Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is Harper Changing the Nature of Canada

Yes! Says respected columnist James Travers.

According to Travers, Harper is centralizing increasingly more "Presidential Powers" in the PMO remote from the oversight functions of the House of Commons.

He used the Christmas Constitutional Crisis to tell Canadian people that they directly elected the Prime Minister which of course is factually wrong as our Prime Minister is defined as the individual who has the confidence of the House of Commons. Instead, Harper led Canadians to believe that we directly elected our PM similar to the direct Presidential election in America. Of course, only the voters of Calgary Centre got a chance to vote for Harper and he became PM only because he was leader of the largest party, albeit a minority party. It was constitutionally correct for any other parliamentarian to be appointed as PM if they enjoyed the confidence of the House, a responsibility that would have fallen to Stephane Dion who had the support of both the NDP and the BLOC. To avoid this aspect of the Canadian Constitution, Harper convinced the Governor General to proroque Parliament at the most inopportune time when economic action was required to combat our faltering economy. What a time to take a holiday! But it is one other way that Harper has Americanized our Canadian system.

It was dishonest and unprincipled for Harper to lie to the Canadian people merely to preserve power. His action was unique for Prime Ministers in Canadian history but hopefully it will not set a precedent for other more principled leaders in the future.

Canada needs a leader who respects the most basic law of the land...the Canadian Constitution.

Harper once derided Canada as "a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it." He also told an American audience that "Canada is content to become a second-tier socialist country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services, to mask its second-rate status."

As Harper once boasted: "You won't recognize Canada when I get through with it." Since taking office, he's been carrying out his promise."

Perhaps we need a Prime Minister who is proud of the history and traditions of this country...and Harper is not it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is Harper's Departure Imminent?

Speculation is rife that PM Stephen Harper is on his last legs. Columnists are speculating this and this is supported by Harper's recent push for exposure on the international stage by his visits to foreign heads of state as well as his travels for interview on American TV Network political and news shows as well as his public comments regarding international events. It appears he is making his "last splash" before moving on.

In many ways, it appears also that Conservative MP's have had enough and are now getting the courage to stand up and speak up. They are sick and tired of the PM who micromanages every word they utter which is true also for the control he exercises over most members of his cabinet. This was certainly apparent over the Brian Mulroney issue where Harper forbid his charges to communicate with Mulroney and Harper's henchmen let it be known that the former PM was no longer a member of the party.

Harper is perhaps learning that those who live by the sword die by the sword.

Canadians, in general, appear to be losing confidence in the Harper Conservatives.

Even the Obama Administration is reaching out to Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff, to give him "face time" on the important Afghani file with the administration and perhaps even with the President that Harper did his utmost to deny on Obama's official one-day visit to Ottawa. You will recall that Harper's office scheduled a 20 minute visit Ignatieff/Obama chat at the airport upon Obama's departure. You will also recall that Obama extended the visit with Ignatieff far beyond the brief time Harper scheduled.

Perhaps Conservatives will be smart enough in future to select a "consensus builder" rather than a dogmatic demagogue as its leader.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Did PM Harper Know of our impending grave economic climate during the election campaign?

Harper is finally starting to acknowledge the grave employment situation in the nation scant months after the election campaign when he said the economy was in great shape with nary a problem in sight. He even prorogued parliament for over a month when parliament could have been working to avert the crisis. With the employment figures now out and the economic concern all around us, if the prime minister didn't see all this coming during the election campaign, how can we have confidence in a prime minister who can see no further into the future than the tip of his nose. If as I suspect, the prime minister and his advisors saw all this coming, and blatantly lied to the Canadian public to secure his continuance in power, how can we support a PM who would have such disregard and disrespect for the public that he would knowingly lie to them to get re-elected. Either way, he's got to go!

Fortunately, polling figures across the country show a loss of support for his leadership. Perhaps his party will throw him out first to save the Canadian public the effort.

