When the Coalition controversy was raging and the Media was saying Stephen Harper goofed up, I didn't buy it. I was right.
Do you remember how it all began? Stephen Harper had just led the Conservative Party to victory for a second time. A minority government, a greater minority, was just getting started. Then seemingly out of the blue, the Prime Minister slaps the opposition with a motion to cut the $1.95 per vote welfare to the loser parties.
Whah! The audacity. The brilliance. A bold strike against the enemy right where it hurts. I still chuckle when I think about it.
The opposition went into a frenzy. 'To war,' they petulantly cried. The Coalition was revealed, and the 3 socialist parties coalesced. We didn't know this at the time. The media just swallowed the idea that the opposition suddenly had to cooperate against a common foe. They did of course, but they had a plan in place.
The people rebelled. They thought they had beaten the green shift. They were playing the old game of strategic voting and didn't realize the rules would change. ABC, anything but conservative, turned out to be a vote for a socialist-separatist abomination that nobody had voted for.
Stephen Harper was roundly criticized for his "miscalculation." There were even rumors that some insiders had cautioned him not to go ahead with it. I felt it was out of character. There were a bunch of niggling inconsistencies with the media story.
The first thing that had me wondering was Mr. Harper's bold attack in the first place. I had always regarded him as a clever and cunning political genius. Why then would he enrage the opposition? My heart soared with the courageousness and boldness of it, but it seemed out of place.
My awareness was further pricked by the information that this vote , the economic update, was not only a confidence motion. It was a bill pertaining to House Of Commons funds and therefore could only be passed unanimously. Unanimously. The motion was doomed to fail no matter what. This was no miscalculation.
Then we had the NDP conference call. That was great. Jack Layton was snidely bragging about his coalition deal to party members over a conference call. They hadn't changed the call in codes and someone else was listening in. Conservatives obtained this recording. It was taped before the fiscal update. It was released to the public and the media played it.
Two years after the fact, Gilles Duceppe confirms that the Coalition existed before the fiscal update. He even takes credit for most of the wrangling involved to put it together.
Now reevaluate Harper's decision. Remember that the great recession was just a few months old. Nobody knew how deep it would go. It was almost certain that an inherently weak minority government would slowly decline in popularity as times got tough and people got mad. The opposition had their trap set, and Stephen Harper knew all about it.
An inherently weak minority government that is forecast to decline is strongest immediately following an election. If your strength and mandate can only get weaker, the time to strike is immediately. Stephen Harper sprang the Coalition trap and played those tools like a fiddle.
Oh he took all kinds of flak for it, but I knew better. Still think he miscalculated? He's been Prime Minister for 2 years since then. He is the longest running minority Prime Minster in our history. This is also the most dysfunctional and bitterly scheming parliament in our history. He not only outed the Coalition, he beheaded the primary coalition member the Liberal Party, and replaced Dion with an even less capable and less popular Ignatieff.
The skillful handling the Coalition trap saw the Conservative Party at popular heights unimaginable for conservatives in a recession. This is no small feat. The ballot question now is Conservative or Coalition.
There is no one I'd rather have as Prime Minister than Stephen Harper. He has won some spectacular victories, and there are still greater achievements to be had.