Sheila Fraser giveth, Sheila Fraser taketh away. Let me make sure I have my facts straight:
For the last five years, Stephen Harper has seen parliamentary procedure as an inconvenience. Something to be ignored when it gets in the way of his political agenda or even threatens to slow it down.
Joan Bryden – one of the finest reporters in Ottawa – has a story today that everyone has now seen, quoting from a draft report by the Auditor-General that Stephen Harper’s government has, among other things, misled Parliament in their G8 and G20 actions.
Stephen Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, among other Conservatives, alleges that the final report tells a very different story.
In the midst of an election campaign, this is what we call all-in poker. If Mr. Soudas et al.’s version of events is accurate and the report exonerates entirely the Conservative government, there is zero chance that the report will not be leaked by the Harper camp today. What, is Stephen Harper suddenly paralyzed by Parliament and its rules? Really? “Oh, I would really, really like to release a report that I have a copy of that exonerates me and saves my now-floundering election campaign; but damn, those rules of procedure won’t let me.” Yes, this sounds like the Stephen Harper that we all know and love.
Or – and it is kind of binary with these Conservatives – the final report is bad news for Mr. Harper just like the draft report is. It doesn’t exonerate the Tory Leader at all. If that’s the case, then not only does Mr. Harper have the substance of the report to deal with but the subsequent spin that will make it so much worse for him.
The problem for Mr. Harper is if the final report is bad news for him, it is hard to see how he gets to May 2 without this issue dogging him day in, day out.