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Our bashful colossus


 

World leadership rests with Canada, thanks to our talented but oddly neglected prime minister. So says the Daily Telegraph.


 

Our bashful colossus

  1. Wow.. I wish we had a quiet and courteous Prime Minister. maybe we should send John Baird, Peter Van Loan and Pierre Poilievre over to disabuse the Telegraph of their ideas.

  2. The article’s comment section seems to be an extension of the Globe and Mail’s: “Go Stephen Harper now I can be proud of being Canadian” or “The Liberals are all bad.” Snore.

  3. And he’s kept spending in check too, Andrew will love that one. Man, I’d really like to meet this Stephen Harper some day, he sounds swell. The Stephen Harper I do know is kind of a schmo.

  4. I thought their comments were very much like the Globe’s as well. That is why I stopped reading the comments section on their site.

    The article was extremely biased. They didn’t even mention that Harper is our national robot.

  5. So I guess this means you think they are wrong wells?

  6. Nope.

  7. “Mr Harper, in his quiet and courteous way”

    If only Mr. Harper would show us more of that back home, then maybe he wouldn’t antagonize so many. Cold and arrogant is what many people rightly or wrongly precieve the man to be.

  8. By the way, ain’t that Conrad Black’s old paper?

  9. Yes indeed, BC. But it hasn’t been Conrad’s for half a decade, and I’m afraid it shows.

  10. My favourite Harper is the one that goes to foreign countries. There was this one sit-down talk & question session he did in (I think) New York or Washington once, early on in his term, and it was great. I would vote for that guy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always come home.

  11. A Harpermaniac must interject here – especially given my friend BCinTO’s comments:

    My guess is that Andrew Coyne would stick with the Tory spending program against available alternatives.

    And while I am biased, admittedly, I have met Stephen Harper twice and heard him speak twice. Both times, I was taken aback with how funny he is and kind-hearted.

    It is neither arrogant nor mean to say, for instance, the Dion Carbon tax will screw everyone. Just accurate.

    And, if memory serves, the last successful Prime Minister was arrogant and mean. His name was Chretien and even Harpermaniacs retain a great deal of admiration for him (at least, Quebec-based ones).

    Chretien would throttle protestors, make fun of RCMP roughousing protestors, step on the opposition’s throats when they were down, etc.,etc. But no one went for a “he’s mean and arrogant” narrative.

    The difference, I suppose, is that having a minority government is supposed to mean you capitulate on everything to keep the opposition in check. I guess. So when do we start calling Jean Charest arrogant and mean?

  12. Yo! Harper!

  13. The differemce is that having a minority government means that Canadians have said “You can proceed with caution”, not “You should proceed to shut down everything that you can’t force to go your way.”

  14. I’m kind of amazed I could agree with the premise of this editorial without getting more of a rise out of you all. But look at what they actually write: it’s about the leaders who actually attended this year’s G8. And at least against that lot, doesn’t our prime minister actually look quite good? Bush is a disaster in his last act. Brown is lost, Sarkozy a fast-deflating balloon. Berlusconi has won a shot at redemption, but after his first stint as PM, he needs one. Buddy from Japan is the latest interim caretaker of a fading colossus. The new Russian president isn’t in charge and everyone knows it. Meanwhile we have a PM from an extremely healthy economy (Canadians can and will debate who gets credit for that) who takes pains to be constructive at these meetings. He is truly extraordinary to watch in plenary sessions. So he’s mean to Stephane Dion? So he doesn’t scrum enough? How on earth is a Telegraph editorialist expected to know that, much less care — and why should it trump the simple fact, which I’d have thought we could take pleasure in regardless of party affiliation, that the current moment in our national life allows our prime minister to be an asset and not a problem, once all is summed up, at international summits?

  15. “And while I am biased, admittedly, I have met Stephen Harper twice and heard him speak twice. Both times, I was taken aback with how funny he is and kind-hearted.”

    kind hearted?!?!?!

  16. No rise, just smiles from me. But the elaboration is terrific.

    As for the economic state we are in, the fairest answer is that both Tories and Liberals deserve credit.

  17. Yeah. He’s a very a kind-hearted man. And not just to cats.

    Please remember, we are conservatives not because, as the cartoon says, we hate people and are selfish greed-mongers. We are conservative because we believe conservative principles are the FASTEST way to eliminate poverty, lift standards of living and increase opportunity in society.

    We are not NOT liberals because we enjoy suffering and misery. Just that we think liberal policies make the problems worse, not better. Same goals, different means.

  18. Chuckercanuck,

    You wrote of Chretien that “no one went for a “he’s mean and arrogant” narrative.” Are you kidding? I’m an Ontarian, and I’ve heard lots of things said about Chretien that would contradict your statement. The difference with Chretien was that he was presiding over a Canada that people perceived to be going in the right direction. In contrast to the opinion of the Telegraph, I think many people see the opposite with Harper. I’m a non-partisan who really liked Harper early in his term. Like Mike G, I still like the Harper I see overseas. Unfortunately, I’d like to see a “responsible” government at home run by a serious cabinet, and that just isn’t the case with the Harper Tories. I miss the true Tories. I think the majority of people under the age of thirty in this country feel the same way.

  19. I too have heard Stevie boy speak a few times now and guess what = no evil mean bully just a very serious, plain spoken, clear and very articulate politician (with a good sense of humour … some of the jokes were hilarious)who appears not to suffer fools gladly as they say. Almost a western perspective sort of character however you could tell that you want him on your side on a team and definitely not someone to mess with in otherwords a strong leader alpha male type and that is for sure.

  20. “Meanwhile we have a PM from an extremely healthy economy…who takes pains to be constructive at these meetings.”

    At least someone here finally acknowledges it. All I read in the vast majority of our media is the opposite; how Canada is perceived as an obstructionist, “black hatted villian” on the world stage. See today’s G&M “G8 takes small step on climate” for the latest Harper bashfest.

  21. Mr. Wells writes: “I’d have thought we could take pleasure in, regardless of party affiliation, that the current moment in our national life allows our prime minister to be an asset and not a problem, once all is summed up, at international summits?”

    Now, maybe I’m way too young, but can someone fill me in on the time in our past national life when our PM was out there causing all kinds of problems at international summits? Is our relative positive light internationally really a reflection on Harper, or our current “national life”, or is every other leader just so UNIMAGINABLY BAD that people finally looked up and noticed Chanda’s benign unimportance? It seems to me Harper’s getting a lot of credit he that’s not necessarily deserved. He’s fixed the economy (’cause 13 years of the Liberals really messed THAT up) he’s controlling spending by making increases in spending that are just BARELY historical, and he doesn’t care about poverty and climate change, but he’s willing to go way out on a limb and harshly criticize the most unpopular man in Africa (and don’t ask me what he’s gonna do about North Korea and rising food prices, the Telegraph’s other two big “achievable goals”, but I bet it’ll be GREAT!).

    With all due respect to the Prime Minister, given the bunch he’s hanging out with at the G8 I think Canada could have sent a monkey without an organ grinder and received positive reviews.

    As for Harper specifically, I think I’d echo Mike G. It’d be nice if “foreign Harper” came home once in a while. Seems like the version they get overseas ain’t half bad.

  22. D.Jones,

    well of course, you could hear people bash Chretien. But it didn’t seem to me to be a media narrative as it is in the Traverse-DonMartin-SusanRiley type universe.

    As for serious leadership? Well, what can I say: I feel I’m getting it like I never have. Chalk that up to policy preferences. Although, I’d be curious, what would constitute “responsible” government for the under 30 demographic?

    (not snarkily, seriously. I’m just over 30 so I can’t see where the huge chasm in perspective would come from except maybe that I’m further into my mortgage and baby-making than under 30 types).

