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Friday, November 27, 2009
Stephen Harper united the Right, out witted the seemingly inevitable Paul Martin and has governed the longest lived minority government in Canadian history, bar that of Lester Pearson. As someone who remembers the wilderness years of the 1990s, this should all be a dream come true. How often did I, and like minded associates, bemoan that the Canadian Right had the ideas but not the political skills to implement them? What we needed was someone with hard nosed practicality, matched with some good values about curbing government. Perhaps the really radical stuff would have to wait, like a more market based approach to health care, but the long gun registry, the CWB and slew of make work projects for left wing activists, surely all that could be smashed quickly and decisively.
The odd stumble aside, Stephen Harper has demonstrated himself as the most skilled politician of the age. Dull and uninspiring, beneath the bad hair cut, however, the enormous brain has plotted and intrigued in his seven years as leader of first the Canadian Alliance, and then the reunited Conservative Party of Canada. He has seen off two Liberal leaders, and has every chance of sending Michael Ignatieff back to academia come the next election. Confronted by an intellectually incoherent Liberal Party, reeling from scandal and hobbled by a steady bleeding of its electoral base, Harper has presented himself as a sensible, boring centrist. A safe pair of hands in troubled times.
In the context of other leading economic powers, Harper practically shines as an exemplar of common sense. Barack Obama is steadily, and quite openly, leading the United States toward socialism. Gordon Brown combines the unlikely traits of spendthrift and bore. Nicolas Sarkozy spends much of his time, in the old Gaullic tradition, haranguing anglo-saxon anything. Angela Merkel is another Harperesque safe pair of hands, despite an early reputation of being a radical reformer. Canada has weathered the economic storm, so far, very well indeed. Even from a libertarian / classical liberal perspective, government growth has been slow to moderate here, when compared to other G20 countries. In this light, the leadership of Stephen Harper has been a strong, albeit relative, success. The slow grumblings among the Conservative base, however, suggest anything but satisfaction. Hasn't the boy brought us the goods?
Fear of a resurgent Liberal Party, as well as the ghost of the Grand Coalition, from almost exactly a year ago, keeps Tories loyal and relatively contented. Better the Harper we know, than the Iggy we don't. The few vocal critics on the Canadian Right are mostly libertarians and classical liberals. They were not amused, when earlier this year, Harper blamed the economic crisis on "greed" and admonished libertarians for being naive and foolish.
This was covered here. Throwing this group under the political bus did not provoke the crisis of confidence in Harper's leadership, it merely confirmed a long running suspicion. The politically reasonable had accepted the Harper call for incrementalism. Canada is a centre-left country, gotta move slowly in the Right direction, and all that. After about three years, and a blockbuster deficit budget delivered at the beginning of 2009, many came to the conclusion that for incrementalism to work you kinda gotta be moving in the general direction of freer markets.
The you-are-a-bunch-of-Free-Market-Nutbars speech back in March, also revealed Harper's tenuous grasp of market economics. Surely a chap with an MA in Economics, with a market minded bent, would have noted the pernicious influence of the Federal Reserve, the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie and Freddie and all the other Disney like family of statist agencies, that distraught and distort the economic engine of the world. Nope. The Prime Minister of Canada gave an economic analysis that might have barely passed muster at your local Tim's.
Greed? Back in the old days there was no greed in Canada. No greed on Wall Street. No greed anywhere. Then it just kind of appeared out of nowhere, like an economic disease, sometime in the middle part of the current decade. Even as populist yarns goes, this one strains credulity. Stephen Harper channelling Brian Mulroney, or Mackenzie King, isn't really the galling bit. It's the pretence. The Stephen Harper who headed the National Citizens Coalition, is not the Stephen Harper who now governs Canada. Incrementalism doesn't just fail when you stop moving in the Right direction. It fails when people lose faith in the incrementalists.
Posted by Richard Anderson on November 27, 2009 | Permalink
They lied on Income Trusts destroying 25 billion of senior's retirement wealth and they blinked and blew a Chretienesque killer opportunity to destroy the Liberal Party, among others when the Coalition reared it's ugly marxist head over the $1.95. We now have a Trudeauesque debt and deficit that will only lead to higher GST and income taxes. The final nail will probably be in early December when they sign our wealth and soveriegnty away in Copenhagen.
The man and the Party should just merge with what's left of the Liberal Party of Toronto, his home town, change the name to Consliberal and be done with it. Pay off Iggy and send him back to Hahvahd. Mr Harper has abandoned his base and his principles and slithered into the old comfortable slippers of Central Canadian politics.
He and his party can go F888k themselves!
