Harper: The Cowardly Lion in Canada’s Oz

Stephen Harper has limited the amount of questions he will take from reporters to a grand total of five per day. Five questions a day, this is how Stephen Harper wants to interact with the public. He wants to limit the chances he gets to make a mistake. He wants to control the image and the message that he puts out. He does not want any possibility of the truth getting out. He does not want a true conversation with journalists or the Canadian public.

It infuriates me to see this politician in action. Why does he think that the best time to not talk about the state of the country is during an election campaign. If not now, when? An election campaign is theoretically the time a politician needs to justify his actions and talk about the future he has envisioned. Apparently, Mr. Harper does not feel the need to discuss his views of Canada with Canadians. Canadians are just not important enough to think. Far better, is for Mr. Harper to tell Canadians what to think.

Is this man so cowardly, so controlling, and so fearful as to not engage the public in a discussion about our mutual futures ? The man has taken extra pains to control his message:

After several days, it is clear his daily schedule is carefully designed to minimize political risk. Harper has not done any “walkabouts” on city streets where average voters can meet him. Moreover, the photo-ops with voters — such as at a seniors’ home and a deli — have been pre-arranged. Also, people who attend rallies must be on a list to gain entry to the event.

Harper only provides one news conference per day, and it is specifically designed to ensure that it is not free-wheeling. Journalists who are traveling with his campaign tour are, as a group, only allowed to ask four questions. One more question goes to a local journalist at the news conference.

On Thursday, Harper was asked to explain why — when Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton provide news conferences with no limits on questions — he insists on no more five questions.

Harper chose not to answer that question and moved on to the next questioner.

Not only are the amount of questions being limited, but Harper gets to cherry pick which questions he deems worth answering. This was a politician who promised more open and transparent government. He has provided anything but a transparent and open government.

In our limited form of democracy, the only time a citizen may be heard is during an election campaign and at the voter box. Harper, does not even want give us that choice. Like a good CEO, he needs to control the company, and tell us exactly what he wants us to do.

But, he is not a CEO and Canada is not a company. Engaging in debate, is the nature of democracy. Mr. Harper, with his minority government, acts like he is the King of all of Canada. He is not doing his job well. His job is not to cram what he thinks is best down the throats of his MPs or the public. His job is to inspire and engage the public. His job is to provide and inform the voters of Canada what he envisions fort his country. He cannot do this by simply reading his manicured scripts over and over again. This is as informative as talking into a shoe. Unfortunately, I am not sure how many people will care come election time.

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