Volunteers for local candidates have been phoning around, trying to identify which voters will likely cast a ballot in their favour May 2, but I was taken by surprise when a call came from Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa.
“Will you consider supporting Stephen Harper?” a polite, pleasant voice asked.
“Sure, I’ll consider it,” I said truthfully, although the way things are going, such consideration will likely be measured in milliseconds.
Then, remembering my line of work and the vital requirement to be fair and objective on all issues and to all people, I asked, “Is this a poll, or are you just looking for input from citizens?”
It wasn’t a poll, she said. HQ wanted to find out what people’s concerns are.
“Well,” I said, “could you tell Stephen Harper to stop being so secretive, and to get Canadians out of the war in Libya.”
Those were merely the first two issues that came to mind. There were more.
But there were apparently millions of other citizens who had to be called.
“OK,” she said, obviously well instructed in tactfulness, “thank you for your time.”
There are so many other things I could have said.
The prime minister’s son, Ben, is in his early teens, and is probably pondering career choices, possibly with input and guidance from his father.
If he opts to be a pilot with the Canadian Forces, he might squeeze in a few missions over Libya. After all, if the experience in Afghanistan is an indicator, the violence in Libya could go on for years.
Then again, the PM likely shares the view held by most politicians, that wars are best fought by other people’s kids.
To the trough
This concern is minor, but it continues to irk me: Harper has always listed his profession as “economist,” even though he has only a master’s degree, not a PhD.
Also, regarding his work history, since 1981 the vast majority — there’s that word again! — of his paycheques have come courtesy of the people of Canada, otherwise known as taxpayers, the public purse, government spending, etc.
So, let’s get his viewpoint straight, hypocritical though it
is: government largesse directed toward social programs is, by definition, undesirable and wasteful, but government largesse into the Harper bank account is well spent.
Tory HQ may or may not have been able to clear up a suspicion that has lurked in my mind ever since Harper rose onto the public scene.
There is no way I’ll ever be able to prove it or verify it, but I suspect Harper was in my Political Science 380 class at the University of Calgary in 1981.
That obnoxious lout who sat at the back of the lecture hall and heckled anyone who dared to argue with the professor — a man virulently right wing even by U of C standards — and who laughed derisively whenever anyone (OK, me) voiced an opinion that was slightly liberal or leftish, but who never had the guts to actually participate in class debate, that guy, I suspect, was Stephen Harper, future activist with the Reform Party, head of the Canadian Alliance and, inexplicably and preposterously, leader of all Canadians and Newfoundlanders.
Another U of C political science professor wisely instructed his students that the first and most important question regarding public issues is, “Why?”
The incumbent PM says Canadians should give him a majority government. Why?
There are real benefits to having a minority government.
More Canadians, through their representatives in Parliament, can have input into national policies. The party in power can’t do whatever it wants or rule on a whim, but must give credence to requests and demands from opposing parties.
That’s why Harper wants a majority.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.