Skip to comments.Tories' time -- Harper's New Conservatives come long way in short period
Posted on 12/22/2004 2:50:20 AM PST by Clive
Harper's New Conservatives come long way in short period
By LICIA CORBELLA -- Calgary Sun
Time. It's not something Stephen Harper measures out in coffee spoons.
In fact, the leader of Canada's official opposition doesn't even wear a watch -- though that's more imposed than it is a choice.
Contact allergies to various metals make finding a watch that doesn't make him break out in a rash, difficult.
"My last watch kind of gave out and then Laureen and I bought matching gold watches in Europe and I had problems with that too so now it's my wife and my assistant who wear matching gold watches," he says with a laugh yesterday in the Conservative Party offices in downtown Calgary.
Not surprisingly then, as the minutes tick by Harper tends to take a longer view of time.
"Three years ago, I was in the Sun's offices talking about running for a party, (the Alliance) that was in the midst of a civil war that had two caucuses, that nobody thought could get together let alone go anywhere," recalls Harper, who will be spending Christmas with extended family at the couple's northwest Calgary home before jetting off to Maui for a week in early January with their children, Ben, 8 and Rachel, 5.
"Today I'm leading a united opposition that includes not just all the factions of that party but now two parties that have come together in a minority parliament where we're in, I think, a good position to win the next election.
"At this time last year, the new caucus had never met and now it's doing really well. It's united and I think the front bench is really taking shape."
Indeed, just 14 months ago, before Peter MacKay, then leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and Harper, leader of the Canadian Alliance, hammered out a deal to merge the two parties in Oct. 2003, pundits and politicos said such a marriage would never work.
Then, when it happened, they said the various factions within each party would devour one another. Then, when the newly formed Conservative Party was happier and more united than the in-fighting Liberals, the pundits said such unity doesn't matter anyway because the Paul Martin juggernaut -- also described as the Paul Martin steamroller -- would flatten all competition and win the largest majority ever "in a cakewalk."
The June election proved such projections wildly false. The once seemingly invincible Liberals won just 135 of Parliament's 308 seats with the Conservatives -- just months old -- pulling in 99. Prometheus Paul turned into Minority Martin and as Harper said maybe one of these days or months we'll get to see "if Mr. Martin actually has any idea why he wants to be Prime Minister."
As for the criticisms launched lately about Harper's low-key, understated approach as opposition leader, Harper shrugs.
"It's been an incredible year. When you look back, I think the Conservative Party in 2004 had the best year of any party in a single year, both politically and financially."
Harper says had he won even a minority government, senate reform would be under way, Atlantic Canada would have a new deal to keep more of its resource revenues, cities would have an infrastructure deal, he'd be pushing a tax-cut agenda and his party's positions on marijuana and marriage would look considerably different from the Liberal Party's agenda.
Nevertheless, Harper says the Conservatives are largely setting the agenda in Ottawa.
While Harper acknowledges that on the surface, Canada's federal fiscal books look better than most G-8 countries, he says the health care and infrastructure crises across the country prove the problem was simply transferred to other levels of government not to mention the overtaxed citizen.
What's more, the credit for the healthy fiscal picture belongs to conservatives, namely the former Conservative party's Free Trade Agreement that Martin and the Liberals opposed, as well as on the policies and strong economies built by Conservative Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and Ontario's former Conservative Premier Mike Harris.
"I think the longer people see Paul Martin and this government, the less they're going to want them," says Harper.
Time is Martin's enemy, and while Harper may be allergic to most watches, it's definitely on his side.
There are many who seem to question why Harper doesn't go for the jugular. I like that he isn't. Let the people see what a sham Martin and his liberals are ... let them hang themselves.
1. Ad Scam
2. Gay Marriage
3. Collapsing military
4. Gun registry
5. Carolyn Parrish
6. Mafia connections
7. Immigration scandals
8. Soft on terrorism
9. The Khadr fiasco
11. Crackdown on Public smoking
12. Budget surplus lies
It would seem to me they are eating themselves and the big implosion is imminent. No, Mr. Harper doesn't need to do much but sit back and wait for his opportunity. He will make a damn fine Prime Minister.
The Allince whitepaper on the military was certainly encouraging, the Tories would start construction on two light aircraft carriers.
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