Politics 2013: the calmer middle part - Macleans.ca

Politics 2013: the calmer middle part

Paul Wells looks at what’s ahead for the PM


I’m with Nascar blogger MadCowRacing: the middle of a long race is underrated. “It seems like today a lot of people don’t know how to enjoy the middle part of the races, the part where the drivers settle in for a while,” MadCowRacing writes in his blog post about 500-mile track races, which I adopt as a text for Canadian federal politics in 2013. “A lot of people think these guys are ‘riding around,’ but that is never really the case except for the drivers who like to sit in the back until the end of a restrictor plate race.”

I have no clue what a restrictor plate race is, but this sounds right to me. Indeed, as we read further into MadCowRacing’s treatise, it becomes harder and harder to tell whether we’re talking about hurtling metal or middle-aged political lifers. “You get to see how drivers handle their cars as the tires get worn?” Check. “You really get to see who has the better chassis?” Yup. “You don’t have to worry as much about a wreck taking out a lot of the competition?” Indeed. The Dion and Ignatieff pileups happened at the end of a campaign or, in Dion’s case, five weeks after. Finally, “The track surfaces get greesy [sic] and hot, with the lines consistently changing.” You took the words right out of my mouth, MadCowRacing.

2013 stands halfway between the election of 2011 and the scheduled election of Oct. 19, 2015. If that timing holds, the next Liberal leader will have lasted as long as Ignatieff and longer than Dion simply by sitting around waiting for a chance to run a campaign. I do think there’s a good chance Stephen Harper will figure out a way to have an election in 2014, fixed-election laws having, as they do, a way of being flexible around here. But even then, a political culture that had spent the years from 2004 to 2011 surfing on constant election speculation will be well and truly distant, this year, from any hope of a quick sugar high.

This will be Harper’s second full, uninterrupted year as a majority prime minister. He can introduce and pass two more 400-page omnibus budget implementation acts, run the foreign policy of his choice, make appointments unhindered, fill the airwaves with snarky ads. Whatever kind of prime minister he ever wanted to be, this will be the kind of year he gets to be that prime minister. There are three schools of thought on Harper: Canada-Hating Vandal, Pointless Mucker-About, and Incremental Reformer. Leading spokesmen for the three schools include Michael Harris, Dan Gardner, and me. I fearlessly predict that Harper in 2013 will offer all three schools plenty of evidence to support their theories, and that Dan will therefore conclude he’s right.

But as the surfaces get greesy and hot, 2013 will also turn out, in retrospect, to have had a lot to do with how the next election plays out. For one thing, thanks to the awesomely leisurely Liberal leadership-selection process, we will, two weeks after Easter, finally know the full slate of party leaders for the next election. When 2012 began we did not know Tom Mulcair would be the next NDP leader, we did not think Bob Rae would absent himself from the next election, and we could not be sure Justin Trudeau wanted to be his party’s leader. Now, barring personal catastrophe or a decision by Harper to leave politics while he’s ahead, the 2015 slate is coming together: Harper, Mulcair, May, Irrelevant Bloc Guy Who May Get Lucky, and Unnamed But Soon To Be Known Liberal.

Running a national election campaign is a complex skill. You get better at it as you go along. Only Harper and May will go into the next election with some experience leading a national campaign. Mulcair and the Liberal will be rookies. Harper has done a little better in every election he has contested as Conservative leader. May finally won her seat in 2011, has done well with it, and has no fear that Harper will steal any of her issues by governing in a greener manner in the next couple of years. We should expect strong campaigns from both.

Mulcair’s polling trendline since late spring should worry New Democrats, but not unduly: Jack Layton was never given the luxury of wondering how to interpret a decline from 35% to 29%, because under him the party almost never even saw 20% support. Is Mulcair vulnerable to Conservative attack ads? Is his support eroding because Justin Trudeau had a good summer and fall? Is an essentially silly post-NDP-leadership Mulcair bubble fading as the party returns to a solid new base near 30%? Or has the NDP begun a slow decline as Mulcair’s attempts to moderate his party (note the lack of photos with hunger-striking Chief Theresa Spence) simply blur its definition? Beats me. In 2013 we’ll see how Mulcair handles his car as his tires get worn.

