Thursday, February 04, 2010

How ever will they escape this cunning trap?

We learn in today's Globe, that Stephen Harper has set a trap for Michael Ignatieff! No, no, he hasn't booby trapped a copy of Machiavelli's writings with electric shocks or anything - this is one of those master strategic genius traps, the kind that show Harper is playing chess while everyone is playing checkers:

Harper sets a trap for the opposition

After weeks of being pilloried for shuttering the Commons, Stephen Harper is trying to win back disaffected Canadians by adding extra House sittings in March and April to recoup some lost time.

The proposal sets a trap for opposition parties, which must consent to the move or undermine their complaints about Mr. Harper's Dec. 30 decision to prorogue Parliament until March 3.

Norman Spector jumps in:

By suggesting that the House sit an additional 12 days in March and April, Mr. Harper has badly outmanoeuvred Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff. With both gentlemen having been out of the country when the media-stimulated prorogation storm hit Canada, this is an offer that neither can refuse.

Well, yeah - of course this is an offer neither can refuse. That's kind of why this sucks as a trap. Harper has dangled the cheese, but it's not tied to anything. So the opposition will eat the cheese and go on its merry way.

Because, let's face it - this is obviously damage control. Even Norman Spector must realize this - God knows as Mulroney's chief of staff, he did his fair share of damage control.

Maybe it would have been clever if Harper had said they'd give up their summer break to make up for the lost time as soon as he announced the prorogation - but this is obviously nothing more than the grandmaster himself scrambling to dodge a checkmate.

And after listening to Tory MPs spend the past month talking about how Parliament causes market instability, how the real work happens outside of Parliament, why it's important to spend time consulting with Canadians...well, there are certainly some inconsistencies in Harper's rationale.

Don't get me wrong, I think Harper's a fairly smart tactician. But can we get rid of this notion that every move the man makes is a master stroke of genius? After the last month, I would have thought that was self evident.

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