Monday, August 18, 2008

"the government is advancing its agenda"

One of my pet peeves about the current government is the insistence of its supporters that the reason government isn't getting smaller is that there's a minority parliament and therefore Harper can't advance his agenda.


Harper has been able to advance four of his five election goals, and the fifth (reducing wait times) was a foolish promise to make unless he was willing to amend the Canada Health Act, which he didn't attempt to do. He's also been able to get his way repeatedly, more or less, in Afghanistan and other controversial issues despite strong opposition from other parties.

Now the Canadian Press is covering this nonsense excuse (now being used as a call for an election) from Harper. For once, I agree with Pat Martin:
"I don't accept that Parliament is dysfunctional at all," says NDP MP Pat Martin.

"Most committees are functioning well, and the government is advancing its agenda, subject to some of the compromises you'd expect in a minority Parliament."

It seems Harper's real beef is with the problems his government has faced on a set of unique committees chaired by opposition MPs.
While I don't blame Harper for being upset over these little ethical committees popping up all over the place, I don't accept that he doesn't realize that he's in a minority parliament and that's just the way things are - especially when his supporters will pull the "It's a minority parliament! This is how things have to be!" card at the first mention of concerns over Harper's intentions when we see him continually reducing the ability of individual Canadians to make their own choices about how to live their own lives.

This isn't to say that no positive steps have been taken by Harper's government, but when the Tories talk to those who want smaller government, more take-home pay, and to live their lives the way they'd like, they ask us to look the other way from multiple bans that take away our ability to make our own decisions about what to buy, the expansion of the expensive, crime-funding drug war, and significant increases in government spending than their predecessors, all because of a minority parliament.

The fact is, though, that this government's agenda is not one that will allow Canadians to live their lives more freely, but one that increases the roles and power of the government instead. This is an agenda he's had no problems implementing, however incrementally he's had to do it.

It is, after all, a minority parliament.


nbt said...

Good post, Janet.

How I see it is when they decide to cut the fat on the bureaucracy (like the court challenges program), they get an earful from opposition members and the press. So it isn't easy "freedomizing" or "shrinking government" in a statist land like Ottawa, especially in a minority parliament.

Although, if the public knew where the Harper government's direction was coming from (i.e. real libertarian/tories), they wouldn't be so surprised when they implemented policies that were pro-freedom and fiscally conservative.

So far, it has been a government promising one ideology and attempting to steal another (from the previous Liberal governments).

Janet said...

How I see it is when they decide to cut the fat on the bureaucracy (like the court challenges program), they get an earful from opposition members and the press.

This is true, but I don't see how that would be any different under a majority government. Harper could have a 1984 Mulroney sized government and moves like that would still come across as unpopular.