To look at the issues the Harper government is choosing, you’d think he had all the seats in the House of Commons, rather than a slim and slimming minority. Some examples:
- Same sex marriage: most Canadians think the law, Bill C-38 should stand. Stephen Harper wants to open it up for another vote.
- Environment: most Canadians want Canada to protect the environment. Stephen Harper would get around to doing something greenhouse gases in 50 years.
- Afghanistan: most Canadians want our troops home. Stephen Harper is contemplating extending the mission.
What is he up to?
After all, he has a minority government. He could be into an election as early as next spring.
The clue is probably in the Harper government’s program cuts announced in September.
Stephen Harper has cut or eliminated a number of government programs that, despite years of neglect at the hands of the Liberals have helped women, poor people, aboriginal people, lesbians and gays, and people with reading difficulties. Most Canadians support these programs’ goals, but to read the Conservative blogosphere, these programs are to blame for everything from the decline of Western Civilization to venereal disease.
Harper is pulling together his people for the upcoming election fight. Social conservatives who need a terrestrial sign that he’s doing their work, have had their prayers answered on Parliament Hill.
But what about the Income Trust about-face?
The current Tory party is an uneasy mix of wealth and socially conservative people of a variety of incomes. And while the Tory decision to reverse their stand and tax income trusts as if they were (because they are still) corporations no doubt rankled a segment of Tory support.
But look for Jim Flaherty’s Nov. 23 economic statement to do enough - possibly more than enough - to shore up the Tory’s support on Bay Street and in the Oil Patch.
And with the Tory’s two bases of support content, and given something to fight for, Harper will turn to face an election united against opposition parties who are not in election mode. It is time to prepare for the election call now.