Mr. Harper Ends Two Months Of “Recalibrating”

Goodale Commentary: Two Months Of “Recalibrating”

Last December, Stephen Harper hated the questions being asked about his government’s cover-up of torture allegations in Afghanistan.

That’s because he had no answers – especially after Canada’s top soldier, General Natynchyk, bluntly contradicted Mr. Harper’s lame stories about what he knew and when he knew it. The heat was on!

So the Conservatives ran away. Acting like cowards, the Harper government ordered the Parliament of Canada to completely shut down – until March. This week, finally, the House of Commons is being allowed back to work.

We’ll soon see what, if anything, Mr. Harper has done with his extensive New Year’s vacation. He claimed he needed all that time from December to March to “recalibrate” – whatever that means – without the nuisance of being accountable in the meantime.

One key indicator will be the budget on March 4th. Here are four questions to measure its credibility:

One: Does it tackle the issues worrying average middle-income families? Household debt. Pension insecurity. New jobs for the 21st century. The high cost of higher learning. The personal “care” needs of children, the elderly and the disabled?

Two: Is it fair among all groups, regions and sectors? For example, are public servants singled out for particular abuse? What about church groups like Kairos? Do long-suffering beef and pork producers continue to get nothing?

Three: Is there a properly-anchored “fiscal framework” (no smoke-and-mirrors) that proves the government’s “commitment” to responsible behaviour is more than vacuous rhetoric? Remember this is the same Prime Minister who said, just a few months ago, there would be no recession and no deficit. He is not easily believable.

Four: Is there any attention to Canada’s biggest long-term problem, namely sluggish growth in economic productivity? How will this country become more innovative and competitive? Where’s the plan! That surely is something that needs recalibrating!

Ralph Goodale, M.P.

from John Prince
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