Monday, August 23, 2010

Mr. Hill's prior statements are no longer operative

Kristen Shane highlights a fairly classic difference in spin between John Baird and Jay Hill over the latter's replacement as the Cons' House Leader which speaks volumes about why Hill may well have been frustrated by "excessive control":
"I think if you ask Mr. Hill, he would tell you he requested to step down," said Mr. Baird.

When asked whether he would have wanted to keep his government house leader job until the next election, Mr. Hill responded to The Hill Times last week: "I was willing and continue to be willing to serve in whatever capacity the Prime Minister would ask of me."

He was in a remote part of his riding late last week and unable to respond to further questions about whether he was indeed frustrated by a high level of PMO control over his office, as opposition members suggest.
Of course, the obvious contrast will lead to a rather interesting test of Hill's independence until the next election. Presumably there isn't much Harper can use against him now that he's been removed from any position of particular influence and doesn't need to worry about re-election - so he would seem to have a golden opportunity to not only stick up for his own views, but also provide some perspective on exactly how stifling Harper has been from the inside.

But on the other hand, the rest of Hill's partymates are still trapped in Harper's cult of personality, and may well prefer not to have to defend that fact in the face of somebody telling inconvenient truths. So it won't be too much surprise - and indeed would entirely in keeping with the Cons' practices - for Hill to either declare that he simply misunderstood his own intentions in order to protect the Supreme Leader's infallibility, or be permanently sent to "a remote part of his riding".

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