What most of us weren't expecting was a series of massive blunders in the first four months of government. The latest (number four on the list) has prompted this little exercise. Grab your popcorn, kids, it's time for the highlight reel.
#5: Internal media controls.
Harper has famously sent out directives that none of his cabinet ministers or top bureaucrats can speak to the media without his permission. No straying from the government position, either. This will be a good strategy in the short term, bad in the long term. With a minority government, there might not be a long term, however.
#4: Getting Schooled by Lyin' Brian.
From the Ottawa Citizen (hat tip to Battlepanda):
Mr. Mulroney plans to hold Prime Minister Stephen Harper's feet to the fire, urging him not only to put environmental issues on his government's list of five priorities, but to put them at the top of that list. His message: leadership trumps process when it comes to saving the planet.
Although Mr. Harper's commitment to the Kyoto Accord has, thus far, been vague, Mr. Mulroney intends to sound the alarm on the subject of global warming and the issues -- including the threats to Arctic sovereignty -- from the melting of the polar ice cap.
If that's not enough to make Mr. Harper squirm, the main course is sustainably harvested Arctic char, and the environmental groups behind the gala have printed their top five environmental priorities on the evening's menu.
Holy mother of Jebus!
You know, growing up in the household of a life-long, Tommy Douglas worshipping NDPer, some words are pronounced differently. Social Credit Party is "goddamned Socreds." Progressive Conservative Party becomes "fucking Tories." And I doubt Brian Mulroney's name was ever pronounced without one descriptive adjective or another tacked on either, back when I was a wee Iguanodon.
When the most hated man in Canadian politics is taking you out behind the woodshed, and teaming up with greens to do it, you should start to worry.
#3: Censoring bureaucrats outside office hours.
This one is really going to hurt him. From CP:
A scientist with Environment Canada was ordered not to launch his global warming-themed novel Thursday at the same time the Conservative government was quietly axing a number of Kyoto programs.
The bizarre sequence of events on the eve of the Easter long weekend provided an ironic end-note to the week in which Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced his first piece of legislation - aimed at improving accountability and transparency in government.
The day began with what was supposed to be the low-key launch of an aptly titled novel, Hotter than Hell.
Publisher Elizabeth Margaris said that Mark Tushingham, whose day job is as an Environment Canada scientist, was ordered not to appear at the National Press Club to give a speech discussing his science fiction story about global warming in the not-too-distant future.
"He got a directive from the department, cautioning him not to come to this meeting today," said Margaris of DreamCatcher Publishers.
"So I guess we're being stifled. This is incredible, I've never heard of such a thing," she said.
Hey, Stephen: fuck you. You do not get to tell people who work for you what they can or cannot do in their private lives. If you think anyone should have that power over anyone else, you are in for a shock when my "Force Harper to wear a French maid uniform" petition reaches Ottawa.
Of course, the government tried to cover its ass and say they only censored Tushingham because he didn't follow "due process," and that because he was identified as an Environment Canada scientist in his press release, he should only speak to the government position.
Nope, still sounds like stupid, autocratic bullshit to me. (The fact that he's going after an SF author really pisses me off. That's MY tribe, you bastard!)
Way to smooth relations with the bureaucracy, the scientific and academic communities and the environmentalists, there.
#2 US relations.
This one came pre-screwed. Harper has no good way to deal with the US. He came in on a promise to fix relations, and obviously he and his supporters believed the nasty Liberals had just fucked everything up, and the Bushies would welcome him with open arms. He is just now realizing - as we get nothing on passports, softwood, anything - that the Bushies have no intention of dealing fairly with anyone. They don't have to. They have nukes.
Harper now has two options: he can copy the Liberals and bad-mouth the US publicly while doing nothing that is really radical, and keep negotiating and using courts to deal with trade problems. Or he can meet the Americans more than halfway, and look like another lapdog.
#1 L'Affaire Emerson.
This one seems to have gone away. It didn't show up much in the polls outside of areas that already hate Harper. But like a dead fish in the furnace vents, the smell is just going to get worse over time. Now, with reports (strongly denied) that Emerson is unhappy with his Glorious Leader, it is coming back again. And it'll keep coming back, every few weeks or months, until the next election.