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Ah, the Arctic in Late Summer – Harper Ducks for Cover in the North

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Just a quick entry re the great northern tour….. Prime Minister Harper completed his Arctic tour without falling through the ice, but he did not have the good time he has had on each previous Arctic getaway.  Each time he met with the press, they wanted to talk about things other than the Arctic – things like his scandalous Senate, his lovely tar sands, his decision to prorogue Parliament yet again to keep the opposition out of the spotlights.  For those who don’t know proroguing – it’s a rather difficult word to spell or pronounce and has nothing to do with Polish cuisine.  It’s a fancy word which just means ‘shut down’ – Stephen Harper shuts down Parliament whenever things get a bit hot politically.  Not quite “I’m taking my toys and going home”; more like, “You are not being nice to me, so I am closing the sand box.”  Looking at the headlines, I see he went target shooting with Canadian Rangers, the Aboriginal Reservists who ‘defend’ our northern shores with their 1950’s era Lee Enfield rifles.  The reporters do not report on what he hit, but he apparently even got down in the prone position favored by snipers for at least one shot.  A little bit of target practice, a quick ride in a patrol boat, a lesson in how to build an Inukshuk and put up an animal hide tent, and suddenly Harper was speaking of the honor of going on patrol with the Rangers.  On patrol?  Spending more than a photo-op minute?  Yes, he was in his Arctic Neverland again.  Incidentally, Mr. Harper, as Prime Minister you should damned well know how to build an Inukshuk already.  They are not examples of advanced architecture.

Sean Kilpatrick CP -harper in neverland

Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his Arctic Neverland… or wait, maybe he thinks he is on Sesame Street.  Either way, he does not seem to see the real Arctic, melting before his eyes.  Photo taken at Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, August 2013, © Sean Kilpatrick, Canadian Press.

Harper spent his first day in Whitehorse where he told a strongly partisan crowd, “What I am telling you is that with the NDP and Liberals, what you see is what you get; dangerous ideas and vacuous thinking that would reverse all of the progress we have made.”  Dangerous ideas and vacuous thinking?  Like thinking he was on patrol with the Arctic Rangers?  And how does he justify being in the Arctic at our expense so he can go begin the next election campaign a year early?  Despite being in the Arctic, with campaigning clearly on his mind, he said relatively little about his plans to equip the military to deal with the North – those plans for purchases of new icebreakers, snow mobiles and so on from previous years have dwindled and dragged out into the future.  He knows once the photo op is done there is no real need to follow through.  None of us electors have memories.

What else did he accomplish?  On Monday he announced a $5.6 Million grant for a mining innovation centre in Whitehorse.  Mostly, though, he tried to avoid answering unwanted questions – about the senate, about proroguing, and in the case of one Chinese reporter, about Canada’s policy on state-owned foreign corporations operating in his beloved tar sands.  I think mostly people along for the ride this year were all a bit bored, including Mr. Harper.

I promise something more scientific next time!