Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Tale of Two Harper's

Below is a comparison of Stephen Harper and his party’s election statements with their post-election ones on a range of issues. What we are seeing with each passing week is a Stephen Harper slowly reversing everything he said in the last election. Yet amazingly he seems to have reversed himself on so many fronts without having to openly admit he was wrong or mistaken in his original view. In some cases he had the wrong position in the election and a better one now and sometimes the opposite, but is it too much to ask that the media actually call him to task when he contradicts himself so quickly? That Harper be forced to own up to the mistakes he’s made? So here’s just a small number of examples…

Election Harper Conservative Positions

Post-Election Harper Conservative Positions

On Deficits

"Stephen Harper, who's vowed to avoid a deficit in any circumstances – without raising taxes – says he considers questions about how he'd therefore cut spending to avoid going into the red as the economy weakens 'a ridiculous hypothetical scenario.' " (Oct 11 2008)

"it would be misguided to commit to a balanced budget in the short term" (Throne Speech, Nov 19 2008)

[Canada – now faces] "the classic circumstances under which budgetary deficits are essential." (Nov 22 2008)

On the Seriousness of the Financial Crisis

"if we were going to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.” (Sept 15 2008)

"I think there's probably some great buying opportunities emerging in the stock market as the consequence of all this panic" (Oct 6 2008)

"The financial crisis has become an economic crisis, and the world is
entering an economic period unlike, and potentially as dangerous, as anything we have faced since 1929"
(Nov 21 2008)

"We may well be in a technical recession the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year" (Jim Flaherty, Nov 23 2008)

On Dion’s Proposed First Minister’s Conference

"Stephen Harper swiftly dismissed the proposals as a flurry of needless meetings" (Oct 1 2008)

“The prime minister called for the meeting the day after winning his second minority government on Oct. 14, adopting part of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's plan for dealing with the financial and economic crisis. During the election, Harper dismissed the Dion plan as an indication he was "panicking." (Nov 10 2008)

On Dion’s Proposed Accelerated Infrastructure Spending

"Leaders need to have a plan and not panic. You panicked, Stephane'' (Oct 1 2008)

"Stephen Harper said he's confident that billions of dollars in funding for big-ticket projects - such as roads, transit and sewers - will be accelerated in the next year." (Nov 10 2008)

On Dion’s Proposed Review of Canada’s Regulatory System

"It seems the Liberals are making it up as they go" (Oct 4 2008 - Conservative War Room mocking John McCallum saying that it would be due diligence to do such a review)

I have initiated, since the election campaign ended, a pretty comprehensive internal evaluation of Canada's own domestic systems of regulation in response to the international financial crisis” (Oct 30 2008)

On Afghanistan

"While there may be a few Canadian soldiers who stay on after 2011 as advisers, the bulk of the troops will be home by then, Harper said" (Sep 10 2008)

"We are in Afghanistan for the long term under a United Nations mandate for as long as we are needed and welcomed by the Afghan people." (Peter Mackay, Nov 21 2008)

Most of those were said by Stephen Harper himself (or his comments paraphrased by the media), but I’ve noted where it came from one of his Ministers or his War Room, but as we all know almost nothing comes from the party without his approval (bird poop incident notwithstanding). I’ll update this list over time as I discover new contradictions (please feel free to post more in the comments), or Harper unveils more for us.

There are surely many more (I hope the Liberals are keeping a running tab), but with it being not even a month and a half since the election what does this say about a man who reverses himself on so many fronts so quickly? How do his supporters defend this? Why should we believe anything Stephen Harper says in the future?

I wonder what Stephen Harper’s response would be if he were ever confronted with such a table. Thankfully for him the media have short memories and likely won’t call Harper on his all of these contradictions at any of his press conferences when they have the chance. It would be nice to be proved wrong on that count for once though.

UPDATE: BC'er also traces Harper’s “evolving” views on the deficit here.

UPDATE 2: More of the Harper government’s ever-changing views here, here, and here.

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