14 May 2009

What's Harper in it for?

A newly-minted Conservative attack ad on You Tube suggests Michael Ignatieff is "Not in [politics] for Canada," but only "In it for himself." My initial reaction was, are we talking about Michael Ignatieff or Stephen Harper? After all, it's something of a mystery why Harper wants to be Prime Minister of a country he doesn't seem to like very much. Consider the evidence:
  • Speaking to an American right-wing think tank, he made comments such as, "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it," and "if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians," revealing a not very elevated opinion of his country and his countrymen.
  • Once asked if there was a Canadian culture, he answered, "Yes, in a very loose sense. It consists of regional cultures within Canada, regional cultures that cross borders with the US. We're part of a worldwide Anglo-American culture. And there is a continental culture." I think the answer was, in a very loose sense, not really.
  • Then there's the famous firewall letter to Premier Klein of Alberta which he signed and which stated, "It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can approach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction."
  • About Maritimers he has said, "There's unfortunately a view of too many people in Atlantic Canada that it's only through government favours that there's going to be economic progress, or that's what you look to." So much for that benighted part of the country.
  • And then there's his infamous inability to say he loves Canada, source of much mockery in the media.
So, to paraphrase the Conservative ad, what is Harper in it for? It can hardly be for love of country if he can't even say the words. Is the ad, therefore, some kind of unconscious comment on the Conservatives' own leader? Or maybe not so unconscious? Perhaps a pre-emptive attempt to portray Ignatieff as a political dilettante before the Liberals portray Harper as a mere ideologue?

But who knows what goes on in the minds of people who deal in attack ads. We are in a murky realm, a part of the political world that does so much to explain why decent people want little to do with politics. Best to just leave them to their silly games.

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