The damage done by doing so little

Andrew Coyne argues that the Conservatives’ drive to stay in power imperils the state of politics itself

The damage done by doing so little

Photograph by Ian Barrett

Most of our prime ministers have been scoundrels: the successful ones, almost exclusively. They say Arthur Meighen was quite a stand-up guy. Alexander Mackenzie, the same. Possibly John Turner or Kim Campbell or Joe Clark might have proved brave and principled leaders, given time. But that’s the thing: they weren’t given time, dispatched instead at the first opportunity by their more unscrupulous rivals. Whether of necessity or simply tradition, in Canadian politics, nice guys really do finish last.

So if the past five years seem a peculiarly ugly, depressing episode in our nation’s political history, it is not because Stephen Harper is unusually unencumbered by principle. Rather, it is the absence of compensating achievement that distinguishes his tenure—if by achievement you mean something more than simply holding onto power. Scoundrels our past prime ministers may have been, but scoundrels with a purpose. Harper’s record, by contrast, is rare in its combination of longevity and vapidity. Seldom has a government lasted so long that did so little.


Let us dispense at the outset with some of the more common critiques. It is not true, as the Liberals claim, that the Harper years have been marked by an unending decline in living standards and rising unemployment—or, to the extent either is true, that a massive worldwide recession could be laid at the feet of the government of Canada. To the contrary, the recession here has been notably less severe than in virtually any other developed country, which if you follow the Liberals’ logic should be accounted to the government’s credit.

Neither is it true, as critics further left complain, that the Harper government has been pursuing a hard-right agenda, for which such apparent contradictions as massive, multi-year deficits have offered a smokescreen. Much of the evidence presented to that effect—a modest military buildup, a tilting back toward Israel—began under the Liberal government of Paul Martin. Much else—the crime bills, the corporate tax cuts, the purchase of expensive fighter jets—has had the support of the current Liberal party, though it pleases them just now to pretend otherwise.

The rest are largely symbolic baubles, neither significant nor particularly “right wing,” except to the hard left and, oddly, the hard right, each of whom has its own reasons to exaggerate their importance. We will not spend money to promote abortion in the Third World? You don’t say. Meanwhile, we remain the only country in the developed world with no abortion law of any kind, with the firm blessing of the Prime Minister. The gun registry is a similarly overblown example.

No, if there is anything that has been a constant of this Conservative government, literally from the day it took office, it has been not ideology and conviction, nor even ruthlessness and cunning, but aimlessness and confusion—at best, as in the Quebec “nation” resolution or the multiple about-faces on Afghanistan, tactical victories won at the expense of longer-term strategic objectives; at worst, as in the national anthem and long-form census debacles, sheer amateurism. And as long as we are dispensing with undeserved criticisms, let us also dispense with some of the government’s flimsier defences.

It is not correct, or not enough, to blame the Harper government’s evident lack of ambition or consistency on the difficulties of navigating a Parliament in which it holds only a minority of the seats. One need not even invoke here the example of Lester Pearson’s incomparably greater achievements in his own five years at the helm of a minority government, which after all had a more natural ally in the NDP. The current parliamentary lineup would certainly place limits on the government’s ability to implement its program: it does not explain why it has none. Any government in the same situation would find itself obliged to adopt an incrementalist, step-by-step approach. It would not, as the present government has done, pursue policies that were diametrically opposed to those on which it was elected, or to its own long-professed principles. That is, if it stood for anything other than, as the Prime Minister said the other day, “power for its own sake.”

Put this to Tory partisans, and they grow impatient. It is not that we have abandoned our principles to hold onto office, they will say, in a tone of wounded dignity. Not at all. It is merely that we have altered our convictions to stay in government. Different thing altogether. But you can only buy this the-Liberals-made-us-do-it defence if you have first absorbed its underlying premise: that it is a far, far better thing to remain in power, at whatever cost in principle, than it is to go down to defeat in defence of those principles. Which is as close a statement of “power for its own sake” as it is possible to make.

And this is the greatest damage done by five years of Harper government. It has not been a bad government, in the conventional sense. After all, as the government’s defenders will say, look at all the things it has not done. It has not lined its own pockets. It has not embroiled the country in a major constitutional crisis. It has not yet produced a billion-dollar boondoggle, at least as the auditor general might define it, which is to say a program so entirely out of control it does not even follow its own terms of reference. And of course, it has not done some of the dodgier things a Liberal government might have done, such as implement a national, government-funded daycare program (though it is still transferring over a billion dollars a year to the provinces to run their own).

More to its credit, the government can claim some successes of its own. If it did not invent the idea of cutting corporate tax rates, it has at least been steadfast in its pursuit. The tax-prepaid savings plans introduced in the 2007 budget were a useful innovation, as are the pooled individual pension plans, lately proposed in place of expanding the CPP. Tariffs on manufacturers’ inputs have been abolished, unilaterally, a first in any major advanced economy. And while free trade with Europe or a national securities regulator remain to be achieved, they at least show signs of vision.

The government’s approach to the recession is its most divided legacy. On the one hand, its handling of the immediate financial crisis, in collaboration with the Bank of Canada, was exemplary. The measures taken—insuring inter-bank lending, at a fee no one would wish to pay; taking long-term mortgage assets off the banks’ books in exchange for short-term treasury bills—did just enough to allay market concerns, without doing so much as to excite new ones. On the other hand, we now have another $150 billion in new debt on the public books: the price of the government’s desire to remain in power, after its political misjudgments in the winter of 2008.

The decision to plunge the country back into deficit, against decades of Reform and Conservative doctrine, was only the most glaring of the government’s many flip-flops, broken promises, and discarded convictions. By now these are a familiar litany: income trusts, Senate appointments, the Afghanistan cut-and-run, the Potash decision, the pandering to Quebec nationalism, the rampant pork-barrelling under the “stimulus” program, the rubbishing of its own fixed-term election law, and on and on. On some issues, such as how to reduce carbon emissions, the Conservatives have popped up to the left of the Liberals: where the Grits proposed the carbon tax favoured by most economists, the Tories boasted of their commitment to command-and-control regulations.

In place of ideology, we have been given partisanship of the most thuggish, obtuse kind, combining vicious attacks on their opponents with robotic repetition of the party line. And as the new dogma of pragma must be enforced as rigidly as any ideology, so the Conservative party, once the party of democratic reform, has given itself up to absolute control from the top—a culture of autocracy also visited upon senior bureaucrats, officers of Parliament, and in the matter of the Afghan documents, Parliament itself.


What has been damaged, if not destroyed, by this endless barrage of opportunistic behaviour is not only conservatism: it is politics itself. To be sure, the Tories have done their best to place off limits such bedrock conservative principles as cutting subsidies, privatization or deregulation. After all, if “even” the right-wing Tories would not go near these, they must surely be beyond the pale. But much worse is the resulting collapse of a politics of consequence.

There is no tension in Canadian politics, no shape or boundaries to it. Other governments, at other times and in other countries, have made decisions for political reasons, sometimes base ones. But they were constrained in this regard by other imperatives: the need to hold their cabinet together, or their caucus, or their base, or at any rate their dignity. There were consequences, in other words, and as such there were limits. But such is the insouciance, not to say eagerness, with which the Harper government has shrugged off its previous positions, and such is the leeway granted it by a Conservative party desperate for the spoils of undivided power, that all such reference points have vanished.

Five years after it took office, it is literally impossible to predict with any certainty what this government will do on any given issue. That, I suppose, is its record.


The damage done by doing so little

  1. Of course we know that the Liberals are sweet little angels who have ruled Canada for most of the last century rewarding their cronies, viciously attacking their opposition and stealing taxpayers money. However, we have a Conservative Prime Minister for five years who has been faced with minority governments and the worse recession since the great depression and somehow he is evil. You need to wake up and smell the coffee. There are only two choices for Canadians and we both know it. Do you want the Liberals back in with their nanny state mentality and their never ending thievery to impose higher taxes and their liberal values on Canadians again? As I say there are only two choices. I will stick with Harper warts and all. You keep sitting in your ivory tower looking for ideological purity but the rest of us live in the real world.

  2. Well said Andrew : excellent column.

  3. Shouldn't the writer at least idenitfy himself as a Liberal sympathizer.
    Fox News North was never needed more than the present.

  4. I don't think Coyne is a Liberal sympathizer. I just think he is misguided in his observations. He tries in his colum to excuse anything done by the opposition parties. What he fails to mention is that there are three left wing parties sitting in the House of Commons. Being a minority government they felt they could force Harper into adopting left wing policies and if he resisted Canadians would side with them and there would quickly be an election. However, Harper has stuck to his guns, bobbed and weaved and a third of the country has supported him over the five years. The rest are divided among the three left wing parties and are not able to overcome the rock solid support that the Conservatives enjoy.
    Coyne simply dismisses the minority parliament situation and blames Harper for not being bold and visionary (my words) and of course not sticking to ideological principles. He says it is all about staying in power for Harper. Why wouldn't it be? Martin hang on as long as he could. That is why political parties exist.It is about power and implementing their policies which they believe will benefit the country.

  5. hollinm continued…..

    However, the media wants Harper to tie one hand behind his back and capitulate. Harper obviously is not going to do that and it bugs the hell out of Coyne.
    About Fox News North….I am not so sure it is going to be all it is cracked up to be. It is busy getting many of the same old Parliamentary Press Gallery reporters i.e. David Akin and stealing the cast offs of some of the other media outlets. So I am waiting with baited breath but I am not holding my breath for something dramatic and new. I may be wrong.Here's hoping.

  6. Every now and then Coyne, in his never-ending search for utopia, cuts loose on the Conservatives, conveniently minimizing the difficult minority situation the government is in.
    It is simply unrealistic to compare today`s right-of-center minority gov`t opposed by 3 left-of-center parties to the social-spending-accomplishments of the Pearson and Trudeau minority gov`ts propped up by the generous NDP.
    If Coyne wants to compare gov`ts and respective oppositions,he could look at the previous Liberal majorities where their 2 main accomplishments (eliminating deficit and Clarity Act ) were initatives of the only credible opposition of the time, the Reform Party.

    And if you want to feel real bad about where we could be, just think we could be into the 25th month of the 30 month tenure of a PM Dion, cabinet ministers Layton and Libby, puppet-master Dusceppe, and Senator May. Since that is obviously not a credible alternative, and today`s gov`t seems to be preoccupied in surviving it`s minority situation, maybe Coyne is just putting forth an argument for a majority Conservative gov`t that would be able to concentrate on policies and accomplishments.

  7. Steve has temporarily abandoned his principles (and suffered some loss of dignity) by doing anything and saying anything to hold onto, and in his fondest dreams increase his hold on power but I don't believe he's fundamentally different than the "firewall around Alberta" guy of his younger days. If we give Steve his majority Andrew will be amazed at the rapid progress on the old Reform agenda.

  8. That would require him to actually BE a "Liberal sympathizer" (whatever that is), rather then a conservative who wishes the "Conservative party" was in any way conservative.

    Sadly, it's not. Harper expresses the very grandest of Liberal party traditions: the willingness to abandon any policy or principal in the name of staying in power. That so many of his supporters are willing to go along for the ride (supporting a government doing the very things they opposed six years ago) shows what a joke Canadian politics really is.

  9. hollinm wrote:
    "I don't think Coyne is a Liberal sympathizer. I just think he is misguided in his observations"

    I wouldn't say Andrew is misguided in his observations, I would just say he is impatient. I suspect Andrew leans more to the Right, however, I think he's a Purist.

    He knows Harper is a Conservative, but Andrew is waiting for Harper to BE Conservative. Methinks he should speak with Paul Wells, as Paul has it figured out already. Baby steps.
    Dump court Challenges
    Dump Kyoto
    Reform the Senate…

    All things Harper has campaigned for in the past, but given the Minority status…he cannot do in leaps and bounds.

    Even baby steps….if you take enough of them will get you there.

    As I said…Andrew is just impatient. I don't think his common rants against the Conservatives imply support for the Liberals, as he knows the Liberals have no principles.

    He knows Harper has principles…..he's just waiting to see them.

  10. The most recent poll shows that 85% of Canadians basically ignore politics completely. 85%! That's almost everybody.

    I'm sure Harper's most recent batch of campaign attack ads will drive that number up. This is a government that stands for nothing… and Canadians have shown how much they care by the near-unanimous decision to stop paying attention.

  11. The only thing worse than power for its own sake is partisanship for its own sake.

  12. Blue wrote:
    "he could look at the previous Liberal majorities where their 2 main accomplishments (eliminating deficit and Clarity Act"

    Deficit – eliminated using the policies of Brian Mulroney. Free trade and GST. The liberals simply slashed funding to the the provinces health care and education to make up the Federal Shortfall, and increase the provincial deficits. Not a great accomplisment by any means…they simply borrowed polices from the PC's, and transferred the deficits to the provinces.

    Clarity Act. – actually written by a young Reform MP. Originally a list of steps and principles, which were offered to Jean Chretien, who initially refused the offer, only to take it up later and re-word it in Liberal-ease.

    By the way….the young REFORM MP who actually provided the framework for the Clarity Act….was one, Stephen Joseph Harper. Currently our Prime Minister.

    Just so you know.

  13. More Coyne histrionics! Talk about a selective view of history! When it comes to corruption of power in this country, nothing compares to the Liberal Party of Toronto!

  14. This is a very thoughtful article, and provides a very interesting critique of a government that has trouble providing a critique of its own performance. Many of the people posting comments here have fallen into the trap of thinking that flinging insults at someone else constitutes a defence of one's own position. That has become the favourite technique of all political leaders of all parties in Canada (thank you for nothing, USA). As a result, we can all find out what every politician stands against, but never what the politician stands for. Harper is certainly not the only leader who is doing this, but his hold on power (always a minority) is mainly due to the fact that all other leaders are doing the same thing, and most Canadians have ceased to care for that very reason.

  15. By stating that " flinging insults at someone else constitutes a defence of one`s own position ", are you being critical of Coyne`s writing style where he criticizes the performance of the Harper gov`t, but does not offer realistic options they might have had other then handing over power to the coalition ?

  16. Who wants a PM and government who both have "snake-eyes", don't have any back-boned principles, or respect for the Canadian people? At least you know what you're getting with the other parties… whether you like them or not. With the Conservatives I have found they have no problem in lying and back-tracking on their word, and when one of their Conservative pals acts or says something that is irresponsible the PM does nothing to put them in their place. In other words… it has no morals. Worse though is that they have no vision for the country. At times I think that a bunch of cowboys have taken the helm at parliament and do what cowboys do best… wrangle, pick stupid fights, boast about the dumbest things, and double-cross people every chance they get. I often feel embarrassed by this cowboy and his possum when we attend world conferences and they have no idea how to engage the world. No class whatsoever!

  17. Don't forget the kingpin himself; Mr. Mulroney.

    Gee I wonder if there's a vote to be bought; for a million dollar insurance policy.

  18. What is embarrassing about this Government is how little they have done… and how wonderful everyone seems to think that is. You can only be a hard-core Harper admirer if you are happy with the way he has lead this Government and this country of ours.
    He is not a Conservative… he is an opportunist… nothing else. And that is how he will be seen in the history books. The PM that did nothing… nothing of importance and nothing worth noticing. He just spent his way out of a recession. That's it. Nothing else. That is how he will be remembered. That is certainly nothing to admire or certainly nothing worth defending.
    Conservatives of Canada… are you happy with that? Are you proud?

  19. By the inconceivably low standards of Canadian journalism, this isn't the worst column. Many apposite observations, albeit laced with the poisonous venom of the author, a self-described "socialist".

  20. Blue wrote:
    "where he criticizes the performance of the Harper gov`t, but does not offer realistic options they might have had other then handing over power to the coalition ? "

    You and I both know why Harper is Governing the way he is blue, as does Andrew Coyne.

    Harper is a pragmatist. It doesn't mean Andrew has to agree with it, but I do think Andrew is being unfair by failing to consider the reasons WHY Harper acts the way he does. It has to do with Power, certainly, but the power to keep the Liberals out of office is, I think, more important to Harper than to have power for himself.

    Harper knows what he wants to do…….but more importantly, he knows exactly what the Liberals want to do as well.

  21. Coyne is a self-described socialist? Was that an attempt at humour?

  22. All Hail Harper! I can't believe we how good we really have it. A man who will sacrifice all his principles to save Canada from the Liberals. I can't believe how lucky we are. I am star-struck!!! Anything but the bad Liberals who have led this country through probably the greatest period of economic prosperity in recent history. We definitely don't want them back. Things were bad back then for Canadians. We were all suffering from deficits, lack of employment, lack of direction for the country… oh, hold on… I've got it backwards.
    We should all be so grateful for Harper to come along and straighten out the country… put us back on track… give us some goals for the country to strive towards… have something to be proud of.
    Harper has 2 good things going for him.
    1) People have a short memory
    2) People are increasingly uninterested with government… especially one that does nothing.
    So – sadly – Harper really has nothing to worry about. The country on the other hand should worry that we have no goals or vision to strive/fight for. Canada desperately needs to have an "agenda" and we will never have one with this PM. That is the simple truth. We need a hero and it ain't Harper!!!

  23. Coyne calls himself a "libertarian socialist". Not quite the same thing, but close enough for government work. :p

  24. I think you had it right the first time … Coyne is an ideological purist who would like to see policies he considers immutable implemented, regardless of their impact on the country.

    While bemoaning the loss of civility in political discourse, Coyne and others of his ilk continue to misrepresent what members of the sitting government say, do, think, aspire to, or represent while glossing over what members of the opposition say or do. This from a supposedly serious journalist who reputedly tweeted this about politicians: "There are plenty of alternatives at hand," Maclean's national editor Andrew Coyne tweeted back. "Hucksters. Charlatans. Mountebanks. Bounders. Grifters. Frauds. Thieves…." [Vancouver Sun Jan. 20 column]

    I'm old enough to remember the old Ford commercial "Ford has a better idea!"
    Coyne and his fellow scribblers, who never have to take a more consequential decision than "whom shall I criticize today?" all think they're Ford.

  25. I think we can all be pleased that Coyne left out the description of Harper as petty tyrant/dictator out of his rant… after all the concept of a dictator in a democracy is absurd. Dictatorships arise in situations where power is resident in a relatively small group (often the military) When that happens, dictators have to be careful they keep that group in line, but can ignore the wishes of the larger population.

    I am however struck by the Harper supporters in this thread, that caution Coyne to consider the difficult situation Harper is in. He is surrounded by 3 parties to his left. (apology for the difficult visual) These supporters applaud the progress they perceive he is making by stealth and guile since being forthright and honest could be fatal. Fatality in this case would be a return to power by the hated Liebrals. (In point of fact, if young Trudeau ever becomes PM it literally could kill off a few of them.)

    So in conclusion:
    1) Thank God, we have gotten rid of the sneaky dishonest Liberals who rammed all that Charter crap down our throats.(in Both languages!)
    2) Thank God, we finally have a noble PM who will stand up to the majority of Canadians and those they elected to represent them.
    3) Thank God, SH is clever enough that misinformation and misdirection are necessary to maintain 1) given 2).
    4) Thank God that first-past-the-post, 3 national parties & one provincial separatist party makes military support unnecessary when a leader wants to ignore majority.
    5) Thank God, SH knows being PM comes a distant second to being Conservative party leader.

    I know God has blessed Canada. ( I even knew that before SH started reminding me) I shudder to think of what things would be like if she was displeased.

  26. Step by incremental step, ever so slowly but surely reducing "La Gouvernemama" down to a more reasonable scale, this government is accomplishing a great deal. May they do even less and less in the years ahead!

  27. Shorter Coyne:

    Keeping the libs away from power has become the raison e'etre of this govt.True statement. By holding on to power for no other reason then to deny the other guy they have prevented what? A NDC…as Coyne says they already give the provinces a billion[annually] as an inadequate costly alternative anyway.. reformed the census…give me a break. Its biggest accomplishment – delaying a carbon tax and an having AB's back – some legacy; cons are so undemanding these days: " just keep the libs away from power by being faux libs, we'll get our mojo back some day, right"!!!

    It's like having to eat at a really bad restaurant, one with no standards of any kind. Do i complain mostly about the crappy food they serve or the sh**ts it gives me when i get home?. But wait you say, the liberal joint will give you even worse sh**ts. We have no choice but to eat this stuff, really!

  28. He's an anarchist? God, and you think you know someone…

  29. Now I really am a proud Canadian… "May they do even less and less in the years to come". What a sad day we have reached in Canadian history and in Canadian society.
    No wonder no one takes us (Canada) seriously.
    You may fool yourself but you can't fool others. It's one thing to be proud of the fact that the party you like is governing. It's another thing to say that you are proud of how it has governed. You aren't a proud Canadian. Say it… you're a proud Harperist!!!
    What a sad sad day. But one day the country will awake from the sleep that this country has put us in and the boot will start swinging. Watch-out!!!

  30. I'm concerned about the future, not just what this govt is doing right now – as i think is AC. By continuing to set the bar so consistently low on opportunistic behaviour what can we realistically hope to see down the road? A suddenly principled Harper led govt – or more likely a future liberal or united left party that has absorbed the lessons of a decade of Harperism – what you say and what you previously held to be true are inconsequential when an opportunity knocks to simply hold onto power or hoble the other guy. As a liberal partisan i don't care much about the legacy of this govt – but i do care about the future of good and consequential governance in this country.

  31. Are "libertarian socialists" "anarchists"? Let's see… carry the six… Yes, I guess you've got it about right.

    He liked Trudeau, I think, and liked the old Stephen Harper — NCC-vintage.

  32. Just the kind of moronic logic a Conservative supporter would exhibit.

  33. And there lies the rub! This government does not govern or lead Canada to greater heights. It admits its only purpose is to keep the Liberals out of office, even if that means putting more hardship on Canadians or taking two steps backwards.

    Since when is good governance for the people of Canada equated with petulance and partisanship and a sole purpose to keep better ideas and suggestions away from Canadians?

    If Harper and the Conservatives have better ideas then let's hear them! If not then get out of the big chair and let someone else lead Canada forward in an attempt to improve the lives of Canadians and the position of Canada in the world!

    It's a small man that tries to look great by putting others down!

  34. Wow – you've really nailed him, but I would suggest you put fown the hammer before you hurt yourself.

  35. Progress and reform agenda = oxymoron

  36. Why does Coyne ignore the destructive things the Harper government has done? Destroying Rights and Democracy, failing completely to deal with our environmental problems including climate change, failing to develop a national energy plan, cutting funding to women's groups, ignoring the disappearance of some 600 Aboriginal women, cutting the court Challenges program, opposing women's equality, attacking our human rights including the wasteful G20 with its mass illegal arrests, and on and on…

    But these things don't affect Coyne, so he thinks they are not important.

  37. Paul Wells, as Paul has it figured out already. Baby steps.
    Dump court Challenges
    Dump Kyoto
    Reform the Senate…
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Reform the senate pfffft. SH , first day in office, elect to make Fornier a senator…You call that baby steps! NOT!!!! then continue to stuff the senate with luminaries like Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Jacques Demers ( he cannot even read the legislation ) Typical of the blind mice.

  38. I like your sarcasm, but I don`t know why you had to bring God into the conversation, other than to exorcise some of the previously mentioned demons.

    You are right about the young Trudeau—-the only comparison I could make so that you would understand how painful that would be to us would be for you to imagine how PM Clement would sound to Liberals.

  39. Holly wrote:
    "ignoring the disappearance of some 600 Aboriginal women,"

    So, Holly, apparently you are only concerned about disappearing aboriginal women when the Conservatives are in power? You do know that most of these women disappeared, or were murdered under the Liberals right?

    Granted, the Liberals couldn't do anything about it either…..but why should that stop anyone from using the tragedy to score points.

    Don't worry Holly…..if the Liberals get back in, aboriginal women will no doubt still be disappearing, but at least with the Liberals in charge you won't feel bad about it.

  40. The facts in the column are accurate. But the conclusion is not. There is nothing wrong with the state of affairs. It is called minority government. The Conservatives have a direction they wish to take. So do the Liberals. Neither have a majority. Therefore we have, as AC puts it:

    "It is merely that we have altered our convictions to stay in government. Different thing altogether. But you can only buy this the-Liberals-made-us-do-it defence if you have first absorbed its underlying premise: that it is a far, far better thing to remain in power, at whatever cost in principle, than it is to go down to defeat in defence of those principles"

    There is nothing to be gained by sacrificing yourself at the altar of ideology. The government is instead doing what people in the US have been clamoring for. It's called bipartisanship. It's called doing the possible, and leaving the rest. It's not throwing yourself into a volcano because you cannot get everything you want.

    This is exactly what people normally want to see politicians do. I don't see how Coyne could claim this is somehow damaging anything at all.

  41. Harper may have done very little 'dramatic' but he has done more than any minority leader ever. Period. Given his circumstances that puts him #1 all time in the history of the universe. #1 for getting things done as a minority Canadian Prime Minister.

  42. Bravo Andrew Coyne for saying outlood, somewhat late, what thousands of Reformatories are saying in private. Harper's inherent or strategic pragmatism has gone too far. It is now undermining the very movement Manning and Harper created twenty years ago.

    Coyne is also right in contending that this development now threatens Canadian democracy. He is also correct in stating that there is no credible counterweight to Harper's autocratic government from within his own party nor from the three opposition parties. Harper undermined Canada's parliamentary democracy by denigrating an opposition coalition government when he stupidly proclaimed that such a government would be undemocratic. The rank and file Reformatories swallowed this crap!
    Perhaps Western Reformatories will draft Ted Morton, Andrew Coynes' truly principled New Right Conservative, to replace opportunistic Harper as leader of the Conservatives.

    The very rigid and ideological Ted Morton, the emerging hero of the New Right Movement, is now available to challenge Harper!

  43. I love how liberals run screaming in the streets at Harper's 'fear mongering' and 'US style attacks'. The same party that brought that stuff to Canada in the first place (remember Barney and Stockwell Day?). These same people can't resist lobbing irrelevant and confusing comments about God, abortion and every other cliched fear mongering subject of the day. Harper forcing God down our throats? Right. Your comments were pretty good until you lost all credibility with the veiled attempt at humor near the end trying to bring up religious fear and loathing. Very typical though, I must say.

  44. You should know.

  45. You'd be much more persuasive if you used four exclamation marks in a row rather than three.

  46. That's an interesting take, scf. I do recall seeing polling results of some sort that revealed that a lot of Canadians are relatively happy with minority governments (even though Liberal and CPC partisans, of course, hate them compared to having their home team in charge). And presumably what they like about them is their mushiness. I share Coyne's disdain for this government's cravenness (is that a word) and lack of apparent principle on several fronts (especially fiscal responsibility), but shouldn't at least a fair chunk of the blame go to those voters who apparently seem to want minority governments, or at least aren't apparently up in arms about the kind of bland, fence-sitting style of governance we're getting under minority rule?

  47. No, AC's just using a point PWs so admirably used…the other option is a better govt – this one, not necessarily an opposition one.

  48. How is increasing the size of the government every year "reducing it to a more reasonable scale"? This is a government that never saw a program it didn't want to spend more money on.

    I can't wait for the explanation on how massive taxpayer subsidies for millionare hockey players in Quebec is "reducing the size of government!"

  49. You mean a writer doing an opinion piece writes about things that matter to his opinion? I'm shocked! Call in the Human Rights Commission!

    Most of the things on your list are things a lot of Canadians either don't care about, or don't actually think should have been funded in the first place (disappearing aboriginal women excepted, I think most people want something done about that).

  50. We are Running on Autopilot set up by the previous governments …period.

    the current recession was "managed [' Co – managed by the Liberal and less extend by NDP advisory board… period
    . The only original idea coming from Harper the nasty stings ocasionally he seems to need to put into the opposition leaders , it is totally sick and creates all around turning down and out the Public.

    Mr Nasty has to go !!!

  51. Do you have so little faith in the principles of conservatism that you feel it wouldn't withstand an honest airing and atest of public approval? Because that's what you're really saying – consevatism can't withstand the rigour of a minority govt, so play keep away. If the opposition parties then forced an election wouldn't it be a good thing to go to the people and offer them a choice? Apparently not – you might lose – AC's point. You have to convince the public you are worthy of office, if you can't tough – same for everyone. But Tories keep on pretending that it is the opposition that prevents them from being real Conservatives – not so. It is the realisation that the public might not buy what you're selling. Hell, it might even be a surprise how much of the public would buy a real con govt's wares – say 30%…oh i give up…Harper obviously knows what's best for conservatives, or at least himself.

  52. No bigger moron than a Liberal with blinders on.

  53. Except he's not quite right.

  54. The Liberals made some cheap and mean 'fear mongering' and 'US style attacks' (NDP too), but you've got to be kidding that Barney the Dinosaur and Stockwell Day is the example you give? Because bringing out the purple plushy dinosaur was neither fear-mongery nor attack-addery, it was just funny.

  55. I can't purport to speak for scf, but as far as I can see, you're not adressing, or responding to, the essential point scf made. As I read scf's post, scf is saying what we are getting is essentially bipartisanship — or, perhaps more accurately, multi-partisanship. And that, arguably, that seems to be what the Canadian people want.

    Do the Canadian people — or a substantial plurality or majority of them — want doctrinaire, rock-ribbed conservatism? Apparently not. And that's not what they're getting. Looked at from that perspective, the people are getting what they want — and/or what they deserve. Presumably if they wanted ideological purity or at least a more clear ideological or policy direction, they'd vote for that. Note the fate of the Green Shift — that was a clear ideologicaly and policy choice. And it netted the LPC one of its worst electoral results in history.

  56. I'm so glad you're proud. But you can't fool the rest of us Canadians into being proud of a PM who's legacy was to steadily and "proudly" do nothing. I would hate to be PM and be remembered for putting so much effort into doing absolutely nothing of any substance and strategic value for the future of Canada. I can't believe his party affiliates could be happy with such low standards for the leader of a nation such as Canada.

  57. Whatever makes you more proud and happy about "your" PM!!!!

  58. I would respectively suggest to you that 30 to 35% of the country does not believe a damn word you said.

  59. Well said Andrew . I always saw you as an intelligent pundit .Although I sometimes do disagree with you . It is part of the stew .

  60. "Coyne is a self-described socialist? Was that an attempt at humour? "

    Not all fur trappers wear fur hats. Here's Andrew Coyne in his own words describing himself as a socialist:

    "If forced to describe myself, I'd say I'm a socialist, because by any usual or sensible definition, I would be.

    I favour public pensions, public health care, public education, public unemployment insurance. I favour a whole battery of things involving the state function. In fact, I've had tangles with some of my conservative friends over things like user fees for health care, or the necessity of carbon taxes to combat global warming."

  61. Andrew, you've pretty much nailed it.

    If we are going to stiff this country with dumb deficits and ridiculous "stimulus" crap, better it be done by the party that believes in that garbage, than the party that (purportedly) does not. At least then, if Canadians finally smarten up, they will have a principled party to turn to to fix the damage done. Who do we turn to now to undo that damage? Harper and his party will richly deserve the blame for this very stupid decision, and "wah-wah they made us" will earn them even more scorn.

    As little as this government has done (and I am not at all disappointed that a supposed limited-government party has "accomplished" not a whole lot), what little it has come up with has been bad for the country, and indistinguishable from the harm the coalition-of-the-swilling was ready to foist on us.

  62. Another great editorial, Coyne, I always enjoy them.

    I've been saying for a while that the current string of Conservative rule has been one of the most unspectacular governments in Canadian history. If you ignore the Clarks and Turners who didn't last long enough to enact anything, what other Canadian government has stayed in power so long and did so little? The only other one that comes to mind is the Louis St. Laurent Liberals in the 50s, which are almost completely ignored when people talk about past governments (Pearson ruled half as long but had the flag, health care, pension plans, et al. to make a long lasting legacy). In 50 years from now, what will Harper be remembered for?

  63. Of course, that's a very loose definition of "socialist". Certainly it's well short of any formal academic definition of socialist (such definitions tend to focus on exclusive state ownership of assets, particularly in the industrial sector). I think Coyne was being a bit flippant and delibertately provocative when he made that statement. Yeah, he's a "socialist" in the sense that right-wing Republicans and foaming-at-the-mouth Obama haters use the term, but, umm, those people aren't exactly academically rigorous in their use of the term.

  64. I'm not a Harper supporter, but nice try.

  65. The banks should be able to do everything they want according to Harper, he said so when he was the PM, but the Liberals said no, that is why our financial crisis is not so bad. Right wing is never for the people, but for the big coporations, so what is he hidding ?

  66. Lame

  67. More vapid, but quite wordy, "Liberal" sentimental longing and convenient historical amnesia disguised as journalism. The real and only value of an article like this is the reminder to all, that we're in an election, so let the irrational "Harper" bashing and polarization of the electorate continue. What is it… 1.5 million dollars of taxpayer money that goes to subsidize MacLeans? I can't wait for a Conservative majority to put an end to the "Liberal" imposed theft of taxpayer money to grease the palms of the compliant and ever loyal "liberal" media.

  68. and even more so, such is the leeway granted it by Conservative party "supporters" who couldn't find a way to break their blind loyalty and punish poor government if that government's sole accomplishment were kitten torturer–if said government were conservative.

    Until we manage to expand the small proportion of swing voters or at least voters truly willing to consider their vote, we continue to offer no incentive for good government.

  69. Yes, you have characterized my opinion well. Contrary to TimesArrow's opinion, I have a huge amount of faith in conservative values. I just don't think the majority of Canadians agree, and I think the principles of conservatism have been plain for people to see. However, I don't think that jumping out on a soap box and screaming at Liberals how wrong they are will somehow cause them to change their minds. They're thinking the same thing, that conservatives are the troglodytes that just need a good talking to. You don't win in sports by assuming the opposition will simply fall over before your eyes, and politics is no different. You win by fighting the small battles, you win by delivering what you can, you win by satisfying the people's desires.

    You take what you can get. Why is that concept such anathema to people? Seriously, the worse thing you can do is pull a Joe Clark! He had such bedrock faith in conservatism in 1980, that he set back conservatism many years by accomplishing absolutely nothing and handing over the country to 5 more years of Liberal power after decades of Liberal dominance. Clark followed AC's advice, he stood by his conservative values, got himself a no-confidence vote and an election clobbering, and that delivered the national energy program, 5 more years of rising separatism, 5 more years of nanny-statism and the list goes on. That's not leadership, that's stupidity, that's suicide, that's not government at all. Clark could have steered a moderate conservative course, instead he screwed everything up and delivered to the people a 5 year span of extreme liberalism. Thanks Joe!

    TimesArrow sounds like Joe Clark in 1980! You don't win a battle by committing suicide.

    Anyway, that was a bit of a digression. You're right, my main point is that the government is delivering what the people want, that's what democracy is all about, it's bipartisanship, that's what Americans have been crying for, that's what pundits typically cry out for, and for some reason AC is claiming that the last thing the government should be doing is delivering what Canadians are asking for. You lead by delivering incremental change in the right (conservative) direction, and proving to the people the success that it will bring.

  70. I disagree. If the Liberals or NDP were in power, we'd have triple the deficits (like the US), just like they said they would do, when they said we needed triple the stimulus (cough cough pork) that we got. We'd have a national child care program, a national drug program, a new carbon tax and other new socialist schemes and wealth redistribution programs, just like Dion and Martin said they would give us. Our foreign policy would still be coddling dictators. We would not have fared the best of all G7 countries in terms of both employment and GDP, we'd be following those countries with liberal governments to the bottom of the heap. Instead of a gun registry vote, we'd have a vast swath of new gun registries and gun control laws. Instead of a lower GST, it would be higher, just like Ignatieff says it would be, and our corporate taxes would not be going down, just like Ignatieff says they wouldn't be. Our military would never have received the boost it got, it would be falling apart, just the way the Liberals liked it when they were in power.

    After all that, the best a conservative government would be able to do is to undo half the damage until the next Liberal government takes over. You don't win a battle by committing suicide. Elections matter.

  71. I agree, Wells leans less to the right but he does understand the principles in play, and yes, there are principles at play.

  72. Exactly.

  73. Ah, the "But moommmm! They'd do it too!" defense. Yeah.. that never grows old…

    ..oh wait.. it did..

    ..in grade 3.

  74. Yes, as Coyne points out. The principles in play are "How do we maintain power?"

    Or to be more specific: "How do we keep THEM from power?"

  75. And yet they're spending more and more to do it. Odd that.

  76. I'd be happy if there were true, but I'm struggling to come up with a single practical example of how this government has reduced the size of government or its intrusiveness, incrementally or otherwise, aside from a few points worth of GST and some boilerplate We're-love-Alberta-Oil policies on climate change.

    In fact, the Harper government has repeatedly insisted it would avoid significant spending cuts during the recession, and it spent like crazy before it.

    In short, to say what you said, you must be pretty intoxicated by the fumes of this faux conservatism.

  77. Wow. A guy named Lester B. Pearson could one-up Chris' so-called he-man with just a few months of work… Five-plus years of whining, barking and spinning. That is called action in only a conservative wet dream…

  78. Essentially i agree with you. We get minorities because the public like them right now – and they seem to prefer one led by the tories. However you're missing my objection. The only way the tories are able to pull off this feat is too imitate, in many ways, what is essentially a liberal govt- hence playing keep away. Harper has essentially morphed into a neo-liberal and thrown overboard just about every principle he's ever held in consequence. Coynes point is that the price of not being authentic is too high, both for conservatism and the future of consequential governance. It's a clever game but not an honest one. Some [ including past colleagues of Harper] have gone so far as to suggest this is just a part of Harper's plan to do the libs in and replace them with a con NGP.

  79. Clark didn't lose for any of the reasons you cite – he just was inept, he couldn't count full stop. To suggest Clark lost because he was an extremist conservative is hilariously overboard. Crosby's budget of the time was widely praised as a good one. Clark was a bungler – not an ideaogue of any description.
    . 5 more years of rising separatism? Do you seriously believe Clark could have taken Leveques on in 1980 and won that referendum? You're hallucinating. How could he have prevented it? By bribing Quebec, or making the kind of concessions Mulroney was to offer – how's that worked out? If for no other reason, every Canadian owes Trudeau a debt for what he did in 1980 – so, yes it was fortunate for us all Clark lost that election.

  80. Above all Andrew is an idealist.

    Not and average idealist, mind you, but more of a rabid one, in which he lashes out at the lack of "principles".

    He is therefore incapable of putting his mind to notions of pragmatism.

    Pragmatism – getting done what can be done given a certain set of circumstances.

    The most obvious circumstance is the fact that he must have the consent of the other parties to do anything, this being a minority parliament.

    The other circumstance that pure conservative principles cannot be forced onto Canadians. At any time, but certainly not in a minority situtation.

  81. Such "analysis" ends up being good fodder for the left.

    It gives them an alternative to the now defunct "hidden agenda".

    What happens when Harper doesn't enact radical conservatism like the left leaning media scared us all into thinking? Well, he lacks "principles" in failing to act the the scary manner we (falsely) attributed to him.

    An attack on Harper either way…to be sure.

  82. You really aren't suiggesting that the Conservatives have stolen money, have paid off cronies and introduced wasteful programs such as the gun registry. Yikes.

  83. "Hidden Agenda" where he'll impose radical conservatism on all of us!


    Ummmm….okay then, he lacks "principles" in enacting the hidden agenda we falsly ascribed to him.

    Either way….er…..Harper's evil!!!

    So says our ever-in-touch "elite" media.

  84. This same article,

    based on realism (as opposed to blind idealism), could very well reach the precise OPPOSITE conclusion – that given the incredibly hostile economic climate, indeed the worst of our lifetimes, and three opposition parties to consistently confront in this fragile minority,

    it is remarkable how much was accomplished. And above all else, he kept the nanny state, forces of tax and spend at bay during these perilous times.

  85. The group of lefties that continually rally around the MacLeans flag absolutely slay me. Your left wing boys were prepared to go to bed with the devil in order to grab power yet you accuse the Conservatives of doing that. Hypocrisy is the watch word for the left–always has been, always will be. You are not fooling anybody. Most on the right couldn't bother reading this rag thus the inbalance in reponses. The election my man, the election. See you there.

  86. How many times do we have to read the exact same article? Granted, this one doesn't quite go over the top like "Parliament will fight" but still it is stale and frankly boring.

    The difference between PM Harper and the pundits is that Mr Harper intuitively understands Canada and Canadians, who they are, how they instinctively feel, what they aspire to, etc. This is the whole point of the "Just Visiting" and "He Didn't Come Back For You" ad themes…Harper understands Canada very profoundly (like Duceppe understands Quebec very profoundly…this latter fact is the root cause of our national political dysfunctionality).

    Put cynically, Harper understands what English Canada wants politically: competent Liberal government without the corruption. He knows that without Adscam we would today be into Year 7 of Paul Martin's juggernaut "politics of achievement let me be perfectly clear blah blah blah". He knows he got an extraordinary lucky break when the whole Chretien/Martin nomenklatura collapsed. He is not going to blow his good fortune by deluding himself that his 2006 victory was all about a "we love Harper" cult or was some great Conservative wave. It wasn't.

    On my bus to work every morning (on the sides of which is an advert from peopleforcorporatetaxcuts.ca – the new sign of politics?) there are about fifty people (voters), many with face piercings and tattoos and carrying fibreglass lunch boxes and listening to, or texting on, their portable devices. They are definitely not listening to pundits. They (we the people), Marzolini's 85%, do not care at all about process (prorogation, census forms, TV ads, question period 'civility,' Senate appointments, scandale-du-jour, left wing versus right wing etc). They don't want to have to think about Government at all. Chretien understood this. So does Harper. This is the point of the Harper working late at the office ad. Harper is worrying about what the Government is doing so we don't have to. Canadians want a manager, not an ambitious self-important Great Leader who wants Grand Achievements to be his "legacy." We got through the global economic crisis pretty well. Our troops are doing us proud. That's enough.

    I would really like it if Mr Coyne would go back to good old-fashioned journalistic analysis ("dismantling the apparatus of Liberal hegemony" "Ontario is joining the West" etc – all excellent stuff). We 15 percenters are well aware now of his opinion.

  87. Well, you suggest that the government believes AGW is a hoax, and yet the government continues to pay it lip service… isn't that a hidden agenda? Or is it just run-of-the-mill political gutlessness?

  88. You know why people think Harper has a secret agenda? It's because they listen to hard-right commenters like yourself who worship the ground Harper walks on, and you drone on and on about AGW being a hoax, how Trudeau ruined the country and we have to roll back the welfare state, yadda, yadda, yadda… and there's a disconnect between your fondest hopes and dreams and the rhetoric of your leader. Well, either you'll be very disappointed in what Harper does if he gets a majority, or he has a hidden agenda. It has to be one or the other.

  89. Every time I hear somebody talk about dealing with climate change I assume they are not very clever… or can't read.

  90. That reporter, the one shown taking a photo of Harper with his cell phone, which media outlet does he work for? Pretty tight budget at that corporation…;-)

  91. Every time I see someone pretending climate change is not a serious problem, I assume they are rightwing dimwits and/or paid Conservative shills. Our tax dollars at work.

  92. Actually it could be both; his hidden agenda might be a different hidden agenda from what his deluded followers think is his hidden agenda.

    Or he could be perfectly open and straightforward – HaHaHa – sorry, couldn't keep a straight face there.

  93. In and out scheme, bribe offer to Cadman, wasteful G8/G20 spending, etc., etc. Yes, yes, yes, Oui!

  94. Coyne isn't a Liberal sympathizer, far from it. He's national editor of a magizine that is fading into irrelevance in the age of the internet. As a result he's doing what any intelligent person would do – he's pandering to the bulk of his readers to stay alive. Just look over the comments and the 'thumbs'. Any conservative positive comment gets voted down (regardless of quality or relevance) and likewise for liberal positive remarks getting voted up. It would be foolish to go against that.

    So Coyne is just keeping his readers happy, and I totally respect that. He has a job and a publication to protect, and so it is in his best interest to provide content that the readers will like. If most of your readers occupy the left side of the political spectrum, Harper (and Conservative Party) bashing will be #1 on the menu. Give the people what they want.

    If people go to a steak-house, they don't want veggie-burgers. Likewise, if people come here, they don't want to read anything positive about Harper or the Conservatives. Can you blame Coyne for pandering?

    I sure can't.

  95. You're one heck of a hard-core conservative to be praising Trudeau and thanking him for delivering 5 more years of horrid Liberal government. Clark was a twit, but anything would have been better than what Trudeau delivered, contrary to what you and Coyne may believe.
    One of the hallmarks of being conservative is knowing that sometimes (often) government is the problem, not the solution.

  96. Nice to know 70% believe every word? Seriously, that's the lamest response you've ever uttered.

  97. No, that's not them. Go back and read one or two of Wells' articles on the subject.

  98. So, you're saying, when he gets a majority look out, you'll see the real harper of Reform days then. I lot of us have thought that for a long time. After a majority the deluge.

  99. Never said any such thing. I am simply stating that Harper did what was necessary given the circumstances he faced. That's all. Nothing more,nothing less.

  100. Coyne – Once connected now rejected – a Liberal shill!

  101. He's in the middle, or slightly behind the curve, as any centrist politician in a minority should be.

    His actions, and those of Chretien before him, speak loudly though. Lip services to AGW yes. Action no.

  102. Andrew,Excellent article.Well said. A.J.G.

  103. "I am waiting with baited [sic] breath but I am not holding my breath"

    So, which is it? Or are you trying to suck and blow at the same time?

  104. Well said!!! From the G&M

    "Mr. Harper's critics like to froth about his contempt for process. Others froth about his lack of vision. But the vast majority of Canadians don't care. What they really care about is whether their jobs and savings and property values are reasonably secure and whether their kids will be able to find work. As the traumatized countries of the West grapple with their biggest scare in decades, what they really want is for an adult to be in charge. Canadians are acutely aware that unlike the Americans, the British, the Irish, the Spanish, the Greeks, the Portuguese and God knows who else, we've gotten off lightly. We want a guy at the top who we are pretty sure can keep it that way. We don't have to like him. We can even loathe him. But we'll keep on putting up with him, so long as he doesn't screw it up." http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opin

  105. "Clark followed AC's advice, he stood by his conservative values, got himself a no-confidence vote and an election clobbering".

    Whoa…back up the truck here. That's a very nimble piece of historical revisionism. Clark didn't lose a no-confidence vote by "[standing] by his conservative values" unless you consider it a conservative value to introduce an 18 cent per imperial gallon tax on gasoline (the so-called "short term pain for long term gain"). He then lost the non-confidence vote in the House by failing to whip the Tory caucus the day of the crucial vote. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Clark#Fall_of_go

    It's probably a more accurate interpretation of the event to say his minority government fell because he compromised fundamental conservative values (not unlike what Harper seems prepared to do to keep his minority alive).

    You Harper acolytes can back and fill, rationalize, and muster all the cognitive dissonance you need to keep him close to your heart, but at least get basic historical facts correct.

  106. You're joking right? I'm no con and you should know that.[ must have missed the sarcasm?] If youre prepared to believe anything would have been better than Trudeau it might be logical to conclude losing the country in 80 is among them. You'd seriously put your distain/hatred of Trudeau ahead of national unity – what did he do to you? Personally cut you out of the charter?

  107. It's probably a more accurate interpretation of the event to say his minority government fell because he compromised fundamental conservative values (not unlike what Harper seems prepared to do to keep his minority alive).

    Not sure if i agree on that point. Clark's budget was quite sensible – we need to bring down the deficit, hence the gas tax. Oddly enough i can't rememberr the liberal objection to the tax – i have a feeling it was opportunistic and dishonest – they just wanted an opportunity to get back in – which of course is what happened due to Clark's bungling.

  108. I agree that the budget may well have been quite sensible in the fiscal context of its time. My point was that Clark's government didn't fall because he "stood by his conservative values", as s_c_f was suggesting. I don't think most orthodox conservatives would consider such tax reflective of their values.

    I also agree that the Liberals opportunistically seized the gift such a tax proposal presented (regardless of its policy virtues) and used it to topple Clark's government.

    White cats and black cats, as Tommy Douglas characterized Libs and Tories.

  109. PM Harper is governing. That means making decisions based on what is happening around the world.. Has Canada been stagnant since 2006? I do not think so. Could we have done more, I am not sure. Would have we done better with someone else at the helm? NO!

  110. Dude, the problem is if we had better politicians we would have better choices … Right now all we have is – scumbags on the left and scumbags on the right and all they care about is getting and gaining power … nobody cares about … uhm, you know, governing the country …

  111. Right on! There is nothing that "Harper" can do that would please the taxpayer subsidized Lib lovin media. "Harper" will always be damned by the taxpayer subsidized media no matter what he does or doesn't do, and the media's narrative will change accordingly.

  112. From here on out, can you stop putting Harper on some kind of pedestal? I mean, if he's going to sling BS as well as any Liberal ever did, then you can't really suggest he's a new kind of politician. Either he's gutless, or he's full of sh*t. It has to be one or the other.

  113. "but he has done more than any minority leader ever. Period. "


    William Lyon Mckenzie King: Old Age Pension supplement. Minority Government

    Lester B Pearson: Universal Health Care. Canada Student Loans.. Canada Pension Plan, Auto Pact, 40 Hour Work Week, the first Minimum Wage. Minority Government

    Those are the ones you learn about in hight school. There are more.

  114. Please explain where he went wrong then.

  115. Like so much these days, it's all about branding, not substance.

  116. I dunno about that. I think there have previous occasions that rank quite highly on the lame scale.

  117. It has happened before. Guess what – there are scum bags from all ideological sides. Your over-simplistic "good guy – bad guy" approach is almost sad. But whatever – live in your perfect little world…

  118. So what you are saying is that Coyne is a journalistic whore who will say anything and everything just so he can make a buck. In your fantasy scenario, he resists his natural urge to support all things Conservative and Harper, as he must do what he must to keep the magazine afloat. And they say that the leftist's live in a fantasy unrealistic world, lol!

  119. No I do not live in a perfect little word but I do not dismiss the reality of the Liberal party's legacy. They have been proven to be a corrupt party who set up a program to steal money from the taxpayers of Canada. For that they deserve to stay in the political wilderness for a long time.
    There is not one shred of evidence that this government has done the things you apparently accuse them of.

  120. Excuse me there is no evidence that the Conservative party bribed Chuck Cadman. It was investigated by the RCMP and there was no evidence to support charges. There was a lot of smoke and fire by the opposition and people like you but in Canada you are still innocent until proven guilty. The in and out scheme is still before the courts. Obviously it is not a simple decision or it would have already been ruled on. You need to wise up. It is your opinion there was wasteful spending for the G8/20. However, there is no evidence that any of the money was pocketed by anybody in the government. I will give you that some of the expenses seemed excesses but that's it. I doubt Harper and the government was sitting there deciding on where the money needs to be spent. There are security experts etc etc in putting on these major events.

  121. Just a tad cynical don't you think? I presume you are going to run for office so that you can remove the so called scumbages.

  122. Like the lefties on this board I want to try and suck and blow at the same time.:-)

  123. Not so sure about the "NO"

    – Would a different govt have spent us into deficit before the recession?
    – Would a different govt have allowed introduction of toxic mortgages into Canada (that had to be quickly & quietly pulle back at the onset of the financial crisis)?
    – Would a different govt have introduced a structural deficit with the GST reduction?

  124. "Our foreign policy would still be coddling dictators. " Perhaps you didn't hear Harper in Morocco this past week?

  125. and which Conservative majority would that be, pray tell?

  126. Hogwash. Security experts with a gazebo fetish? Please.

  127. Agreed.

  128. Yes, I did hear Harper in Morocco. Do you have a point?

  129. Ask his wife.

  130. There is another kind?

  131. Harperpolitics = the epitome of modern day machiavellianism

  132. I enjoy going to all the news websites to read the news and also the comments. especially when it comes to Canadian politics. I enjoy it when a C.R.A.P. supporters keep pointing to the past Lib misdeeds, and the Lib supporters keep pointing to the misdeeds of the present C.R.A.P. and the previous Cons.
    The rest of Canadian voters (about 40%) that did not vote for either of those parties have to sit back and analize which party is the most corrupt or inept. That 40% does not have to do any research. All of the misdeeds and lies are exposed to us by the supporters of those 2 illustrious parties.
    What a joke. And they take turns running this country.

  133. Harper is an Evangelical Christian, of the Alliance church. I know from experience that these people firmly believe that they're superior to the rest of us (referred to as "the lost") because they are *Christian*; and therefore – any means used, whether good or evil, in pursuit of the Lord's Work — is justified.

    That's why there is no conscience or principles involved with Harper – he just has his eyes on the goal; getting a majority. Once he has a majority, he can then "do the Lord's work" in Canada. THAT is why the government is so vapid, and so changeable, and so effortlessly just switches to whatever it is the people seem to want, or whatever the media is exposing or asking for. Harper Tories are like a fog that just flows around fitting into nooks and crannies, or water – finding the areas of least resistance, finding its own level. Harper has learned that fighting is of no value and will only hinder his search for a majority, so he shapshifts, he changes colour like a chameleon – whatever the flavour of the day is.

    This is not because he's a vapid person, or has no particular platform — it's because he is searching, just like Gollum — forever searching for the Majority — the Ring of Power. Then you'll find out what he's all about; there won't be any need for him to back off, edge away, retract, smile and please, move on to another topic – because then he'll have the power.

    "Oozing charm from every pore – he oiled his way around the floor. Every trick that he could play; he used to strip her (Canada's) mask away." Cobra in a basket.

  134. No, Coyne is slowly realizing that Harper has no principles, at least not principles that the rest of us would recognize. He has said as much – and said it after supporting the Tories for some time – said it after a great deal of thought. Not impatient – but fed up enough, or has awakened enough to realize that this man is really, really bad for Canada.

  135. That's crap. There are elements in Canadian society that the pollsters haven't taken into account; or they're only doing the surveys in certain ways. I think everyone is going to be surprised, and I think Harper knows it's going to be dangerous next time around.

  136. Sorry, but you are extremely wrong, and lying about the Clarity Act. That act was forged, worked upon, sweated over — by Stephane Dion. There's no way that Harper would ever have the brains, experience, wisdom, or knowledge of Quebec – and if you look at the timeline, I don't think he was in a POSITION to be anywhere near Quebec at that time. Nice try, liar.

  137. Harper wants us all to experience The Rapture – Evangelical-style.

  138. If memory serves me, the Gollum persona was applied quite correctly to Jack Layton in an earlier Macleans article.

  139. Are you reading the same Andrew Coyne that I am? Please, before you reply, go through Coyne's posts and find ANY that are kind to the Tories and hard on the Liberals. His posts/articles speak for themselves. What's more, just look at the thumbs on these pages. It's clear where the loyalties of the readers lie, so why would you write anything that would alienate those readers? Are you suggesting that Coyne would write himself out of a job?

    Sorry, but I just don't buy that.

  140. So you're saying that the Liberals governed like Conservatives, and as Coyne points out, Harper has been governing like a Liberal.

    So why are you supporting Harper again? After all, it sounds like if what you want is conservative governance, you should be supporting the Liberals.

  141. In fairness, we can't assume that high school was completed.

  142. You have to be delusional to think that Conservatives would ever get a majority in this country.
    That would be the beginning of the end of Universal Health Care… and the beginning of the swing towards American style health care (among other things). Hell No!
    Universal Health Care is too big a creature for any Conservative/Republican party to like. It's too socialist! Too much government involvement and too much tax-payers dollars going into it.
    And therein lies the reason why Conservatives will never be a comfortable government in Canada… because they cannot congruently lie in bed with modern-day socialism's biggest flag-waving program.

  143. Andrew Coyne is so negative it makes me ill. Stephen Harper may not be perfect, but why are people so quick to forget that our country is one of the best places in the world in terms of the global recession? Coyne's outrage is so predictable, it's getting old. He needs to go. The world knows you hate Harper. Coyne histrionics indeed!

  144. I came here from a link at the Post, I never read McLeans because of it's decidedly left wing bias, and judging by the comments and their approval ratings, i can see my impression is not wrong.
    Imagine, if you will, a Liberal Minority government. If you are truly honest with yourself (a trait somehow lacking in the leftist realm) you would realize that the country would be controlled by the NDP. Since the Liberal would sell their children just to stay in power.
    The amazing thing about the last 5 years is that we have managed, for the time being, to escape the fate of countries like Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. Somehow I don't think you could say that with a Liberal/NDP government.

  145. Liberal Party of MonTorOttawa?

  146. Compromise is the price of power. Andrew Coyne, the inveterate free-marketer, should understand that, given that Maclean`s receives over 1.5 million dollars a year in subsidies from the federal government. If you think the Tories are without scruples, wait till Iggy and Rae take over.

  147. At the core of this airhead regime are the old Harris retreads.
    And they know not how to build.
    (They haven't got a clue what they would build even if they had the skills and knowledge to do it)
    They only know how to destroy.
    They are getting pretty good at that.
    Our greatest, most productive PM was hobbled by a minority. Pearson built enough in his 5 year kick at the can to keep Canadian society moving forward well beyond his brief time at the top.
    alas … we get cartoon government

  148. Harper is but one player in our political system and he is playing the cards he has been dealt to his best advantage. The same cannot be said of other players, most notably the Liberal Party and the media. The Liberal Party has behaved irrationally since before Martin and many in the media have shirked their responsibility and soft-soaped that fact. Sure, the Conservative ads are over the top, but what does resonate in them is that, by modern-day democratic standards, Michael Ignatieff is an illegitimate leader. Political leaders should emerge from battle; they shouldn't be appointed by virtue of birthright, so to speak. It is not healthy for democracy. Liberals refused to rebuild and instead tried quick fixes to claw back power, while many in the media played along. That overlay is often overlooked when Harper's performance is evaluated.

  149. Thats not very Hobbesian of you…

  150. Yes, I suppose so. Gollum has become an archetype. Applies to a lot of people.

  151. Powerful leaders with conviction are way too expensive. I've waited decades for one who would pretty much just play political games and leave me alone, and the last few years have been quite comfortable in that respect. At least there will be no stupidity rolling far into my future like the bilingual crap, Meech Lake b.s., and the stupendously idiotic gun registry. This recession only seems bad because of it's immediacy — the one in the 80's was far worse, but also far in the past. The 30's was bad, but legendary. Market forces and the needs of the people should always outweigh party programs — none of those boneheads have enough brains, even in large groups, to guide a nation. Canada is fine, has been for centuries, leave it alone and let us elect governments which will simply look after it, instead of doing a "clean sweep." The politicians who can't perceive that the floor is already pretty clean should be turfed, and let us choose from among the caretaker types.

  152. The CPC filed an affidavit by Dona Cadman stating that an attempt was made by unnamed officials of the CPC to bribe her husband. The so-called "doctored tape" was found to be intact for the key statement that Harper made about offering money to Cadman. Cadman was dead so there was no way for the RCMP to proceed because the testimony of Dona and her daughter constitute hearsay, which isn't admissible. That's a long cry from claiming there was no bribe.

  153. Keep fighting those old battles if you like but the rest of us have moved on.

  154. Oh and I'll bet you've moved on from the sponsorship scandal, billion dollar boondoggle that wasn't, gun registry and other such old battles

  155. What are Coyne and Wells gonna do when Mr. Harper wins again?? Cry in their soy latte….

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