He was 'Out-Generalled'
So said Andrew Coyne last night on CBC, talking to Peter Mansbridge and his pundit panel about Stephen Harper.
The results of last night's surprise vote on C-48, the "NDP Budget" is simply the latest in a long line of events this spring that show it. Stephen Harper didn't see it coming and had the non-confidence rug pulled out from under him. And now he faces the prospect of another week in Parliament to debate the Same Sex Marriage bill, which will easily pass.
And now the vitrol is once again flowing from the benches of the CPC:
"When push comes to shove the Liberals will make any deal with anybody," Harper said after the vote. "And it doesn't matter whether it's with the socialists or with the separatists or any bunch of crooks they can find."
"It's a very sour end to an acrimonious and bitter session and does not bode well for the future workings of Parliament. If this is the kind of diabolical, sneaky, treacherous, behind-the-scenes activities that are going to go on..."
"We have to start thinking that Hannibal Lecter is running the government and they'll do anything they have to do to win."Diabolical? Treacherous? Crooks? Hannibal Lector? Oh my, it's getting thick now.
All of this for a budget that is well liked and well received around the country, that doesn't run us into deficit, that provided much needed cash for cities (and creating lots of jobs too). All this for a budget that the CPC themselves was willing to make a deal to support, at the cost of delaying Same Sex Marriage? Somehow, all the moral indignation about principles sounds hollow when you remember what Stephen Harper was saying only 1 week ago.
Harper and the CPC can't decided whether that taste in their mouths is bitter bile or sour grapes. A bit of both I suspect. All parties had the same parliamentary regulations in front of them. The importance of the vote on C-48 has been headline news for weeks. The CPC themselves have been drilling us for 4 months that the Liberals are not to be trusted. In that atmosphere, if I were the Leader of the Opposition, I would have every party hack and lawyer I knew going over the regulations and rules of the house, just to make sure something like this couldn't happen for such and important vote.
I think this shows that while Stephen Harper may do very well on policy, he is not a good leader or manager. He's fallen for the "Mr. Dithers" routine at least twice. He is a man that is starting to believe his own press releases. He let his guard down and then got upset when Paul Martin took advantage of it in a Parliament on edge in no small part due to Harper's own creative use of the rules for his own ends (remember the "Confidence Vote" that wasn't? Remember shutting down the House for 3 or 4 days?).
The CPC got wupped at a game they say they are ready to play and ready to win in. They clearly underestimated Paul Martin again. Stephen Harper now has the whole summer to try to explain how he was out-foxed again and, despite being poised to do so, allowed the Liberal government not only to survive, but to pass 2 major pieces of legislation that the CPC opposed.
Yes, a long hot summer it will be.