Much depends on the Liberals. Let us speculate recklessly that their next leader will be Justin Trudeau. His timing is not ideal. A new leader who rides a crest of popularity to an electoral breakthrough really needs a quick election. Diefenbaker won his landslide five months after becoming opposition leader in 1957. [UPDATE: I never get that right. Actually, Dief won a minority in 1957 and grew it to a big majority in 1958.] Pierre Trudeau won his two months after he replaced Lester Pearson as prime minister. Brian Mulroney had a relatively long 15 months to wait before his 1984 cakewalk, but that was mostly because the Liberals tried to avert disaster by switching out their leader. Justin Trudeau, if it is he, will begin two and a half years of cooling his heels, waiting to ask the third round of daily questions, reading daily leaks from his caucus in the Globe. That prospect in itself should make Liberals consider carefully before letting themselves get swept up in Trudeaumania II, because their next leader will need a solid chassis for a long ride. Yes, I’m getting tired of this extended metaphor too.

The opposition parties should all worry, all the time, that their support is simply a system of communicating vases: that rising Green support hurts mostly New Democrat and Liberal incumbents, that Trudeau or Marc Garneau or Martha Hall Findlay can hope at best only to replace Mulcair as Stephen Harper’s sixth opposition leader. A party normally loses power only when its supporters stop supporting it. In 2008 and 2011 no opposition party could dissuade large numbers of Conservative voters from voting Conservative again, because the kind of people who were amenable to voting Conservative could not be dissuaded from their belief that Harper would be a better economic manager than the alternatives.

There are only three paths to power for any opposition leader: peel away a large amount of what has been, for four elections in a row, solid Conservative support; completely collapse voter support for the other opposition parties; or implement a workable plan for opposition-party merger or cooperation. None of these can be done in the five weeks before an election. The work on any of these plans would need to start soon. If 2013 is a year in which little changes in the distribution of political power and partisan support, it will be a very good year for Stephen Harper.



Politics 2013: the calmer middle part

  1. You forgot a fourth path to victory: the creation of a reform-minded right-of-centre party that splits the conservative vote, as in 1993.

    • Interesting idea…. and who exactly would lead this party? Stephen Harper?

      • According to the wet dreams of some Liberals, I think it was supposed to be Mark Carney.

    • Also forgot the Asteroid from Space possibility.

      • Garneau is working on that one for our side..I’d say the odds of a FNs uprising are considerably higher myself….and that’s pretty darn remote too.

        I think i’ll stick with the public finally tiring of the WAY, the methods and the tactics Harper chooses to use to advance incremental reform.
        Using a bulldozer to implement reform has its limits..
        .Harper’s a one note song…we need some harmony bout now.

        • What do you mean by uprising? Certainly not a war, but another blockdate at some point would not surprise me.

          • Poor choice of words. But anything is possible. #idlenomore is not driven by the chiefs, it is driving the chiefs. It may fizzle, but i don’t think so.

    • Who would lead such a movement? Incrementalism has served Harper pretty good so far. But it would be a sweet scenario, the right split again because of its own hubris or impatience, rather than opposition finally figuring a game plan out.

      • Left or right, that and voter fatigue are usually how parties lose power.

    • Wild Rose (or some other western disillusionment party) goes federal? Not impossible. Both Harper and Mulroney depend(ed) on being able to convince rural/small-urban westerners AND southern Ontario suburbanites to vote for the same party. It’s not an alliance that is easy to sustain. Mulcair was trying to incite a feud between the two, but it sort of backfired.

      A more likely version of the Asteroid option is population moving to cities and riding boundaries being redrawn. Our system of parliament can be heavily influenced by where they put the riding boundaries. However, the fastest-growing regions are the suburbs, which tend to vote Conservative.

  2. You know, I’ve never actually entertained the idea that Harper might break the fixed-election law with a majority. I never thought the fixed-election law was supposed to apply in minority government situations, because it would effectively make it impossible for the opposition to throw the current government out. But it would be gutsy of him to do it with a majority, only because the same left-wing loons who were claiming he broke the law last time, would be doing so again, with even less effectiveness than the last time around, only this time they’d be right. And there is something hilariously beautiful about watching the far-left get caught crying Wolf when they’re simply trying to weasel their way out of an election they know they can’t win.

    • Hmmm, and he did such a good job of acknowledging the constitution and parliamentary convention actually allowed for his removal last time out, didn’t he?

