Monday, October 26, 2015

Just Not Ready? The Defeat of Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper | CanadianFlyboy

'Just Not Ready' is the slogan Stephen Harper used against Justin Trudeau in Canada's election campaign. Though false, the ad seemed to be clever in the beginning, but its frequent repetition  annoyed many Canadian voters as it smacked of arrogance - a trait well entrenched in the soon to be former Prime Minister. Justin Trudeau's very effective response to it also literally demolished any impact the ad may have had made in earlier days. But that was not the main cause of Harper's defeat.

There were a number of factors that contributed to it. Harper ran a secretive Government, where he held all the cards close to his chest. Even members of his own party were not allowed to speak their mind, instead they were instructed to stick to talking points issued by PM office. After the October 19 defeat, several Conservative party members have openly criticized Harper for his handling of elections. Suddenly, it is as if an Iron Curtain has been lifted.

It is understood that early on, Harper instructed the bureaucrats to call the Canadian Government the Harper Government as if it was his personal fiefdom. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) became the main power centre, where some of the alleged crooked deal for Senator Duffy were cooked and concealed from the public. Nine years earlier, Harper had come in with a promise for a transparent and clean Government, what he delivered was the opposite. He promised to reform the Senate, but despite having a majority, he did nothing. Instead he stuffed the Senate with 56 appointees, many of whom his cronies, who proved to be incompetent and some are currently facing criminal charges.

In recent months, he passed two laws which are out and out draconian. Bill C51 & Bill C24. Canadians like to feel safe, but they do not want their freedoms restricted by Patriot Act like Bill C51. Thankfully Trudeau has promised to change it and remove offending clauses. Bill C24 is another story. This is the single most disastrous legislation brought about by Harper through his Citizenship Minister, Chris Alexander, whereby the Minister anointed himself as the prosecutor, judge, jury and the executioner. Any dual citizen suspected of terrorism can be stripped of Canadian citizenship by the Minister without any hearing or appeal and Minister's decision cannot be challenged in any court of Law. Hopefully Trudeau will make it an early priority to repeal this grotesque law.

Harper's Citizenship Minister, Chris Alexander who introduced the single most disastrous piece of legislation in the form of Bill C24.

Over nine years, Harper's missteps were many. Ignoring China earlier on, and not promoting trade agreements with China & India, missing trade opportunities for Canadian Companies, the unnecessary fight with United Arab Emirates over landing rights, getting involved in a war in Libya, which handed the country over to terrorists and getting involved in an unwinnable war in Syria. Harper lost 90% of his cases in the Supreme Court, mainly because citizens challenged some of his actions or laws introduced by him. Instead of learning lessons from his mistakes he resorted to maligning the Chief Justice and the Canadian Supreme Court. But that backfired on him fairly swiftly and thank God someone put some sense into him to back off from that suicidal course.

In the end Canadians yearned for a change and as many as 70% wanted to see Harper out. They delivered and defeated him in a substantial manner.

The core of the problem for the Conservative Party of Canada is that instead maintaining a Centre Right posture, it has been hijacked by the extreme right Reform Party. Harper and his Reform Group almost completely sidelined the true Conservatives. One hopes, the real Conservatives will step forward and retake their party. Canada needs an effective and an organized opposition. It is time for Conservatives to distance themselves from the Harper era and rebuild their party in a way that it  represents true Canadian values.

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