From Chantal Hébert in Le Devoir (so it’s written in That Other Official Language), the most interesting column in ages: turns out the theatrical pout that constitutes Stephen Harper’s relationship with Jean Charest isn’t garden-variety spite, it is (Chantal supposes) strategic pro-active spite. And its goal is to ensure that the dastardly Charest, he of the multiple majorities, the sunny disposition, all the stuff that rubs our PM the wrong way – to ensure Charest never replaces Harper as Conservative leader.
While she makes her case, Chantal points out how scarce Conservatives-who-think-like-Charest have become in general across the federal Conservative movement. (By the way, this latter data point is Yet Another reason why, when your favourite member of the Ottawa Press Gallery rhymes off a list of potential Harper successors that’s topped by names like Prentice and MacKay, you should not pay too much attention).
It would be breathtaking indeed to think that poking sticks in Charest’s spokes might occupy any of Harper’s attention, when he has other stuff he could reasonably be working on. But it’s plausible enough to me. I wrote a book about Harper whose thesis was that by the end of 2001 he had grown tired of complaining, criticizing and intriguing, and wanted to reach out and build alliances for a change. What’s become increasingly obvious since I wrote that book is that the new, constructive Harper was a temporary case of a man playing profoundly against type; that he’s gone away; and that he will not be coming back.