January 20, 2006


Crane: Has Harper really moved left? (DAVID CRANE, 1/20/06, Toronto Star)

[B]ig questions remain about what a Harper government would be like. Has Harper really changed from a right-wing ideologue to a middle-of-the-road Conservative? Is the new Harper more than skin deep? Or is his campaign simply an expedient response to intensive Conservative polling?

Harper's history is of a strong believer in small government and especially a weak national government, devolution of power to the provinces, as well as being a social conservative seemingly more in tune with the religious right than mainstream Canadian values.

In a telling profile by Marci McDonald in Walrus magazine of members of the so-called Calgary School, a group of Alberta academics who have an almost pathological dislike of both the federal government and Ontario, Harper's neoconservative credentials as part of that group are spelled out. The article quotes Ted Byfield, a leading voice of a quasi-separatist Western Canada and Harper supporter as saying after the 2004 election, "The issue now is: How do we fool the world into thinking we're moving to the left when we're not."

The genius of the Third Way is that it offers Rightwing solutions in Leftwing packaging.

Has he squandered his shot at majority? (BRIAN LAGHI, January 20, 2006, Globe and Mail)

Eighteen months ago, Mr. Harper saw his chances at governing go up in smoke after he and others began talking about the possibility of a majority government.

It was a mistake that Mr. Harper and his troops pledged not to make again.

But with the election just three days away, a number of late-breaking factors may give Ontarians pause.

Take, for example, Mr. Harper's announcement earlier this week that a Liberal-dominated Senate, Supreme Court and civil service would serve as a check on his government were he to win a majority.

The comments were supposed to ease anxieties.

Instead, they brought a focus on the fact that Mr. Harper might head to Parliament with intentions to change the way the Supreme Court is appointed.

But the concerns are less about judicial activism than they are about the resurrection of Reform grievances over the West's exclusion from power.

While Reform accomplished many worthwhile things during its dozen years of existence — raising alarm bells about fiscal and democratic deficits come to mind — the party rubbed many central Canadians the wrong way by complaining that government has been manipulated against Western interests.

As George Bush demonstrated best, the key is to make the Left think it's won--all that compassionate conservative rigamarole--and that you're reconciled to that.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 20, 2006 8:04 AM

This phenomena has been well noted and discussed in the American conservative movement for years.

Once the electorate accept the proposition of taking money from some citizens and giving it to others, they cannot be taken back to an original position of "rugged individualism." This was the lesson of 1964.

We now know that saving our country from the clutches of the gun-grabbing, baby-killing, conscious agents of international conspiracies is more important than humoring a handful of tinfoil-hatted libertines. We have learned to buy the votes when vote are for sale.

The leftists, as in the article, complain that this is unfair. They remember 1964 also, and they wish they could keep running against a pair of hands tearing up a Social Security card.

Thats how it works in the United States, so it probably goes the same way in Latvia.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 20, 2006 8:37 AM

Looks like the fat lady is still rehearsing.

Posted by: Peter B at January 20, 2006 9:16 AM