In Lawrence Martin's new book, Harperland, he writes of Harper's disdain for the media and cites two incidences, that were apparently the cause of it all.
One was a photograph taken of him in 2005 at the Calgary Stampede, decked out in traditional cowboy costume. The photo ran everywhere and portrayed Harper as a bit of a doofus.
What I see when I look at that photo is a man from Toronto trying to play the role of a man from Calgary. A misguided attempt to "sustain the delusion".
But he posed for that photo. It was not a candid shot. What did he think they were going to do with it? And does he really believe that he was the first politician or the last to have unflattering photos published of them? It's part of the job. But you move on and hope the next one is better.
The other incident was during the 2004 election campaign, after the Harper team released a statement suggesting that Paul Martin was soft on child pornography. A classic Harper strategy, as we've seen more recently with the ten per centers suggesting that the Bloc was supportive of pedophiles.
Naturally, after making such a bombastic remark, the media wanted an explanation, but Harper typically refused to give them one, or to apologize.
An avalanche of criticism followed, but Harper was reluctant to issue an apology. At one point, the media surrounded his campaign bus ... Inside, Harper stewed. He couldn't get out without facing them. After the campaign, still bitter about the incident, he told a visiting newspaper editor, "They surrounded my goddamn bus. I couldn't get off my goddamn bus." Then, in a screw-them tone of voice, he vowed never to allow journalists to treat him like that again. (1)Nonsense. The real problem for Stephen Harper was that he had lost control. When he was with the Reform Party and later the NCC he used the press to his advantage. He even leaked "news" that Preston Manning was skimming money from the party. And when Tom Flanagan was writing a book about the Reformers, he snuck out documents and things for him, manipulating the story.
He does not have reporters beaten up, or threaten to ruin their careers if they dare ask him a question, because of journalists not letting him of his "goddamn bus". He should have made a statement and issued an apology. It was his pig headedness that had him cornered.
1. Harperland: The Politics of Control, By Lawrence Martin, Viking Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-670-06517-2, Pg. 23-24