Saturday, February 05, 2011

Flying into Stephen Harper international airport

Even though most of the champagne and reflection flowed on the 5th anniversary of his 2006 election night win, it was five years ago tomorrow that Stephen Harper was sworn in as Prime Minister.

But today might be the more interesting milestone. Assuming he doesn't quit to go form his own rock band by the end of the day, Harper will pass Lester B. Pearson to become the 11th longest serving Prime Minister in Canadian history. I'm not sure Harper's legacy will ever be as great as Pearson's - after all, you don't get airports named after you for cutting the GST 2 points. But, still, it's worth noting.

In another 78 days, Harper will pass fellow Calgarian RB Bennett for 10th place on the all-time list. If he lasts another year, he'll move ahead of Dief to become the fourth longest serving conservative Prime Minister and the longest serving westerner (well, Etobicoke-born westerner).

Celebrating longevity without accomplishment is a bit hollow, but it's still a lot more than we expected out of him. Remember 6, 7, 8 years ago? It was impossible to say "Prime Minister Stephen Harper" without laughing.

And now? He's lasted longer than Mike Pearson. Not bad.

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  • Truly a said day for this YYCGrit.

    By Blogger Curtis, at 2:51 PM  

  • To honour the nature and extent of Harper's contribution to Canada so far, I move that we name a downtown Calgary Port-O-Potty the "Stephen Harper Johnny-on-the Spot" and keep it perpetually outfitted with toilet paper printed with the Maple Leaf.

    By Blogger Sir Francis, at 7:26 PM  

  • Really though he has achieved so little over the last 5 years. Look at what Pearson accomplished during his 5 years of minority rule.

    By Blogger Progressive Tory, at 9:04 PM  

  • Pearson accomplished what, again? It seems to me his "accomplishments" have been passed through a very different filter over time, lending a grander hue to things which were actually accomplished by others.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:39 AM  

  • A man who has achieved so little, and yet exceeded expectations by a wider margin than any prime minister in history.

    We were told he'd ruin the country, and instead he did exactly what Jean Chretien did with an 11-year majority: Nothing.

    And you know what? I don't mind. "Legacy" is another word for "saddling generations to come with an even heavier load of social and financial commitments" and I think we're better off without them.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:25 AM  

  • Length doesn't matter; it's girth that counts.

    I wonder if he's pretty successful, actually... he wants an inactive federal government so Alberta (and the other provinces) can be more powerful. He's getting it...

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 11:22 AM  

  • Conservatives are so bad at history.

    Pearson - the flag, universal health care, a unified military (as opposed to different pieces), a military and foreign policy that made us bigger in world stature than our size would dictate.

    Chretien - the end of Quebec separation as a likely threat (the PQ be the government again, but they have to win a referendum with a clear question and a "clear" majority, as opposed to a simple one)
    - a decrease in our national debt
    - strongest banking system in the world
    - the end of corporate and union ownership (in effect) of political parties via donations

    Please don't say Pearson and Chretien did little. Those two eras were huge nation-building years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:01 PM  

  • Re: Chretien.

    I may not be a Conservative, but even I can respond to this point.

    The Clarity Act was a Reform party proposal, much as universal health care was Tommy Douglas/NDP. I suppose you can give the Liberals credit for selecting and executing the right ideas.

    And I suppose it's also a matter of perspective - Chretien almost blew the referendum, and his corruption kept the threat of separation very much alive.

    I'll give his administration full credit for the economic improvements, but I consider those a natural consequence of my favourite part of his terms: doing nothing.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 7:31 PM  

  • The Reform Party was against the "clear majority" definition. Manning always stood for the "simple majority". The "clear majority" is probably the most important detail in the Supreme Court decision and the subsequent Clarity Act. So, you are repeating a common myth.

    Universal health care was brought in by Britain in 1948, so why are you giving credit to Tommy Douglas (1961)? The Pearson government (1966) brought in national health care. It is a national program because of Pearson.

    In 2001-2, the United States experienced a recession, and Canada did not. It was the first time in history (seriously) that Canada avoided a recession that the U.S. was in. That was because of sound economic management, not doing nothing. Yes, it was Bank of Canada monetary policies, but it was very much in line with the thinking of Chretien and Manley. Also, a few years earlier, Chretien (against Martin's advice) prevented banks from merging. That's not doing nothing. That's being quite active.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:35 PM  

  • Lloyd Axworthy's land-mine ban was another Chrétien-era accomplishment; it will also likely stand as Canada's last significant global initiative for at least a generation.

    By Blogger Sir Francis, at 8:50 PM  

  • Oh, and keeping us out of the Iraq catastrophe was a decent idea too.

    And Robert—I think Pearson exceeded expectations even more than Harper has. In fact, Pearson’s first act as Leader of the Opposition (demanding that Diefenbaker resign his ministry and allow the Liberals to re-form the government) gave Dief the pretext to dissolve the House, call yet another election, and destroy the Liberal Party. When Pearson finally clawed his way into a minority government in 1963, he was considered by virtually everyone who mattered as a terrible politician with zero charisma, a disloyal caucus, and possessed of the worst tactical instincts of any post-Confederation first minister. His survival was seen as a miracle. Fortunately for him, the Tories spent the years between 1963 and 1968 tearing each other apart.

    By Blogger Sir Francis, at 9:00 PM  

  • So the Libs used some NDP and Reform ideas? Good on them for it.

    It's not like Stephen Harper was the first guy to come up with the idea of cutting the GST.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:37 PM  

  • RV Said: "A man who has achieved so little, and yet exceeded expectations by a wider margin than any prime minister in history."

    That's a great line, to sum up Harper's time in office.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:38 PM  

  • The Clarity Act was a Reform idea? What the hell are you smoking, Vollman? That came out of the deepest echelons of the Liberals - Dion was expounding on it long before the Manning cronies jumped on board. I want whatever you've got because if history becomes revised to that point, it must be good.

    By Blogger Volkov, at 5:33 AM  

  • Referring to the Clarity Act as a Reform idea is far from an uncommon thing to hear. Chantal Hebert believes it (Toronto Star, April 26, 2002, A25), and Preston Manning went into more detail in "Think Big."

    In a nutshell, the argument is that the Clarity Act (C-20) is based on the Quebec Contingency Act (C-341), which was drafted by Reform Party's Stephen Harper October 30, 1996.

    P.S. It's in Wiki, so it must be true. :)

    If this is the first time you've heard this claim, then pass the bowl, because you're on something much better.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:59 AM  

  • Chretien - the end of Quebec separation as a likely threat (the PQ be the government again, but they have to win a referendum with a clear question and a "clear" majority, as opposed to a simple one)

    I'm not convinced there's been any serious real end to the threat of Quebec separation.

    In fact, I'd say the province is probably de facto separated today -- making it all the more easier for future generations to decide to give flying solo a shot.

    Chretien came out lucky, with a last minute assist from popular Bill Clinton. He has nothing to brag about on this subject.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 12:22 PM  

  • I see "Stephen Harper wrote the clarity act" comments on here in 100% of posts that deal with the Clarity Act, Chretien, or Dion and in many which don't (such as this one).

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:53 PM  

  • Here, I don't really believe this will work.

    By Anonymous, at 3:22 AM  

  • By Blogger John, at 7:03 AM  

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