However, his high-handed style is beginning to take a toll within his party as well. There's some rather interesting fallout starting to emerge from his cabinet shuffle at the beginning of the week:
Flaherty has been dropped from key committee positions:
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been moved from two key cabinet committee positions, losing both the chair of the economic growth and long-term prosperity committee and his vice-chairmanship of the Treasury Board committee, a position that has been traditionally held by finance ministers.
Supposedly this is a "message" from the PMO to Flaherty to pull up his socks. The problem with this kind of "message" is that it's classic behaviour for micromanagers. They don't tell people specifically what they are unhappy about, but rather rely on the ability of the employee to intuit what they are unhappy about after a rather public, but oblique slap has been delivered.
Mr. Flaherty, who remains a member of the two committees, will now serve on the economic growth committee under the new chair, former Liberal MP David Emerson, the International Trade Minister.
A cabinet minister said Mr. Emerson's promotion was because “his stock has been going up internally.”
The fact that Harper is "promoting" David Emerson is troubling all by itself. Emerson has already shown himself to be an opportunist and a liar. The fact that Harper continues to keep him in cabinet belies the honesty of Harper's campaign promises last election to provide more "open, honest and accountable" government. (Especially after the screaming hissy fit that the Con$ had over Belinda Stronach's crossing to the Liberal benches)
Con$ervative Insiders Lose Chief of Staff Posts:
A second federal government shuffle - this one of top aides to ministers - is creating grumbles in the insular world of Conservative insiders in Ottawa.
At least three chiefs of staff lost their posts when their ministers were shuffled, but the move of long-time Conservative and early Stephen Harper supporter Michele Austin has become the talk of the town, according to several Conservative aides and strategists.
Okay, no big deal. This is essentially a political move within the party, right?
Well, sort of true. However, it is also a rather interesting window into the inner workings of Harper's government and how its playing within his party.
Ms. Austin, the highly regarded chief of staff to Maxime Bernier when he was industry minister, was told by an aide to the Prime Minister, Bruce Carson, that she would not follow her boss to Foreign Affairs. Instead, the Prime Minister's Office told her she would work for the demoted Gordon O'Connor in the low-profile National Revenue post.
I can understand why she might refuse that post - going from a minister on their "way up" to a minister on their way out - in terms of long term career prospects, that's not exactly encouraging, is it?
... However, several said they view the treatment of Ms. Austin, a Reform Party veteran, as punishment for her willingness to challenge PMO directives when she felt they were not good ideas or were bad for her boss.
Whoops! There we are. Still more demonstrations of the destructiveness of micro-managers. In this case, we have someone who dared question or challenge the opinions of the all-wise PMO, and presto! - they're shipped off to lower Siberia.
This is not just poor leadership, it's downright awful leadership being demonstrated, and it's horrendously destructive to an organization.
Of course, that's not the only ham-fisted thing the PMO's done recently within the party ranks on Parliament Hill:
But some Tory insiders said Ms. Austin's departure has led to a round of grumbling among Conservatives who view the PMO's staff-relations approach as "ham-handed," comparing it to what some felt was an overly aggressive recent request from the PMO that each minister's chief of staff donate $1,000 to the Conservative Party.
Do the math, people. Not only is Harper acting like a petty tyrant towards other parties in Parliament, but he's extending those destructive tendencies within his party - and in the worst ways possible.
The message is becoming quite clear indeed - toady to Mr. Harper or you can expect to receive the worst treatment he dares deliver. There are three premiers in this country who can attest to that already, and by the sounds of it, more than a few party insiders who have found this out the hard way.
A little bit of grumbling is normal, possibly even healthy, in an organization. However, ham-fisted demotions of people for daring to disagree or challenge an edict is a sign of leadership gone amok. This is neither good for the Con$ervative party, or Canada.