Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pretty Thin, But . . .


As prime minister, Stephen Harper didn't accomplish much. Andrew Coyne writes that Mr. Harper's legacy is pretty thin:

Any honest examination of Harper’s nine-odd years in office would find a government that wandered all over the intellectual map, boasting of its commitment to balanced budgets while adding $150 billion to the national debt, talking of its respect for free markets while launching 1970s-style industrial-subsidy programs, praising the military while denying it adequate equipment, and so on. 

Its defenders point to all the things other governments might have done — a national daycare program, say — that Harper’s didn’t. But we could as well list all of the conservative policies it failed to enact, from privatization to deregulation to reform of social programs. We might talk of how the party’s social conservatives were gagged, or how the party of democratic conservatism became the party of one-man rule.

There was much that it did that it shouldn’t have — a long list that would include abusing the prerogatives of Parliament, packing the Senate with spendthrifts and cronies, and attempting to skew elections via the Fair Elections Act — and much else that it tried to do but failed, from reforming the Senate to building pipelines.

And, Coyne admits, the Liberals are rapidly undoing what Harper left on the books. However, he gives Harper credit for uniting a party which tends to self destruct:

The Diefenbaker sweep in 1958 was reduced to a minority in just four years. The Mulroney sweep in 1984, likewise, carried within it the seeds of its later demise. Both were too sudden to last.

Time will tell whether the Harper Party survives this weekend's convention and beyond.

Image: 25mmpinbadges.co.uk




14 comments:

Kirby Evans said...

I think that the Conservative Party faces significant problems, many of which it is not facing up to (or perhaps it is structurally incapable of facing). The millennials are, as a group, significantly more liberal than the past generation and generally don't buy the "low tax" and "small government" lie. Furthermore, the climate change albatross is hanging heavily on the neck of the entire conservative movement. Generational political change is by nature fairly slow, but it seems certain to me now that the Conservative movement is faced with a very basic problem: to wit, move into the 21st century or be left behind. The Harper government was part of the struggle that many conservative groups are facing, a ferocious effort to reassert the white dominated, nasty politics of the past century's mean rightwingers like Nixon, George Wallace, and J. Edgar Hoover. They are angry at the loss of their old-time power and that is what led to the mean-spirited attitudes of the Cons, the attitude that continues to linger on in the party. They cannot face their demons for the fairly simple reason that their demons are dead, they are a thing of the past. The only real hope for the Conservative movement in many Western nations is to embrace the red-tory tradition. Instead, in many places they are returning to the response that they embraced the last time such conditions prevailed, fascism.

Owen Gray said...

Like William F Buckley, the Harperites are trying to stand athwart history, yelling stop. It's an effort which is doomed to failure, Kirby.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

The reform/alliance/conservatives have absolutely nothing to offer Canadians Owen. They have no political platform, no political policies and do not even discuss political ideas. Canadians saw how profoundly incompetent they were when they governed. Embarrassingly so!As they run around like chickens with their heads cut off, they still don't get it. Canadians do not want, ever again a right wing, tea party like group of people ,running our government. Harper sees the writing on the wall and as per usual when the going gets tough, he runs.

Owen Gray said...

They would do better better if they returned to their progressive roots, Pam. But the word "progressive" has been expunged from the party.

Anonymous said...

If the Conservative Party becomes more "progressive" (whatever that word really means these days), then there really would be no difference between them and the Liberal Party. Other than their positions on social issues relating to women, gays, Muslims, etc., the two parties are pretty much in lockstep.

Owen Gray said...

Historically, Anon, that's been the case. When Liberal arrogance got to be too much to stomach, the PC's took over.

Anonymous said...

So 10 years after Canada's Supreme Court has made its decision, and after 10 years in & out of government the CPC decides by a measly 70% that marriage is OK?

But, then the snarky, sneaky Harper hubrasshats slipped in a little escape clause for the bigots - support for religious organizations to refuse to perform unions or allow the use of their facilities for events that are incompatible with their faith and belief - to the resolution.

!N!0!T!H!I!N!G! HAS CHANGED

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Anon. They're still stuck in the past.

Askingtherightquestions said...

Mr. Coyne is being too kind, as he often was, to Harper. He reflects nothing more than the fatal flaw of much of modern conservative (Republican, CPC, Tory) policy and practices since the early 1980's. The flaw? That a party seeking to represent a plurality of citizens can only do so based upon outright mistruths and misinformation. Severely flawed economic theory, climate change denialism, "free trade" deals that do not deliver, captured regulatory processes are only a few of the of obvious problems post Reagan/Thatcher. Why are there NO consequences for ideologic failures?

the salamander said...

.. we have as yet no whistleblower or leak.. but somehow some day the Pierre Poutine fraud of 2011 will float to the surface. That will be the boat anchor taking Stephen Harper & his smarmy 'legacy' down where it belongs.. elected as a public servant he instead thought it was to be a monarchist royal corporate evangel to Israel.. Like a sort of putrid chunk of meat that somehow got into a septic tank - a following swarmed to him - like toxic lampreys. Goodness, they were clever Trevors.. and still festering somehow with a fervent bit of 'base' that's OK with swallowing what comes down the pipe from the septic tank.. Astonishing ! The myth of Harper - super weapon Laureen and cabin boy Ray Novak, Stephen Lecce, P Poilievre, Baird, Clement, Anders (good gawd) the various n sundry other idiot's fakers like Scheer or Gallant that somehow are elected or deceive (James Moore) is astonishing.. as are the ones who spin from being in the right place at the right time.. witness witless ms Rempel cawing about selfie J Trudeau or the toad Van Loan, the complete wank Blaney or a sack of hammers named McKay. Values? What values? Oh those situation ethics and grasping sellout 'values' .. its no wonder we get the intellectual poseurs Flanagan or Boessenkool - Arthur Hamilton Ian Brodie et al plus the truly toxic plumbers like Jenni Byrne pretending like Del Mastro that their roots mean something.. Sad? No, pitiful.. that we pay these fugs n thugs to disrespect us.. hector us, lecture us.. and then beg for donations.. deary me, these are folks who would distribute smallpox blankets & bad whisky...

Owen Gray said...

They'd peddle bad whiskey just as they peddled asbestos around the world, salamander. And they claimed they had a "principled" foreign policy.

Owen Gray said...

Ideology is essentially blind faith, Asking. It takes no note of consequences.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

They can't return to their progressive roots Owen, because they are not conservatives, let a lone Progressive Conservative. They're reform/alliance. Their roots are pure dogma. They are ideologues and that is not going to change. To become Progressive Conservative people will have to create a new party from scratch and it won't be anyone from the reform/alliance.

Owen Gray said...

Quite true, Pam. They were never conservatives. They bought into the foolishness that Ayn Rand peddled. So they really should be called Randians.