Canadians are a people of moderation, a people of conciliation, a people of concern for their fellow citizens...and Stephen Harper is none of these. He is an unbridled neocon combatant that has to go.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I get a kick out of this picture (credit: Tom Hanson, Canadian Press) of the Prime Minisiter strolling through Times Square on Feb. 23, 2009 with his impressive security detail. He's got all those guys guarding him but no one is paying any attention. It's Harper's play on the Obama-mania just witnessed in Canada. It must make a guy feel important even if no one's paying any attention. Perhaps all those security guys will attract a little attention of passers-by as to who that guy is in the middle! Maybe the security guys could carry placards announcing Harper's presence. Then they would have a little parade!

This picture contrasts with my memory of seeing PM Lester Pearson strolling alone down Avenue Road outside the Park Plaza Hotel on a sunny Saturday morning...nary a security guy or anyone in sight. But hey, he was only a guy to win a Nobel Peace Prize, Act as President of the UN's 7th General Assembly, lay the groundwork for the creation of the State of Israel, and bring us universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada, and the Canadian Flag.

These days, a guy has to make the most of his moment in the sun.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Remember this? Does a leader who misleads the Canadian Public deserve to be Prime Minister

Stephen Harper led the Canadian public to believe that the three opposition parties were pulling a cout d'etat when they agreed to form a coalition to govern as a result of their reaction to the Dec. 2008 Conservative Economic Statement that
1) removed political party funding which replaced private fund raising,
2) told parliament to expect legislation to erase women's equal pay for equal work legislation, and,
3)told parliament to expect legislation to erase Federal employees right to strike.
All this without addressing any measures to avert the worst economic crisis since the great depression.

As you all know, Harper convinced the Governor General to prorogue parliament to close it down at that critical time. Hardly the honest and principled leadership Canadians needed or deserved.

Never once did Harper inform the Canadian Public that coalition governments were within the constitution when a government loses the confidence of the house and that the Prime Minister is any individual who has the confidence of the house. Nor did Harper remind the Canadian Public that he attempted to form exactly the same coalition with the Bloc and the NDP to displace the Paul Martin Liberals as the government scant years earlier.

Enjoy CBC's Rick Mercer's rant on the situation.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Did Harper learn any lessons at Obama's political knee ?

So Superstar Obama has just taken off. While in Ottawa, "hermit" Harper tried to sequester Obama from the public and all but a few chosen politicians. Harper wanted to celebrate the President's trip here all by himself trying to minimize his exposure to the Canadian people while maximizing his own exposure with Obama. He even had Obama meet with the Governor General and the Opposition Leader at the airport rather than in the Parliament Buildings...perhaps over the lunch held in the Senate Speakers Dining Hall.

"Real" politician, Obama, however, asked Harper if he minded if he waved to the crowd once he arrived at Parliament Hill. Harper acquiesed and followed Obama's lead in acknowledging the people...the real purpose of being for a politician. And then, of course, the President detoured his entourage through the Byward Market to sample a famous "Beavertail". Could you imagine Harper doing this?

So why would Harper want to script Obama's visit here as tightly as he scripts his own interaction with the Canadian Press and the Canadian People? It's just one more proof that Harper is a "control-freak" one-man show.

In the TV coverage, however, it was obvious that Obama was the superstar politician while Harper looked like a little puppy at the master's political knee. Obama comes across as thoughtful, honest, open, and sincere while Harper acts, talks, and looks scripted. The President was even able to call press conference questioners by their names whereas Harper didn't seem at all interested in relating to them in any kind of warm or friendly way. Of course, he always tries to keep his distance from the press unless he has total control over the questions and the interaction.

Harper did seem to make a major turnaround over the environmental carbon footprint. While he bad-mouthed Dion's poorly sold "Green Shift" during the election saying it was a tax increase on everything, he now seems to have come "full-circle" on the importance of limiting carbon emissions with his signing of a "Clean Energy Agreement with the President. Too bad he didn't "come clean" over the importance of this issue during the election. This was blatant dishonesty with the Canadian people combined with "scare tactics". If Harper didn't agree with Dion's plan, he should have at least acknowledged the importance of the issue and proposed his alternative solution.