      How on earth would it make it impossible to remove an incumbent govt? The same conventions would still apply…loss of a money bill, a rejection of the throne speech or a designated NC vote would still bring about an opprtunity to change the got, either through the GG’s prerogative or in an election.

      That argument of yours was long ago outed as fallacious and simply self serving.I challenge you to find one authority that backs it up.

      • So you think that the fixed-date election law was intended to have the GG chose the government (regardless of the will of the people), or we sit and wait 4 years till the next fixed-date comes along? That seems like quite a dysfunctional democracy to me.

        As for backing up my argument:

        56.1 (1) Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General’s discretion.

        (2) Subject to subsection (1), each general election must be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the last general election, with the first general election after this section comes into force being held on Monday, October 19, 2009.


        For further reading (not that you’re interested in facts that might go against your pre-determined opinion), see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed_election_dates_in_Canada

        So the law on the books agrees with me, the court’s have agreed with me, and even the Wikipedia community have agreed with me.

        Perhaps you could provide some sources for your opinion that aren’t “falacious (sic) and simply self serving”?

        • There was NEVER any distinction between minority and majority. The law could never be enforced – it was a sham to begin with. It was only as good as Harper’s (or any other Prime Minister’s) word – in Harper’s case, zero.

          Why are you lying, Rick Omen? Is it a medical condition? Are you not in control of your faculties and feel compelled to do so?

          • I’m not the one lying, you are. The law was followed to a T. Constitutional experts agree, judges have agreed, and anybody who’s actually read and understood the law has agreed.

            What, in your view, would have been the result of a vote of non-confidence immediately after an election? Please answer me that.

          • I would expect exactly the same as without the law. The law was ALWAYS meaningless because ordinary statute could not prevent the governor general from doing her job. The PM was never stopped from dissolving parliament because he could NEVER be stopped from dissolving parliament, minority or majority. Only his word kept him from not doing so. Certainly nobody expected him to break his word as obviously as he did, especially after whining about it for years on end. Even more surprising was how quickly CPC supporters set aside conscience to support him on the matter.

            I type this not for you who is deliberately obfuscating the issue, but the few others who may be taken in by your disingenuous “reasonsing”. I have given you far more attention than you deserve and will stop now.

          • . “The law was followed to a T. Constitutional experts agree, …”

            Links, source…evidence please!

          • Rick’s right in this one. Harper didn’t “technically” break the letter of the law. And there have been constitutional experts pointing that out. What he’s not saying is that those same experts point out that the only reason he didn’t break it was because the law is absolutely meaningless.

            It was a pointless sop to the saps who vote conservative. And the gullible rubes bought it. So no, he didn’t technically break it. He simply stomped on its spirit and on everything that his own party was saying it would do.

          • Rather like his limits on how long you can serve in the senate, [or if it amounts to an elected senate if the PM chooses members from a list of provincially elected senators] without making the constitutional changes necessary.
            I think it was pointed out at the time that Harper’s fixed date law might have become a convention of some sort that would be difficult for a future PM to break…if[a big if] Harper actually respected it himself.
            My main point of dispute with rick[?] stems from his claim that a minority govt couldn’t be changed in various ways through the offices of the GG/loss of a NC vote etc. The courts found nothing in Harper’s law infringed on the electoral act – which was precisely my point – it is possible to change out a minority govt despite the fixed date law. As you say, his FEL is absolutely meaningless, as will be any commitment to honour it in ’15.

          • Umm . . . Is it actually possible to break the letter of the fixed election law?

          • Nope. Because the first clause in it explicitly says that nothing in this law has any effect whatsoever.

          • When you pass a law which can’t be enforced to underscore a promise you are making, and then break the promise I have no problem saying you are “breaking your law”.

    • First of all you never believed that it wasn’t meant to apply to a minority government. You are saying this now to cover his flouting of the law (which isn’t applicable under any circumstance). Secondly what the last eight years have shown us that if there is a group of people who care enough about parliamentary procedure and it’s underlying democractic principles, they aren’t influencing election outcomes. As long as the same 37% of the population remain as dumb as they are, the CPC are in a good spot.

      • Um, I *did* always believe it wouldn’t apply to minority governments. You can claim that I didn’t all you want, but I was on the record then having said it, and I continue to. So please, don’t lie and put (take) words from my mouth, thank you very much.

