Major Harper: Long time coming

Everything in the Davos blueprint consists of things that were in the works during his five years of minority governments

by Paul Wells

I don’t want to make too much fun of the Allies-on-Juno-beach tone with which the Globe covers Stephen Harper’s Davos speech

After five years of minority governments, Stephen Harper finally has the freedom to act.

He’s no longer looking at the limited horizon of the next budget or the next election. He’s planning on transforming Canada for a generation or more. This is Stephen Harper’s blueprint for reform.

..Because I’ve been arguing for weeks that at least as far as Harper’s concerned, Harper is up to something big. But in the interest of perspective, it’s worth reminding everyone that in almost every particular, the Davos Blueprint (shots of men in black suits and Ray-Bans handing a steel briefcase from hand to hand) consists of things that were in the works during his five years of minority governments.

“Overhaul the immigration system?” The Action Plan for Faster Immigration, designed to “assess new applications according to Canada’s labour market needs,” dates from 2008. Broader reforms are said to be on the way, but the direction’s been set for a while.

“Aggressively pursue free trade in India and Europe”? That started in 2010 with India, in 2007 — really the end of 2006 with exploratory discussions — with Europe.

“Change how Canadians finance their retirement”? Research on the finances of Canada’s retirement system began in May, 2009 at the political level; I’m here to tell you the Finance department has had analyses of the challenges and working papers on reform options available for much longer than that. It’s what Finance does.

That leaves “make oil and gas exports to Asia a ‘national priority,’” which is more recent, but then the Gateway project took until recently to get off the drawing board and into a place where it needed government attention.

Taken together, this is a workable governing agenda, and a ready reply to anyone who wonders how this prime minister intends to govern. But it’s not something he pulled out of the Davos air this morning.

 

 

 




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Major Harper: Long time coming

  1. Cool story Paul!

  2. Ohferfuxsake….the so-called ’hidden agenda’ has been known for years.

    It didn’t take any special clairvoyance.

    Libs and Dippers…and anyone with a brain… told you all this ages ago.

    The media is the one miles behind the 8-ball.

    So ‘Golly gosh, gee whiz…look what’s been sneaking up on us’……just doesn’t cut it at this point.

    It was never chess I’m afraid….it was always plain as day.

    • Not chess, no, but definitely checkers.

      You know, straightforward moves, step by step on your way to being crowned king! LOL

      • Snakes and Ladders? He may reach the “100″ square eventually, but all those snakes in the party can he hazardous…

    • You’re right. the media seemed to fall for every Harper fake and deke. But he’s always been a hard right Republican style neocon. 

      • Gracias a Dios. 

    • I’m sure there is a point somewhere that you are countering here… but it wasn’t one made in this post.

      • Actually, it was.

    • It has to be said that some Canadians like what Harpo is doing, but it’s equally true that the “hidden agenda”; understood by some of us as clear as day, was never articulated by the media or the opposition,which is why a lot of people who voted for the CPC are now shocked and feeling betrayed. It is never enough to simply say what he’s doing is bad, you have to be prepared to explain why. In Harper’s case it is not hard to do, starting with the fact that he really only has the support of %24 of the potential electorate to begin with, and many of them are feeling duped. Add to that the disrespect for parliamentary procedure, his attacks on his opponents, his refusal to provide cost information about prisons and fighter jets and his gutting of environmental agencies and you are soon wishing for some sort of recall mechanism. He learned well from his hero GWB and unfotunately shows no sign retreating from his chosen path.

  3. How much damage has to be done before people are done with the Harper Regime?

    • Give it a rest man. “Regime”? are you confusing Canada with Syria?  Try to tone down the drama.  If you name even one valid thing that Harper has done to this country that is genuinely bad- id be amazed.  But you long for the days of of Liberal rule, where Canada was a laughing stock to the rest of the World with no National identity.

      • If your side is going to call anyone who criticizes you a socialist,  this is what you get.  Canada was never a laughing stock.  It may be now, with Harper’s habit of bragging, lecturing to others,  and playing to the home base at every international opportunity.

        • He certainly doesn’t seem to have the ability to rise above his innate pettiness to anything resembling statesmanship. I’m sure the deep thinkers at Davos are snickering behind closed doors.

