Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Harper despises the federal government

Listen to his own words, here:
"We will limit the federal spending powers that the Liberals have so badly abused. This exorbitant spending power has given rise to a domineering federalism, a paternalistic federalism, and is a serious threat to the future of our federation."
...

"Ottawa is rolling in tens of billions of dollars in surpluses that for the most part it has hidden for years, at the same time as provinces and municipalities are having trouble meeting the essential core services without going into debt," Mr. Harper said.

He added that Mr. Martin's Liberals do not even "admit the existence" of the fiscal imbalance.

"It's pretty hard to have a discussion and negotiation on the subject if you don't actually admit there is a problem," he told reporters after his speech. "We also have so many billions of dollars in Ottawa that we can mismanage, that Ottawa can mismanage everything and yet still have billions of dollars in surplus.
"Ottawa can mismanage everything" - quite a generalization! And "Ottawa" is rolling in billions that "for the most part it has hidden for years"...the contempt for "Ottawa" is so apparent here. The mean old feds are hiding money and mismanaging everything. How does he run for Prime Minister on such a negative sounding policy? He hasn't evolved into a national leader, he's still playing the role of a Westerner attacking the feds. That may play well out West, but it isn't going to help in Ontario or the Maritimes. I have no idea how this makes it any easier for him if he actually were to win and attempt to govern as PM. How does he act with any kind of authority when he's mocked the federal role so clearly?

Besides his own positioning, is his anti-federalism really what the country needs right now? The minority government we have seen to date demonstrates, if anything, the fractured nature of our country. I question whether empowering the provinces by downloading spending powers to them is a suitable answer for the times. The problems we have now are not fiscal, as far as I can see (beyond the Gomery mess), our economic indicators are pretty good compared to much of the Western world. So this "mismanagement" he's harping on is really a strange choice. Once again, Impolitical must ask: is he running for Auditor General?

Martin can crush Harper's line of argument by hammering home his own economic record much more clearly in the latter part of the campaign, beyond the national unity and U.S. rhetoric.

Speaking of Martin, and in the spirit of the holiday season...here's the gingerbread version: