From the beginning, Stephen Harper dreamed of transforming Canada into a petro-state. Many things have combined to kill his dream -- not the least of which is the falling price of oil. Carol Goar believes Canadians might have been willing to forgive Harper for things over which he had no control. Unfortunately, Harper has refused to do anything about the things he can control. Goar compiles a remarkable list of Harper's mistakes:
The first impediment is his absolute refusal to admit he misjudged Canada’s prospects. Even now, with the bottom dropping out of his budgetary calculations, Harper insists he is a masterful economic manager, the only safe choice for prudent voters. His skewed self-image and his unwillingness to adjust to events stifle any fellow feeling.
The second problem is that the prime minister is partly responsible for his own predicament. Although events conspired against him, he made matters worse. Discarding diplomacy, he publicly lectured the U.S. government that approving the Keystone XL pipeline designed to move bitumen from Hardisty, Alta., to the Gulf of Mexico should be a “complete no-brainer.” President Barack Obama didn’t take kindly to Harper’s needling. He still hasn’t given the project a green light. Similarly, Harper and his ministers lashed out at “radical groups” for hijacking the pipeline approval process and undermining the economy. Environmentalists dug in their heels.
The third is Harper’s overt favouritism toward Alberta. His government subsidized the oilsands while dismissing Ontario’s efforts to develop green energy. He treated central Canada’s manufacturing woes as an unfortunate, but unpreventable, byproduct of globalization. His ministers hunted down employment insurance recipients in the job-scarce Maritimes to ensure they were actively looking for work. He changed Canada’s equalization formula when Ontario became a have-not province.
The fourth is his obduracy on climate change. While other nations cleaned up their act, Harper broke Ottawa’s global commitments, ignored its emission-reduction targets and made no effort to put a price on pollution. The payback for sacrificing Canada’s reputation as a responsible member of the global community? A commodity the industry can’t sell in an oil-saturated world.
The fifth is his attempt to smear and silence charities. No prime minister has ever resorted to auditing charities that don’t share the government’s ideology or objectives. Since 2012, the Canada Revenue Agency has targeted more than 50 environmental organizations, anti-poverty groups, foreign aid providers and left-leaning think-tanks. Even people who don’t belong to — or donate to — these charities are disturbed by the lengths to which Harper will go to get his way.
There's more, but you get the idea. The bald truth is that -- other than his ability to get himself elected -- Harper has been a thoroughly incompetent prime minister.
Historians will be preoccupied with the question of how a man so devoid of people skills could be elected prime minister. Perhaps, they will conclude, it was the times. They will point south of the border to one of Harper's contemporaries -- who also liked to pose as a cowboy. He was, likewise, totally unfit for office.
Who knows what their explanation will be? But one thing is certain. Each man, they will conclude, was his own worst enemy.