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The Harper Agenda: The First 100 Days, The Destruction Begins


Now that many Canadians have recovered from the shock that on Monday, January 23rd, 36.4% of us voted to place a Conservative minority government in Ottawa, the focus has begun to shift to speculation on the legislative programme that Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper will attempt to implement in his first 100 days in office.

With congratulations from President George Bush out of the way, the Conservative party can now get down to the business of implementing key commitments made to the Canadian electorate during the course of the just ended 55-day election campaign. The five key initiatives include ...

  • Introducing accountability legislation, toughening the Lobbyists Registration Act, eliminating secret donations to political candidates, establishing a Public Appointments Commission to establish merit-based requirements for appointments to government agencies, and strengthening the power of the Auditor General and the office of Ethics Commissioner.

  • Tax reform, most particularly the introduction of a modest reduction in the GST, from 7% to 6%, and beyond that it’s anybody’s guess.

  • Implementation of a Tory law and order agenda, including a reform of Canada’s justice system, “to make it stronger and to ensure that we turn back the growing plague of guns, gangs and drugs in our cities and communities,” thus working toward filling more than 1,000 RCMP positions across Canada, working with provinces and municipalities to hire 2,500 more police officers, cracking down on firearms smuggling, strengthen security at border crossings and, most importantly to the Tories: implementing mandatory minimum sentences for major firearms offences.

  • Killing the Liberal Party child care plan, and in its place introducing a new $1,200 per year child care tax credit for children under six. The daycare initiative will be controversial — and is unlikely to receive support from the Liberals or the NDP — but pundits believe that the Bloc Québécois will rejoice at the prospect of wresting more money from the federal coffers, given that they've already got their own province-wide daycare programme (so much for parents and children in the rest of Canada).

  • Introduction of a health wait-time guarantee, which inevitably will mean the privatization of health care in Canada, the thin edge of the wedge which could lead to the dismantling of Canada’s public health care system.

In addition to the five key initiatives, look for the Conservatives to kill the gun registry; implement fixed election dates and introduce legislation that will look into some form of proportional representation; rewrite Canada‘s climate change plan — although any plan to withdraw from the Kyoto Accord would likely meet with stiff opposition from the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc; pursue a vote on same sex marriage (sure to fail); and resolve the federal-provincial conflict over transfer of payment to the provinces.

Politics To Be A Fun Spectator Sport In Canada

Yes, Stephen Harper‘s weak minority was the best of all possible outcomes for those of us who are non-Tory voters. While Canadians gave the Liberals a time out, the Conservatives have been given a chance to strut their stuff. As Lynda Hurst writes in the Toronto Star ...

Somewhere in (the Conservative minority win) ... is the feeling among many that Canadian politics in the next year or so is going to be fun to watch (well, interesting at least) as the Tory party goes about striking the deals and compromises now necessary for its survival.

First order of business will be to appoint what will most assuredly be a smaller cabinet.

The next order of business will be to keep a lid on the extremist elements (read: social conservatives) within his party, who are dedicated to their goals of rescinding Canada’s long accepted legislation covering a woman’s right to choose, bringing back the death penalty, eliminating same sex marriage, making divorce more difficult, taking sexual orientation out of the Canadian Charter of Rights, opposing legislation decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, bringing prayer back into the public education system ... well, the list could go on and on.

Make no mistake. The Conservative Party in Ottawa will not have an easy time of it. The honeymoon will be over sooner than you think, and most certainly once the Liberal leadership race gets fully underway.

VanRamblings’ prediction: there’s no way that Stephen Harper’s Tories will keep it together for any prolonged period of time. The party will soon begin to tatter at the edges, the infighting will commence, and before you know it the newly elected government could come unraveled altogether.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at January 26, 2006 12:01 AM in Canada


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