Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stephen Harper Our First Republican Prime Minister

I recently watched the movie 'Dave', starring Kevin Kline, and it reminded me of something I had discovered after our 2006 election.

Kline plays a look alike of the U.S. President, who was asked to stand in when the man suffered a stroke and his administration wanted to keep it from the public.

Aside from the backroom wheeling and dealing, it was a cameo performance by John McLaughlin that jogged my memory.

Mr. McLaughlin is one of the most prominent Republican pollsters, and the man who just happens to have taken credit for the career of one Stephen Harper.

Soon after he became Prime Minister, I accidentally stumbled across a congratulatory letter on the net, part of the New York based McLaughlin and Associates website. In it the company stated that they had worked with both Mr. Harper and the National Citizens Coalition for many years and were proud that one of their clients had achieved their goal.

What was also significant was that under the heading of success stories, appeared not only the name of Stephen Harper, but also the Conservative Party of Canada as a separate entity.

I printed off the letter and gave it to a local activist who ran a site protesting NAFTA and deeper integration with the United States. I also sent a link to several opposition MPs and media outlets. Others had picked up on the McLaughlin story as well, and several bloggers began providing links to the site.

Then something strange happened. I visited the site again and both the letter and mention of Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada were gone. Only the name of the National Citizens Coalition remained. Odd.

I started thinking I had been imagining the whole thing, but then noticed on another page that someone else had experienced the same thing.

In the comments after the post:

The National Citizen's Coalition, PC Party & Harper are all clients of McLaughlin & Ass. a New York consultant firm. Could be a pipeline? Check out their client list at

Then down a bit:

Oddly enough, it used to be at this linnk: but it's gone...hmmm...

The commenter had saved the original text, however, "John McLaughlin has worked professionally as a strategic consultant and pollster for twenty years. During this time he has earned a reputation for helping to guide underdog Republicans and conservative challengers to victory. He has worked across America and internationally in hundreds of campaigns.

Within the past year, John McLaughlin has helped elect Iain Duncan Smith, the leader of the Conservative Party (United Kingdom); Stephen Harper, the leader of the Canadian Alliance Party (Canada); Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore; and a historic 30-seat Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates...."

The new bio: Doesn't mention Harper. Strange, that...But this does: Abroad, he has processed a number of surveys for Canada's National Citizens Coalition, and Conservative Party (Canada) Leader Stephen Harper.Hmmm...

The fact that he states that Harper was the "leader of the Canadian Alliance Party (Canada).." reveals that their relationship went back a ways.

Another blogger also pointed out the connection:

One thing I learned from that entry that I hadn't known is that Harper outsources his attack ad production to an American firm, Mclaughlin and Associates. Quite a piece of work, judging by the client list, producing material for everyone from the RNC to the Smokeless Tobacco Council to the American Conservative Union to the lovely and talented people at the Media Research Centre.

Were I one of those Canadian bloggers making attack ads, I'd leave aside the general question of Harper using attack ads to focus on how and why Harper is retaining the services of such people. ... this cements something that should be foremost in their minds right now- they aren't competing against "Tories", but against the Republican Machine. Disastrous governance aside, the Republicans' ability to use that machine should never, ever be underestimated.

On Gerry Nicholls blog, former colleague of Harper's at the NCC, he flogs this endorsement: Broadcaster Charles Adler calls Gerry Nicholls a “political warrior”, Toronto Sun Money Editor Linda Leatherdale says he’s a “fierce defender of democracy”, John McLaughlin, a top Republican pollster, describes him as a “brilliant strategist”, while the Fraser Institute has dubbed him a “non-partisan ideologue.”

But while McLaughlin and Associates have purged all mention of Stephen Harper, John McLaughlin does include his name on his bio (for now anyway):

McLaughlin's recent clients include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA); Iain Duncan Smith, the leader of the Conservative Party (United Kingdom); Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party (Canada); Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore; and a historic 30-seat Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.

So is it any wonder Harper would hire Ari Fleischer to help sell him to the U.S. media? He certainly appears on Fox News more than he does on any Canadian stations.

And of course Jason Kenney's new aid was once part of the Bush administration. There could be others, but these two names are significant.

We've recently learned that the so-called Rhuby Dhalla affair was groundless, but typical of a Karl Rove style attack.

Yep. Stephen Harper. Canada's first Republican Prime Minister.

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