Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Mulroney Than Manning

It was one year ago today that Stephen Harper was elected. Two floor crossings, three intergovernmental affairs ministers, and four priorities later, Canada’s new government has turned one and is poised for…well…nobody really knows. I tend to think this government will see its second birthday before we get an election but I’ve learned never to be surprised in politics. So, as people are prone to do on anniversaries like this, I thought it might be time to reflect a little on the first 365 days of the Harper government. And given the domination Harper has over this government, "Harper government" is a much more apt description than "Conservative government".

While those on the right will try to glorify Harper’s achievements and those on the left will try and slag him, I think the take home message from the first year is that Harper really isn’t any different than Chretien or Mulroney. He’s made it abundantly clear that, despite his five priorities, this government has one priority and that’s re-election; re-election by any means necessary. Need to lure an MP onside with a Cabinet appointment? Sure, why not! Need to cut a deal with the NDP to stay in power? Let’s talk! Need to steal some Liberal policies to cut them off? Hell yeah! Harper has methodically been taking issues off the table he wants nothing to do with (ie. Same sex marriage) while offering a few tax cuts here and there as proof that the new boss is at least slightly different than the old boss.

So while there may be a few token musings about Senate Reform to appease the base, any doubts that the CPC was really the old Reform Party died when Harper stood up in the House and whipped his caucus into declaring that Quebec was a nation. With rumours abounding of Boeing contracts being shifted to Quebec and of equalization and environmental decisions which will hurt the West, it’s clear that Canada’s right wing has completely abandoned its raison d’etre. After helping tear apart the old Mulroney coalition, Harper appears to have re-assembled most of it and has governed in much the same way Mulroney did.

As for an honest evaluation of the first year. Well, he checked off 80% of his priorities, but several major flip-flops will no doubt make the “promises made, promises kept” mantra a lot harder to campaign on next election. Unpopular decisions in foreign policy and the shocking rise of the environment as a major issue will also make Harper’s re-election harder than most imagined it would be twelve months ago. That said, by hugging the centre, silencing the extremists, and playing “get elected” politics, Harper has certain proven he’s not the scary kitten eater he’s been portrayed as in the past. So, with an election no one can predict the outcome of hanging over out heads, the year ahead promises to be quite eventful indeed.

36 Comments:

  • 1. I fail to see which of his priorities he has realized. The culture of government has not changed. Wait times still suck. No change on crime or major crime legislation. No change on the Senate. No change in the way judges are appointed.

    2. Not only those on the left oppose harper, but also those in the centre.

    3. Harper has sold out to US oil interests. Why NL can't have the fallowfield laws they want is beyond me - and Newfoundlanders.

    4. He doesn't know squat about hockey.

    5. Women tell me that Stephane Dion is more attractive than Harper.

    6. Harper has refused to be accountable for his government's policies, making his cabmin for the environment a scapegoat.

    7. Michael Fortier.

    8. Posts like this almost make me want to blog about what a bad Prime Minister we have. Because he's TERRIBLE.

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 8:44 PM  

  • Well there you go. If it gets you blogging again, then this post is definitely worth it!

    As for the priorities, he can check 4 of the 5 off. It's VERY debatable as to whether or not those priorities have made things better in Canada. The GST cut was good politics, but stupid. The crime legislation will cause more problems than it solves. The child care cash works as a child subsidy but is worse than childcare. The accountability act has positives and negatives. But, the important thing for Steve is he can say he accomplished them.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:09 PM  

  • Actually it was McGuinty (ont) who was called a "kitten eater" if memory serves, and he certainly fits the bill...ciao
    Oh yes, at least he doesn't "dither"

    By Blogger Rositta, at 10:28 PM  

  • Well I completely agree, brother. I actually found myself hoping to see some *more* Manning in him (Senate reform, seat distribution), believe it or not. But he's all in all proved to just be Mulroney.

    He is not a terrible Prime Minister, he is not a godsend Prime Minister. He's doing a steady, good job so far.

