We wouldn’t go so far as to call Prime Minister Stephen Harper a diabolical genius, but he is certainly knows how to play the political game.
The now-inevitable federal election is a fine example. When the Liberals, NDP and Bloc voted down the Harper government last week, it was easy to imagine the prime minister, sitting in his comfy leather office chair like a pasty Montgomery Burns (the power-mad nuclear power plant owner of The Simpsons), palms together tapping his fingers, saying, “excellent, everything is going according to plan.”
For the past month or so, Harper has repeatedly stated that he does not want an election, going so far as to capitalize on the natural and nuclear disaster in Japan to get his message across.
“The fact of the matter is this should be a wake-up call that we cannot afford to take our focus off the economy to get into a bunch of unnecessary political games or, as I said, an opportunistic or unnecessary election that nobody was asking for,” Harper said during a recent visit to B.C.
Of course, Harper and company have been campaigning since at January, when a new wave of Conservative attack ads began rolling out, ad nauseam. Who can forget the now classic fear-mongering ad that begins with Canada in chaos (featuring G20 summit footage from the CBC, used without permission), as the prime minister sits in his chair, sipping from his Beatles mug while working tirelessly for Canadians?
This election, the fourth is seven years, comes as no surprise. With polls as of late reflecting favourably on the prime minister, the promise of a majority was too great to resist. So Harper, in his usual autocratic fashion, pushes all the right buttons, his minority government going so far as to be found in contempt of Parliament. How could the opposition not bite?
And once again, we are unwilling pawns in yet another federal political power play.