Who's scary now?
Thursday, February 9, 20066 Comments
To answer both questions: Yes, I am upset about the election results (although not as upset as I could have been) and, yes, I am scared about what Harper would like to do in office. Right off the bat, I should clarify that there were two possible election results that would have been significantly more upsetting to me: either a Liberal majority government or a Conservative majority government. And, although
Liberal minority would have been marginally less upsetting to me than a Conservative minority, I’ve never believed that the Liberals were much of a real alternative. In other words, since neither NDP majority nor an NDP minority resulted from January 23’s vote, I’ll have to live with the result that we got.
I’ve been carefully following Harper’s career ever since he first started showing up on television as a spokesperson for this strange group calling itself the Reform Party. I see little to admire in his politics, nor those of the people who surround him. I fully expect to be fighting against nearly everything that his government proposes (the proposed Federal Accountability Act being the main exception). But, let’s face it; when in my life as a politically engaged person (i.e. since roughly age 12) has that not been the case?
I didn’t like large parts of the policy agendas of Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien or Paul Martin. Provincially, I was personally offended by policies of Conservative, Liberal and even NDP governments (although it’s fair to say that the offense was far worse under the Harris Conservatives) and I spoke out strongly against those policies.
Our jobs as citizens don’t end when the ballots are counted. I’d like to think that we all have a duty to be engaged in the dialogue between governments and the governed. The fact that I fought hard to get Bob Rae elected in 1990 doesn’t mean that I was obliged to forgive him when he did something that I disagreed with. And, the fact that I find the Conservative agenda to be distasteful doesn’t mean that I should just say, “They’re scary!” and hide under the blankets for the duration of Harper government (how ever long that is).
So, with that in mind, let’s get started, with some thoughts on the new Cabinet and some of the policies that it might bring forward:
- I wonder if the Conservatives who said nasty (not to mention sexist) things about Belinda Stronach when she crossed the floor to join the Liberals would you like to take them back now. And, I wonder if the 40 Conservative MPs who last year voted for the NDP’s motion requiring floor-crossers to run in a by-election have now changed their minds.
- To all of those people in Vancouver Kingsway who voted Liberal to “stop the Conservatives”, I bet you all feel pretty damned foolish right now. Really, that categorization should extend to anyone in the rest of the country who did the same thing.
- After the election, when David Emerson said that he was going to be “Stephen Harper’s worst enemy”, was he lying? Or, is he just a huge hypocrite?
- Anyone who has a paper copy of this week’s edition of The Hill Times should save it (since they altered the article on their website right away). Their brave prediction that David Emerson would be a strong candidate for the Liberal leadership is a great “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.
- Don’t place too much weight on the fact that the Conservatives have appointed a minister responsible for Democratic Renewal (Niagara Falls MP Rob Nicholson). The Liberals actually had two ministers sharing responsibility for that file (and one of them was Belinda Stronach), and nothing happened. And, given that the Conservatives marked their first day in office by appointing someone who ran against them just two weeks before and someone who didn’t seek election at all (party backroom boy Michael Fortier), I don’t have a lot of hope that the next election will be any fairer than this one.
- The proposed Accountability Act prohibits people who’ve worked for the government from lobbying their former department. But, Harper clearly doesn’t have a problem with appointing defence industry lobbyist Gordon O’Connor as his Defence Minister.
- The idea Stockwell Day as Minister of Public Safety makes me feel considerably less safe (although he’ll no doubt protect us from being trampled by dinosaurs). I’m worried that he’ll be even more prone than the Liberals to jailing people without charge and will do a lot to endanger Canadians abroad (just check out his remarks about Maher Arar when he was first detained).
- Just six women in a twenty-seven member Cabinet? You’ve come a long way, baby… and now we’re taking you right back to where you were in 1980.
Rest assured that I’ll have more in the weeks, months and, potentially, years to come. Harper and his minions are bound to give me lots of material.