Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oh the places Harper will go

I'm looking forward to Mini Bush's grand world tour this summer, pegged as "Sydney to Santiago" by the CP. I wonder if there'll be t-shirts? Let the travel season begin. Tim Powers, I see, is perhaps setting the bar too high for his leader on the expectations front:
Party and government insiders say placing Harper on the international stage during the parliamentary break puts him in the best possible light. Photo-ops on the tarmacs and in the palaces of exotic locales emphasize the statesman, rather than the Tory politician with his various difficulties at home.

"It's a good environment for him because it allows him to showcase his leadership and his presence on the world stage, and that reinforces his bona fides with Canadians," said party strategist Tim Powers. (emphasis added)
Say wha? Bona fides with Canadians? You mean with the income trust Canadians? The Atlantic Accord Canadians? Or the Kyoto-supporting Canadians? And as for presence...where, pray tell, has such presence been evident?

On this trip?



Or on this trip?



Or the recent G8 where Mini Bush served as a bridge between the intransigence of the U.S. on global warming and Europe's desire for action and where the U.S. "won" the day?

Presence? Methinks the PMO is working a little too hard on spinning this thing. Check out another source's strange characterization of Harper:
In Haiti in particular, Harper will be able to advertise the fact it has become Canada's No. 2 destination for long-term aid dollars after Afghanistan.

Said one government source: "It presents him as an activist, well-rounded PM that is doing something and accomplishing something." (emphasis added)
It might just be me, but "activist" and "Stephen Harper" are not two concepts I often see used in the same sentence. This is the PM, after all, who has called Kyoto a "socialist scheme" in his past and whose environmental priorities were sorely lagging until the polls provided a rude awakening. Not exactly the stuff "activists" are made of...

But there's more spinning from the insiders. And its worse.
Shortly thereafter, Harper is scheduled to shoot up to the other end of the hemisphere on an important trip to the Arctic.

Harper visited the area last year, but in 2007 he's expected to come with his pockets full - with possible announcements for new patrol vessels and a northern naval station. One government insider says it's part of a patriotic vein that Harper would like to tap, mining some classic elements of the Canadian identity that have been buried in recent years.

"It's harkening back to another time - of being proud of our heritage and building our nation," said the source, recalling the ascendency of Tory prime minister John Diefenbaker in the late 1950s. "You'll note his insistence in highlighting national icons, like the North, the red ensign and hockey."
(emphasis added)
Yes, it's back to the 1950's with Harper... I suppose we're all supposed to get misty-eyed at the PM evoking such symbolism for us, hey? Don't you think they might have a better shot at this stuff working if the PM's staff didn't explicitly telegraph it to us?

(And about that red ensign reference...that struck me as a little strange. Not something you hear every day. And something they might want to be careful with. Check out this background on the red ensign and the heading "Use today.")