Stephen Harper has learned the hard way that when you promise to do things, people get upset when you don't actually do them. I can understand Harper's naivete on this - after all, Canadians kept re-electing the Liberals for 13 years despite breaking promises at the rate Michael Phelps breaks world records. But the missing 5th priority upset pundits. The income trust flip flop upset rich seniors (who, you know, vote)
. And the "fixed election date (unless I want an election
)" law has shown that a promise that sounds good one day can become a bit of a drag the next.
One way to circumvent this is to adopt the John Baird strategy of making promises no one can accuse you of breaking for 42 years
. However, looking at the Liberals these days, 42 years of Tory government doesn't seem wholly impossible so Harper has had to find a new strategy.
Hence, what I like to call, "Inaction Action".
The first example of this strategy occurred
last winter when Jack Layton looked at all that was wrong with Canada and found his issue - ATM fees! Enter Jim Flaherty
and his "sure, I'll talk about this with the banks
" response. Notice no firm promise that anything would actually change. No bold claim that he'd end the era of bickering between banks and their customers. Nope, simply a promise of action, without actually having to do anything
or get any results. So, the fact that I still pay ATM fees doesn't mean Jim broke his promise - after all, he did talk to the banks. Maybe his "talk" was just Jim sipping martinis with them and making fun of the mustached socialist but it's still "promise made, promise kept".
No doubt buoyed by this, when Flaherty
noticed that Canadians (and by "Canadians" I mean "Whitby-Oshawa residents") didn't really like paying $1.50 a litre for gas, was his response to revert to an old 2004 promise to actually lower
gas prices? Nope. Instead, he promised to "look for ways to cut prices
". Will Jim find something on this scavenger hunt? Likely not, but at
is showing inaction action on the issue by "looking".
It's become almost predictable. So, when Telus and Bell announced they would be charging for incoming text messages this spring, you could see how the whole thing would wind up unfolding:
Step 1: Jack Layton is outraged
Step 2: Jim Prentice demands explanation
Step 3: Explanation is given to Jim. Jim nods approvingly.
Step 4: Telus and Bell go ahead with plan to raise fees for incoming textsTa Da!
So good on the Tories for moving past that silly phase they when were a new party and felt compelled to make real
promises and deliver on them. Instead, I look forward to even more listening, talking, demanding explanations, exploring, looking, contemplating, considering, inquiring, sabre rattling, investigating (but not formal investigations
- they've learned their lesson
), meeting with, questioning, and studying.
I for one welcome this new era of inaction action!