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Stephen Harper’s former colleagues dish about his temper

Over the past year, we've been inundated with stories about the alleged temper of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair — so much so, some have dubbed him 'Angry Tom.'

Well, we're now getting a glimpse of the 'darker' side of Stephen Harper.

Two former key aides of the prime minister — Tom Flanagan and Bruce Carson — are on the media circuit to tout new books which each, reportedly, include tell-all sections describing their experiences with Harper.

Last month, the Globe and Mail previewed Flanagan's book.

Here's an excerpt from 'Persona Non Grata: The Death of Free Speech in the Internet Age':

"[Harper] can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia, at other times falling into week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions."

On Tuesday, Carson — who worked with Harper from 2006 to 2008 — appeared on CBC News' Power and Politics promoting his book titled 14 Days. He told host Evan Solomon that Harper was indeed prone to fits of anger and that the prime minister had no problem 'dressing people down.'

"I think another way of looking at it is, you couldn't run a country or take the position that the prime minister has without emotional outbursts, without displaying temper," Carson said.

"And certainly it was there but in my dealings with him, he got as good as he gave."

As for Flanagan's suggestion of bouts of depression, Carson said that's not the case at all.

"I think there's ups and downs," he said.

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It's important to note that both Flanagan and Carson have had their problems. of late, and that the PMO has publicly distanced itself from the former insiders. Flanagan was widely criticized for his comments about child pornography while Carson faces allegations of influence peddling.

Nevertheless, their insights about the prime minister's personality — away from the media and television cameras — are certainly intriguing.

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Communications consultant and political pundit Gerry Nicholls also has some unique insight into Stephen Harper's disposition — albeit a younger Stephen Harper.

Nicholls worked with him at the National Citizens' Coalition from 1998 to 2001.

"Yes I saw Harper get angry, but I never saw him lose it," Nicholls told Yahoo Canada News in an email exchange.

"He usually showed his anger in a controlled, cold clinical way as he dispassionately dissected you in a surgical manner.

"Only once did I see him erupt at somebody, and he later told me it was just an act. He was trying to send that person a message."

And like Carson, Nicholls downplays suggestions of depression.

"I sometimes saw Harper get badly depressed or morose. He would go into his office and close the door and everybody knew it was best to leave him alone," he said.

"But such states were rare and when they did occur they didn't last long, and they certainly never impaired his ability to do his job."

(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)

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