Brutal book on Stephen Harper causes pre-election stir

Fri Oct 8, 2010 5:00am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - An unflattering biography of Prime Minister Stephen Harper that portrays him as a control freak dedicated to crushing his opponents is causing a big stir in Ottawa just months ahead of a likely election.

"Harperland", by veteran newspaper columnist Lawrence Martin, relates how Harper imposed a remarkable level of control over Ottawa after the Conservatives won a minority government in January 2006.

Even before the book was released on Tuesday, Harper's team denied they had been prepared to take the extraordinary step of appealing to Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state, to help end a constitutional crisis in December 2008.

Harper's chief spokesman, Dmitri Soudas, dismissed the book, noting that Martin has written two biographies of former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

"The book should be read through the prism of Mr. Martin being a big-L Liberal sympathizer," he said in a statement.

Harper has led his right-wing Conservative Party to two successive election victories, helped by the fact that the centrist and left-of-center vote is split between two parties, the Liberals and the left-leaning New Democrats.

A new election could take place as early as next spring if the opposition parties join forces to vote against the government's budget and bring the government down.

The December 2008 constitutional crisis erupted after Harper failed to win a majority in an election held in October. The electorate failed to fully endorse him in part due to doubts about what he would do if he won full control over Parliament.   Continued...

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks in front of aerospace workers to announce an expansion to the Bristol Aerospace plant which will work on the F-35 fighter Jet in Winnipeg, October 7, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Greenslade</p>