Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Not completely evil as it turns out

Here's something that's surprising the hell out of me. Stephen Harper doesn't suck as a prime minister.

Now, I'm not saying I'm going to vote for the Conservatives in the next election (that depends a lot on who they run here. The last one was pretty vocal in his opposition to gay marriage, which pretty much made him a dead duck to me) or that I even want to see them get a majority government any time soon. A minority government with the NDP helping to keep them in power works quite nicely for me. Judging by the fact that none of the parties can gain any traction in the polls, it seems to be working quite nicely for most of us.

And yes, I know Stephane Dion has been taking a pounding in the polls and the national press this week. But I tend to lean on the side of some pundits and columnists I've read who remind people that Stephen Harper was behind in the polls in the last election and thought by many to be unelectable. Dion needs to get his act together, but he's hardly dead yet.

It's just that after so many years of being painted the anti-Christ, surprise surprise, Harper's actually not a bad prime minister. The country hasn't fallen apart in the last year. The economy continues to tick along nicely. Decisions are getting made and promptly. Social justice issues haven't been completely rolled back. Same sex marriage continues. Things seem to be quieting down with the separatists in Quebec. Newfoundland is unhappy, but guess what, we're always going to be unhappy.

And hell, I don't even have a problem with Canada being in Afghanistan or the military spending. If we want to be taken more seriously on the world stage, then engagements like Afghanistan are going to have to happen. And yes, it is tragic that men and women have been hurt and killed over there. But honest to God, I think they're making a difference. Maybe it's slow steps. Maybe peace is going to be a long ways away. But I think Afghanistan is better with a Canadian presence there than without one.

And yes, Harper's commitment to the environment is likely more of an attempt to cut the legs out from underneath Dion than a serious belief in the importance of the issue, but hey, it certainly seems to be working, doesn't it?

No, Harper isn't perfect. I don't agree with all the cuts he made in the past year. And I still can't shake the feeling that we would see a very different prime minister if he didn't have to behave in a minority government. But we're already starting to see the lead up to another federal election, this one likely around May. And unless there is a sudden shift in things – Mr. Harper is caught eating small children; Mr. Dion is shown burning tires in his back lawn or Mr. Layton makes a deal with Satan – then there will be another minority government.

I appreciate that politicians are not the smartest breed on the face of the planet, but you'd figure they might catch on sooner or later.

But hey, at least sign makers will make a fortune. Which reminds me, I wonder if any of the parties will make them out of recyclable materials?


Jason said...

I don't know Craig, I got to disagree here. Check out today's globe and mail for Harper's crass shot at a liberal member. I don't think he's completely evil but I think he has evil(right wing) tendencies, he just does better when he doesn't listen to that little right wing voice. As for Afghanistan I agree we could be doing good here but I don't think his goverment has been particularly great at explaining the mission to Canadians. Also Peter Mckay is something of a putz. That's all lol

His Nibs said...

You say: "Social justice issues haven't been completely rolled back."

While gay marriage may be off the table, you are missing two very important Harper interventions that have set back social justice by decades. I refer to his axing the Court Challenges Program, and cutting funding to many social interest groups - notably the Status of Women Canada. This, in addition to partisan nominations to the Federal courts, is designed to have long term influence on the ability of critics to mount legal attacks to conservative policies.

He also axed a breakthrough agreement made with Aboriginals and the Crown under the Liberals, has delayed payment of reparations for the Residential Schools abuses, and sent a no vote to the UN regarding a declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples.

These are embarrassments in governance, all done with a minority in Parliament.

So you're wrong in substance about that matter. Only the qualifying use of 'completely' saves you from being completely wrong on the social issues question.

Even so, I'll take your other point. In some aspects of his governance, good things happen. So, even though Harper claims that the Kyoto Accord is a socialist plot, he's pushed legislation about toxic emissions. And his agreement with Bill Gates about the HIV research laboratory is wonderful news.

I'm just sure that in balance, things could be better.

Anonymous said...

Nah, I still don't like him. And I think we'd be well rid of him.

No matter how minor his ability to screw things up with a minority gov't, he's just plain creepy.

But then again, I'm living in the land that believes that Preston Manning was a bit too left wing for most in these parts...