I’m not sure why I keep talking about Stephen Harper on this site. I’m a card carrying Liberal and I’ll likely vote NDP but, for some reason, Harper seems to always be my focus here.
Regardless, I’ve been looking over his platform and I’ve come to the conclusion that this man is going to be Prime Minister in the near future. Maybe not this time, but within 2 or 3 years. And I’d give him a 1 in 4 or 1 in 3 shot of taking a minority this election.
The fact is he’s given the Liberals nothing to gripe on. He’s matched them dollar for dollar on Health Care spending and he’s actually supporting the Health Accord signed by Jean Chretien (which Martin is mute on). Harper’s (misguided in my opinion) desire for more private integration into the system is going to be offset by the Pettigrew comments and Martin’s private physician. In addition, Martin was the man who absolutely gutted Health Care (albeit for good reason) in the 90s – I’m sure Harper can find some good numbers to quote in “Paul Martin: CEO for Canada” by Murray Dobbin. Yet bafflingly, they’re still going to make Health Care the issue. If there is any doubt on this, look at Goodale’s feeble retaliation to the Conservative gasoline tax proposal – the Liberals will put the extra cash into Health Care since this is Canada’s top priority…not tax cuts.
But it goes beyond Health Care. Harper’s gas tax plan will cost peanuts and save Canadians pennies (literally) but it’s something everyone can relate to with soaring gas prices. As for the other tax cuts, it’s not how I’d run a government but I think people can relate to personal tax cuts like these – these aren’t tax cuts for the rich or big business, these are tax cuts for ordinary Canadians. The Liberals may claim it’s tax cuts versus social programs but in reality the money is there for both. The Liberals have lowballed surplus projects for years so they can no longer be taken seriously on the issue. Harper is an economist and he’s a lot more credible on things like this than Jack Layton. The money can be spent on tax cuts and social programs so it becomes a matter of tax cuts versus debt repayment. Personally, I’d rather see debt repayment but I think I’m in the minority there. Harper will try to go one step further and play it as tax cuts versus government waste and it will be interesting to see if he’s successful in that strategy. The fact is, the HRDC scandal, the gun registry and Adscam cost taxpayers next to nothing. Maybe 200 million dollars a year…tops.
On top of this, Harper is going to bite his tongue on referendum, abortion, gay marriage and anything else which could portray him as a fanatic. Add it up and what do you get?
Our 22nd Prime Minister.