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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Harper the Bully Overplays His Political Hand

The pettiness of the Harper political machine has finally pushed the opposition parties to push back – and really, really hard. Harper’s ill-conceived, idiotic and ideologically focused “Fiscal Update” (Harper’s FU Canada Statement) was lacking in service of the common good and was oblivious to the rapidly deteriorating fiscal reality of the country.

Harper is now running away from his FU Canada Statement so fast and farcically that he could be accused of rehearsing for a Monty Python sketch. He has already ditched all but one of his FU Canada Statement pronouncements, namely his suspension of the rights for women to use Human Rights processes to achieve pay equity. That is likely to be withdrawn soon.

He has withdrawn his draconian idea of legislating away the right to strike for public servants. He has retreated on his goal of bankrupting the opposition political parties through withdrawing the vote subsidy provisions. Now he says he will push up the budget speech up to the end of January from late March. That hardly shows a renewed sense of urgency.

Harper’s retreat has not been motivated by any commitment to principles of good governance. He is merely trying and stop momentum behind the Liberal-NDP coalition planning. His retreat and political messaging is having the exact opposite effect and only seems to invigorate the coalition parties.

Harper has been allowed to bully, belittle and browbeat opposition politicians, especially Stephane Dion, for over two years. Harper got away with it because the Liberals were not ready to fight another election after changing leaders and polls showed Canadians did not want another election.

Canadians wanted Harper to use his 2006 minority victory as a chance to show that he could govern and use his first minority parliament for the common good. Instead Harper used his offices to serve his own lust for personal political power. What we got was trite tax cuts like the GST and debased childcare subsidies. He mastered the dark arts of misleading messaging and political trickery.

Harper has proven that he has no respect for Parliament and he has even less respect for the rule of law. Harper’s own law for fixed election dates passed unanimously in Parliament. It was immediately ignored by Harper’s quick election call. He “justified” the early election by ironically claiming that Parliament was dysfunctional – even at a time when it wasn’t even sitting. Well Parliament is sitting now and it is very dysfunctional now, all thanks to Stephen Harper.

It is obvious that the opposition parties have had enough of Stephen Harper. The country is entering into the worst economic crisis in our history. Harper is not only dithering about his duty to govern, he continues to be politically diabolical and ideological - as his recent FU Canada statement proves, yet again.

So there is going to be a coalition formed between the Liberals and the NDP with some passive but sufficient support from the Bloc. They intend to form a government by defeating Harper on a non-confidence motion and offering the Governor General a viable alternative, without the need for an election.

Harper has tactically delayed the timing of the Liberal’s non-confidence motion from December 1st to the 8th. That has not bought Harper any useful time to try and retain power. It has just given the coalition parties more time to design the coalition partnership, plan for the next Parliament and to develop new policies that are for the good of the country.

Harper has outlived his usefulness to the country and he has overplayed his political hand. He is all tactics and strategy. He has shown that he has no substance and no intention of acting decisively or with alacrity to manage the growing and accelerating economic crisis facing the country.

I hope and expect we will have a new coalition government to replace the hapless and feckless Harper Party by midmonth. It will be neither left nor right but will be progressive and forward looking. It will be focused on how to best respond to the current economic crisis, to deal with climate change and do what needs to be done to support the growing number of vulnerable citizens who are going to bear the brunt of this recession.

As for soon-to-be “former Prime Minister Harper,” I hope to be able to say very soon, and with great zeal, “So long Steve. Your 35 months of fame are over.”