Thursday, September 14, 2006

Liberal Strategy

I'd like to see the development of a strategy to portray the Harper government for what it is: inexperienced and incompetent. There is a strong, strong case to be made for this view. The Harperites are campaigning every day, portraying themselves as a competent government, and we should be working to paint our own picture. We need to attack and attack hard to start taking control of the political context in preparation for the next election, which may be very soon.

Even where Harper is trying (or claims to be trying) to do good things, he is unable to produce effective policy. Let's examine the record on achieving Harper's stated goals, as listed on the Government of Canada web site:

Lower Taxes
Child Care
Health Care

I'm no expert, but here are some off-the-top-of-my-head suggestions on things we should be saying about Harper's five goals.

1. Accountability
Harper has a terrible record on accountability. He dodged the Ethics Commissioner after buying a Liberal MP with a cabinet commission the day after the election. His proposed Accountability Act is open to all kinds of criticism, showing Harper to be naive and reactionary. He's using important policy to take cheap shots at his opponents (I'm thinking of his attempt to impose a $1000 limit this year). His deputy Prime Minister made a written promise not to merge the party and then almost immediately merged the party.

2. Lower Taxes
I am not a low-tax advocate, but I agree with lowering the GST. However, Harper has actually raised taxes since he took office. His inexperience is costing Canadians money after the brilliant economic stewardship of a decade-plus of Liberal governance.

For example:
Thanks to the Conservative’s new tax plan, the basic personal amount that all Canadians earn tax-free decreased from $9,039 to $8,639 putting 200,000 low-income Canadians back on the tax rolls. At the same time the lowest income tax rate was hiked from 15 per cent to 15.5 per cent. ...To make matters worse, experts predict that the GST reduction will only amount to a savings of about $26 per year for Canadians in the lowest income tax bracket – a mere fraction, by the way, of the savings that will be enjoyed by wealthy Canadians. The Conservative government has implemented a tax policy that literally robs from the poor to pay the rich. ~ Politics Canada Editorial

3. Crime
Note that Harper's stated goal is not to "reduce crime"... and he's not. He wants to build more prisons and put more youth in jail. His goal is retribution, not pragmatic crime reduction. His approach is costly of tax-payer's money and young people's lives.

4. Child Care
Harper's inability to get beyond his right wing ideology results in bad policy. This isn't child care. This is a handout. It could be done efficiently through tax rebates, but instead there's an expensive program to mail millions of cheques a month. The approach to child care is inefficient and ineffective. It's also smoke-and-mirrors, because he reduced money to parents while he created this new program.

5. Health Care
Has Harper even done anything about this promise (other than talk, talk, talk)?


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