        As for his “flouting” of the law, it seems pretty difficult for the PM to have “flouted” a law in 2008 when the law only took effect October 19, 2009. Unless by “flouted” you mean he played it like a flute, but I somehow don’t think you’re that clever.

        And I guess the most important part for you to understand is that PM didn’t dissolve parliament, because he doesn’t have that power. The Governor General does, and the very first section in the bill specifically says: “Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General’s discretion.”

        So I guess you *could* argue that the Governor General broke a law in 2008 that didn’t come in to effect till 2009, even though said law specifically indicates it does not have any effect on the GG. But you’d still be completely wrong.

        So 37% of Canadians are stupid in your view. Do you think that people who prefer a different flavour of ice cream than you are “stupid” too? Could you perhaps, just for once, maybe try put something here on the record of substance, beside name-calling, lying and your other usual childish behaviour?

        BTW – Here’s a Cole’s notes version of the law for you to read, so that you might be informed on a subject before you decide to comment again: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed_election_dates_in_Canada


        • “…the law only took effect October 19, 2009.”

          Sorry, Rick; wrong again. The Oct. 19 date was simply the [supposed] first election date post-enactment; the law came into force as soon as it was assented to (signed) by the GG, as there is no clause setting an “in force” date. Since the law was passed in November 2006, it was technically “in force” in 2008.

          As the first clause effectively renders the law moot, though, the bill was a complete sham and a waste of taxpayers’ money. So no, Harper did not break the law; he knowingly passed a useless law and then when the pretence no longer suited him he simply broke (another of) his promise.

  3. No fair, you don’t say why Harper might break his election law…again? Wouldn’t that be a godsend to messrs Mulcair, Trudeau and Ms May?…particularly Trudeau?

    • Probably not, because the fixed-date election law doesn’t do any of the things you lefties think it does, as I noted below. Basically all it does is limit a government from calling a snap election at a time of their choosing *near the end of their mandate*. Nowhere does it indicate that elections will be held on and ONLY on X date. But I understand that at the time you were all to busy screaming “he’s breaking his own law!” to bother actually reading the law or understanding it.

      • Conservatives lie, it’s what they do
        They lie to me, they lie to you
        They lie about fixed election dates,
        Not even knowing it’s Canada Harper hates.

        • Just because an idea is too complicated for you to understand, doesn’t mean that everybody else is lying. Maybe you should try educating yourself instead of resorting to calling people liars every time you’re confused.

      • It doesn’t even do that, Rick.
        Because it doesn’t hamper the PM at all, and so doesn’t hamper the GG at all. So doesn’t do jack squat.

      • “Basically all it does is limit a government from calling a snap election at a time of their choosing *near the end of their mandate*. Nowhere does it indicate that elections will be held on and ONLY on X date”

        This has to be one of the best examples of a non sequitur i come across in a good while.

        Tell me how NOT being held to an actual election date can also be seen as a limit on calling a snap election?

    • Silly Canadian, consequences are for Liberals.

    • I don’t believe most Canadians ever care when an election happens. We have all been used to elections at surprising times. The 2006 election campaign stretched through Christmas; all my Montreal colleagues were quite sure the 2012 Quebec campaign would cause an uproar because it took place in the summer, but we actually have summer once a year in Canada and people have got used to things happening during the summer. And so with fixed election dates: the Harper campaign actually expected a bigger uproar in 2008 than they got, and I’m not sure they’d get any more if they went early this time. Much depends on circumstance; if he called it in the middle of a filibuster he’d likely benefit from as much sympathy as outrage.

      Why call an early election? To short-sheet opposition parties and avoid late-mandate fatigue on his own side. This is only an odd hunch I have, not a theory or anything Conservatives I speak to are actually discussing.

      • lol, i often overlook just how much politics in Canada really does all boil down to who “short- sheets” who the best and first, and has often been the rule, rather than the exception.. That and the fact that apparently only 15% of us are paying any kind of attention at all.What’s the point of moaning – it is just a democracy after all? Sometimes i think it’s a small miracle that Canadian federal politics has not thrown up someone very much like Harper before this…being generous to Chretien i suppose.
        It is of course also possible that Potter’s naive to cynical political
        curve simply sags far more to the cynical right than it did in the liberal glory days. But then why wouldn’t it with an 800ib neo Con gorilla swinging on it, and after the Chretien/Martin partnership ended so ignominiously.

