“Stephen Harper Is Ruining Canada”
Virtually every day, I see some message or other on social media that declares Stephen Harper is ruining Canada. I never challenge the assertion being made but sometimes the depth of the anger makes me curious and I message back and ask how he is doing whatever it is they’ve declared. I don’t usually get a response.
Virtually every government, regardless of political affiliation makes mistakes and does stupid, sometimes unethical things by making decisions that have more to do with politics and benefit to the party than the country but for some reason a significant number of Canadians have concluded that it is Stephen Harper – and only Stephen Harper – who is responsible for the nature of politics and what it is doing to our system of government.
The accusations are fairly consistent.
Stephen Harper is a control freak and rules his caucus and his party with an iron fist. In fact, of the main parties in Parliament, it is the Harper Conservatives who have the best record when it comes to allowing party members to vote their conscience. The New Democratic Party has never allowed a free vote in this Parliament and the NDP have voted 100% of the time as a single block. The Liberals aren’t much better having whipped their vote 90% of the time. The Conservatives have allowed a free vote 25% of the time in direct contrast to the record of the other two parties.
He is accused of masterminding illegal Robocalls but the only parties charged with violations in the 2010 election are progressives. A Liberal has been charged with fraudulent robocalls by Elections Canada and the NDP with violating campaign funding regulations.
Stephen Harper is undermining democracy by proroguing Parliament and with omnibus bills. I don’t like prorogation anymore than anyone else but the Harper government wasn’t the first nor will it be the last federal or provincial government to prorogue the legislature. As for omnibus bills both Liberal and Conservative governments have introduced them, including the Chretien Liberal government but it seems it is only a problem with progressives when it is Stephen Harper’s government that introduces them.
Stephen Harper’s government certainly has its share of things for which it should be criticized including misuse of expense accounts by Cabinet Ministers like Bev Oda and it appears by some conservative Senators. But that is hardly unique to the Harper Government either and we all know that is true.
The Prime Minister has been accused of being mean-spirited and vicious when it comes to his political opponents and that is true at times but I remember the same kind of negative attack ads being used by the Liberals dating all the way back to Pierre Trudeau’s attack campaign against Joe Clark.
Recently, Stephen Harper was criticized for making more appointments to the Senate. Does anyone remember John Turner taking a serious hit from Brian Mulroney in an election debate after Pierre Trudeau’s orgy of Senate and Crown Corporation appointments? Mr. Turner who briefly replaced Mr. Trudeau as Prime Minister defended his confirmation of the Trudeau appointments with the statement, “I had no choice,” which resulted in Brian Mulroney’s famous retort, “You had a choice sir. You could have stood up for Canada and said no!”
Mr. Turner lost that election as the Mulroney Conservatives swept to power with an overwhelming majority.
Still, there is so much anger directed at Stephen Harper and his government I decided that I might have missed something and decided to stop what I have been working on and go back and do a little more research of my own. I wanted to see if there was some truth to the assertion that it is Stephen Harper and not politics in general that is undermining our country and our democracy.
Prior to 2006, Canada was governed by the Liberal Party of Canada for 13 years; 11 of which were under Prime Minister Jean Chretien and 2 under the minority government of Paul Martin.
Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were all governed primarily by either Liberal or NDP governments during the same approximate period.
Three provinces in Canada account for almost 3/4 of the national population. In 2012, Quebec had a population of 8 million people; Ontario’s population was 13.5 million and the population of British Columbia was 4.2 million. This represents 73.8% of Canada’s total population. Clearly if there is going to be a change in the nature of Canada, these three provinces and how they’re governed will play a key role as much as that of the federal government.
All three provinces have benefited from long-term progressive government, so I decided to take a look at what they accomplished, along with the previous federal Liberals in contrast to what Stephen Harper has done.
Quebec was governed by the Charest Liberals for nine years and has now elected an even more extreme progressive government in the Partie Quebecois. Under successive progressive Liberal and PQ governments in that province, minority language rights have been stripped away including the rights of those whose mother tongue is English – Canada’s other official language. Currently the PQ are trying to reduce even further minority language rights with Bill 14 which also includes new restrictions on the schools attended by the children of members of the Canadian military temporarily stationed in the province.
