Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Crack In Harper's Armor

If there's been one through-line in all of the Harper Government scandals as of late, it's been that of their unabashed defiance in the face of whatever charge is leveled at them.

No matter what you say to them, what you accuse them of, they've always had a snappy comeback or soft-footed sidestep at the ready.

First there's all this Election Fraud talk - including new evidence and polls that shows that Robofraud actually happened - and there's a pretty darned good chance that it was all the CPC's doing.  Yet try to pin it on the CPC in any corporeal sort of way and all you get is 'baseless smear campaigns' from 'sore losers' - well, that and more doublespeak.

Bring up the F-35 scandal - where Harper, Peter MacKay and the Department of National Defense actively worked to keep the true costs of the planes we were buying away from the public eyes - and you get 'oh, it was an accounting issue'.

Bring up Christian Paradis being censured by the Ethics Commissioner for breaking Conflict of Interest rules;  helping colleague Rahim Jaffer when he should have known better?  Harper dives to his side and calls the whole thing 'a learning experience'.

But something happened recently, something that actually made me sit up and take notice:

See, you may or may not remember Bev Oda - International Development Minister to the stars.  In previous episodes she hit the political big-time when she was found in contempt of parliamentary privilege for modifying a government document after it had been passed.  Ultimately, she got off Scott free - and even got her job back - after the last election resulted in a Harper majority.

What was interesting about this new little scandal was just how quickly Bev Oda did her about-face - from defiant to 'unreservedly apologetic'.

This time Harper wasn't there to catch her.  And that's a big deal.

Yet what's funny here is that, on the surface, it hardly seems like that much of a 'scandal' at all, really. Certainly when in relation to the scale of everything else - election fraud, fighter jets, unethical conduct.

But it's a much, much bigger issue and Harper's pounce on it, his effort to kill it, shows that he knows that as well.

In fact, from how quickly she paid back the monies owed and 'unreservedly' ate her words, we can tell that Harper wanted this one to go away - and fast.


Well, first, what did Bev Oda do?

Back in 2011, not long after the CPC had won its Majority, Bev Oda attended a conference on international immunization in London and was supplied with a room in the Grange St. Paul's Hotel - a 5-Star hotel, costing $287 a night.

She decided that this was not to her liking, so, despite the fact that the conference was being held in that very same hotel, she had herself upgraded to the London Savoy hotel instead. The Savoy room clocked in at $665 a night and her 3-day stay came to $1,995 (including $16 for an orange juice).  On top of that, because she now had to get back and forth from the Savoy to the Grange St. Paul, she hired a $1000 per day limo to ferry her to and fro.

All on the tax-payer's dime.

Again, doesn't seem like much though, right?  Even Oda herself thought all the media hub-bub was too much, thinking that there was nothing worth getting upset over and calling her critics 'extremists'.

But then look what happened literally one day later:

Why the sudden change of heart?

My best guess is - believe it or not - $16 orange juice.

See one thing Harper does know really well is that people don't 'get' numbers.  Certainly not us average folks who hate math and have trouble remembering how many '0's go in 1 Billion.

But we do know how much Orange Juice costs.

We may not get 'electoral fraud' or '$40 Billion on Jets we don't need' or 'Ethical corruption'.

But paying $16 for a glass of OJ and sticking it to the taxpayer?

It doesn't matter that this event happened a year ago.  What matters is that a great deal of Canadians are, right now, struggling under Harper's austerity measures - we don't care that he's already 'lowered taxes' because we can't feel it.  There is literally no day-to-day benefit.

Heck, most of us out there can't even afford Orange juice, let alone $16 a glass.

The reason that Harper jumped all over this is because Oda had committed the ultimate of sins: She made politics - specifically, the depth of Conservative Party corruption - relatable to the general public.  Riding around in $1000 per day limousines, living it up like Paris Hilton with her $16 Orange Juice - well, she practically begged for the public outrage.

And that's why the media and the Opposition has been kicking down the door over the OJ.  It's a touchstone - a potentially powerful one, apology or not.

With one brazen stroke of a pen, Bev Oda and her swanky stay at the Savoy has become the bane of the CPC's existence at one of the worst possible times.

That's why Harper forced her to eat her words and that's why she's shut up about it since.

She's now following a strict Harper-prescribed diet of 'head down, shut up, let it blow over'.

But how quickly this event transpired and was resolved - as RoboFraud and the F-35 scandal are left to linger and drag onward - is telling of the cracks forming in the CPC breastplate.

They're wounded and hyper-sensitive -- and it's these kinds of scandals, the small ones with memorable details like '$16 orange juice', that are going to be  the ones that bring this Government down.

Remember, they nabbed Capone on tax evasion.

And Stephen Harper ain't no Capone.


P.S: As a side note: I want to send some real, heartfelt love to Norway and its people - who are showing the rest of us how the hell it's supposed to be done.  Bravo!


Oemissions said...

next election posters/fiscally responsible OJ $16 a shot

smartygirl said...

well said!

sunsin said...

She's a woman too. Harper likes his women humble, submissive, and silent.

If it had been a man, Harper would have been up in the Commons replying to any criticism by reminding us that the NDP didn't cry when Little Nell died. Or something equally relevant.

Brandon Laraby said...

@Sunsin - I don't necessarily buy the 'she's a woman' comment mostly because I saw how he reacted the last time she was in hot water.

Harper and friends jumped to her side over the last scandal (Where she modified a government document) and worked pretty hard to defend her.

Now that could've just been political wherewithal on their end or it could have been them standing up for her. I haven't really seen how he's treated other female MPs to make a bigger judgement though.

Marie Roxanne Parent said...

The fact that she is a woman provokes a more serious reaction from Joe Average,
who gets the OJ value ($16) but will likely come down harder on a woman.

Lora said...

Politics is just another scam to keep us entertained. Corporations rule and most of us know it now. Who is Harper? A pupper man who takes orders from his elders who are of course hidden.