Friday, October 02, 2015

Economy Or Security: That Is The Question


Stephen Harper  tried to boil this election down to two issues: economy and security. The economy plank hasn't worked so well for him, given the problems in the oil patch.  So now he's emphasizing security -- and railing about niqabs. Michael Harris writes:

According to senior sources in the Liberal campaign, this is nothing short of a life-and-death struggle. If the focus remains on the economy, Team Trudeau thinks it can win. Why wouldn’t they? Here’s the snapshot after a decade of Harper: a recession (his second); a dollar that has lost 12 per cent of its value since 2006; seven out of eight budgets in deficit; and an extra $150 billion added to the national debt. Not exactly an argument for staying the course. As for prudent fiscal management — raiding the budget of veterans to balance the books doesn’t count. No wonder the Grits are excited.

But if security dominates, the edge goes to Harper. The Liberals understood that coming into this joust — which is why they made the high-risk move of supporting Bill C-51. They knew Conservative strength on this file was deep, though based more on emotion than reason. The last thing they wanted was to give Stephen Harper a hot-button wedge issue to excite his xenophobic fans by making Trudeau look soft on terrorism.

Trying to innoculate themselves from the notion that they were soft on security, the Liberals voted for Bill C-51, saying they would make significant changes to the bill. But that left them open to attacks from progressives who claimed they were, once again, being buffaloed by Stephen Harper. And that shadow has been following Justin Trudeau throughout this election.

There is a way, Harris writes, for Trudeau to get out from under that shadow. In fact, before the election, the Liberals tried to get out from under it:

Before C-51 passed, Liberal MP Joyce Murray brought forward a private member’s bill, C-622, pinpointing the things in C-51 that required changes: the need for independent review of the Communications Security Establishment, for a new Intelligence and Security committee for Parliament and for a sunset clause to give the law a limited lifespan, as opposed to the Harper government’s plan to make it permanent. Murray hoped to lessen the disillusionment that grassroots supporters felt after the Liberals voted for C-51.

Murray's bill was voted down. However, she hasn't given up:

Based on her continuing interest in security matters, Murray — who finished second to Justin Trudeau in the last Liberal leadership contest — is now asking her leader to consider making further public announcements touching the national security file. She wants Team Trudeau to announce a “comprehensive” White Paper. Its purpose would be to examine Canada’s “security laws, institutions and review mechanisms” — every last scrap of it.

According to Murray, amending C-51 is only part of the job. The other part is taking current thinking on national security issues “down to the studs”. That way, if the Liberals get a chance to make good on their promise of a full review of C-51 after three years in office, there will be a solid evidentiary base for the process. Party sources tell iPolitics that the leader is mulling over Murray’s request, but the economy remains Justin Trudeau’s primary focus.

It's time for Trudeau to take on Bill C-51. And the economy is still on the ballot.


ron wilton said...

Canada and Canadians have had more than enough of harpernomics, harper fear mongering and all things harper in general.

I fear if harper 'wins' again with his acumen for stealth and deceit, we will see many examples of his 'security' forces battling wave upon wave of citizen protest.

Canada will change.

Owen Gray said...

Canada has changed a great deal already, Ron. God knows what the country would look like after four more years of Harper.

Mogs Moglio said...

We are going to have a 21 gun salute for Harper being an Economist or knowing how to run an Economy. Let's lay this myth to rest permanently eh?

Owen Gray said...

I'm sure he'd be pleased to get one, Mogs. But I'm also sure that there are lots of real economists who would object.

Anonymous said...

Why wasn't Trudeau forthright and just come out against C-51 in the first place?

This bill is terrible. The product of god knows what reasoning.

Trudeau messing around with it makes me fearful. He needs to just get rid of it.

And who in the hell is this guy taking advice from?

This election is his to lose.

It's not too late for him to make some principled stand on this. If he did, I'd have to vote for him.

Owen Gray said...

His stand on Bill C-51 sowed doubts among progressives, Anon. He said, with some justification, that Harper would use his rejection of the bill as a dog whistle -- just as Harper is now using the niqab as a dog whistle.

But you're right. Now is the time for him to take on the bill.