Stephen Harper: eight years

Paul Wells on the PM’s prospects in 2015

by Paul Wells

Today is the 8th anniversary of the Conservatives’ election victory in 2006. Stephen Harper formed the weakest minority government, in seats as a fraction of all the seats in the Commons, since Confederation. He has been re-elected twice since. CBC reporter Chris Hall had a documentary retrospective, featuring yours truly, last night. I wrote a book.

The prime minister insists each time he’s asked that he intends to lead the Conservative Party in the next election, scheduled for October of 2015. What he’s trying to do is hard. He wants a fourth election victory. In the history of the country, only two prime ministers have won four consecutive elections: Sir John A. Macdonald and Wilfrid Laurier. Harper wants to be re-elected after having served for nine years. In the history of the country, only three have done that: Macdonald, Laurier and Mackenzie King. (Pierre Trudeau, who lost his fourth election before defeating Joe Clark in a comeback, is a hard case to treat by these criteria.)

What are his chances?

That’s up to you, as voters, not me.

In the excerpt we ran from my book, I discuss the habits and attitudes he brings to his day-to-day management as prime minister. In general orientation, you should not look for a striking change of style, attitude or policy at this point. My colleagues who advise Harper to admit error, or to be more huggy, or to show more consistency in his policy decisions, are essentially calling for Harper to be replaced by some new creature. It won’t happen. He’s far likelier to double down, as he has been doing since last autumn and, indeed, as he did all week in Israel.

Many will predict he’ll quit or fail. They’ve been predicting that for more than eight years. Some day they’ll be right. For today I’m not in a betting mood.




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Stephen Harper: eight years

  1. Sorry guys, he will be PM for as long as he wants to be.

    • Actually he will be PM for as long as Parliament and we the electorate want him to be, and not a second longer.

      • And on that count, Cawn is right because Harper will be re-elected come next year.

        • Excuse me if i don’t count on it wont you.

          • Yes, I will excuse you. Just like in 2011 when you had it wrong.

          • You mean back when he said he needed a majority to really get things done? And aside from the gun registry, what has that amounted to?

            I think he’s toast. God help us all if he isn’t.

          • The problem is not that people won’t want to replace him. The problem is the vote is split amongst the replacements.

          • Which is why the Trudeau team has wisely tacked to the right of Harper on some issues where the feel the ndp can’t or wont go. But offered to get there with a hell of a lot more respect for process and consensus than SH has shown or ever will show.

          • Harper was a very capable man for having reunited the Conservative party.

            You think Justin would want to be just as capable for bringing the socialists parties under one banner, no?

          • lol

            I think that’s the way a lot of people feel. Wishing to god he was gone. And scared to death he wont.

          • Oh don’t you know, he got rid of the wheat board too. The only promises he has kept is to destroy what others created. He is a spiteful piece of work. I don’t doubt he got his glories as a kid smashing other kids’ sandcastles.

          • Don’t forget torturing kittens and pulling the wings off of flies. He probably created the AIDS virus too.

          • So a EU free trade agreement in principle is something Justin Trudeau will campaign against? Good luck.

          • Not a done deal yet. Nor have we been allowed to see the contents of the deal. I’m reserving judgment on that until I at least know what’s in it – it may be good, or it may be the betrayal of a nation.

          • Well, the precedent is softwood lumber.
            It doesn’t bode well.

    • Impossible to assess. If he knows he will lose, he will resign. So you may be correct in saying he will be PM until he resigns, but you may be incorrect in asserting he will be PM as long as he wants to be.

  2. I can see the case for doubling down alright. In some ways he’s always struck me as a guy with a surfeit of smarts and a deficit of imagination.
    I caught that cbc piece and was particularly struck by the view of M.Chong that he believed that Harper would adopt some of his bill. All the moves since would seem to indicate Harper will go out of his way to make sure that bill is emasculated before passing, if it gets passed at all. I think he would be smart to listen to Mr C…but then i’m not SH thank goodness.

    • “the view of M.Chong that he believed that Harper would adopt some of his bill.”

      Of course the bill will be emasculated . . . but *some* of the bill will be adopted, just not the parts not to the PM’s liking. So Michael Chong is right . . .

      • Do you think MC might have been hoping for a little more then that?

        • Sure he would.

          But it will be another case of the Accountability Act: Great name for a bill but basically an empty vessel . . but later on, the CPC can just point to the name of the bill to prove they did something.

  3. He’s PM because of a united right (credit him) and a split centre/left . Chrétien won 3 elections in the flipped environment. No magic here. Both lived off false majorities in a electoral system that enables it.

    • So, 20 years of governments that weren’t really there.

      • 20 years of governments with overstated mandates that all romanticize
        proud war narratives to lionize their victories, most of which likely had as much or more to do with default. No reason to believe the next one will differ. As such, I’ll second your double down prediction.

        • Since 1968, every party winning under 38.5% of the vote has had a minority. Every party winning more has had a majority. The pluralities of majority governments haven’t gotten radically lower despite “split rights” or “split lefts”. Weak victories have tended to produce minority governments (which stayed in office with the support of other parties, collectively representing a solid plurality of support, e.g. Con + Liberal after the 2008 election had won 64% of the electorate).

          1968: 45.4% majority
          1972: 38.4% minority
          1974: 43.2% majority
          1979: 35.9% minority
          1980: 44.3% majority
          1984: 50% majority
          1988: 43% majority
          1993: 41% majority
          1997: 38.5% barely a majority
          2000: 40.9% majority
          2004: 36.7% minority
          2006: 36.3% minority
          2008: 37.7% minority
          2011: 39.6% majority

    • Harper is not from Quebec and does not support Quebec Corruption.

