Friday, July 10, 2009

“During that press conference, I attacked Mr. Ignatieff..."

Chalk up another episode of why Stephen Harper should not be Prime Minister. He shows us so frequently but today's example at the G8 exposed him quite well for the ruthless partisan he is. Can't exercise the proper statesmanlike judgment to know that an attack on a domestic political rival is not suited for the world stage. That judgment is entirely his responsibility. Not a penny ante aide's:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was forced to apologize publicly for attacking his political rival Michael Ignatieff at the G8 over a quote that was wrongly attributed to the Opposition leader by a senior Harper aide.

At a closing news conference here today, in French and in English, Harper was defending the relevance of the G8, when he launched into a stinging rebuke of Ignatieff.
Unable to resist the temptation of an opportunity to hack his main rival after a delicious quote had been dangled in his ear, no thinking twice for our Prime Minister about the wisdom of that course of action. The red meat was there to attack Ignatieff's patriotism, again:
Harper told reporters Ignatieff had suggested in the last day or two that it is possible another international group of major countries could come to the fore that would exclude Canada.

"Mr. Ignatieff is supposed to be a Canadian," said Harper. "I don't think you go out and throw out ideas like this that are so obviously contrary to a country's interest and nobody else is advocating them."

He called on Ignatieff to withdraw the comment and said it would be "irresponsible coming from anybody, but they are particularly irresponsible coming from a senior Canadian parliamentarian."
Forget Soudas and the terrible day he's having, that's a sideshow. The buck stops with the PM to know better than to engage in such games at the G8.

Bob Rae puts it all in the proper perspective:

The Liberals' foreign affairs critic, Bob Rae, said he was incredulous when he saw Harper's remarks about Ignatieff and argued this is more than just a staff problem or a question of bad advice.

"There's a million ways in which what Mr. Harper did is wrong. It shows terrible judgment on his part. It shows that he never is capable of rising above a cheap partisan attack and in so doing, he cheapens his reputation and he cheapens the office that he holds," Rae said in an interview.

"The country expects a prime minister on the world stage to show judgment, leadership, character, integrity, generosity of spirit, all of those things. Instead of which, we get somebody who cannot help himself. He can't stop himself from stooping to launch a mean-spirited, and in the end, stupid attack on the leader of the Opposition.

"I'm sure people in L'Aquila are shaking their heads, well, why would you attack the leader of the opposition when you're on the world stage? You don't see Barack Obama going after John McCain. You don't see anybody else thinking about doing that. That's not what you do.... I just found it breathtaking in its mediocrity."

"This is not about staff. This is not about how he's got the wrong people around him or he got bad advice or he got an email that wasn't true," Rae said. "The streets of Ottawa are filled now with staffers who've got knives in their back or front because Mr. Harper won't take responsibility for his own judgment. And we're going to have to start to bell this cat."
Mr. Harper's apologized. Here's CTV's report that includes his apology to Mr. Ignatieff although there's no apology to Canadians for conduct.

What an ugly little episode that shows us yet again what the character of this Prime Minister is. Time to show this man the door.

P.S. Should I share with you once more my theory that Mr. Harper makes his biggest political gaffes while overseas? Here it is.

Update (8:45 p.m.): CP report giving good overview of today's incident plus comparable Harper gaffes.