What's with the new look? Is this Stephen Harper or his brother Raul? Clearly not a photo released by the PM's shop of handlers and unlikely to be the official photo of the day tomorrow.
Seriously though, astoundingly, not a word uttered about the census today by the PM upon his re-emergence into the light. It's the predominant national issue of the past month since the axing of the mandatory long form has been discovered and the PM feels no need to say a thing about it. Doubling down on the strategy of saying nothing, that can't help that image of imperiousness. From an opposition political perspective, that's not exactly a bad thing. But for the Canadian public that is watching the census issue and not getting answers from the person who by all accounts is the driving force behind the decision, it's a source of grave frustration that the PM doesn't seem to care about it enough to say something. I don't think he can fairly cordon off this issue and say it isn't his political priority and therefore he'll choose not to address it. It's a national issue and part of being the PM is to answer for it all. He's breaching that basic duty.
Harper's labelling of the opposition as an "opposition coalition" is worth a mention as well.
"We know there are some in the opposition coalition again threatening an election. But, colleagues, that is not what Canadians want," he said to applause.Plain silliness that the majority of Canadians who don't support this PM hear with an air of unreality. We say to ourselves, what is the Prime Minister of the country talking about? Is there any other world leader in a leading western democracy who speaks unreality in this way to their citizens? Obama? Cameron? Merkel? Sarkozy? There's a difference between spinning an argument, trying to persuade on a set of facts with choice of words and emphasis, here for example, that there could be an opposition coalition that arises after a future federal election - and flat out talking point propaganda that states boldly that there is an existing, present day opposition coalition. It's just remarkable that this tactic has come to be a yawned upon matter in Canadian politics.
The beauty of not talking to the media and remaining cloistered, the PM doesn't have to answer for any of it. It will be interesting to see, then, how this sudden development, announced today, unfolds:
The prime minister heads out next week on a cross-country summer tour expected to focus on the economy. (preceding CP link)What ever might be prompting that move! What should be watched, the public component to that supposed tour. Michael Ignatieff's put himself in front of all comers, whoever wants to ask questions, interact, etc. during his bus tour. Will the PM do the same, take the hard questions from the public?
Update (9:10 p.m.): Timely Canadian Press report: "Tory messaging frustrates public: survey."