  23. Thanks for your response Mr.Wells.

    Just wondering that was all.

    Chucker..

    I am also a Hardcore Harper fan, But I also have respect for King Jean.

  24. JK,

    I think many of us Harpermaniacs must reconcile with the Chretien legacy. The big things he had to do while in office, he did right. Even Iraq – which at the time and now, I don’t agree with him in isolation – but in the moment during a Quebec election that could have turned separatist on a dime, Chretien did the right thing.

    If we can accept the good of Chretien, we can win a majority. IMO.

  25. D.Jones

    I am 28 and I think Harper is great. Just b/c you believe one thing does not mean everybody else does. That is liberal party thinking, and very ignorant.

    That’s wonderfull your under 30 and you think Harper sucks, pat yousef on the back, but don’t try to say that everyone under 30 thinks like you. Last time I checked I had my own thoughts on issues or should I check with you first to see what people under 30 should be thinking.

    Where can I get the under 30 crowed talking points my man.

  26. PW: ” that the current moment in our national life allows our prime minister to be an asset and not a problem, once all is summed up, at international summits?”

    Paul, with respect, do you consider what has come out of the summit thus far to be a success?

  27. Chucker says

    “I think many of us Harpermaniacs must reconcile with the Chretien legacy”

    I agree, there was lots of things that Chretien did that where good. You mention some but I will add the economy(even if he took some good ideas from the reform party)

    But I have to say any PM who has the stones to choke out a protester is cool in my book.

  28. I’m considerably over 30, and where Harper falls down for me is on his attacks on parliamentary democracy. I fully understand he wants to be King Harper like he saw King Ralph for so many years in Alberta, but Canada is more than Alberta, and he’s in a minority position.

    So shutting down committees, turning question period into a farce by refusing to answer questions honestly (and for the record, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” is an honest answer that I wish would emerge from a politician’s mouth one day), trying to chill the speech of opposing parties through libel suits, chilling the speech of his own party through the PMO’s iron-fisted control not unreminiscent of communist Russia, and the gall to have done this after a campaign that was all about accountability and the primary reason why I considered.. for a moment.. voting for my conservative candidate (until rationality struck when my candidate’s brochure about standing up for the traditional meaning of marriage hit my doorstep).

    I mean, I could go into the litany of broken campaign promises and total flip-flops such as the softwood lumber deal, income trusts, or appointed unelected senators, but that just elicits the conservative talking points of “Oh yeah, but the Liberals did it too!” except that the whole conservative campaign was that they weren’t going to act like the Liberals. Yet here they are.

  29. There were plenty of people who complained about Chretien’s arrogance. The people who complain abour Harper’s arrogance didn’t complain then because they aren’t Chretien’s political opponents. And vice versa. Frankly, there is not a single political leader I have ever seen, in any country, who wasn’t arrogant. It’s a necessary quality for those who seek popularity for a living.

  30. Ryan’s insight is extremely important to understanding today’s politics, especially if you *aren’t* an admirer of Harper and have trouble understanding why a stable electoral coalition of Canadians *does* admire him.

  31. I completely understand Ryan’s point and agree that it’s the reality of today.

    Who precisely is better off for this?

    Arrogance can be measured in degrees can’t it?

    I don’t expect a journalist from the UK to know or care who Harper is at home, but before you declare on someone, shouldn’t you do a little research?

    Observations are interesting, but ignoring what Harper actually pushed for and got at this summit paints quite a different picture of the man.

    Being the best of a bad bunch is hardly an endorsement to my way of thinking.

  32. Ryan’s insight is extremely important to understanding today’s politics, especially if you *aren’t* an admirer of Harper and have trouble understanding why a stable electoral coalition of Canadians *does* admire him.

    I think the problem stems from opposition frustration that while Harper’s coalition is stable it is small, while the opposition’s is large but fragmented. Given our ridiculous electoral system, this situation is going to go on for a long time. The longer it goes on the more frustration and the more frustration the greater dislike for Mr. Harper (and additionally, the greater the dislike for the other opposition parties). It is unproductive and really bad for one’s mental health (take it from me), but that the situation as I see it.

  33. Don’t forget cutting federal spending by 20% across the board.

    Conservatives can only dream of passing that kind of budget… (Well, maybe after a majority or two, if the opposition can be split.)

  34. I guess my biggest problem is with the system, which enables someone to call 30% popular support a “stable electoral coalition”.

    To my mind, at least when the Liberals governed with basically 40% of the electorate’s support you could rationally argue that they were the “consensus”, as looking at the political spectrum you could say that roughly 30% of the country was to the left of the Liberals, and roughly 30% was to their right, making their 40% feel like a “stable coalition”.

    To my mind, we now live with a government with 30-35% support in which the entire 65-70% of the country who disagrees with them is all to their left. It may be “stable” for now, but it doesn’t feel much like a coalition to the 60%+ of us who have to turn to the right to see our government.

  35. Chucker,
    My guess is that Andrew Coyne would stick with the Tory spending program against available alternatives.

    Maybe, maybe not. But I think he’d disagree with the Telly’s comment that the Conservatives “have kept spending in check” as, as he has pointed out, Flaherty and Harper have ramped-up spending substantially from even the excesses of the PM PM era. That was the point I was making.

    Chretien and Harper are both politically ruthless, personally I’m sure they’re great guys to have a coffee with. I was once in the same room as Harper at a Con event and he didn’t sue me, so that’s a point in his favour in my book.

    Paul,
    we could take pleasure in regardless of party affiliation, that the current moment in our national life allows our prime minister to be an asset and not a problem, once all is summed up, at international summits?

    OK, but were Martin and Chretien bumbling fools on the international stage, always using the wrong fork and what not. Otherwise it’s a wash. I’d hope our PM, regardless of party, wouldn’t embarrass us on the world stage. They don’t get points for not being fools.

    And more importantly, if Harper is an asset on the world stage, what has he accomplished? Has he used his powers for good, or the other thing? My reading is he has used these appearances to run interference for the U.S. and Bush, trying to soften their hardline stances. Harper has been the good cop to the Bush bad cop, the guy that comes in later and says “he’s not so bad guys, let’s move towards his position/s.”

    I suppose running interference for Dubaya could be considered an asset. Not by me though.

  36. Greg, I’d say that’s fairly accurate (particularly the part about our electoral system), but understand that this frustration is only new if you are a Liberal. The Chretien coalition was not much larger, and the opposition coalition even more fragmented. Conservatives hated him every bit as much for many of the same reasons. The only reason you’re seeing “he wasn’t all bad” on this thread is that he’s been gone for a while. I expect that similarly, Liberals will come to have a more nuanced view of Stephen Harper, but not until he stops winning.

  37. Actually, Greg said what I wanted to say much better!

    Harper’s governing coalition is basically tiny, but committed. It’s only 30% of the electorate, but it’s 30% that mostly won’t vote for anyone else (because there’s no one to the Tories’ right, and they ain’t voting Liberal, who are the closest to their left – though the Greens might dispute that).

    So, as Greg points out, while the Tory coalition is much more stable (by virtue, one might say, of being trapped together) there’s a much larger coalition of 60%-65% of the country that can find that current “stability” quite frustrating.

    Now there are those (especially in the NDP) who would argue that the Liberals are every bit the “right wing” party as the Tories, and people will argue about where certain parties fit on the spectrum (even on an issue by issue basis) but surely in broad strokes and in the popular imagination it can’t be argued that the Tories are anything but the furthest to the right that Canadian politics goes.

