Major Harper and the Reforms


In an interview with Emmanuelle Latraverse to mark the 6th anniversary of his 2006 election victory, Stephen Harper hints at some of the “major” initiatives he was describing before Christmas. There’s also some more specific language on health transfers. Highlights:

On what he means by “major” reforms: “The main preoccupation of this government is the creation of growth and jobs for Canadians. Not only during this global crisis but over the long term. We face very important challenges, especially demographic challenges. We’re examining all our policies. Not only the budget situation, but also research and development — we had a panel on that — on immigration, on the pension system, on regulation.”

On health transfers: “The basis of our approach on health care is to respect provincial jurisdictions. …We’re the first government in history that doesn’t intend to balance its budget by cutting transfers to the provinces. On the contrary… growth will remain predictable and stable over the long term.”

On a federal role in health: “The reality is that health systems are managed by the provinces… If the provinces want to reform their systems in a coordinated fashion where we could work with the provinces to help reform, we are ready to do that. But we have no intention of imposing a federal vision on a system that is in others’ jurisdiction.”

On what the reporter calls a “gulf” between Harper’s values and Quebecers’: “If we examine the content of C-10 and public opinion in Quebec, it’s clear the population of Quebec supports these measures. Even the former minister of justice of Quebec said that.” (I’d be grateful if somebody could find a reference to the former minister Harper mentions here – pw)

On the meaning of the 2011 election results: “I think our approach to federalism has truly weakened the Bloc Québécois and we saw the fall of the Bloc.”


Major Harper and the Reforms

  1. “I’d be grateful if somebody could find a reference to the former minister Harper mentions here”
    It’s Marc Bellemare. http://fr.canoe.ca/infos/quebeccanada/archives/2011/11/20111129-051001.html

      • For the other “Anglos” out there – Bing translator.

        Bellemare sounds more like a ringing endorsement and it appears Fournier is making most of the noise against it.

        “The proposed Bill C-10, the conservatives “will enhance the credibility of the judicial system” in Quebec, where the fight crime “is the last priority” of the Charest government.
        It is at least the opinion of the former Minister of Justice, Marc Bellemare, who came to the defence of the shift to tough on crime of the Harper Government, in an interview in the Journal. 

        This is an excellent Bill, said Mr. Bellemare, yesterday. I hope that the House of Commons will adopt it as soon as possible. It is due to a blow of bar. “In some respects, I think even that certain measures could have been even more severe.”Counsel recalled that at the time where he was Minister and Attorney General of Quebec, he was “favourable to more severe penalties” and did not hesitate to appeal “those who were not satisfactory.” 

        He argued that many amendments providing for the imposition of minimum sentences for serious crimes “are all justified.” Particularly for sexual “heinous” committed on minors crimes, which would henceforth punishable with at least a year in prison.”

    • Paul…just ask and you will received.

  2. “The main preoccupation of this government is the creation of growth and jobs for Canadians.”

    Does any one ever ask the PM how exactly does government create jobs? Harper/Cons would be weak on their economic record if all our major parties and journos weren’t technocratic or left wing kooks and actually understood economics. Cons have done all they can to destroy wealth, not create it. 

    CBC News ~ Lending billions of dollars to General Motors to help it avoid bankruptcy in 2009 was the right decision and saved jobs, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday.

    CBC News ~ Two and a half cheers for Stephen Harper and Tony Clement.
    They got the potash decision right, blocking the takeover of Potash Corp. by international mining giant BHP Billiton.

    • government “creates” jobs by helping private enterprises, businesses, etc. to grow, hence these businesses create jobs.

      • Harper isn’t a socialist, tho. Or at least he wasn’t before he became PM. Cons would look foolish if forced to actually defend their economic record – Cons on track to have worse economic record than Trudeau?

        Canada would be doing significantly better if Harper et al. had a different “main preoccupation” than trying to bamboozle Canadians into believing that government does anything other than act as barnacle when it comes to growth and jobs. 

        Bastiat ~ That Which Is Seen ….:

        In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause – it is seen. The others unfold in succession – they are not seen: it is well for us, if they are foreseen.

        Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference – the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen, and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse.

        Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, – at the risk of a small present evil.

  3. I’d like to hear more about how Harper believes his government’s “approach to federalism” led to the fall of the BQ.  In 2011, the Tories went from having 10 seats in Quebec to having 5 seats in Quebec.  It’s awfully brazen to be taking credit for the downfall of the BQ when you lost half of your seats in the province, while another federalist party went from having 1 seat to having 59, is it not?

