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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:23 pm
 


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RICHMOND HILL — Stephen Harper is a bit like Alexander Keith’s beer — those who like him, like him a lot. More to the point, Mr. Harper’s supporters don’t like anyone who suggests the Conservative leader is fallible, such as the travelling news media.

At a campaign event in an auto repair shop north of Toronto, Mr. Harper gave a similar stump speech to the one delivered in Brampton the previous evening, again appealing for Liberals to vote Tory to stop Jack Layton. This time he also urged those tempted to vote for Jack Layton as a protest vote to think again. “A vote for the NDP is for an NDP government, not an experiment,” he said.

But it was during the press conference that followed the speech that the temperature rose. CBC Television’s Terry Milewski asked whether Mr. Harper would respect the Governor-General’s decision, if he called on a second-placed party to form government after a Conservative minority was brought down. The Prime Minister said he wasn’t going to speculate on what might happen after the election, despite the fact his whole campaign has been based on conjecture about what might happen post May 2. Mr. Milewski accused the Conservative leader of ducking the question and repeatedly asked him to answer. By this point, the assembled partisans felt it their duty to jump in for their man. “Shut down the CBC,” shouted one man. Another behind Mr. Harper was screaming, gesticulating and visibly upset. To be fair to Mr. Harper, he gestured for calm and maintained his composure. In days gone by, he would have responded to such a challenge by attacking the source.

Quite why the press conference needed to be held in front of a hostile crowd is not clear, unless it was an attempt to intimidate journalists. Other parties hold the presser in a separate room after the event.

Party spindoctors suggest Mr. Harper likes the visuals of being surrounded by supporters but it lends the appearance of a lynch mob when the inevitable happens. One suspects the visuals of this morning’s episode will be replayed on newscasts across the country and confirm many people’s impressions of the Conservative Party as the home of anger, intolerance and blind partisanship.

The Tories message control is a genuinely worrying aspect of a government that, in many other ways, is best qualified to lead this country. As WT Stanbury, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, wrote in the Hill Times in 2009: “The wall of selective silence and control shrouds the entire government and undermines the free flow of information citizens could normally expect.” He called it “the most extreme example of court government in Canada’s history”.

If the Conservatives do win majority on Monday, it would seem likely that much of the day to day rancour in Parliament would be reduced, as losing parties rebuilt and the government concentrated more on governing than on re-election. There would be less control over MPs and committees might actually be let loose to do good work.

But there is not likely to be any thaw in relations between the Prime Minister and the press gallery. More likely, Mr. Harper will see it as payback time for having had to endure humiliating incidents like the Richmond Hill auto shop.

jivison@nationalpost.com

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:25 pm
 


I'm getting thoroughly unimpressed with the bullshit partisan bullies drowning out legitimate questions. I, for one, would have been interested in his answer wrt the GG asking Jack to form a a minority coalition.

The CPC minority and the Harper firing can't come soon enough.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:27 pm
 


Gunnair wrote:
I'm getting thoroughly unimpressed with the bullshit partisan bullies drowning out legitimate questions. I, for one, would have been interested in his answer wrt the GG asking Jack to form a a minority coalition.

The CPC minority and the Harper firing can't come soon enough.


Didn't you say you voted CPC? That's no way to bring that about.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:29 pm
 


andyt wrote:
Gunnair wrote:
I'm getting thoroughly unimpressed with the bullshit partisan bullies drowning out legitimate questions. I, for one, would have been interested in his answer wrt the GG asking Jack to form a a minority coalition.

The CPC minority and the Harper firing can't come soon enough.


Didn't you say you voted CPC? That's no way to bring that about.


I did vote CPC. I'd rather a have, at worst a CPC majority, than a NDP or Liberal one, or their coalition (though I'm curious to see the train wreck unfold)

I believe, however, that a CPC minority is almost a given.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:42 pm
 


What happened to the good old days when the political leaders just spoke in front of the crowd that was at hand, when they would shoot down the hecklers and answer embarassing questions without blinking?

Probably all leaders could be found guilty of doing this in one way or another. Looks better on the news but I'd like to see how they handle themselves in front of a non-partisan crowd.

One last thing... don't judge the leaders by the idiots in the crowd.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:43 pm
 


raydan wrote:

One last thing... don't judge the leaders by the idiots in the crowd.


True, unless the leader had the idiots put there.


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