      Harper has no brown paper bags of money he forgot about until caught. (Mulroney)

      No personal expense account “mistakes” only to be corrected once found out (Trudeau Junior) If junior can’t keep track of his own accounts you think we should trust him with the country? Note the “mistake” favoured Junior.

      Harper should win on the personal cleanliness alone. (no personal corruption gains)
      He did not use public office to double his fees as Trudeau did.

      Lots of Harper Haters out there but I will wait until after the votes are counted before make any declarations about Harper being done.

      Remember we have two morally corrupt left wingers splitting the hate vote.

      Might be fun.

      • Harper Corp. has dispensed with the brown paper bags, son. Their particular brand of corruption has been open for all to see. Abuse the system/taxpayers and get them to pay for millions upon millions in wasteful advertising, in ‘border infrastructure’ funds squandered on a 3-day business meeting that achieved nothing, in tax cuts for corporations which have had to be recouped through less services for middle and low income Canadians or stealth tax increases (the iPod tax that they claimed wasn’t but in reality is). The list goes on and on.

        • Just curious, Mr. Beeblebrox have you given any thought to running in the next election?

      • So what do you make of the payoff to Duffy?

  4. Personally, I think he’s done. I don’t think he’ll win another election, certainly not a majority and likely not even a minority. Although there are differences, ironically I find the situation today much like the situation in the late years of Mulroney’s reign. The polarization, the demonization and hatred of the PM among large swaths of the population, to the point where every one of the government’s positions is opposed by significant swaths of people pretty much on the basis that if Harper’s behind it, it must be bad. Harper himself of course bears a large amount of the responsibility for that, although it’s also the product of the mindless adversarial approach that so many partisans and activists take to politics in this country, where everything is amped up to the level of good vs. evil, black vs. white, this “if you’re not with us, you’re with the Harper Conbots” attitude. Bottom line for me is that Haper and his government have crossed “The Mulroney Line”, and once you’ve done that, you’ve severely limited the number of people who would be willing to vote for you under any circumstance. Harper, like Lyndon Johnson, delights in slicing the salami in thin little bits, but I think he’s lost sight of the fact that all of that salami-slicing, micro-targeting and narrowcasting that he’s done have earned him a whole bunch of narrowly, strategically targeted friends and supporters, but also a huge number of sworn enemies. It seems to me the people who hate Harper’s guts are numerous and highly motivated, while the people who really dig him and would march to a polling station in a blizzard to vote for him are quite modest in number. Plus I keep thinking of those words from Darrell Bricker, i.e., that JT is the Real Deal. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, if somone can show me a credible seat count analysis that has Harper winning a seat count while polling a few points lower in popular vote than last election.

    • probably anyone gets a little tiring as they approach the decade in power mark, and it’s probably quite difficult to overcome. Although i think he faces some pretty big hurdles, I wouldn’t compare him to Mulroney yet.

      • I don’t think Harper has policies that are quite as universally despised as the GST and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Free Trade and Meech Lake under Mulroney. The hatred of Mulroney was interesting — it was a combination of his personal style (the unctuousness, the Gucci loafers, the Irish Blarney that came across as insincere) with those aforementioned unpopular policies, with a nice helping of a whopping economic recession circa 1990-93 to really finish it off. And for a lot of people, Mulroney was like this lightning rod for discontent in that context. Harper has a personal style that a lot of people don’t like, he seems to encourage polarization and partisanship, is notably lacking in charisma, and for urban liberal progressive types, he just looks like the antithesis of an urban liberal progressive — the paunch, the decidedly un-trendy haircut, the fact that he looks like an nerdy insurance salesman from some godforsaken suburb who has a minivan and 3 kids, etc.
        So I agree with you that the exact causes of the hatred are different, but I think the general problem for the PM in each case is the same, i.e., having crossed a certain unpopularity threshold. And in both cases, the PM becomes a problem and the problem — where animosity toward the PM is getting in the way of us moving forward as a country. IMO we can’t have a rational debate on policies oil sands, Keystone and Gateway when so many people have simply decided that Harper is a toady for oil companies, Harper is evil and therefore if Harper supports those things, then they must be bad. Maybe we should nuke Gateway, Keystone and the Oil Sands, but we shouldn’t do so simply because it’s the anti-Harper thing to do. Look what’s happened with Israel lately — I swear, Harper has done more damage for support for Israel among liberals than anyone in Canadian history, just by being such a staunch supporter. He’s in the way, and needs to get out of the way, so we can move on as a country.

        • I believe all those people you are talking about are paid NGO activists and downtown Toronto/Montreal Liberals and not the Canadian population.

          • Indeed. I remember the Mulroney years. I know quite a few people who would otherwise have voted Conservative being proud to have voted him and his party out.

            The situation is nowhere near that. I would expect a similar result to BC and Alberta where an electorate generally discontent looked at the alternatives and said meh. And gave them a majority. Does anyone seriously think that the Canadian electorate would have Justin as Prime Minister?

          • A year ago you would have been saying the same thing about him in the polls, or even winning the leadership of the LPC. Remember what Mulroney said about Trudeau.

          • Yes. You know why? They did an experiment a while back. They went to the mall and showed random people the head-shot pictures of various candidates for out-of-state senatorial elections in the US.