    • Would be a fair question if it really was ‘another federalist party’; but it is the NDP, and it’s an open secret that much of the Quebec NDP caucus are separtists on the outs with the official separtists.  And I have to wonder how much of the NDP vote is Quebec is only a parked protest vote, a ‘neither of you two right now’ signal to the parties that can aspire to lead the whole or the country. Indeed, I think that there is a lot of this in the voting patterns across the country as various non-tradtional splits emerge. The new conservatives are not capturing the hearts and minds of the electorate, but they are emerging as the least offensive of a mundane pack. 

      • Well, if the separatists aren’t even down at all, they’re just hiding dormant among the NDP, isn’t that even LESS of a reason for Harper to be crowing about the fall of the separatists?

    •  YOu can fool 34% of people most of the time…

    • Really! I buy the good timing argument. He was simply there when all that was needed was to kick in the rotten door or simply let it fall under the weight of its own inertia. At best Harper didn’t do anything seriously dumb and long lasting to revive separatists [ coalition rhetoric aside]. That’s something, better then nothing, but not a lot to crow about.
      No doubt at some point we will be hearing how he foresaw the rise of CAQ [ just like he did ADQ] and claiming a piece of that also…unless of course it flops.
      Harper sometimes puts me in mind of a sailor who having lost his rudder or the wind not quite arriving where or in the amount he predicted it would, foolishly boasts once his little boat makes into harbour – “See, i told you all along we’d get here, we just needed a little push from a favourable tide”.
       A wise sailor never forgets not everything is in his control and consquently pours a tot into the waters, or kisses the salmon on the nose once he has it safely in the boat.

      *oops, must have got a wiff of the briny for a moment there even from 2000kms away. 

      *er…that’s a tot of rum, not your first born.

      • Pretty petty commentary. Surely you can do better than this.

        • Sadly, no.

        • I don’t think i’ll take any lessons in pettiness from you today thanks.

    • Fair point, but it’s a bit of stretch to suggest it was, rather, the NDP’s “approach to federalism” that did the trick.
      There were obviously lots of factors that led to the fall of the BQ but, to the extent you define Harper’s “approach to federalism” as refusing to kowtow to Quebec in the same manner as Lieberal govts of recent vintage, I’m sure it was one. I have no doubt Harper’s refusal caused a good number of Quebecers to reconsider support for the party for which Quebec kowtowing was modus operandi.  That these Quebecers then chose someone other than Harper doesn’t mean he wasn’t instrumental in prompting the change.

      • I don’t want to give Harper no credit mind you, but still. I think that even under your framing I give less (though not no) credit to the guy who’s lack of kowtowing made Quebeckers consider moving to a federalist option that they found palatable than I do to the party that actually provided Quebeckers with a federalist option that they found palatable.

    • I think you would have to agree that since the Conservatives came to power the Bloc was having trouble finding issues to bitch about.

      • That certainly makes intuitive sense to me.  Presumably an arch-centralist like Trudeau, Chretien or Dion would give the BQ a lot more to bitch about than someone who (at least in the past) has expressed a lot of sympathy for decentralization and respect for provincial heads of jurisdiction.

        This is why, to me, the Quebec flirtation with the NDP is ultimately doomed — most NDPers are in favour of a huge federal government that runs all kinds of national programs in as centralized a manner as possible.

      • I suppose.  I’m just not so sure that I think “I helped make the separatists content” is positively a great thing.

  4. He never mentions getting more young Canadians behind bars;. and bringing the RCMP Commissioner under Government control;.  and finding a new shooting war;. shunting Parliamentary Committees into irrelevance; and using media and electorate control techniques to make democratic elections a sham. Jobs and the economy, what a sideshow.

    • Could you explain what “electoral control techniques” are and how exactly Harper is employing them?

      • Wiki ~ Extrasensory perception (ESP) involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. The term was coined by Frederic Myers, and adopted by Duke University psychologist J. B. Rhine to denote psychic abilities such as telepathy, clairaudience, and clairvoyance, and their trans-temporal operation asprecognition or retrocognition.

      • Hate laced, dishonest, exaggerated attack ads repeated incessantly with huge amounts of money collected using sophisticated fund raising schemes, dishonest phone calls designed to subvert an honest democratic election  system, establishing a Ministry of Propaganda (PMO etc) to create campaigns of misinformation, control of the press in an atmosphere of secrecy, controlled access to information, and intimidation. There’s more.

        • “sophisticated fund raising schemes” I wonder if they learned how to commit fraud from Carson, or if they could teach him new tricks?

        • Another day, another tinfoil hat from a leftie. The ads against Ignatieff were his own words. How are they dishonest if they repeat what the guy said.

          Same with Dion he said in the debate it was hard to set priorities. Both of these men made fools of themselves. Canadians recognized and rewarded them accordingly.

          Oh are you one of those that thinks all Canadians are stupid and really don’t know what they are doing?

          So you want to punish the Conservatives because they know how to fundraise and the Libs are too stupid to figure it out. Right.