Posted by: po'ed in AB | 2009-11-27 7:53:49 AM
"Surely a chap with an MA in Economics, with a market minded bent, would have noted the pernicious influence of the Federal Reserve, the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie and Freddie"
Which is why I say he's either lying or doesn't understand liberty.
Posted by: Charles | 2009-11-27 7:58:41 AM
I have my criticism of Harper, but he's still far and above the best government in the past 25 years. He includes non-Ontarians in his administration, and resists the corruption and bigotry of Toronto. Best of all, his delaying tactics outlasted the climate change debate until it was proven to be a hoax. 25 more years of him, please!
Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-11-27 8:29:39 AM
The problem with Dion was that nobody could understand him. The problem with Iggy is everybody can. Harper presents a problem to the right in that he is not down the line "conservative". However the expectation that someone running for public office will have exactly the same perspective on every issue as you do is unrealistic to the extreme. Chances are pretty good that you will vote for someone if they agree with your big issue and a couple of others. To the right you throw someone under the bus if they are not 100% on the same page because principles are all that matters. To the left they will vote for someone if they are 50% on the same page because power is more important that nprinciples.
Posted by: B | 2009-11-27 8:48:20 AM
They have a term for that in Quebec, "vendue". Look it up.
Posted by: po'ed in AB | 2009-11-27 10:29:44 AM
HARPER AND HIS CROOKED PEERS MAKE ME ASHAMED
Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt must step aside from her cabinet post until the ethics commissioner has completed the investigation into the partisan fundraiser organized for her out of the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), Liberal MPs said today.
Posted by: CONNED | 2009-11-27 10:43:45 AM
B, you need to read this:
Posted by: po'ed in AB | 2009-11-27 11:08:34 AM
Here is some info on the "Maestro."
“He [Harper] can be slippier [sic.] than a greased pig” (Paul Wells, Maclean’s Magazine, September 17, 2008).
Conservative leadership is the buzz word of the election campaign. And Mr. Harper is being touted as a “leader.” So let us examine what Mr. Harper the leader says and does on a number of issues:
Free Speech: “Human rights commissions, as they are evolving, are an attack on our fundamental freedoms and the basic existence of a democratic society,” says Stephen Harper, president of the National Citizens' Coalition. “It is in fact totalitarianism. I find this is very scary stuff.” 
Yet, the Harper government intervenes against free speech: “The Attorney General of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and B'nai Brith Canada will be intervening in the Lemire case in support of Section 13, arguing that it is a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech” (Canadian Constitution Foundation Letter of April 28).
Bilingualism: “As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity, and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions.” (Stephen Harper) ...
Read the rest at: http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/
Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2009-11-27 11:08:42 AM
'It's Torture listening to Minority Leader and Avowed Dispensationalist Harper croon:
'I get high with a little help from my friends.'
Posted by: jeff franklin | 2009-11-27 12:26:09 PM
I have my criticism of Harper, but he's still far and above the best government in the past 25 years.
Posted by: the black racist Zebulon Punk | 2009-11-27 8:29:39 AM
Why don't you go back 30 years Punk and you'd have Joe Clark, the worst PM this country ever had. Clark exhibited all the qualities of a native born Albertan. Gullible, naive, provincial and the inability to coordinate his arms and legs when he walked. When you hear the name Joe Clark only one word comes to mind. Pathetic.
Posted by: The Stig | 2009-11-27 2:47:17 PM
I think Harper is doing a good job of representing Canadians, not Conservatives. He's doing that so he can lead them.
He wants to stay in power and perhaps change Canada but I think he realizes a recession that was and still is to people (outside of Alberta I suppose) very scary and confusing is the wrong time to be telling them they should tough it out, plan for their own futures etc etc. His remark about the stock market having a fire sale went over as well as a rotten fish.
Reason can't change people over night. Constant demonstration, gentle pressure and positive reassurance changes people, and nations are made of people.
Everyone alive now grew up in a Canada where they were coddled by the government at any expense and brainwashed into thinking socialism was sustainable. That all social programs were unlimited and sacred and that was how it should be and if you complained that it cost you more because you worked harder it was because you hated the poor who were not responsible for their bad choices.
Alberta used to be just another rural socialist bumpkin province… Who remembers prosperity certificates? Change came to Alberta but it took the better part of 30 years.
Posted by: Pete | 2009-11-27 4:57:10 PM
I recently had a letter from the "Maestro's" party asking for money. Here is my reply to them.
