Stephen Harper still great, Stephen Harper says

The Globe and Mail’s web coverage of the Prime Minister’s remarks this morning is a mesmerizing bit of toadying. It’s a can’t-miss teachable moment for future generations of reporters keen to learn the ancient trade secrets of how best to carry water for one’s party of choice.

Here it is in its entirety – read it and I’ll meet you at the bottom.

Headline: Bev Oda had ‘responsibility’ to overrule CIDA, PM says

Stephen Harper pushed back again Thursday, defending his beleaguered International Co-operation Minister over her decision to deny funding to a faith-based aid group.

The Prime Minister said he supports Bev Oda’s decision to deny funding to church-backed aid group Kairos and noted he has repeatedly told his ministers not to blindly accept the advice and recommendations of bureaucrats.

“You should know we are very clear with our ministers,” he told reporters during a short press conference in Toronto after he announced a new crime measure to protect those who make citizens’ arrests. “We were elected to ensure that when we give out taxpayers’ money that that taxpayers’ money is used for purposes that will further the objectives of policy.”

He warned that no organization is entitled to public funds. His test is whether the money “being spent is going to the objectives we want it spent for.”

In addition, Mr. Harper noted that many times he and his ministers accept the advice of bureaucrats – but “we are not obliged to accept the recommendations of bureaucrats and I’ve been very clear to my ministers that they are responsible for the decisions they make and therefore that they think the recommendation is wrong they have a responsibility to change it.”

He said that’s what Ms. Oda did and he supports her, despite opposition claims she misled Parliament in explaining how a CIDA memo recommending funding for the aid group was altered to revoke it after it had been signed by top bureaucrats.

First, note the diction. Stephen Harper “pushed back.” He was “defending… his beleaguered minister.” He explained how he has schooled his ministers not to “blindly accept” the recommendations of bureaucrats.

Why the man sounds positively heroic, doesn’t he? Did he also rescue a cat from a great height? Surely he must have. He was probably just too modest to mention it. Paradoxically, that makes him even dreamier! DAMN HIS JE NE SAIS QUOI!!

The story goes on to devote four paragraphs to Harper’s courageous musings about how no organization is “entitled” to government funding, and how –under his watch – taxpayer money is used only to advance the objectives of policy.

At no point in the story is it mentioned a) that this last bit is hilariously untrue (for this or any government), or b) that Harper’s comments dodge, weave and otherwise beat around the actual issue at hand – which is, of course, not the decision itself but the manner in which the decision was made, a document was altered, the stated intention of senior bureaucrats was made to seem the opposite and Parliament was lied to.

Those are the pertinent, widely accepted facts of the issue. Or, as the Globe refers to them, the “claims” of the Opposition.

We expect our politicians to run for cover when they’re under fire. Shouldn’t we expect our reporters to call them on it when they do? Then again, to give the Globe its due, the story does refrain from coming right out and declaring that Laureen Harper is hot this week.

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