    So, I do think that the frustration of the 65% or so of us who don’t support Harper et al. is at least somewhat compounded by the fact that his stable 30% “coalition” is all on one side of the equation. It’s like we’re all on a giant teeter totter together, and the 65% of us who are stuck up in the air are a bit flummoxed by the fact that we can’t get our end back down because most of our team is sitting near the middle, while the Tories (while weighing much less than us) are all at the absolute end of their side of the bench, and have our collective fate in their hands as a result.

  38. Further to my last couple of points, I’d imagine in most minority government situations (and I’m just guessing here) the governing coalition does end up being “in the middle” in terms of the political spectrum (or, at the very least, a coalition with alternative parties both to their left and right). Are there many other examples of minority governments (anywhere, not just Canada) where the governing “coalition” is one single party at the edge of the spectrum (I hesitate to use the word “extreme” which is by no means appropriate, but in the sense that the Tories are as far to the right as a viable Canadian political party goes, they are the “extreme” of our spectrum, in a strictly technical sense).

  39. Jeff,

    fair and well said point, but comparisons to the PM PM era aren’t fair since that era was ended so abruptly. There were massive spending programs at stake and extrapolation of PM PM promises made means spending would be ballooning at this point.

  40. Small point in a discussion that’s going well without me: if Harper can only count on 30 per cent at the next election, his coalition isn’t stable and he won’t win. He should be able to expect 35 per cent anyway, maybe higher with luck.
    That’s the electoral coalition. In parliament, I was hardly joking at all when I wrote in the magazine that the Liberals and Conservatives had formed a German-style Grand Coalition lasting a year and a half, so far.

  41. Play ABBA at every appearance and every commercial and 41% is in the bag.

  42. “I expect that similarly, Liberals will come to have a more nuanced view of Stephen Harper, but not until he stops winning.’

    How long has Mulroney been out of office?

    “To my mind, we now live with a government with 30-35% support in which the entire 65-70% of the country who disagrees with them is all to their left. It may be “stable” for now, but it doesn’t feel much like a coalition to the 60%+ of us who have to turn to the right to see our government.”

    LOL. Yes, the income and corporate tax cutting Liberals are way to the left of the modern day Conservatives. Not too mention all those Bloc voters in the regions who’d probably vote Conservative if the Bloc didn’t exist. There’s plenty of room to grow the Conservative coalition.

    “Harper’s governing coalition is basically tiny, but committed. It’s only 30% of the electorate, but it’s 30% that mostly won’t vote for anyone else (because there’s no one to the Tories’ right, and they ain’t voting Liberal, who are the closest to their left – though the Greens might dispute that).”

    Actually, Harper’s governing coalition is 36% of the electorate and is until there is another election. I like how you add the distinction that they are 30% who won’t vote for anyone less, like somehow the Liberal base support is much more open to moving their vote. You say this despite the fact the right was willing to rip apart their own party and sit out of power for a decade. I can’t picture the Liberals doing that.

    I also take exception to your implication that somehow Harper’s coalition is less worthy of governing than Chretien’s majority (remember when he got one with 38% of the vote?) or Martin’s minority (which also had 36% of the vote). How exactly are those coalitions any different than Harper’s at 36%? You make it sound like the Liberals satisfy the concerns of NDP, Bloc, Green, even Conservative voters. If they did, then those parties wouldn’t exist.

    Finally, if there wasn’t broad support for Harper’s agenda he would have been defeated already. If the public actually wanted Harper gone, Liberal support would be much higher and/or people would be demanding more cooperation from the left to ensure that the Tories lost the next election and that’s not happening so you can’t really pretend that somehow 65% of the public wants Harper out of office.

  43. Paul:

    “— and why should it trump the simple fact, which I’d have thought we could take pleasure in regardless of party affiliation, that the current moment in our national life allows our prime minister to be an asset and not a problem, once all is summed up, at international summits?”