    I admit, I'm surprised. I thought he was terrible in Opposition, and would be a lousy PM. But he's okay. And I think Dion is weak in Opposition, too. So we'll see what happens.

    And yeah, I think the gov't will turn two, also. I just don't see an election in '007.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:55 PM  

  • "it’s clear that Canada’s right wing has completely abandoned its raison d’etre"

    Uhm no. What the right realizes is that the Nancy-boy left - being in power for thirteen years - has contaminated the water supply in this country with pacification poisons. Until a sufficient population of those stunted creatures stop subscribing to silly notions like the state should be responsible for raising our children or that our ARMED forces are for delivering ice-cream, leaping too far and too quickly from the centre will completely paralyze these already frightened creatures.

    "shocking rise of the environment as a major issue"

    Shocking to whom? Your pals in the CBC, Globe, PPG, have been saving this stick for which to beat up conservatives. The Liberals were, as elegantly as I can put, completely shitty on this file with your current hypocrit leader sounding like a complete knob every time he opens his sactimonious mouth about his past record.

    The real story here is and will be about the professionalism of this new government versus the last. Granted, the bar was hung very low. But never mind these inane polls that the pollster community is trying to justify their existence with, if Canadians went to the polls today, there'd be no reason to change governments. That would be the general mood. The CPC and Harper may not be shooting the lights out, but no government, particulary a minority government does.

    By Blogger Dr. Strangelove, at 11:48 PM  

  • Harper has accomplished quite a bit in one year of minority goverment with a hostile Senate.
    JB
    1/ culture has changed. Postings go to Conservatives (always will be that way as you want your policies instituted), but they don't steal millions...big diff
    2/ those in the centre are the ones who put him in power
    3/ ??? sold out to US oil interests by "selling our oil" to them....hmmmm
    4/ I have a feeling he knows a lot more than you. When is your book coming out? How is your research going?
    5/ lol...not worth commenting on
    6/ when did he blame Ambrose? he saw that a lot of folks weren't happy and made a change. that's called taking responsiblity since it was him that had to justify the moves
    7/ agreed on that one, however, in the end it may prove to be political wise (I still disagree with the appointment though)
    8/ please post, the more voices, the merrier

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 12:42 AM  

  • Mulroney didn't have the guts to close shop over at the Court Challenges Program.

    My heart sang when I saw the human Cdn flag formed for the soldiers and their families.
    That NEVER would have happened if PMSH hadn't stood strong against ALL the opposition and MSM, in supporting our troops and their mission in Afghanistan.

    The separatists have had a free reign for the last 13 years, not so anymore.
    I have never seen Duceppe look like a fool, until he tried to pull the motion thing, and PMSH pulled all the parties together to squash him.

    And you can check off guaranteed wait times making it 5 out of 5, as the Conservatives have initiated 4 pilot projects, that got very little media attention, except for children's surgery.
    The other 3 were for Native health issues, and shamefully, the announcements went largely unnoticed, as have Native issues, for years.
    (the Kelowna Accord was not in writting and Libs did not include funding for it in their 2005 campaign budget)

    By Blogger wilson61, at 12:50 AM  

  • Uhm no. What the right realizes is that the Nancy-boy left - being in power for thirteen years - has contaminated the water supply in this country with pacification poisons. Until a sufficient population of those stunted creatures stop subscribing to silly notions like the state should be responsible for raising our children or that our ARMED forces are for delivering ice-cream, leaping too far and too quickly from the centre will completely paralyze these already frightened creatures.

    And until Conservatives cease inventing ludicrous straw men to describe their ideological opponents, everything CG said will continue to hold true. Keep those blinkers on, by all means!

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 12:51 AM  

  • cg,
    good post. btw, i never called him a scary kitten eater.

    He is in fact a scary puppy eater.

    By Blogger ktr, at 12:56 AM  

  • One year in power and all I can say is, not bad. Not great mind you, but not bad. Certainly Harper's style of governance is not something that Canadians are used to, then again, I can't blame the guy for being a control freak when a large segment of his MP's have been known to reinforce the "scary" factor. Actually, Harper isn't scary at all and I'm not buying the argument that his demonic legions would be unleashed upon obtaining a majority government. He has flip-flopped on a few files, namely income trusts and the environment. Big deal. Politicians flip-flop all the time. What I will say is that he knows that his base isn't the social conservative whacko faction, but rather, the middle class. I suspect the budget will hone in on that. Interesting to see that a few news stories are suggesting the Liberals won't support the budget and it's up to the NDP. Part of me thinks that Harper is quite happy to call an election if he's dared into it.

    By Blogger Left Right and Center, at 7:01 AM  

  • The best thing about Stephen Harper is that he is decisive whereas Mr. Dithers was not.

    Being quick off the mark and not letting issues get out of hand is to his credit. Contrast how the Liberals handled the Quebec as a Nation issue and Canada's future in Afganistan versus how Stephen Harper handled them.

    Another example is how he is handling the situation regarding the candidate for President in France advocating for Quebec separation.

    Harper can do this because he has the full support of his caucus, perhaps using questionable means to achieve it.

    Liberals on the other hand are doing what Conservatives used to do - undermining the leader.

    When that stops, we will be ready to govern again.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 8:05 AM  

  • Josh,

    You seem to forget...the entire non non-right-of-centre culture in this country had bought into the straw man scare tactic and Dion is still trying to peddle it.

    I will repeat...the real story is that the CPC have demonstrated able, competent and effective government under Harper's leadership. There is a grudging admission of that from Liberal circles. But of course instead of that being the story, or instead of four out of five of the priorities being accomplished being the story, all we get is that the CPC have screwed up a file they never included as a priority...file the Liberals had already completely screwed up for years without any serious and sustained media criticism.

    You guys want it both ways. You told us the CPC would be angry theocons who'd scare the bejesus out of us, role back freedoms, and lead us into the dark ages. A year later, you all know that's silly. Many traditional Liberal voters have figured that out. So know the channel has changed and the focus is on this "shocking" new issue on the scene where the CPC are "shockingly" grossly underperforming. Yeah sure straw man.

    By Blogger Dr. Strangelove, at 8:14 AM  

  • There is a question of how his government is, or might be perceived, versus how it ought to be judged.

    They have only been taking the environment seriously due to polls, though a government's motives don't matter too much to me so long as they introduce the right policies. And so far they've done little.

    Their budget policies leave me more concerned. Cutting the GST was stupid and in terms of overall finacial priorities, this has been their biggest program ($4-5 billion annually).

    Also, by introducing deductions for transit passes and hockey equipment makes the tax system more complicated and it wrongly addresses the problems in each area as being a want of demand rather than a want of supply.

    Just like Reagan with his reckless tax cuts, Harper is trying to chip away at the feds' tax base, knowing the tax raises or elimination of deductions is politically difficult. Coupled with a big boost to equalization (just watch), his main, if not explicitly stated, priority of a big shift of power from the feds to the provs, will be hard to undo and, IMHO, is not in the best interests of the country. The sooner this government is out, the better.

    By Blogger Abrawang, at 9:53 AM  

  • Harper hasn't failed, he's done a reasonable job, but I think the bar for his success is set a bit higher than it would be for a Liberal PM. The libs are viewed (correctly or incorrectly) as the natural gov't, so this means people are more skeptical about a Harper gov't due to the way he was portrayed. To counter this, Harper has to show that he's in line with "main stream" Canadian values. Unfortunately he hasn't really done that. His kept priorities were good retail politics, but GST and his childcare policies won't hold up because they are faulty policies. His opportunity to gain major points was in the environment where his gov't underperformed. Due to this, the opinion on him is still mixed. He's performed around or above average, but he needs to do more. Still, this is a guy who can construct victory, but doing what he's done so far won't lead to a majority. Who knows what he'll do in the future, but failing to secure a mjority will ultimately be a failure. Because he hasn't gone very far in securing that ultimate end, his performance in gov't isn't astounding.

