Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The votes are in

What's this we're reading? "Harper's steady statesmanship earns him title of Newsmaker of the Year." CBC reports on it too. Well, that's all very nice, but not surprisingly, in this corner you won't find a shared view of "steady statesmanship" from this leader. Should we be magnanimous in the spirit of the season? Maybe. But moving on...

Perusing the CP item, one can't help but have the overall sense that while the "honorific" is bestowed on Harper, there's enough offered as opinion to fairly say it's a begrudging choice. There's recognition of the political acumen, the resort to the international stage for the statesmanlike glow that can attract. Fine, give it to him on those scores. But there are enough reasons enumerated for the choice that aren't exactly glowing and continue to point out that ultimately, this is a vulnerable politician who can be beaten. I'm inclined to support the reasoning of Antonia Maioni who articulates the "default" position that Harper occupies. Until something better comes along, it's a vote/poll choice parking era for Canadians:
"It's been a quiet leadership," said Antonia Maioni, a political scientist at McGill University and director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.

After brainstorming for highlights, the best she could come up with was "him playing piano at the National Arts Centre. If that's the only inspiration, we have a problem in terms of leadership."
...Harper also seemed to know instinctively when not to lead. He spent less time in the House of Commons this fall than his last two predecessors, according to statistics compiled by Le Devoir.

When the Afghan detainee controversy exploded in November, the prime minister chose to have his picture taken with the national lacrosse team rather than attend question period. He stayed out of sight for the bulk of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen this month, where Canada was vilified, leaving Environment Minister Jim Prentice to defend his government's environmental policies.

"That reflects a little bit about what Stephen Harper is able to do, to deflect and stay in power, by default," said Maioni.

For all of his foreign travel, Harper offered little of substance in terms of leaving a Canadian mark on world affairs, she added.

"It's good that he's getting out in the world, but he's certainly not a global presence. By association, Canada isn't either."
One more view of the default winner:
"Harper has been able to lead a country that appeared to vote Liberal by reflex and survive everything from accusations of partisan stimulus distribution to a war against the arts to war-crime charges," said Irene Gentle, news editor of the Hamilton Spectator.

"It looks like he did have a secret agenda - making you like him just enough to keep his poll numbers rising, in spite of himself."(emphasis added)
It's high times in Canadian politics, congrats to Mr. Harper, he wins! Imagine all the kids across the nation being inspired, maybe when they grow up they can deflect and stay in power by default too.