Lately, Stephen Harper has been showing his true colours -- he's a nasty conservative who is equal parts bully and bile. Andrew Cohen writes:
In February, he was elected chairman of the International Democratic Union (IDU), an organization of ”centre-right” parties. In April, he saluted the re-election of Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, the most authoritarian of them. This month, he applauded U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran anti-nuclear agreement, isolating the United States and alienating its allies.
While in office, he restrained himself. Now he no longer has to compromise with anyone. But why is he so disagreeable? Cohen suggests that he has seen most of what he tried to do undone:
Mr. Harper has little to show for the past decade in power. His failure to act boldly then – to follow his instincts as a conservative – bothers him. To compensate for his incredible shrinking legacy, he embraces, with the impunity of a former politician, an uncompromising moral clarity.
As prime minister, Mr. Harper avoided the conservative social agenda on abortion, gay marriage and capital punishment. He rejected country-building – no pipelines or big projects, no abolition of the Senate, no electoral reform or strengthening of Canada’s economic union. The monarchy, which he lionized, is no more popular in Canada today than it was.
Many of his policies are gone. Balanced budgets – his Holy Grail – have been buried under deficit financing. Taxes have risen and the age of retirement lowered from 67 to 65.
The Conservatives muzzled scientists and cancelled the long-form census; the Liberals reversed both. Ministers and diplomats can talk again. Ottawa’s Memorial to the Victims of Communism, having been moved and made smaller, is less memorable.
The Court Challenges Program cancelled by Mr. Harper has been reinstated. His anti-terrorism bill will be amended. The Supreme Court has struck down his laws on minimum sentencing for drug offenders.
Hell hath no fury like a former prime minister whose legacy has shrunk to almost nothing.
Image: National Post