Thursday, May 19, 2011

Who Are the Real Opposition?

Those who are looking to the NDP to provide counter arguments to the Harper juggernaut should take a look at this morning's National Post. In a blistering comment on yesterday's festivities in Ottawa, Scott Stinson writes that those who are really furious with Harper are Canadians who consider themselves true Conservatives:

It’s not just that Mr. Harper decided to appoint three more unabashed partisans to the Senate. It’s not just that the Senators-to-be, Larry Smith, Fabian Manning, and Josée Verner, were rejected by Canadian voters only two weeks ago. And it’s not just that the PMO’s announcement of the appointments was seemingly timed to be as contemptuous of the public as possible — just after the new Cabinet was announced, and mere moments after the Prime Minister had completed a question-and-answer session with the media in Ottawa. It’s all of it, in one tidy package: more patronage, less respect for democracy and less accountability. He’s long since given up the pledge to only appoint “elected senators,” of course, but it takes some gumption to swallow all those principles at once.

Besides rewarding what Harper used to call a "coalition of losers," there's the problem of the bloated cabinet. Once again, Stinson is not impressed:

A 39-member Cabinet, nearly the largest in the country’s history, for the party of small government. The same attention to petty worries such as regional balance — Quebec has four Cabinet members out of five MPs, while Alberta has four out of 27 MPs — means that Cabinet becomes ever more bloated. Had Mr. Harper wanted to signal serious change, he could have easily whacked a bunch of positions and returned the ministry to a more manageable, less costly size. Was it surprising that Mr. Harper did not celebrate his majority victory by essentially firing a dozen ministers and returning them to the back benches? No, it wasn’t. But the point is, he could have done so. It would have been a clear sign that, as conservatives wait for Conservatives to show any sign that they haven’t forgotten the meaning of the word, Mr. Harper intends to govern like the politician he must have once intended to be — back before he had the balancing act of a minority government to worry about.

As everyone should know by now, there has always been a galactic distance between what Stephen Harper says and what Stephen does. Some of us had hoped that Canadians would have taken note of that during the election. It would appear that those who have now noticed Harper's political hypocrisy used to be his most ardent supporters. I suspect that a good number of them were among the 39.6% of eligible voters who gave the Prime Minister his majority.

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