Hopefully, this meeting with President Obama is close to the end of the road for Harper's and his flight into the limelight.

To survive as a politician in the future, hopefully voters will be looking to cast their votes for more "Obama-like" politicians. To that end, Harper, if he hopes to survive, will have to cast aside his evangelical right wing dogmas which attempts to destroy opposition rather than involving or listening to them.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Please, Mr. Harper, no more tax cuts

Brigitte Nowak, Toronto

I don't want tax cuts. My taxes pay for my government to provide social services so that I can maintain at least a minimal standard of living. I also don't want tax cuts for corporations so that they can provide their shareholders with a "good return," usually at the expense of workers who are being asked to do more and more to ensure a profit, and fired whenever executives' bottom line might suffer.

I'm still trying to find my last tax cut – the penny off the GST. All I know is that under Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty, Canada has gone from a multi-billion dollar surplus, to this year's projected $35 billion dollar deficit. Had we not had previous tax cuts, would our economy not be in much better shape to weather the current recession?

It is anticipated that the deficit might reach $100 billion – more than wiping out our hard-fought deficit reduction strategies.

I hope the impending budget is not a plot by Harper and his ilk to gut our much-needed government services in the name of "fiscal responsibility."

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Study in Contrasts---Hitting the Road Running vs Hitting the Road Hiding

Barack Obama has not yet been sworn in as President, but he's taken off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and gotten to work. He realizes in this deepest economic meltdown since the depression that immediate and effective action is needed to stop the slide. He realizes that consumption has to be stimulated in the economy to save jobs. That means money has to get in the hands of Main Street, not Wall Street!

Obama Early Frenetic Action

Prime Minister Stephen Harper provides a study in contrasts.
In the six weeks leading up to the election, Stephen Harper was telling Canadian people that the economy was strong, that the Canadian government would be running budget surpluses for 2009, and that he would never lead the Federal Government into deficit budgets. Amazing how his positions changed immediately following the election. He calls himself an economist! Some economist if he didn't see the economic realities media worldwide were reporting...or did he...and just didn't come clean with the Canadian public.

Harper must be more like George Dubya Bush than Obama. He is out of date in this new age of honesty and integrity in politics.

In many ways, Harper's election statements and fear-mongering would not meet the standard of truth demanded by National Advertising Standards in this country.

Harper's initial solutions to the worldwide recession presented in his government's first economic statement on November 27, 2008, served to inflame opposition parties with measures to 1) Cut political per vote subsidies introduced to move political parties away from corporate donations which tended to produce legislation favourable to donors, 2) Prohibit strikes by Federal Civil Service, and 3) Limit pay equity legislation guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work.

Harper's government has recently introduced Tax Free Savings Accounts to stimulate savings...exactly the wrong policy to introduce now. This policy tends to rob the economy of consumption dollars at a time when consumption has to be stimulated. Further, over his history as Prime Minister, he has favoured general tax cut policies which favours the rich. Only the rich can afford savings, and only the rich have enough income to generate meaningful tax savings. While the rich might profit from tens of thousands of dollars from tax cuts, most Canadians save only pennies. How much did you benefit, for example, from Harper's 2% cut in the GST? How about 20 bucks for every thousand you spent on GST taxed purchases? Would that make a difference to your expenditure? Would that stimulate your spending to get the economy back on track?

So while Obama rolled up his sleeves and got to work, what did Harper do?

Harper's frenetic action to shut down parliament in its first weeks

He rolled down his sleeves, put on his baby blue sweater, put on his blinders, put his head in the sand, put mufflers on his MP's and Cabinet, and shut down Parliament for two months..of course, hoping his problems would go away.

So what is leadership? You tell me!