What’s with Laureen Harper’s stock portfolio selloff? Fiscal Götterdämmerung? Or what?

Laureen Harper tuning up her pipes for the fiscal Götterdämmerung? Canadian political spouses may not be exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mrs. Harper; the unreal Mr. Harper, long rumoured to be in the doghouse.

Terribly rude of me to ask, I know. Positively un-Canadian! But what’s with Laureen Harper’s stock portfolio selloff?

The Ottawa Citizen reported in a remarkably uninformative story last week that what it termed a disclosure of assets and liabilities filed with the federal Ethics Commissioner by Mrs. Harper and her husband, who happens to be the Conservative prime minister of Canada, showed Mrs. Harper had “liquidated her entire portfolio of stock market investments late last year.”

The disclosure entry used to be there in the PM’s periodical ethics reports, explained the Citizen, but when the latest version of the submission to Commissioner Mary Dawson showed up last month, it was gonzo.

The Citizen story found on line didn’t say how much the portfolio was worth, whether or not their reporter knew, and if not why not. Maybe they just didn’t figure that was appropriate data for members of us in the Hoi Polloi. Maybe they’re just sloppy reporters. Who knows? They didn’t provide us with dates for the earlier reports either.

Regardless, I don’t know about you, but as a person fast approaching retirement age, relying on the shaky track record of the so-called wealth management industry for a happy twilight, this kind of thing makes me seriously nervous.

Are the Harpers privy to insider information? You bet they are!

So does this mean the proverbial balloon’s about to go up, that the fiscal Götterdämmerung is almost upon us? I’m serious, people! Did they take the cash and buy gold and trail bikes suitable for roaring out of town when the roads are packed with refugees’ cars?

Then there have been all those rumours floating around for years now – never confirmed, rarely denied – that all is not well domestically speaking at Chez Harper 24 Sussex. Is the PM sleeping on the downstairs couch, watching the shadow cast by the Eskimo sculpture that was used by a previous occupant to subdue a burglar back in the day when the Mounties were less vigilant than they presumably are now? It’s a thought.

So is this a sign of marital discord? A coming division of marital assets?

Or could either of these things presage a planned departure from office by His Nibs? (Oh happy day! … Alas, too much to hope for, it’s said here.) Still, we can always pray to the monetary gods that the Harpers have decided to cash in the family stocks to invest in a nice little retirement pied a terre on the Amalfi Coast or something.

Or was there something so embarrassing in there that they decided they’d better sell it off fast before some wise guy filed an FOI request or received a plain brown paper envelope?

Maybe they’ve just decided to be squeaky clean while the unremitting Harper regnum drags tediously on, seeing as a reporter had already timorously asked about Mrs. Harper’s investments.

Like I said, who knows?

By the sound of it, the Citizen’s not-so-very-intrepid reporter was told to bug off by the Prime Minister’s Office.

As the Citizen scribe’s account put it: “‘Mrs. Harper’s updated disclosure reflects the fact this account was liquidated,’ explained Andrew MacDougall, Harper’s director of communications.” Now screw off, Mr. MacDougall didn’t add, although you can be reasonably certain he was thinking it because he didn’t say anything else either, not bothering to respond to the Citizen’s subsequent entreaties.

As an aside, a wise old reporter once told me when I was a cub never to reveal to readers when someone you’re interviewing thinks you’re an idiot. This is a sound rule that pays dividends in dignity. Apparently they don’t teach it any more in J-School, though.

Well, there you have it. Something’s up, and we don’t know what it is. It may or may not affect our lives. Nothing new about that with the way the Harper Government does business, of course.

But, if I may be so bold, it is relevant to the way the country is run, which is why they were asked to file the disclosure in the first place. The Harpers have a duty to inform us, whether or not that duty is enshrined in law.

If they won’t, the media, which still has a few resources, has an obligation to get to work on finding out what the hell is really going on.

If they won’t, at the very least they ought not to expect us to take them seriously when they come around, po’ boy caps in hand, asking us to contribute to their rickety paywalls.

So what’s the deal?

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

7 Comments on "What’s with Laureen Harper’s stock portfolio selloff? Fiscal Götterdämmerung? Or what?"

  1. Um… as per the article, the TSX is up 32% since 2008. We are three weeks from a US Debt Ceiling debacle and what everyone knows will be market volatility and even a 42% drop:


    Perhaps you confuse conspiracy with simple smarts.

  2. kirbycairo says:

    … One has to assume that her portfolio is nothing to sneeze at and the sudden liquidation of a financial portfolio ALWAYS means something. The only question is what does it mean in this case?

  3. anonymous says:

    This post brings some legitimate questions to the table. Did Laureen simply need some capital to make a business investment in, say, a trendy new sushi restaurant, or maybe a down payment on a love shack on the Rideau? Or, more importantly, did she happen to pick up the extension, when she was at 24 Sussex doing her laundry, and overhear Mark explaining the global economic situation to Steve? Enquiring minds want to know!

  4. Filostrato says:

    I thought that article was pretty interesting, too – mainly for what it didn’t say. I wondered whether it was reporting or bait.

    So,either the end of the world is nigh, in which case liquid assets won’t help much unless they’re converted to usable or tradeable goods, or the ten-year contract is coming to an end and a division of the spoils is on the horizon before she decamps to the antipodes.

    As usual with the Harper Star Chamber, the toiling plebs are told in no uncertain terms that is is no of their damn business what the divinely anointed one or his family decide to do, even when it clearly is.

    Meanwhile, for your amusement, there is the #Ottawapiskat story and feed to follow. Looks like all the criticisms of the First Nations from the slavering trolls apply much more accurately to the mismanagement of this poor country by Glorious Leader.

    They say it’s satire. I don’t think so.

  5. fubar says:

    Help! My tea leaves spelled out the ominous warning “you are screwed” this morning. Or was it “you are saved”? Can’t remember as the kid’s were screaming, and in rushing to get away I washed the cup out. Now there is no evidence. What will I do? Am I screwed or saved?

    I have no idea what is coming. And liquidating the portfolio is beginning to look like a good idea in the short run – much as it would have been prior to the collapse in 2008/2009. Don’t know that I will take Laureen’s move (if indeed that is what happened) as the ultimate portent.

    But, I do agree with David that using the grand casino (aka: TSX/Nasdaq/DJIA/etc.) is a really bad idea for retirement funds. The NDP had a really good suggestion in the recent past – increasing public pension funding. It makes much more sense to have a secure (and funded) pension in place as a nest egg. Because as we have just seen, the market is not reliable. For the government to be pushing the private aspect is just wrong – far too many people will be eating catfood or out on the street if this keeps up.


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