You don’t have to tell Stephen Harper that these are troubling times. He knows. Bad stuff is happening all over the place, particularly in Ottawa. In the latest polls, his party and personal brand trail the famous featherweight Justin Trudeau by almost 10 points, and his best efforts to crush dissent aren’t helping. These days, when Harper™ says J.T. is in over his head, he really means J.T. is drowning in popularity. If Steve wants to keep reshaping Canada as he claims he does, he needs to find the magic bullet. Today, his search took him to Russia.
Over the past week, pro-Russian militants (who may or may not be Russian) seized government buildings in parts of Ukraine. These seizures are part of the ongoing and confusing pseudo-war between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists. It is clear that the region is unstable and violent, but it is unclear as to who is directing whom to do what. Don’t tell Harper.
If you ask him, the problem is black and white. “The Putin regime” is responsible for the violence, he said today, using the “regime” label that he has so often applied to his enemies, and might very well have applied to Stephane Dion had his 2008 coup d’etat come to fruition. It was a classic oversimplification of events of the sort that Steve Harper does best.
Simple answers to complicated questions make him look smart. They also allow him to look decisive and powerful. “[Canada has] already imposed a number of sanctions, and we will clearly be taking further action”, he said. For those wondering what number he was thinking of when he said “a number of sanctions”, the number was somewhere around 4 or 5. He selectively froze assets, cut ties with a few businesses, kicked out a diplomat, and told a few people they couldn’t visit Canada. The economic sanctions were so crippling that Magna International, a Canadian auto-parts manufacturer with ~$400 million in annual sales in Russia, said they don’t anticipate any effect on their operations. Wow, tough stuff. That’s our Prime Minister…he’s Hulk Hogan with the microphone, but Screech Powers with the sword.
If it seems like a lot of hot air, that’s because it is. It’s easy to talk, but a lot harder to find time to walk when you’re so busy talking that you barely have time to make it to all your press conferences. Big man Harper™ wants Canadians to hear his threats, but he’d rather not have us check in to see if he followed through on any of them. Chest thumping makes a man look strong, and politics is all about optics. So let’s leave it at that.
Oh, one more thing. The Prime Minister’s interview ended with an interesting quote about Russia: “We also know from history that anybody who makes it their historical mission to turn the clock back as Mr. Putin has determined to do, that those kinds of missions always fail in the end.” What exactly is Harper trying to do here in Canada? Maybe his sense of inevitable doom is what makes him work so fast in Parliament.