Prime Minister Harper will announce the next Quarterly Economic Report Card from New Brunswick on Wednesday, September, 30. He will announce it not from the House of Commons in Ottawa, but far away from the media pundits most likely to ask the toughest questions. By announcing the Report Card from an out-of-the-spotlight location Mr. Harper gets to swoop in below the radar and hide the statistics that show his much vaunted stimulus programme is not working.
Recently, Prime Minister Harper has become quite adept at avoiding the tough issues facing Canada and the world. He is playing to his base of supporters while ignoring the most pressing issues on the planet. The economy of the country is in crisis but our prime minister is nowhere to be found. The leaders of the world showed up last week at the General Assembly of the United Nations but Mr. Harper chose instead to cut the ribbon at Tim Horton's opening in Ontario, where he talked of the importance of a Double-Double on cold mornings at the rink.
Iran is hiding nuclear processing plants and test-firing missiles... the world is facing perhaps its greatest climate threat ever... the world economy is still in tatters... Afghanistan is withering... and our prime minister is avoiding the issues in a practiced way. What happened to the Stephen Harper who used to tell it like it is... I mean was?
The fact of the matter is things are not going that well for Canada, and Mr. Harper knows it. What he is patently trying to do his best to stay out of the line of fire while "playing the heart-strings" of his party base. He doesn't want us to start noticing things are not better than they were four years ago when he took the reins of power. His goal is to lull us into a sense that... "sure, things may not be perfect, but we are still pretty well off." He is doing this because he plans on having an election... and soon. He might not get one before the Vancouver Olympics in February, 2010 but it won't be much longer than that. Those pesky socialists and separatists keep supporting his government, even though he really wants to run against the Liberals right now... when they are still weak and disorganised.
Mr. Harper has been consistently vague and misleading about telling Canadians what the Federal deficit really is and why. He has played his hand politically and at the detriment of Canada and Canadians. This is a very serious time for this country... for our own affairs and to secure our place at the global table. Yet Mr. Harper recently faded into the shadows; he stays in the in the dark because he knows if Canadians hear the truth about our economic situation and our deteriorating place in various world rankings, we might start to question why. The answers to those questions will not cast Mr. Harper and his party in a very positive light. It's true that there are no obvious leaders ready to take Canada into a non-partisan political future... not from within the Liberal Party of the NDP, but Mr. Harper knows full well that his government's performance will not stand up to hard scrutiny. That's why he is laying low... waiting for the next election... trying to lull us into a state of well-being that simply is not reality.
If we escape an election call this week (and that seems increasingly likely), look for Mr. Harper to keep avoiding the limelight and staying off centre-stage. And isn't that odd for a man who until now has stood at the center of every single policy his party has ever announced.
Yoo-hoo, Stevie... come out, come out, wherever you are.