Why Harper failed the conservative cause

Periodically there are changes of government. Canada is due for one soon. Prime Minister Harper has done a splendid job, for the most part; his large-scale  economic management has been among the best. I cannot recall a time since before Pearson when Canada was relatively as well off.

Canadian Prime Ministers so totally dominate the political life of the country that, whether they want to or not, they get under people’s skin. Our Prime Minister is charmless and there is something cold that radiates from him.

Apart from these purely personal criticisms, which I regret to make, my biggest beef is at the level of grand policy. Margaret Thatcher held that, above all, governments should not aim too low, that their ambitions should be to do something large.

It seems to me that Harper has failed by this criterion. By trying to lock down the government, and micro-managing the political agenda, he sought to do what he did best, but he never inspired anything but fear in his enemies. He did not inspire admiration by the largeness of his vision.The people die for want of vision, says the Book of Proverbs.

 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

His inability to engage our better natures, by appealing to the soft stuff inside us, his absence of rhetoric, his prosaic competence, his obsession with free trade agreements, has been unable to compensate us for a want of vision.  He has kept us out of all kinds of trouble, and we are less grateful than perhaps we ought to be. He has kept us out of trouble with Quebec by adhering strictly to the division of powers in the constitution.  He has kept us out of trouble by avoiding overly large promises to Canada’s native peoples, and has begun to insist on the accountability of Indian chiefs in the corrupt clientele politics of native reserves.

His stand on Islam has shown appropriate backbone, which we will miss very soon, as the Liberals continue to suck up to Islamic voters. By contrast the Tories represent the King and Country element in Canada, and Harper is true to that conservative vision of society, namely that culture goes much deeper than Liberals think it does.

But where Harper has failed, and failed completely, is his failure to articulate a coherent objection to the notions of  supremacy that emanate from the Supreme Court. He has failed to articulate a polite and respectful objection, based on ideas of British constitutional theory, as to why the views of the Court Party are mistaken and ill-advised.

Such an argument can be made, and ought to have been made. It was not at any time expressed in terms that could engage most Charter-loving Canadians in a view of the Constitution that challenged their view. The argument might have been presented that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a dangerous innovation, that it places too much power in courts, which are themselves by definition anti-democratic, and that it confines discussion to narrowly focused styles of argument where half the issue is always left out. Because your right to something causes there to be created a simultaneous obligation on the part of everyone else in society to observe that right. The Constitution is so constructed that a) courts define rights, and b) lawyers only may become definers of these rights, and c) the style of argument never balances your rights against the burden imposed on society to observe those rights.

The kinds of deliberations in which parliaments engage allow for a much longer, more general, bottom-up and distributed form of input from much larger masses of citizens and interest groups, than the paper procedures and style of argument that courts are equipped to hear.

I am arguing for the supremacy of parliaments because I argue for the styles of discussion, and openness of discussion, that a political process allows, and which is suppressed by lawyerly forms of discourse.

This, in my opinion, is the unanswered challenge, and in this regard the Conservative regime of Prime Minister Harper failed completely to undertake the necessary process of rational argument to advance the other, suppressed, side of the debate. It is the key issue for Canadian conservatism. In that regard, Stepehen Harper failed to challenge the Court party at the level of rational debate, when he could have done so, and ought to have done so, even if only to legitimize the notion among people of goof faith.

ward

How possibly can he have done that when Harper is largely dependent on the national media to get his message out, and that same media will willfully misconstrue whatever policy objective is outlined.

Grand Plan? How about Canada being and energy superpower? That is pretty damned grand to me.

To bad national media skewered that one on the bases of the fraud that is “Climate Change”.

When the Canadian Media Guild registered with elections Canada to campaign against the conservatives any pretense of their political affiliations were abandoned. They are simply the communications arm of the LPC.

bertie

EXACTLY RIGHT WARDSAYS,I would go further and say that 95% of the MSM should be on trial for treason.They have not in anyway reported on any of the good policies put out by the Conservatives,but would write pages of BS on what the Opposition parties tried to do to stop it.They kissed Mulcairs ass until they saw he was a loser in this election then they jumped on board the TURDEAU train.A man whose claim to fame is he is a drop out drama teacher.THIS is what the MSM fought tooth and nail to run our country.They are a group of very sick,disgusting reporters.You say PM Harper has done nothing,well i would say raising our trading partners around the world from 5 to 51 is some kind of achievement.How about Statesman of the year.How about making Canada best country in the world for 4 of the last 5 years.

Al in Cranbrook

As much as I agree that our courts have become activist havens and too often completely off base with their notions of “justice”…

Had Harper dared to tackle them, he would have been skewered from every direction…and he already was for the slightest hint of challenge to whatsherface.

Harper’s style has always been to fight the battles you can win, and not get distracted by those you cannot. It’s a sensible approach that the most successful politicians adhere to.

Alain

I agree that that and several other things could have been handled better by PM Harper, but both Ward and Al raise a valid point about how it has become just about impossible to get any positive message out to the people due to all the opposition parties which includes the MSM. Those of us who understand that and go to blogs for accurate information are not the majority. I still hope that tomorrow will not be a repeat of Alberta’s grave mistake of cutting off our nose to spite our face or change simply for the sake of change. Should that happen I am not sure our country can ever recover, just as is the case of the United States post Obama.

james

Sorry but you sound like a Trudeau voter. Grand plan? How about fulfilling every damn election promise which is exactly what was done. If you want flowery language and no action vote Liberal. Conservatism is not about a “grand plan”. It’s about a steady, predictable system of governance emphasizing low taxes and limited government. By and large Harper has delivered on that.

