Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Say Nothing. Do Nothing.


It's interesting to compare Stephen Harper to the much reviled Brian Mulroney. Michael Den Tandt writes:

Back to Mulroney who, at the time he stepped aside in 1993, was considered the most popularly disliked Canadian leader ever. “He bugs us still,” wrote Peter C. Newman years later. Controversy followed Mulroney everywhere. His cabinet was a revolving door of ministers moving in and out due to various infractions and peccadillos. There was Meech, the rise of the Bloc, Charlottetown. Later there was, of course, the Schreiber affair.

But Mulroney got some very important, difficult things done; free trade with the United States and Mexico; an acid-rain treaty and Arctic sovereignty agreement with the United States.; the GST, which made it possible for Paul Martin in the mid-1990s to balance the books; and leadership among the Western democracies in the fight against South African apartheid.

Mulroney managed all this, and the headwaters of his constitutional failures, too, by focusing on the very big files; and by making it his business to forge personal bonds with every member of his caucus, including the backbenchers dismissed by his predecessor, Pierre Trudeau, as “nobodies.” Mulroney was, like him or loathe him, a terrifically skilled politician, and ambitious for the country to boot.

Mulroney has put forward his suggestions for Senate reform:

Appoint two eminent persons, a former auditor general and a former Supreme Court judge, and have them craft a new plan for Senate spending and residency, the former Tory prime minister told the Canadian Bar Association in Montreal last week. Then have the PM of the day appoint candidates from lists provided by the provinces.

From Harper we have heard nothing; and he has done nothing. That appears to be Standard Operating Procedure these days:

On aboriginal affairs, in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, there is the sound of crickets. On assisted suicide, despite a Supreme Court ruling months ago requiring a new law, crickets. On pipeline development, supposedly the very core of the nation’s economic future, there is a witless Twitter campaign by Conservative MPs against Tim Hortons, sparked by the donut chain’s spurning of ads for pipeline builder Enbridge­ — itself an idiotic cave-in to the now fashionable distaste for “Big Oil.”

Lost on the Tory Timbit warriors, seemingly, is that neither they nor their leader have extended the least energy, consumed the least political capital, in oh, two years, trying to persuade Canadians pipelines are environmentally safe and economically necessary.

Apparently, Mr. Harper believes that, if he keeps his mouth shut, he will be re-elected.


Anonymous said...

Free air travel, free rent, free food, free limos, all paid for by the Canadian taxpayer. Who would voluntarily give up a life style like that? That's what Harper and his cohorts are fighting for. Before they take their corporate jobs. No need to worry about the real concerns of Canadians, though.

Mogs Moglio said...

Hi Owen,

My idea on senate reform allow each province ten in all and each territory three in all to have their governments appoint each a single senator so their voices could be heard in the federal theater. Also based on my belief it would be allot easier to track the spending of thirteen senators vs the PM's appointments that has been the manure in the pasture to date.

Cheers Owen cheers,

Toby said...

"Apparently, Mr. Harper believes that, if he keeps his mouth shut, he will be re-elected."

Sadly, it just might work. The Conservative base has drunk the kool-Aid; they believe!

Owen Gray said...

They believe he can do no wrong, Toby. And ignorance is bliss.

Owen Gray said...

The problem with any senate reform, Mogs, is that you have to get the provinces to agree with the change. Maybe you should start lobbying the provinces.

Owen Gray said...

Life at the top has its rewards, Anon.

the salamander said...

.. let me know if you can find a single quote from Stephen Harper that he himself has not contradicted..
& its OK to start with his promises about same sex marriage, transparency or accountability or omnibus bills.

After.. you could explore he & Laureen's odd relationship with the RCMP and/or Ray Novak's place in the nuclear Harper family

The bizarre shift towards Israel invites examination of course.. is Harper evangel or now subscribes to Judaism ?

If Mulroney had some soft or blurry edges.. well Amen.. that's politics eh ?

