The end of the year is an ideal time to take a look at how you’ve done in various areas of your life and where there’s room for improvement. Unfortunately, in the case of our government, I’m sure Stephen Harper puts his fingers in his ears whenever he’s reminded of his performance so that leaves it up to others to give him his year end performance review on the major issues facing Canadians. For a guy who’s campaign slogan was “Harper Leadership” (a slogan that has conveniently been banished from the website since the election), his record sure doesn’t seem to be one of a “leader”. On issue after issue, he’s content to be at the back of the pack and only doing anything positive when he’s forced to. It’s why I’m not optimistic he can really change for the better and why Canada would be better off with him gone. But on to the review…
On the Economy
- While Dion and the Liberals proposed economic solutions to get our economy rolling again in the last election, Harper offers no plan and said basically only "don't worry, be happy" when more and more experts were saying Canada had serious troubles ahead that need to be tackled. Harper STOLE the Liberals plan after realizing he was LAST to the party in realizing the economic crisis Canada faced.
- While every other western nation has put forward massive stimulus packages and are acting NOW to help their economies, Stephen Harper’s only response was to try to crush his opponents and pander to his base and then shut down Parliament for seven weeks. Stephen Harper is content to be the LAST western nation to bring in real solutions for the economic crisis.
On the Environment
- While every other western nation is focused on greening their economies and meaningfully tackling climate change, Stephen Harper has his head in the sand and prefers to obstruct than help tackle the problem. Stephen Harper is content to see Canada have the WORST record in the Western world on the environment.
On Early Learning and Child Care
- While other countries invest in early learning and child care and realize how conducive such investments are to a strong economy, Stephen Harper is content to literally have Canada be ranked DEAD LAST on our approach to this issue.
On Ethical Investigations
- When the more shady aspects of the Mulroney-Shreiber affair came to light, Harper railed against holding any real investigation before caving (but of course showed real leadership by stalling the inquiry until after the election). Stephen Harper only acted when outside voices were UNANIMOUS that he HAD TO. Hopefully he’ll be pushed in to doing the same for the In and Out and Cadman scandals.
On Foreign Affairs
- Maxime Bernier had to make a dozen mistakes before HE resigned as Harper couldn’t even bring himself to fire him. Stephen Harper is content to have incompetent ministers representing us on the world stage.
- Canada used to be a respected voice on the world stage. Under Stephen Harper we've pulled out of the race for a UN Security Council seat because Harper has made it so it's a virtual certainty Portugal would beat us. Stephen Harper is content to have us seen as being a Bush-like pariah on the world stage.
On Aboriginal Issues
- While virtually every other nation supported the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indiginous Peoples, Canada was one of the few countries opposed. While all 10 Premiers supported the Kelowna Accords, Stephen Harper tore them up. While other countries and provinces take dramatic steps to improve the lives of Aboriginals, Stephen Harper is content to leave them at the back of his priorities.
On Food Safety
- While every independent voice has called for a public inquiry into the listeriosis outbreak, Harper still insists on a private closed door one and staunchly defends his incompetent and horribly insensitive Agriculture minister (even re-appointing him after the election). Stephen Harper is content to be LAST to the party on food safety.
On Health Care
- While other provinces tackle wait times Stephen Harper has forgotten about it entirely. He promised wait time guarantees for 5 procedures and settled for one out of 5 (with a different one in each jurisdiction). For Stephen Harper, accomplishing less than 20% of what you promised is considered a major accomplishment.
On Human Rights
- As Barack Obama is about to close Guantanamo Bay and EVERY OTHER western nation has repatriated their citizens who were interned there, Stephen Harper is content to be the LAST supporter of Guantanamo. While EVERY western country that officially opposes the death penalty advocates clemency for their citizens abroad, Canada is now the ONLY country that doesn’t. Stephen Harper is on pace to see Canada have the WORST record on human rights in the western world.
- While other countries invest in their culture industries to bolster their economies and promote their national identity Harper thought it wise to cut and censor them. Harper was eventually dragged to make an embarrassing reversal, but once again Harper was LAST to realize the importance of the cultural industry to our economy and identity.
On Gender Equality
- While other parties ran more female candidates, Harper ran less. To boot, Harper slashed funding for Status of Women Canada and weakened its mandate, his party passed resolutions removing gender equality as goal for the government, against pay equity and bring back Ken Epp’s “unborn victims of crime bill”. Harper had a chance to change course and instead brought in a fiscal update that attacks pay equity and then appointed an abysmal 4 out 18 women to the Senate in his history making patronage spree. While other countries make strides in moving towards gender equality, Harper is ALONE in having us move BACKWARD. Harper is dead LAST in his commitment to women’s issues and giving an equal voice and equal representation in the House of Commons and Senate.
- While an economic crisis ensues that could see poverty rise to historic levels and while our neighbour to the South is ensuring it does all it can to soften the blow for those hardest hit, the word poverty can’t even cross Stephen Harper’s mouth. Stephen Harper is content to be DEAD LAST in poverty reduction efforts.
On Plans for the Future
- While out campaigning for a majority, Stephen Harper had NO INTENTION of releasing a platform. He ONLY released one in the end when it became embarrassing for him not to. What he released has more photos than ideas and While running a campaign based on “leadership” Stephen Harper had (and in all likelihood has) NO REAL PLANS of his own to lead us into the future.
And that’s far from all the examples where Harper’s failed. We need real leadership from our government during the biggest economic crisis we’ve faced in decades and Harper has a huge mountain to climb to show he’s up to the times and deserves to govern in the year ahead.
We have to ask ourselves what kind of government do we want in 2009? One that leads from the front or from behind? We must demand much better of our government or it must go.
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