Harper’s sleepy majority

Will Prime Minister Stephen Harper proceed with promised ‘major’ reforms in 2012?

by Paul Wells

Harper's sleepy majority

Jason Lee/Reuters

What does Stephen Harper want to do with his parliamentary majority? “I want to make sure that we use it,” he told CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme in a year-end interview. “You know, I’ve seen too many majority governments, the bureaucracy talks them into going to sleep for three years, and then they all of a sudden realize they’re close to an election.”

Let’s see what the Prime Minister meant, if he meant much. Harper was born while John Diefenbaker was prime minister. He saw eight majority governments elected between that one and his own. History does not record much napping.

Pierre Trudeau introduced official bilingualism and multiculturalism during his first mandate, and invoked the War Measures Act to stop the October Crisis in Quebec. In his second majority, from 1974 to 1979, he introduced wage and price controls and joined the G7. During his third he won the 1980 Quebec referendum, repatriated the Constitution with a Charter of Rights, and introduced the National Energy Program.

During his first majority, Brian Mulroney negotiated the Meech Lake accord and the free trade agreement with the United States. He led the world in opposing South African apartheid and responding to famine in Ethiopia. With his second majority, Mulroney passed the first free trade deal, expanded it to Mexico, brought in the GST, fought the Charlottetown referendum and put Canada on the side of the democrats when the Eastern Bloc collapsed.

With his first majority, Jean Chrétien ended a generation of deficit spending and fought a second Quebec secession referendum. During his second mandate he passed the Clarity Act and launched a huge knowledge-economy effort: Millennium Scholarships, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada Research Chairs. His third majority featured the largest Canadian military expedition since Korea and a same-sex marriage bill.

You don’t have to like this list. I’m not saying Harper’s predecessors were heroes. I am saying they were not sleeping. If the Prime Minister’s comments have any meaning, he must have something up his sleeve at least as big as those accomplishments. If he doesn’t, he won’t be the first politician to congratulate himself for his achievements before he fails to achieve them.

His interviews suggest Harper plans something big. Four times during his CTV interview, and once with the Chinese-language Fairchild network, he used the adjective “major” to describe his plans for 2012.

“What can we do to make some major transformations so we can bring more capital into this country and have it working and creating jobs and getting better trade linkages with some of the economies that are growing?” he said. “That’s the big challenge in front of this country.”

Again, later: “There’s going to be a whole range of areas where this government’s going to be taking initiatives over the next year to secure the sustainability of our key programs. Not just in terms of reducing the deficit, but for a generation to come. And at the same time, making some major reforms in various areas so that we can continue to grow this economy and attract capital.”

What’s driving this talk? Harper mentions the demographics of an aging population, and immigration as an important response. But mostly he’s fed up with the U.S. and Europe as major trade partners. He calls Barack Obama’s chronic indecision on the Keystone pipeline “a wake-up call . . . that we’ve simply got to broaden our markets.”

One hopes he doesn’t think he’s the first Canadian leader to have this idea. Or the only world leader who has it now. Trudeau’s failed “third option,” to diversify trade away from the U.S., was launched 40 years ago. Chrétien’s first Team Canada trade mission to China was 18 years ago. How is Harper’s next trade trip to China going? Maybe not super-great. “Whenever Chinese leaders want to issue an invitation, we’ll accept it,” he told Fairchild’s Rita Giang. “So really, the ball is in their court.”

But the Chinese court is full of balls. There are no monopolies on an obvious idea. Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, Mexico and dozens of smaller players are also trying to boost their trade with partners that aren’t the U.S. and the E.U.

Canada might still beat the world by being bold. It’s striking how rarely Harper sounds bold when any discussion descends from slogans to details. Take foreign policy. On Syria, he pleads the lack of a Security Council resolution. On Egypt: “We’ll try and do what we can do to encourage stability and encourage the forces of democracy, but we don’t go into these things blind. There are some very real risks.”

A policy of bold action only where success is assured is a policy of offering help where none is needed. It is a bold decision to join others’ victory parades. There is nothing major about it.

Incidentally, the bureaucrats I talk to aren’t plotting to put Harper to sleep. On the contrary. Many wonder whether this government will wake up. One of Ottawa’s most experienced civil servants tells me the widespread belief is that Harper’s government is so obsessed with each morning’s headlines that it cannot plan. This official predicts a year of high-level early retirements from the civil service if Harper does not start using his majority.

This corner offers no firm predictions. Harper will make 2012 interesting, or it will be interesting despite him.




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Harper’s sleepy majority

  1. Personally I hope Harper’s government continues to be satisfied with the combination of political triumphs & the occasional social bone thrown to his core.  The concept that a government can be planning a bold major initiative associated with trade, foreign investment, immigration and foreign policy without involving the bureaucrates in the planning of the details is scary. 

    Indeed it means that virtually no planning is going on, except on the level of the political impact of the announcement.   I will certainly concede Harper’s personal talents in that area.

    • Nowhere does it say that they aren’t going to involve the bureaucrats in their planning. Is that even possible?!

      • I am making a couple of presumptions:
              1) Paul’s guy would know if something big was being planned
               2)  In order for planning to be planning, it has to come first.

        Politicians often make announcements without any significant consultation with the bureaucracy.  I believe large chunks of the “economic action plan” were like that.  Following the announcement the bureaucrats scramble to put something together that:
        1) kinda works 
        2) is close enough to the announcement that it doesn’t embarrass the government

    • Fire all the bureaucrats!

  2. Harper’s views on democracy, politics and parliament are profoundly misguided by his evangelical views and warped sense of humanity. Many poo-poo that he is dangerous to our heritage and traditions but his writings as leader of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation leave on doubt. If you are still not convinced, and many it the MSM are not, just re-read the column by the late Jim Travers.http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/613535

    • Evangelical views? And just what about those views do you know that we all don’t? Or, are you just basing this on the politics of fear? I am an evangelical myself and I find your insinuations distasteful and only pits Canadians of one faith against others.
      Also, Harper was head of the National Citizens Coalition, not the CTF. Check out your facts before spreading the politics of fear on here.

  3. notice that none of trudeau’s list was of any benefit to canadians.poor wells–reaching again

      • A+ for terseness.

      • Yes it does because it is so abused by the wrong people like criminals and failed refugees.

        • Frib has a good point.  We should really replace all those awkward “everybody’s” in the charter with “people like Frib”.

        • …and Aboriginals, and gays, and feminists, and visible minorities, and advocates for social change and the poor, and dissenting constitutional experts, and just about anyone who had previously to depend on getting by whatever crumbs fell of the masters high table.

          Has the charter itself led people to seemingly abandon their sense of duty and responsibilty as citizens? I doubt it…just take a look at other jurisdictions where no such charter exists. Whatever may be causing some people to forget that rights come with responsibilities, it isn’t all down to one man who fought to place those rights where they should be –  within the grasp of all Canadians,and not as previously just under the noses of our sometimes fickle, fallible and easily swayed elected political masters.

          • Agreed. Though I think the Charter is like a two-legged stool; we need a “Responsibilities” section to balance the rights and freedoms.

            Trudeau seemed to assume people would know their responsibilities, but in retrospect he should have spelled them out.

        • I don’t think people with a name like Frib should be allowed to vote. 

    • So.. you would have preferred the FLQ remained strong and we were left out of G7 meetings?

      OH! I see, you’re a Quebec Separatist. 

  4. Excellent comment , destroying a gun registry database or royalizing the military are not ‘major’ accomplishments. Thanks for putting them in perspective.

  5. I have no idea what the government plans to do or not. However, to the anti Harper crowd any action he takes will be one more provocation. Anything done will be met with the usual hysterics and parade of vitriolic comments. They would prefer he do nothing. However, that is not going to happen whether they like it or not. In the immortal words of Pierre Trudeau “just watch me”.

    • Conversely, will the Conservative partisans support his every move regardless of it’s success/failure?

      Does this make “objective” analyses dependent upon a “subjective” determination of one’s political stance? 

    • Former PM’s  faced substantial opposition, I don’t remember any of them having a cake walk.  I don’t know why you think Harper should get special treatment.

      • I never said anything about legitimate opposition with real alternatives proposed.

        • But Harper doesn’t think any criticism of him is legitimate.  Do you see the problem, here, h?

          • Harper is good at winning elections. However, most of what he does is talk. Lets see if the Wheat Board is still here in 2015! What crown corporations is he going to sell off? Will his majority reinstate or set the stage for a referendum to institute the death penalty(supported by 66% of Canadians including a majority of NDP  and Conservative voters)? The answer is no. Just like he wont do anything about abortion for all the talk of it. His domestic agenda outside of certain targeted tax cuts is mostly talk. Its on foreign policy where he has some effect. The truth is that for many Canadians there is no real party that represents us. I lean to the left on economics. I support gay marriage and pot legalization However, I support the death penalty, oppose abortion, and the gun registry. Heck, I think the self defense laws should be revised like the Castle Doctrine laws in the states. Where is the spot for a guy like me who is economically NDP but leans Conservative on many social issues. The Liberals stand for nothing and everything. The Bloc is nuts and hopefully disappearing. The NDP is right on many economic issues but forces all its mps to vote for gun registration and against any pro-life legislation. The Conservatives are right on some issues but seem convinced that tax cuts are the answer to everything.As long as their is no party that represents people like me much of the working class will remain apathetic which will keep voting numbers down and help Harper .You can’t beat someone with no one.

  6. For many years it was well known in Ottawa that the ‘super’ senior deputy ministers met once a week at the Rideau Club to dine and discuss the policies of the  government of the day. They would also decide at that time what initiatives they would support and which ones they would order their underlings, including less important deputy ministers, to frustrate.  Since most were Liberals and Liberal appointed this did not bode well for Conservative governments.  I doubt much has changed and if the PM is wise he’ll continue to by-pass the senior bureaucrats.

    • You actually expect others to pretend with you that after 5 years in office, a Conservative government obsessed with outing any tenuous affiliation to the Liberal Party by anyone ever, hasn’t identified and replaced the Deputy Ministers who aren’t on side? How impotent are they?

    • It may have escaped your notice but CD Howe is long dead, and so are most of his dollar a day businessmen/cum liberal acolytes. If Harper is still clinging to this kind of historical analysis he really is sleep walking.

      • I think it was “dollar a year” men.

        • Quite right. A dollar a year…now that’s what i call appropriate rate of executive pay…Howe was a genius.

    • What years are you referring to?

  7. While I’m admittedly uneducated concerning economic matters, it seems to me that “bring more capital into the country” and “attract capital” mean a few things:

    .1) Obviously, lower corporate taxes2) A workforce that is more attractive than other countries (more profitable bottom line)3) (De)regulations and controls that don’t stand in the way of doing business. Am I wrong is seeing this to mean lower wages and fewer benefits for workers (union busting) and “relaxed” vigilance in our environmental stewardship? If this assumption is correct, are we trading growth for a lower standard of living and passing our environmental issues onto the next generations? Is this simply inevitable and we are doing the smart thing by getting the jump on the competition?

  8. Wonderful and empty speculation.  So here’s some of Harper’s next potential projects:
    No First Ministers’ Meetings with the Provinces   (I control taxation and revenue redistribution, I don’t need them. Providing education, health and infrastructure is their problem.)Reduce personal attendance to Parliament    (I’ve turned it into a rubber stamp machine anyway)Cut funding to the CBC   (They’ll all be praising me to save their jobs)Abolish the CRTC and ‘Canadian content rules’ for all media  (Its American culture that will save the world with its war machine)Annul more Environmental Legislation  (if there’s any left)Repeal Wage Equity for Women   (Women and should stay home)Revoke Official Bilingualism  (No one should learn a 2nd language, then we’d be like Europeans – educated)Delay CPP and OAS to age 67  (It’ll save money I can spend on military hardware)Take the lid off University tuition fee increases  (We don’t want poor people going to College and making trouble)Get involved in a war somewhere  (So I can announce, ‘We’ve punched above our weight’ again)Insinuate myself into another episode of ‘Murdoch Mysteries’   (unknown deep psychological hang-ups)

    • you only missed re-opening the abortion debate.

  9. “This corner offers no firm predictions. Harper will make 2012 interesting, or it will be interesting despite him.”
    So the point of this article was …

    • With Coyne gone, Wells clearly has to do both sides of every Coyne versus Wells.  I am looking forward to his discussion of high speed trains and lifejackets.

      • I predict a win for Wells.

      • Yeah we need an interesting replacement – how about Colby versus Wells, that might be cool? Nah, they might agree too much.

         Coyne vs Wells was special. Gone like lots of other great things…Gzowski, Jack Webster, the 80′s oilers and the Buffalo[ actually that's kinda odd thing to say...got some in my freezer right now, and they roam not too far down the road]* getting a bit carried away there. 

         Macleans could snatch Wente and bring her over here. If nothing else the hits should take off. I suppose if they were really desperate theycould bring Mark back.

        • Wente – how could you wish her on anyone?  If she goes anywhere it should be over to Sun. 

          • Yeah but think how much fun you’d have in rebutting her

          • I know but I was thinking of Paul…

  10. I suggest you start taking your meds more regularly. Seriously.

  11. Typo at beginning of fourth sentence. Delete this after correction.

    • I’d be happy to oblige. Can anyone else spot which typo this refers to?

      • “Harper has born while John Diefenbaker was prime minister.” It was at the beginning of the fifth sentence.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Thanks Paul. I deleted my subscription to Macleans. Hope that helps.

      • Harper has born while John Diefenbaker

        Yes, I know that’s the fifth sentence, but it proves the old adage that you can either be good in English or good in math.

        • As opposed to all the new adages? :)

          Sorry, pet peeve of mine.

          • Ah, so you’re lousy in math, then?

            Look, I counted to five AND noticed a has where a was should be.  Nevertheless, it still proves the medium-aged adage since I’m obviously not great at either English or Math.

  12. We’ve heard this ‘about to do major things’ in one form or another from Harper for years….it just never happened. And now it can’t.
     
    Partly because he himself then went off on tangents….. attacking a country, attacking individuals, attacking institutions, and picking unwinnable fights.  Wasting time, while trying to look busy.
     
    The other reason is that all the major things…economy/trade/environment…are no longer decided in this country. They are decided in the global community. Harper no longer has a choice in these matters.
     
    The internal things he could have done something about….education, health etc…he’s given away to the provinces.
     
    So while he’s been busy gathering power in the PMO…the power has vanished into thin air.
     
    It’s a Pyrrhic victory.

    • ”..The internal things he could have done something about….education, health etc…he’s given away to the provinces…”

      Those are provincial jurisdictions Emily,  services delivered by the provinces.

      • Yes, with substantial federal input after all these years.

        Instead of making both of them national, producing efficiencies and standards….he gave them away.

        Leaving himself with nothing of importance to do.

  13. Harper still sounds like a mealy mouthed Liberal, it is pathetic. However, I care more about actions than words so I will wait and see but I don’t have high hopes. I stopped playing role of charlie brown to Government’s lucy like behaviour about a decade ago – I am now firm believer in Wells’ genius first rule of politics.

    Government acts as brake on human progress and wealth creation and I am extremely worried about Harper’s talk about government creating jobs because that’s socialist nonsense. I live near Toronto, work for American firm that does consultant work mainly for Japan/Korea automakers and one of the reasons I was hired for my current job was because I learned basic Korean while I lived in Korea teaching them English so they could engage in trade with world. Globalization has already occurred and Government makes my professional life harder, not easier, by their ignorance and anti progress policies.

    What I find most frustrating about this article is that Wells has to peer into his crystal ball – or not – to find out what our Government plans to do in future. Canada’s msm/political culture is like Kremlinology now – msm speculates whether Peter MacKay getting married mean he’s leaving politics or gearing up for leadership bid – but regular Canadians have absolutely no idea what our senior politicians and mandarins are planning and aren’t really bothered by who Mackay married. Canadian pols and bureaucracy are rather secretive – they don’t enjoy proper scrutiny – and our journos enable their behaviour by granting them enormous amounts of privacy to do whatever they want.

