My source named the four-person speech-writing staff, led in recent years by the former Calgary Herald columnist Nigel Hannaford. There has been a lot of turnover in the speech-writing office.
The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, by Paul Wells
He likes to have a lot of time. He likes to go back and forth and make a lot of changes. Harper likes a draft he can react to. Then he reacts in detail. I suggested that perhaps, because it is still hardly clear to anyone—including members of his own cabinet—what Harper conservatism really is, Harper takes pains with his language because whatever he says becomes the song sheet for an entire movement. No, my source said. He works at removing memorable turns of phrase and identifiable ideas from his speeches.
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He puts great effort into flattening the prose. A good portion of his edits are taking out either superfluous phrases or ideas that people are trying to put into his mouth. He tries not to make news with his speeches, even with speeches with which we would want to make news. I had a hunch. Another former adviser confirmed it.
It gets held against you later. He wants to be damned sure which line in a speech will get quoted in the papers. Brian Mulroney and Paul Martin were obsessive about reworking speech drafts to insert their own voice. Only Harper spends hours subtracting a voice from his speeches. Formlessness makes Harper both harder for his detractors to hate although never all that hard and, paradoxically, easier for his admirers to like.
Scholars of the storytelling craft tell us that when we know little about a protagonist it can actually be easier to identify with him. In his book The Uses of Enchantment , the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim examined the structure and enduring power of fairy tales.
In Beauty and the Beast , you never learn much about Beauty.
If he is a blond stranger with a Flemish accent and henna tattoos, not so much. By his name had become a problem. His opponents had defined him, and he had been rather more successful at defining himself—as a jerk—than he wanted. So he kept his name out of his campaign advertising. Eventually he won the election, and then sought to reduce his presence in his own government.
I used to be surprised by emails from readers who, when they were not critical of Harper, were sure he was bold or compassionate or brilliant. On some days he has been all of those things. But on most days he is not, in public, much of anything. It is to last. The surest rebuttal Harper can offer to a half-century of Liberal hegemony is not to race around doing things the next Liberal could undo. The surest rebuttal is to last and not be Liberal.
The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006–
As a student of successful prime ministers, Harper has certainly also contemplated those who failed. Flanagan has also written that the largest majorities collapse under the weight of their own internal contradictions. Are there lessons to learn from the others?
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Perhaps these two. By the time Lucien Bouchard and Paul Martin left cabinet and turned, in different ways, against the prime ministers who had made them stars, they had earned independent reputations as visionary leaders. They had built largely autonomous bases of power and influence within their respective parties. Defeat for the Progressive Conservatives followed in the next election. The party, as constituted, never really recovered.
But only briefly. Martin had prepared well. Harper has not permitted a Martin or a Bouchard to rise in his government. Nobody in his cabinet combines the two ingredients Bouchard and Martin had at the moment of their apostasies: an independent power base and antagonistic ambitions. David Emerson and Jim Prentice had no broad power base, so when they left they took nothing with them.
John Baird and Jason Kenney might manage to hurt Harper in some bizarro-universe revolt, but it is not easy to imagine them rebelling. The biggest detonation Harper has suffered came early, before he won power, when Belinda Stronach left the Conservatives for the Liberals in Nobody went with her. He won the next election against her new friends. It is hard to imagine Peter MacKay, for instance, leaving to launch an outsider challenge to Harper, but even if he did, the scale of the thing could not match what Bouchard did to Mulroney. But not only ego.
A party that devours itself is fodder for its enemies; a party that resists the temptation of regicide can hope to replicate the King—St. Rivals are not the only enemy of longevity. So are projects. After he succeeded, Trudeau often seemed bored with the routine stuff of government. Defeat for the Liberals soon followed. For six interminable years, from to , Mulroney devoted much of his time and some of his strongest cabinet ministers to building the Meech Lake consensus for constitutional reform, buttressing it against attack, and then managing the damage from its collapse.
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Then he did it all again with the Charlottetown accord. Both attempts were complete failures. The respites he offered from more than half a decade of constitutional obsession were those noteworthy barrels of fun, continental free trade, the introduction of the GST and the Oka crisis.
Both men accomplished much. Both lasted longer at 24 Sussex Drive than Harper has so far. It would have been odd if Mulroney had not sought a different solution to the same problems, given his Quebec roots and his competitive streak.
But both prime ministers burned their parties out by setting aside the routine preoccupations of everyday political life for grander and more diffuse goals. And it worked like a charm: on the day Martin rose against him, the Liberals were still healthy in the polls. Harper brings a temper and a vengeful streak to office, but he is also awesomely clear-eyed. Because he is temperamentally the most conservative Canadian prime minister of his lifetime, he will not ever run out of ideas for conservative things to do.
He is amazed that earlier leaders had a hard time choosing. Of course Harper is often, and plausibly, dismissed as a mere fiddler and mucker-about because of the way he avoids grand battles. And that creates a lot of frustration. Assessing Harperism will take time too. He has often done his best to present the appearance of drift and indecision. It is worth noting that there are two groups who think he is making some kind of difference: partisans to his left and partisans on the right. Their antipathy is mirrored by stubborn support for Harper on the right. Mulroney was, on the face of things, a bolder leader.
But Mulroney suffered an exodus of millions of voters from his electoral base. A few newspaper columnists who proclaim their non-partisanship—Dan Gardner in the Ottawa Citizen , Andrew Coyne in the National Post —are always eager to complain he is not sufficiently partisan. But conservatives are pretty sure he is a conservative. And have the very best material that you can put on the field. The very best resources. He has had the benefit of a weakened and divided opposition, its electoral force blunted by centre-left vote-splitting. His government, unlike those of most developed countries, has overseen a relatively stable national economy and ably weathered a global recession.
safam.ru/modules/122-acquista-idrossiclorochina.php But whether by political genius, dumb luck or a combination of the two, Stephen Harper has proven — in purely objective terms, from a historical perspective — that he has prime ministerial staying power. Macdonald among 13 Conservative PMs in time spent at the helm of the nation.
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