Wednesday, November 14, 2007

PM Stephen Harper's Style

The Harper conservative government is going nowhere in the polls. They are virtually tied with the liberals in party support. Harper is a one-man band kind of like the guy who goes to all the fairs. Here are a few reasons I feel may be why the federal conservatives are not gaining in the polls.

First, it has been reported that Harper was like Preston Manning in opposition and, now in government, is becoming more and more like Jean Chr├ętien. He is less and less a principled conservative and more and more obsessed with having his own way and all the power he can garner. Others have likened Harper to Conrad Black and in some ways that may be a complement, but in many ways it could end badly for Harper as it has for others who boldly strode into the dark abyss of failure and despair when they failed to lighten up and listen.

Harper has been referred to as a bully and one who you don’t want to cross. How many Canadians want a Prime Minister they have to fear? Harper attempts to totally control everything that goes on around him and certainly as it respects how he, and only he, intends to govern his minority government. There is leadership and dictatorship. You decide.

Harper has all his MPs under his thumb and demands that they rubber-stamp his agenda. Most ordinary Canadians despise that kind of leadership in every day life and they may despise Harper in the same way. The public is skeptical of where this style of leadership may lead the country if Harper is given a majority government and they may be right on this issue.

Canadians are also skeptical of the war in Afghanistan and the lack of attention to domestic issues. The Canadian Air Force has insufficient resources to patrol the north over the winter, but they may get around to it sometime in the spring. Harper, on the other hand, has pledged $40 million for polar research. So, what’s up with that?

The latest budget statement by Finance Minister Flaherty does not provide the tax relief Canadians expected from their new Harper conservative government. Removing people from the tax roles did nothing to provide tax relief for those middle-income earners who actual pay taxes. Further, in percentage terms the rich pay fewer taxes than the poor. Flaherty’s introduction of a Notice of Ways and Means Motion tabled in the House of Commons lays out a host of financial plans designed to win the conservatives a majority government. It is not all bad, but it too much looks like an election budget and Canadians are not on for another election.

The issue of equalization payments to the provinces, and especially in Saskatchewan, continues to be of concern. It is believed that our oil and gas should not be factored into the equalization formula as was promised by the conservative candidates in Saskatchewan before Harper became Prime Minister.

Harper rejected Ontario’s request for more funding for large cities like Toronto, but he still has millions for Pakistan in the form of aid for one thing or another. This wouldn’t be too hard to take if Pakistan was not on the verge of civil war notwithstanding it is virtually a military dictatorship. Right, pardon me, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is now promising democratic elections sometime in the future.

Now Harper is threatening to abolish the Senate if they stall his government’s Bills in the House of Commons that will bring about sweeping changes to the Senate. This may be popular, but it is the style and manner, which Harper employs to manage the nation that bothers Canadians. Here again, you see the bully side of Harper and his controlling nature.

Finally, he is in deep trouble over the allegations being made against former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Dion was calling for a public inquiry and Harper announced he would have a third party investigate the matter and then advise Harper as to what his options may be in resolving this thorny issue. Mulroney has now called for a public inquiry and Harper is now asking that his third party advisor take into consideration the possibility of a public inquiry. Well, now we know Harper has learned how to do a 180.

It seems like Harper is temporarily on the ropes on this one since Dion asked for a public inquiry from the very beginning. Harper had no problem calling for a public inquiry regarding the liberal sponsorship scandal and former Prime Minister Paul Martin agreed. It was the sponsorship scandal that brought down the former liberal government. What happened to the accountability and transparency principles that Harper always demanded in opposition and stated would be the noble hallmark of his government?

These are just some of the reasons why the Harper conservatives are at present going nowhere in the polls. More are likely to come if Harper doesn’t share power with his elected colleagues and begin to show a little respect for the institution of parliament.