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Thread: The Choice for Canada

  1. #1
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    Default The Choice for Canada

    The choice for Canada (II)
    23 January 2006

    Section: Editorial / Op-ed
    Outlet: Montreal Gazette
    Page: A18

    **Excerpt**

    The Liberals must go. Each new opinion poll suggests Canadians agree. By all the portents Canada is in line after Monday's election for a Conservative government led by Stephen Harper. This is a healthy prospect for Canada, and particularly for Quebec.


    The change in Conservative fortunes, these last two years, has been dramatic. Harper is now widely seen as a charisma-challenged policy wonk with a bias toward lower taxes and respect for provincial jurisdiction. This is not exactly Harper-mania, but it's an improvement on his 2004 image, so eagerly painted by the Liberals, of a rootin' tootin' redneck rowdy with a sinister scheme stashed in his saddlebags.

    Harper and his party have improved more than their image since 2004. His record and platform confirm that he has, as he says, evolved. So has his party. From the early-1990s birth of the Reform Party as a western protest vehicle, right through to this month, we see a maturing process that is now all but complete.

    The 1993 Reform caucus was suspicious of federal power in general, included members frankly hostile to Quebec, and was deeply socially conservative. But today Harper is poised to reap the benefits of the work done, by himself and many others, to modulate Reform's yelps of protest into a consistent articulation of a legitimate vision of the country. The recent Liberal smear-scare ads failed because voters see a Conservative Party close to the main currents of public opinion on most issues.
    There are other alternatives to the Liberals, to be sure.

    The New Democrats, despite Jack Layton's energetic leadership, cling to their surreal view of economic realities. The Green Party, though broadly correct on an issue that is growing in urgency, is plainly not ready for prime time. As federalists, we need not dwell on the Bloc Quebecois.
    That leaves the Conservatives, who under Harper have now reunited two of the three elements of Brian Mulroney's "big-tent" party: western small-c conservatives and Ontario/Atlantic voters who reject the Liberals' omni-present and domineering federal power.

    This campaign finds Harper surprisingly well-placed to add some of Mulroney's third element, francophone "soft nationalists." Public-opinion polls suggest the Conservatives will win more votes than the Liberals across Quebec. It's a movement we invite Gazette readers to join.
    What would a Harper government be like? Let's begin with the fiscal imbalance, a phrase coined in Quebec and an issue Quebecers take seriously. Harper's pledge to do the same galvanized his campaign here and didn't hurt elsewhere.

    Ottawa has fat surpluses these days, while the provinces, except Alberta, are searching under the sofa cushions to pay for health, education, urban needs and more. As soon as he's elected, Harper says, he'll start talks with the provinces on this imbalance. And he promises to reduce it during his first term.

    The Liberal approach to fiscal federalism has been to invent new shared-cost programs day-care most recently in areas of provincial jurisdiction. Provinces grit their teeth, cash the cheques, and go cap in hand to Ottawa for subsequent top-ups, like peasants waiting for scraps at the squire's back door.

    Harper, coming from a tradition more respectful of provincial rights, appears to be serious about the fiscal imbalance. Even if his first one-point cut in the goods and services tax gives the provinces cover to raise their own sales taxes, that would help.

    We are not so enthusiastic about the other main pillar of Harper's Quebec pitch, an increased Quebec voice in international affairs. But this issue resonates with Quebec's political class, not with the population.

    More important to Quebecers than the flag on the hood of a limo at a UNESCO meeting is the broad range of social policy. Here a fair-minded observer can see that Harper has little enthusiasm for rolling back the socially liberal status quo. On abortion, the party and leader have promised to change nothing.

    To be sure, some Conservative policies would not be welcome in Quebec - get-tough sentencing is one. On the other hand, Harper's comprehensive "accountability" package designed to make sure nothing else like the sponsorship scandal can happen has earned admiration in many quarters, in Quebec and across the country.

    The 2006 Conservative Party offers a program that can work very well for Quebec as a part of Canada. Given the Liberals' disgraceful abuse of the sacred trust of national unity, it's time for Quebecers to join their fellow Canadians in supporting Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

  2. #2
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Choice for Canada

    You'll pardon me if i don't believe a word he says. Every neocon government has been one big fat lie after the other.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Default Re: The Choice for Canada

    You are pardoned.

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