It’s too bad Stephen Harper turned down an invitation to the royal wedding today, because Prince William could have given him some advice about the proper way to ask for someone’s hand.
Granted, young William was seeking an “I will” from an uncommonly comely commoner, while Harper seeks affirmation from millions of common Canadians. But certain principles apply to both their situations.
The prince reportedly got down on one knee while on vacation in Kenya to propose to pretty Kate Middleton. What a terrific start.
Of course, some people — Australian republicans, American braggarts and those too busy with daily life — detest a royal wedding and the attention it gets, claiming it is pointless, shallow and a diversion from more important things.
There’s some truth to that. As the world’s most well known couple, William and Kate have pushed Brad Pitt and what’s-her-name off dozens of magazine covers.
But it’s not all fluff and foofery.
Imagine the moment William got down on his knee. (Actually, a proposal by any hopeful groom to a desired bride would do, but one by a prince is much more fun.)
When William asked the question, Kate immediately knew the upside — he’s handsome, he’s rich, he’s famous, he’s heir to the throne and will one day be king of the U.K., Canada and a bunch of less important lands, and he’s decent enough, despite all the foregoing.
When the answer is “yes,” there is no downside.
Now picture Stephen Harper, Conservative leader and incumbent prime minister.
Metaphorically, he wants Canada’s hand.
Specifically, he wants a majority government. But he’s going about it backwards.
He insists that after Canadians say “yes,” everything will be swell and sweet, and there will be — one of his favourite words — “stability.”
When you go to the electorate or go down on one knee — as the case may be — you should already have proven yourself.
Presumably, William had already shown Kate that he is loving, loyal, trustworthy, honest, devoted and good at polo.
So far — several years into a rocky relationship — Harper has shown the Canadian public that he is egotistical, stubborn, deceitful, domineering, manipulative, bullying, secretive and lousy at street hockey.
If the people will just say “yes,” he claims, everything will be wonderful.
Harper is like a cad saying, “Sweetheart, deep down I’m really a terrific guy.”
He makes plenty of claims, but provides no proof.
There is no reason to believe a majority government will be better than a minority government, whether for “stability,” the economy or good governance.
Yet Harper has made it his central theme. “Marry me,” he says, “and then we’ll work out the details.”
He won’t even tell Canadians where he’ll take them on the honeymoon.
There are hints, though. For starters, he’ll decrease the corporate tax rate to 15 per cent from 18 per cent. Most Canadian income earners will therefore pay approximately twice the tax rate of banks and oil companies. Oh, happiness.
Somewhere, Danny Williams must be smirking. Numerous people — and I was one — opposed his Anything But Conservative campaign during the 2008 federal election.
In retrospect, Williams might have been right — not merely
for Harper’s transgressions against Newfoundland (and possibly Labrador), but for his disdain and disregard for democracy.
Harper is wrong about a lot of things, but he is absolutely right that the central issue in this campaign is majority government.
Here’s something for everyone, even Tories, to contemplate: the Reform party cum Canadian Alliance cum revamped Conservatives have created a leader who is every bit as loathsome as Brian Mulroney, who upon his demise was Canada’s most despised PM.
Canadians should consider that, before walking down the aisle on Monday.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.