Saturday, July 4, 2009

Harper's Mean Streak Was a Perfect Fit for the NCC

It would be difficult to sum up Stephen Harper in a word, though 'mean' would definitely come to mind.

Sure he has his good points, which sadly are almost immediately overshadowed by his bad.

He loves his family, but is not above exploiting them in the same way that Brian Mulroney did.

He has a profound admiration for our military, but seems stuck at Vimy Ridge, not really understanding actual warfare. (I suppose some of that comes from the fact that his father was an avid military memorabilia collector, who would view war from a turbo-charged patriotism perspective, and not see the human suffering involved in armed conflict).

He believes passionately in the things he believes in, but that passion often overrides common sense and common decency.

However, it's his mean streak that really defines him, guides him, and makes him vindictive, petty and down right cruel.

Preston Manning describes several incidents involving Harper, that paint a picture of an ambitious young man, who is not above poking his friends in the eye. If he didn't get his own way, he'd withdraw and plan his revenge, but it is the horrendous personal manner in which he exacted that revenge that would turn your stomach.

For instance, when he butted heads with Mr. Manning over the direction the party was going, instead of calling a meeting to clear the air, he aired their dirty laundry in the press.

When there was some question over expenses claimed by the Reform Party leader, Harper went right to the media, not settling for simply slamming his boss, but also disgraced Preston's wife, causing a temporary rift in the Manning marriage. Harper did this without proof, and made no apologies. Another personality flaw that would follow him throughout his career.

So when he took a hiatus from federal politics to join the NCC executive, what were personality flaws became assets to this attack group. It also gave him an opportunity to promote his agenda through the Reform Party, by working behind the scenes at the NCC, without the constraints of party politics.

This gave him important ties to some very influential people and groups, who would become instrumental in his rise to the PMO, including Conrad Black, who had already made several sizable donations to the Reform Party. (He may have also been introduced to Karlheinz Schreiber at that time, though that is still speculative)

In 1996 Black had purchased the Southam chain of newspapers and two years later created the National Post, determined to replace what he referred to as a 'soft left bias', with a right wing hammering of his own ideology. Harper already had a reputation as an ideologue so he was always given a platform at the Post.

This was the period when he began his infamous and long running assault on the Canadian Wheat Board; but not before using his new office to influence the 1997 election.

Through the NCC, Stephen Harper spent $ 200,000.00 in attack ads that ran on radio stations, coinciding with print ads and massive billboard visuals, in what he dubbed "Operation Pork Chop".

The theme was the 'gold plated' pension plans that MPs enjoyed, and since Preston Manning had declared that his Party would opt out of the plan (they didn't), it provided fodder for career destroying personal assaults. Harper's VP at the NCC, Gerry Nicholls, described it as guerrilla warfare.

In Edmonton where Liberal candidates Judy Bethel and Anne McLellan were running for re-election, he ran a newspaper ad featuring two pigs drinking champagne, while frolicking in a trough filled with cash. The pig's heads were replaced by those of the two women, and the caption read "On June 2, Chop the Pork. Re-electing these two MPs will cost you 1.7 million."

The ads worked, and though McLellan did squeak out a victory, Bethel was pummelled and never returned to politics.

What does that say about a man who would put a woman's head on a pig's body in an almost sensual depiction of lust?

However, Operation Pork Chop, that didn't stop at these two women, but went after all Liberal MPs in the West; was a resounding success.

Polls at the outset had the Liberals at 40%, and the Reform at 25%, but on election day the latter took 60 of the West's 88 seats. The NCC had secured Harper's victory in 1993, and had now managed to steal an election for his clan, giving him an opportunity to return later as a conquering hero. As an in your face to Preston Manning, he had accomplished what the current leader could not. Political success and all he had to do was play dirty.

And of course we know that nothing's changed. The Conservative attack ads are always personal. We're seeing it with Michael Ignatieff and we saw it with Stephane Dion.

It's not enough to run heel grinding, 'kick 'em when their down' campaigns, but they must be 'kick 'em 'til they're dead', before Harper will call it quits.

Ironically, in his book, Preston Manning never mentions the influence of the NCC, despite the fact that they were so instrumental in his own rise to power. In fact, his father was on the advisory board of the NCC and it was he who suggested that they register as a non-profit organization, to take advantage of the tax breaks.

Harper never mentions the NCC, either. Enough said.

More Postings on Harper and the NCC:

1. Harper and the NCC Step Up Their Battle For the Wheat Fields

2. Harper, the NCC and the Initial Assault on the Canadian Wheat Board.

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