Stephen Harper, the socialist of convenience

I read the other day a poll that says that about half of Canadians think Stephen Harper has a hidden agenda.

Well…I don’t know what his exactly his hidden agenda. No tax cuts, no sizable cuts in the size of the federal government  he is not a social conservative even through some people in his party is (but this is not a surprise at all as people of all parties have members who are pro-life). Even if it was good political branding at first, it’s ironic to see someone other than a social-democrat thinking of an Economic Action Plan (with the tacky and horrible advertising that comes with it) as a cornerstone of government policy.

The big problem with Stephen Harper’s government is the emphasis of micro-policy or designer policies. For example, giving multiple tax credits only add to the burden of the tax code. It’s not sustainable in any way in the long term. Also, I cannot see how Stephen Harper is reforming anything important, in fact his small «cuts» are minimal as compared to the expansion of the state in his first two mandates between 2006 and 2011. Another example, instead of having a bold policy of reducing tariffs, across the board, the government is more interested in using tariffs as a quick way to raise taxes in a weird exercise of picking winners and losers in tariff policy. And what’s sad is that a real free trade policy will help the poorer Canadians the most, whatever in tariffs, in cell phone competition or in ending supply management.

The opposition in Canadian politics is also clueless. They are like the boy who cry wolf. In late 2008, they think the that government is not doing enough, while in 2013, they think the government is spending too much. The Liberals and the NDP both have difficulty having any policy who goes beyond quick fix populism. Except being «more transparent» or not «being Harper» none of their policies are really representative of reality or offer anything else of substance considering the current challenges. Nothing is easier than bashing Tony Clement’s gazebos or fake lake rather to talk about things which could affect the future of every Canadian.

Could we also stop having parties who think that their polices are all magically branded as evidence-based? Both the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens have some awfully bad policies in their platform like the Tories.

Take EI reforms. These reforms came from the idea that a social-democratic government had in Denmark. Ironic, no, to have the NDP being critical of these reforms while their Danish colleagues at Socialist International were those who invented the concept of flexicurity.

In conclusion, the next political hot potato will probably being the question of pensions considering that the system will explode sooner or later. This is indeed just like the massive amount of state and personal debt that each Canadian have based on easy money and low interest rates which seems to last forever. Of course, nobody wants to raise interest rates in fear of having a credit crisis. How wonderful indeed!

The good thing is that when the situation will explode, the colour or the ideology of the government in power will not matter, tough decisions will have to be made. Of course, it’s not a vote-getter talking about difficult and complicated things, whatever who’s in power and this will probably never change.

Like they say in French, plus ça change, plus c’est pareil.


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