Grand-Strategist Stephen Harper has backed himself into a corner of his own making. He has failed to create an economic plan, but used the occasion of national crisis to advance partisan interests and ideological designs. His lack of plan failed even to adhere to fundamental economic principles. As a result, we find ourselves in a major political crisis. Further, in order to show that the opposition separatists and socialists were plotting a coup, his office illegally spied on an NDP caucas meeting and openly released this recording to the press because they see nothing unethical in listening in on, recording, and publishing a private conversation by a major Canadian political party. His office also ignored that Harper himself had secretly negotiated such a “coup” with separatists and socialists only 3 years ago. Faced with defeat, he now contemplates prorogue and plunging the country into constitutional chaos rather than accepting the rule of the majority. His supporters (such as Chuck Adler) are on the radio calling for a military coup. He openly calls the rule of Parliament a “coup-d’etat”; the horrors of the English Civil War long forgotten and – at least for Adler – seriously contemplated.
In short, Harper deserves not only to be replaced as PM, but to face the reasonable adults of his own party. He couldn’t even get a standing ovation from his party today in the House. If they wish to demonstrate their worth to govern, they will surely pull out the knives for this egregious behaviour. Further, the more reasonable among the Conservatives should also be considered for cabinet posts.
Question: Is Harper’s strategic genius over-rated?
In the hope of helping Harper through his final week in office, Donald Street will examine his options and invites all four readers to vote:
(1) Prorogue: Harper could end the current session of Parliament, declaring that all the goals of the long-ago Throne Speech have been accomplished and that a new session is required. The is the nuclear option. In short, it would deny Parliament the power to pronounce on the fiscal update, it would prevent Parliament from acting to deal with the economic crisis for another month of inaction, and it would create a major constitutional crisis. I recommend against this option as it will only mean chaos and inaction.
(2) Beg on national TV: Not a great option. Harper could beg for survival. He could make reasonable offers and release an new economic plan that matches the goals of the coalition. Still, this is not much of an option. If he releases something reasonable after all this madness, the coalition could still adopt his plan and take power. The coalition would be weaker for it, but could still justify the move on the basis that Harper cannot no longer be trusted.
(3) Do Nothing: He could just go through the motions and hope for a coalition collapse in the next week. Since the chances of collapse now are near-impossible, this option is near hopeless for Harper. At the very least, doing nothing is perhaps the most dignified way to go and he should be commended for doing so. He may live to fight another day this way.
(4) Quit Now: This is Harper’s best option. Quit. The Conservatives could then retain power under a more reasonable leader, like Jim Prentice, who has proved both an able leader and a consensus builder. Faced with Prentice, the coalition would be wise to back down and let him try to rule. This is the only way I see the Conservatives holding on to power. But, whom among Harper’s advisers is going to knock on the door to recommend this option?
Honestly, I’m trying to think of a better option for Mr. Harper. I can think of none. He has proven Thucydides’ maxim that “The strong do what they can, the weak do what they must.”
And, now, dear readers, vote on Harper’s best option. If you choose other, please add a comment. I would love to know what other options he has: