Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is It Time For Harper's Obituary Yet?

I'm certain this isn't the script Harper was planning to follow. Narrowly missing a majority then watching the opposition rally behind a new and stronger leader, one who has pulled the Liberals even with the Tories in the polls. His inner circle shrinking, with the departure of of a senior advisor and a campaign strategist...with speculation that more will soon follow. Some are even contemplating Harper's own exit, perhaps seeing him go back to the only coalition he likes, the NCC.

Ignatieff has thoroughly outplayed his more experienced political rival in his short time as leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition. The Liberal leader can now sit back and watch Harper take the blame as the economy worsens and the stimulus package proves ineffective. In fairness to the Tories, no amount of spending was going to forestall the economic hard times we've been experiencing, and will continue to experience for the foreseeable future.

While it's unfair to blame Harper for the global economic slide, it is absolutely fair to take the Prime Minister and his government to task for the manner in which they've handled it. November's economic statement was nothing short of a joke, an attempt to portray the nation's finances as balanced in case of a vote of non-confidence and an ensuing election. Dion may have been a weak and ineffective leader, but he put Harper back on his heels by signing a coalition agreement with the NDP and getting the Bloc to support it.
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With time no longer on their side Harper and Flaherty had to finally come clean on the state of Canada's finances, and the picture isn't pretty. The budget they presented in response was every bit as ugly as the country's fiscal prospects. With each passing day more and more flags are being raised, even Harper's appointed watchdog has chimed in on the budget's many failings.

At a time when our national treasury is going to be bleeding red ink, those who are lucky enough to remain employed are getting tax breaks. The rationale being that the money saved in taxes will be spent and spur economic activity. News flash, in a recession...people tend to hang on to their cash. That's something the Tories should have considered when our economy was still growing, before piddly little cuts to the GST cut billions from Ottawa's coffers. Billions that could be sorely used now.

It might seem premature to be contemplating Harper's exit from public life. I'm sure there are die hard Tories at work, plowing their way through Iggy's background hoping to find some mud to fling, and hoping in vain that something might stick. Maybe they'll stumble upon a Jeremiah Wright association? Perhaps they can get "Joe The Plumber" to take out citizenship and ambush Iggy during a town hall meeting?

At least the home renovation rebate program will provide Messieurs Harper and Flaherty with some solace. They can install new toilets in their private residences, and when the time comes to contemplate their time at Canada's helm, they can flush for a symbolic pictorial of their political careers in Ottawa.

The Great Depression of the 30's gave rise to the Bennett Buggy, a car pulled by a horse and named in honour of Conservative PM Richard Bennett. Years from now many of us may be sitting on what will be referred to as the Harper Crapper.

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