Monday, June 23, 2014

The Harper Government's Eight Years of Standing Up For Canada

I came across the Conservative Party of Canada's 2006 election platform: Standing Up For Canada. Stephen Harper is the first and only leader of this Party that was formed in 2003.

In the introduction, he outlines the CPC's priorities with a list of promises. Let's see how many he kept and how many had a positive impact on our lives.

1. Clean Up Government
Cleaning up government has become the rallying cry of many politicians and political parties, but few, if any, actually clean up anything. We all know that power can corrupt and the temptation of riches or personal "influence" can be seductive.

The list of Conservative scandals is long but what's interesting, is that even while they were flogging this platform, they were engaged in activity that would result in one of their most serious scandals, before their first term was up. The In and Out.

In the last days of the campaign, when an advertising blitz usually occurs, the CPC war room realized that they had already spent the allowable limit. So they came up with a scheme that would allow them to lay out more.

They tapped into candidates who had not reached their own spending caps, transferred large sums of money to their bank accounts, and then immediately took it out to use on national ad buys.

The media focused on the CPC going over their cap, but what they should have focused on, was who paid for it. We did. Individual candidates could claim the amount as their own expense, meaning that they would get 75% of it back, in the form of a rebate from Elections Canada.

$777,000 of the scheme was paid for by the Canadian public.

One Quebec candidate only raised about $1,500.00 and spent a bit less than that, yet received a rebate of almost $15,000.00

The Conservatives dragged this through court, adding to our financial burden, and eventually plead guilty; settling for a much smaller penalty than the actual proceeds from the scam.

In other words, they got away with it.

2. Implement Fixed Election Dates
In 2008, Stephen Harper broke his own fixed election date, dropping the writ a year early to shut down committees, investigating the "In and Out". The Opposition parties thought they had more time for candidate selection, while the CPC had already secretly put all of their candidates in place.

There is some talk that they may do this again, calling for an election perhaps in the Spring.

3. Cut the GST
They did keep their promise on this one, but unfortunately, it was the wrong promise to keep, and most economists agree. We have lost an enormous amount of revenue that could have been put toward healthcare, which is now on life support; infrastructure, etc.

4. Help Parents With Childcare
This one was added to their platform because we were finally going to get a National daycare plan and the Conservatives knew that it was something that most Canadians wanted. Instead they implemented the $100.00 per month Universal Tax Credit which only covers children under six and is taxable.

They created not one single daycare spot, despite also promising 100,000.

5. Cut Patient Wait Time For Medical Procedure
Another empty promise. According to The Canadian Wait Time Alliance's 2014 report card:
For the past two years the Wait Time Alliance (WTA) has reported a worrisome trend of little to no progress in reducing wait times for a range of necessary medical procedures in Canada.
They note that some provinces are making progress, with Ontario leading in the initiative, but clearly the Harper government has not kept its promise.

6. Crack Down on Crime
This promise was for their base, who see a bogeyman around every corner. However, Canada's crime rate was already at the lowest it's ever been and this government's new crime bills will cost Canadians billions of dollars.

7. Strengthen National Unity
The government's latest decision to go ahead with the Northern Gateway Pipeline, will create additional civil unrest, that has come to define our country in the past eight years. The unnecessary attack against a legal Coalition, arbitrary proroguing of Parliament when debates threaten the government and the enormous human rights violations during the G20 in Toronto, will be part of Stephen Harper's legacy.

8. Advance Our Interests on the World Stage
Canada's international reputation has taken a nose dive since Harper came to power in 2006.

Standing up for Canada? Really? I think I'd prefer it if they just sat down

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