My husband Frank is no expert on body language, but he recently noticed a behavioural tic that appeared every time that Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a lie. He was watching the parliamentary debate on television that followed Harper’s release of the federal budget.
Various opposition politicians were skewering Harper for his recent proroguing of Canada’s Parliament and his lacklustre budget that offered almost no significant changes. Although he claimed to have delayed the opening of Parliament for two months so that he could “recalibrate” the country’s economy, critics were astutely accusing him of using this as a tactic to avoid fierce questioning about how much he and Peter MacKay, his Minister of National Defence, knew about, and subsequently hushed up, Canada’s torturing of detainees in Afghanistan.
My husband noticed that every time Harper had to answer to one of these pointed challenges regarding Afghanistan or a similarly unflattering topic, he would tug on his left sleeve before speaking. Was this some liar’s protocol or trick that a speech consultant had dreamed up for him? Or was it merely his own body’s reflexive action to a lie? I guess the time-worn response of averted eyes are no longer the only indicator that someone is avoiding telling the whole truth. What’s Harper got up his sleeve?