Thursday, 3 May 2012
Harper Majority One Year Later
After leading a minority government since 2005, Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his coveted majority on May 2nd, 2011. After almost six years of trying to move his agenda on the gun registry, the omnibus crime bill, and opting out of the Kyoto accord forward, there should not have been many surprises for those opposing him of what the Prime Minister would do. For years there was opposition fillibustering, stalling, threats of a coalition and he list goes on and on. At one point the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament and used every other parliamentary option to keep his government alive.
While there was a loud outcry from those that opposed his views, the electorate handed the Conservatives a majority, punished the Liberals and especially in Quebec, the New Democrats gained 59 seats, which in the end gave them enough overall seats to form the official opposition. Essentially the winners in the 2011 election were the Conservative and New Democratic Party.
As we pass the one year mark of Harper's majority, the Liberals are still looking to identify themselves, the New Democrats under their new leader Thomas Mulcair have gained ground. Latest polls indicate that the NDP is in a statistical tie with Haper's conservatives.
While Harper scrapped the gun registry and eliminated the Canadian Wheat Board, his latest budget also included legislation to speed up environmental reviews and giving the Minister the power to approve environmentally sensitive projects. Harper has handed Provinces a fate accompli when it comes to health care funding, changing the current formula of 6% annual increase to one that is tied 2% above GDP.
There has been controversy on back to work legislation for both Air Canada employees and Canada Post. Needless to say the NDP, a strong supporter of unions, was not too thrilled. There are the allegations of election meddling with Robo calls, presently being investigated by Elections Canada. The discrepancy in F35 stealth fighter funding. The Harper government is being accused of maintaining two sets of books, one for the public and another with the actual cost.
Harper's action plan raised the eligibility age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 for those 54 and younger, claiming it to be a matter of sustainability. 19,500 jobs are being cut from the public service, while CBC's budget has been reduced by 10%.
This week the government was accused of preferential treatment for Conrad Black, while denying a black man, who spend just 30 days in a cook county jail for shooting a policeman and eventually charged and convicted of aggravated assault, entry into Canada.
Depending on where you stand politically, the Harper government has either been a success or a total disaster.
It's the Economy Stupid
The Harper government has focused on the economy, cutting the deficit, keeping corporate taxes low, jobs and family. The government is on target with its economic action plan, which the opposition says is ruining the country.
After one year of a majority government, the country is in relatively good shape, and the government hasn't pushed an agenda on social issues like gay marriage or abortions, just as the Prime Minister promised.
What is clear, is that the burden of the country rests on those that govern and the critique with those in opposition. Hopefully the debates will become more civil. What will the second year bring?