Federal funding has been diverted from things like infrastructure maintenance to pay for things like $7/day daycare and the lowest post-secondary tuition in the country. The result? Infrastructure is crumbling in Quebec, students protest and riot over every reasonable increase in their heavily subsidized tuition. Fewer young people attend post-secondary school in Quebec than anywhere else in the country and it has the highest drop-out rate.
Currently, The Charbonneau Commission is conducting an enquiry into corruption in the construction industry in connection to Quebec politics at both the municipal and provincial level. Already, three mayors have resigned and the police have raided the City of Montreal offices to gather additional evidence. In the words of Premier Pauline Marois:
“We don’t know what proportion of public funds is regularly lost to collusion and corruption. Is it 25 per cent? 30 per cent? We do know that a portion of these public funds are feeding organized crime.”
In other words, the province suffers from a high degree of intolerance, corruption and unrealistic expectations that are undermining both its security and its prosperity.
In Ontario, the Liberals are now in their tenth year in government. Dalton McGuinty was premier for nine years and led his governing Liberals to three successive election victories. He has recently been replaced by Kathleen Wynne following his sudden retirement.
During that period, Ontario plummeted from being the economic engine of Canada to being a have-not province that receives federal transfer payments (intergovernmental welfare). Its credit rating has been downgraded twice, the provincial debt has more than doubled and students in elementary and secondary school have been deprived of extra-curricular activities thanks to a heavy-handed and clumsy approach to teachers’ contracts caused by the Liberal government.
Thanks to the Liberal Green Energy Act, the province is now contracted to purchase energy from wind farms and solar energy providers at eight times the cost of power generated from others sources during a period when the province actually has a surplus of power. This surplus power is now being sold to other jurisdictions at a loss and in some cases; other jurisdictions are paid to take the energy off the province’s hands at Ontario taxpayer expense.
A number of services originally available under Ontario’s health care plan were delisted and a new health surtax was introduced and charged to both individuals and businesses. This was the result of the federal Liberal goverment’s cut to health care transfers and poor plannning by the provincial Liberal government of Dalton McGunity.
In terms of education, funds were cut from secondary school computer programs and school boards across the country while $1.5 billion was spent on early full-day kindergarten which is simply another name for free daycare.
Infrastructure in Toronto, the province’s largest city, is crumbling; billions were squandered at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, on eHealth initiatives and the cancellation of two gas-fired power plants. There are allegations of political interference in the decision to close the plants, as well as, a committee investigating corruption in the management of Ornge Air Ambulance under the Liberal government.
In September 2012, Premier McGuinty prorogued the legislature indefinitely to allow his party to run a leadership campaign to replace him and to avoid ongoing investigations into the Ornge scandal and gas plant cancellation decision that has cost taxpayers between $200 million and $1 billion.
Dalton McGuinty said once, “My challenge is to convince Ontarians that the old world is not coming back.” He’s right. The damage he and his Liberal government have done is so extensive that the province will not fully recover in my lifetime or that of my children or my grandchildren.
In British Columbia, the Liberals have governed for thirteen years; first under Premier Gordon Campbell who was forced to resign after over the province’s wide-spread opposition to the harmonization of the provincial sales tax with the federal GST which greatly increased the tax burden on individuals.
He was replaced by the hapless Christie Clark.
Premier Clark is the premier who tried to extort more royalties from Alberta’s oil sands by threatening to block the Northern Gateway pipeline through her province. Her government’s much vaunted jobs program has been revealed to be less a failure than a disaster having actually generated negative job growth in the province and she is now facing a scandal over a strategy to woo ethnic voters using taxpayer money that was developed in her office by her deputy chief of staff. Her disdain for government and the people’s house was evidenced by this statement.
“When the House rises at the end of [May], you’re never going to find me in Victoria,” she said. “I’m going to be travelling the province for the next year.
“I try never to go over there. Because it’s sick. It’s a sick culture. All they can think about is government and there are no real people in Victoria, and you get captured by this inside-the-beltway debate, and it’s really unhealthy.” – Premier Christy Clark
Ms Clark was referring to the B.C. Legislature which sits in Victoria, the province’s capital city. She kept her word by not bothering to recall the legislature for ten months after the summer recess in 2012. It takes the idea behind prorogation and disdain for democracy to an entirely new level.
