Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hidden Agenda Or No Agenda?

I was listening to a couple of reporters yesterday, commenting on the lack of legislation currently on the table in Parliament. If you have a good memory, you may remember the same sentiment expressed last year. In fact, much of the talk then surrounded the need for the Conservatives to huddle and develop some fresh policies. There was such a lack of an agenda, that Parliament ended early, and the return was delayed until mid-October.

Here we are again, after a session which brought a scant slate of new initiatives, old ones working through the process. Conservatives brag about the "achievements", but really those were skimpy to begin with, hardly impressive to have a grand total of 5 priorities. Even less impressive, when you consider the need to scramble for new policies, once the initial agenda was introduced. It makes you wonder, what were these guys doing in oppostion for 13 years? One would think, there would be slew of ideas, finally taking power, finally able to pepper Parliament with policy. That never really happened, as every independent observer can atest, the cupboard largely bare after just one year, since then not so much.

The obvious excuse, the government wasn't supposed to last very long, history suggested another election. That argument should fall apart, when you consider elections bring with them new platforms, so if it was delayed, nothing to stop the Conservatives from moving forward.

I think the lack of policies is more a testament to a hard truth, this new Conservative Party is primarily an expression of what they reject, more interested in tearing down, than presented anything of substance. Most of the initial policy was simply a reaction to the Liberals, a counter, rather than a vision. Instead of a real agenda, it was more about undoing, negativity, than a alternate path. Sure, supporters can point to this and that, but apart from waving the flag, isn't it odd that after such a short period, there is the impression of spinning their wheels, again running out the clock, on a paltry agenda, just waiting for summer, and the prospects of another prolonged break.

I'm starting to think, the bigger story isn't worrying about the hidden agenda, but more a concern that there seems to be a lack of an agenda.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness!

Mushroom said...

The hidden agenda for today, May 8is what does Maxime Bernier know or should have known with regards to an ex-flame that had links to Quebec's underworld.

I can see Laureen wagging at Maxime privately about needing to be seen with "nice girls" in public.

North of 49 said...

It makes you wonder, what were these guys doing in oppostion for 13 years?

Thank you Steve V. !!!

I wondered exactly that back near the beginning of their term when they (a) lambasted the Liberals on environmental policy - THIRTEEN YEARS of doing NOTHING! (man, they were loud), and then (b) said they had to "consult" with industry about a new environmental policy...

I said "Wha-a-a-t?" WTF was stopping them from doing all that consulting while they were in Opposition? Why wait until they took government? Why not develop policy, details, bills, structure for Pete's sake, and hit the ground running?

Same thing with that campaign promise about the Accountability Act. It wasn't ready, in fact it SO wasn't ready they had to rush it into existence in such haste the Senate sent it back because it was chock-full of technical flaws that rendered it un-passable. Quoi?

I think you're right in saying that this Conservative incarnation is more about what they reject than in what they propose. It's almost as if policy is an afterthought: "We're going to make government more accountable, Yay! We won! Yay! Oh, we need to come up with a bill? Really, that's how it's done? Well okay, pass me that napkin and give me a pen."

I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise, given that Harper's a Straussian; he seems, ah, impatient with democratic processes, and doesn't seem to believe that either Canadians or their elected representatives should have any actual voice in how the country is run. Government by fiat and decree from a self-appointed elite class is so much more efficient, no? But there's all this pesky Parliamentary tradition and custom and rules in the way, so he's somewhat stymied.

I think you're right about the game plan, too: there should have been an election before now, and Harper's tea-leaves told him he'd have a majority to do with as he willed. It didn't happen; reality didn't cooperate. He's adrift, it seems, off course and trying to beat back onto his original line against the wind and tide, not realizing he'd better recalculate his vectors and bring the helm around right sharply if he wants to avoid running aground. Arr.

If that's so, then again it's no surprise his government is agenda-starved, since he is the government; he's seen to that. Since nothing moves without his say-so, and he's still obsessed with The Plan that ought to have worked, but didn't (oh why, God, why hast thou forsaken me?), then nothing happens, nothing gets done. Add to that the distractions caused by his tone-deafness and missteps (election expenses, for one), and I think we are witnessing a government that has lost the will to govern.

Soon, I hope, even its die-hardest supporters will begin to notice.

Steve V said...

"I wondered exactly that back near the beginning of their term when they (a) lambasted the Liberals on environmental policy - THIRTEEN YEARS of doing NOTHING! (man, they were loud), and then (b) said they had to "consult" with industry about a new environmental policy..."

North, we are on the same page here, I wondered the same. It was just amazing to hear the criticisms of the Liberals, when the Cons didn't even have a policy. I remember Ambrose saying she needed time to get up to speed, they had nothing, it was all developed post-election. The Bloc had a plan, the NDP had a plan, these guys had three sentences in their platform. About all they did the first year and half, cancel Liberal programs, then ultimately re-package them with eco in front of it.

The Liberals did nothing, but all that time, you didn't bother to come up with anything. How inspiring.