Friday, April 15, 2011

The Competence Myth

Patrick Brethour, in Friday's Globe and Mail, writes that Canadians see Stephen Harper as "nasty, brutish -- and competent." Nasty and brutish, yes. But competent? Only if you buy Mr. Harper's rewriting of recent history.

Paula Arab, writing in what the Prime Minister calls his "hometown" paper, takes issue with Harper's claim to prescient economic management. When he touts his government's stimulus package, Arab writes:

That’s rich — claiming credit for something his party was forced to do, under threat of a non-confidence vote and another election. The opposition parties were so frustrated with the Harper government’s downplaying of the economy, they agreed on their own stimulus package, forcing an about-face.

Here’s what Harper declared just four days before the Oct. 14, 2008, election: “This country will not go into recession next year and will lead the G7 countries. We have every reason to believe Canada will stay out of recession if Canada doesn’t start raising taxes and spending itself into deficit.”

Then there's the matter of Canada's superior banking system. Susan Riley, in The Ottawa Citizen reminds readers that:

it was Liberal governments that created the well regulated banking system Harper likes to boast about internationally - often in the face of criticism from anti-regulation zealots like the old Harper.

Finally, there is the minor matter of the $12 billion surplus the Martin government bequeathed to the Prime Minister -- which disappeared before the recession hit. It's worth noting that Mr. Harper claims to be an economist.

Anyone with a record like that is pitching into the dirt -- and he should be sent to the showers.


thwap said...

I'm glad to hear more people saying this.

I did a post a little while ago about how many important columnists should be credited for identifying harper as the threat to democracy that he is.

It's good to see even the Calgary Herald (as a pro-CPC paper, I'm not alleging they have a genuine credibility problem because I don't read them) has the integrity to put harper's deceit about his competence into its proper perspective.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, thwap, that it's interesting to see this piece in The Herald. Not everyone in Alberta is willing to give Mr. Harper a free pass.

That said, it would appear that lots of other folks have forgotten how we have arrived at where we are.

Without a critical public, Harper can say the most outrageous things -- like I didn't plan for an opposition coalition -- and get away with it.

Z said...

I too read Riley's editorial. Not only did she attempt to set the record straight about which party was more responsible for Canada's economic stability during the recession, but it seems she also urged the Liberals to attack what appears to be the Conservative's strongest appeal to the electorate: their claim that they offer economic competence unmatched by any other party.

Given the disappointing results of polls taken since this campaign began, I agree with her advice. Nothing else seems so far to have weakened the Conservative's hold on first place. Either Canadians aren't attentive to the issues raised by the opposition parties, or they don't care about them: issues like excessive government secrecy; wasteful spending; the demeaning of parliament; and a mean, arrogant, deceitful, soulless leader who wants one thing - and that is for himself only - power.

If it's true that their pocket books are what is most important to Canadians, then the Liberals, in the last half of the campaign, must challenge the Conservative's manufactured "popular truth" that they are the only party which can provide economic safety, and in the process reveal Mr. Harper for what he is: a damned charlatan.

Owen Gray said...

I'm not sure whether Canadians are inattentive or apathetic. In any case, you're right, Z. The Liberals must run a campaign to focus attention on what essentially is another version of the Big Lie.

If Canadians cannot or care not whether they are being lied to, then the country is in deep trouble.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a question of what he's competent at. He is very competent, in terms of what he does. If only he were doing something else...


Owen Gray said...

Very true and very succinctly put. There are rumours that members of both the old Reform Party and the old Progressive Conservative Party would like to see Mr. Harper find another line of work.

A Conservative friend of mind says that, if Harper wins another minority, the opposition parties should make the following proposal: we'll support your government -- if you step down. An interesting idea, but not, I think, very likely.

Jim Parrett said...

The only competency I see in Harper is his handling of PR. He is very good at that.

Owen Gray said...

That's true, Jymn, with the corollary that PR is all about -- as old Joe Kennedy said -- who people think you are rather than who you are.

What frustrates me is that the evidence that Harper is not who he says he is keeps piling up. And it would appear that that evidence has no bearing on what Canadians think of the man.