Federally, the Liberal Party of Canada governed for thirteen years prior to the election of a minority conservative government in 2006. During that period, health care transfers to the provinces were slashed, the purchase of new navy helicopters was canceled at a cost of $500 million and the lives of at least two pilots. A new order for helicopters was placed but still haven’t been delivered and more than a billion dollars was squandered at Human Resources and Development Canada.
The incoming Liberals led by Jean Chretien had run on a platform of eliminating the Goods and Services Tax which it promptly reversed once it was elected. A Gun Registry was introduced which was budgeted to cost $200 million but which eventually ended up costing $2 billion to accomplish nothing.
There were allegations of providing undue influence on the Federal Business Development Bank to obtain a loan for a golf club owner in Prime Minister Chretien’s home riding and of favouritism in the awarding of contracts to Bombardier, a Quebec-based company.
The federal Liberals spent billions on official bilingualism but refused to guarantee equal rights for English-speaking Quebecers.
And then there was AdScam, Canada’s Watergate, wherein the Liberal Party of Canada actually stole money from the government. To date, there is still an outstanding $1.3 million owed to taxpayers by the party. As a result of Adscam, millions were spent on a Judicial Inquiry and various Liberal bagmen ended up in prison. It seems that most, if not all, of the recent inquiries into corruption and malfeasance have resulted from progressive government activities.
A Liberal senator was convicted of fraud in 2012 and subsequently sentenced to prison and a former Liberal Cabinet minister, now Mayor of London, stands charged with fraud dating back to his term as a cabinet minister.
During their term in office, the Liberals balanced the books by off-loading government program spending to the provinces which
severely reduced provincial ability to deliver those programs and increased taxes including expanding what was covered by the same GST they promised to eliminate.
They signed the Kyoto Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but never did anything beyond signing the accord. During their term in office, greenhouse gas emissions rose in Canada. While progressives like to think they’re the environmental guardians, the Sierra Club recognized former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, in 2010, as being the ‘greenest’ prime minister in Canadian history.
In other words, my friends, Canada hasn’t fared all that well under progressive governments. Debt and taxes have increased, services have been reduced, the environment was not protected and the rights of minorities were ignored. There have been corruption and scandals in every Liberal government in Canada at both the federal and provincial level; our electoral systems have been manipulated and our democracies treated as little more than a game.
I agree with former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien who said:
“A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven.”
Successive progressive governments have proven themselves by repeatedly breaking our trust after elections and over-regulating and over-taxing this country to a point where the average Canadian now pays approximately 50% of their income in taxes to all levels of government. I would submit that the problems that we face today, and which are being dealt with by conservative governments, were not caused by those same conservative governments but are rather what they inherited from extended mismanagement of the progressive governments before them.
Stephen Harper has lowered taxes, apologized on behalf of Canada for the residential school disgrace, successfully passed a motion in the House recognizing Quebec as a nation within a nation and has the best economic track record of all of the G20 countries. This country is moving to balance budgets faster than all others.
In a world where there is rising unemployment, Canada’s unemployment rate while not great, remains stable. His government has rationalized immigration policy, amended and strengthened the criminal code and improved border security that under the Liberal government saw 30% of Canada’s border crossing unmanned between midnight and 6:00 am.
He scrapped the hypocrisy of the Kyoto Accord which the Liberals never funded or implemented and replaced it with tough new regulation in the Environmental Protection Act passed in 2007 and he has not only replaced the health care provincial funding transfers the Liberals slashed, he has provided guaranteed annual increases in that funding to 2020 to allow provinces better planning opportunities.
He has also treated with more respect than his progressive counterparts, the constitutional division of powers and authorities between the provinces and the federal government. He is moving to an elected Senate with a request before the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on the government’s ability to implement that without the need for a constitutional amendment.
Like all political parties and government, the Harper Conservatives have made their share of mistakes and skated close to the edge of ethical behaviour at times but because I don’t see it still after doing my own research; would somebody explain to me again how it is the Harper Conservative, not progressive parties and their politics, that is ruining Canada?
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