            With absolutely nothing to go on but the pictures, people identified the winning candidate more than 80% of the time.

            Of course, once you throw policy, partisanship, and FPTP into the mix it gets more complicated, but really, all Justin has to do is avoid getting branded by the CPC media machine and come across as personable in federal debates and he’s sewn up a CPC minority. If they then put some non-offensive policy behind him and have one or two offensive things behind the other guys (Hint: Duffy), they may even be able to swing Liberal minority, even with the FPTP problems.

          • I guess we’ll see about that. I agree that a lot of apolitical, tuned-out politically regular folks (and there are a lot of those kinds of folks) typically don’t have the kind of searing hate-on for Harper that downtown TO liberals do. But I still think that the fact that he generates so much over-the-top hatred these days is just bad for our country. When the PM personally becomes the issue, rather than the issues being the issue, then I think we have a problem. That’s why I say he’s in the way. We should be talking about issues, not Harper.

          • It isn’t unlike the choice Trudeau faced after his walk in the snow. In his case he had done what he wanted[ perhaps a good reason why Harper will not walk] but surely had to realize he was a very polarizing figure in his party by then. Trudeau made the right choice. Mulroney would likely have humiliated him had he stayed. Harper faces a similar fate if he can’t turn things around this year.

        • ” Harper has a personal style that a lot of people don’t
          like, he seems to encourage polarization and partisanship, is notably
          lacking in charisma…”

          The oddest thing about his unpopularity is that it is in good measure a result of a personal choice on his part. It didn’t have to be, and it has nothing much to do with anything better the opposition has to offer until fairly recently. He can make his case passionately and even explain when he wants.[ witness Israeli performance] But as Wells keeps pointing out he intentionally chooses to be the grey man in the background when at home – must drive his advisers wild at times. And it’s almost as if he enjoys goading opponents.
          He’s very adroitly used the tools of highly partisan wedge politics and polarization to keep enemies on the back foot. His policy record is at least ok, and he’s entitled to push a Conservative agenda whether people like me like it or not. But it is the way he has gone about it. His style, that now seems to have finally lost him[ for now anyway] the benefit of the doubt of the very people he needs to succeed – moderate Canadians who are not particularly partisan or even political.

    • I’m not going to jinx it by agreeing with you this time. The last time we agreed Dix blew out all 4 tires and dropped his driveshaft out on the highway…he probably ran out of gas too.

      • Very very different situation in BC, though, where you largely have a pretty stark choice in an election: NDP vs. Not the NDP. Centre-right vs. Pretty Effin Left. And it’s not the “friendly, moderate, fiscally responsible” NDP from Sask/Man either, it’s a rather fire-breathing model (notwithstanding Dix’s earnest attempts to sell it as otherwise). BC is really a stark 2-horse race, and it was to the BC Liberals’ advantage to press that point. The Canadian federal scene is very different that way — as a lot of astute commentators have pointed out, in many ways our federal parties really argue over rather small differences.

        • Probably right about that. If it ever should enter that thick noggin of Rob Ford to run for Premier anywhere in the country[ assuming he doesn't see jail time] my advise to him would be move to BC and run against the ndp.

          • I agree. Exhibit A: Bill Vander Zalm STILL has a considerable following in BC, as the anti-HST campaign showed. Never ceases to amaze me. It’s why Red Tories, Blue Liberals and fiscal conservative social liberals in BC feel that they have no choice but to hold their nose and break bread with unreconstructed Socreds. And of course, partly a product of our first-past-the-post electoral system.

    • I’d sign on to most of that. Even own up to being one of those partisan who absolutely can’t abide the man. But i think it obviously cuts both ways. If Harper had decided he could afford to be more generous toward those who did not vote for him back in 06. things might have been very different. The liberals were tired and corrupt from too much time in power and the ndp nowhere as usual. It would have taken a big man[ a better man imo] but he could have had a majority far sooner. But then he wouldn’t be SH would he? Perhaps in the end he did what he thought had to be done for a truly Conservative govt to succeed long term. His strategy has been at times masterful. But it can’t last. Canadians want a truly moderate and probably mushy national govt when all is said and done. Well, except for those Canadians who want a truly Conservative govt. I think they may have started to wonder if SH is either and therefore no longer worth all the trouble

      • Interestingly, Harper is beginning to look like Mulroney in that respect too: i.e., true, hard-core conservatives (including fiscal conservatives) aren’t terribly happy with him either. I remember that distinctly in the latter Mulroney years, where Mulroney talked a good game about deficit reduction, but failed miserably to execute on it, because he was, quite frankly, chicken. He just didn’t think he could sell it politically, and I think the Quebec politican in him really couldn’t conceive of or stomach being seen as challenging the sort of statist shibboleths that underlie the Quebec Inc. mentality. There was too much of the Tammany Hall palm-greaser in Mulroney to be able to go there, plus I think he didn’t see the political payoff there, and he totally underappreciated how different the attitude was to that issue in the West. I remember a late-term budget tabled by Don Mazankowski was like a TSN Turning Point: the pundits were expecting a tough, spending-cuts budget, and they got mush. At that point, Mulroney lost just about any credibility on that issue, and from that point forward to the 1993 election, Reform was the only party talking tough on deficits (Martin/Chretien only got that religion some time after the election).

        • Do you think the “right” is splitting again? Despite coming to power, and uniting the right as a reformist, Harper’s put largely Ontario conservatives into the big, powerful ministerial portfolios while relegating the handful of very good MPs who started up with him to backbenches or PS roles (Rajotte, Ablonscy, Rathgeber).

          • I don’t think the “right” is likely to officially split as a result of Harper, but I think there’s a real possibility of the CPC getting thumped next election and being in some disarray as a result. It partly depends on the quality (or lack thereof) of potential leadership candidates once Harper’s done.

        • Ironic since Mulroney lost the QC wing of the party anyway once Bouchard did a bunk.

          The question i find interesting is what you really need to do to fairly represent Conservative opinion in this country? Can you even represent all facets of it, from socon to libertarian and points in between?
          Harper has given it a go and somewhat succeeded. But i agree with you that the price is too high for the country as a whole.[ i imagine the dipper might encounter similar difficulties should they get the keys to # 24]
          So, how can you do it? IMO, as a non Conservative but still i hope true liberal.[in the sense i think the system has to work for every one to the degree it can] there’s only one option despite its flaws…PR.
          That would result in tories being elected in downtown Toronto and Montreal, and Liberals popping up in parts of Calgary and the interior of BC.
          Some argue this would result in a pizza parliament[ JT holds this view i think. I think he hasn't made a case for that assertion] and just make regionalism worse. I couldn’t say for sure. But it would sure as hell stop the complaints about false majorities and hidden agendas, and it please those folks who feel their vote means nothing. Of course once in the political class would probably hate it. But they tend to hate anything that makes it harder for them to manipulate or sway. This is probably the only part of the ndp platform i instinctively like. Aside from stronger environmental reforms.

          • It reminds me of something Coyne once observed about our electoral system, i.e., that among the groups that are not represented (i.e., they NEVER vote for a winning MP candidate) is urban conservatives (outside of Calgary and now a couple of seats in Toronto). Certainly true in the City of Vancouver. The last time a “conservative” MP was elected in the City of Vancouver was 1988.

          • I wonder if it is possible the LPC will not lead on this, since it could possibly unravel the need for a Liberal Party? Why vote liberal ever again if you’re green or moderate ndper, let alone a PCer?
            The amazing part of it is how socons and libertarians can’t see that a PR system would create more opportunity for them, not less. Admittedly i haven’t thought all the ramifications of this through. But i’m mostly convinced it would be good for the country.
            Let them form their coalitions after the vote. I actually see that as a feature of PR not a bug. If it is the right form of PR of course. PR is mostly about horse trading/brokerage and compromise. Who better at it then Canadians?

    • it has been a couple of years since I had anyone say anything positive about the PM. At work, at home, in my neighbourhood, people freely make comments about what a poor example of a PM he is. If you play the divide and conquer game long enough, eventually they will all unite against you and that’s precisely what is happening to Harper.

      He hasn’t got a snowballs chance in hell of being re-elected legally.

  5. International economic (and perhaps war) events will ultimately determine the results of the next Canadian federal election.

    The aftershock of the 2008 Global Economic Crisis is coming, and it might be bigger than the first one.

    Even “islands of economic stability” may not withstand the tsunami that is a-coming.

    • Got a handy link about you? :)

  6. Harper is not afraid of striving for and accomplishing things which are difficult to achieve.

    • I dunno… seems to me that when the going gets tough, the Harp ducks out and lets others take the flack.

    • Just so long as telling the truth isn’t involved you mean.

      • Telling the truth is easy. Telling lie after lie after lie and getting people like FV to keep on swallowing them – well that takes work.

    • The writers at Ottawacitizen do not make up the electorate of Canada.

      • No, of course they don’t – but they do help educate the electorate of Canada.

        • Ottawa Citizen

          Estimated amount spent on taxpayer-funded advertisements since 2009 touting the “Economic Action Plan” and the government’s economic record : $113,000,000
          National unemployment rate in January, 2006: 6.6
          National unemployment rate in December, 2013: 7.2
          Increase in the number of unemployed in Canada since January 2006: 236,200
          Youth unemployment rate, January 2006: 12.2
          Youth unemployment rate, December 2013: 14.0
          Rank of Canada’s unemployment rate in 2013 compared to other G7 countries: 3rd
          Rank of Canada among the 34 OECD nations in employment creation 2007-2012: 20th
          Number of governments since 1935 that have presided over a slower rate of real economic growth per capita than the Harper Conservatives: 0
          Number of consecutive annual federal budget deficits: 6
          Number of budget deficit targets hit by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty: 0
          Number of consecutive annual federal budget surpluses under the previous Liberal (Chrétien/Martin) governments: 9
          Amount added to the federal national debt since Conservatives took power in 2006: $123,500,000,000
          Number of years it would take to count to 123,500,000,000, counting non-stop at one number per second: 3,913
          Portion of the total federal debt accumulated since 2006: 1/5
          Budget surplus in percentage terms, relative to the nominal GDP, 2006: +1.6
          Budget balance in percentage terms, relative to the nominal GDP, 2013: -3.0
          Percentage increase in the inflation-adjusted average hourly manufacturing wage, 2006-2013: 0
          Percentage drop in productivity (GDP produced per employed person), 2006 to September 2013: 1.9
          Percentage increase in the number of federal civil servants, 2005-2012: 14
          Exchange rate of the Canadian dollar (cents US), January 2006: 87
          Exchange rate of the Canadian dollar (cents US), December 2013: 94
          Consecutive monthly merchandise trade deficits: 23
          Percentage increase in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 2006-2013: 55.1
          Percentage increase in the TSX Composite Index, 2006-2013: 16.1
          Average house price, January 2006 : $256,537
          Average house price, December 2013 : $389,119
          Amount Canadians owed for every $1 in disposable income they earned, 2005: $1.30
          Amount Canadians owed for every $1 in disposable income they earned, 2013: $1.64
          Decima Research Index of Consumer Confidence, December 2005: 84.8
          Decima Research Index of Consumer Confidence, December 2013: 84.4
          Percentage of the popular vote won by the Harper Conservatives in the 2006 election: 36
          Percentage of those questioned in a December Harris-Decima poll who would vote Conservative: 26
          Sources: Statistics Canada, Trading Economics, Globe and Mail, Bank of Canada, Toronto Stock Exchange, Decima Research, the Economist Magazine, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, Parliamentary Budget Officer

