Mr. Harper needs to show them that he's still a conservative by pushing some non-budgetary initiatives in the House of Commons. He could start, for example, with the criminal-justice measures from the party's platform in the 2008 election. Why not make these a matter of confidence and run them straight at the Liberals? Will Mr. Ignatieff force an election on behalf of criminals? I don't think so.And the Tom Flanagan quoted on Friday:
Political scientist Tom Flanagan, a former Harper chief of staff, said the Tories would be well advised to refrain from attack ads against Ignatieff any time soon. Such ads would be jarringly inconsistent with the conciliatory tone Harper has adopted of late to get Liberal approval for the budget.So which is it, Mr. Flanagan? Strong-arm Steve or sweater vest Steve? Not seeing the steadiness here.
Flanagan noted that Harper alternated last fall between conciliation and trying to "slit the throat" of opposition parties and he vacillated over the seriousness of the recession and the probability of running deficits. After so many mood swings, Flanagan said Harper needs to "rehabilitate himself."
"There's just been so many shifts in the last few months that Harper's got to re-establish some kind of reputation for steadiness. I think a Conservative ad campaign against Ignatieff right now would kind of work against that."(emphasis added)
Remarkable that he thinks the country is in the mood for continued threats from Harper in parliament. With those polls suggesting Canadians blame Harper for the political turmoil in the late fall "when he should have been focusing on the economy" and the ones that suggest Harper's negatives are quite strong, this is perhaps not the best advice. Threatening elections, again, over legislation that's not typically a confidence measure is not going to play well with the Canadian public that's obsessed with jobs, pay cheques, mortgages, child care costs, etc., etc., etc. I hear the Senate reform's a comin' too, another timely policy for the nation at the moment. After all, Senate reform is all Canadians are talking about at the water coolers these days. I don't think they're getting that this parliament is not the same as the last one.
Raising the prospect of a confidence vote on their criminal justice matters is just one aspect of what Flanagan's dishing out today. Distraction and games, the same winning qualities that have led the Harper gang to such tremendous success to date.
Update (3:15 p.m.): It took you just over five hours Jurist, you're slipping...:)