When rumours flew that two of Canada’s most beloved (no, unbeloved — that’s better) political leaders might be about to dance out the door into whatever gold-plated retirement schemes they’ve managed to finagle for themselves, the country’s and this province’s citizens were bound to have some mixed feelings.
Shall we shed tears for Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they might possibly be realizing that they and their policies have become so unpopular that they could have trouble even getting members of their extended families to vote for them? And that nothing short of a miracle engineered by some all-powerful Conservative deity or a declaration of martial law will keep them in office come next election-time?
Perhaps not. We can let them
cry for themselves, but maybe we should nevertheless consider all the good things they’ve done while in power.
Let’s start with Harper, since he’s been there the longest.
OK, well, there’s the … no, there wasn’t that. OK, it was … no, it wasn’t that either. Let’s see, there must be something. Yes, right: the deficit. Harper’s such a good financial manager he eliminated the federal government’s huge budget deficit — no, wait, that was the prime minister before him. Harper inherited a surplus and turned it into a big hole — but he promises to fill it in the future, so at least he admits it’s a bad thing he’s done. He gets half a point for that.
He doesn’t admit it? OK, take the half point away.
What’s next? The national economy? Well, a national economy has improved because of Harper — just not Canada’s. How about Canada’s international reputation? We sure have one now, but not a good one. In fact, Canada has become one of the least regarded countries in the world. That might be considered an achievement in some circles — just don’t know which ones.
Harper loves Canada’s military history, so for sure our armed forces must be stronger. No? I see: they’ve never been so starved for support and there’s a suicide epidemic among discarded soldiers. That’s not good.
Environmental protection? Soon he’ll eliminate the expense because there’ll be nothing left to protect. That doesn’t really count. A strengthened democracy? Can’t even joke about that. A reformed Senate? That’s a joke in itself. Let’s see … oh yeah, he’s tough on crime. That's a point in his favour, since there are more petty non-violent criminals crammed into fewer prisons than ever before. On second thought, maybe that’s not a plus.
Let’s get back to Harper after a look at Dunderdale.
Let’s see, she’s … I know, she’s the first female premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. With that under her belt, she must have built on her success — something like … of course, like the obvious: she found a better use for money than wasting it on health, child care, education, justice, libraries and ferries. Now the dollars are being properly spent by the millions every day on a huge megaproject that benefits … let’s see, it must benefit someone. Oh yes: a huge scandal-ridden Quebec-based corporation. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?
Dunderdale was going to make her government open and accountable. Maybe she still plans that after she finishes making it the most secretive. The fishery? The environment? The economy? The chance for truly clean energy? All in tatters. Historical resources? They’re history. Tourism? The ads look good, but they don’t reflect reality.
I’ve got it: the province has never been more united — united against Dunderdale. I guess that doesn’t really count. Wait … give me a minute; give me two minutes … sorry, I’ve got nothing.
Let’s go back to Harper. Still nothing. Dunderdale … again, nothing.
To return to the main point: Canadians, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians really do have mixed feelings about these two politicians leaving office before their next elections. On the one hand, the sooner they’re gone, the better, since the longer they remain, the more harm they’ll do to the country and the province. On the other hand, their replacements will keep doing the same damage, so Harper’s and Dunderdale’s early resignations won’t help.
So, here’s hoping they fight one last election each. That way, at least, voters will get the pleasure of tossing them out onto their asses.
Michael Johansen is a writer
living in Labrador.