at home moms who were not trained to do a job outside the home are living below the poverty line. OAS and GIS needs to be increased for those who need it. OAS abd GIS is a very small percentage of GDP in this country. Companies and the wealthy of this country need to be paying higher taxes. Those who will be making up to 67,000.00 dollars a year after retirement, do not need to be receiving OAS. As a matter of fact, there are many people in this country on OAS, GIS and a small amount from CPP. As soon as there is an increase on CPP, the GIS is clawed back and the person is not any better off.

  3. Philip says:

    Harper dropped his OAS bomb in Davos because the tall foreheads in his media department wanted to create the image in Canadian’s minds that our pension system was in crisis. It isn’t of course but symbols matter. So your Conservatives used a very real EU debit crisis as window dressing for a manufactured “crisis”.

    Fair enough but lets not pretend there was any noble purpose behind the stage show.

  4. fred says:

    If you quack like a Neo-nazi, and you hang out at Neo-nazi parties, you must be one.

    Like I would believe anything you or Harper says.

  5. dave says:

    Recently my Finance Minister, a Mr Flattery, opined on my tv that a raising Canadian dollar was just terrific. He said that Canadians want a ‘strong’ dollar. He said that Canadians can compete with anyone anywhere.
    I really wished for a Solange Denis moment just then, maybe even a journalist, to ask my Finance Minister why USA and Canada criticize China for keeping their Yuan low, because it gives China manufacturies an unfair advantage over our manufacturing sector.
    But, it did not happen.
    Our fossil fuels have been on a mostly upward trajectory since NAFTA came in, and our manufacturing has been eroding. Recently, oil has been doing really well, and, surely, Ontario-eros must be looking over their shoulders about the future of manufacturing in S’west Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe. As the oil, and other raw exports raise the dollar, that same higher dollar eats away at our manufacturing – the recent plant closing in London just one example.
    Again, that was my finance Minister, a guy in charge of our books and economy, making that observation on economics and the effect of the value of our dollar.
    At the time of the ‘Good bye,Charlie Brown’ it was not known that it was a ‘sign.’ Nor was Chretien on one ski recognized at the time as a sign. (Keep in mind that fellow in the wet suit on a jet ski – that also became a kind of sign.)
    Good things do not last forever, and increasing numbers of Canadians are pitching in to end this regime. As Ahmedinijad wisely observed: Regime change can happen, and quite suddenly, as we have seen.

  6. Anne Peterson says:

    Symbols – Mr. Harper doing happy steps as he climbs the stairs into the airplance on his way to China to save his neck. Never have I seen such a dismal looking trudge. He knows he’s gonna sell out, not only his former super moral stand but Candians too. But then he’s used to doing that, isn’t he? Anything to save his own hide. Little Ecuador renegotiating its oil contracts with multi nationals changing terms from 13% to 87% and getting away with it. Canada willy nilly giving its riches away. How’s that for a picture worth cherishing.

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