    Perhaps I’m just being dense, but at what point in this particular Telegraph article was this argument made? It’s not a long article, but even given that, the sole point made in Harper’s favour is that he’s “kept spending in check and reduced taxes”, and that Canada is playing a significant role in Afghanistan. I’m not sure how that necessarily translates into Harper having played a major role on the world stage, at least during this conference. Look at the specifics they mention:

    “We are not talking here about abstract goals like “curing poverty” or “tackling climate change”, but about achievable objectives, such as ending the North Korean nuclear programme, deposing the Zimbabwean junta and cutting food prices (by scrapping the CAP for a start).”

    Has Canada under Stephen Harper been taking a leadership role on those achievable objectives, never mind those ‘abstract’ goals?

    But I’ll say this for the article, it could give the Tories a compelling slogan for the next election: “Vote for Stephen Harper; he sucks less than other world leaders.”

  44. I could forgive Harper his policies, his party, and even his personality if he weren’t presiding over the demise of our constitution.

    Which, of course, he inherited from Chretien & that parricidal fellow.

    But really it’s gotten to the point where Parliament is irrelevant and we’re ruled by a tsar. The whole idea of the Government’s responsibility to parliament, which is the essence of our constitution, has been ditched. What is more disturbing, no one cares.

    Interestingly, our fellow G8-ers also have constitutional problems. The USA has the presidential signing statements (abdication of presidential duty to enforce Congress’s laws); the Italians have media monopoly; France . . . does France have a constitution? Russia, of course, dislikes the very idea of constitutional rule. As to Japan and Germany, I have no idea; Britain seems to be doing OK, constitutionally. But for sheer cheerful, willful indifference, we take the cake.

  45. sbt,

    I didn’t mean to imply at all that Harper’s government is “less worthy” of governing than Martin’s or Chretien’s, just that it’s different in that the Liberals had parties to their right and left, while the Tories only have opposition on their left. I also take your point that the Liberals aren’t exactly far to the left of the Tories (which is why I wrote “Now there are those who would argue that the Liberals are every bit the “right wing” party as the Tories”). Still, I don’t think you could argue that the Liberals are to the Tories’ right, could you?

    As for the Tories “ripping themselves apart” for so long, point taken, but still, they ripped themselves apart, it seems to me, because a large portion of them didn’t feel the party had gone far enough to the right. So, while maybe you disagree that Liberal voters will more easily move left (though, I’m anecdotally one of those, having voted NDP the last two election despite being more closely ideologically in tune with the Liberals than the Dippers) I don’t think the Reform days do anything to disprove my notion that Tory voters have nowhere else to go. I mean, sure, they could fall apart again, form a whole new party and move part of their coalition even further to the right again, but as that just moves them further away from the 60% of the people who don’t support them, I don’t think it really disproves my central thesis.

    I also don’t mean to imply that the Liberals have, or do, satisfy the NDP, Bloc or Greens, merely that they have to at least superficially worry about satisfying the NDP, Bloc and Greens (or, more accurately, voters who might vote NDP, Bloc or Green). The Tories have no (or little, or at the very least MUCH LESS) incentive for doing so, given that ideologically the Liberals are between these parties and them (again, I suppose an argument can be made they’re not) so the Tories, it seem to me, can and do simply write off these voters. The Liberals at least have to worry about Liberal voters being lost to the NDP or the Greens, or the Tories. It seem to me the Tories only REALLY have to worry about losing seats to the Liberals (I’ll buy the argument that they have to worry about losing seats to the Greens when the Greens win a seat). Again, it’s not that the Liberals 40% coalition is so much more massive than the Tories’ 35% coalition, or more “legitimate” my point is simply that it’s (roughly) in the middle, and not on the edge.

    Then again, after this long under the Tories, it could be just me that’s on the edge, so maybe I’m not thinking clearly anymore.