    This is not complaint about you Wells – I hang around here because you one of Canada’s better journos – more about your msm colleagues.

    • “ I was hired for my current job was because I learned basic Korean while I lived in Korea teaching them English so they could engage in trade with world. Globalization has already occurred and Government makes my professional life harder, not easier, by their ignorance and anti progress policies”

      Maybe you should ask them to give back the definite articles you left over there?  :)

      As for scrutiny. I disagree. The current PM probably has to deal with more scrutiny then just about any PM we’ve ever had, what with the internet and social media ; not to say their attention span hasn’t gotten a good deal shorter – but then it  has for most of us. Unfortunately the current business model doesn’t seem to allow for really good, dogged investigative journalism anymore. But i hardly think that’s the fault of the individual journos.

  14. Just a quibble…but maybe you assumed wrong. Maybe Harper was not only speaking of federal majorities but the many provincial ones as well. Secondly, when you look at the various majority mandates when were things accomplished. The first year? Then 3 years of mostly nothing. Or the last year before an election? I don’t know this answer.
    I suspect what Harper means is that there will be no period of coasting over the entire mandate.

    • Just a quibble, but I believe his mandate, as given by the populace, is pretty much complete already, isn’t it?

  15. Harper works by increment, so the media can be excused for not figuring out what’s up.

    Canada is #1 on Forbes list of best countries to do business in, Flaherty voted best FinMin on the planet.
    No big deal eh.
    On the Conservative agenda,  keeping their election promises which is a big change from previous Liberal governments, then  comes change to the Senate and First Nations (and the North).

    But the media will likely be more interested in who the next leader of the LPC will be than what the Conservative govt has achieved, so it will be no big deal.
     

    • Keeping their election promises? You mean like this one? 
       

      Heritage Minister James Moore, May 3, 2011: ”We believe in the national public broadcaster. We have said that we will maintain or increase support for the CBC. That is our platform and we have said that before and we will commit to that.”

    • This morning’s reports from Canada’s leading economists contradicts your claim that Canada is the best country to do business as measured by actual investor intentions.  They report that the US economy is doing better than Canada’s now and predict more of the same this year.  The unemployment rate in USA is going down rather than up as in Canada and they predict this trend to continue.  It seems it is not just the media who think Harper’s incremental efforts do not bode well for our economy or our workers.  They all agree that if we didn’t just happen to have a lot of oil and gas under our feet, Canada would be in about the same situation as Greece, with the economic leadership Harper provides. 

      • It’s not Wilson’s assertion it’s Steve Forbes’ assertion. Maybe you and your mysterious economists can go take it up with him. 

        • Perhaps the Chief Economists from ALL the major Canadian Banks are mysterious to you, but anyone seriously following economic and political events is very aware of them.  For your information they met toegther earlier this week and I was paraphrasing their report.  Of course it is common practice for Harper supporters to profess that all experts expressing an opinion critical to the Harper government either don’t exist or are mistaken. 

          • Yes, I’m sure ALL of the Chief Economists from ALL the major Canadian Banks wished the Canadian was as good as the American one. Let’s here it for that 8.5 % unemployment rate (what’s ours again?). I really don’t know what you’re smoking out there but it must be some pretty good stuff.

            PS I voted Liberal but unlike you I’m not an anti-Harper nutjob. I guess that was something else you were complete wrong about … again.

  16. Note that all the “accomplishments” of liberal governments advanced the creepy, nightmarish welfare state; while all that conservatives did had to do with foreign countries or fiscal/trade issues. The bureaucrats had been pretty good at thwarting (“putting to sleep”) any moves by conservatives to undo the welfare state disaster.
    That is what Harper obviously meant.

  17. His “major” changes will be in governance not policy. 

    They will continue to refine and perfect the polling, focus groups, fund raising, media manipulation, personal destruction advertising, robo calls, the continuous election campaign and all the other techniques I don’t even know about or understand, to create what amounts to sham elections.