        • I think it’s fair to say that both (all 3?) sides do their share of name calling. Nobody’s got a monopoly on that particular form of “debate”.

          • It’s only the Cons that whine about it.  And there’s no whining in poltics!

      • Harper better watch his hubris. That BS always comes back to bite you in the butt!

      • Would you like a listing of them  from the petty, vindictive punishments for women’s organisations to stealing the money set aside for the Kelowna Accord to give it to his corporate sponsors.

        From making Canada a laughing stock at the International conferences on climate change to cutting off foreign aid to countries that do not make abortion a crime.

        How about lying to the people in the 2008 election campaign in claiming that Canada was in surplus. After the election we found out the truth just in time to be hit by the financial meltdown where the surplus he blew away would have been very useful.

        I could without breaking a sweat provide you with forty or fifty “bad things.” Really bad things. Economically destructive things. Socially destructive things.

      • Well said, Christopher.  The last thing that I would ever want is to go back to the days of Liberal mismanagement.  We’ve faired pretty well during this recession, far better than most countries have.

        • We have an artificially high dollar based on the sell-off of raw natural resources. Future generations will pay a high price for our current level of comfort, and they won’t have the resource base to fall back on.

      • Harper has brought real shame to the Canadian brand. From The pullback of foreign aid to the isolation( US excepted) at recent climate talks, to the recent crime bill, Harper is out of his depth and out of step with the rest of the world and has been roundly criticized by several international leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron (UK). Many Canadians oppose, or just plain don’t understand, why he wants to spend our tax dollars on weapons of destruction and prisons, why does he want to bring in foreign workers while refusing to train Canadians, ( I was personally refused Second Career training, along with several others who had spent months jumping through hoops trying to obtain it). And I haven’t even got time to get onto his multi-faceted anti-union agenda. In the eyes of many Canadians, this is a man whose narrow-minded and rigid ideologies have led to a declaration of war against everyday working Canadians

        • …and who really cares what a useless piece of crap like Obama has to say. His country is in a mess, unemployment is sky high, their economy is beginning to stumble after not having taken off….and you respect that? You need to get a job and pay some taxes, maybe get a take on what the majority of Canadians know that you don’t – that this country is now better run than it has been for years, even with the mistakes Harper has made.
          Anti – union? Gee, I bet if you asked most Canadians, they’d agree with Harper on that. Unions are well past their best before date…especially the public service unions.
          If you were to spend some time reading and paying attention to what is really going on in Canada and outside our borders, you’d never have printed your drivel.

      • Canada was not a laughing stock before – rather, much respected and appreciated for our differences from our Southern neighbour. They make wars and blow things up; we stick around longer and clean up the mess after. Having a wannabe George Bush III selling us off piece by piece has made us a laughing stock with our national identity fading fast. Build prisons while closing hospitals? It’s the American way.

        • The only government that close Hospital was the Romano government of Sask. that closed 50 hospitals Harper is federal they don’t run Hospital but being an NDPisser you to dumb to understand that.

    • Given Ontario’s experience with Harris, and the inexplicable ability of that man to get elected, I’m thinking at least one more majority. Yikes! LOL

      • Barring a miracle from the NDP or Lib leadership races, or a completely disastrous performance by the CPC, I (sadly) have to agree.

  4. What … have you had your head in the sand ?? This is what is needed to keep this country going .. a working agenda .. not national parties pitting one part of the country against the other .. We work together not a part .. If Trudeau were doing this it would be herald as some great advancement for the country. But a Conservative.. and westerner .. well that is a Sin on a national level …

    • Please, Harper is a retreaded Ontario corporate clone. We didn’t raise him, he was just another eastern carpet-bagger who couldn’t crack the Bay Street A-team. Just because he camped it in Cowtown for a couple of years hardly qualifies him as a “westerner”

      • On one hand, I like this because its true. On the other hand, it retreads the same whiny Western alienation theme that Harper’s CPC has successfully taken advantage of. Is this our Canadian equivalent to “Seekrit-Communist-Muslim” accusation of the US? I still give it a thumbs-up.

    • Harper is born and raised in Toronto–didn’t know Toronto was considered part of the West.

