How Stephen Harper will survive in 2011

He prorogued parliament and gutted the census but his party is still seen as reliable

by Paul Wells

How Stephen Harper will survive in 2011

Blair Gable/Reuters

On New Year’s Eve, his last day as Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Guy Giorno wrote a farewell memo to Conservative government staffers and launched a Twitter account. Ottawa started poring over his 140-character Twitter bursts and ignored the memo. Let’s read the memo.

“After exactly two-and-one-half wonderful years,” Giorno wrote, it was time to leave Harper’s side. He reminded his colleagues of the government’s successes. Only one item on his list was about policy: “A sweeping, affirmative Economic Action Plan to protect the economy.” The result? “Our economy is outperforming the economies of many countries of the world.”

The rest of Giorno’s list was about partisan political achievements. “We won a general election, only the eighth time in 40 elections that a governing party has increased both its seat count and its share of the popular vote. We eliminated the so-called gender gap”—the Liberals’ former advantage among female voters—“and made inroads into communities that have not voted Conservative for decades . . . Today, our standing in the polls is stronger and higher than when I first arrived.”

Of course Giorno’s account is self-serving. Which is not the same as saying he has no point. The man who ran the PMO wasn’t interested in much besides the economy. By the time he left, the Conservatives were in decent shape to fight an election. One may explain the other.

Harper heads into the third full calendar year of his second term in a position, not of utter dominance, but of relative strength. He has a good shot at avoiding an election and, if he cannot avoid it, a good shot at winning it. That’s why his little New Year’s cabinet shuffle was not the overhaul bored Ottawa scribes wanted: because he does not need an overhaul.

Now is the time for “continuing proven approaches that work and have brought us safely thus far,” Harper said at Rideau Hall after the shuffle, “and not for economic adventurism.” It was, almost word for word, the message he used to launch the election of 2008. A steady hand on one side, the crazies on the other.

Is this his pre-electoral pitch then? Only if it must be. He would rather it be his avoid-elections pitch. If the opposition wants to force an election, “it’s their decision,” he said. “But this government will be focused on the economy.”

His argument makes enough sense to enough voters to make him a risky target for his opponents. A new poll from an upstart Ottawa polling house, Abacus Data, asked respondents how they felt about the three big national political parties. Abacus found respondents were likelier to agree the Conservative party “keeps its promises” than the Liberals or New Democrats do. They were also likeliest to agree the Conservative party “has a good team of leaders,” “has sensible policies,” and is “professional in its approach.”

The Conservatives do not lead only in feel-good perceptions. Respondents thought the Conservatives, more than Liberals or New Democrats, are “extreme” and “out of touch with ordinary people.” It hardly needs saying that Harper continues to divide the country. But enough of the division benefits the Conservatives to leave Harper in the catbird seat.

Abacus found Canadians have less trouble agreeing about the Liberals. When comparing the three parties, respondents were least likely to agree that Michael Ignatieff’s party “keeps its promises,” “understands the problems facing Canada,” “looks after the interests of people like me,” “defends the interests of people in my province,” “has a good team of leaders,” “stands for clear principles,” “has sensible policies,” or is “professional in its approach.”

But look on the bright side. The Liberals did not finish behind the Conservatives and New Democrats on every measure. Among the three parties, respondents were likeliest to agree it’s the Liberals who are “divided” and “will promise anything to win votes.”

These are the results Ignatieff obtains after a full year with a senior political staff Ottawa reporters like. It follows his long summer bus tour and the uniformly positive reviews that came with it. It comes after Harper prorogued Parliament, gutted the long-form census, turned summit-time Toronto into one big riot and flip-flopped on ending the Afghanistan deployment.

After all that, Canadians give Harper’s party the edge on reliability, pertinence and competence. After the Conservatives, on these same questions, they almost always prefer Jack Layton’s NDP to Ignatieff’s Liberals. Giorno’s farewell note does not mention the census or the G-20 or Afghanistan. Just as well: these issues don’t move votes.

I know Liberals who have lost hope of changing anyone’s mind about Ignatieff before an election campaign. They are optimistic to believe they will change anyone’s mind during a campaign. But optimism is allowed, and anyway that is not the first challenge they face. The first challenge is making an election happen.

Harper has warned for two years that the opposition parties are conspiring for his job. Most days that’s just not true. But the only way they can defeat him this year is to conspire. If they do, the benefit of the doubt will lie, on balance, with the Conservatives. And until they manage to conspire, Michael Ignatieff will keep twisting in the wind.




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How Stephen Harper will survive in 2011

  1. "A new poll from an upstart Ottawa polling house, Abacus Data, asked respondents how they felt about the three big national political parties."

    The results of that poll shocked me the other day. I am 40 yrs old and think of the Libs as the natural governing party. I am still flabbergasted by poll results, how bad Libs did. Few people seem to have anything good to say about Libs.

    I have long dreamed of Lib party disappearing and we have elections between NDP/Cons and all the minor parties few vote for. That Abacus Data poll, and the fact that Libs seem incapable of winning elections or anointing popular leaders, gives me hope that Libs are dying slow, painful death. Long may it continue.

    And that Giorno memo that listed achievements, only one of which is an actual policy (and a bad one at that), is pathetic. I think it gives a good idea of Cons outlook – who cares about policy to better country when we can indulge in partisan tactics instead. Con caucus must be pretty dim if this is the best they can do.

    • I don't agree with you about a Liberal death – but I thumbed up your comment because it's a defensible position and actually isn't partisan at all as you also levelled a thundering criticism at the governing Conservatives.

      The reason I disagree with your comment about NDP vs. Conservative is because of Social Conservatism. As long as there is a party (regardless of fiscal policy) that gets queasy about gay marriage, focuses on building prisons instead of crime prevention and twists facts about crime, acts like military spending is a blank cheque, and tries to attract immigrants because of their traditional conservative values, there is room for a party in between who demonstrates fiscal prudence while being socially more progressive.

      • Can the Liberals do worse that 26% per cent in the next election? If they are reduced to 50-40 seats would the NDP want to merge with them or be in a better position than the last time when John Turner ran the "rat pack"?

        Will Layton repeat the Lewis, Broabent mistake and not finish off the Liberals?

        The rules of fundraising have changed the game in 2004 and 2006. The Liberals are unlikely to exist without the $ 7million annual political subsidy. The NDP-CPC can survive.

    • Why on earth would you want that kind of chaos for Canada??

      Swinging back and forth from left wing to right wing govts would kill us altogether.

      Or is that the idea?

    • The survey result that jumped out at me was 'respondents were likeliest to agree the Conservative party “has a good team of leaders”… and respondents were least likely to agree that Michael Ignatieff's party “has a good team of leaders.'

    • gives me hope that Libs are dying slow, painful death.

      Enjoy your hope alone, jwl. The dismal state of the only credible alternative to our current governing party is nothing to celebrate.

      • Well, jwl said that he'd like to NDP vs Cons from now on. Frankly, that scares me a little, because I too do not see the NDP as credible. I'd rather see the NDP disappear, and see the Libs suffer for another 6 or 7 years, eventually returning to being the pre-60s Liberal party.

    • Liberal Party is good only for the Feminist and the Gays ! Everybody knows ! Im so sick and tired to cater to Canadian Women . They are so needy .. Our Canadian media just does not get it ! There is not much fredom of speech in Canada anyways so ….By By Canada —–!!!!…

      Cheers from Milan ,Italia

  2. Its interesting. Ignatieff and the Libs have been offered opportunities galore and yet they cannot get the public to buy into the fact that they should be handed the reins of power.
    Problem is Ignatieff does come across as an elitist who has a condescending manner. Coupled with that he makes statements that are simply not true or are so over the top that Canadians simply roll their eyes and say…whatever.
    All of the things that media label as gaffes etc. etc. the public do not see as such. They are not important to them and while the media fixated on them once again the pubic rolls its collective eyes.
    The Libs have spent most of their time trying to find/create scandal. It all looks petty and Canadians have tuned them out.
    So Wells is right. Canadians are ignoring the opposition parties and their faux cries of outrage and as well the media with their torqued headlines on issues that Canadians could care less about.

    • Harper also has a condescending manner (those patronizing "looks" and "listens" that he opens most sentences with), so did Mulroney and Trudeau. Kim Campbell was (I think unfairly) tagged as condescending during the 93 election campaign (for explaining the difference beween structural and cyclical unemployment, then for "learning" from the flak she took, she pulled a Bullworth and acknowledged that 'elections are no place to discuss policy'), and thit did help sink her in the polss, but certainly did not cost her the election (Mulroney's legacy and public appetite for change motivated that outcome). So a leader's condescending manner is far from a consistent determining variable for public support.

    • Harper also has a condescending manner (those patronizing "looks" and "listens" that he opens most sentences with), so did Mulroney and Trudeau. Kim Campbell was (I think unfairly) tagged as condescending during the 93 election campaign (for explaining the difference beween structural and cyclical unemployment, then for "learning" from the flak she took, and pulling a Bullworth, acknowledging that 'elections are no place to discuss policy'), and while this did help sink her in the polls, it certainly did not cost her the election (Mulroney's legacy and public appetite for change motivated that outcome). So a leader's condescending manner is far from a consistent determining variable for public support.

  3. “A sweeping, affirmative Economic Action Plan to protect the economy.” The result? “Our economy is outperforming the economies of many countries of the world.”

    Throwing tax dollars at the problem… how very conservative. And, if the news of the last week is any indication, those other countries are about to pass us by. But, hey, the Conservatives do have those partisan victories to boast about, and at the end of the day, that's really the only thing that counts.

    • Canada's economy slowed down in the second half of 2010 because

      1) of the HST harmonization in Ontario and BC. Tax changes, though they may be correct one and good in the long term, cause short term uncertainty, which slows down economic activity in the short term, which is exactly what happened.

      2) Canada was making the transition from stimulative-led growth to real private sector growth. As the effects of stimulus wear off, there is almost always a rough patch (hangover) , as people and businesses wait to see if things are really okay.

      • Fair enough… but it seems both you and Mr. Giorno are assuming that the EAP was responsible for the Canadian economy performing well. The jury is still very much out on that question.
        http://network.nationalpost.com/NP/blogs/fpcommen

    • Can you list a big ticket item(s) that you object to? Feel free to cite Kevin Page or Sheila Fraser as proof of waste.

        • You're right
          what is fiscally conservative about this or even the last Conservative tenure. Deficits and corporate welfare is all I've seen and a clamour to reduce taxes so those who agreed to the deficit can palm off paying for it onto others who have yet to be born.
          Paying for your debts is a conservative quality that Conservatives have forgotten about. Hence the quagmire the world now finds itself in. Harper and the neo-cons need to learn if you what it, you pay for it. Moving it forward makes you a welfare case.

    • um, Canada just replaced all jobs lost during the recession. the article you're talking about is from the Star.

      nice try, though.

    • "Throwing tax dollars at the problem… how very conservative."

      You seem to have a problem with the building Canada fund too? List the large spending projects not necessary. Can't be that difficult.

      I keep reading this government should not spend money and they are not conservative enough. Was Joe Clark or Brian Mulroney more Conservative?
      Looks like many critics can't accept this is NOT the PC party. This is also not the Reform or Canadian Alliance.

      This is a new party from 2004, Clement and Stronach lost to Stephen Harper as leader of CPC. PM Paul Martin tried to pull a Chretien with the CPC leadership convention being held in May. The public punished him with a minority. The rest is history.

  4. Love that headline…. Prorougued Parliament, Gutted the long form census and is still seen as reliable, competent..
    Every PM prorougued Parliament, every last one that was head of a party when elected.
    Gutting the invasive mandatory long form is a good thing this is not the USSR yet and government needs to know the number of citizens and nothing else, our private lifes are just that ..Private.
    Harper does not devide the country, Lefty Media and their Liberal masters do that, it's how they maintained power for decades playing one area against another with the help of the leftist MSM and definitly MACLEANS.

    • Now if this guy was 35% of Canadians, I could see why the polls say this…

    • Prorogation is a natural feature of parliaments. From what I can tell online, they had annual sessions and prorogued before summer and came back fresh in the fall. That's the way it still works in the UK. In Canada, the tradition seems to have evolved and now prorogations only happen when the PM feels his/her agenda has stalled or the agenda is cluttered with business that has proven unpopular or needs significant refinement. To that degree, you are right. When people complain or comment about the prorogations in question, they are really talking about the timing. There are enough authorities who have studied these questions and understand the nuances who say these instances were unprecedented and constitute an abuse. There is a big difference between using a convention as it is normally used and abusing it. But I'm betting you already knew that.

      • Exactly. And to be fair Chretien did the same thing at least once that I can remember… and the Conservatives (quite rightly) screamed bloody murder.

        • It's true it was calculated, but the stakes were much bigger when harper did it, making his worse.

      • The second prorogation is notable, not because of Harper's actions in calling it but because of the public response — all those Facebook people. At the time, I never quite understood their response — especially since the actual days did not amount to much when things like the usual breaks were taken into account. At some point I twigged to the fact that this was a belated, angry response to the 2008 prorogation where there was a legitimate power struggle and the coalition lost. There was a lot of residual resentment against Harper by everyone who opposed him and were hoping the coalition would stick. When it did not, they harbored their resentments and the second prorogation became the symbolic opportunity to vent their anger — fed somewhat by labour unions, green-party activists, NDP. For the parties who were behind the scenes helping to promote all of this, it was pay-back time. I doubt that another prorogation would elicit the same response.

        • no.

        • A routine prorogation would not, I agree. The context in which a prorogation is called will be seen for what it is by the people, not what braying donkeys on one side may claim it to be, or apologists on the other may try and say to deflect from the truth.

          • I am not apologizing or criticizing — or even evaluating the rightness or wrongness of the prorogue. I am simply saying that the reaction to what was a more or less routine prorogue never made sense to me, until I linked it to the anger that was simmering over the earlier prorogue (and certainly fed by residual anti=Harper sentiment). There really is no other explanation. The visceral reaction was totally unprecedented and out of proportion to any issues arising because Parliament would be closed for a few additional weeks.

          • I'm sorry if it seemed I was implying you were on one side or the other. I was attempting to imply a broader range of commentary.

            To your point, the 2nd prorogation was not routine. Routine – from what I see online, is to prorogue jsut before a new session, usually after a break. To prorogue before a break leaves Parliament unable to work in an emergency until they go through the formalities of a new speech from the throne and re creating committees. So to do it another way, before a break, would imply other motives.

          • Perhaps — but the salient point here is not the actual guidelines around proroguing, but the perceptions of all those protesters. Most would not be that familiar with protocols around proroguing. My question is why were people so mad? My argument is that their anger was out of proportion to what the nature of this prorogue (essentially a three-week delay in dealing with things). I think the protests were most likely a gut-level anti-Harper, anti-Conservative reaction, with a lot of emotional momentum built up from the previous prorogue — which everyone knew was unusual and many felt was undemocratic. Until the second prorogue, the anger around that was still simmering.

        • The second prorogation was a blatant attempt to cool off the detainee issue. You have a point, but you can't simply discard other facts either.

          • I did not buy this explanation because the public simply was not paying much attention to the detainee issue — period! It was not hurting the Tories. Also — the rhetoric at the time was not focused on any urgency with respect to finding out the truth re detainees — it was focused more on ideological issues (undermining democracy primarily). This served as an umbrella for rallying the crowds, but really, the equation drawn between Parliament sitting and democracy was never very convincing. I contend that most of those people protesting were still mad about the previous prorogue.

          • Straws and camels backs…in any case parliament was paying attention – too much for Harper's liking. You're also forgetting the litany of excuses for proroguing, each one more ridiculous than the next.

          • No more attention than through that whole series of other issues — Cadman, in-out, even involvement with Mulroney. There is usually some "scandal" on the table as that is one line of attack for the opposition. Had there been a prorogation at any point one could point to something Harper might be trying to avoid. But I do remember that the public just was not particularly engaged in Afghanistan detainee– and some were really mad at the opposition, interpreting this as a slur on the military. (recall Bill Graham's testimony to the Committee). Political junkies highlight that issue, but I don't think politically (at least at the time) that it was that significant.

            Now where you are right is that they never did come up with a solid reason to prorogue, and my interpretation of that was that they did not expect people to be particularly upset by it (no one did) and wanted to focus on a range of other things — like the upcoming G7, etc. We are only talking three weeks, so they would not have expected the reaction they got. And, in retrospect it turned out to be a huge misstep — and that's where I have always had trouble making sense of people's reaction to the whole thing.

          • Excellent analysis.

          • 'But I do remember that the public just was not particularly engaged in Afghanistan detainee…'

            Sorry i'm not big on polls, but i can remember polls that indicated the public were paying attentio to this issue.

        • that was actually the third time that Harper had prorogued a session of Parliament

        • It's not the time factor as much as the fact that he's using it to avoid issues. It's also the fact that – this time – there were bills making their way through that were scrapped and had to be relaunched from scratch – wasting tax dollars and delaying their implementation. Completely wasteful and unnecessary – and an incredible display of arrogance. I don't know what percentage of the populace I represent twith this opinion, but it's shared by the majority of my friends and acquaintances.

          • But there was no need to start from scratch — none. Where Parliamentarians agree, bills can be picked up wherever they were left off.

          • I may be wrong, but that's not my understanding. As far as I know, any bills not passed by the end of a legislative session are dead – and proroguing ends the session.

          • You are wrong. A central factor is that Parliament has to agree to revive the bills wherever they were left off.

          • Your correct, but did they agree…i never heard ?

          • No Bob Rae made a public statement to the effect the Government would be punished. The loss of control of the chair in every committee did not sit well with the Liberals and their willingness to hold the bills hostage is the price the public has paid for the dysfunctional opposition.

            Don't forget less than twenty sitting days during the Olympics that were affected were added back as a result from all the whining. No March break for you was classic PM reaction. Liberal MP Simson complained she had to stay in Ottawa during para-Olympics.

            I remember the photo ops, press conference in front of the "locked doors" by Layton, Ignatieff. Funny thing doors were opened for cleaning during Liberals photo op and he took off for "listening tours" as soon as parliament re-opened.

            Which MP has the most skipped or missed votes in 2010. Hint he demanded parliament be open.

          • ' …and their willingness to hold the bills hostage is the price the public has paid for the dysfunctional opposition.'

            I know the libs gave Harper absolutely no option at all but to prorogue.

          • For me it was about taking over the Senate chairs. (That's it)

            I don't believe the CPC could have anticipated how NUTS the media went in covering the NDP-Liberals as non-partisans over a reduction of 17 sitting days of parliament.

            Liberals were lucky the NDP had their rent a mob available on short notice. The usual experts decrying this as a threat to democracy was SWEET.

            The media lost removed any doubt after that campaign regarding their credibility.

            Haiti earthquake and Olympics broke their back. The media could not sustain the fake crisis any longer.

          • NDP ?? That's what your comments represent.

    • Bringing up the USSR in terms our census is bogus hyperbole, not an argument.

  5. First of all if you look at the polling for Conservatives outside of Quebec they are higher than 35%.

    Why would Iggy outperform Harper? Harper is an experienced politician who grew up in the country, understands the country and has been to more or less a degree involved in the issues that have affected Canada over the years.

    Your guy never had anything to do with the country for 34 years. In fact ridiculed the country while away, called himself an American and has an elitist personality which comes across as condescending etc. I could go on but you know what I am saying is true.

    Canadians just aren't buying Ignatieff and to suggest that in an election campaign Canadians are going to have an epiphany and begin liking him stretches the imagination.

    • Harper's performance has been subaverage. There's no reason to think Iggy would be fantastic, but it stands to reason he should be average. Since average > subaverage, iggy > harper.

      • Of course this is your opinion. Many would disagree.

      • "Subaverage" to whom? That's an entirely subjective view, and since Harper is still holding office, his overall impact on Canada is yet to be determined (regardless of affiliation or views).

        • Unless you see junking a lifetime of extremism for middle-of-the-roadism that the other guys could do just as well, a string of unnecessarily broken promises, contempt for our system of government, generally poor policy and one indefensible stinker as big plusses, I'm pretty sure my analysis stands.

  6. They "gutted the long form census" did they? Is it any wonder
    Canadians far and wide pay so little attention to what so-called "journalists" say any more? Firstly, the government didn't "gut" the long form census – not even close. Secondly, the only people that care one iota about the change to the census are a handful of opposition politicians, a few bureaucrats, and their ever-willing – to -jump- on- board leftist media friends, looking for anything – no matter how small or insignificant, to try to smear Harper. Most of mainstream media in Canada is : a) leftist-Liberal supporting; b) obsessed with a hate on for Harper; and b) so out of tune with what MOST Canadians actually think and feel about issues, ita is laughable.

    • "the government didn't "gut" the long form census – not even close."

      By (rightly or wrongly) making the long-form census voluntary, they eroded the validity of the exercise altogether. That's not political-speak, that's fact. You can make an argument that the census was intrusive — that's a subjective argument that you can agree with or disagree with. But there's really no question that the census was gutted. Also, the gutting of the census was not small or insignificant. If Canadians believe that it is small or insignificant. that might be due to the misinformation coming from the the government to justify the move — like Bernier saying he got 1000s of e-mails about it, or Clement saying that StatsCan said the NHS was an adequate replacement, or Clement and other goverment members citing census questions that were never on the census.

      • Indeed, the fact that the “thousands” of complaints was actually only about a dozen complaints, and a dozen complaints that the minister had to ask other conservatives to send to him should dramatically undermine the credibility of the Harper government. That’s just one instance where they have told dramatic and bold lies to justify bad policy decisions that cater to a minority idealogical extremists.

        • So they question is why are they able to get away with it?

          Is it a failure of our 4th estate? A failure on part of the opposition parties? A reminder of how powerful a tool propaganda is?

          • edit:

            So the question is why are they able to get away with it?

          • Perhaps they "get away with it" because Canadians don't care about the constant anti-conservative headlines in our media anymore?

          • This is what the Conservative supporters' response to the census dumbassery has been since the truth has long since abandoned their cause: because 'Canadians don't care' — a dubious assertion, but anyway — it makes the census gutting the 'right' decision.

            Bellyaching about the left-wing media is not a justification for something. Facts are.

          • Y'know, I tried explain the pro-mandatory long-form census position in a debate with my uncle once. Before I finished my initial arguments, he interjected with the following, objectively true rhetorical question: "But does anyone really want to fill out the census?"

            At this point I realized that I was up against an immovable force and that the only way the census is ever going back to its old self is when the Liberals inevitably win back power in a decade or so. Until then , we'll live in a society where policy makers in every sector will be working with one hand tied behind their backs.

          • Do you know if your uncle was in favour of gutting the census before Harper brought it up, or something he just cottoned on to?

          • I am in agreement with those who think gutting the census is wrong and I don't like the way the Conservatives in general and Tony Clement in particular have handled the issue. I don't think that saying "Canadian's don't care" makes it the right decision.

            But the fact is that is why they "get away with it". Because despite the media overfocus on it, it's simply not an issue that people outside the Ottawa bubble do care significantly about; at least not enough to affect voting intentions. One certainly can't blame the 4th estate; the media has done everything humanly possible to make this issue a millstone around the necks of the Conservatives. They didn't fail because they didn't do their jobs, they failed because they picked an issue nobody cares about to try make a millstone out of.

          • "they failed because they picked an issue nobody cares about to try make a millstone out of"

            If the intention of opposing the census decision was merely to embarrass the Conservatives, then I'd agree with that statement. But, as you noted, it was a bad decision on its face, and will have a lasting impact. I'm frustrated that they're 'getting away with it' — people aren't always going to care about the things you care about — but the opponents to the census decision were on the right side of that issue, politics notwithstanding.

          • My take: it is a dubious assertion to call "Canadians don't care" a dubious assertion.

            But it is also a dubious assertion to call the CPC's census decision sound policy.

            Conclusion: Canadians are permitted to not care about dumb decisions.

          • Of course they're permitted to.

            It simply doesn't speak very well of us.

          • We have reporters who breathlessly speculate on cabinet shuffles and election calls, is one reason. Even the better journalists, like our esteemable host here, can't resist the lure of election speculation and horse race reporting.

    • Check out the list and compare…I would say that you are incorrect in the assumption that ….

      "the only people that care one iota about the change to the census are a handful of opposition politicians, a few bureaucrats, and their ever-willing – to -jump- on- board leftist media friends, looking for anything – no matter how small or insignificant, to try to smear Harper."
      http://datalibre.ca/census-watch/

    • Are you sure your name isn't really Large C Conservative?

    • "Even is you read the news paper cover to cover….. that ain't what's goin on, journalism dead and gone". Don Henley,

      There is no such thing as news anymore, only opinion that passes itself off as news with snappy sounding headlines. Well's opinion is no better or worse than any others. He just happens to have a platform within the press. That is what we call propaganda.

  7. When was the last time an opposition leader outpolled a sitting PM on who could best lead the country?

    (Hint: I don't think that's happened in recent memory.)

  8. Please note that not everyone who attends the University of Calgary shares the views of some of the faculty you're thinking of.

    • It must be noted however that the CEO of Abacus did recently write a joint paper with Tom Flanagan.. and he has been seen by some of his former University colleagues as a conservative activist.. for what that's worth.

      • Maybe you should speak with him yourself, Scott, and learn a bit about him. That's what I did.

  9. Dear advertorial drivilist:
    Thank you for telling what I think, and you could not be more wrong. It's not so much the crippling debt but what it was spent on.
    The pollsters are privately owned and operated media tools and we know who bought those out in 06. This government is spending our money on their PR. It's that simple. The compensation cheques the cons rip off our cheque books to media and pollsters will be the last to see austerity cuts under Mr.Harper's relentless Goebbels propaganda blitz. The tone here Mr. Wells, is just another mind numbing chorus compelling Canadians not to bother voting as Paul insists everything is just peachy. I do do regret the beggar state the print media is in but that tragedy does not warrants this level of crass pimping.
    I'm afraid not Paul. This governments serial gaffs, debt supported lipstick and weak character are in play regardless of what you like to say we think!

    • consider re-reading the article more carefully, I don't think it says what you think it says.

    • Dear advertorial drivilist:

      Wow, Paul, the insults hurled your way are getting a bit more creative, at least!

      • "drivilist" does have a certain neologismic flair to it, doesn't it? Chapeau Griffin!

  10. "But objectively, Iggy should outpreform Harper" — And why do you think this is the case? Ignatieff has many admirable talents, but I do not see him as an effective politician. I am also not sure how effective a team leader he is. So, I don't agree with your assumption. One key strength that Harper has as a politician and a leader is that he is clear and focused. This is somewhat rare — and a major advantage for anyone in a leadership position.

    • As said above, I see no reason iggy can't be average. Since harper is below average, Iggy should be better. In fact, I imagine an Iggy government would be similar to harper's but with fewer broken promises, fewer attacks on the nature of government, and fewer inexplicably foolish policies like the census.

      • Your comment is full of sweeping generalizations, questionable assumptions and subjectivity. You need to do better than that to make your case.

        • explained above. You're welcome.

      • Your attempt at some kind of "objective" comparison between Harper and Iggy seems to rely on the assumption that Harper is "below average" yet you have not provided any objective criteria as to why Harper is below average, which is where your little equation falls apart.

      • LOL,
        The Toronto Star and 14% of Canadians agree with you Mike!

  11. Canadians are making the same mistake with Harper, as Ontarians did with Harris.

    They are NOT conservatives.

    Cons claim to be conservative….that should mean free markets, open skies, global trade, capitalism, competition, being pro-business and so on…NOT protectionism, the nanny state, red tape, parochialism and regulations.

    However they are currently protecting potash, and Air Canada refusing extended landing rights to the UAE…not to mention we have the biggest deficit in our history, and they want to spend even more on things that are of no use whatever to us, like F-35s. Conservatives are not big on unions either, or the ‘working man' unlike Harp's Timmies crowd.

    The current Con party is just a weird combo of fundies, libertarians, class envy, old Socreds, no education. …and fear.

    • Indeed, the most conservative prime minister of the last 40 years has been Chretien…

      • Yeah, him and Martin.

        • As I recall from lectures long ago, Conservatives are those whose policies preserve the status quo ante, or perhaps roll back a bit, as did Thatcher.

          Emily just has a thing about Harper, as some Nova Scotians who consider themselves the REAL Conservatives, particularly when they weren't invited to the party.

          • I dunno what 'lectures' you attended, but they had nothing to do with being a conservative in Canada.

            I don't have a 'thing' about Harper….he's a stupid dangerous man and his platform, such as it is, is equally dangerous.

            I prefer genuine conservatives.

    • In defence of the Conservatives, I'm not sure you can slap the 'nanny state, red tape' and 'regulations' tags on them. That's quite a stretch.

      • Who gave out baby bonuses, hockey credits, transit credits? Who is keen on regulating things to death like pot and crime? What is it….6 plants means years in prison?

        Who has added to the public servants, the cabinet, the consultants? And the senate? For a bunch that claimed they were for 'smaller govt' it has grown massively under the Cons.

        • I forgot to add that Cons are anti-science, anti-intellectual…..and I don't see any balanced budgets

        • I agree that the Conservatives haven't been particularly conservative at times… but I don't see a nanny state emerging from their tenure, nor are they 'regulating things to death', tougher sentences for pot possession notwithstanding. I do think, in their heart of hearts, Conservatives want smaller government (even if things have gotten slightly bigger lately). Just my impression.

    • Yeah, useless things like fighter jets to defend our airspace, and be a relevant contributor in NATO. I wonder when the US can just do all our military spending for us, and we can slowly assimilate into the US as they defend our borders.

      • Or perhaps we could move on from the Cold War of the last century?

        • That's not Cold War stuff. Did you note that China is acquiring similar jets? Or are you still gushing that all that little old China wants is our coal and iron and the chance to do business and sell its trashy products to us? Get updated.

          • Fighter jets are definitely Cold War. China is even putting out an aircraft carrier…which they now have the ability to take out, and so know are obsolete. It's for show…a Potemkin village. Scares the shorts off Americans and people like you, and that's their sole purpose.

            In case you hadn't noticed, we and the US are trading bigtime with the Chinese….and the Chinese are America's bankers. There is 'show' and there is reality.

            We won't be in any fighting war with the Chinese…a trade war, a cyberwar perhaps, but not a shooting war.

            China sells low-end trash to people who buy such things. They sell high-end goods to people with money.

          • History is a problem for you.

            Japan had an oil embargo and was not able to feed their empire with supply lines too long. China is repeating the same mistake?

            Classic mistake made by many leaders. Ask historians how Napoleon lost his army in Russia.

          • China wants our coal and iron? What era do you think this is?

          • Why are they buying it up like mad then? As well as making deals all over Africa for rare minerals?

            Your 'our peaceful business like friends' spiel doesn't impress me. The era we are in is" when the chips are down China will be dealing, virtually playing into the Western world's weak hand. How long can America act as it does when China is buying up US treasuries. The US owe the Chines in the trillions, not a place a leading power wants to be. How long can the US be a real power when the landlord is the Chinese? My view is not retrospect but further ahead than you can see.

    • Finally, someone with a brain when they say; “They are NOT conservatives." In fact if you know Harper, the man has always hated Conservatives, especially Brian Mulroney's Conservatives. He is a REFORMIST. Anyone remember the Reform Party of Canada with shaky voiced Preston Manning who couldn't ever manage to spit it out on where he stood except a bit more south than North-west in Canada?

      Had the reformists not amalgamated with the "Conservative" party, after many disagreements as to what name to use for the party, today neither one nor the other would have won enough seats to be reckoned with.

      Harper is a REFORMIST; never forget that and that is why he doesn't think like a Liberal nor a Conservative and sometimes even as an Canadian. This is why he doesn't mind spending Canadian Taxpayer's dollars with expensive hockey game tickets for him and his buddies, just to mention one…

      • Yeah, I 'tried out' the Reform party…and they're no more conservatives now than they were all those years ago.

        In many ways, they're our 'tea party', that eventually took over the PCs. Harp is definitely Reform, not conservative.

    • It's not the biggest deficit in history. In 1993 for example the deficit was 8.7% of GDP, 30% higher than now. Most of that deficit was structural not cyclical as this on is

      • Thanks for calling out the bs.

        • Sorry, you're both wrong.

          • I thought that virtually all economists consider debt and deficit as a percentage of GDP to be a much more relevant meansuring stick than the absolute debt and deficit number. Or do you disagree with that?

          • Virtually all economists didn't see the 'recession' coming. How intelligent do you think THAT makes them?

            Canada has been in debt since it formed [so has the US] We were born inheriting debt. You try not to let it get too big, but as long as you can keep the economy growing and developing it doesn't have a lot of meaning.

            Mulroney got rid of the operating deficit, but the main deficit was still growing…and he said it was eating us alive, so we had to 'grow' out of it. Hence NAFTA.

            Bascially that's what Harper is counting on…outgrowing the problem….but unless we start switching to the knowledge economy that isn't going to happen….because the old economy is dead.

          • So the "energy super power" is a ponzi scheme like Global warming?

            Adding pipelines to feed India-China growing demand is equivalent to installing Giant bird choppers to cool the earth by two degrees than?

            All that fake hydro exports from QC and NFLD to the US is just a ploy to help organized crime rackets with FIT and carbon offsets, gotcha.

          • And the reason they are wrong would be…?

          • Partly what I wrote above…..and partly because we're switching over to the globalized knowledge economy….and definitely have structural unemployment ….and will continue to do so for years.

            IT alone in Canada needs 89,000 people right now….yet '42 per cent of adults and 39 per cent of youth lack the literacy skills to get a good job and cope with the demands of today's knowledge society.' StatsCan

          • You are correct those roofs, houses can be built by those IT graduates and analysts. Repairing our watermains and roads will be no problem we can import the labour as we do now to pick our crops.

          • You can't eat knowledge. Even your reading is ten years out of date.

    • Agreed, Harris set Ontario back 10 to 15 years. His famous and deceitful finance minister (saying we had a balanced budget but had a shortfall of 5 billion dollars) is now Finance minister of Canada. What will we discover when the conservatives loose an election? The conservative economic plan is just words. The only reason Canada has survived the recession is the fact we had a strong banking system and strong companies. Mr Harper loves to take credit where credit is not due and when things go awray he blames somebody else. The sooner he is defeated the better. The liberals need to pull together and win, with a majority and get the average person working again. The wealthy CEO's should be ashamed of their incomes and pensions. Thkey deserve proper compensation, but with limits..

  12. That's an awful lot of writing to simply say that Harper is winning the PR war.

    • Well, Harper IS winning the PR war–but tell that to the Toronto Star . . .

  13. Who owns Mcleans? This was an ad for the conservatives.

    • Damn right-wing media.

    • no it wasn't. it certainly presents a bleak picture for their opponents, but from where I sit, it also looks like an accurate picture.

    • well, let's say it was. then let's compare it to the drivel from the G&M and Star everyday, and let's see – on balance – how that works out for the Tories.

      nice try, though.

  14. Ignatieff had a great way to boost the morale of his base, and keep the "enthusiasm factor" high He should have stuck to his guns re voting against the budget. It's too late now, he's walked back down that hill, and other (mostly anonymous) Liberals are hedging their bets.

    It's pretty obvious that Harper won't concede anything to Ignatieff on any of his four main issues: The corporate tax cuts were part of legislation passed in 2007, and automatically took effect on Jan 1, They are a key part of Flaherty's "Advantage Canada" plan.

    As to the F-35s, Harper won't change his rhetoric at this point in time, as that would erode his competence numbers. Similarly, the words "learning" and "home care" will not pass Flaherty's lips when he reads the budget.

    A cynic would say that Ignatieff talked tough before Dec 31st, mainly to better make the case for donations before year-end.

  15. An anarchist told me recently "the Liberals are corrupt and Ignatieff has to go". I met the anarchist by chance on Bank Street in Ottawa, he was looking for signatures for some animal protection law or something. It was one of those moments of clarity as if I could read the entrails of a sacrificed chicken or tea leafs. When the Conservative has an anarchist mouthing their mantra I see Harper getting his majority. The opportunity is to sell products designed to annoy Harper. Because he may win his majority but his true nature will come out, his plan for Canada will fail, Canadians will be angry and he will be vilified. So there is opportunity selling products to annoy Harper as he looses control of reality. Any one interested in investing?

    • An anarchist with a petition? Has everyone abandoned their principles?

    • To give your (fabricated?) tale perhaps more attention than it was due, any anarchist worth his salt would have been saying that about the Liberals since the time of Laurier. Or any other party for that matter.

      As for the rest, I suppose an anarchist might find some admiration for Harper int he way he's gone about attacking the mechanisms of government and parliament.

  16. Could Durward and ABC maybe arm-wrestle and decide whether I'm a lackey for the Liberals or the Conservatives?

    • That sounds like something Jack Layton would say.

    • Think bigger, Paul. Mud wrestling would be more appropriate.

    • Only after the Liberals and Conservatives have an arm-wrestle to see who gets to have you as their lackey.

    • We all know you're a créditiste plant

    • You're a lackey for both sides :-) You're a lackey and a turncoat to both!

    • Not a lackey, but the fly on the wall in the room where big decisions were made in the Liberal era. There are no flies on the wall in the Conservative caucus room; they have been using flit.

  17. I know I'm going to get a lot of thumbs down for this (I'm vying for a high rating) but I have to say this column leaves me unimpressed. Most of the material is rehash of previous columns. I appreciate you taking the time to dissect the current political situation using a different framework from other pundits. However, it would be really awesome on a slow news week such as this, for you to give us some in-depth coverage of a meaty policy issue.

    • "give us some in-depth coverage of a meaty policy issue."

      I agree, Paul. Where's the beef? Give us something to sink our teeth into.

      • Psst. Got a scoop for ya. I hear Harper's still Prime Minister. But you didn't hear it from me.

    • Coyne drew the short straw. He's Meaty Policy Man this week.

      • Steaks were too high for you, eh Wells?

        • Steaks get that way when you leave them on the counter too long…

    • He reminded his colleagues of the government's successes. Only one item on his list was about policy.

      Hey Pete, that's a policy issue right there, in and of itself. No?

  18. Some of these posts neatly illustrate the old adage:

    "Not all conservative people are stupid, but most stupid people are conservative"

    The term "leftist" is always a sure sign of simple, two dimensional thinking. A mind unable to come to terms with the complexities of reality.

    Harper's obsession with power can be seen in the rapidity with which he abandoned his economic principles. When the worldwide recession hit, he had a perfect opportunity to show everyone how the free market has the answers to everything, but he could not hold his nerve, and jumped on the stimulus bandwagon. If he won a majority, I have no doubt we'd see a sustained and merciless attack on many things Canadians hold dear – The Canada Health Act, public education, the welfare state, and common good itself. Thankfully I can't see him getting a majority, because as time goes by (even with a pathetic and inneffective opposition such as there is) Canadians see him for what he is. A vacuous intellectual pygmy, definable more by what he's against than what he's for.

    • "If he won a majority, I have no doubt we'd see a sustained and merciless attack on many things Canadians hold dear – The Canada Health Act, public education, the welfare state…"

      It's speculative, but I generally agree. And, if he wants to do that, that's fine. But give Canadians a clear choice. If he wins a majority government based on this kind of platform, great, that's democracy. I have a funny feeling, however, he has no intention of running an election based on what he intends to do… because he knows there's no way he wins a majority that way.

    • "If he won a majority, I have no doubt we'd see a sustained and merciless attack on many things Canadians hold dear – The Canada Health Act, public education, the welfare state…"

      No — this is wrong. Harper does not stray too far from where the bulk of Canadians are in their thinking. If he were to get a majority, he would continue on this patch — primarily because HE WOULD WANT TO GET REELECTED. Noone is going to attack the Canada Health Act (try to fix it maybe), public education, (isn't that Provincial . . . same with welfare.) Your comment is what I would call two-dimensional thinking. At most, Harper has strong feelings about being clear on Federal and Provincial responsibilities, and that makes sense to me. He is a smart politician and anyone who would attack some of these sacred cows would be very foolish indeed.

      • Love your idealism. Don't think it's merited though.

        Precedent and history has shown that "the public" has a remarkably short memory. Attacks on Canadian Health Care etc. would occur early in the majority term with the idea that by the time an election rolls around, most people will be used to it/forgotten about it.

      • …."He is a smart politician and anyone who would attack some of these sacred cows would be very foolish indeed."

        ………………except StatsCan apparently

        • Well, I don't think the StatsCan long form census qualifies as a "sacred cow" among the general population.

          • Much agreed. Judging by those who objected to the change, they are obviously not very important to the voters according to pools. There are many on this page but they can thrash around all they want with no effect six months later. . Most of the summer's "issues" were not important, possibly bait to see if the fish would bite.

    • Words of wisdom Andrew. Canadians will live to regret this support of harper. He is out of his league and will take our country to an ugly angry place from which it will take a long time to recover.

  19. The census issue has had me puzzled – came across this and found it quite interesting.

    The Census Long Form – a Racist Document – Changes are necessary
    By Dick Field Wednesday, July 21, 2010
    Politicians and the media have very short memories. The Conservatives would not propose canceling the document because a few thousand super-sensitive souls are worried about the government asking how many bathrooms in their home. The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has a much more important goal in mind. I suspect that goal is to promote the real meaning of being a Canadian citizen.
    http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/

    • Geez, and people call me out for saying that it's actually beyond a doubt the Libs would be a better choice than Harper…

    • Hahaha, that's a great video!!

  20. Great article which tells it like it is, even if that reality doesn't sit altogether well with the author.

    • Exactly! Wells might write something that you don't particularly like. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily his point of view. He's on the ground in Ottawa, he's in touch with the players, and he's built up more than a bit of credibility and experience with which to level an assessment. It may be right or wrong, but I'll usually trust his take on things.

  21. Excellent and well thought out article and only the beginning to an interesting year. It is going to be fun to watch the once and mighty natural governing party reducing itslef to irrelevance and who knows a possibility albeit slight but growing tha someday we might see Mulcair standing up in the House and yelling Mr. Speaker as official oppostion leader and Harper smiling like the cat he eats every morning at breakfast :) .. by the way folks an election this year is looking less and less likely every day.

  22. Frankly, I want to see no less than Paul Wells' head on a stake, on fire, in my kitchen, thank you.

  23. 'But the only way they can defeat him this year is to conspire. If they do, the benefit of the doubt will lie, on balance, with the Conservatives. And until they manage to conspire, Michael Ignatieff will keep twisting in the wind.'

    Why don't you climb down offen that fence PWs, why don't cha? :)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/seco

    This gentlemen doesn't concur… as a good liberal i'm torn; as someone who thinks a coalition well led could win i'm even more torn.

  24. So I posted a bunch of comments here and they've disappeared. What gives? If any of them were offensive or something, I was being extremely sarcastic. I come on here to mock trolls! That's what I do! I am not a troll! *shakes jowls*

    • No there's a glitch, mine are gone too. And I'm very gentle and un-troll-like.

      • So you're a Toronto elitist then? Go back to Russia!

    • mine are gone too….

      • Mine too disappeared, but I figured I was due for a mini-ban.

  25. Maybe Michael Ignatieff has a similar strategy to Stephen Harper: The longer I'm the Oppositon Leader, the longer I'm Leader of the Opposition

    • all the while double-dipping and collecting a second salary as coalition leader?

    • Wells actually has something along those lines, too. Something about campaigning hard to be in the opposition usually nets that desired outcome.

  26. Assuming polls don't lie:

    'After all that, Canadians give Harper's party the edge on reliability, pertinence and competence.'

    I prefer to turn this on its head. Why isn't Harper romping away to a majority then? I suppose it's because of this:

    'Respondents thought the Conservatives, more than Liberals or New Democrats, are “extreme” and “out of touch with ordinary people.” '

    Odd considering this:

    'But look on the bright side. The Liberals did not finish behind the Conservatives and New Democrats on every measure. Among the three parties, respondents were likeliest to agree it's the Liberals who are “divided” and “will promise anything to win votes.”

    One could almost argue Mr Harper is a one man band,[ heh] both singing the song and screwing up the harmony.

    • did you miss the part where that Abacus Data survey found that respondents were "likeliest to agree the Conservative party “has a good team of leaders,” “has sensible policies,” and is “professional in its approach”? Doesn't really fit with your conclusion.

    • I am sorry to tell you that if you really want to see change, you need to make sure that Ignatieff is gone, no one wants him but a few!

      I would suggest to you getting on the phone or emailing your MP to make sure that happens!

    • When you look at the numbers outside of Quebec PMSH does have a majority.

      • And if you didn't include Alberta, he'd be out of power. What's your point? Quebec is part of Canada too. If there's one part of the country that gives Quebec a good run for its money in the 'what have you done for me lately' category, it's Alberta, hands down. Too bad this particular brand of conservative party is DOOMED once Harper is gone. They have to have a western leader or they evaporate.

      • And if wishes were fairy farts…

  27. Ottawa started poring over his 140-character Twitter bursts and ignored the memo. Let's read the memo.

    That's what we love about Paul Wells so much. Always the contrarian…

  28. I know Liberals who have lost hope of changing anyone's mind about Ignatieff before an election campaign. They are optimistic to believe they will change anyone's mind during a campaign. But optimism is allowed, and anyway that is not the first challenge they face. The first challenge is making an election happen.

    As someone with no particular fondness for either the LPC or the CPC (at least, not anymore for the CPC), I am surprised about the optimism over the "during" part. For what it's worth, my sense is that the Liberals must be (are?) resigned to the fate of an electoral drubbing (however deserved or undeserved) under the leadership of Michael Ignatieff, whenever it happens. Only then can they thank him for the effort, and look for someone else. Maybe they could try a real leadership convention this next time.

    • Agree, I think is what all this election is all about, letting him go with some grace and perhaps a little bit of hope that maybe something could happen!!

  29. "He prorogued parliament and gutted the census"
    **************************************************************************************
    So, can you understand that if this is all Mr and Mrs Canadian have to complain about, things aren't bad at all? But wait!!. It's not what Canadians are complaining about. It's the left wing media who keep digging up the corpses of the non issues of 2010 and trying to drag them into 2011. Give it up!!

  30. The census move was a head scratcher – came across this article and thought is quite interesting.

    The Census Long Form – a Racist Document – Changes are necessary

    Politicians and the media have very short memories. The Conservatives would not propose canceling the document because a few thousand super-sensitive souls are worried about the government asking how many bathrooms in their home. The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has a much more important goal in mind. I suspect that goal is to promote the real meaning of being a Canadian citizen.
    http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/

      • One could safely assume he is not a card carrying Liberal, lol!!

        Sincerely meant that I thought his opinion on the census play "interesting" as I just came across this yesterday. Still confused about this whole census play.

  31. the comment monster has devoured all of my contributions to this discussion. guess that means lunch break is over.

    • Yeah, my eloquence disappeared into purgatory for a while, too, but has since reappeared. Maybe comments are being held for review before release into the wild? That's not necessarily a bad thing…

  32. I don't think you understand what "objectively" means. This isn't the first time I've seen you use that word to describe your highly subjective opinions.

    • I dunno, a guy breaks X number of promises, makles a mockery of government X number of times, ya gotta start thinking the guy with no record in office is better.

  33. Gotta be driving those 'objective' left wing idealogues crazy at MacLeans that the Conservatives are still in power. They are not perfect (certainly not by a long shot) but far, far superior to anything the wingnuts on the left have to offer.

    • Considering he still can't gather enough support for a majority after all this time, "far superior" is a stretch. You might have had a better shot at a thumbs up from me if you'd gone with the more realistic "best of a bad lot".

      • If you exclude Quebec a majority is clear. The combined federalists in QC is 23/75 seats and they have 62% of the popular vote.

        It is another reason why most of Canada rejected the coup attempt by Lib-NDP with the support of the Bloc.

        Why do you think the Bloc has support from the NDP-Liberals in denying BC-Ontario and Alberta their seats?

  34. I don't get why you think objectively he should? What has he done? He's a journalist that came home after many many years abroad. Fine. His focus seemed to be public policy in other nations. Who is he, and why should I care?

    He is the pretty face the Mr. Wells predicted the Liberals would choose as leader.

    Derek

    • "Pretty face"? LOL! Of all the party leaders, I would rank his mug as the, um, "unprettiest".

    • What has he done?

      ***

      That's the point – or at least part of the point. After so many lies, after crapping all over parliament, much poor policy and at least one indefensible policy, your average politicain with no record either way shoudl be the better choice, because he's unlikely to be as bad. Maybe not a star, just a better choice.

  35. Why are the Liberals toast?

    1) They spent the year complaining about the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan
    2) They were consumed with Omar Khadr "return and rights"(No one cares)
    3) They tried to create controversy with the Olympics. (Proven wrong)
    4) They blew a gasket about the G20 failure of security (McGuinty-Miller-Blair won't cooperate)
    5) Goodale was on CBC stating prorogue would affect our response to Haiti. (Proven wrong)
    6) Illegal migrants through planes and boats (Mexico, Hungary and Tamils) calling Gov't racist and brown people are not safe. (Clearly out of touch with reality as Visa fixed Mexico-Hungary problem)
    7) Census, Helena are not issues that matter to most Canadians. Opposition and media overplayed their hand.

    Canadians don't believe Liberal-Conservative Government, military is complicit with torture. Fabricating a scandal every month has not panned out. We have tuned out the media for the most part who seem to pick up their talking points from the war rooms.

    • And Harper did NOT put the wafer in his pocket, lol!!!

  36. The other thing I find is that the LPC under Chretien, for example, had an intuitive feel for what ordinary, main street Canadians really cared about. The current LPC seems to me to have a tin ear when it comes to that. I have a feeling that if Chretien were Liberal leader today, he wouldn't be expending all kinds of oxygen on Omar Khadr, Afghan detainees and the census. Sure, he'd mention them in due course. But his focus would have been on jobs, the economy, health care, fiscal issues, etc.

    • The problem with Jean Chretien vs Ignatieff is the Liberals had the Manning-Day support for cuts in spending.

      The Liberals in opposition have been busy attacking the spending to fix the shortfall in the last three decades.

      The Liberals are talking about funding for parades or NGO's as important issues. The Liberals are simply not credible on their attacks by adopting the NDP-Bloc policies.

      Expo for Edmonton, funding for QC arena, national daycare, national energy grid, national education plan ..all from not lowering the corporate tax rate?

      If Liberals require the support of the NDP-Bloc to hold power they will not be able to make the cuts they did in the 1990-2004.

      It makes little sense after trying the same thing with Green Shift.

    • Ralph Klein always had his finger on the pulse of the ordinary citizen as well. I think these politicians just have to go out and ask Canadians what matters to you. It is like with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Everybody believes what happens between a married couple should be private and is not really the business of the nation BUT when politicians are stealing from us, like in adscam, we get outraged.

      • Resurrecting adscam again… filling in for Chet?

        • What does Adscam have to do with the lack of support for the Liberals?

          I am confident voters can find many reasons why they no longer view them as a credible national alternative to form government without having to include adscam or the missing forty million.

          We could spend hours listing all the problems with the party but that would be pointless.

          I suggest Keith your time in pointing out those serious flaws in the government is starting to bear fruit.

          Go with our PM is a "tubby" and mean. ( A favourite of mine from Liberals why they are out of power)
          Don't lose hope Keith the Liberals are not a spent political force and won't follow the Reform, PC, Rhino, Socreds into political oblivion. I am confident Ignatieff will restore the party from it worst pop since confederation next time. He can't do worse the 2008 with Dion right?

      • Ralph Klein was Premier of Allberta…the place where Democracy goes to die. How long since they voted for anything progressive? They want the right to control their natural resources, but are too timid to increase the royalties owed from Big Oil. Alberta's a joke…Peter Lougheed is now a liberal progressive compared to what passes for conservative in the province.

  37. Wells has written plenty about the Harper government that was much less than positive. I don't see this article as being pro conservative, liberal negative. It's just a comment on the current state of affairs and as such is as accurate as any other editorial and like all articles needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Personally I think Harper is doing a very good job and that we're fortunate to have him as P.M. I don't know what to think about the Liberal or NDP leader in terms of their characters or potential but it's obvious to me that they "are" conspiring to the extent that both have a single minded and negative assessment of what the current government does, regardless of what that may be. I realize they are in opposition and that is their role, however, I think Canadians would welcome a little more "cooperation" from time to time. In that regard Layton seems to be worse than Ignatieff. I can't recall ever hearing Layton or that surly group of NDPers say anything positive about … well "anything".

    • Can you define exactly what Harper is doing that is a "very good job"?

  38. Hey everybody, where is Iggy? The man is kept under wraps by the Libs because he is such a loser!

    • European vacation.

      Last year his war room pulled a "Where's Waldo? on our PM. It backfired.

      Our PM was in Ottawa at work while he was in France and Layton was snorkeling in Belize. Classic war room screw up.

    • So astute! so incisive!

  39. Harper's only as good as the hairspray integrity supporting his Wig…anyday now the wind will blow his Bushleague Agenda cover, scare the daylights out of Canadians and march in droves to vote for an ABC COALITION!

    Our Dear Forever Minorty Leader suffers from a chronic case of Democratic Deficit and Lack of Accountability, not to mention spending taxpayers' money like a drunken sailor! $2 billion for G-Trashing Toronto, and $25 billion (even Washington is now investigating the company's accounts for overruns!) for useless Fighter Jets to help American contractor friends!

    What has this incompetent Accidental P.M. ever done for C anadians, other than creating a $55 billion Deficit and not a single National Canadian Policy to show for it! Child Care? Unemployment Benefits? Research and Development? Technology Industry's support? Seniors and Women's Issues? Veterans' affairs? Protecting potential victims from his anti-LongGun Registry murderous rampage?

    • Keep posting Jake. I just cannot imagine harper in a majority situation. He is unscrupulous and his government incometent and malicious. What are Canadians thinking.?

  40. Our Minority PM would be far more comfortable if he were to apply for immigration to Zimbabwe. He'd win over Mugabe hands-down. And Canuck Taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief and put $20 billion to worthy causes, like reducing half hte deficit and having a decent National Child Care policy in place!

    The most unCanadian Minority PM ever….and a robot made in the U.S. at that!…

  41. This article reads like regurgitated talking points from the "Liberal"/Separatist alliance war room. It's not "Harper" who has divided this nation, the country has been divided for the past 40 years or longer. "Liberals" know all about the divide and conquer strategy and in fact turned that strategy into an art form. It is an ideologically driven media who feed off the divisiveness and in fact encourage it, along with the perpetuation of polarizing debate. Extreme leftist media types have done more to polarize debate and divide Canadians on a wide variety of issues than Trudeaumaniac could have ever hoped for.

  42. I don't believe the nonsense about Harper lusting for a majority. It doesn't get better than this. He governs as he wishes (especially now that he has a majority in the Senate) and the only thing that will stop him is if all 3 opposition parties cooperate to vote non-confidence, thus proving that the "Cow-a-lishun" (to use Duceppe's phrase) does indeed exist.

    The fact of the matter is there is no where in the country where the Conservatives have to play defence to the Liberals, instead, they have the puck in the Liberal's end of the rink in GTA and Montreal Island. And Matane byelection this spring will show if Conservatives have "game" in the Bloc's rink as well.

    Harper obviously believes the maxim: govern well and the politics will look after themselves.

    No election until October 2012. Bank on it.

    • I think you have the maxim Mr. Harper believes reversed.

      Exactly how many acts of actual governance has this CPC done again?

    • Actually, I prefer a minority government. The worst excesses of any politician are tempered by the fact that he might be out on his ass tomorrow.

    • I agree with your views about the majority. And I sometime think that this situation could last for a long long time. For all 3 opposition parties to vote non-confidence at the same time, all 3 would have to believe that they would do as good (if not better) in the following election, just in case the cow-a-lishun self-destructed somewhere in the process.

      If any one of those 3 happens to be going through a bad phase with low polls numbers, that would probably lower their drive to take a stroll to the polls.

      So, the PM says that he is there to govern, he does, the majority in the senate helps, he does nothing to precipitate an election and let the 3 opposition leaders babble away.

      And there is one more thing. In order to change the government, you have to have a reason. So far, none of the stuff the opposition has been talking about has done anything to motivate the voters.

  43. Hey, buddy, all I said was that government intervention isn't a small-c Conservative thing to do. Agree with me, disagree with me. But don't come at me with counterarguments to arguments I didn't make or put words in my mouth. Sounds like you're making me a proxy for everybody who has ever criticized your party on its economic record.

    BTW, the price of the fighters, when you take into account maintenance, is going to be at least $14-16 billion.

  44. Can't help but notice there are no alternatives to sway the vote away from the liars and thieves already present. It seems we have to put up with the lessor or greator evils. I wonder who got us in this position?

    • That's "lesser OF greater" there Mr. spelling bee! A lessor is someone who lets and a "greator", well, that's not even a word. Would have been easier to say "lesser of two evils". You need some of that there "educashon".

  45. harper is the last PM we will ever have. he will scam the next election, then in 25 or 30 years, hand power to his son Ben.

    Harper wants to rule with an elite, not a democracy. Canadians simply don't want democracy. If they did, they would participate in it. No, Canadians want a dad to make all the decisions for them so that they don't have to take responsibility for their government.

    • That's plain crap. Get a brain!

    • that's crap!

    • Russell, this is your dad…

      Cut your hair.

  46. I for one thank the Liberal elite for annointing their leader, after all, the elites in the party know much better than their unwashed masses.

    I also encourage the Liberal elite, who remember know much better than the rest of us what is important to Canadians,

    to continue to ride "census(gate)".

    Surely the elites are correct in thinking that whether Ma and Pa Mackenzie have food on their table, or whether some young couple on the Praries can afford to have children this year, pales in comparison to the issue as to whether a mandatory government document is shortened from it's current FORTY page length.

    • Try as they might the "Liberals" and their whores in the media cannot get Canadians to go all hysterical over the prospect of the Government not having the ability to coerce and jail you for not telling them what you're "mother tongue" is…

  47. Iggy does the twist very well.

  48. Actually, I tremble every time I read some of these "vacuous" comments and wonder why the great censor in Toronto doesn't excise more than he/she does.

  49. excellent analysis

  50. The opposition should turn question period into a dry, boring imitation of a court of law: change the playing field. The sound bites the media crave would have to be found elsewhere. If policy is not the conservatives' strong suit, they should be seen in the media fumbling for simple answers to simple questions.

  51. I am not sure that anything that Gilles ''Ducette'' saids is of any importance to people outside Québec. Actually, not very important to Québecers either.

    As for the NDP, Jack repeats himself continuously. No need to give him new coverage.

  52. hey author of this dribble! what mountain range are you from? now go back to your cave….

  53. With the alternative being a Liberal led coalition,
    PMSH will be in power for as long as he wants.

    That wont change until
    - the LibDips merge, or,
    - the LPC has a reasonalbe chance at government without a coalition.

    What LibDips failed to accept is that the 2008 election gave the CPC 57% of the seats in English Canada, (with 76% in Western Canada, 60% in NB and 48% in Ontario)….
    and that was before we all knew the Liberals were willing to
    - put 6 NDPers in cabinet and
    - only pass legislation that was 'good for Quebec'.

    There is nothing that can be said that will convince Canadians that Liberals won't form a coalition of losers again, next election.
    In fact, the media is encouraging them to do so.
    Legal or otherwise, that is NOT the government Canadians want.

    • '-only pass legislation that was 'good for Quebec'.

      Idiot!

    • My Canada includes Quebec.

      • Based on the coup by the three stooges ROC was not. Take a look at the political map next time your party of Toronto claims to be a national party.

      • Mine does too, but unfortunately theirs doesn't always include ROC.

    • 35% on the right of the political spectrum does not make for "Canadians" opinions. The primary reason for "Conservative" lead in the commons is their permanent coalition of losers (PC/Reform) and the current split on the left. Nothing scares a coalition like a bigger one.

  54. I can see a Leadership Convention for the Liberals in 2011.

  55. next year : Angela who…. Stephen who???

  56. We all know the conservative party is the best party.

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