Love him or hate him, Stephen Harper is a superb gamesman.
Even a member of a strategic environmental voting organization that wants to see the prime minister booted out of office has some grudging compliments for the Conservative leader.
“I have to hand it to the guy,” Jon Cooksey of the GreenLibs, formerly the B.C. Green Liberal Caucus, told the Straight in a phone interview today (March 26).
According to the Vancouver filmmaker, Harper’s handling of the introduction of Bill C-51, the antiterrorism bill, has been nothing short of “brilliant”.
Cooksey described the legislation as a “trap”, and asserted that federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau walked into it by deciding that his party will vote in favour of the measure. (Today, the party proposed some amendments to the bill.)
It’s a trap because the legislation lumps environmental activists like Cooksey and others in with violent extremists, the filmmaker explained.
“He is setting traps for Trudeau where Trudeau, in order to seem centrist, has to tack to the right,” Cooksey said.
Harper knows that in an election year, Trudeau has to win votes from both the right and left, and polling shows that the antiterror legislation is a popular one, he added.
Aside from Harper, there’s one other guy who’s happy about that—NDP leader Tom Mulcair—according to Cooksey.
“Of course Mulcair loves that,” Cooksey said. “Great, I’ll tack to the left and Trudeau will end up looking like a…quisling. You know, Trudeau will look like the guy that’s betraying all of the left and all of the environmentalists.”
According to Cooksey, Trudeau’s support for Bill C-51 could lose him some votes from the left, which is what Harper wants.
Rather than focusing his criticism on Harper and working together with the Liberals to defeat the PM, Mulcair appears to be “gleefully” going along with Harper’s ploy, Cooksey maintained.
“Because he doesn’t like Trudeau either,” Cooksey said of Mulcair. “So he keeps shoving Trudeau into these traps that Harper is laying. And that’s maddening for me.”