    The centralization of all power in the executive branch will escalate. Parliament will be reduced to merely a way of keeping score in the election, with a purposeful dysfunctional atmosphere created with the medias help. Say bye to Budget officer and his like and Committees virtually shut down for good by their compliant Conservative majorities.

    Finally appointments to judiciary, commissions, tribunals, boards, semi autonomous regulatory and advisory bodies etc will be based one hundred percent on party affiliation.

    • You said it so well. It will be just plain ugly government, vacancies filled with a whole lot of failed political hacks.

  18. Well, I don’t expect something big, I think Harper likes incremental change so as not to lose support. 

    But I think he believes the public likes to see big things, big things that are not necessarily extremely big in his mind, but things that show the public that his government is engaged, like the “Economic Action Plan”, which was just a publicity front to show the public that the government’s plan with the economy was successful.

    “Big” things are generally a concept from the left anyway.  It’s the left that wants to continually experiment with society from the top-down (government to the people) with big changes that are (a) costly (b) controlling and power-grabbing and (c) have unintended consequences.  Whether it’s constitutional changes, or giant social programs, it’s about government power.  Trudeau’s entire list is all about big-government, from telling people what languages to speak and how to act (bilingualism and multiculturalism) to controlling industries (National Energy Program, wage and price controls).  Even his charter of rights move was mostly to include an expanded leftist charter that includes new leftist rights that has empowered judges with further contol on society.

    Chretien was similar, new big government interventions on education, while also battling the demons unleashed from Trudeau’s big government interventions (separatism and the deficit).

    Mulroney unwisely occupied himself with batting the same demons unleashed by Trudeau when he tried to pass the Meech Lake Accord, fought the Charlottetown referendum, and enacted the GST. to bring in more revenue.  Free trade is the only item in the list that is really something “big” and “conservative”.

    The only big thing I can think of, that Harper might be on track for, is a return to federalism by returning tax points to the provinces so that we may begin the long overdue revamp of medicare.

    • One of the arguments Trudeau used to convince premiers that they wouldn’t win a national referendum on the charter during the repatriation negotiations, was that some of the provinces already had charters of their own, and the idea was very popular among ordinary Canadians at the time - he won that gambit. You really ought to read something other then the Calgary Herald’s take on liberal accomplishments.

      • I’m not sure how that relates to my comment. Yes, Trudeau got what he wanted a lot of the time, and that plenty of Canadians wanted it too (just like there’s plenty of Canadians that vote Liberal or NDP today and there’s not much I can do about it). I never denied that. But at the same time, what Trudeau put into the charter is something for which very few Canadians have any knowledge, nor the impacts, until a big issue like same-sex marriage comes along and leftists use the charter to advance their ideology.

        I almost never read the Calgary Herald or any other Calgary publications.

  19. Um, I hate to break it to you, but he’s already done all of that.  Every single bit of it is a fait accompli.

  20. It will indeed be interesting to see what “major” ideas come forth. We’re still waiting for Harper to make a single difficult decision, let alone enter into any kind of negotiation, so it’s possible that “major” does not mean very much at all. It’s very possible the year will involve much optics and little substance.

    • “It’s very possible the year will involve much optics and little substance.”

      And how’s that different than every other Harper decision?

  21. “A policy of bold action only where success is assured is a policy of offering help where none is needed. It is a bold decision to join others’ victory parades. There is nothing major about it.”

    It’s an oddly surprising column in a way – how do you square the incrementalist Harper with the unbold Harper? I mean if he is so committed to being incremental is it really so surprising that he isn’t particularly bold? It could well be that the one is hampering the other, along with other things like muzzling the bureaucracy and obsessing over micro managing the message; all things that might well lead to choking off any real creativity latent in the system.  
    Or…maybe the guy has us all fooled. He isn’t a real radical – not in the way Trudeau and Mulroney were. Sure they had lots of help from a fairly friendly press, but they also had lots of opposition from it too. He can’t even complain he hasn’t the zeitgeist with him to some extent. The country has rarely  been more receptive of some conservative ideals like smaller govt or individual choice; what’s he waiting for?
    Maybe this is the price you pay for choosing to make yourself the ultimate outsider,for not trusting the country, for being obsessed with small minded politics and tactics ,particularly when you may turn out to be what you really seemed to be all along – locked into incrementalism cuz you really weren’t bold enough to be a radical transformer. Poor conservatives, they thought they were getting their very own Trudeau; looks like they may end up getting Chretien but with no fire in the belly at all.   
    See Paul that’s how you end that column. Of course no one will remember i’ve written this crap if Harper goes on a tear in 2012.

