Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Harper illusion: Can it last another 10 days?

Sat. Oct 4 - 5:41 AM
Halifax Chronicle Herald

IN THE DEBATES, with a couple of brief exceptions, whenever Stephen Harper spoke, the sound level dropped a couple of octaves – the attacking voices of the opposition leaders brought down to a calm and measured tone. In tenor and body language, he was the reasonable one as he fended off the assaults.

To what extent did this cool image, this projected air of everything being under control (and he’s good at it, in French as in English – he reminds me a bit of Pierre Trudeau in that sense) trump the fact that he was mostly defending the indefensible?

In reality, the ground is giving out from under him, which is plain to see for anyone who wants to look – the only question being whether he can drag out the pretense that nothing is happening for another week and a half, and whether a plurality, unimpressed by a fractured opposition, will continue to buy the illusion right into the polling booth.

It’s not just the economy, although that’s the main thing. Even if the fundamentals of the Canadian economy are strong, as Harper claims, who actually believes they’ll still be strong much beyond election day with both the U.S. and Europe melting down?

The broader issue is that pigeons are coming home to roost on the whole policy front, all for the same reasons – as consequences of a failed ideology of free enterprise extremism, militarism, social reactionism and so on.

For example, the question of our failed foreign policy hit the news this week, although it took a weird kink – the now-famous plagiarized speech – to get it out. The point is that Harper was dogmatically certain that our holy duty was to follow George W. Bush into the Iraqi disaster.

Keep in mind that Australia’s John Howard, from whom the speech was cribbed, Britain’s Tony Blair, Spain’s José Maria Aznar, plus the leaders of Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Norway and Hungary have all been given the bum’s rush mainly for that one reason: their support of Bush in Iraq. With a victory, Harper will be the lone survivor of this dead-wrong gang, although he finally did admit in the English debate that he indeed had been wrong. And Canada will look even sillier if the Democrats win in the U.S. and change course, which it looks as though they will.

Just as bad, under Harper, Canada’s reputation in the world has been trashed, along with that of the U.S. The assault on Kyoto, our unco-operative mood at the UN, our abandonment of peacekeeping in favour of a red-clawed militarism, support for U.S. torture policies (which no other government did), the abandonment of an even-handed approach in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a string of other things have left our erstwhile allies bewildered. This screams out for a reversal.

On domestic policy, the issue of poverty is suddenly up as well, as is the question of day care and childhood development – with the figures showing Canada lagging increasingly behind in literacy and education. And we haven’t even mentioned the environment. The Harper Conservatives have basically nothing to say about social policy, except to cut taxes. Give people an extra hundred bucks off their taxes, as the ideology prescribes, and they’ll work it out for themselves.

Alas, with deficits looming, perhaps catastrophically so, not to mention other mayhem, the era of tax cuts is over, no matter what the parties promise, either here or in the U.S. Furthermore, the utopian right-wing presumption that private action alone solves everything is also over – the U.S. bailout of the failed money creed putting paid to that. The fact is that we will now need wise government action to guide us through the shoals ahead.

The Harper government doesn’t believe in public action, wise or not. That’s a problem, but we may not know how much of a problem until after the election when government action is increasingly called for, but the Harper government, virtually alone in the world, is ideologically opposed to it.



Cliff said...

Lets be honest here...Mr. Surrette is one of the most left wing and Anti-Conservative columnists in this country. The fact that he continues to be published by the Chronicle Herald simply indicates the strong left leaning bias of this paper.
This paper and / or its management has been a strong financial and editorial supporter of the Liberal party and certainly does not reflect the views of Atlantic Canadians.

Dr Mike said...

Harper to Flaherty :

" If we don`t call an election now , neither one of us will be able to get elected dog catcher by spring.

Why didn`t anyone warn us this was going to happen??"

Dr Mike Popovich.

kitt said...

So Cliff, how is your ad hominem attack against the author of this "Harper illusion" and the fact that it is credible enough to be printed in one of the fairest papers in Canada, have to do with the crash of Canada' economy and the Harperites sitting back, not knowing what to do, so all we hear is "don't worry, be happy" crapola?

Cliff said...

Well Kit...
I guess your preaching the old Liberal thetoric.
The conservatives have seen this coming for some time and have reacted accordingly. Our banking regulations are much more stringent than that of the US.
We have helped Canadians consumers by lowering the HST.
We have helped Canadian businesses by lowering corporate taxes, thus saving thousands of jobs and lowering production costs.
Now even with all this uncertainty, our unempoyment rate is low, jobs are still being created although at a lower rate.
And...even though billions of dollars have been given back to Canadians via tax cuts, the countries finances are still in surplus.
Now, lets compare this to the alternative, substantial new taxes on everything we buy, tens of billions of dollars in new spending inevitably putting the country into deficit again.
And finally, your leader has now issued a new patform of (30) day meetings..well if he was really concerned about the economy, he would have done this long ago instead of dealing with irrelevant issues at the committee level...quite frankly he has been standing on the sidelines for way to long...while the world's financials matters passed him by...THAT IS NOT LEADERSHIP...
You state that Harper keeps saying "don't worry be happy"...he has never uttered that phrase...again that is old Liberal rhetoric...when Liberals have nothing to offer...they simply go on the attack...regardless of where the facts lie.