          • And the myth of capable governance and fiscal responsibility explodes into 33 million shards of mirrored glass, surrounded by clouds of thick black smoke.

  7. The part that really confuses me is that any Canadian believes they deserves a dictator instead of a leader. That anyone stands up for him, yields to him, or wants this lying, immoral and totally unethical individual as PM puts into question the intellectual ability of Canadian voters.

    • well justin trudeau believes in chinas basic dictatorship. and hes far from a leader so i dont know what your talking about

  8. What might be a worthwhile change to P#:*#:n contests is work at getting the vote out. Voter suppression is important for Harper. He fears a large turnout. Time now to throw energies into getting that vote out.

    • I doubt it. There is no voter suppression other than absolute laziness.

  9. Harper has two things going in his favour. One is that Trudeau is weak and the other is that Jack Layton is gone. Trudeau may mature into a politician in a couple of years. In the meantime he is full of his own self importance and that usually goes before a fall. He’s made quite a few gaffs so far and he isn’t even on the campaign trail yet.

    • That might even be true if it wasn’t for the fact that for every gaffe JT makes Harper makes two more. Trudeau’s ace in the hole is SH.

      • You really are delusional, aren’t you? Name any of Harper’s gaffe’s since the last election that even come close to Trudeau’s remarks praising China’s dictatorship, or declaring after the Boston Marathon bombings that the most important thing to do was find out “why” those terrorists felt so excluded from society? Just one that’s even close will suffice.

        • Name any of Harper’s gaffe’s since the last election….

          We’ll have to see how it plays out, and how the Supremes rule, but potentially the appointment of Nadon to the Supreme Court?

          I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that appointing a judge to a Supreme Court seat who isn’t actually eligible to take said seat would be considered a larger gaffe than stating that China’s economic growth in recent years is admirable, or that we should perhaps study the psychology of terrorists.

          • So now we’re pre-judging his gaffes? Well, I guess that time in 2015 when he kicked that puppy on the campaign trail was probably one of his worst soon-to-be gaffes too.

          • Technically, if Harper appointed someone who isn’t eligible to take the appointment (some would argue “again”) then that was a gaffe he made back in October. You’re right that we don’t know for certain that it was a gaffe (though one might argue that if he’d appointed someone who was universally regarded as an excellent jurist, or even just someone who had practiced law in the province of Quebec this century, that he wouldn’t be dealing with the case he’s now dealing with) but if it was a gaffe, it was one he committed months ago.

          • If you don’t like that one…

            Does “My Chief of staff, several of my senior legal advisors, one of the highest ranking Senators of my party, a Senator I appointed, and a half dozen other people in my office and the headquarters of my party were involved in a massive (possibly criminal) conspiracy, and I had no idea it was going on” count as a gaffe?

        • Er, putting Duffy in the senate.[ not sure timeline]
          Trying to buy duffy’s silence. Not keeping a better eye on nigel. Denying everything he ever said about the senate scandal 5 minutes after saying it…need i go on?

          How bout one of my favs…the muzzling of scientists. That’s always good for a couple points off your public trust ratio.

  10. It will be hard for any Canadians to find a better positioned leader outside of PM Harper. He has been steadfast in his method of governing this country. Not that there have not been distractions, but the distractions amount to a hill of beans in comparison to his drive to make us economically sound. His vision has been good for all Canadians.

    • I think you and whw before you are correct and when we all look back in a few years and analyze how Harper won a majority in 2015, not having any credible alternative will be the main reason for his win. The one other thing I would add that will allow him a slight majority will be the 18 new seats that will go mainly Conservative.

  11. Only Harper can defeat Harper at this point. I think we shall see him step down to spend time with the family.

    • I don’t really think he’s much of a family man. That’s all PR.

      • I agree but thats the touchy feel good line…

      • PRopaganda that is. Everything with Harper is smoke, mirrors and stages. Fake lakes, fake immigrants, fake fiscal responsibility, fake accountability.

      • Oh, of course. He’s evil incarnate who eats kittens for breakfast and despises his family. He keeps them all locked in 24 Sussex’s dungeon unless there’s a photo-op, dontcha know.

        • He doesn’t even actually have a family. It’s like that movie We’re The Millers. I’m not making this up.

          • Harper himself doesn’t actually exists. He’s just a figment of our national imagination – a character created by Sun News Network. I read it on rabble.ca, so it must be true.

          • Well, that would explain the hair, which really looks like the hair on an old GI Joe doll.

        • Some people would give up a successful political career for their family. And some would give up their family if they could have a successful career in politics including Canadian PM.

