Here's a question for you: Is Tom Flanagan thinking about joining the Orange Wave and voting NDP? D'ya think?
I'm joking of course. … At least, given Prime Minister Stephen Harper's reputation for vindictiveness, I think I'm joking.
It was Flanagan, neo-con University of Calgary professor and American-born avatar of the Canadian loony right, who in his former role as prime ministerial advisor and best buddy compiled a secret Dossier of Dodgy Disclosures. Five hundred pages of dodgy prime ministerial disclosures, or so the press tells us!
The reason for this effort, we are told by the Canadian Press, was because the Conservatives sensibly worried that the prime minister's penchant for undiplomatically flapping his gums about what he really thought could end up causing a catastrophic melt-down on some future campaign trail, and they'd better have their talking points in order.
Later, as is well known, Flanagan and the prime minister had a falling out when the former had the temerity to write a cheerleading biography of the latter, who nevertheless, being a notorious control freak, flipped out when his permission wasn't sought. Legend has it Harper tried hard to get the book deep-sixed, and banished the errant professor from his inner circle forever when it was published anyway.
But Flanagan did just fine on his own, thanks very much, apparently supplementing his presumably inadequate salary as a civil servant by appearing as a TV commentator, and while doing so famously calling for U.S. President Barack Obama to have Assange, the well-known Wikileaker, assassinated for publishing information embarrassing to the U.S. government.
But that was then. That is, before someone -- although not Flanagan, presumably -- leaked the compendium of embarrassing Stephen Harper one-liners to the Liberals.
And this is now. The Liberals passed them on the media, and the rest is history -- or, actually, as we used to say back in the days before there were J-Schools, "history on the fly."
Why should we care about this, as the Conservatives now insist that we shouldn't?
Well, as the Good Book asks and answers: "Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil."
What the Prophet Jeremiah had in mind, folks, was this: "No, the leopard can't change his spots. And Mr. Harper hasn't really changed either. Either will bite you, given the opportunity."
Modern history, in fact, is rife with leaders who had plenty to say early in their careers that no one could quite believe because it seemed so outrageous. Arguably, in a number of such cases, the world would have been a better place if voters had paid attention while they still had the option.
Which is why we should pay attention now to what Harper had to say.
Here are a few gems the Conservatives thought that they should worry about, as reported by the Canadian Press, the CBC and me. Readers, presumably, are capable of reaching their own conclusions about what Harper had in mind.
On public health care: "The best (health care) system means having a system where you have as many tiers as possible…"
More on public health care: "The solution is to have a health care system where people pay some of the costs themselves."
On Stephen Harper's ambitions: "It has never been my intention to seek a second term or to become a career politician."
On public post-secondary education: "I think we're vastly over-invested in universities. … The vast majority of young people should be going through non-university, post-secondary training."
On minorities: "You've got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society."
On abortion: "I'm not ashamed to say that, in caucus, I have more pro-life MPs supporting me than supporting Stockwell Day."
On the future of Western Canada: "If the partners are not willing to live up to the requirements of a partnership, fairness requires that they pursue an equitable dissolution of the partnership."
On the poor: "Providing for the poor is a provincial, not a federal responsibility."
Well, it was promised here that readers could draw their own conclusions about what Harper has in mind. But let me help with one, OK? What Harper meant was this: "Providing for the rich is federal responsibility."
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
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