I started writing this blog in December 2005, which coincidentally was during the federal election campaign that first brought Stephen Harper to 24 Sussex Drive.
That was a long time ago and after last night it would seem that a man who always seemed to be a master of political calculus made a final, serious miscalculation.
Even though buckets of ink have already been spilled and barrels more will be emptied in the days ahead writing his political obituary, I think it’s far too soon to evaluate his tenure. Part of the reason for that is that he was always a bit of a hard guy for the public to like and last night that caught up to him.
He ran a fiscally principled government in difficult economic times. He assembled a formidable front bench of cabinet ministers – like Flaherty, Baird, MacKay – and he kept a close watch on every major file and most of the minor ones.
He was criticized for not engaging directly with the provincial premiers, but politically that was astute frankly because the premiers would do nothing but ask for stuff that a) he probably couldn’t afford to give them and b) politically would be divisive and distracting.
Foreign policy and defence were steady but unremarkable even if Canada’s place on the world stage shrank. The record on the environment was lamentable. There were things like the Duffy/Wallin scandals and ham-fisted elimination of the long-form census and other small-ball irritants.
But overall, the Conservatives ran a decent government, albeit one far too distracted with politics and eliminating its enemies, who were often, frankly, doing the job for him.
To me, his terms seem utterly defined with crushing opponents – especially the Liberal party — and he almost succeeded and actually might have accomplished it if he had left office a year or so earlier.
But he didn’t, and the son of the man he loathed most as a young conservative moving up the ranks is the man who brought him down as a host of issues – C-51, ISIS, niqab debates (who even knew what a niqab was six months ago), the economy, subtle and not so subtle racist wedge issues, Duffy and more piled up into a formidable ball of hate. Continue reading