      • That may be, but he sure as hell panders to the western (read: Albertan) viewpoint, often to the exclusion of the rest of the country. It seems his only focus on job and wealth creation is centred on the oil sands and getting the (unrefined) oil to market. He is keeping pretty quiet on the various trade talks, and if what I’ve seen of the European deal is any indication, that’s with good reason.

        • This comment reminds me of the crap my grandpa was saying in the 90s, with the transposition of where the prime minister is focusing and who the prime minister is ignoring.  Helps me to remember that the distinctions are meaningless in a decade nothing has changed, just the titles.

          • Yep; that “western alienation” viewpoint is his bread and butter. It was crap then and is crap now but Harper has been using all that crap as his fertilizer. If you think he has a job creation plan that extends beyond the pipeline(s), I’d love to hear you lay it out. ‘Cuz he sure as hell isn’t.

          • Can you quote me a recent pronouncement or speech in which Harper has used the term “Western alienation”?

          • Never claimed the words escaped his lips. But it is a long-held western sentiment based on an exaggerated view of long-past slights that Harper has very skillfully manipulated to his own benefit.

      • Harper’s political career began in the west where he was opposed to Trudeau’s National Energy Board which would’ve forced Alberta to share its oil profits with the rest of the country. His backers are largely western industrialists who have helped to foster his disregard for the environment and in particular his disdain and ignorance towards native populations whose land and traditional food supplies are threatened by the oilsands development. His rush to market and his willingness to sell off raw resources to multinationals with little or no benefits to Canadians also indicates a lack of foresight for the benefits that future generations could reap if the pace of development were slowed and secondary industries were supported and given a chance to develop. They have been pumping oil out of the ground in Alberta for decades on end and still no Canadian refineries. Hmmm…

        • Traditional food supplies? What, the local IGA is threatened? Give it a rest chum.

  5. We just had an election.  It would have been a perfect time to discuss these matters, particularly those that affect directly the citizens like their pensions. If the governing party had information to provide on pensions they should have done so last spring.  What a missed opportunity.   I guess there’s always the Senate.

    • Harper is a coward. Why did he just mention this in Davos? Why does he release his economic statements at Con-friendly events rather than in Parliament? Why does he hide behind GG’s skirts at the first sign of trouble? He’s a Grade A coward!

      • Can you imagine the president of the USA release this kind of news at an international even in Davos???

        • Exactly. I can’t understand why we have such low expectations of this “man.”

        • Yeah. It’d be like a US President setting a new tone for foreign policy at a speech in Egypt – to a Muslim audience. That would never happen.

        • So you think that the Canadian Prime Minister should act more like an American President? I 

          •  . . . but only when the American President is a trendy African-American Democrat.

    • That’s definitely a problem. Unfortunately, I don’t see a solution because people don’t like to talk or even hear about policy (even during an election and even if it directly effects them. ’cause it’s so Boooooooorrrrrrring to them). Governments also don’t like talking about them because the 5% of the population who does listen won’t always like it, so it means that the hopeful candidate may have to justify them, which is haaaaaaaard to do on the basis of reality (it’s easier with a backing ideology as you can always point back to it). 

      • I disagree.  If you were to say during an election campaign that you plan on changing the rules regarding the Canada Pension Plan people would pay attention to that.  Policy is vague to most people, I agree; but not their old-age pensions.  They all know it exists, particularly those who are most likely to vote.

        • Honestly, I think it would get that 5% to 6% and they’d just align themselves neatly into “cut it back” and “leave it alone” teams without having a discussion about it. 
          More people would get interested in the situation once it’s already happening.  

          Perhaps, though, I don’t have enough faith in my fellow countrymen and women and I’m being just a little too unfair. 

          • I think in the case of pensions it’s one of those things that if you have to cut them back in any way whatsoever, you don’t campaign on it, you just do it(similar to how the GST came in).  Otherwise it’s not going to get done.  There’s very few votes you’re going to gain by telling people you’re going to tax them more or by telling people you’re going to cut the income of senior citizens – and there’s many more to lose.  It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing to do, and it’s much easier to do the right thing inside a stable majority because you’re not in a constant campaign.  3 years from now there will be many more things to talk about than just, for instance, raising the retirement age.

        • You say that like you think he wants people to be paying attention.