      • I suspect summer is a good time for elections in Canada. There isn’t much in the way of actual governing going on, and it’s a lot easier to get the electorate out and motivated than it is in the winter. They might get in the way of local riding affairs, but a lot of this is done by staffers with minimal input from the MP’s.

        Short-sheeting is only bad if it’s done against the party you support, and until we get a general population that’s actually aware of issues and a national media that actually reports them, tactics are what often win elections.

  4. I would argue that the most common approach to ending a lengthy Canadian government is for the opposition to do very little and wait for the voters to become fed up. In my lifetime, the end of the Trudeau/Turner , Mulroney/Campbell, Chretien/Martin eras had much more to do with Canadians plugging their noses and accepting the alternative rather than any strategy put in play by the opposition to peel away support.

    • I generally agree with you. But I do think that there’s typically “one big thing” (GST) that pushes the electorate over the edge, though even those sometimes have marginal effects (ie. Sponsorship Scandal – the fact that so many Liberals continued to vote Liberal after everything that was known is a testament to Liberal partisanship).

      • Or what the Gomery commision and the courts and the RCMP have had to say about it, rather than your keen and penetratingly non partisan insights.

  5. “There are three schools of thought on Harper: Canada-Hating Vandal,
    Pointless Mucker-About, and Incremental Reformer. Leading spokesmen for
    the three schools include Michael Harris, Dan Gardner, and me. I
    fearlessly predict that Harper in 2013 will offer all three schools
    plenty of evidence to support their theories, and that Dan will
    therefore conclude he’s right”

    Speaks probably to my intellectual idleness, but i think its a less than wholesome mixture of all three. I certainly have a foot in the Harris camp, yet i suspect he’s over the top pretty regularly; Gardner’s pov is worth a foot or some toes too; and the Well’s school is compelling and rational – so that needs a foot.[ i sense a problem]

    It’s the combination of all three that marks Harper. But he garners no credit in my book because he simply isn’t really interested in,or capable of having an adult conversation about his ideas for reform [ doubtless reform of a $200billion + operation is always in the cards] He simply wont risk losing out on some of his agenda. Not even Trudeau was that bone headed. I don’t call that leadership…whatever else it may be.

    I really can’t see this tactic getting him to his end game – making the CPC the new NGP/default party of Canadians in the long term. The only precedent we have for this is MK, and he didn’t get there by closing his ears to progressive trends or simply exercising power in such a way as to simply marginalize or humiliate opposition partners on a regular basis.

    It has gone on far longer than many anticipated and been more successful, but it simply can’t be sustained. At some point when the pendulum swings it will likely do so powerfully…and then anything can and will happen, because it’s happened before. Surely even Harper knows this?

    • My own opinion of the psychodrama is that Harper realizes he will never win Canadians over to the far-right vision that he holds dear (and thinks that everyone who doesn’t is his intellectual inferior), and so he set out to attack many of Canada’s democractic institutions as a way of lashing out in revenge. I’m not saying it’s true, but it fits his behaviour.

      • You forgot to mention the Super Scary Hidden Agenda™

        • It’s in there. Remember, Harper’s only job outside Alberta politician was operating a website for the right wing National Citizens Blah Blah Blah. He doesn’t have many job prospects unless he has been secretly promised a cushy spot on the board of Enbridge in exchange for his undislcosed leadership campaign contributions. So he needs this cushy job – he’ll only go as far right as he thinks he can. That’s what makes him so angry and so willing to attack Canada in other ways, see?

          So my further theory is that he won’t push the far right stuff very much unless he thinks he can (which isn’t very far, UNLESS the Liberals are completely elminated. In some ways, the idea that the Liberals are there to split the right wing vote has some merit). He’ll leave that for Jason Kenney to try after him.

          Again, not necessarily true. But it certainly fits.

          • And Trudeau is an ex-kindergarten teacher with lots of money. Harper now has six years as a national leader which is probably more experience than most CEO’s get.

          • Yup. Trudeau has transferable skills upon leaving his current job. harper, not so much.

      • Harper knows he doesn’t have to win anybody over – which means he doesn’t have to suck up to you for your vote – all he has to do is keep his supporters happy (and he does) and watch the rabble run around in circles

        • Class, can anyone help Mr. Young out, here?

    • No need to “suspect” Michael Harris engages in over-the-top polemics. He does. Visit the “non-partisan” (wink, wink, har, har) ‘ipolitics’ site for first-hand evidence. If he was a movie, you’d pitch him as deranged-is-my-normal state Chomsky meets Mad Barlow.

      • Little over the top yourself aren’t you? I think i can make my own mind up about who’s opinion on Harper is deranged or not thanks.

        • No worries. (I don’t envy you your task, though. There’s an absolute plethora of deranged opinion on Harper. You’ve got heavy slogging ahead.)

          • And some of that deranged thinking comes from his own supporters.

  6. There are three schools of thought on Harper: Canada-Hating Vandal,
    Pointless Mucker-About, and Incremental Reformer. Leading spokesmen for
    the three schools include Michael Harris, Dan Gardner, and me. I
    fearlessly predict that Harper in 2013 will offer all three schools
    plenty of evidence to support their theories, and that Dan will
    therefore conclude he’s right.

    Absolutely priceless, that paragraph.

    Wells, you’re right about Harper, you’re more right about Harris, and you’re even more right about Gardner.

    • Right about what? Obviously i’m hearing a different message there than you. I don’t see Wells making a value judgement on the other two. He seems to just be saying there are different opinions…not claiming that his own view is demonstrably right.
      Personally i see merit in all their view points.

  7. Congratulations. Clearly you do not believe in democracy, or the Westminster Parliamentary system, just the right to take power by force and dishonesty. Do you have no ethical guidelines for good governance? See the United Nations’ guidelines on good governance, and ask yourself whether any of Harper’s actions have been just, transparent or accountable.

    • The UN is hardly the font of good governance. They may have issued policy papers on it but their poster child is the EU and how is that working?

  8. Party politics makes for awful government and is weakening democracy. Independent candidates who select a leader. Kind of like a consensus government in the Nunavut mould. No more parties. It’s ruining everything. Elect local representation and let them form a government. It can even be done without any new laws or amending the constitution.

  9. It must be very frustrating not to be a Tory right now – critics, pundits, haters and left wing loonies tripping all over themsleves to look for the hidden agenda or spin reality in any possible way to vent their frustrations – man it must suck! Personally what I am very impressed with Harper’s record so far in that he doesn’t suck up for your vote – the man is an ever ready political bunny and he just keeps on trucking kickin ‘ a ‘ all they way – the weirdest behaviour he has that really drives his detractors to whole new flights of fancy is that he keeps his promises!!!! – he started with his first 5 and now they are all kept except of course the income trust one … however .. it was best to get rid of – so he opted for the right thing again! I think what I have particularly enjoyed is his ability to poke you in the eye and tell you not to look at the rug because he is pulling it out underneath you! being a web forum junkee I have thoruoghly enjoyed all the thumbs down since 2006 and am looking forward to even more after 2015 when he wins again as he will .. unless he is getting tired of it all in which it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he says he won’t run at end 2015 and we have Shelly Glover running for leader (who would have a good chance – Jason K vs S. Glover be my bet)

    • “he keeps his promises”

      Nice hallucinogens – where do I get some?

      Harper’s very first act as PM was to convince a Liberal to switch sides in exchange for a cabinet post – and appoint a senator and then give HIM a cabinet post. Thereby breaking two electoral promises in one fell swoop.

      I won’t go on to list all the other broken promises… you will clearly ignore them anyway. But seriously… where do I get my hands on some of your stash?

      • (1) long gun registry gone = YES!
        (2) wheat board gone = YES
        (3) change criminal code to respect victims rights and protect canada from violent offenders = YES
        (4) Reduce taxes = YES (GST, Federal and Corporate)
        (5) Income Trusts = well this was a special case however soon to be compensated for!!!!! – he made this part of his platform in 2006 and now he has kept them – NEXT – no stash for you as am makin brownies

        • Nice cherry-picking… but if those are the only things that count in your book I guess your ignoring all the broken promises, lies. corruption, deceit and just plain stupidity are things you can justify to yourself. The rest of us expect more.

          • Number three is arguable because there is little to no indication the goals mentioned will happen. if he’d written “change criminal code as knee-jerk ineffective action”, we’d be forced to admit he was correct.

          • LOL! I agree, but I didn’t see much point in extending the discussion by pointing that out.

        • See, here’s the problem. CPC supporters are so desperate for Harper to be a good leader, they delude themselves as to what he actually promised.

