Senator Mike Duffy, serving it up all summer long it appears! Highlights - with necessary corrections where required - from a report on his appearance in Vancouver last week at the Fraser Institute. Duffy's radical and lightning fast transformation to Conservative uber-partisan continues to amaze.
Most surprising about Mr. Duffy's talk was his partisanship after being a national political commentator whose party leanings were seldom seen or heard. No longer. He is a Stephen Harper fan through and through, defending vigorously the prime minister's leadership.About this repeated line, now making its way into Duffy's routine on the Conservative fiscal management:
He says Finance Minister James Flaherty was prescient in shutting down 40-year mortgages thereby reducing risks for lenders.Duffy omits that Flaherty opened Canada's door wide to the 40 year mortgage and was the one who permitted these risky products in the first place. Flaherty actually did not act so quickly in shutting them down at all.
While senators are unelected Mr. Duffy talked like a politician looking for votes when he reminded the audience that the first Chinese elected to parliament was a Conservative from Vancouver.He peddled the old Liberal Chretien-Martin feud:
Some in the audience were unconvinced. They had difficulty with the view that running big deficits is ever consistent with conservative values. Mr. Duffy remained adamant that these are exceptional times requiring exceptional measures including fiscal expansion.
The two groups are so hostile that the PEI Senator believes the followers of Mr. Cretien may have urged their new leader Michael Ignatief to make an unpopular election threat just so he would be defeated making an opening for former Premier Bob Rae - a pal of Mr. Cretien.Ha, ha! Just off the charts, that one. Needs some new sources, methinks.
Then there's perhaps one of the most entertaining parts of the talk that's summarized:
When questioned about the uneven reputation of the Prime Minister for openness Mr. Duffy defended the Conservatives and did not see any problem. Many in the audience disagreed. An animated discussion broke out at the end of the speech about Mr. Harper's communication style or lack thereof. The senator took sides with unquestioned support of the Conservatives and Mr. Harper. Recounting his recent travels with the Prime Minister in close contact for a week he said he was very impressed with Mr. Harper's down-home personality. Some wanted him to take special training to improve his public charisma. Mr. Duffy did not join this chorus and seemed more comfortable with the adage, "Beware of charisma....While the charismatic has an uncanny outside source of strength, the authentic is strong because he is what he seems to be."Yes, where does one get "special training" to improve one's public charisma? Is that what Mr. Harper will be doing this summer? Something to watch for, behavioural changes in the PM indicating specialized training has been undertaken.
On the issue of concerns about the sudden resignation of the Information Commissioner, Robert Marleau, the new senator firmly believes there are no political overtones about information issues and the resignation was indeed made for personal reasons.
The Prime Minister is a "radically normal" person concludes Mr. Duffy. Prime Minister Harper works very hard and likes to spend time with his family Saturday night rather than hobnobbing at dinners with the wealthy in Toronto or Vancouver.
Interesting to note that in a receptive Conservative audience, there seems to have been plenty of disagreement with Duffy's Conservative script. And it's quite the script, replete with the standard and Duffy-embellished Conservative talking points. Mr. Duffy's transformation has been quite remarkable.
Update (Tuesday 3:00 p.m.): Scott Feschuk enjoyed it too...