Sunday, May 19, 2013
What's That Between Steve's Shoulder Blades? Oh, That's a Knife.
Trying to make sense of what's been happening this week isn't easy. On the surface, nothing seems to add up. It has the confused improbability of palace intrigue.
Someone or some group on the inside is playing a high stakes game in which Stephen Harper may be the intended target. Sure they're going through two of his most prominent Senate appointments, Mike Duffy and Pam Wallin, but that doesn't mean either of them are necessarily the target. They could just be the means to a less obvious end.
The way Harper handled the Duffy problem suggests he saw himself as personally exposed. Duffy was caught, sure, but he already had financing arranged through The Royal Bank. Harper, however, had reason to bring that problem "in house."
He wanted it dealt with quickly and cleanly. He wanted the problem to go away. Perhaps, for reasons yet to emerge, Steve genuinely needed the problem to go away. Forget about Duffy borrowing the money, give it to him with only a couple of strings attached. He had to repay every dime in question and he had to stay clear of the auditors and remain silent. The whole business was to be kept private, including the money trail. That explains the personal cheque.
Those targeting Harper countered by feeding their media boy copies of Duffy's e-mails and details of the secret, private payment. Duffy and Wright were forced to come clean and admit the curious transaction.
One other key element that was also leaked was that Duffy was promised that the senate inquiry would "go easy on" him. There's a hell of a promise to someone you're already bailing out with free cash. Why? So, when Duffy and the PMO said "debt repaid, nothing to see here" Harper's foes released the original Senate committee report to show how the final report had been laundered just as Duffy said he had been promised.
Difficult as it may be to feel sympathy for Mike Duffy, it would seem that he has been used by Harper's dissidents and by Harper himself and both have simply worsened the Cavendish Cottager's position.
So far all of the points have been scored by Harper's adversaries. They have used a succession of well-timed leaks of e-mails, documents and information to keep Harper constantly on the defensive. They have forced two key Harper senate appointees out of caucus. Best of all, they have forced Harper's most critical adviser, his powerful and brilliant Chief of Staff to resign in disgrace, leaving Harper isolated, vulnerable and under a very dark cloud. Now a criminal investigation looms and it could go right to the top tier of the PMO.
This is a terrible position for a guy like Steve Harper to be in. He's been an autocratic party leader. He's not beloved, he's not even well liked. There are plainly well positioned people who have been biding their time, waiting to get back at him. A lot of his own people do not like how he has ruled the country, what Canada has become under the Harper regime. Many of them were "progressive" Conservatives before Harper lurched to the hard right.
Could we be staring at a possible fracturing of the Alliance/PC entente? Have the old school ProgCons had enough? Are they preparing to move in for the kill?
All eyes should be squarely on Steve Harper in the coming weeks as he struggles to recapture his hold on power and vanquish these unnamed dissidents. Will he fight back or will he sue for peace?
Is it just coincidental or does this growing tempest have anything to do with Harper's move last month to gag the RCMP?