          Here’s his Five Priorities:

          1. A More Accountable And Transparent Government. He passed something called the “Accountability Act” and since then, every organization that ranks a government’s transparency and accountability has been giving Canada’s government lower and lower ranks.

          2. Cracking down on crime by imposing mandatory minimum sentences in gun-related violence. After killing his own legislation on this file twice, Harper finally passed some mandatory minimums that were actually less than the average sentence handed out by judges for gun crimes — minimums that defence lawyers will now argue for, instead of arguing for the judicial average that had been set by precedent. And this completely ignores the fact that there’s been no relation shown between sentence severity and overall crime frequency.

          3. Providing $1,200 a year to parents for each child under the age of six as part of a policy that Harper says is aimed at giving parents greater flexibility in child care choices. Whether he kept this one or not depends entirely on how badly you want to say he kept it.. because the benefit is taxable. So very few people actually see $1200/yr. And again, this is completely ignoring the fact that $100/month will, in reality, do somewhere between jack and squat in providing any sort of flexibility to parents — because the primary issue affecting parents child-care choices is the lack of services and child-care spaces available. An extra $100/month simply isn’t enough to spur any sort of significant competition in supply.

          4. Working with the provinces to establish guaranteed wait times for crucial medical procedures, and allowing patients to travel to other jurisdictions to get the treatments if the wait time guaranteed is violated. Yeah.. at this point, I think it’s pretty clear that about the only thing guaranteed to be waiting is anybody who thinks this will ever get fulfilled.

          5. Providing broad-based tax relief, led by a cut in the GST to five per cent from seven per cent during a Conservative government’s first mandate. Yes. He did this one. Against the advice of almost every economist in the country, and a few years later we find our government with a structural deficit, the size of which almost exactly matches the GST cut. Why is it that the single priority he actually fully keeps is the dumbest one?

          Now, if you want to get into other promises:

          Softwood Lumber where he said to a bunch of lumber industry workers that he would not be negotiating because “You don’t negotiate when you’ve won.” It seems he neglected to inform them that what you *do* do when you’ve won is bend over and give the US softwood lumber industry over a billion dollars of the Canadian softwood lumber industries money in order to pay them for the legal fees they incurred suing us (and losing) in the first place. Oh.. and as a side note, that deal lasted us all of a year before the US started suing us again in a private court of their choosing — as agreed by the SLA.. funnily enough, they managed to win that one, costing our lumber industry another 68 million and a company or two.

          Income Trusts as you’ve pointed out, flat out broken.

          Not appointing unelected people to Senate or Cabinet.. both flat out broken as nearly his first act in Parliament.

          Not raising taxes.. broken both by income trusts and by EI.

          Fixed Election Dates.. see above for that debacle.

          In his favor, he has kept his word about not wanting to do anything on homosexual marriage or abortion. The stuff from Woodworth and the gay divorce issue I more see as sops to his base.. attempts to convince them that he hasn’t completely forgotten about these issues no matter what he actually does. And, like fixed elections.. I expect they’re lapping it up completely.

          • For softwood lumber remember there was not only 5 billion, but 2 decades of interest on that five million. We lost a goldmine – heck, we could probably have paid for the fighter jets!

            Also recall the tax credit for daycare spaces that was created instead of daycare – which had exactly zero takers one year after it was put in place and probably no more afterward. that, right there, is a pretty good example of how right wing ideology applies to the real world.

      • Softwood lumber, appointing oversight of political appointments then leaving the office vacant for five years at a cost of $1 million per year after the guy he appointed wasn’t approved after making racist comments…the list goes on.

        Part of Harper’s stratgey that doesn’t get much play is how he not only finds 37% or so of supporters, but finds 37% of the dumbest supporters. And when you point out how dumb they are it reinforces their support, because only Harper will tell them they are NOT stupid, and mentally they need that.

        • Yes, all Conservative supporters are stupid, and all Liberal, NDP and Green supporters are highly intelligent and sophisticated. I read that all the time on these comment boards, so of course it must be true.

          • Not just the dumb, there are ideologues as well. Plus those whose intelligence isn’t a factor but don’t pay much attention to politics and are therefore more susceptible to constant messaging.

            But don’t underestimate the stupid vote and how valuable it can be for any party. Harper’s got it cornered (gun registry!) and behind closed doors I imagine they crow about it.