          How does he control the press. Everyday there are columns based in speculation, gossip and outright fabrication in an effort to try and weaken the government. However, the media have reduced themselves in the eyes of Canadians to no better than car salesman. So Canadians do not believe what they read.

        • W.B.:  I didn’t realize that Stephen Harper created the PMO.

          I learn so much interesting stuff on here.

          • Check number employees PMO/ PCO  Martin versus Harper. 

          • That’s kinda different from creating it. You used the word “established.” 

        • That goes to show that Harper definitely hasn’t been asleep at the switch.  He defines “going to sleep” as being unconcerned with being elected.

      • I forgot: “denying scientists freedom of speech”, discussed in today’s Globe and Mail.

    • When Harper begins to ban the media and the opposition parties then we can talk. Otherwise it’s all talking points that Canadians have shown they do not accept. Time to move on brother and find different talking points.

  5. “…We’re the first government in history that doesn’t intend to balance its budget by cutting transfers to the provinces. On the contrary… growth will remain predictable and stable over the long term.”

    Correct me if i’m wrong but the logical rebuttal to that would be something like: So how do you balance the budget then? At a time when future economic growth is unsure if not completely unpredictable isn’t that simply a matter of cutting the size of federal govt – social programmes, jobs of public service employees and so forth? Harper doesn’t have the fortuitous luck of the Martin years in that cuts could be offset somewhat by a roaring economy thanks to Bill Clinton. Which explains why he’s prepared to gamble everything on doubling or tripling the oil sands, ditching uncooperative regulations and shortening/weakening envriomental review processes, for just about any kind of resource extraction in this country.
    But this isn’t the eighties or even the nineties. Things have changed. Groups and individuals who are negatively impacted by those we absolutely have to get rich quicker choices aren’t simply going to holler outside on the lawn of Parliament hill or the street corner anymore; they will be heard no matter what Mr H thinks must be the direction of the country. He’s in for one long hard struggle to even get a fraction of what he thinks needs to be done achieved.
    Harper should be smart enough to realize that the days of PMs running rough shod over people and processes are fast fading; his type is facing extinction, the future belongs to those who know how to make consensus really work for everyone.

    • So, how many years does Harper have to be PM before he isn’t a historical accident?

      • Sure i get your point. Doesn’t it have a lot to do with the quality of the opposition? – not great through most of his tenure; and of course the split on the left.

        I don’t say he’s an historical accident. In fact he fits the pattern…Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien …of successful tough guy PMs. I really wanted to make the point that the road to actually achieving anything has gotten much tougher for that kind of PM.
        5 or 6 years in it’s still debateable just what SH has really done beyond proving he knows how to kick the crap out of less then top shelf opponents. He still hasn’t got his housekeeping stuff through yet, there’s still a ton of cranky opposition, not even a remote sight of consensus on the horizon concerning the direction the country should be going and his major stuff still in the shop for adjustmements/fine tuning.

        I’d say the battle for middle earth hasn’t yet begun. :)

        • I think that Harper more than “fits the  pattern” of Trudeau, Mulroney and Chretien.

          I’ve been calling him “more Chretien than Chretien” since before he even had a majority.

    • “o how do you balance the budget then?” Obviously you just don’t.  You nobly state your intention to balance the budget, but Harper will only balance the budget with a strong economic recovery.  Even cutting  possibly 60,000 jobs won’t do it.

      • I agree completely. I think Harper’s long game, while mouthing platitudes about a balanced budget, is to leave the federal government in a state of perpetual structural deficit in which it is incapable of carrying out anything beyond those activities deemed core by the Cons: defence, monetary policy, international trade, maintenance of a de-regulated, pro-business environment.

        • If that’s the plan I don’t think the military really fits in.  Because Canada doesn’t realistically require anything except a small local force for defence (heck, the mounties could do it in a pinch) everything else in the military budget is an extra.  Maybe you could put multi-billion penalty clauses into extravagant projects, but that’s about it.  Likely huge transfers with no strings attached and damaging tax cuts, as I believe Mr. Wells has hinted.

          • IMO, a muscular military does fit the Cons’ vision of Canada, particularly on Canada’s northern perimeter and to contribute to expeditions like Libya (no longer called “peacekeeping”). If they see maintenance of a strong military as a core federal role, they’re prepared to commit a large portion of its budget to that end while paring transfer payments, health, social service, housing, etc.

            Given their obsession with tax cuts as the panacea for all economic woes, I think they’re quite prepared to put the federal government in perpetual starvation mode.

          • It was pointed out to me recently that there is a seemingly sound reason for a stronger military. Climate change will make our nations natural resources more valuable. We’ll [need] something to protect them, especially, as our nations economy is based on them.

      • The austerity argument doesn’t seem to be fairing too well in the UK or anywhere in Europe.

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