I recently received a letter from you asking for a donation. Quite frankly, I have to say I thought your letter was an insult to those of us who believe in the sanctity of human life, the traditional family and freedom of speech. This so-called “conservative” government of yours has intervened against free speech and sided with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and other powerful special interests against free speech. (The Lemire Case) Yet, your “leader” before he came to power said this:
“Human rights commissions, as they are evolving, are an attack on our fundamental freedoms and the basic existence of a democratic society … It is, in fact, totalitarianism. I find this is very scary stuff” (Stephen Harper)
It would appear, your “leader” says one thing then does another. Dare one, call this hypocrisy?
On another matter the killing of the unborn child by abortion, your leader is on record as saying this: “The Conservative government won't be initiating or supporting abortion legislation, and I'll use whatever influence I have in Parliament to be sure that such a matter doesn't come to a vote…” (Stephen Harper) 
So much for democracy in “conservative” Canada!
Another example of, “conservative values” is this:
Your government recently gave $400,000 dollars to the Toronto Gay Pride parade where men and women have been known to march naked and make obscene gestures. The Gay and Lesbian newspaper Xtra of Toronto June 16, 2009 said this:
“In what is surely an effort to make Toronto's Pride festival as fabulous as possible Canada's federal government has announced a plan to dish over $400,000 to Pride Toronto.”
The leader of your government says he believes in “family!” He and his government did not have the courage to defend the traditional family on the nonsense called, “same-sex marriage.” Oh sure, he and most of his government voted against it in a lukewarm motion in Parliament. The truth is so-called “same-sex marriage” was never in the Charter and is an invention of nonsensical words. Mr. Harper and his government could have used the not-withstanding clause. But, he is on record as saying the following regarding this nonsense called same-sex marriage, “I will never use the notwithstanding clause on that issue”  (Lifesite News December 16, 2005.)
It takes courage to stand up and do the right thing, this I believe, is sadly lacking in the “conservative” party and its leadership.
Still, your “leader” is on record as saying this:
“Individual freedom is something Conservatives value…
What exactly are those conservative values?
I think we all instinctively recognize them when we see them, although it is sometimes difficult to define them. I like to summarize my idea of conservatism in three "Fs" --freedom, family and faith.” (Stephen Harper )
In closing, I have had enough of politicians who I believe are hypocrites, and are a danger to democracy. Please do NOT send me anymore letters asking for donations. I do not believe there is a “conservative” party in Canada.
Stephen J. Gray
November 14, 2009.
Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2009-11-27 5:35:59 PM
I think Harper is an idiot, and has only remained in power as long as he has because there is no opposition worth talking about. Dion was a dud, and so is Iggy. Besides which, the Libs were mired in scandal when Harper arrived. NDP? Hopefully not in my life, same for the greens. We need a new party to rise and lead this country out of the abyss Harper is marching us into. I would vote Libertarian if a national party presented itself. I don't agree with everything they represent, but I am with them at least 75% of the way. I can't say that about any other party at present. So come on you guys, get it together and offer me some decent alternatives next election, or I'm gonna have to vote green or something. I won't vote for Harper and his prison state.
Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2009-11-27 6:01:31 PM
I voted conservative last election, NOT liberal light. For the first time in my life, I'll not vote in a federal election and if these fools want my support, they can gather some balls and apply them to their policies.
Posted by: Obieone | 2009-11-28 1:27:22 AM
A good (for you, anyway) post, Publius, but take a look at the nasty reception it is getting here among the radically left wing Western Standard commentariat; quite similar to the fuss they kicked up when you dared post a picture which was somewhat critical of their Great Leader, Obama, isn't it?
This website has been nonstop critical of Harper and Conservatives while maintaining a near-blackout of any criticism of the guys who are putting the final nail in western civilization, Obama and McGuinty, to name two.
Is it any surprise, therefore, that the people still reading - a few dozen, at most, at this point - this blog are the most virulent statists and outright socialists one can find? If a man can be judged by the company he keeps...
Here's how to criticize Harper properly: I myself have voted Conservative in the last 3 elections because they represented a clearly better choice than the alternative. Given his performance, I am vindicated: he's the best prime minister this country has ever had, by a long shot.
I will not vote Conservative again, however, because after running a $19 billion surplus in his first three years in power he blew it and then some in unnecessary "stimulus" - at a time when unemployment was low and the economy was still growing.
It would have been preferable to call an election, which he would have won by a landslide majority given the polls at the time, or even to have handed the keys over to the socialist coalition in order to preserve the good Conservative name as prudent fiscal managers and let the reds wear the deficit.
