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Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stated that his upcoming throne speech is intentionally designed to create an impossible and embarrassing dilemma for Stephane Dion, the Liberal Party Leader. Mr. Dion has loudly proclaimed his unswerving support of the Kyoto Protocol and has been very vocal in his criticism of the Government’s disregard for Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto targets.  Unfortunately, it is a case of “do as I say – not as I do”. Post-Kyoto, the Liberals did nothing to implement the protocol and have lost considerable respect for their lacklustre performance.

Mr Harper goes on to say that he is going to expose Mr. Dion as a hapless weakling by presenting him with two impossible choices. Accept the government’s decision to abandon the Kyoto protocol OR initiate a vote of non-confidence in the government’s agenda and trigger an election.  It is well known that Canada’s Liberal Party is in serious disarray and an election at this time would in all likelihood be a disaster for them.

There are many voices raised in praise of Mr Harper’s inventiveness in crafting such a clear catch-22 for the Liberals. There is no question that he has placed them in a very difficult situation. We will all be watching – hoping for an unequivocal expression of courage and integrity from Mr Dion and his Liberals. Will we get it? Who knows.

Mr Harper is clearly intelligent, no question. But above all what characterises him is cunning. One can almost see the foxy gleam in his eye as he plots his next moves. In fact, while not a supporter, I have occasionally admired his strategies as one would admire a well-executed military skirmish. But not this time. This time he has laid it on with far too heavy a hand and has evoked that quizzical hmmm… feeling.  I fear that he has miscued and in the process has demeaned both himself and his party with his unseemly glee at his own cleverness.

Trickery undertaken with artful subtlety and ingenuity – Winston Churchill was a master at that kind of cunning and even his most bitter enemies had to admit a certain grudging admiration. With all your guile Mr Harper you have a long way to go. Time to hit the books in order to acquire the elegant refinements of true cunning if that is how you intend to deal.  On the other hand, a genuine humility and unflinching integrity would be wonderfully refreshing and irresistibly attractive.

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