Musings —02.03.2013 06:23 AM—
As he kicks off the 2013 Parliamentary calendar – and as he nears the mid-point in his majority mandate – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a serene look about him.
The clearest indication of this came on Twitter, naturally, which Harper has embraced with all the enthusiasm of a teenager who received a Blackberry Z10 prototype under the Christmas tree.
There he was this week, merrily tweeting photographs of him partaking breakfast with his cat Stanley. (We are not making this up, as much as we wish that we were.) Later on in the day, Canadians were rewarded with tweeted photos of Harper eating a healthy-looking lunch, and even giving a Conservative MP a high-five. For what, we don’t know. But the Prime Ministerial day presently looks like more fun than a barrel full of Ikea Monkeys.
He should enjoy it while he can. Ominous clouds are gathering on the Conservative horizon, and not even joyful Twitter tweets can obscure them.
For starters, there’s the war thing. Faithfully reprising Richard M. Nixon – who also launched a secret war, except in Cambodia – Harper appears to be leading an unaware nation into a combat role in Mali. And, while he wants us to pay attention to his cat Stanley, he’s evidently less interested in Canadians knowing what awaits in a faraway African quagmire.
Thus, we had to learn from French TV reports that we are sending untold numbers of special forces commandos to Mali. Similarly, we discovered a Canadian cargo plane – and the personnel required to keep it aloft – are heading there, too. And it was Mali’s president who told us that – on Twitter. (Pix of the Mali presidential cat? Untweeted. Canada’s Parliament? Unconsulted.)
Meanwhile, in this hemisphere, troubles aplenty await. Frustrated by Idle No More’s inconclusive conclusion, many First Nations leaders remain unhappy, and are promising a Spring that will be memorable for blockades and road closures. Elections Canada’s investigations into the Conservative robocalls scandal continue.
Cravenly seeking a few extra votes in separatist-led Quebec, idiots within the NDP want to scrap the immensely-popular Clarity Act. In so doing, the New Democrats are ensuring an unwelcome return of past constitutional and unity battles. Which Harper, and Canadians, need like a hole in the head.
In mid-April, Liberals are expected to elevate Justin Trudeau to the Liberal Party leadership. However much Conservatives like to publicly claim that they will welcome the Montreal Grit MP’s arrival on the big stage, they privately acknowledge that Trudeau’s surging popularity remains a political problem.
In the boxing ring, the much-disliked Conservative “Senator” Patrick Brazeau learned – the hard way – what can happen when Cons underestimate Trudeau. And, in previously-hostile places like Kamloops, Trudeau recently attracted more than 600 enthusiastic supporters. (The last time a federal Liberal brought out that many Westerners was to attend a hanging – of Liberals.)
Most worrisome, for Harper, remains the economy. Concerns persist about Canadian household debt, a declining housing market, a flattened commodities market, and ongoing economic instability in Europe and the U.S. Fully half of Canadians have told Harris-Decima that they are worried – or “very worried” – about what the future holds for them and their families.
The Bank of Canada has downgraded its projections for the year, foretelling that economic growth will decline. The combined budgetary deficits for this year and last are expected to be at least $10 billion worse than forecast by the Conservative government.
When in tight spots in the past, Harper rolled out his piano to play Beatles tunes, or posed in a cuddly sweater. This year, he’s tweeting photos of Stanley the Cat. Will it work again?
We shall see. But even Stanley might acknowledge that, after six long years in power, Stephen Harper’s troubles are increasingly unlikely to be tweeted away.