Harper has a strong history as a fiscal conservative; and, to be fair, his government has made many good fiscally conservative decisions. To name a few: reduced business taxes, a lower GST, tax-free savings accounts, the new Employment Insurance tribunal and the partial privatization of Atomic Energy Commission Ltd. On the other hand, even before the recent budget, spending had been growing at unsustainable rates — more than twice the rate of inflation and population growth combined. The recent federal budget ushered in the largest deficit in history, new and increased spending on regional development programs and a massive increase in corporate welfare.They may have the roots, but they don't have the guts. If only they had the courage to defend their policies during the last campaign, instead of backtracking on arts funding, tax subsidies for porn movies and other fiscally Conservative initiatives... But Harper and his team chose to stick to their dream of attracting left-leaning voters (especially in Quebec) - and they ended up losing more than 160,000 votes as result.
Harper is not the only fiscal-conservative backtracker: The current government caucus contains many MPs who were once elected representatives or staff members of parties with strong fiscally conservative stances, including Reformers and former Harrisites. The Harper caucus has 143 Members of Parliament. Of those, 18 were elected Reform party MPs in 1993 and 1997, four were Reform party staff members, three were Cabinet ministers in the Mike Harris government and one is a former president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
These 26 MPs hold a great deal of power in the Harper government — they include Harper himself, seven Cabinet ministers, the government House leader, one minister of state, three parliamentary secretaries and the chairman of the standing committee on finance. As well, many of the key roles in the Prime Minister's Office are occupied by former Reform party or Harris staff, including the chief of staff, principal secretary, director of communication, deputy chief of staff, press secretary, director of policy and director of issues management. Clearly, the Prime Minister and his staff have the needed bench strength to get back to their balanced-budget roots. But they haven't.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Kevin Gaudet tries to find an answer to that question in his National Post article: