With the opposition Liberal Party in shambles and the largely inexperienced Ndp obsessed with a leadership race, it falls to the press to hold the Prime Minister accountable to the Canadian people.
Unfortunately for us, the press is being led around the political ring by Mr. Harper, who is demonstrating an unrivalled expertise at devious manipulation.
For all its self-proclaimed political savvy, the press has demonstrated a singular lack of understanding at the political process that Mr. Harper has embarked upon and its members remain sadly unawares that they are being managed.
And so, their latest reaction in relation to the awarding of the 33 billion dollar shipbuilding contract demonstrates how little they truly understand our dear leader.
As of late, Mr. Harper has been widely praised by the Press and even across the Parliamentary aisle in the opposition benches for taking the decision not to award the now famous shipbuilding contract based on political opportunism.
Readers are reminded that a committee of federal government bureaucrats was tasked with choosing the winning bids, based on merit alone.
So in order to accept the premise that Mr. Harper chose a selection process based on merit alone and forwent political considerations is to belie everything we know about Mr. Harper, who is described by his enemies and rivals (and some colleagues) as the most politically partisan and viciously ruthless political animal seen on the Canadian political scene in modern times.If there were any lingering doubts that $33 billion in federal shipbuilding contracts would be awarded on the basis of merit, not politics, Wednesday's announcement giving the lion's share of the work to Halifax's Irving Shipbuilding put them to rest. Winnipeg Free PressThe outcome is one to celebrate, not because Quebec lost, but because the federal government depoliticized the process and handed over the decision-making to an arm's length group of some 20 civil servants.Calgary HeraldBy all accounts, the shipbuilding contract process was like nothing anyone had ever seen. Everything was kept tightly held to just a few bureaucrats. There were no leaks. Not even the cabinet was involved, nor did the Prime Minister have a clue as to the successful shipyards until shortly before the announcement was made public. Globe and Mail
He is a man who cavalierly threw almost a billion dollars in taxpayer money at Quebec for no other reason than to curry favour in run up to the 2008 federal election.
Ethics? Altruism? Non-partisanship.
Can these adjectives actually describe Stephen Harper?
As Judge Judy is fond of saying, "If it doesn't sound true, it probably isn't"
On October 12, five days before the announcement of the winners of the contract, I told readers that Quebec would be shut out. Read the blog piece
So what did I know that every one else didn't?
Did I have inside information or was it a blind guess?
The answer is neither, just an abiding faith in the fact the Stephen Harper hadn't changed a whit and remained the same partisan SOB which he always was.
Running true to form, there's just no way a 33 billion dollar contract would be awarded without political considerations.
And so it logically follows that if the final awarding of the contract was to be given over to the bureaucrats by Harper, the conclusion that the committee would eventually come to, had to be foregone.
The Davie shipyard, Quebec's entry in the contract competition, can be best described as a business basket case, in and out of bankruptcy protection over the last twenty years, kept on life support by the Quebec government's willingness to bail it out. It's something that all the insiders knew.
Based on merit, there's just no way the crippled Davie shipyard could compete with the other bidders and the only way it could ever dream of being selected would be by way of political interference, just like the F-18 maintenance contract that was re-directed away from Winnipeg to Montreal by Brian Mulroney back in 1983."After the warship project was finished in the early 1990s, MIL-Davie Shipbuilding, along with the Davie yard in Lauzon went into receivership. After being bought by the Quebec government, Davie was sold to Dominion Bridge Company for $1. In 1998, the parent Dominion Bridge Company went into bankruptcy and the Davie shipyard went into trusteeship in 1998. It was sold again in 2000 and became Industries Davie, Ltd. In 2006, the shipyard was sold to TECO Maritime ASA of Norway which saw it restructured into a new company called Davie Yards Incorporated.In early 2011, TECO announced that Davie Yards Inc was in receivership and announced a bid by Fincantieri – Cantieri Navali Italiani of Italy and Fincantieri subsidiary DRS Technologies Canada to purchase the shipyard from TECO. This deal fell through in July 2011.After the Fincantieri deal fell through, the yard underwent financial restructuring in July 2011 in order to qualify to bid for a portion of the $40 billion contract known as the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy which will see ships built for the Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian Forces and Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This procurement strategy had its bidding deadline extended by 3 weeks specifically to accommodate the Davie restructuring." Wikipedia
Obviously that wasn't going to happen this time around.
Harper didn't need a committee to tell him what he and the insiders already knew, that Davie wouldn't be selected. If Quebec was to lose, how much better would it be for the government if some nameless bureaucrats take the
And so Mr. Harper cleverly took himself out of the picture, turning the selection process over to the 'non-partisan' bureaucrats, full well in knowledge that they would select exactly what he wanted them to - ABQ (Anyone but Quebec.)
Today, not only has Mr. Harper reaped the political benefits of awarding the shipbuilding contracts outside Quebec, (where unlike Quebec, showering gifts do produce political returns) he is enjoying the wholly undeserved accolades of being nonpartisan.
For our experienced and supposedly skillful journalists and political pundits, to shower Mr. Harper with praise over this supposed newly-found political non-partisanship is to have us believe that Mr. Harper betrayed a thirty year reputation of extreme partisanship in one fell swoop.
It strains the bounds of credulity, to say the least.
You can believe my unlikely explanation or you can believe that Harper, as the pundits tells us, truly was reborn as a honest, forthright and nonpartisan leader.
As unlikely as my explanation may seen to be, namely that Harper had this whole thing figured out in advance, it is infinitely more credible than the idea of a new and improved Harper.
Quebec had no chance to win this contract from the gitgo because the Davie bid was clearly inferior.
Everybody knew it, except those in Quebec who continue to believe that the province is owed a disproportionate amount of federal largess.
We didn't need a long and expensive selection process to figure all this out. The selection process was nothing more than a staged pantomime, with most of the players not realizing that they were being played.
And so, Mr. Harper outsmarted us all and his cynical charade couldn't have turned out better.
As Mr. Harper heads out to Australia for a Commonwealth conference, basking in the glory of the accolades to his non-partisan leadership, there's hardly a peep over the fact that he just hired another unilingual English speaker to the very senior post government position of Auditor-General.
How will he brush this away?
With a complicit RoC Press corps, more interested in defending a shared Anglo agenda, then reporting the truth.
Well-played Mr. Harper, I salute you.