  12. The reasons Harper will win the election are fairly simple: He has been a decent steward of our economy and the opposition is weak. Justin is perhaps the lightest, shallowest, most inexperienced pol to ever run for PM, perhaps anywhere in the commonwealth. Mulcair is not bad at the bluster, but his party is an albatross. The NDP will never govern.
    Come real scrutiny time as the election nears, Justin will plummet. He simply does not have the intellectual vigour required of any position of responsibility, let alone PM.
    Justin will not merely be outperformed in the debates, he will be an embarrassment for the Liberal party. Once again, anointing a savior rather than a serious leader will be the party’s downfall.
    Harper’s majority will increase as a result.

    • You’d almost think Justin was leader of the opposition, rather than leader of the third party going through a period of rebuilding…methinks you doth protest his inadequacies a little too much there Biffer. Lot of vitriol wasted on a guy who isn’t a threat eh.

      • That’s not vitriol. That’s a fair assessment. Trudeau won on his name and his name alone. He has literally accomplished nothing in his life. He was a “speaker” by trading on his family name, not by virtue of any serious independent thought. After a teaching stint he went in and out of university programs (without completing the degrees for the programs he was in and, it appears, without producing a single piece of serious scholarly work) while living a life of luxury on wealth he was born into.
        The reason he accepted those speaking fees was not greed (for he did not need the money per se) but pride and envy. He desperately wanted to be valued, having accomplished little of value in his life. The fees gave him that sense of value, howsoever sadly misplaced this was, as it once again showed the only value he had was his name (as that is surely why people came to see him – the boy from Canadian Camelot).
        If you have ever seen him in a serious policy discussion like on the economy (and there are few to be sure) his performance aligns with his resume. It is cringeworthy. He speaks like he is in a college arts lounge, parroting simple (largely leftist) catchphrases he has picked up in the coffee shops, while staying safely away from anything of substance and surely not exhibiting independent thought. (His China comment and the Arctic sovereignty debacles were not slips or outliers, but right in the middle of his bell curve).
        The Liberals anointed the political equivalent of Paris Hilton and they will pay dearly at the polls when the public will viewed him closely, and directly, rather than through a distant, fawning media lens.

        • As for the media, their credibility will continue to suffer. When voters see Justin perform with their own eyes they will be able to judge who’s depiction of him was more fair – that “radical” Ezra Levant (who did a masterful job highlighting one of Justin’s discussions on the economy and how truly embarrassing it was) or the “mainstream media” who routinely portrayed Justin as a serious contender, free of the faults Ezra the dared highlight.
          Had the Conservatives nominated an equivalent, the media would be continually chuckling over its shoulder, portraying the candidate as an airhead (Sarah Palin comes to mind though she is exponentially more qualified than Justin). But Justin comes from the same leftist coffee shops. He is one of them. He is to be propped up and sheltered. The first casualty of the next election with be Justin. The next, the Ottawa “elite” media.

          • Parts of the media do portray Justin as an airhead. You’re just pissed because they wont see it your way all the time. Maybe they’re have a much lower boredom threshold then you do?
            Maybe they want to consider other possibilities other then his gaffes or cute curls?
            Ezra has the same problem you do: after a while few rational people want to listen to his one sided monotone drivel. A rational person knows that someone as bad as you paint JT can’t possibly take a really serious run at power. Either he will fall on his face eventually or he wont. The sight of Ezra and toadies like you endlessly wishing for this too happen day after day after day, torquing every little gaffe up into a full blown character assassination is, shall i say off putting.

          • I liked Ezra’s coverage of the first fight. Hope he does better this time.

          • The problem there is that the vast majority of Canadians don’t know who Ezra Levant is, and almost none of them watch his show, or even the network that it’s on.

        • YAWN! Thank god you’re above all that stuff Kody/Biff/Chet/Charles/?

        • When speaking of Trudeau’s relatively light CV prior to entering politics, it is perhaps useful to consider the career path of another man. A man who’s entire working experience outside of politics consists of having worked in the mail room of Imperial Oil, (with a brief stint in Imperial Oil’s IT department) before entering politics and eventually becoming PM.

          • And he’s no brighter than any of the opposing three.

          • Yes, consider Stephen Harper’s resume. Prime Minister of Canada for 8 years. This intellectually lazy comparison may have worked in 2006, but it’s 2013 and Harper’s done a damn good job of running the country for 8 years.

          • My point was merely that comparing the experience of 2014 Trudeau to 2014 Harper is not necessarily any more meaningful, politically, than was comparing the experience of 2006 Harper to 2006 Martin.

          • If Justin Trudeau would manage to bring the two socialist parties into one, then he would have accomplished at least something worthwhile to brag about before running to become PM of Canada.

          • In order to bring a fractured Conservative party together, Harper simply licked a stamp and poooff, the CPC was in place.

            Oh, and while Harper was licking that stamp, he quickly wrote about the Alberta Fire Wall.

            Must have been a real political mailroom for Harper to get his feet wet.

            Now let’s hear what Justin’s drama classes produced? Or is he still in drama class?

          • First time I’ve heard Peter McKay called a “stamp”

        • I suggest you and your party do something you are not likely to do; listen to what Brian Mulroney said about Justin.

          • And what, exactly, does Mulroney know about Justin? Everyone has opinions, including Mulroney.

            Funny, but I don’t see you defending Mulroney for any other reason other than that he speaks highly of Trudeau. Strange pick and choosing you do.

          • Hehe. Yes, it is rather hilarious to watch these Liberals slander Mulroney at every turn, talking about how he’s the worst PM the country ever had….. until he says something nice about Trudeau, then he’s the smartest guy in Canada.

        • “The Liberals anointed the political equivalent of Paris Hilton”

          Cute! I’ll give you points for wit. But since you brought up celebrity:

          On the international stage these days, the three most prominent Canadians are Bieber, Ford and Harper. I’m sure they all have their proponents, and Harper is a notch or two above the other two… but that’s not exactly saying much – and Harper has sucked up to both in the past. Three black eyes on the international stage.

          • Ya, he sure got a cold reception in Israel.

      • Paul wells, deleting comments?

        • If he is, maybe it’s because you’ve said all before, over and over and over again? You’re a one note band droning on and on and on. At least flip the record once in a while.

          • If that is the reason for Wells to delete comments, then Wells should explain why your comments have not been deleted.

          • I don’t want to bore you with an explanation you wouldn’t like. Let’s just say i’m not Biffer.

    • Well if you say it often enough, it magically comes true.

      Thanks for your scintillating input once again Biff.

  13. If you haven’t clued in yet, ‘contempt’ is what drives Harper.
    He was once a Liberal, then contempt drove him to the PCs.
    He was once a Reform MP, then contempt for both Manning and Day drove him to quit.
    When in opposition, he crowed mightily in contempt about the governing Liberals (then, once in power, merely continued their tactics).
    Now in power, he holds the opposition, the media and any Canadians that dare disagree with him in total contempt.
    Worse still, in a majority, he holds all parliamentary traditions in total contempt because they restrict his freedom of movement.

    If you’re looking for something deeper, save yourself the effort because the facts pretty much speak for themselves. Would you judge a man on his words or his actions? If it’s the latter, the jury is well in…Harper has a soul filled with contempt. A complex strategic mind, perhaps, but in terms of motivation, he’s as linear as you’re ever gonna get.

    • Sounds like you confuse “contempt” with having “principles”. I know it’s a foreign concept to Liberal partisans, but most Canadians have principles too. It says a lot about Trudeau that he was voting for mandatory minimums for drug possession at the same time he was smoking chongers in his back yard with his buddies. It’s a testament to his principles, or lack thereof.

      • Yes, bribing senators is principled. So is using taxpayer money for partisan purposes and advertising programs that don’t exist, or giving your corporate buddies tax dollars to pay for their corporate social responsibility projects, paying for billionaires to travel on the taxpayers’ dime for a million dollar photo op. Principles only mean a belief in something, (in Harper’s case, Harper) they don’t mean that is is right.

        My vote is for “contempt”.

        • Are you accusing Stephen Harper of bribing a Senator? Because that would libel. Are you saying that corporate tax breaks that create jobs are a bad thing? Or do you just hate tax cuts in general?

          Harper fired his staffer involved in REPAYING Duffy’s expenses. He ensured that the Senators who were caught with their hands in the cookie jar were punished as severely as possible.

          That is principled. Justin Trudeau defended Mac Harb’s theft. That is unprincipled political opportunism.

          • Not to mention Trudeau charging taxpayers for expenses when he was out moonlighting as a “speaker”.

            Speaking of principles. What kind of principles does Trudeau have when he’s charging charities and government organizations for the “privilege” of hearing him talk?

          • Typical cheap attempts at deflection. I’m not defending Trudeau, I’m criticizing Harper. (But if you are going to try a weak attempt like that, at least try to cite an example that is within the same scope. A couple of hundred dollars in no way compares to the BILLIONS Harper is pissing away) He is responsible for what goes on in his office – from his own “principled” stance on the Martin government, unless his “principles” have changed as the hypocrite has done time and again. (Like he was standing behind Wright, he accepted Wright’s resignation and then the third version, he fired Wright) He isn’t principled, he is an opportunist who takes advantage of naive but selfish fools.

            I’m not talking about corporate tax breaks that were not translated into jobs as Harper promised, I’m talking about the extractives industry getting foreign aid money to put towards projects where they are working internationally. Instead of coming from their own balance sheets, we Canadians are not paying for their moral obligations. The returns on our tax dollars go to the corporate shareholders, many of whom are not even CANADIAN.

            Finally, don’t bother bringing up charities. Your Harper man has actually dismantled the directorate at Revenue Canada that responded to questions on requirements for Charities and has moved their resources to the enforcement side. Who in their right mind goes after charities in that single minded way? Is helping the unfortunate that much of an affront to him?

          • “It’s the million dollar shot…it’s the re-election”!

            You mean principles like that?

          • Apparently Liberals don’t have a sense of humour either.

          • Hedy Fry talking about burning crosses, that kind of comment?

          • Even ‘Deficit Jim’ Flaherty has admitted that the corporate tax cuts have not encouraged spending on productivity or translated into jobs. “Well, d’uh” is really about the only applicable response. And now he and his mindless minions (Hudak) are blaming it all on workers for not willing to work for less. Or Ontario for not caving in to whatever multi-mega corporations want.
            Typical Tories…8 years in charge but it’s still all someone else’s fault. “I’m Not Harper” should pretty much be all that’s needed to win. Remember, Canadians don’t elect governments…they un-elect them.

          • No he didn’t. He said it didn’t as much as he would have liked. He wouldn’t say something so stupid as tax cuts don’t encourage spending. What do you think happened to that money? It evaporated? It was re-invested.