Dalwhinnie

You are quite correct in your views, James. And quite clearly Canadians have simply grown tired of boring predictable low tax government. Or, as I really think is the case, they have grown tired of a tired government that has failed to refresh itself with new people.

Mary

Barrel, I hope you are not smoking the soon to be legal marijuana because you certainly sound as though you are smoking it. Harper failed because he, like you and 90% of so-called cons, are a bunch of blinded progressive pussies who have been fooled by Harper’s eastern Canadian progressive rhetoric and mentality. His stand on Islam? Are you crazy? The Muslim population in Canada has DOUBLED under Harper and we have become a nation of politically correct apologists resulting in MASSIVE immigration that has been at record high numbers under Harper’s rule. We had two soldiers killed on our own soil last year and all Harper done was send 6 jets over to fight ISIL who is in the numbers of over a hundred thousand members and who has roots firmly planted right here in Canada. The economy? Seriously? We have the HIGHEST debt we ever had in Canadian history and we put all out bags in one “oil” basket. Harper has given money away like crazy to his “Nation of Quebec” and the Maritimes while cutting benefits to military veterans and senior citizens. Jesus Harold Christ Barrel prisoners in goddamn jails get better health care than seniors citizens who need dental and vision care. While on the subject of Islam and the economy: Omar Khadr and his terrorists family who all receive splendid health care, such as Omar big bro (Kareem) who was wounded fighting for al-Qaeda sitting in his state paid for wheelchair receiving full complete disability benefits. Read Ezra Levant’s book “The Enemy Within” if you don’t believe me. Tomorrow night will be a sad night indeed after clown Trudeau becomes PM but it will also be sadder because of clown progressives like you thinking that Harper was a great PM. Why Harper failed the conservative cause you ask? Well he never had a conservative cause to begin with and that’s why.

bertie

What a POS you are Mary.You GD Liberals have your son of Satan to worship again and don,t give a crap about Canada.You are the lowest of the low for wanting to destroy this great country because of a friggin head of hair and a smile.The man child is a friggin idiot and you worship him because WHY?

Cascadia

I’m not sure it’s appropriate to start a post mortem unless a death has occurred. So I’ll reserve most thoughts and comments until the votes are counted and we see exactly what the voters do.
As for what the history books will say about our current Prime Minister, I’m sure there will be those (e.g., the leftist “critical studies” school that dominate academe and clip off their pay from gullible parents and governments) who will find nothing went well and everything was done wrong. And I’m sure there will be some (e.g., business people, entrepreneurs, people who like to have jobs…) who will look at the low taxes, sound fiscal management and expanding trade deals, and think fondly of his government. But among Conservatives, conservatives, libertarians and “CINO’s”, there will be perhaps the most ferment — no doubt because some will wonder why “obvious” things weren’t done with a majority government (e.g,. selling the CBC to Quebecor and then watching the howls of anguish from the left as their favorite CBC “journalists” got canned and replaced by real journalists who understood what “fair and balanced” meant) and others will wonder why some things were done (e.g., certain gimmicky tax breaks for middle class families, like the sports tax credit, and community minded people, like the tax credit for volunteer fire brigades). But I would hope that all who consider themselves “conservatives”, whatever the stripe, would recognize that the achievements were far greater than were acknowledged at the time. Anyone who doubts that should read — for a start — the Financial Post article that Lawrence Solomon wrote: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/lawrence-solomon-on-harper-you-be-the-judge.

Dalwhinnie

I am in complete agreement with Lawrence Solomon’s evaluation. Unfortunately for Harper, man does not live by bread alone, but by dreams and high adventure. While I am skeptical of politicians seeking to get us to dream big, it also appears that I join most Canadians in being tired of a politician who has no interest appealing to the better angels of our nature, that part of us which dreams.
Are we deluded in seeking something more than free trade agreements out of our politics? Maybe, but a life without some poetry is dull indeed.
Ten years is enough, and most conservatives feel it. We will all troop to the ballot box and vote Conservative, but there will not be enough of us and the other Canadians will pull the trigger on this regime.
They will tire of Trudeau in the same way, but probably at a faster pace.

Ward

Dal: the time for dreaming will ideally be a few years down the road provided we can get another majority. What you seem to forget is that the Conservatives have only had one term as a majority and the media has sat with its finger on the proverbial trigger should Harper try to make any quick moves to the right

Frankly I don’t think it is the job of political leadership to be fanciful visionaries. Their job is to provide the opportunity for entrepranuers to excel. I don’t want a leader who tells me he is going to stop the seas from riding.

I want good non corrupt government

Stan

The party failed.
They never once challenged the media on their lies.
You can’t blame the public for believing the media lies when the CPC did nothing to confront those lies.
During the fake hunger strike, why didn’t they run ads pointing out the fact that she had more chins than a Chinese phone book?
Why didn’t they correct the CBC and show they had increased science funding by nine billion dollars?
Don’t blame the public, you can’t fight the media from the fetal position.

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