Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Few Thoughts on the Speech From The Throne

Yesterday evening, Canadians were subjected to El Presidente Prime Minister Stephen Harper's second Speech From The Throne.

Sadly, I wasn't able to listen to it in its entirety myself, so I'll rely a bit on capsule synopsis to hit on the big points.

Harper's bringing another one of his "five priorities" speeches forward - in other words, he's got five scripts prepared and that's it. This time the priorities he's got scripted are:

1. Tax Cuts
2. Afghanistan
3. "Law and Order"
4. Greenhouse Gas Reductions
5. Arctic Sovereignty

The only way that this government can do both tax cuts and some of its ambitious spending programs is on the backs of programs that benefit Canadians who are otherwise marginalized and disadvantaged. (Programs like those clobbered last year in the billion dollar spending cuts that were rammed through by executive fiat)

Extending Afghanistan at this point strikes me as both premature and silly. That Harper wants to do that now is no surprise. Nothing is better for this politician than bad policy rushed forward without consideration. With Afghanistan's deteriorating conditions (especially in Kandahar region), I'd be very cautious about the odds of any productive effort happening to stabilize that region. (and if things in Northern Iraq heat up, it's almost guaranteed to get more unstable yet)

The "Law and Order" legislation is crap. Period. Every one of the Harper government's attempts to "get tough on crime" has violated some very fundamental tenets of our legal system. Those laws failed to complete their journey through parliament because of bad design. The "omnibus bill" he's slated to introduce will be a repackaging of the same crap he tried to impose last fall. I do notice that he's whining that the bills "did not pass", while it was his own decision to prorogue parliament that did them in.

Harper's track record in matters such as the environment is to produce more hot air and delay actual action by decades. Hardly what I'd call "effective government" at the moment, and his stance on Arctic sovereignty is rooted in cold-war era thinking. The approach he's advocating is monumentally expensive in both short and long term costs and will not produce the results that Canada needs. (Unlike Harper, I don't believe that sovereignty is necessarily bolstered by creating a military presence in the Arctic - nor do I believe that a muscle-bound approach is going to win in today's world)

... more later as I have time to think about this infernal speech further and we start to see how the opposition parties are going to respond.

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