मङ्गलबार, ०६ चैत २०७४, १३ : ३०

Trudeau and Mulcair are simply critics, not suitable alternative to Harper


By Diane Francis


The Oct. 19 election is Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s to lose. And he won’t for a number of reasons.

He’s the only candidate with economic credentials and experience. Canadian Prime Ministers are elected to be CEOs, not Commanders in Chief. And he’s been a good nation-state CEO who’s controlled costs, cut red tape, paved the way for more trade and represented the country with dignity and gravitas abroad.

But his biggest upside is the fact that this is an election where disenfranchised, growth areas of the country – mostly populated by conservatives – will finally get 30 new riding’s after decades of being under-represented by the system.
There will be 338 seats now and the reallocation is as follows: Quebec will get another three seats, Alberta another six, B.C. another six and Ontario another 15. The rest will stay the same.

Last time, Harper won a majority with 166 seats with 39 per cent of the vote. This time, he needs to win only four more seats or 170 and of the 30 new seats, he has a good chance of getting most of them or more than enough to compensate for any he may lose, in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

Clearly, Alberta will deliver again. The recent NDP victory was a massive Tory protest vote, a one-time event and not contagious.

Harper’s opponents are not CEO material
British Columbia is trickier. But the six new seats are mostly due to the influx of well-heeled prairie residents to the province’s interior and islands. And many are Harper fans. This may help compensate for close calls elsewhere.

Quebec will be a fray, and he may lose one or two seats from his small total. But three parties will divide the rest – NDP, Liberal and the Bloc Quebecois under its reconstituted leader Gilles Duceppe.
Finally, there’s Ontario or, more accurately, area codes 905, 519 and 705 that are the suburban and rural regions with conservative inclinations. In the last election, Harper won 73 Ontario seats and insiders say this time about 85 are promising. Even if there are no gains, he can form a minority government with only 155 seats.

He also has winning conditions. What helps a seasoned CEO like Harper is economic turmoil and uncertainty worldwide in Asia and Europe. By  comparison, Canada looks good, thanks to “steady eddy” at the helm of our ship of state.

Since 2008, the biggest blow is the collapse in commodity prices (oil represents 30 per cent of our exports alone) caused by China’s slowdown and huge shale oil production in the U.S.

So what would CEOs-in-waiting Mulcair and Trudeau do differently?

Mulcair’s centerpiece is to raise minimum wages and provide cheap day care. Trudeau’s is to tax Canada’s richest 1 per cent and claw back some benefits granted to retirees.

These two are auditioning for a seat on a city council, not as a leader who can steer a nation-state through the shoals of a global economy with many moving parts. Their criticisms of Harper’s management is like blaming a firefighter for the three-alarm blazes that he has been battling.

Their other complaints also fall short of the mark: The Senate spending scandal, Bill C-51 and the fact that many of his highest-profile ministers have quit.

There is no question that the Senate scandal is a bruise, but it’s hardly a blow. Harper has criticized the Senate for years and is the only Prime Minister to ask the Supreme Court if he could dissolve it or convert it into an elected institution like the U.S. and Australia have.

As for Bill C-51 or the bolstering of security protections, Harper is more popular on this one than they realize. And lastly, the departure, or death, of important ministers is an “inside baseball” issue, of no import to the public. It also belies a basic misunderstanding of the parliamentary system. People vote for leaders, not cabinet ministers who are dispensable, unlike in the U.S.

Harper’s opponents are not CEO material. Mulcair blasts the Tories for not balancing their budget while proposing one million daycare spaces for $15 a day that will break the bank. Then there’s Trudeau, a one-time elementary teacher, whose economic dossier is less impressive than was his late father’s if that’s possible.

They are simply critics, not alternatives, and have yet to unveil a single idea that would create more wealth, improve trade or further enhance Canada’s effectiveness on the world stage. This is why Harper will, and should, win bigger than before.

first Published July 31, 2015 in National Post






Ottawa, Ontario
25 April 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the earthquake that struck near Kathmandu, Nepal:

“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our heartfelt condolences to the people of Nepal and northern India who lost family and friends in this powerful earthquake and its aftershocks. The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with the many affected by this disaster and we wish a speedy recovery to all those injured.

“Our officials in the region are working with Nepalese and Indian authorities to ensure that any Canadians affected by the earthquake are safe and accounted for. In cooperation with international partners, they are also assessing the needs of the affected populations to determine how Canada may most effectively assist with the disaster if asked to help.

“We mourn with the people of Nepal and India in the aftermath of this terrible natural disaster and offer our help and our prayers.

“Canadian citizens in Nepal requiring emergency consular assistance should use the Registration of Canadians Abroad (http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration) service, and contact the Consulate of Canada in Kathmandu, Nepal, by calling + 977 (1) 444-1976,  or Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available). An email can also be sent to sos@international.gc.ca.

“Friends and relatives in Canada who are concerned about Canadian citizens known to be in the affected area should contact Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling 1-800-387-3124 (toll-free) or 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted) or sending an email to sos@international.gc.ca.”