At one time they were the closest of allies - Stephen Harper and his former campaign director, Tom Flanagan. That was then, this is now. The University of Calgary's professor Tom is now ratting out Steve for ruling today's Conservatives with an iron hand and structuring the party to ensure that dissent has no place to take hold. From the Toronto Star:
...Flanagan writes that Harper took many lessons from Preston Manning, who was a manipulative leader, saying he learned how to control a populist movement.
“He used to grumble privately about Manning’s manipulations, but he was absorbing the lessons. Indeed, he ultimately ended up with a view of leadership far more aggressive than Manning’s, after he saw the Canadian Alliance experience of how populism could get out of control.”
Once Harper decided the route to electoral victory was to merge the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties, writes Flanagan, he aggressively set out to meld the two, win the leadership, and structure the party’s fundraising, policy development and executive bodies so that he was the ultimate decision-maker.
Flanagan writes that Harper’s shaping of the party structures and determination not to allow “intermediate” groupings such as youth wings, or separate political entities for regional, ethnic, aboriginal or other different groups under the party’s umbrella means that “there are no points of refuge in which opposition to the leadership could coalesce."
...Federal politicians, he writes, “are like child soldiers in a war-torn African country: all they know how to do is to fire their AK-47s.”
Harper’s government controls its cabinet ministers, MPs, Conservative staffers, and party operatives through rigid message discipline. Staffers are instructed never to talk to the press and risk losing their jobs if they do. MPs must adhere to official talking points, he adds.
“Just as chronic warfare produces a garrison state, permanent campaigning has caused the Conservative Party to merge with the campaign team, producing a garrison party. The party is today, for all intents and purposes, a campaign organization focused on being ready for and winning the next election, whenever it may come.”
Gee Tom, Harper an undemocratic, control freak? A real, live Fuhrer figure? Who could've known?