Writing in the Guelph Mercury, William Christian must think he's an awfully clever fellow.
A former Political Science professor at both the University of Guelph and Mount Royal University, Williams has dropped his most recent grand revelation in the pages of the Mercury.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as it turns out, doesn't have a hidden agenda. Rather, his "hidden agenda" is rather open!
For rationally-thinking Canadians, this is no great revelation. The hidden agenda accusation was a canard employed by a Liberal Party that had no real answer for Harper or his policies. It was a fear-mongering tactic, pure and simple -- albeit one that worked until the Liberals finally pushed their luck to far between institutionalized corruption within their party apparatus and indifference to corruption within governmental apparaatus.
Christian clearly never clued into this little detail, seeing as how in the Harper government's cut to the GST, he seems to have found his answer:
No new social programs:
"Virtually no economists of stature supported cutting the goods and services tax from seven per cent to five per cent. However, the decline in tax revenues limits the government’s ability to introduce new social programs. The public resistance to the introduction of the harmonized sales tax in Ontario and British Columbia shows how difficult it would be to increase the GST."Of course, this was nothing Christian disovered on his own. After all, none other than Tom Flanagan suggested that Harper was "tightening the screws" on government by depriving it of the revenue it would need to institute new social programs.
But it gets even better than this. Christian even goes so far as to suggest that the government's economic stimulus program -- instituted upon the demand of the opposition -- is part of this same agenda:
"Second, as anyone who has drive around Guelph or Waterloo Region will know, the Harper government spent a massive amount of money stimulating the economy during the recession. They spent it on infrastructure. The federal government will run a deficit for the foreseeable future. The size of the deficit will prevent the introduction of new social welfare programs. The commitment to spend some sixteen billion dollars on the purchase and maintenance of new stealth fighters for the Canadian armed forces will further tie up money that a future, more welfare inclined, government will not have available."Last but not least, Christian suggests that even the decision to render the long-form census voluntary rather than mandatory -- something that is already a de facto state of affairs so long as Statistics Canada declines to pursue charges against Canadians who decline to fill out the long form -- is part of the same agenda:
"Once a future government has the money it will have great difficulty introducing new social programs. Pity poor Tony Clement, the federal industry minister. A bright and decent guy, though without the backbone to resign, he has to take the fall for the prime minister’s decision to cancel the long-form census. Without the details provided by the long-form census, future governments, both provincial and federal, will not have the information effectively to introduce social welfare programs.""No money, no information. Bye-bye, social planning," Christian concludes. "Maybe Harper’s agenda is becoming less hidden."
To which any Canadians who paid any modicum of attention to Canadian politics at any point over the past six years cannot help but respond to as such.
It all comes back to the earlier "well, duuuuuuuhhh" moment in Christian's column.
"As an economist, Harper believes in the limited role of the government in the economy," William writes very near to the beginning of the column. "This might account for the many apparently irrational steps he has taken since attaining office."
The Canadian left, in particular, should find this far left than shocking. Harper broadcasted his views on the size of Canada's social welfare state as early as 1997. It has, in fact, been the left's favourite Harper speech; the infamous "Northern European welfare state" speech.
The left has long delighted in treating the speech as an expression of hostility toward Canada. It was, indeed, a warning flag (something the far left naturally regards as hostile to their ideological agenda for the country).
In the speech, Harper outlines some of the consequences of devotion to the kind of social programs Christian so clearly cherishes:
"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States."In this speech, Harper makes his agenda rather clear: returning the role of economic management largely to the market, and a scaling back of existing social programs. Harper's agenda was never the implimentation of new social programs -- as William Christian very clearly desires.
Thus, the revelation that Harper intends to make it difficult for the state to increase in size by forcing any government that would like to increase the size of the state to make difficult decisions before they can.
That may be surprising, shocking and even frightening to someone dedicated to keeping the social footprint of the state as large as it can possibly be. It shouldn't be surprising or shocking to anyone who's paid attention to Harper and his politics.
As for frightening -- there's no sense in trying to talk sense to those whose psyches are saddled with an irrational and ideological fear.
All that can be done is for Canadian conservatives to wave politely at such individuals as they -- and their ideology -- are relegated to the history books.
Farewell, professor Christian. Next time, kindly save your "revelations".