Sunday, May 29, 2005

Piling on Stephen Harper

In the past couple of weeks, there seems to be a lot of criticism of Stephen Harper by the Canadian media. Most of these stories go on about how 'angry' or 'scary' he appears. Other reports have 'unnamed sources' in the party criticizing his leadership, how he forced Belinda Stronach to cross over, and what not.

All this criticism is typical of the media, and unfounded. Ten years ago, I can recall how the media criticized Mike Harris' 'meanness' and his 'diviseness', and how he should be more 'inclusive' or 'moderate' his stances. In the U.S. the media fawns over John McCain's as a 'moderate' or 'maverick'. In McCain's case, they fawn over him whenever he tramples over conservative principles or sticks it to his party. To the press, the only way for a conservative to get acclaim is to be a liberal, like Joe Clark or Bob Stanfield. Don't be an alternative to the Liberal, be like them: embrace the welfare state, embrace same sex marriage, embrace the Liberal platform and we'll love you. Well, until there is an election and then they'll still attack you for being 'scary' and 'extreme'.

It is the same story with Harper. He can't win for trying. He expresses his disgust for the Liberals for their sleaze and willingness shred tradition and the law to cling onto power, and he gets criticized for being 'angry'. He let Belinda Stronach walk to the Grits, because she was a disruptive cancer in caucus, and he gets criticized for not being 'inclusive'. The press manages to find people who will, off the record, find fault with Harper's leadership.

Alas, all of this is nonsense. The media's offensive on Harper is part their inherent bias, and part a need to sensationalize to sell papers. Harper's accomplishments dispel this: as leader of the Canadian Alliance, he was instrumental in forging the merger with the Progressive Conservatives, he was elected leader of the merged party under a system that was beneficial to the former PCs, and he has managed to keep a unified caucus on message. These matters in and of themselves indicate that he is not a 'divisive' figure. The 'angry' bit doesn't hold water either: it didn't for Mike Harris, and it won't for Harper. When there is an actual election, and people have to actually focus on the choices they have, Harper's perceived 'anger' by the media will not be a significant issue. Finally, what is so 'scary' about the conservative's agenda. Frankly it is not conservative enough. What makes the issue stick is the lack of a detailed party platform. It is the ambiguity of the CPC's platform that is inviting this criticism.

I believe that a key portion of this platform should be a program on eliminating the opportunities for an Adscam to happen again - by eliminating vague government handouts like the sponsorship program and other invitations for graft like regional development, the gun registry and other like programs. It should be a real alternative to the Liberals policy wise - much like the common sense revolution. The entire summer should be spent on the road at any and every event - telling the public without the media liberal filter, how a conservative government would be truly different.

I hope this is the game plan if they cannot force a summer election, but the last thing that is needed is for the CPC to become the 'stupid' party again and start listening to the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and the CBC again.

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