The Harper government keeps adding to its enemies list. First and foremost, there are the "radical environmentalists." And, of course, there is the CBC. And then there is the entire province of Quebec. Now, the government has turned its sights on the province of Ontario.
When Bob Rae rose in the House yesterday and asked,
“I wonder if the Minister of Finance could explain to us why, when he was in Toronto on Friday, he took the opportunity to single out the province of Ontario, accusing it of mismanaging its finances precisely at a time when it is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance to be speaking for all of Canada?”
Peter Van Loan responded in the usual fashion. Every answer avoids policy issues. Every question is greeted with an ad hominem attack:
“I can understand why the leader of the third party is avoiding that subject. This is not his kind of budget. This is a budget that does not increase taxes,” Mr. Van Loan said.
“When he was premier of the province of Ontario he increased taxes 22 different ways,” he said. “This is a budget that sets us on the track to a balanced budget, to eliminate the deficit in three years. When he was premier of the province of Ontario, he set record level deficits.”
The fact that the present Federal Minister of Finance left a large whole in Ontario's budget is of no consequence. The fact that he ran up the largest deficit in Canadian history is not an issue. The fact that he is married to the deputy leader of the Ontario Conservative Party is of no weight. The fact that Ontario's industrial base was devastated during the Great Recession is not important. The country's future lies in the muck, otherwise known as the Alberta tarsands.
But consider: several of the Conservatives' Ontario seats were won by desperately thin majorities -- and that was before Elections Canada started investigating charges of voter suppression. The Harperites are playing a dangerous game. If they alienate enough Ontario voters -- as they have Quebec voters -- they will sink their own ship.
You don't choose your enemies. You make them. And, if last week's budget proves anything, it's that -- when looked at from a longer perspective -- the Harper government makes stunningly stupid choices.