Friday, June 06, 2008

Another Harpie Heading for the Toolbox?

I never understood Jim Flaherty.

There was always something about the guy that didn't add up, that seemed somehow off. He wasn't what we've come to expect in a Finance Minister. He wasn't that essential bit reserved and considered. Instead he more closely resembled the beer hall brawler on a Saturday night at closing time.

Flaherty exuded a dull and brutish tone, presenting a character that seemed to constantly embrace a simmering belligerence. He always struck me as a tad unhinged. Come to think of it, that could equally well describe Harper's EnviroMin, John Baird. Maybe there's something in that flawed character profile that genuinely appeals to our Furious Leader. But I digress.

In the Toronto Star, Chantal Hebert ponders what may be, for Flaherty, the end of the road:

"In the week since Bernier's resignation, Flaherty's future as finance minister has become the focal point of the upcoming cabinet shuffle. One way or another, his fate will reveal more about Stephen Harper's mindset in the lead-up to a possible fall election than any other cabinet move.

Earlier this week Flaherty's cabinet future, rather than Bernier's romantic past, was the prime topic of speculation at St├ęphane Dion's end-of-session garden party. Almost to a man and a woman, senior Liberals expect the Prime Minister to seize the pretext of an unexpected shuffle to replace Flaherty with the less abrasive Jim Prentice.

With cabinet fever running rampant within Conservative ranks and with at least a half-dozen ministers pining for new assignments, the impetus for a major shuffle has been gaining momentum daily on Parliament Hill.

But the finance minister is a central figure of the cabinet. His role is ultimately more pivotal than that of the foreign affairs minister; to replace Flaherty at this advanced stage in the life of the government would be a delicate operation.

On the other hand, if the Conservatives do want to run as the team best equipped to deal with a flagging economy in the next election, Harper has no interest in going into the campaign with his current finance minister.

Flaherty may not have been the only minister from Ontario to engage in a war of words with Queen's Park but it was his vocal part in the federal attacks on Dalton McGuinty that seemed to finally gel the province's public opinion and send Conservative popularity on a downward spin this spring.

With satisfaction with the government declining in tandem with public confidence in the economy, Flaherty's credentials as a former Mike Harris minister do little to dispel the perception that Harper's regime is short on sensitivity and compassion."

But we shouldn't be too hard on Jim Flaherty. There's no way he could have gotten away with his bellicosity toward Queens Park except with Stephen Harper's approval.

Maybe we should pity Flaherty. After all, he's coming out of this looking a bit like the loser in one of those internet street brawls where the rubbies beat the hell out of each other for a bottle of hooch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Harper put him in Finance, because he was from Ontario, and Mike Harris' Finance minister, and no darn good. Do you honestly think Harper would let him it! Harper needs Ontario votes. The trouble is, if he puts some one else in Finance, Flaherty would win in his riding, because people forget, I think, .....people are so stupid, if they vote him in again.