By Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star, January 25, 2011
The real story of the past five years isn’t Harper’s success — his poll numbers have hovered below 40 per cent — but the timidity of the opposition in mounting a spirited case for progressive policies that would have sparked wide public support, particularly after the 2008 financial crash exposed the fallacies of neo-conservative tax-cutting and deregulation.
Harper should be getting pummeled for his pro-corporate, anti-people agenda. Instead, he’s strutting about arrogantly accusing his opponents of being disrespectful, even as he heads a government that is the most disrespectful — to the vast majority of Canadians — in our history
With a meek and often cooperative opposition, Harper went on to introduce policies out of sync with values held by most Canadians. He’s favoured war-making (over peacekeeping), investing $16 billion in fighter jets (rather than social programs), locking people up (despite reduced crime), clamping down on dissent, weakening gun control, abandoning even-handedness in the Middle East.
He’s also turned a blind eye to torture and the rights of a Canadian in Guantanamo, shut down Parliament (rather than risk defeat), refused to tackle climate change, irresponsibly cut taxes (especially for corporations), while recklessly squandering $1 billion on G20 “security.”
Let's repeat one line of this outstanding piece of analysis....
Harper should be getting pummeled for his pro-corporate, anti-people agenda. Instead, he’s strutting about arrogantly accusing his opponents of being disrespectful, even as he heads a government that is the most disrespectful — to the vast majority of Canadians — in our history.
Ms McQuaig hits the nail smartly on the head, as the cliche goes. And how do Canadians reconcile this strutting, while the opposition seems to be failing to gain traction in the polling numbers?
Of course, there is the Liberal debacle in Quebec, in envelopes full of cash, that no political party should be involved in. Next there is the Bloc, another obstruction to either Liberals or NDP gaining momentum in Quebec. Then there is the walking backward into the leadership by Mr. Ignatieff, following Stephane Dion's pummelling both by the Conservatives and by his own party. Then there is the loud megaphone granted by the Canadian media to any sitting Prime Minister, drowning out the opposition protests, which, to be fair, have not been exactly clarion calls to action in themselves.
And now, inspite of all those obstacles, the Liberals are within 8 points of the Harper Conservatives, (really amazing, when you think about it!) and with some breaks and an outstanding campaign strategy, including clear messages of clearly articulated policies, accompanied by honest costing of those programs, both of which in terms that the avergage Canadian can fully comprehend, there should, could and possibly will be a Liberal government in Ottawa before this year is out.
There are some 100 newly minted Liberal candidates making their way around the Parliament Buildings, presumably as guests of the Liberal Party, and some of these individuals are more than ready, qualified and chomping at the bit for Cabinet Posts.... And already sitting in the Liberal caucus are some very competent and experienced veterans, like Scott Brisson, Ken Dryden, Bob Rae, Ralph Goodale, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Martha Hall Finley, Stephane Dion just to name a few.
In fact, these Liberals know that they have no 'divine right to govern' Canada.
They know that the country expects better from them, than has been delivered by Harper.
But as former mayor of Ottawa, Charlotte Whitten used to say about women being compared with men,
"Women have to be twice as good as men,to be considered equal; fortunately, that is not so difficult."
Similarly, Liberals have to be twice as good as Conservatives, to be given a chance to govern; fortunately, that is not so difficult.