"Ottawa hasn’t functioned effectively since May, and isn’t likely to start working soon"

I generally regard the killing of trees to print Macleans magazine as an environmental crime, especially as its journalistic or literary quality has China Syndromed after former Alberta Report hack Ken Whyte took the job as editor in chief. There's one exception -- Kady O'Malley's 'Inside the Queensway' blog.

I don't normally include Paul Wells, mostly because, as befitting someone who attended the University of Western Ontario, he conducts himself with the snobbishness of a English peer. Watching him on TV, I think Wells could make Michael Ignatieff look like Red Greene. So it's more of a surprise that his latest column on Stephen Harper is - gasp! - eriudite and readable.

My favourite line ...

Stephen Harper spent his whole adult life complaining that the state
was no good for anything. Now, under him, it is so. Consistency at last.

Trouble in the Tory Henhouse

Norman Spector, in his Globe And Mail blog, says Stephen Harper is going to try to woo Quebec voters. Again.

After the events surrounding the coalition, it's impossible for anybody to read this with a straight face. Harper demonized the Bloc Quebecois and, by implication, all those who voted for them, in order to secure a majority of votes in Canada outside Quebec. Like them or loathe them -- and I'm not much of a fan of Quebec separatism -- the BQ were elected by the people of Quebec in a free and fair federal election, and have as much right to represent their constituencies as anyone else. Jerks such as Rob Anders probably contribute as much -- if not more -- to the stresses of Canadian confederation than Gilles Duceppe.

The proposed Dion/Layton coalition government was popular in Quebec, and Harper's attack on it was seen by Quebecers as an attack on that province's voters, as if to say that they had no right to express their opinion on government.

Of couse, we should note that the man Harper tagged as his Quebec "golden boy", Mario Dumont of the Action Democratique du Quebec, was gonged in the Quebec election. His socially conservative, return-to-Duplessis policies are pretty much dead. And so are Harper's shallow roots in the province.

It makes you wonder --- why do the Cons put up with Harper's two-faced bungling? For a story in an upcoming prairie dog, I interviewed U of R political studies professor emeritus Howard Leeson, who was a senior adviser to Roy Romanow during the 1981-82 constitutional talks and part of his kitchen cabinet consiglieri during Romanow's premiership.

We jawed for 20 or so minutes, and during our conversation Leeson riddled me this: what's so great about Stephen Harper? He's led the Cons in three elections. He lost one, and received two minorities in the face of the weakest, financially troubled and most incompetently led Liberal Party since Confederation. "If Joe Clark was leader, the Conservatives would have had 200 seats easily," says Leeson.

So what's next? Andrew Steele of the Globe & Mail has a few thoughts on his blog.