Harper reaches the age of major-ity - Macleans.ca

Harper reaches the age of major-ity

The prime minister promised major this and major that in Davos

by

The prime minister spoke in Davos today and promised major this and major that. A highlight of his remarks:

“But we will do more, much more. In the months to come our Government will undertake major transformations to position Canada for growth over the next generation.”

This continues a trend we’ve been following here at macleans.ca, and perhaps it’d be good to sum up the story to date.

1. The problem. I identified it in this blog post from December, on Harper passing Diefenbaker to become Canada’s 9th longest-serving prime minister. “Harper has already had an influence… Now he can start to make a difference comparable to anything Pearson and Diefenbaker made. If he wants. Harper’s (first?) coveted majority is already seven months old.”

Those sentences required no insight. They match what I was hearing, including from Conservatives, at the end of 2011: Uh, what’s the plan? As the anniversary of Harper’s May 2 majority election victory approaches, it’s still far from clear why he wanted this mandate. You see that uncertainty in this column from early November, when I asked a Conservative staffer whether a throne speech with a bold new vision would mark the New Year. ““Currently, you’re making that up,” my annoyingly anonymous source said. “But boy, would that ever be awesome. God, that would be great. Can you make it true?”

2. The windup. Harper gave year-end interviews in which he used the word “major” five times to characterize his plans. He even told CTV he’s seen “too many majority governments” fall asleep and get nothing big done. That led to this column, in which I asked what he has planned that tops repatriation, Canada-US free trade, or the Clarity Act.

3. The frame. Ten days ago Harper ostentatiously sent a letter to his caucus, laying out “tough, important choices” the government must “make with the Canadian people.” Wait, did I say “laying out.” I met “referring to.” So I asked what those choices might be.

4. The choice. Harper told his Davos audience (link above) “Canada’s choice” will be, “with clarity and urgency, to seize and to master our future, to be a model of confidence, growth, and prosperity in the 21st century.”

Like you, I’m saddened that the opposition parties will choose to oppose all those good things, or at least to pursue them in a manner that shuns clarity and urgency. But never mind. What’s clear is that Harper has been working toward this for several weeks; that he thinks it’s big; and that the agenda for the next, say, three months of government action is hinted at in that speech. The throne speech, to the extent we’re going to get one, was delivered today in Switzerland.