by Paul Wells
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Wells’ Maclean’s articles for a few years now, I always thought he was a Harper fan on the highest order, one who assumed the PM could do no wrong. I really don’t know why, given how even-handed his interviews always were with leaders of the other parties, and especially now, given how critical he is of the PM in The Longer I’m Prime Minister. It seems that Wells is less blinded by his love of a great man than he is intrigued by Harper’s continued success; in getting to the root causes of Harper’s longevity, Wells very clearly shows that it can’t just be attributed to luck, as many of the PM’s detractors seem to think. (Though, after being led along through Harper’s career in such a thoughtful manner, I really think that there were at least a few moments where the PM got quite lucky.)
This book really explains a lot about the train wreck that appears to be modern Canadian politics. Having not started following politics in any significant manner before the 2008 election and the coalition crisis that followed, I do remember snippets of what Wells discusses, but only as a passive observer who really didn’t understand what I was seeing at the time. Every action in federal politics from about 2006 on––and, most likely, quite some time before that––doesn’t really seem to be a measure of competence, but a seeming pile-up of incompetent actions, with the emerging victor merely injuring himself the least. Whether this is a measure of objective observation or merely the author’s snarky filter that the information passes through, I couldn’t really say.
Wells’ account of the rise of Mr. Harper and everything that happened behind the scenes is very interesting, hugely entertaining, completely non-partisan, and surprisingly scary. I couldn’t recommend The Longer I’m Prime Minister highly enough to anyone who has an interest in modern Canadian politics.