Monday, April 3, 2006

Shaky Start to "New Government"

Stephen Harper ran a slick campaign, touting accountability and promising the “New Accountability Act” as his first piece of business for the new conservative government. Well this was day one of the new “accountable” government under the leadership of Stephen Harper, and it’s off to a shaky – and ominous – start. If this is any indication of what’s in store for Canadians, we’re in real trouble.

It hasn’t taken Stephen Harper long to disappoint voters – even loyal conservatives. This was a government that was going to make vast changes to the way in which senate members were chosen. “A new conservative government would see senate members elected, not appointed” said Mr. Harper during the campaign. On February 6th, barely 2 weeks after winning the election, Harper announced that Michel Fortier would be our new senate member. In other words, as one of the first orders of business, our new Prime Minister took the very action he was critical of, just days before. Does he really believe that Canadians have short memories? Perhaps he believes we’re just stupid.

During the campaign, Mr. Harper was critical of ministers who crossed the house floor, particularly those who changed sides for political gain. The conservatives were indignant with the suggestion that Grewel was being lured to the liberals, with promises of a cabinet position. Stephen Harper refused to cooperate with the Ethics Commissioner regarding the Grewel incident, saying he was too busy to answer any questions between August and November. This, in spite of the fact that Harper was implicated in Grewel’s own testimony.

On his first day as Prime Minister, after promises to clean up government and coincidentally, a report that found that Grewel’s tapes were manufactured and that allegations of enticements from the liberals were unfounded, Stephen Harper announced with great pride that he, himself, approached David Emerson, Liberal MP from B.C. to become his newest Cabinet Minister. In other words, our new Prime Minister boasted about the fact that he encouraged Emerson to cross the floor, an action he was critical of just weeks before.

I was disappointed in the results of this election. I hoped that Canadians would see beyond the glitz of a polished Stephen Harper campaign to the real substance of a neo-conservative who doesn’t know the meaning of accountability. However, I was also hoping that he would rise to the challenge of moving from critic to leader and honour his promises. Alas, my hopes are dashed and it’s just day one.