Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Leadership: A Study in Contrasts

Contrasts: Dion v. Harper

I haven’t had too much good to say about Stéphane Dion of late (even to the point of some accusing me of “hating” him — which I don’t, by the way), but I was quite impressed with his statesman-like response to the controversial appointment of Henry Morgantaler to the Order of Canada the other day. The contrast with Stephen Harper’s reaction, as pointed out with stark clarity by the always razor-sharp Impoltical, couldn’t be clearer in terms of the leadership qualities of both men.

Stéphane Dion called for politics to be put aside and asked Canadians to look at Dr. Morgentaler's contributions to society. “Dr. Morgentaler has stood up for a woman’s right to choose for his entire career, often at great personal cost and risk,” Dion’s office said in a statement. “The Order of Canada process has been designed to keep politics out of it and I think we should all respect and celebrate the decisions of the panel and the Governor-General.”

As everyone knows, Harper officially distanced himself from the issue with the following terse statement from the PMO: “The Conservative government is not involved in either deliberations or decisions with respect to which individuals are appointed to the Order of Canada.”

But Harper’s surrogate, Art Hanger, the Conservative MP for Calgary Northeast, was quick to blast the appointment. “I think it’s a sorry day when they give that man the Order of Canada … He’s not deserving of it. What has the man contributed to this nation?” asked Hanger. “Apart from providing a so-called service which I don’t believe should be even offered in the nation, but is unfortunately, because we dont have a law governing the taking of life of the unborn.” (Emphasis added.)

Now, some have characterized Hanger as straying off the ranch with his remarks. I beg to differ and in this regard would remind you of what Rick Mercer said about the Harper government some time ago: “The are no more Tory loose cannons. The days of the grassroots are long dead. Conservative cabinet ministers are not allowed to do any media in this country without the express permission of Sandra Buckler, the prime minister’s director of communications. Freedom of speech extends to Conservative MPs when Sandra says it does.”

You can be sure that Hanger’s artless remarks about abortion being “a so-called service” that shouldn’t even be offered in Canada came directly from the PMO and should be treated as such.

As well, it should be noted that notwithstanding Harper’s attempt to distance himself from Morgantaler’s appointment, as noted by The Globe & Mail ”…the advisory council does include the deputy minister of Canadian Heritage and the Clerk of the Privy Council, the department that reports to Stephen Harper.” The brazen mendacity of Harper never ceases to amaze — he really does think that his supporters are phenomenally stupid. Unfortunately, I’m inclined to generally agree with him on this particular point.