UPDATE: APRIL 9, 2007
Andrew Coyne in the National Post does a piece today (Harper Has Learned Well) that reinforces the point of this Blog post. It is worth a read.
Stephen Harper claims he has delivered on another of his campaign promises, this time over health care wait times. The triumphalism he presented with this “announcement” is pure George Bush in content and context and especially in his contempt for the truth.
Dubya, you will remember, donned a flak jacket, flew in a jet, landed on an aircraft carrier as a poser for the photo op in front of a banner declaring “Mission Accomplished.” Yes the world was lied to yet again in his declaration of victory in Iraq. One can’t help but ask just how many months - and deaths ago - was it that the world celebrated that glorious day for our security and peace of mind. We have to ask ourselves just how the Iraqi people have enjoyed, or should we say endured, their “freedom” and their “democracy”?
Steve’s wait time guarantee delivery triumphalism was more bathos but his claims of political victory was just as hypocritical as Dubya’s Mission Accomplished declaration. Wait times “guarantees” yes sir – promise made – promise kept, well kinda, sorta, maybe. For sure under in certain circumstances, perhaps in three years and in limited and modest dimensions, admittedly to varying degrees and in different ways in the different provinces but it is ideal, we think.
The provinces will always seem to take the money in the same old extortion model originally fashioned and perfected by the old-style Liberals. This is Harper using the same old same old way of the feds buying their way into provincial jurisdiction. This is after all Canada’s “New” Government you have come to know. They are the “quasi-Conservative” and “Liberal emulator” government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Yup it is the "fiscally conservative" and the "jurisdictional purist" Stephen Harper who is doing the extortion trickery this time.
His approach on this policy trickery reaffirms his admiration with the George Bush precise media message planning and the transparency of his political power plays. As for the provinces it seems we can always count on them to trade jurisdictional purity when cash comes to shove. You can all expect Harper to be out of cash by the 2010 due date, just in time for his wait time policy outcomes to be evaluated and the provinces will have to account to citizens on this Harper policy.
The provinces are going to wear the political fall out from the lack of real performance for any effective wait time guarantee outcomes. Harper will have moved on, in one way or another. If he is still PM expect the second shoe to drop and he will say that his government, unlike the former Liberal government, respects the provincial jurisdiction in health care and expects them to deal with their own problems on wait time guarantees. That is the way this federal encroachment has always worked in the past and why would Harper be any different now?
It is always the same game when the feds agree to pay for new health care initiatives. At the beginning they buy provincial inclusion and engagement and they always pull out when the going gets tough or they have changed policy direction to some other flavour of the month.
It always ends up the same way, just like the old Peanuts cartoon. Remember the one where the Feds play Lucy holding the football and the Provinces play Charlie Brown. Chuck always who knows she will pull the ball away just as he goes to kick it but he continues to take the sucker bait every time.
Rest assured these fresh federal funds are not the answer to wait times and will do more harm than good to the over all system. Every MSM editorial and commentator I have read have called this ploy for just what it is – political hypocrisy and election posturing.
Given his dismal record on keeping campaign promises and his bullying style of playing power politics, I wonder why anyone who is politically engaged, and not a card carrying CPC party member, actually believes or believes in Stephen Harper anymore. This video captures the essence of Harper's duplicity.