Friday, April 01, 2011

Harper raising trust issues - about himself

It's early days, but Stephen Harper could be blowing the election. He's making himself look like someone who shouldn't be trusted to govern.
Harper's harping on the threat of an evil NDP-Bloc-Liberal coalition offers the best example of the problem.
It was a decent enough gambit to kick off the campaign.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion had attempted to forge a coalition government with the NDP in 2008, supported by the Bloc Quebecois.
Coalition governments are unfamiliar - though not unheard of - in Canada. (Though Britain has had one since last May.) And many people would object to a formal Bloc Quebecois role in a coalition.
So it was reasonable for Harper to claim that unless the Conservatives won a majority the three opposition parties might come up with a common program and form a government.
Then Michael Ignatieff clearly ruled out a coalition.
That might have been foolish; a Liberal-NDP government could be preferable to another election. But it made continued dramatic warnings about a coalition less credible, more bluster than substance.
Still, Harper might have been able to keep up the attacks.
Except NDP leader Jack Layton and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe said Harper had laid plans to form a coalition government with them in 2004 if the Liberal minority government fell on a non-confidence motion.
The three leaders even signed a letter to then governor general Adrienne Clarkson urging her not to automatically call an election if the government fell, but to consult the opposition parties and "consider all of your options."
That sounds like a coalition. And Tom Flanagan, Harper's former chief of staff, said the goal in 2004 was to install Harper as prime minister with the support of the other two parties.
Then a TV interview from 1997 emerged, in which Harper predicted the Liberals would eventually lose office when they were in a minority, with the largest number of seats. The opposition parties could then co-operate and form a "coalition" to govern, he said.
A fair observer would conclude Harper was attacking Ignatieff, who had rejected a coalition, even though he had tried to form one and publicly supported the principle.
The big problem is Harper's response. He didn't drop the claims or say he once thought coalitions were OK but had changed his mind.
Harper came up with excuses and evasions. He claimed he hadn't been talking about governing coalitions, but about uniting the right.
That's simply not credible given the letter to the governor general and the clear statement in the TV interview.
That creates a trust issue. If voters believe Harper will say anything to win - even in the face of evidence that he's being hypocritical at best, dishonest at worst - they will wonder if they can trust any promises he makes over the course of the campaign.
And that's a damaging, a self-inflicted wound.
Harper made another serious stumble. When Green leader Elizabeth May was barred from the leadership debates Wednesday, Harper said he was "open to any number of possibilities," including May's participation.
"We could also have a debate between Mr. Ignatieff and myself," Harper said. "After all, the real choice in this election is a choice between a Conservative government or an Ignatieff-led government that all of these other parties will support." (That coalition thing again.)
Great, Ignatieff said. Let's have a one-on-one debate.
But the next day, Harper was in retreat. He's only willing to do the two group debates, one in English and one in French, he said. He refused to debate Ignatieff.
And Harper dodged the debate on the same day questions were raised about his tightly controlled campaign. Unlike the other leaders, he will only take five questions a day - four from the journalists on the campaign, one from local media. There are no public events; only Conservative supporters on pre-approved lists can attend.
The election was seen as Harper's to lose. Based on the early days, he might.
Footnote: Getting bounced from the debate got May great media coverage, and she should have been included. More importantly, the TV companies should have clear, consistent criteria for their decisions and the debate schedules. The backroom deals between companies and parties breed suspicion.


Anonymous said...

I was told to Google: Harper delivers his plans of, Global Governance for Canada. Everyone present, were shocked by Harper's words.

I was watching the House of Commons TV channel. A motion was passed by the House to give, banks, mines, large corporations, gas and oil company's billions of our tax dollars. They get huge tax reductions. Now, Harper wants to give the wealthiest outfits in the world, another tax reduction, which will come off, Canadians paychecks.

Why is our government, giving our tax dollars, to the wealthiest corporations in the world? Those are our tax dollars, not Harper's to give to huge company's, who never pay their share of taxes. Canada also belongs to us, Harper has no right to give us away to, those greedy corporations. It will be a frosty day in hell, before I would ever vote for Harper. I don't like his evil agenda.

I am not happy with Ignatieff supporting the HST. BC citizens are over burdened by taxes, and receive nothing in return. The HST has killed this province and the people in it. Again, the HST was designed for big business and big business only.

Jack Layton was a real shocker. He capitulated to Harper's demand to give these wealthy corporations, ANOTHER tax deduction. He was always the politician, who fought for the wage earner and the little guy.

There was a mockery of democracy, when Elizabeth May was shut out of the debate. Our royal kingdoms of the propaganda media, refused her presence. Harper doesn't like Elizabeth May, she is an excellent debater, and has kicked Harper's butt in the past. So, I wasn't surprised, when she wasn't included. I have decided to vote for Elizabeth May. I can see our democracy fading away. Elizabeth will bring this back, because she has suffered from the lack of democracy, more than once.

DPL said...

Looks like Ms.May is getting one vote, that is if the previous commenter lives in the riding she is presently trying to win. Where will she go next? Harper is a weird politician who should be working directly for some big company , not just doing their bidding as an elected person. The welfare of Canada is not his concern

Anonymous said...

It is the huge, wealthy, company's of the world, who call all of the shots. Our government gives these big businesses, billions of our tax dollars. They are given stupendous tax reductions. I watched the House of Commons TV channel, vote that motion in favor. Why is our government giving the wealthiest outfits in the world, our Canadian tax dollars? Is it because, they hoarded all of the money, to start another recession again? Harper wanted to give big company's, another reduction. This reduction would come off Canadians paychecks.

Those bottomless pits of corporate greed, should be banished from every country in the world. They are the root of all of the problems, this entire globe is experiencing.

Anonymous said...

I hope you are right Paul. For myself I don't understand how Harper has managed to hang on as long as he has - he has never been able to convince me that he deserves to be trusted. And policy-wise he scares the bejeezus out of me. More jails we can all do without.

Raymond Graham

Anonymous said...

When is Harper going to ask Mulroney for our $2 million back?

RossK said...

Even more importantly, the TV companies should not have control of any decisions regarding political debate formats or schedules.



DPL said...

Today, Monday 3, Harper is still trying to sell the danger of a coalition government. and pushing to remove the long gun registry. He says that will happen only if he gets a majority. No discussion about buying jets with no bidding, and a couple of days ago the government went to federal court to try to stop the Military Ombudsman checking into the handling of military prisoners . The man is a basket case of paranoid ideas. Giving him a majority would be a very bad thing for Canada

DPL said...

Today Tues.5 April. Harper the control freak's handlers it at it again. actually checking face books of some young women who had the audacity of standing next to Iggy. Not that far from stalking.

I'm sure the woman has decided who she will not be supporting in the upcoming election. And the clown wants a majority to run our country his way. I thought it was just the RCMP who take pictures of citizens for their files.

Anonymous said...

If Harper gets in, perhaps we can look forward to Officer Bubbles as Justice Minister