One of the first posts I did for this blog last year was “Advice for Stephen Harper” so I thought I'd give it another go, a year later. Despite having so many things going for him, Harper has yet to give Conservatives any hope that he’ll ever be Prime Minister. A major scandal? A major scandal mismanaged? The Economist calling Martin Mr. Dithers? A government “adrift”? A party in power for 12 years? What else does he need? Harper seems to be banking everything on the hope that something truly horrific will come out of the Gomery Inquiry and that Canadians will hold their noses and vote for him. While that may not be a terrible strategy, there are so many others things he could be doing to get himself to 24 Sussex. So, for the second time, CalgaryGrit offers some hometown advice for Stephen Harper.
I’ve going to cross party lines and offer you some advice, if only because it’s become so painful trying to watch you lead. It’s like watching a hockey team under-achieve because the coach only puts four players on the ice at a time. Here are six easy things to do that can make you Prime Minister.
1) Ellis Island Platform: Yes, yes, a lot of people in your party are big on Jim Crow but there’s a golden opportunity here. You’ve already gone ahead and targeted ethnic communities on the gay marriage issue – why not give them another reason to vote Conservative? Come out and say you’ll follow through on the long-time Liberal promise of “1%” immigration a year. It’s a good policy that would be good for Canada and any opportunity to bring up Judy Sgro and Romanian strippers will only help.
2) Joe Clark or Pierre Trudeau: Listen Stephen, there are two opportunities here – quit dithering and pick one. You can come out in favour of a strong central government and hit Martin with everything you’ve got on his ridiculous drive towards asymmetrical federalism. Quebec is a lost cause so why not swing a few people who believe Canada is a real country into your camp? Or, you can come out with a massive decentralizing platform to get some of the disgruntled Premiers onside. If you can find a way to sort out the equalization mess so to satisfy McGuinty, Calvert, Charest, and Williams all at once, that’d be golden.
3) Mr. Dithers: Say it loud, say it proud, say it often! Dithering did Diefenbaker in so milk it for all it’s worth. And Steve, it might be a plus if you looked like a decisive, strong leader. Just a thought. Heck, as a bonus, why not go by “Steve” – it’s a way cooler name than “Stephen”.
4) Pass the Puck: There is a lot of talent in the Conservative caucus. Look at your front bench and look across the isle. As a Liberal, it’s almost embarrassing to compare the two. Polls routinely show no one wants Stephen Harper as their Prime Minister. Fine. Remind them that Belinda Stronach, James Moore, Belinda Stronach, Monte Solberg, Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose will be in Cabinet. While you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to trot Belinda, Prentice and Moore around as proof that there are some social moderates in the party.
5) Mr. Big: Get an idea. I don’t know what it is. Maybe you can steal the Irish model of mixing tax cuts with free post-secondary education. Maybe you can propose full-scale Senate reform. Or you can think of something clever on your own – everyone keeps saying you’re a smart guy. Give people a reason to vote for you (other than your funky haircut). Failing that, you might as well promise “Liberal government, without Liberals”.
6) Smile: Try it. If you can make it look natural, that’s a plus.