Saturday, October 11, 2008

Harper on the defensive in Quebec

Is he off the rails or what? His comments in Quebec today sound defensive and paranoid. See these two reports: "Harper says Quebeckers will see through character attacks," and "Harper says he's been demonized in Quebec." If Mr. Harper has been criticized in Quebec during this campaign it's because his policies have been rejected by Quebecers. Yet Harper is characterizing the fallout from his arts cuts and youth justice extremity as "demagoguery" from the Bloc and himself as the victim. Here's a sampling of his statements today:
"When the demagoguery of the moment that the Bloc is so effective at - when that passes - Quebecers will look at their pragmatic interests," Harper told a news conference earlier Saturday in London, Ont.

"I'm confident Quebecers will listen. I'm confident that the attempt of the Bloc to demonize me really belittles the intelligence of Quebecers. Quebecers understand that just because someone's from Alberta, doesn't mean he's a petroliere (oilman). Just because someone's a Conservative doesn't mean he's George Bush.

"Just because someone someone's from Alberta, he's not an oilman any more than someone from Quebec is automatically a producer of maple syrup. This is just silly. I think Quebecers are more tolerant than that and will take a pragmatic look at their options."
Somebody sounds a little exasperated. But, but, but...I'm not George Bush...I'm not an oilman...come on. His environment policies show that yes, he is the Alberta candidate. His gung ho Iraq war boosterism in 2003 where he parroted international right wing talking points showed us quite effectively how independent he was from Bush. His foreign policy has continued to tie us to Bush.

This is the leader of the brilliant Conservative Quebec campaign that decided to drive a billboard around Quebec mocking Quebecers for having supported the Bloc all these years, effectively calling them stupid. This is the man who has perfected the art of negative politics in Canada, running attack ads for over two years now. For him to be braying about being demonized at this point is rich.

He still doesn't get it on a major issue that's torpedoed his chances in Quebec, the cold axing of arts cuts that have resonated with Quebecers. Here he is today speaking in the language of the accountant-in-chief:
“Anybody can demagogue this but in the end I can defend these decisions,” he said.

“In terms of culture and anything else, this government has to exercise its responsibilities. Our responsibility is to make sure that all government spending is effective and gets value for taxpayers' money,” he told reporters during a campaign stop in London, Ont.
As the obituaries and reports of campaign infighting and tone-deafness roll in on Harper's disastrous Quebec campaign, he ends on this note today:
Harper said, in French, "I love Quebec, I respect Quebecers," and added that he demonstrated that affection by giving the province a special role at the UN's cultural forum, and by correcting the fiscal imbalance.
I'm sure this will be quite comforting to the Harper Quebec MP's who are about to lose their seats.