Harper’s no bore, but he’s shrewd at his core

03Jun10

Just call him Mr. Personality, Captain Charisma, The Most Interesting Man in Canada.

Okay, maybe I’m stretching a bit here, but Lawrence Martin is right, Stephen Harper does get an undeserved rap for dullness. Martin says, in today’s Globe and Mail, that the PM is often unfairly accused of being a bore, when evidence suggests he has a wealth of interests and an encyclopedia of knowledge to back them up.

He knows hockey, no doubt about it. He’s also a decent musician. Yes, Harper isn’t nearly as snooze-inducing as some Canadians might believe.

But, Harper’s problem has never been a lack of intellect or dearth of interests; it’s always been his inability to convey them that’s been his downfall. The PM has never been able to shake his cold, calculating public image, even during his most candid moments.

At the recent Vancouver Olympics, Harper sat down to talk hockey and the games itself with Brian Williams. During the interview, I caught myself several times thinking “You know, I want to like the guy” as he joked playfully and made several dryly humorous remarks.

But this is the thing with Harper. He’s as professional a politician as you will ever encounter. He has the sort of distanced demeanour that suggests that even when he is at his most jovial — if that word could ever actually be used in reference to him — he’s still as shrewd as they come.

So, it isn’t that Stephen Harper is dull. It isn’t that he isn’t occasionally likeable, either. The problem for Harper is that Canadians judge him by his actions, which have been cold, cruel in some instances, and just plain ruthless in many cases.

No amount of time spent jamming with Bryan Adams or belting out his favourite Beatles tune at the piano is going to change that.

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