Harper's "firestorm" broken promise was based on Harper's lie that income trusts cause tax leakage> Flaherty's tax leakage analysis is fraudulent.
Tories made good on half of election promises: CP
Updated Sun. Sep. 28 2008 2:27 PM ET
The Canadian Press
OTTAWA -- Stephen Harper's government has fulfilled half the promises it made in the last election campaign, an analysis by The Canadian Press indicates.
The Conservatives made at least some progress on several other commitments, bringing the tally of platform planks either fully or partially nailed down to 70 per cent.
The assessment comes as Harper prepares to unfurl a new sheaf of promises as early as Monday, two weeks before Canadians head to the polls to pass judgment on his government's record.
Harper recently told a crowd of supporters a "difficult parliamentary situation" and unforeseen crises prevented the minority Tories from achieving everything they promised. He called for a "strong mandate" in order to get on with the party's agenda.
An examination of Tory promises made during the last campaign suggests the lack of a majority prevented the government from going as far as it would have liked on issues such as toughening anti-crime laws.
But it highlights several areas, such as national security and parliamentary reform, where the government broke commitments, including a promise to let Tory MPs vote their conscience in most votes in the House of Commons.
Critics charge the government also failed to follow through with several promises on aboriginal issues, accountability and health care.
The Canadian Press looked at 236 campaign promises in the January 2006 Conservative platform on items ranging from agriculture and the economy to social issues and trade.
The examination indicates just over 50 per cent of promises were carried out, with another 20 per cent partially fulfilled. The remainder -- just under 30 per cent -- were considered broken.
The examination looked only at what Harper's Tories spelled out in the election document.
Though the Conservatives made good on most promises in several areas, such as the economy, infrastructure and social issues, it did not completely fulfil every promise in any of 14 areas, according to the analysis.
For instance, the government did come through with measures for students, including tax breaks and support for loans. But it didn't carry out plans to ensure dedicated funding for post-secondary education and training.
Perhaps the most frequently cited broken commitment is the federal reversal on taxation of income trusts, which ignited a firestorm of criticism from seniors and others who considered it a betrayal.
Other promises that never materialized seem long forgotten.
The government did not follow through on commitments to create a foreign intelligence service, make almost all Commons votes free ones, or overhaul the Access to Information Act.
The government's failure to beef up the information act, which allows Canadians access to government files, is a key flaw in its new accountability law, said Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch, a group that fights for integrity in politics.
"The law is like Swiss cheese, it's full of holes."
The Conservatives promised to open up federal procurement to ensure vendors outside the national capital region have a fair shot at contracts. Garth Whyte, executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said complaints from members about the bidding process have risen and that he sees no evidence things are easier for them.
"I think it's a lost opportunity in many respects."
On some high-profile issues, interested groups see little or middling progress on platform promises.
Michael McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition said the government has failed on its commitment to ensure care is publicly funded and universally accessible, citing user fees being charged for medically necessary services and queue-jumping at private clinics.
The government is not enforcing the Canada Health Act, he charged.
"It's my view that the Harper government is getting ready to cut and run from health care."
The Conservatives scrapped a Liberal government daycare program struck with the provinces in favour of their own mix of financial measures to create more spaces for children. But child-care advocates say it hasn't done the job.
"It's not any better than where we were last year or the year before," said Martha Friendly, executive director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit. "So children are really losing out."
The government opened its wallet -- at least somewhat -- to address fallout in the forest sector, hit hard by the pine beetle, a high dollar and collapse of the American economy.
It isn't enough for David Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, who scoffs at suggestions the Tories have done their part to help laid-off employees and reeling communities.
"I think the government needs to play a very big role."
Sunday, September 28, 2008
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