Monday, April 04, 2011


Harper is out today re-introducing the gun registry debate. One can see the potential strategic logic, particularly in a targeted way. What I find striking, here we are well in this election campaign, and it seems the Conservative Party is essential BEREFT of ideas.

The big Conservative themes to date, the coalition, campaign financing and the gun registry. None of the issues are new, the lines are the same, it's tired, old, rehash and re-introduction. Again, not a statement on strategy, but more an indictment of a party clearly running on philosophical FUMES.

The only "new" pledges the Conservatives have made, the paltry commitments, revolve around the future, dependent on yet unforeseen events. In other word, we have a entire campaign which is offering nothing for today, either drawing on the past for inspiration or point to some nebulous future to curry favour.

People may remember that barely two years into their mandate, we heard whispers of Conservatives trying to come up with new policies, there was a intellectual defict that needed tending. At the time I was amazed, given 13 years in opposition and only having 5 election commitments on the books, seemed odd that the Conservatives were essentially SPENT on the policy front. As we sit here today, those early signs were more foreshadowing, because one is hard pressed to find many legislative successes after the initial wave of early legislation. In fact, there really hasn't been much going on in Ottawa, apart from re-introducing crime pieces or the occasional reaction to current events. With this backdrop in mind, we are seeing the culmination during this campaign, the Conservatives basically have nothing new to offer anyone.

The lack of policy underscores the need to run on fear, really no different than the bankrupt Martin government. The first days of a campaign is where you set the tone, so it's fair to say the Conservative policy department is THIN at best. On every score, we've already had protracted debate in this country, the gun registry has gone on for four elections, the coalition a national conversation, campaign finance, heard it all before. Maybe the early perception of "flat" was more to do with the geniune lack of excitement in rallying behind already plowed terrain. Sure, it might work politically, but it's hardly anything that captures people's imaginations. Scrambling for any type of forward vision, we get these bizarre commitments after the next election.

It totality, this might just be the oddest campaign in recent memory. The past and future are covered, the present, not so much. The whole presentation sharpens a focus toward a Conservative government which has really lost the rationale to govern, more about retaining power than offering a compelling reason to want it.


Dame said...

I remind you all how it was a constant "demand' From all sides Ignatieff has to show his ideas his plans his VISION... and we never heard of Harper's plan Harper's Vision ....
My thinking is are people REALLY stupid??/// or what???

Steve V said...

Harper never had a vision, even when he came to office, it was always a reaction to the Liberals.

sunsin said...

Oh Harper has a vision all right. It's just that if he went public with it, he'd be ridden out of town on a rail.

Tof KW said...

Harper's vision is attain as much power as possible, and then to dispatch the Liberal Party to the dustbin of history. Everything else is just minutia.

The ultimate plan is to leave Canada with 2 political choices, Conservative or NDP / left or right ...much like the UK, or more appropriately BC. Once the centrists are gone, the Conservatives would become the natural ruling party.

That is Harper's vision.

Dame said...

Andrew Coyne who plays the "ALLKNOW "PROFESSOR / and how I am soooo tired of him/ say we are going back to the seventiest??/ yes we are better in the seventies then in the fifties with Harper the Great Leader / Clapping now Harper harper harper harper .../

Kirk said...

If you search way back on these blog comments you'll see that I long ago concluded that Harper's greatest weakness is that he sees little role for the Federal govt and therefore has little to offer and is fundamentally at odds with his own role as PM.

However, only time will yet tell if this weakness can be taken advantage of by the Liberals.

And we may find that Canadians want little from their Federal govt which unfortunately would mean they want little from and for Canada (except perhaps for some slogans about how great we are without worrying about substance).

Steve V said...


That is what I mean, he finds most of his inspiration based on hatred towards the Liberals. Same goes for the supporters, who have all contradicted every single tenet they supposedly supported, all in the name of holding power against the Libs. It's quite remarkable to watch.

Steve V said...

"Harper's greatest weakness is that he sees little role for the Federal govt and therefore has little to offer and is fundamentally at odds with his own role as PM."

On this score, I would say the inability to hold on First Minister's Conference will go down as one of his biggest failures. Quebec has drifted further away during his reign, his lack of engagement, hands off approach hasn't eased tensions, it's created apathy.

Dana said...

"My thinking is are people REALLY stupid??/// or what???"

We have a winner, folks.

Jerry Prager said...

Harper's vision can be seen in the actions of Republican governors in the US, removing the right to collective bargain, defunding public service and teachers, transferring wealth to the wealthy multi-millions to the Consortium as he did during the Action Plan Media Scam, stall Climate Change acknowledgement until all the arable land and water have been privatized,and build prisons for when global warming starts to take effect to house poor people rioting over the enclosure of the commonwealth.

Scott in Montreal said...

@Jerry Prager - you've nailed it. Meanwhile, i am curious why we haven't heard anything about the tuff on crime agenda - I thought that was their go-to message. Or perhaps they're saving that til later in the campaign.

ottlib said...

In fairness Steve the Conservative Party did not have 13 years to come up with new policies because it had not existed for 13 years prior to the 2006 election.

It has not had a policy conference in years either because the party brass fears all of the crackpots and tea partiers in the party would reveal the Party for what it is.

The whole thing was created just to beat the Liberals not to do anything really constructive. So far, they have had some success, although I would argue that they have not really beaten the Liberals and much as the Liberals have beaten themselves.

So, it is no surprise that they seem bereft of ideas because they did not have any to begin with. As well, the idea that they might have a hidden agenda probably has some merit, However, if this party ever did achieve majority government status I would imagine there would be a rather nasty internal conflict between those who would want to follow their baser instincts and those who would want to be more moderate so that they could win another election.