Monday, March 2, 2015

Election 2015: Harper, the Proroguer.

Prime Minister Harper, remembering the days of high oil prices.  Source.

After almost four whole years after the Tories took power, we are once again in an election year.  I'll admit that I'm pretty excited at this prospect as a fan of evidence-based practices and a proud Canadian that has been repeatedly exasperated by the elected representatives of my countrymen.  Particularly that second one, under "exasperated."  It touches on the most mind-bending of Harper's offenses, though my writing is excessively verbose.

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to record my thoughts on the candidates going into this election, including what I think of each candidate, and where I think they'll end up after election night.  That way I can look back at what my exact thoughts were (as can all of you, my be-monocled, top-hatted readers), and reflect on how truly wrong and misguided I was.

My Summary:

So, Harper the Proroguer.  I've been thinking a lot about it this week, and I cannot decide whether he is willfully blind to evidence, an excellent politician, a fool, or all of the above.  In all seriousness, I believe he must be doing what he thinks is right, I don't think he's doing anything with deliberate malice, but he just keeps doing such goofy things.

Take for example the census.  Canada was a world leader in excellent census data, particularly because it was mandatory.  Prison sentences actually awaited those who refused to fill out the long-form census.  Harper publicly decried these penalties and removed them in one of his first acts as the leader of a majority government.

What's my problem with that?  Well, I'll say first and foremost that it wasn't an issue.  It's almost like his movement to change the lyrics of 'O Canada' to be more gender-inclusive.  It just wasn't being discussed.  It wasn't on anyone's radar.  It's like he saw a peaceful beehive and decided to stick his finger in there to see what would happen.  It's like he's the Joker of political action, just an agent of chaotic destruction.  Anyway, it didn't matter to him that nobody in the history of the Canadian census had ever gone to prison for not filling out the census, because no reasonable person would ever choose prison over taking ten minutes to half-ass the long-form census.  So now we have a voluntary survey.  That's great.  How does the government now make decisions on how to best deliver public services?  Probably based on questionable data.  Or purely political motivations, knowing Harper.

After the Tories fought tooth and nail for these things, it turns out they don't even work in the Arctic.  But they are, and will always be, Scandalicious. Source.

However, this could also have been a brilliant calculation.  The economic situation hasn't been great since the Great Recession of 2008, and who is least likely to fill out the voluntary survey?  According to Ivan Fellegi, former Chief Statistician of Canada, it's the poor, new immigrants, and aboriginals.  Those who, in general, could benefit most from public services, and those who are most likely to deflate Canada's economic picture.  This is pure, baseless speculation, but it would be a brilliant political move.

So that's a thing that happened.  Harper also came to power promising more government accountability, appointed a Parliamentary Budget Officer to fulfill said promise, and then dismissed the unfortunate Kevin Page when, y'know, he tried to hold government to account.  Which was his job description.  And the job was created for that purpose by Harper.  Harper wanted to reform the Senate and make it more democratic, and then a bunch of his senate appointees were unceremoniously ousted for their unethical behaviour.  He referred to a non-confidence motion to defeat his government as a "parliamentary trick" when that's how he himself came to power (or that's how I remember it anyway).

He's an interesting character.  Bewildering, but certainly entertaining.

My Verdict:

Petulant politician, perpetually pining for power.

My Prediction:

... Isn't really much of a prediction.  Those who have been paying attention for his tenure are mostly sick of his antics, but most electors either 1) haven't been paying attention, or 2) vote Tory out of principle, and are probably over the age of 55.  He's got a solid support base.  Further, if Mike Duffy's allegations that Harper ordered him to pay back his expenses because, quote, "it is inexplicable to our base," he certainly does a lot of his maneuvering with his supporters in mind.  I think Harper has it in him to win again with two "unproven" rivals.  If he wins it'll probably be a minority, and if he loses he will almost certainly limit the winner to minority status.


Other posts in this series:
Mulcair, the Reasonable One
Trudeau, the New Guy

P.S.  In the lead up to this, I watched a bunch of old Rick's Rants.  You might enjoy them too, so they're posted below.  Also following is a link from the hilarious Scott Feschuk on Stephen Harper from 2013 conversing with his 2005 self.