  6. So the country is now too poor to help 65 year old widowed and single virtually penniless women pay their grocery and rent bills. 

    • What is so magical about age 65?   Was it decreed in the Bible or the Koran or something as the mandatory age of retirement?  Are you saying our statutory deemed age of retirement should stay the same forever, regardless of what happens to human life expectancy and health?

      • Misses the point entirely. The point is it has been estimated the a quarter of OAS recipients are almost certainly going to feel the pain disproportionately. Across the board changes are just dumb – expect Harper not to change his mind. It has been also pointed out that HC costs are going to be far more of a problem then OAS – Harper’s picked the wrong target , as he often does.  

        • Why can’t he target both? And who says that this will be disproportionately felt by impoverished widows? A program could be specifically designed to grant them more money rather than cutting EVERYBODY a cheque. And don’t you think it’s just a little bit cowardly to hide behind little old ladies. I hear Harper’s a coward but I thought you Liberals and NDP types were brave.

          • Ah no. that would be discrimination.  The point is,  the elderly poor are disproportionately female – for a variety of reasons.

          • Statistically you may be right, but you’re discussing a cohort that was born in a different time, i.e. the late 40s and 50s, when working outside the home and earning a pension wasn’t that common. So of course women are more highly represented. That’s changing. It’s demographics, and you should take some time to understand it. The knowledge would inform your opinions and likely change a few of them.

          • Sure that’s exactly what they proposed isn’t it!

            With apologist like you they don’t need to be brave do they?

      • It is not magical. It is the product of a politician who Harper, try as he might, can only be a pale imitation of in his grasping for power.

        Bismarck introduced it to pacify a restive population and seduce it into believing he cared about the population as more than just fodder. Just like Harper.

        The age was chosen because very few, at that period, would live long enough to collect and Harper has much the same aim. His own pension is secure and prodigious so what matters the suckers?

        • twit – the average Canadian lives to be 81.4 years. Try googling before you bother us with your drivel and left wing spew. You waste everyone’s time.

      • Retirement age is actually lower in many developed countries, but you’re right in saying its an arbitrary number. To Harper it’s just another way to pay for those massive corporate tax cuts.

    • This reminds me of Gordon Campbell early on his rule. One of the first things he did to reduce all the supposed fat the ndp had built up was to cancel bus passes for seniors.  There was such a backlash he had to backdown. 

  7. Dear Mr Wells

    And your point is?

    • Perhaps you should read his last sentence or two – might help, i doubt it though.

    • Reading is FUNdamental.

  8. I don’t think liberals and the left generally can complain too much about this. Some of us have been complaining for years Harper’s agenda is hidden – now it isn’t. Let him go for it – it is still our job to stop him , slow him down or just mitigate the damage…personally i welcome it is out there now…game on!!…like majority PMs before him he does not hold all the cards and he will not win all the battles unless we let him.

  9. Hidden agenda,I doubt it from a Conservative,probably bring back the Union Jack,scrap medicare,get rid of the CanadaPension.

  10. Just shows how the liberal and tory agenda’s are the same

  11. God help us!

  12. When you start with a bad system of government you will always end up with a bad leader. Direct Democracy is the only answer. For those who don’t know what that means, it’s were the people tell the government what they can do, not the other way around.

  13. Canada will look like it did in the Fifties after the Conservatives are done with it. Privatized Healthcare, Capital Punishment, and a more aggressive Pro-American Foreign Policy will be Canada’s future. It will be like Trudeaumania never happened. They’ll reverse everything Lester B. Pearson achieved (Peace Keeping, preventing World War 3, Nobel Peace Prize, Presidency of the United Nations, etc.) All the achievements of the Liberal Party over the last forty years will be reversed, and undone. Harper’s (America’s puppet) hidden agenda is not so hidden anymore.

  14. Little policies from little men. Cut science,cut environment, No technology initiatives and terrible unvisionary energy policies. Canada is destined to be a backwater with leadership like this.

  15. let’s see cadman affair(an act of treason), 6 years of election fraud, pro-rogue parliament to block war crimes investigations, refusing to report to the parliamentary budget office, shipped our manufacturing to communist china, detruction of food safety, and envitonmental protection, suspension of disbeleif criminal policy…hey name someting good from the harper regime has done…

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