Yesterday, Stephen Harper conjured up the ghost of Pierre Trudeau and repeated what he has said throughout this campaign: "Boo!" He told an audience in Drumondviille that:
I think it’s a bit unfair to bash somebody in the grave - he’s not here to defend himself - but as you know Mr. Trudeau did have a different philosophy of government: a high-spending philosophy, a centralizing philosophy.
Unfair or not, that's precisely what he went on to do: "The comparison I’m obviously making is the fact that as we all know in 1972 ... we had a Liberal government that relied on the NDP for ongoing support." The result, Harper said, was unmitigated disaster:
All they did was spend money [and] that led to two decades of ... runaway spending, higher taxes, double-digit unemployment and double digit interest rates.
As Ned Franks, of Queen's University has noted, Mr. Harper's claim that coalitions are illegitimate is a figment of his imagination. Moreover, Harper's reading of history is highly selective. He ignores two Middle East oil shocks which had a lot to do with the stagflation of the 70's. More than that, he ignores the fact that the two highest deficits in Canadian history were run up by Conservative governments -- Brian Mulroney's and his own. In between, the Chretien-Martin governments eliminated the Mulroney deficit and ran up a $12 billion surplus. And, at the moment, Mr. Harper holds the record for both spending and deficits.
Mr. Harper is allergic to facts. That is why he deep-sixed the long term census. As long as a solid database exits, it's hard for him to support his argument. Whether its opposition politicians or members of the press, Mr. Harper finds it hard to confront a narrative other than his own. Perhaps that's because, deep down, he lacks the courage of his convictions. Or, perhaps, he simply lacks courage.