Stephen Harper has entered a pre-campaign cocoon, dodging controversy and responsibility
Prime Minister Stephen Harper greets workers at the construction site of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway in Inuvik, N.W.T., Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
It’s the sort of prime ministerial propaganda which would’ve had true blue fiscal Conservative heads exploding -- had it been done by a Liberal.
Stephen Harper photo-ops are being booked across the country. Advance squads deployed to handpick participants to ensure partisan purity, gender balance and ethnic diversity. Film crews have been hired to document it all. Editors will varnish over any negative optics. And a velvet-voiced narrator will script the action during breaks in the Maple Leaf Forever soundtrack.
It’s PMO TV, a weekly life-of-the-prime-minister feature called 24 Seven, which debuted Thursday on government websites. But it’s clearly propaganda, Stephen Harper-style. And you, the taxpayer, picked up the tab.
The first effort was a three-a-half-minute sham of this week’s travels featuring adoring coverage of Harper surrounded by pre-cleared children in contrived settings with nary a discouraging word to be heard -- and certainly no sign of those disruptive protestors.
The cost of planning and production will be huge. The viewing audience will be small.
But such are the opening visuals as the Conservatives rev up their 2015 campaign machine, tax dollars being diverted to blanket-cover Harper as he hits the road in search of optics more to his liking.
Now, to be fair, Harper didn’t invent the concept of fleeing Ottawa on almost any pretext to mingle with approved friendlies in scenic settings. But he’s perfecting it as an art form.
Contact with media is being studiously avoided, lest they pop his happy place in the bubble with prickly questions about Canada’s deteriorating job picture, the worrisome state of rail tanker safety or, perish the thought, a Senate scandal question or two.
To Harper’s mind, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who tackled his rogue staffer’s scandalous actions head on and faced the music until all media inquiries were exhausted, is an alien life form.
In lieu of answering real world questions, the prime minister has entered a pre-campaign cocoon, dodging controversy and responsibility except to claim personal credit for trade and economic booms which always seem just over the horizon.
This will be the idyllic reality of Harperland for the next two years. And if you need further proof that we’re a problem-free Canada courtesy of the Conservatives, just watch the video.