Memo to Kathy Dunderdale: Stephen Harper just isn’t that into you. Or anyone else, for that matter.
First and foremost, he’s into reshaping Canada to mirror his own particular ideology.
Thursday, Premier Kathy Dunderdale vented a little frustration with the federal government outside the House of Assembly.
“What is it that we have to do down here to get your attention?” Dunderdale asked. “We try to co-operate; it doesn’t work. We vote for you; it doesn’t work. We don’t vote for you; it doesn’t work. What is it?”
She said she was most frustrated with Defence Minister Peter MacKay — that may simply be to leave her a little political wiggle-room, because it sure sounds like her problems are with the federal government as a whole.
The outburst came after MacKay made clear in a written answer to a question in the House of Commons that the Harper government didn’t intend to keep its promise about an expanded role for the Goose Bay base and soldiers for St. John’s.
Sorry, but is anyone really surprised?
After all, the Harper government supposedly reports to the voters — and it apparently didn’t feel it necessary to mention drastic changes to employment insurance and Old Age Security to those voters during the election, either. It didn’t feel it necessary to mention that it already knew that the price for fighter aircraft it was quoting was false. It didn’t seem to feel it necessary to point out it planned to gut the coast guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or that it planned to carve away decades-worth of progressive environmental legislation to meet the needs of business.
So why would we in any way be surprised that the government would simply drop its commitments to this province — commitments, by the way, that were in the form of written promises signed by Stephen Harper and delivered to then-premier Danny Williams?
To be clear: the Harper government has its own agenda. That doesn’t include the needs of provinces or premiers. It has a majority government, and four years to do as it pleases.
And part of the problem, perhaps, is that this province’s government still needs one particular thing from the current federal government. The province desperately wants something promised by Stephen Harper during the last federal campaign: a federal loan guarantee for the Muskrat Falls project.
And the premier and her government don’t seem to see the writing on the wall: almost anyone who disagrees with this federal government sees their funding cut and their arguments ridiculed.
On Thursday, Dunderdale asked the rhetorical question, “What is it we have to do down here to get your attention?”
Like all rhetorical questions, there’s only one answer.
There’s nothing you can do. The Harper government has the majority it needs, and it has moved on. Maybe in four years, at campaign time, they’ll feel like taking your calls again.