Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Harper Legacy

I was on Day 6 this week for a Blogger Battle Royale Session in Review Panel.

One of the points I brought up was the Harper record...or lack thereof. As media pundits will be sure to remind us, we're coming up on Harper's 5th anniversary as Prime Minister on January 23rd (or, technically, February 6th). And really, what does Harper have to show for it? Some tax cuts, some stimulus spending, a few Liberal decisions abandoned - it's hardly the kind of stuff that will get an airport named after you.

I know Harper has been handcuffed by minority governments, but still - Pearson was PM for 5 years, all of them minority rule, and all he got us was a flag, Health Care, the CPP, and student loans. Yes, a Conservative minority government is harder to navigate and Harper has made some incrementalist moves, but moving the football 2 yards every play won't get you very far.

Not that I'm complaining. I'd probably be dead set against a lot of the legacy moves a Conservative PM could implement. And being less offensive than toast is probably the number one reason Harper has made it 5 years and looks like a good bet to stick around for a few more. But if I were a staunch Conservative who'd bought in to the merger on the promise of a Conservative government changing this country...I'd be asking for my money back right about now.

21 Comments:

  • Well, he's managed to butcher our reputation on the international stage on issues like the environment, abortion, peacekeeping, Israel . . .

    That's something, isn't it?

    By Blogger Martin, at 12:59 PM  

  • I like sports analogies, Dan, and the football analogy you make is one you should 'run with', so to speak.

    Even if we're playing American football and have 4 downs, the CPC's two yard avg doesn't get them a first down. The problem is the opposition keeps fumbling the ball, throwing interceptions, jumping off-side etc.

    The CPC might actually get the majority they seek with a change at QB. Despite his piano playing and singing, a PM who behaved less like Richard Nixon and more like Ronald Reagan (in personality only) would probably be the difference between toiling in a minority and ruling in a majority.

    Chantal Hebert put out a similar article to your post the other day. Her comment that Canada's 'natural governing party' is in the process of changing should be taken as more than a quip. There are four centre-left parties in Canada right now, comprising some 65% if the vote. I don't see a time in the near future where 65 divided by 4 equals even a minority for the liberals. But here i am talking about stats to you of all people...

    By Anonymous Luke, at 2:30 PM  

  • I think the real legacy is the erosion of our tradition of operating respectfully with Parliamentary tradiions. That counts for something, doesn't it?

    By Blogger Jesse, at 2:37 PM  

  • "The CPC might actually get the majority they seek with a change at QB."

    I've been saying this for years. The chances at a majority win are much better than 'might actually' if team CPC would have someone other than Harper as the signal caller.

    There's a whole whack of undecideds out there who don't like the Liberals, but they don't like Harper much either ...and this is the group who decides elections. Pick someone who's an actual Tory (Prentice, Lord, cripes maybe even could do it) without Harper's past baggage, and Iggy would be done after the next election.

    Harper is the Liberal's best friend right now, though few Grits realize that. Good thing for them Harper's too selfish to do what's best for the party, and that no one in the CPC has the guts to pull a Thatcher on a sitting PM.

    By Blogger Tof KW, at 2:49 PM  

  • Oops, within those parenthesizes that should have read "Prentice, Lord, cripes maybe even MacKay could do it"

    By Blogger Tof KW, at 2:51 PM  

  • A poster above mentions Chantal Hebert ... the one who likes to predict that Harper is always on the verge of a majority ...

    But I beg to differ with Chantal Hebert when she claimed that Harper has left an empty slate after almost 5 years in power.

    Let me recount just three of the major Harper "legacies":

    (1) The highest deficit, in 2009, any Canadian government has ever "achieved" and that our children and grandchildren will be paying for,

    (2) The first time any Canadian PM/government has prorogued Parliament to avoid a looming loss of confidence vote in Parliament (also the first time any PM has managed to get a GG to approve a prorogation over the phone: Michaelle Jean shares this "honor" with Harper), and

    (3) blowing away over $1.2B of taxpayers' money on a 3 day G8/20 summit, the highest amount any G20government has spent on these summits

    However, for Harper to get away with these "achievements" during a minority government is something that we can congratulate the weak opposition parties, especially Ignatieff and the Libs, on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:30 PM  

  • Harper isn't a builder or a creator. He doesn't initiate programs or introduce visionary legislation.

    His entire political raison d'etre is about dismantling and reversal.

    He started that way back in the NCC days and he's remained that way since.

    Put another way he divides and/or subtracts. He doesn't add or multiply.

    His legacy will be a diminished and quite probably a more divided Canada.

