Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some people never learn, one in particular

You'd think that in the wake of the embarrassing apology the PM had to issue after mistakenly attacking Michael Ignatieff during the wrap-up press conference at July's G8 and the backlash from that little episode might have prompted some thoughts on one's conduct. You know, maybe a rethink of one's modus operandi might be in order. Yet today, another little episode occurs that confirms Mr. Harper is chronically hardwired for the nasty partisan shot. This most of us know, but still, we marvel when it occurs and are in fact thankful, as it reminds people of what they don't want in a Prime Minister. We know there are politics going on in this minority government throttled country. But there's something qualitatively unpleasant about the way Mr. Harper carries it out. These little incidents remind us of why Mr. Harper is never likely to get a majority government. They remind us of why when the next election comes, the major issue will be whether to trust Stephen Harper to continue as Prime Minister. So, here's today's little gem: "Harper takes jab at McGuinty over Ontario's eHealth scandal."
Ottawa has given the provinces a lot of money to create electronic health records and Ontario should take a look at "rectifying problems" in that area, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday as he took an apparent retaliatory swipe at Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The thinly veiled reference to McGuinty's woes over eHealth Ontario, a provincial agency that awarded lucrative contracts to consultants without competitive tenders, came one day after McGuinty slammed Ottawa for failing to help a Toronto woman stranded in Kenya.

Harper defended his government's actions Thursday, saying his government has asked the Canadian Border Services Agency for a "full accounting" of what happened in the case of Suuad Hagi Mohamud - who was expected to return home this weekend.

But the prime minister couldn't resist taking a partisan jab at McGuinty and a growing scandal over eHealth, an issue not raised by anyone else at the news conference.

"Since you raised the provincial government, the federal government had in its budget considerable funds available for the Health Infoway - the expansion and pushing forward of the project to make health records in this country electronic," Harper said.

"So I obviously would encourage the provincial government to get on with rectifying the problems in that area."
In the wake of Mr. Harper's remarks to ABC shrinking from lecturing the provinces on health care, as others are noting, this is quite the rebound. McGuinty clearly hit a raw nerve, prompting some obvious thinking by the Harper forces into what might be delivered as a retaliatory punch while attending in Ontario today. McGuinty sounded statesmanlike yesterday, making the clear and simple point about standing up for Canada's citizens abroad, indeed one of Ontario's own citizens that he clearly has an interest in speaking up for. Whatever must he have been thinking in saying such things in Harper's Canada. He and we certainly found out today.

Mr. Harper's schlepping off of responsibility to "consular officials" and the request for a "full accounting" into an ugly incident that he and his own Foreign Affairs Minister have responsibility for is another abdication of responsibility. The buck stops elsewhere for the Harper gang, always. I suppose someone could line up all the quotes from Lawrence "Loose" Cannon and his office on this file and lay it all out. Might be a useful exercise.

Another day, another Popeye moment for Mr. Harper. "I y'am what I y'am" and once again we see, this is not the kind of Prime Minister the country deserves.