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Who's scary now?

Thursday, February 9, 2006

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In the past two weeks, a number of people have asked me why I’m not more visibly upset about the prospect of Stephen Harper as Prime Minister (these are usually, but not always, the same people who are erroneously claiming that the NDP didn’t say a negative word about the Reformatories for the entire election campaign). Don’t I find him and the party that he represents “scary”?

To answer both questions: Yes, I am upset about the election results (although not as upset as I could have been) and, yes, I am scared about what Harper would like to do in office. Right off the bat, I should clarify that there were two possible election results that would have been significantly more upsetting to me: either a Liberal majority government or a Conservative majority government. And, although
Liberal minority would have been marginally less upsetting to me than a Conservative minority, I’ve never believed that the Liberals were much of a real alternative. In other words, since neither NDP majority nor an NDP minority resulted from January 23’s vote, I’ll have to live with the result that we got.

I’ve been carefully following Harper’s career ever since he first started showing up on television as a spokesperson for this strange group calling itself the Reform Party. I see little to admire in his politics, nor those of the people who surround him. I fully expect to be fighting against nearly everything that his government proposes (the proposed Federal Accountability Act being the main exception). But, let’s face it; when in my life as a politically engaged person (i.e. since roughly age 12) has that not been the case?

I didn’t like large parts of the policy agendas of Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien or Paul Martin. Provincially, I was personally offended by policies of Conservative, Liberal and even NDP governments (although it’s fair to say that the offense was far worse under the Harris Conservatives) and I spoke out strongly against those policies.

Our jobs as citizens don’t end when the ballots are counted. I’d like to think that we all have a duty to be engaged in the dialogue between governments and the governed. The fact that I fought hard to get Bob Rae elected in 1990 doesn’t mean that I was obliged to forgive him when he did something that I disagreed with. And, the fact that I find the Conservative agenda to be distasteful doesn’t mean that I should just say, “They’re scary!” and hide under the blankets for the duration of Harper government (how ever long that is).

So, with that in mind, let’s get started, with some thoughts on the new Cabinet and some of the policies that it might bring forward:

  • I wonder if the Conservatives who said nasty (not to mention sexist) things about Belinda Stronach when she crossed the floor to join the Liberals would you like to take them back now. And, I wonder if the 40 Conservative MPs who last year voted for the NDP’s motion requiring floor-crossers to run in a by-election have now changed their minds.
  • To all of those people in Vancouver Kingsway who voted Liberal to “stop the Conservatives”, I bet you all feel pretty damned foolish right now. Really, that categorization should extend to anyone in the rest of the country who did the same thing.
  • After the election, when David Emerson said that he was going to be “Stephen Harper’s worst enemy”, was he lying? Or, is he just a huge hypocrite?
  • Anyone who has a paper copy of this week’s edition of The Hill Times should save it (since they altered the article on their website right away). Their brave prediction that David Emerson would be a strong candidate for the Liberal leadership is a great “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.
  • Don’t place too much weight on the fact that the Conservatives have appointed a minister responsible for Democratic Renewal (Niagara Falls MP Rob Nicholson). The Liberals actually had two ministers sharing responsibility for that file (and one of them was Belinda Stronach), and nothing happened. And, given that the Conservatives marked their first day in office by appointing someone who ran against them just two weeks before and someone who didn’t seek election at all (party backroom boy Michael Fortier), I don’t have a lot of hope that the next election will be any fairer than this one.
  • The proposed Accountability Act prohibits people who’ve worked for the government from lobbying their former department. But, Harper clearly doesn’t have a problem with appointing defence industry lobbyist Gordon O’Connor as his Defence Minister.
  • The idea Stockwell Day as Minister of Public Safety makes me feel considerably less safe (although he’ll no doubt protect us from being trampled by dinosaurs). I’m worried that he’ll be even more prone than the Liberals to jailing people without charge and will do a lot to endanger Canadians abroad (just check out his remarks about Maher Arar when he was first detained).
  • Just six women in a twenty-seven member Cabinet? You’ve come a long way, baby… and now we’re taking you right back to where you were in 1980.

Rest assured that I’ll have more in the weeks, months and, potentially, years to come. Harper and his minions are bound to give me lots of material.
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  1. Posted by: Alex on Feb 9, 2006 @ 11:05am

    I don't know whether to laugh at Stockwell Day for being the head of all the domestic security agencies or be concerned. This man was the laughing stock of the nation for a long time.

  2. Posted by: john h on Feb 14, 2006 @ 4:36pm

    Apparently the fewer women in the smaller Harper Government is, as a percentage, pretty close to what the Martin Government had. I'm sure Scott P. knows that. The real issue is probably whether the percentages should really be seen as important.

  3. Posted by: Sarah on Feb 17, 2006 @ 2:49pm

    But he can teach us all about SeaDoo Safety...ok there was a much better joke to be made there somewhere, I seem to be off my game...

  4. Posted by: KIMIK on Feb 17, 2006 @ 8:19pm

    On a completely unrelated note - i think the formatting of this page is a little off, no?

  5. Posted by: Attila on Feb 24, 2006 @ 11:27am

    I think as a nation, we should be really worried about a Conservative minority. Ok, Martin and Chretien we obviously not perfect, but are we really better off with a PM who will destroy what we've worked so hard for? The liberals screwed up, but they've accomplished quite a bit and showed results. Unemployments down, the economy's better then it's ever been, we're not in Iraq (but I'm sure Harper will change that soon). When people get mad at liberals who tell people to vote for them to stop Harper, well, what do you think half of the conservative votes came from. Do you really think the country's changed so much that within a few years, we went from a huge Liberal majority to a potential PC majority? I don't give it a long time until people realise that Harper and his party aren't really good for us. And about the Conservatives promises? They're a joke!!!! What's 100$ a month when you have a kid?

  6. Posted by: Attila on Feb 24, 2006 @ 11:27am

    The only thing that makes a bit of sence is the lowering of GST, but even then, Income Tax should be lowered. I'm a 23 year old university student, and can't enjoy my summer 'cause I'm working 60 + hours a week to pay for school. Don't take thousands of dollars away from me in income tax ('cause I can't claim EI anyway) and lower what you give to unemployed people every month. If I could find a job at 16, I'm sure people can find one too. Anyway, that's my beef with this gov't.

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