On Monday, the longest campaign in modern history will come to a close and if current polls are any indication, Canada may be seeing a change in government after 9 years of Conservative rule under the leadership of Stephen Harper. Accountability was his calling card in 2006 and today, accountability may very well be one of the defining reasons for his departure.
In its length, in its cost and in its debate schedule, this election is unusual. The first and possibly only real debate of the campaign ended and here are the highlights of what happened.
Smiles for the cameras. Tight Conservative polos made just for the occasion. That’s right, it’s that time of year again. It’s “Christmas in July” – where the Conservatives read your ecstatic tweets about the extra bundles of cash you just received if you are part of a happy family with children. Retroactive to January, the $3 billion payout will mean the first bundle of cash will be big: six months of $160 per kid under 6 and an extra $60 if the kid is between 7 and 17 years old. The taxpayer funded ad campaign says it all, parents with children under 6 will receive nearly $2,000 per year per child and if the child is older than 7, that amount will be $720 per year per child. Everyone should rejoice, Harper’s Conservatives have pulled off a miracle for Canadian families and everyone will benefit from their improved Universal Child Care Benefit. Wait a minute. Cut the cameras, take off the polo and rewind the tape. Does that sound a bit rosy to you?
A disgraceful attempt to attack Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau yet again shows the questionable judgement of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. Controversial Bill C-51 has now become law and gives CSIS new powers to spy on individual Canadians and revoke terrorist propaganda. However, the Conservatives have decided in a pre-electoral ad to use ISIS propaganda as a backdrop to smear Trudeau.
On January 24, 2006, Stephen Harper won his first mandate on the promise of making Ottawa accountable. Nine years and countless scandals later, accountability is back in the spotlight and the tables have turned.
With an election just months away, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided to abandon the traditional all-broadcasters debate hosted by the nation’s major broadcasters and for the first time will be streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The Liberals, NDP, Green Party and Bloc Quebecois have all agreed to participate but the Conservatives refuse to even negotiate.
Conservative Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivered his first surplus budget to paint a rosy picture for the upcoming election. With a $1.4 billion surplus this year, and steadily growing over the next four, there is now room for new spending programs – or so it seems. The Conservatives have managed to create a budgetary illusion and with balanced budget legislation to take place in addition, it is time we look closer at the numbers. The surplus looks great on paper, but just how great is it?
With oil prices in free fall and oil companies scaling back production and a recession looking more and more imminent, the rosy $1.9 billion surplus the Conservatives wanted to campaign on has vanished and is now projected become a $2.3 billion deficit.
The new year will be an election year, that may oddly enough, mirror the past. Prime Minister Stephen Harper can only look back to the glory days in 2006 as he fights for his political life after throwing his Reform principles under the bus upon creating the new Conservative Party that will have been in power for nine years come May.