But Harper has fabricated a complete myth.. with cloak of invisibility, cone of silence
complete ideological nonsense, environmental destruction, sellout to China (secretly)
screw the Vets & Pensioners & any voters of course..
with the complicity of thugs like Clement, Saint Flaherty, Pete Kent, Baird MacKay
and the lesser saints & plumbers Van Loan Jenni Byrne Arthur Hamilton Nigel et al

The PHD level - pile it higher n deeper via PMO, plus the git along media is astounding
The Creep PM is running on fumes of course.. but even on fumes
he'll likely be useful via stupid polls, dim media.. and occupancy
ah yes.. the dreaded, ya gotta knock out the champ to win ..

These pus sacks beggar belief .. historically hysterical
Blaney, Nicholson, the Speaker, Aglukaaq, Shea, Oliver are bottom of the barrel scrapings

And who thrives at the bottom of the barrel and septic tanks, tailings ponds ?
Why Stephen Harper.. the Chauncey Gardener Mail Clerk of Canadian Politics
minus the charm & innocence of course

Owen Gray said...

Harper has no charm or innocence, salamander. But he does have his henchmen. And they continue to go to the wall for him.

Mogs Moglio said...

Alright Owen I,m on it I'll start with Alberta I think the idea will be warm there. BC not so much until we can get rid of Harper's Handkerchief Christy Clark a died in the wool Harper-con. She was implicit in allot of the scams Gordon Campbell ran BC Rail etc. They are now trying to bankrupt BC Hydro so they can sell it to their friends. Once it is privatized no oversight what so ever hey it is a private corporation now. For all I know the Red Chinese could buy it.

BC Hydro which is a wholly owned power company by BC residents and the government its directors which forces our BC Hydro to buy power at a higher price than they can sell it for. They are called run of river projects [PPP's). They only operate during spring run-off when we don't need the extra power and worse yet most are American corporations.

More capital fleeing Canada at my expense and every BC and Canadian resident.



Toby said...

Another way to look at it, Owen, is that Harper doesn't want to govern; he just doesn't want anyone else to, particularly Liberals and most particularly a Trudeau.

Owen Gray said...

There's some truth to that, Toby. Harper enjoys the perks. Power is its own elixir.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Mogs. Incidentally, Kathleen Wynne's government is also partially privatizing Ontario Hydro.

The Mound of Sound said...

Harper has never been more than a technocrat, an administrator applying the fundamental tenets of neoliberalism. He's a middle management type draped in what he sees as boundless executive powers. It's no wonder he cannot understand the constitution and why it can restrain his actions.

den Tandt is stating the obvious in noting that Harper has achieved nothing beyond persuading just enough Canadians not to trust his rivals. This, I suspect, is in keeping with former BFF Tom Flanagan's remark to an audience on Saltspring Island a few years back that Harper has no vision and abhors the very idea.

This was manifest in Harper's "stimulus budget" in early 2009. He was willing to commit the government to borrowing tens of billions of dollars (having already defunded the treasury by then) but was unable to take the responsibility of investing that money wisely, in infrastructure that would deliver not only immediate economic stimulus but would pay dividends to the country for decades to come. Instead, with Ignatieff's support, he imposed what I call a "pinata budget" where the money was simply doled out on a first come,first served basis and without regard for what the approved uses would actually do for the economy much less any long term return to the country. A lot of people who were already going to replace the collapsing old deck on the cottage got the government to pay for it instead.

No vision, no quest, no achievement. Such things wouldn't suit his nature.

Anonymous said...

"...the GST, which made it possible for Paul Martin in the mid-1990s to balance the books..."

Not even close to the historical record.

Owen Gray said...

True, Anon. The statement ignores all the budget cutting measures.

Owen Gray said...

As a trained "economist," it's always seemed strange to me, Mound, that Harper doesn't -- or can't -- distinguish between invested debt and consumer debt. If he saw the distinction between the two, he'd invest in infrastructure.

He has no vision. But he does have tunnel vision.