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On Mr. Harper and the return of arrogance.

The only thing worse than a petulant childlike control freak in your book club, sports team, classroom, scout troop or volunteer organization is a really smart one who grows up and becomes Prime Minister.

Stephen Harper is scary smart. He is also stuck somewhere between the age of five and 15 when it comes to his emotions.

Get used to him. He is going to be with us for a while.

By the end of his mandate, we will hate him in the same way many people hated Pierre Trudeau in his final years. It will be the arrogance that brings him down. In the meantime, his Machiavellian political instincts and his welcome contrast to "Mr. Dithers" will certainly get him a majority government when he decides to force an election.

Prior to the election I just didn't agree with Harper.

I still don't. I don't believe there is a "fiscal imbalance" in this country. Unless, that is, you find it odd that the natural resources of the country belong to the provinces, which allows one lucky jurisdiction to screw up tax policy across the country because it has more money than it can hide or spend.

I don't agree that the Federal government should shrink, and withdraw from logical national aspirations like health care, childcare and education.

I think it is self-evident that registering a gun should not be viewed as more onerous than licensing a dog or yourself to drive a car.


I think the Kyoto accord is flawed but represents a positive first step in recognizing the death spiral of global warming. It is a crime to see Canada backing away from it to support the aforementioned province that has more money than it knows what to do with.

Reducing the GST instead of income tax is just plain stupid. He knows it, any economist worth his salt knows it, but it helped differentiate him from the Liberals and so he will lose no sleep over it.

But don't get me started.

What I like about Baby Harper is that he is tough with the media, which have their own emotional problems when it comes to power sharing in Ottawa. At minimum, it will be entertaining and at worst it is going to get really ugly, which will probably be entertaining.

I like that he is so transparently straight-up about his stunning hypocrisy. He was outraged about Belinda Stronach when she crossed the house. But he did the same thing with David Emerson, and is cocky enough to just say it is a political gamble.

The only guy who was this bad in the past was Pierre Trudeau, who mocked Robert Stanfield during the 1974 election for suggesting the possibility of wage and price controls. He implemented them within a year of being elected without the least bit of shame. It takes a towering arrogance to walk through these machinations as if it were normal, and underneath that arrogance almost always is behaviour fueled by insecurity, not confidence.

Harper screamed about the centralization of power in the Chretien administration, and of course he looks like a piker compared to Harper.

Harper screamed about the importance of Parliament in his opposition years and it would be hard to find examples of any Prime Minister who has debased Parliament so quickly and so gleefully.

The most dangerous indicator so far, however, is Harper's response to the admittedly clumsy rejection of Gwyn Morgan as the volunteer chair of the new Public Appointments Commission by the opposition. This commission was to be put in place to clean up the appointments process in government. It was an important initiative. Like a little boy who had his ball stolen at the park, Baby Harper ran home and said he wouldn't play again until he had more members in his gang than the other guys. It was childlike, petulant and unbecoming.

Politics is the art of the possible. It is not my way or the highway, particularly when more people voted for the opposition than the government.

Baby Harper has a lot to learn. No matter how smart he is, no matter what a welcome relief he might represent from those tired Liberals, people don't like insecure bullies. In fact, just as has become the case in some high schools, he might eventually discover there will be zero tolerance for this kind of immaturity in a national leader.

Michael Atkins is president of Northern Ontario Business. He can be reached at
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Title Annotation:Stephen Harper
Author:Atkins, Michael
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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