Getting inside Harper’s headspace

‘Everybody knows final decisions are made by the PM’

by Paul Wells
Friday, November 11, 2011 11:20am

The Cabinet committee on priorities and planning meets on Tuesdays, usually with Stephen Harper as chairman. He calls a lot of decisions on the spot. But not all. Sometimes decision is reserved pending the Prime Minister’s private decision.

When it came time to decide how many seats each province would get in an enlarged House of Commons, a senior source close to the government says, the Prime Minister took the briefing books and spreadsheets and sat alone for hours, juggling options, weighing the political fallout from every scenario.

Three days before Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal announced the new numbers—15 new seats for Ontario, six each for Alberta and British Columbia, three for Quebec—Conservative MPs were called to a rare Monday caucus meeting so the plan could be run by them. Harper has his control-freak moments, but he prefers to hear complaints from his MPs quietly, before an announcement, rather than loudly after it.

All of this is to say that Stephen Harper is still in charge of the Stephen Harper government. Half a year after voters gave that government a majority, it’s still not clear what Harper’s plans are beyond, say, next spring.

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