    By Blogger Dana, at 6:45 PM  

  • I still think Harper is a net asset to the CPC politically. Everyone loves to talk about how a leader change will cure every party's ills but, in my opinion, I think the Tories are better off with him than with an unknown quantity.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:11 PM  

  • I'm always amused when Liberal-supporting commenters offer the Conservatives "helpful" advice that we'd be better off if we got rid of Harper...

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 9:30 PM  

  • I think you should go back and read Ms. Hebert's column again, particularly this paragraph:


    'Axing the Liberal child care initiative, walking away from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, foregoing the Kelowna Accord on native rights — all these required no legislation. Nor does leaving the medicare financing equation to the provinces to solve. But they are all fundamental policy choices that, taken together, amount to a substantial change from past federal practice.'

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:21 PM  

  • Harper has not has five years of minority government, he has had five years of a Conservative-Liberal coalition government. Everything he has done has been with the cooperation of the Liberal Party, which seems to escape some of the "Harper is destroying Canada" drama queens.
    Yes, he is a disappointment to conservatives, but his goal seems to become the Liberal Party.
    I will spoil my ballot again in the next federal election as there is no one to vote for.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 11:57 AM  

  • Say what you will about Harper, when he stepped in the right was divided into three broke and dead factions:
    - The Canadian Alliance
    - The Democratic Representative Caucus
    - The Progressive Conservatives.

    He united all three factions, managed to not only match the Liberals in fundraising, but match all three parties combined.

    In very short order he knocked the Liberals to a minority - a prospect long thought of as impossible as the unification of the right. He then won a minority of his own, including 10 seats in Quebec - possibly the most impressive feat so far.

    But he wasn't done. He managed to win re-election by an even wider margin, and weather one of the worst economic storms with practically no drop in political support.

    Today he stands just 9 seats from a majority, and despite a hostile media and a complete lack of positive accomplishments, has gone from being seen as the most frightening political leader in recent history, to a guy people love to watch sing and play the piano.

    The idea that the Conservatives should ditch Harper is absolutely ridiculous. Do you really think anyone else could get their opponents to obsess about the census and potash instead of the government's more serious and vote-influencing transgressions? I doubt it!

    I'm not saying Harper is a good leader, nor a good prime minister, but he has done amazing things for his party, and they need to keep him. NO ONE could have taken them from virtual ruin to where they are today, and NO ONE can keep them there.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 4:26 PM  

  • I'm always amused when Liberal-supporting commenters offer the Conservatives "helpful" advice that we'd be better off if we got rid of Harper...

    For my part, I'm always amused when Conservative-supporting commenters offer the Liberals (and others) "helpful" advice that we'd be better off if we weren't so negative and supported the government more often.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:06 PM  

  • For those who can't identify any wins for the Harper government, here is a good place to start looking:

    http://crux-of-the-matter.com/2010/09/16/the-accomplishments/

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:47 AM  

  • I'm a bit surprised that people are talking about his lack of legacy at this point.

    Isn't the goal of a lot of right wing politicians to stop government from doing stuff.

    If that's the case, doing nothing would be the goal, or at least a significant accomplishment.

    Probably the one big reversal for him was the stimulus package, as it went against his seemingly deeply held principles.

    Otherwise I see his lack of doing things as an accomplishment in and of itself.

    By OpenID Halfkiwi, at 9:07 AM  

  • Forgot to add that he did monkey around and ruin the Census by politicizing it.

    Even if it goes back to the original model in the future, who knows the impact on the repsonse rate of his politicization. Maybe it'll end up undercounting Conservatives and end up favouring Liberal ridings... wouldn't that be ironic

    By OpenID Halfkiwi, at 9:09 AM  

  • http://crux-of-the-matter.com/list-of-accomplishments/

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:05 PM  

  • Mr Vollman, by all means continue to support Harper.

    "While others have reported a significant Conservative lead in national voter preference - with some going as far as to venture that the Conservatives are on the precipice of a majority - we see no evidence of this in our findings. To the contrary, our nation-wide soundings indicate that the Conservatives enjoy far less support today than they did in the 2008 election."
    Allan Gregg - Harris Decima 15Dec10

    In 2008 Harper faced a divided Liberal party with a weak leader attempting to sell a complicated and complete overhaul of the nation's tax system.

    Regardless of the problems the Libs & Iggy have, he's not Dion and they're not peddling a Green Shift anymore. Meanwhile Harper's got a lot more baggage over the past two years.

    The next election will not give the CPC a majority, it will all be about how many seats the CPC may lose and can they maintain government.

    Replace Harper with Bernard Lord ...and the game is changed completely.

    Not that this will ever happen, the west is too far up Harper's butt to consider a proper Tory as CPC leader.

    By Blogger Tof KW, at 12:52 PM  

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    By Blogger Mark Wilson, at 11:17 PM  

  • Harper make an history in Canada.

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