New book 'Harperland' paints PM as controlling
A new book that claims to lift the curtain on Stephen Harper's four years in power is not getting a warm reception from Conservative ranks. But its author is hardly surprised.
"Harperland: The Politics of Control," by Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin, claims to lift the curtain on Stephen Harper's four years in power.
In one chapter, it quotes former Harper adviser Kory Teneycke confirming that the prime minister had a plan that would have forced Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean from office if she had not granted his prorogation request in late 2008, shortly after the Liberals and NDP had reached an agreement to form a coalition.
"It wasn't a case where he had a secret plan to fire anybody, but this was being talked about as a possible alternative," Martin explained to CTV's Canada AM Thursday.
Martin says the story seems to fit with the profile of Harper that he's heard.
"He's a guy who would do anything to get his way, as the book tends to show in other aspects. He had said, ‘I will use any means possible to prevent the coalition from taking power'," Martin said.
Senior Conservatives deny there was any such plan with the proroguing of Parliament. When CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife spoke to Teneycke Wednesday night, he did not deny the Queen was mentioned in his conversation with Harper, but said the idea of forcing out the Governor General was "torqued" by Martin.
The Prime Minister's Office says Martin's unofficial biography shouldn't be taken seriously, claiming the author is well known as being sympathetic to the Liberal Party in his books and columns.
Dimitri Soudas, Harper's director of communications, told CTV's Power Play that Martin's account was "absolutely false."
Soudas acknowledged that he had not yet read the book, but said bypassing the Governor General would never have been discussed or considered by the Tories because they felt their request to prorogue Parliament was "open and shut."
"I'm not sure why that option would even be contemplated, because from a purely constitutional perspective the matter was open and shut."
And he shrugged off accusations that the Prime Minister is overly controlling.
"If competent is a synonym for controlling, then we will continue to be a competent government," Soudas said.
"We will take that as a badge of honour and make sure we continue doing that."
Martin suggested Thursday he wasn't surprised that his book isn't exactly getting a warm reception from the Conservative ranks, but stood by his story.
"The people cited in the book are quoted by name, quoted from taped interviews. This is a tactic the prime minister's office will always use: They'll go after the messenger, when in fact they should be talking to their own people who said this. These are the prime minister's aides," said Martin.
"Harperland" describes Harper as a political success story but paints a portrait of a ruthless strategist and control freak who insists that he approve every move of his government.
"This is the most massive centralization of power of any government in the history of Canada," Martin said.
"The PM imposed a vetting system whereby if anybody put out anything government-wise had to come through his office or the Privy Council's office. It was quite extraordinary. And it was effective, this discipline he imposed, because as the book says, this guy has achieved considerable success."