    By Blogger m5slib, at 11:43 AM  

  • What I find interesting is that Liberals will say we Tories have blinkers on, that we are only fooling ourselves...

    Fair enough, that might be true.

    How does that stand however in relation to a segement of the population who for 13 years voted in a corrupt, morally bankrupt, and virtually useless government?

    More importantly, what is it about the Liberal party today that makes you think anything has changed?

    By Blogger WC Macdonell, at 11:59 AM  

  • Provincial rights observed and taxes lowered??????

    Where do I sign up????

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 1:19 PM  

  • There is a great story in today's Globe and Mail about the corrupt government of Brian Mulroney and this government's decision not to seek to have his settlement set aside despite new evidence.

    Looks a lot like a cover-up !

    And a healthy reminder for all the "Holier than thou Conservatives" out there.

    And why would the entire Liberal government be smeared with the same brush because of what some may have done in Quebec.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 2:09 PM  

  • There's also a great story in the Globe about Dion allowing Cote' back into the Liberal party... apparently to the Liberal exec. it's ok to be a criminal.

    By Blogger WC Macdonell, at 2:41 PM  

  • There's an old adage down and out in La... your judged by the company you keep.

    By Blogger WC Macdonell, at 2:42 PM  

  • Okay, that Dion/Cote story makes me sick. That's like letting E. Howard Hunt (don't get me wrong, I love the guy's name) back into the White House fold.

    I don't get Dion's angle on this - this seems incredibly, insanely stupid. And seriously crooked, I might add.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 3:47 PM  

  • So we'll do a little digging into the $250,000 paid on behalf of Stephen Harper to Ezra Levant, tying SH directly to similar payments.

    Also, the source of the funds used to pay off Peter Mackay's leadership debt of $500,000, all paid by one individual.

    Hmmmmm . . . . . .

    It will get interesting indeed.

    At least Dion is not directly involved

    Those other two have sold their souls and the money is just as dirty.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 4:38 PM  

  • You seem to forget...the entire non non-right-of-centre culture in this country had bought into the straw man scare tactic and Dion is still trying to peddle it.

    So? How well did that work in the last election? Harper's not scary, he's just a semi-competent control-freak who doesn't trust his ministers, allows the likes of Fortier to manipulate defence contracts to benefit Quebec disproportionately, screws up our relations with China via grandstanding, and otherwise takes ham-fisted approaches to such issues as the Wheat Board.

    I will repeat...the real story is that the CPC have demonstrated able, competent and effective government under Harper's leadership. There is a grudging admission of that from Liberal circles. But of course instead of that being the story, or instead of four out of five of the priorities being accomplished being the story, all we get is that the CPC have screwed up a file they never included as a priority...file the Liberals had already completely screwed up for years without any serious and sustained media criticism.

    Which file is that? Advancing Canada's place in the world? Because it sure doesn't seem like that can happen if we are closing consulates.

    You guys want it both ways. You told us the CPC would be angry theocons who'd scare the bejesus out of us, role back freedoms, and lead us into the dark ages. A year later, you all know that's silly. Many traditional Liberal voters have figured that out. So know the channel has changed and the focus is on this "shocking" new issue on the scene where the CPC are "shockingly" grossly underperforming. Yeah sure straw man.

    On the contrary, I was cautiously optimistic that Harper would give us greater transparency and respect for Parliament - instead we've gotten just the opposite, ranging from the Emerson debacle, the appointment of Fortier (not to mention his more recent actions), attempting to subvert the votes of Prairie farmers by interfering in the CWB, the apparent preference for secrecy (re: Turner, Khan, etc.) over openness and transparency, a non-plan for air quality and climate change, cuts to adult literacy programs, and, of course, partisan, meaningless responses to criticism after criticism. For Harper, everything is always partisan, and a petty jab at his opponents seems always preferable to a substantive answer to a question.

