Harper’s Majority Government

12May11

With the federal election come and gone now, it will be interesting to see how things pan out. While I feel that the conservative minority government previous was fairly ineffectual, this was mostly due to being stonewalled by the other political parties. The government since the 2006 election has been little more than the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc fighting over power, rather than actually governing the country. This will be Harper’s chance to show the country what he is made of. I’m not entirely sure if I feel that having a conservative government is the right way for Canada to go, however, I do believe Harper is an intelligent man and one of the stronger leaders in Canadian politics. I feel that having a majority government is a wonderful thing to have at the moment, and having the NDP as a strong opposition will create balance to some of Haper’s more inane ideas.

That being said, I thought it would be interesting to examine the Conservative party platform in detail, and to track over the next few years in subsequent blog posts, how well the Conservatives follow through.

There seems to be 5 prongs of the platform, aside from blowing of horns over Harper’s “success” in riding out the recession. He wants to create jobs, support families, eliminate the deficit by 2014/2015, make the streets safe, and “stand on guard” for Canada. These all seem fairly generic platitudes that really, no one can argue about. In fact, none of these prongs seem especially unique to the conservative political ideology, aside from eliminating the deficit. The devil, they say, is in the details.

As I am a school teacher, let’s consider this the Harper government’s program of studies. Since teachers are learning to become more accountable to the program of studies, teaching lessons by outcome rather than by what’s in the textbook, or what they’ve always taught, it seems the government should be accountable to their self-imposed program of studies.

The Harper government states it will help create jobs for Canadians by:

  • Not raising taxes for consumers, families and businesses
  • Giving small businesses an EI tax credit as an incentive to hire more employees
  • Helping businesses keep employees by enhancing the work-share program (without stating how it will be enhanced)
  • Prohibiting a mandatory retirement age
  • Providing loans and mentorship to young entrepreneurs
  • Enhancing the student loan program for part-time students (without stating how)
  • Allowing students to earn more money while still receiving student loans
  • Enhancing research done at colleges and universities
  • Providing loans for immigrants who need to upgrade credentials before finding a job in Canada
  • Legislating a “one for one” rule, where any new business regulation must be accompanied by getting rid of an older one.
  • Encouraging businesses to adopt new information and communication technology (interesting, when he would like to restrict consumer use of internet, and our telecommunication laws are still in the dark ages)
  • Investing in First Nations land management, adult education in the territories, and environmental upgrades to fuel tanks in the North

The Harper government states it will eliminate the deficit by:

  • Continuing with the economic stimulus package
  • Giving “specific measures” (not specifically mentioned) to cut program spending
  • Reviewing government spending

The Harper government states it will support families by:

  • Establishing a family tax cut, which will allow couples to share income and hopefully pay less income tax
  • Doubling the children’s fitness tax credit, and establishing an adult’s fitness tax credit
  • Establishing a children’s art tax credit
  • Extending the ecoEnergy retrofit homes program by a year
  • Establishing a family caregiver tax credit
  • Increasing the guaranteed income supplement for seniors
  • Doubling the amount that can be put in a tax free savings account
  • Implementing a low cost pooled pension plan
  • Working with provinces to reduce wait time for health care

The Harper government states it will “Stand Guard” for Canada by:

  • Expanding various parts of the military, such as purchasing an F-35, build new ships, and expand CFB Bagotville
  • Reintroducing and passing the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act
  • Enhancing the coast guard by giving them greater power to enforce laws, upgrade their equipment, and establish armed boarding teams
  • Reforming the laws regarding deportation of foreign criminals to reduce appeals and ease the process of deportation
  • Extending the Security Infrastructure Program to help prevent hate motivated crime
  • Introducing undescribed legislation to “give law enforcement the tools they need to investigate and prevent acts of terrorism”
  • Defending religious freedom (hopefully including the freedom to not have a religion)
  • Supporting and investing in such environmental measures as building new national parks, and switching to renewable energy sources (hah, good luck)

The Harper government states it will make Canada’s streets safer by:

  • Funding enhanced EI benefits for parents of murdered or missing children
  • Prohibiting inmate drug abuse by creating yearly drug testing, give inmates additional charges for possession while in jail, and deny parole to inmates with drug offences
  • Amending the criminal code to help prevent seniors better
  • Re-introducing the Citizen’s Arrest and Self Defense Act
  • Giving mandatory jail time to reduce contraband tobacco trafficking

Do I agree with all of these things? No, of course not. Some of them seem sensible, but others make me wary that our human rights and freedoms may be impinged. I’m also worried about the drastic cuts to program funding that all these tax breaks may cause. However, the posting of this is not merely to judge, but to see how many of these things the government will actually try to follow through on, rather than conveniently forgetting. Of course, initiatives brought up into the House of Commons but defeated wont count against Harper, since in all fairness, he would have tried to put it into legislation.

As cliche as it sounds, only time will tell us if Harper actually has a decent head on his shoulders. In any event, his party was almost the only legitimate choice, after the shennanigans of the other political parties.

As an aside, check out this SkepticNorth article on voter apathy and skeptical voting. There is an amazing TED video on road blocks to citizen participation in our political system.

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