Friday, July 24, 2015

Ignore the shiny Senate distraction: It really is the economy, and Harper things you're stupid

The National Post's John Ivison makes a good living floating trial balloons and framing announcements on behalf of The Harper Government, so his offering Thursday night certainly got the attention of official Ottawa:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall are expected to appear together Friday to call for the abolition of the Senate, according to a source familiar with their plans.
Now, if you believe that Harper woke up and decided to get serious about the Senate after a decade of doing nothing to reform or get rid of it -- besides appointing a rogue's gallery of hacks, bagman and characters now answering to the justice system or under active investigation -- then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. And if you think, after a decade of avoiding the provincial premiers like he owes then child support, that he's going to jump into months/years of intensive federal/provincial negotiations, then I'll throw in the Empire State building.

No, Harper did not suddenly find religion on the Senate after a decade in power. What he found was these headlines as he gears up to run for reelection:



So what is a Prime Minister who has tied his re-election to his competent economic management do when his jury-rigged balanced budget turns into his ninth straight budget deficit? Well, after blaming Justin Trudeau, Tom Mulcair and Greece didn't work, distracting the media and the public with cheap populism on Senate reform.

Let's be clear: according to the Supreme Court, abolishing the Senate would require a constitutional amendment and the unanimous support of the provinces. Putting aside the fact that abolition is a bad idea, the last thing the Canada needs is for federal and provincial governments to spend the next two years focusing on the constitution instead of the economy. Canadians don't want Meech Lake Redux; last time, Meech birthed the Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois and got the ball rolling on another referendum in Quebec.

Canadians want economic opportunity, job prospects, and the chance to build a better life for their children, not a constitutional sideshow.

Once Harper and Wall throw a shiny red ball in front of Canadians Friday, both the NDP and the Conservatives will be on record offering Canadians years of distracting constitutional drama. And unless it involves all the first ministers living in the same house and a bachelorette giving them roses and kicking one out every week, Canadians don't have an appetite for that.

The truth is, the Harper Conservatives have no answers for Canadians on the economy, and their credibility for economic is in tatters.

Don't let Harper change the channel. Now, more than ever, it's the economy, stupid. And the Liberals have the opportunity to be the only major party offering Canadians what Harper once said he was all about: a laser focus on the economy. It's not about constitutional reform; it's about middle-class families.

Please don't wade into the constitutional muck, Liberals. Keep your eyes on the prize: it's the economy. It always has been.

UPDATE: The Conservatives apparently changed their minds sometime between Ivison's story and the scheduled announcement. Instead, Harper promised to appoint no (more) Senators. He promised the same in 2006, and then went on to appoint 56.

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1 comment:

Kirby Evans said...

I find this proposition of a Canadian political attention deficit disorder odd. The idea that a government can't pay attention to important issues of principle, whether constitutional or not, and also deal with issues such as the economy, seems to me to be either intentionally misleading or just plain silly. But political partisans and pundits continually repeat it as though it is gospel. I can deal with paying the mortgage, the emotional angst of my teenaged daughter, and the taking care of the lawn all at the same time! Imagine that. And just because Justin Trudeau tells me our country can't deal with more than one important issue at a time doesn't mean I believe him. The next government should deal with Electoral Reform, the economy, the Senate, and many other things because that is what they are therefore. I wish people would stop telling Canadians what they don't want or can't handle and have the courage to actually deal with issues head on. If people don't want to abolish the Senate that's fine. I tis a legitimate political position. But there are many people who do want it abolished and that is also a legitimate political position (even if the Liberals want to portray it as some kind of mental instability).