          • It’s at least conceivable that that money went to higher profit margins. If a company gets a million dollars in tax savings, “evaporated” and “reinvested” aren’t the only two options. The company could have just posted a million more in profits that year.

          • If they post a million dollars more in profit that year, they’re paying taxes on it. Albeit at a lesser rate, but that’s the entire idea behind tax cuts. The government taking a smaller piece of a bigger pie. It’s a win-win.

          • But remember what that hypothetical $1,000,000 was… it was a $1,000,000 tax break. Paying taxes on money that was formally taxes IN ITS ENTIRETY is still a hit to government revenues. Paying, say, a 30% tax on that extra $1,000,000 profit is significantly less than when that whole $1,000,000 was tax revenue. Essentially, in the scenario outlined, the government is now getting a piece of a pie that they used to get in its entirety.

      • Considering he has done just about every negative thing he used to rant about and berate the Liberals over while he was Opposition leader, just what principles would those be? “Power at any cost” is the only one that I can see…

        • He’s lowered taxes, across the board. His focus has been on the economy, not buying votes. There is *far* less corruption in the government now than with the Liberals. He got rid of the gun registry, killed the Wheat Board (which strangely was only defended by Easterners who weren’t governed by the Wheat Board). All matters of principle, which the Liberals opposed.

          • Whoohoo eight years to do all that AND increase the public service by 14% AND drive us into record setting deficit territory where our great grand children can thank us for allowing such a great man to leave them so much (to pay off)! What an amazing prime minister. You must be so proud.

          • Ya, that deficit that’ll be gone in a year? Oh no!!! 5 years of deficits during the worst economic downturn in 80 years!!! HELP!!!!

            Don’t forget that during the recession the NDP and Liberals wanted to DOUBLE the deficit spending. Thank God they’re nasty coalition didn’t succeed in it’s coup.

          • “He’s lowered taxes, across the board.” And put us $123B further in the hole – so our grandkids can pay off the votes he bought.

            “There is *far* less corruption” Not sure how you measure that. Maybe time has caused my memory to fade, but it seems to me there were a handful of backroom boys primarily responsible for the Liberal shenanigans whereas it is deeply ingrained in the CPC culture – they even reward those convicted for crimes done in the party’s name with Senate appointments. Those who siphon off money for gazebos get control of the purse strings (too bad Tony had to turn down the starring role in that Advil commercial). Penashue gets caught up to his armpits in sleaze and Harper calls him Labrador’s best ever MP. And on and on…

            The gun registry? Some think that’s a good thing. Most have double digit IQs though…

            And you still failed to name a single matter of principle.

          • it seems to me there were a handful of backroom boys primarily responsible for the Liberal shenanigans

            Really? Senator Raymond Levign (currently in jail), Senator Mac Harb (looking at jail time), Liberal MP Joe Fontana (looking at jail time). Those aren’t exactly “backroom boys”, they’re the front line supposed-to-be leaders. The worst part is that Fontana and Harb continued perpetrating their frauds well after their party stopped forming government. In Fontana’s case he even took his fraud to a different level of government.

            As for the gun registry, now that it’s gone, nobody misses it. Of course, as a Liberal you’d support a policy that appeases your voters, even if it costs millions of dollars and doesn’t do anything. In fact, I expect the Liberals next campaign to be 100% that type of useless crap.

          • And you still failed to name a single matter of principle. Really tough to do, isn’t it Rick?

  14. The people who want Harper to change today, for the most part, they are the same people who would never have voted for him anyway. Thje key for Harper is regaining that 6-7% of the vote he has lost to Trudeau since the last election, as polls are showing him at 28 to Trudeau’s 34. This is achievable, in particular since the average Joe knows the name Trudeau but not the man, so there is plenty of room to form peoples’ opinions. Traditionally Harper has polled around 35 percent and at election time he has shown the ability to pull in the undecideds and reach the 40 point mark. We’ll see if he can do it again. I think it will be very difficult, but it’s achievable.

    • A sincere question. While I agree that most people likely know Trudeau by name but “not the man” could it not be argued that the same can be said of Stephen Harper? He is, I think it’s widely accepted, a rather aloof figure. I certainly don’t feel that I have much sense of who the PM is and what he really believes, and I don’t think that’s just because he seems (to me) to be so much the antithesis today of pre-2006 Stephen Harper.

    • 9 months before the 2011 election, Iggy and the Liberals were tied with Harper and the Conservatives. The Liberals were *sure* they were going to come sweeping to power. How’d that turn out? They got a distant 3rd place.

      Harper knows what he’s doing. He’s getting all of the boring, red-meat stuff out of the way early in his mandate. The end of this year and 2015 will be about governing with an eye towards the election. And during that entire time Mulcair will have to figure out just where he wants to position the NDP, while Trudeau continues to run around the country shooting himself in the foot looking like an airhead.

      I don’t think Harper’s worried about 2015 at all. Seems to me the one who’s worried about 2015 is Trudeau, who decided to abandon the HoC to start campaigning and fundraising a full 2 years before the election.

      • They are ALL worried about 2015, and they are ALL campaigning and fundraising .

        • Harper and Mulcair find time to show up in the HoC. Trudeau doesn’t. Either Trudeau can’t chew gum and walk at the same time, or he realizes that Mulcair was embarrassing him in QP. Neither says much about Trudeau as a “leader”.

  15. So….want to change things? Vote and get out the vote. Everyone needs to be involved in the political process and, although it doesn’t seem like it, EVERY VOTE DOES COUNT!

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