    • @timfalconer @InklessPW Tough to be bold when you don’t believe in the positive potential of government action?

      I should learn to check the twitter feed first. Maybe there is something to this twitter lark? This guy said what i said in one sentence. Maybe twitter’s teaching the art of condensing like good poetry or reviving the art of writing a declarative sentence, rather then encouraging even shorter attention spans?
      Dylan Thomas, Hemingway and Steinbeck would have loved it…Tolstoy not so much.

  22. So the fate of the nation now emanates solely from the febrile impulses of its Exalted Leader, unfettered by even the faintly expressed concerns of his own underlings.

    When, in anyone’s memory, has this been the case in Canada?

    Even the grand emperor Trudeau had a few brilliant members of cabinet to curb his excesses. King Stephen has neutered his underlings.

  23. I really wish that Harper were as exciting as Wells’s more committal half consistently portrays him.

  24. “Whenever Chinese leaders want to issue an invitation, we’ll accept it,”
    he “(Harper) told Fairchild’s Rita Giang. “So really, the ball is in their
    court.”…
    Given Kenney’s, ‘sophomoric pubescence’, in China that nearly got a democracy advocate killed it’s doubtful Harper’s musings are on an invitation that won’t be forthcoming.  The Chinese have patience and wisdom enough to outlast Harper and his international diplomacy set based upon hurled insults.

  25. “But at the same time, what Trudeau put into the charter is something for which very few Canadians have any knowledge, nor the impacts, until a big issue like same-sex marriage comes along and leftists use the charter to advance their ideology.”

    An issue like same sex marriage – on which one can find considerable support from both left and right – is seen by certain extremists as an advancement of a particular ideology. Most of us, however, see it for what it is: the defense of individual human rights.

    I realize that there are those amongst this group of extremists who would also like to see “the likes of me” returned to the back of the bus, but that is also not going to happen.

    Get over it.

  26. Does anybody still believe that the Conservatives under Stephen Harper are going to reform the Senate by making it an elected body like the House of Commons?

  27. This comment was deleted.

  28. This Harper government has a media wet nurse to make better each and every blunder that I can hardly keep up.  From over spending while jobs are being slashed in every province, radio ads that tell Canadians that the growing provinces are Sask.,Man.,Alberta while hard working regions are randomly denied the legislation needed to induce a return to productivity.  I don’t agree that there should be rushed legislation before environmental assessments regarding the tar sands, or that we become war mongers for the sake of supporting trade partners and allegiances that have nothing to do with the average citizen.  Harper’s goal is to use the tar sands mega project as a stepping stone to a new order.  Perhaps adding a new acronym CRAPII (Canada, Russia, Asia, Petroleum, India, Israel.

  29. For leaders to be great, they must above all be ethical, respect the constitution and have the interests of all people, not just the few that are a means to advance an ideology.  The big move he has in mind is to sell Canada to foreign corporations and make us into servants for overlords.  They say economies move in boom/bust cycles and ours might be likened to Japans.  They went from ascending to disaster from poor governance.  After Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, it came to light how ridiculous it was to have old reactors, poorly maintained in an earthquake zone.  Does that strike any cords?  Given the spill and run track record of some of the Enbridge cowboys, you get it right?

  30. Ladies and gentlemen, “control the story” personified.

    And no, his caucus hasn’t been asleep; quite the opposite. Harper is all about lulling his targets to sleep and attacking them the instant their pants are all the way down. That’s exactly what he did with Helena Guergis.

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