Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Quick Recap

The Conservatives have now been in power long enough for us to get a good sense of their direction. According to the polls, the Conservatives appear to be doing reasonably well, which I attribute more to effective propaganda than actual competence. A quick recap of the "big" issues reveals a disturbing pattern of misguided policy:

GST Cut:
The promised windfall for "the little guy" has been examined from all quarters and the general consensus is it falls far short of providing substantive tax relief, unless of course you are a high income earner or a large bank. Partisan spin? Interesting that the Conservatives are now giving consideration to a more comprehensive tax package in the budget, to offset the reality that a GST cut alone, without personal income tax relief translates into higher taxes. Apparently, according to just about any independent observer, the evil Liberals plan was actually more beneficial to most Canadians. Who knew? Harper will backtrack, in an effort to maintain his credibility as a true tax cutter.

The centerpiece legislation to bring in a new era of openness and transparency. Unfortunately the Conservatives reneged on the key election promise, that they would reform the Access to Information laws. That substantial flip flop aside, we now have the scathing report from Information Commissioner John Reid that reveals the mirage. If anyone thinks this is a partisan attack, this entry shows Reid's propensity for even-handed criticisms.

Maybe even more alarming, the apparent obsession with "message control" and limited media access, which is hardly a benefit to the ideal of transparency. Harper has essentially denied ordinary Canadians access to his government through his strict policies on how information is conveyed. Is this the grassroots approach that Harper ran on the past election?

The Conservatives made a big fuss about the $1200 dollar child care allowance, as though it was some revolutionary advancement. The mounting criticism, from all quarters shows that the superficial appeal of a check doesn't quite translate into real reform. As Canadians learn more about the Tory plan, and have an opportunity to compare and contrast with the existing Liberal initiative, the bloom quickly falls off the Conservative rose. Such is generally the case, with politically motivated policies that show no foresight.

Those are the "big five" issues addresses so far, with the other two to come shortly. I don't know how anyone can spin this government into an early success as they scramble to refine their core election platform for fear of looking foolish.


HearHere said...

I don't think there is any Big Bang theory to good government. It is doing a lot of things incrementally well ...just like in any well run organization.

Change comes in small steady steps with constant review and revision.

I would be most dismayed if any party proposed anything scrapping the GST all together, or scrapping free trade or creating a day care beurocracy which would cost $15 billion per year to live up to its "benefits as advertised.

Slow and steady...equals good policy, good government, incremental progress.

Steve V said...


" It is doing a lot of things incrementally well"

I would argue that the government is taking us backwards, as evidenced by the reaction to the Accountability Act, the childcare initiative and the scrapping of the Liberal tax cuts in favor of the GST reduction. So far, the government has done nothing "well", unless you think regression is actually disguised progress.