Posted by: Proper Conservative | 2009-11-28 8:36:17 AM
Obama said, community interests are more important than are individual interests, and since community has neither brain nor heart, it falls to the few governing elite to govern. His belief that the “State or the Government is the embodiment of all that is good and beneficial and that the individuals are wretched underlings, exclusively intent upon inflicting harm upon one another and badly in need of a guardian,” should be unchallenged. (Von Mises) No one must question him or his beliefs in the sacred task of governance, and his fellow supporters are as fanatical as the Muslims who would conquer the world. He, and his modern Democrats, is far from the libertarian Democrats of the 19th century, from Jefferson to Cleveland, who believed in individual freedom, the resulting free market, small government and America’s prosperity, as cited in THE CHANGING FACE OF DEMOCRATS on Amazon and claysamerica.com.
Posted by: Clay Barham | 2009-11-28 10:53:35 AM
"Admitting that your have a problem like you did right here, is the first step to recovery."
So says "Trigger"....... this from the horse's mouth (or the other end). Your words say more about yourself "Trigger" than your intended target. Have a great day.
Posted by: Obieone | 2009-11-28 10:45:49 PM
The agendas of Canadian conservative governments are limited by public support. These governments should reduce both taxes and the size of government. However, most Canadians have become addicted to the Liberal's government programs that have been implemented since the depression. A conservative government should take on the abortion lobby. However, as the most recent Macleans ethics poll shows Canadians find abortion morally acceptable by a 66%-22% margin. Also, a large majority of the Canadian public find such topics as euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research morally acceptable(65%). Amazingly, 79% of the public finds children out of wedlock morally acceptable. The question is how does a conservative government advance a right-leaning agenda? The answer is look for where there is significant public support.
The Macleans poll shows that Canadians find the death penalty morally acceptable by a 53%-34% margin(up 6 pts since last poll. Why doesn't Harper hold a binding public referendum on this issue? I'm sure it would pass! Second, how about revising self defense laws with the establishment of a Canadian castle doctrine. Third, try to implement a concealed carry program for law abiding citizens. Fourth, pass legislation which overturns Supreme Court ruling banning parents from using corporal punishment on children over 12 years old. Fifth, pass legislation allowing for corporal punishment in private schools. Sixth, pass legislation banning public funding of abortion. Seventh, end the human rights commissions. There are other issues like eliminating the transfer payments program, allowing private sector onto reservations, and doing away with "hidden" affirmative action programs that are also important. The problem is figuring how to get our message past the leftist media. God knows the right has failed horribly over the last 50 years in this regard.
The sad truth is that conservatives are more restricted in their options than in the U.S. The backlash against Obama is pushing Americans hard to the right on economic issues. In addition, Americans are far more conservative on social issues. Americans strongly support both the death penalty and gun rights. However, the last gallup also shows that they lean pro-life and find abortion morally unacceptable by a 56%-36%. They are also split on such issues as the morally acceptability of children born out of wedlock(51%-45% approve) and homosexuality(49%-47% approve). Unless Canada changes dramatically, conservatives will never be able to advance as widespread a program as in America.
Posted by: Jerry | 2009-11-29 12:41:21 AM
Minority status notwithstanding, perhaps there are other constraints on our national leader. After 10 years of near constant engagement with "the feds" I have arrived at the conclusion that the country is in fact not run by the PMO, rather by the PCO.
Prime Ministers basicaly MUST consider the PCO their "sock drawer". What I'm saying is that for any contingency the PCO has a well developed set of pre-formulated policy options which are integrated across departments and Ministries. The "sock options" are sensitive enough politicaly to be "sold" as consistant with political ideaology, but in truth are simply variations on a theme. At the risk of sounding cheeky the theme is "socks are good", barefoot is bad. Since libertarian thought can easily be described as "barefoot thinking" (ie I don't want to wear red, or blue or, green socks, I want to go barefoot.) canny political types are forced to be cognizant of the price of "policy" not brought forward by PCO.
Is being relegated to opposition a better moral choice than remaining in power but being constraind by a limited menue of policy choices? Like a protective mother who hides her childrens indiscretions from their authoritarian father, I suspect Mr. Harper is playing the best hand he can with the cards he has (sorry to mix metaphores).
I am personally familiar with some very onerous legislation which I KNOW most of caucus hates, but can you imagine what would happen at CBC or the G & M were they to publicaly express their disgust? The only concievable explanations are either utter abandoment of principle (highly unlikely) or the "short term pain for long term gain" (pragmatism). Even though I feel betrayed on my personal issues, I fear a greater betrayal were the Liberals to be given the PMO by back-stabbing and infighting.
Canada is a big country with very different sensibilities (or lack there of) in different regions. The elected government doesn't just represent itself. A minority government has to balance the desiarble with the doable and as I say, even though I feel betrayed, I still consider them "my" guys and certainly the best available choice.
Posted by: peter | 2009-11-30 11:16:04 AM
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