Five Years Later

Stephen Harper was a proud Papa on Sunday, as he rattled off the accomplishments of his minority government from the last five years. Harper discussed the positives that Canada has experienced since it elected a Conservative government, and how much better off the country has been under his leadership. We were saved from the dark depths of Liberal rule, by the strong, charming, and handsome leader, who rode in on a blue horse from out west. Ok, not really. Rather, Harper toppled Martin’s government at the perfect moment when his party was ahead in the polls, and has skillfully maintained a minority government ever since. Nevertheless, Harper is right to boast his accomplishments, especially if his counterparts are set on forcing an election in the coming months.

Stephen Harper has scored almost every single political victory there is. He resurrected two dying political parties, merged them into one strong party and won its leadership. He then took down an incumbent government… an incumbent LIBERAL government, that is. He got reelected with an increase in seats a few years later, and has maintained a scandal free image. What more could a man want? Well for Harper, we all know what he wants, and it is likely that he, and his party, will not be satisfied until they get it. Say it with me now… MAJORITY. However, we have emerged from years of government where majorities were the norm. Between 1981 and 2003, we didn’t see any! Yet here we are in 2011, seven years after we last had a majority government. So maybe we need to readjust our thinking. Canada’s multiparty system is not conducive to providing parties with a majority of the seats in parliament. Therefore, minorities could very well be here to stay. Thus why not embrace them?

Harper has shown (much to his own dismay) that one can effectively govern with a minority, and accomplish a lot of what you wish to do. Now, we must acknowledge that it helps to have opposition parties not strong enough to truly stand in your way, as has been the case with the Liberals during these five years. But at the same time, the Conservatives have skillfully ducked and weaved when necessary to save their own skin. Most minority governments in Canada last less than two years. So far, each of Harper’s two minority parliaments has lasted longer than two years. His first was 2 years, 207 days, the second is currently at 2 years, 81 days.

To summarize, regardless of your own political orientations, there should be no doubt that Harper has shown himself to be a skilled politician and prime minister. That he has maintained power under these circumstances, for five years is something he can be proud of. He is the longest serving minority prime minister Canada has ever had, so if he never wins another election, his name will be in Canadian record books for something. Unfortunately, this is not what he wants to be remembered for. As many have pointed out, he has been forced to water down his agenda quite a bit, and has not been able to accomplish anything monumental or lasting. Sure he lowered our GST (which I personally am very grateful for), but there are other big ticket items he would like to be remembered for, which his minority government might not have the muscle to achieve.

What has been Harper’s biggest accomplishment in the past five years? His biggest failure? Do you think life would would be much different if the Liberals had remained in power?
Yes, sometimes Wikipedia can be useful!


About Chris James

A student of political science at a Canadian University sharing stories of interest on Canadian and American political and social issues.

Posted on January 24, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Harper is a good PM, but I think that is mostly because he is quite plain. Since he has as much personality as a sheet of cardboard, he does not ruffle nearly as many feathers a Trudeau or a Diefenbaker. I think that Harper has done well as a PM not because he is charismatic, motivating or inspirational, but rather because he keeps out of trouble. Nevertheless, good job to PM Harper. I think he has done a good job utilizing the tools he has to run the country.

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