    That said, even assuming the two coalition are the same size, both 40%, the Liberals have opposition to their left and right, with say 25-35% of the opposition on either side of them. For the Tories, the whole 60% is all to their left, which to my mind is why roughly 60% of the country (more like 70% according to recent polls) is so frustrated right now (as much with the Liberals for supporting the Tories as with the Tories). If the Tories were closer to 40% in the polls I’d give them credit for having garnered some support from the roughly 65% of the electorate who aren’t naturally Tory supporters. As long as they’re mired around 30%, my conclusion is that they continue to run the government due to Liberal fear, not public support.

  46. LKO,

    I see the basics of your argument and they seem sound. However, I would point out a few things:

    you have to distinguish between people ideologically wedded to a party and people wedded to a party for other reasons.

    The classic example of this would be Quebec anglophones and allophones flocking to Liberals as the de facto federalist vote. My riding, for instance, is solidly Liberal. Does that mean the those voters support lefty politics? No way.

    Same applies to the Bloc. You can’t take their votes and park them on the left-side of the political spectrum. Example: Quebeckers, in large majority, support 2 tier health care which is perhaps the most “hard-right” / “right-wing extremist” position to hold in Canadian politics. Bloc voters, like the Quebec anglophones, are not voting on issues – just federalist/separatist divides.

    I am confident that a majority of Canadians support, more or less, what the Conservatives have done so far. Its just that to go from plurality to majority, you need to add in folks who wish some other party were doing exactly what the Tories are doing.

  47. Further to Chuckers post above, I have the feeling that many immigrant communities would identify more closely with the CPC on a wide range of issues, such as fiscal and social issues. They mostly vote for the other guys based on habit, and the single issue of immigration policy (ie getting your aged mother in versus the tool maker with no relatives already in the country). The libs just blinked on that one too.

  48. Being a dyed in the wool 100% Conservative I would agree (for the most part) with Lord Kitchener (good name interesting guy check out his history)the point where I disagree is with some of his conclusions except for I do agree completely with his or her’s suggestion that the oppostion parties are getting very frustrated with the left of the spectrum being so divided – which is precisely the result desired and worked towards by us Conservatives. I keep getting asked why us Tories are not moving towards the center and I keep replying = we don’t need to yet as the left is so badly divided that we can maintain our base and keep on governing hopefully wisely which at this stage is more important than pandering to disaffected supporters of other parties. The only real fear us Tories have at this time is that what if the left wing nuts get together much like we did a few years ago! But then again by the time that might happen we will have achieved quite a track record we could easily go to an election with. After all there are a lot of strategic voters in Canada and if a party manages a good legislative track record and takes care of business, this goes far with support. I was really struck by an interview awhile back on CPAC where the MP was saying that when she was out working the neighbourhood several voters told her that they were trying to decide which type of minority gov’t they wanted!!! – this was interesting and so true! Average Canadians are way smarter and more poltically canny than most of the media (pundits) and MP’s give them credit for.

  49. Wow, praise from the Torygraph, that’ll get Stevie a majority for sure.

  50. 1. Chuckercanuck,

    I think responsible government to ‘many’ people under 30 is one that is not run by one individual, be it a Liberal or a Conservative. I am not so naive as to think that we’ll have anything else in the near future. We are in the era of prime ministerial government. It’s far more interesting for the media to talk about an individual than a group of decision makers. That’s why the weakest member of the U.S. government (the president) gets the majority of the coverage, thus, turning him into the strongest member. I’d also love to see a government where my defence minister knows something about the military and my environment minister has some credentials (I’m speaking in generalities here, not specifics).

    2. JK wrote:

    “D.Jones

    “I am 28 and I think Harper is great. Just b/c you believe one thing does not mean everybody else does. That is liberal party thinking, and very ignorant.

    “That’s wonderfull your under 30 and you think Harper sucks, pat yousef on the back, but don’t try to say that everyone under 30 thinks like you. Last time I checked I had my own thoughts on issues or should I check with you first to see what people under 30 should be thinking.

    “Where can I get the under 30 crowed talking points my man.”