Dr Mike said...

Hey Cliff , nice to have you back!!

I have been a Conservative supporter for 37 years & I am surprised by the things you write.

The GST was the wrong tax to lower--it does help the consumer minimally--what would have done the most was to raise the personal exemption thus getting more bang for the buck.
Lowering the GST just pulled us within striking distance of a deficit.

Speaking of deficits, the word around finance is that without the creative book keeping , the deficit would be apparent at present.

Mr Flaherty is an old hand at it--I supported he & Mike Harris in Ontario & was in shock to find out that when he said he left with just over a billion surplus , this actually turned-out to be a 5.6 billion deficit--I am sure if he did it once then ..............

The Conservatives decided to raise my taxes 31.5% on my income trust distributions---I was already paying just under 30% tax on these same distributions--within my RRSP the tax rate will be well over 50% when I collapse portions--how in hell does that help the economy??

Cliff , how are you coming with the numbers from the 18 pages of blacked-out tax leakage proof that I asked you for before??

I remain hopeful that you can still supply them for me in time to make an informed vote.

If the tax leakage figures are true , I will continue to vote Conservative--if not well the Liberals become my only option.

I will be anxiously waiting for your reply.

Dr mike Popovich--Rodney Ontario

Cliff said...

Well first of all Mike, with all due respect I doubt that you ever voted Conservative...regardless, it has little to do with the issues at hand.

Secondly, you ask:
"how are you coming with the numbers from the 18 pages of blacked-out tax leakage proof that I asked you for before?"

Well...I have never looked back, this is a done deal, as I have stated before and continue to state, this was sound financial policy, and I have little concern pertaining to some article written by some beurocrat. We all know that no party is going to change this policy...and while the Liberals may have thrown a hail mary in an effort to receive a couple of votes, it has had no traction with voters. And of course Dion knows he will never be in a position to do anything about this as he will never form a majority...and no other party would support him on this issue in a minority parliament... I have stated before...move on...forget about some blanked out report...let common sense prevail...and with regards to your commnents pertaining to Flaherty and his deficits in Ontario...keep in mind this was during the Chretien / Martin years when the feds were financially starving the provinces

All provinces were having difficulty...again the FACTS are hard to ignore...

And finally...even my Liberal friends acknowledge...while Chretien has lamely taken credit for slagging the deficit, it was the Conservatives that put the fundamentals in place that allowed this to happen...I'm sure you remember the GST and FREE TRADE know those policies that the Liberals voted against and had promised to disband.

Again those darn old FACTS...come back to bite every time....

Hope your having a nice day....

Dr Mike said...


I have always voted Conservative & had hoped to this time as well--contact me any time & I will show you my membership cards--if you had the cojones to use your real name as I have done I would be thrilled to get in touch with you anytime you wish.

Anonymity leads to mistrust--how can anyone believe someone with a mask on & who does not believe enough in what they say to let the world know who they are.

I could argue the points all day to no avail as we found out last time you contacted this blog.

As far as your suggestion to move on , One can never move on from perceived injustice or democracy loses.

This income trust debacle will continue to be an injustice until proven otherwise.

It is simple---just show us the proof & Harper is almost certainly assured a majority---all of us disenfranchised Conservative supporters are just clamoring to get back on the bandwagon.

As I say Cliff , just tell me who you are & I will get in touch.

Dr Mike Popovich---Rodney Ontario.

Cliff said...

Dr. Mike;
"Just show us the proof & Harper is almost certainly assured a majority"
Whether or not Harper gets a majority has absolutely nothing to do with the well thought out Income Trust policy...and those few that are voting solely on that issue are doing themselves and our democracy an injustice. Every sound thinking person is well aware that no government is going to take a step backwardss and change this simply ain't going to happen...there is is simply sound financial management.
Now, whether you know my last name or not...that doesn't change the FACTS with regards to this matter,
This policy is here to stay...minority or majority, Conservative...Liberal or NDP...

Dr Mike said...

Thanks Cliff for your thoughts.

No name , no more comments.

Dr Mike Popovich--a once very proud Conservative who is willing to stand up & be counted.

Randy Meyer said...

Dr. Mike

How can you argue with someone who believes that any action taken by a government must never be reviewed and furthermore once taken it must never be reversed?

The facts are that the income trust debacle caused by the Consevatives is costing ALL Canadians billions in lost tax revenues per year. That's an undeniable mathematical fact.

The Conservatives caused the tax leakage and the Liberals will fix it.

Never forget that cowards hide just like those people who cut the break lines of Liberal supporters in Ontario. One of those people was a mother with two babies she takes with her in her car.

These cowards came in the middle of the night.

At least you stand up for justice in the light of day.

Randy Meyer

Dr Mike said...

Thanks Randy.

We are right & they are wrong.

As Cliff would say , those are the facts.

Dr Mike.

Bruce Benson said...

Well, I see Cliffy baby is back and has crawled out of his little hole. This guys comments don't deserve the time of day.

Richard said...

Every day, more and more, it looks like The Big MO is slip sliding away from Lying Harper and his Con Fascist Goofs. Then there will be dancing in the streets of CAITI land. And then the knives are going to come out for old Stevie baby. If our gutless media is on, the Canadian Public might finally find out how corrupt and inept his Government has been, when his back benchers start to sing like canaries.