    Oh, and I should mention the whole national-unity-strategy-on-the-fly thing. Just making it up as he goes, eh? Makes me feel very secure.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 4:40 PM  

  • The Harper government has governed rather closer to the centre than the scary fringe expected by its ideological foes, so the critics are reduced to berating Harper's government and supporters on a weekly basis for the hypocrisy of failing to adhere to their scariest principles. Tsk.

    By Blogger AwaWiYe, at 4:46 PM  

  • joe; I think all Dion is saying is that people who have been cleared with relation to Adscam shouldn't be banned from the party on a whim. Obviously those who were involved won't be brought back in.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:02 PM  

  • Hm, interesting - has Cote been cleared of suspicion of being involved, then?

    That would make me feel better.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 6:04 PM  

  • CG,

    Cote admitted to handing over $120,000.00 in one hundred dollar bills to 12 liberal candidates in the 1997 election.

    The cash came about from the illegal kickback scheme now known as adscam. As testified by Jean Brault.

    By turning over the funds (one rumoured recipient Helene Scherrer) he and the Liberal party committed electoral fraud.

    And Dion is going to let him back in????

    By Blogger renegadejet, at 6:16 PM  

  • To Calgary Grit

    I think all Dion is saying is that people who have been cleared with relation to Adscam shouldn't be banned from the party on a whim. Obviously those who were involved won't be brought back in.

    According to your standard, then, the CPC was wrong to not allow former Sask Premier Grant Devine - who was never charged with anything - to run for a party nomination for the 2004 election.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 9:23 PM  

  • Apparently, I've read, this was not Dion's decision, which makes me feel better about him, but not the situation...

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 12:21 AM  

  • Clearly a deliberate spin and smear job.

    All that was said was:

    1. People have a right to give their version of events before being convicted. That didn't happen in some cases.

    2. For anyone who feels they were incorrectly or unfairly punished, the party has an appeal process.

    3. So far, none of the 10 have applied but they are entitled to do so.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 8:14 AM  

  • JBG,

    This wasn't Dion's decision you think. If you honestly believe that Dion knew nothing of the attempt to bring Cote back into fold then you subscribe to the notion that he is not in charge and is a moron. Something as important as this would need his approval.
    This is a move to strengthen Lib organisation in PQ and and cashing in of favours owed to Mr. Chretien and the old guard (Dion needs them because they know how to win).

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 11:21 AM  

  • So what if he's governing like Brian Mulroney did? Brian Mulroney won the largest majority government in Canadian history, followed by another large majority.

    I'd rather a TRUE majority like the one Mulroney had to the phoney one Chretien had any day.

    Of course he'd govern like the best Prime Minister this country has ever had..;)

    By Blogger Dark Blue Tory, at 10:32 PM  

  • So what if he's governing like Brian Mulroney did? Brian Mulroney won the largest majority government in Canadian history, followed by another large majority.

    *cough* Please, remind us what happened in the election after that.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 11:00 PM  

  • TERRIBLE Prime Minister. TERRIBLE. We're talking Mackenzie Bowell territory here. BAD BAD BAD. Arthur Meighen bad.

    AWFUL!!!

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 2:45 AM  

  • james bowie = living with Smurfs

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 10:52 AM  

  • Well, you'll notice that there have been no instances of money being stolen, or passed around in envelopes. No indications of political interference in police investigations.....no intimidation , and no scandals.

    What's Dion got to deal with. Well, for starters the words "Cocaine" and "Liberals" are once again used in the same sentence in the media. Yep...another "LIberal Supporter" has been caught with drugs.

    THe latest......some guy who was on the Liberal website praising Stephane Dion, saying they shared the same values.....has just been arrested with cocaine.

    The last....Paul Martin's ship was busted in Nova Scotia trying to smuggle Cocaine...

    The more things change...


    It would appear organized Crime and the Liberal Party are made for each other.....or ARE each other. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

    By Blogger James Halifax, at 1:04 PM  

  • You are really giving so many new ideas and I just hope it will continue in the future.

    By Anonymous aplusreports.com cheap essays, at 12:41 AM  

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