    I’ll give you one talking point… People under 30 like people who read comments and respond honestly. I never said that Harper sucks. I said I liked him at first and I like him when he’s performing his international duties, but that his domestic policies are questionable. I like some of the ideas that are discussed in ‘Rescuing Canada’s Right’ and I like some Liberal ideas as well. Shockingly, I also agree with some things the other parties say. Perhaps that’s what I meant when I said I was non-partisan?

    Feel free to like Harper. Feel free to talk about how wonderful he is. But don’t put words in my mouth as you claim I’m doing to you. If you look at polling data, it suggests that the majority of young people are not big Harper supporters (but they’re not big supporters of anyone really, as they don’t feel that politics holds any meaning for them — they’re wrong obviously). In the classes I teach, I see the same sentiment.

    People have suggested that the reason Harper isn’t liked is because of his arrogance. Like Ryan and Paul have pointed out, that’s par for the course in today’s politics. The issue with Harper is that a lot of people don’t like his policies and the arrogance is far easier to describe than the policies. The same was the case with Chretien. People aren’t educated about our policies and my issue with Harper is that he’s so cloak-and-dagger that I don’t feel he gives me the opportunity to become educated about his policies without the discerning eye of the Tory party filtering everything I get. I think the media has failed here too. Most of all though, I think I’ve failed as a citizen, and so have many others.

  51. “…just that it’s different in that the Liberals had parties to their right and left, while the Tories only have opposition on their left.”

    It’s entirely irrelevant where the other political parties lie on the spectrum. The political centre in Canada is somewhere between the Liberals and the Tories and crosses into both parties. The only contribution of the other parties is to move that centre by forcing the main parties to take certain positions in order to avoid bleeding votes. The Conservatives are more to the left then the early Chretien Liberals (but probably not the present Liberals) precisely because there is no one moving them right. Political parties are always faced with two choices. They either simply try to maintain their coalition (which forces the opposition to re-organize if they are in power) or expand their coalition of voters (by convincing people in other parties who are sympathetic to some of their values to vote for them. This can be done through simply changing their rhetoric, modifying some policy positions, or a clear move along the spectrum).

    I’d argue the Conservatives have done more of the latter in their quest for a majority government, especially with their shift in attitude towards Quebec in recent years (I strongly disagree with your view that the Liberals are closer to the Bloc than the Conservatives, especially outside Montreal, but that’s OK). Whether they are successful or not remains to be seen, but, in my opinion, this is a party more concerned with public opinion then implementing it’s ideological agenda (whatever that may be). For better or worse, that makes them more responsive to what the genreal public wants, as opposed to their political base. They have interests they may cater to for political reasons, but so did the Liberals. That’s just a part of power politics.

    Anyways, a good discussion all-round.

  52. So, Harper looks good against others that are not doing so well? Hardly a winner then.

    Watching Harper speak – push button, moves head to the left. Push button, moves head to the right. Push button – move an arm. Push button look at the camera – very inspiring indeed.

    He puts me to sleep or a desire to push the personality button.

  53. I think this says more about UK politics than ours. It is a wasteland of mediocrity at the moment; everyone is tired of Labour but the other parties offer little relief, particularly the Tory leader Cameron, who comes over as Boris Johnson Lite.

    Harper dresses up nicely when he goes out and does the Canadian barney thing well.

    No use to us but looks good from over there.

  54. “But I have to say any PM who has the stones to choke out a protester is cool in my book.”
    Even if that protester is more than a foot shorter? Nice, gutsy more by Mr. Chretien choking out a little man with his bodyguards surrounding him!
    Mr. Chretien has a few things to be proud of on his watch. This was not one of them

  55. This has got to be one of the best comments sections I have read in a long time. It is incredibly refreshing to have thoughtful disagreements without the necessity for the juvenile “Lieberals” or “Scary Harper” laziness dominating the discussion.

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