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Harper Lays Some Policies Out
30/04/2005

Harper seems to be listening to recent criticisms that he has not been presenting a case for himself as Prime Minister, beyond "the Liberals have to go".

Via Andrew Coyne, I've found a Diane Francis interview with Harper in which he lists off democratic reforms he's interested in.

Here's the list, with my comments on some in italics:

  • An elected Senate -- Unless he wins a constitutional amendment (which we all know is very unlikely and would certainly be unpleasant), this will mean electing senators to fill new seats as they come up, and leaving the provincial allocations the same. Who is this going to please?
  • Elimination of gerrymandering and restoration of the principle of representation by population -- I haven't seen much evidence or complaints of gerrymandering in Canada. I wonder what he's referring to? As for rep-by-pop, I'm all for that. I'm sure his supporters would also be thrilled. If the seats were allocated by population, Ontario would have 119 instead of 106. The western four provinces would have 92, instead of the... er... 92 that they already have. The change would also concentrate votes in urban areas, which are currently under-represented. I'm sure the country can be united around a more-seats-for-Toronto policy!
  • A ban on non-confidence motions except on budgets or if campaign pledges are broken -- I suppose this is meant for minority governments, but it is very weird. First, it would eliminate some of the tactics that Harper is using now. More oddly, it would seem to elevate a minority government to near-majorty status. After all, the government would be able to introduce anything they had promised in the campaign and demand it be passed.
  • Ratification by Parliament of Supreme Court appointments
  • Elimination of the large number of discretionary patronage appointments
  • Parliamentary committee approval for appointments
  • Fixed terms for elections, unless there is a minority government -- It took me some time to get used to this idea, but now that we have it in Ontario, I like it.
  • New procurement policies that ensure arm's length transactions
  • A realignment of taxation powers so that the provinces can meet their spending responsibilities in health, education and welfare and not have to beg Ottawa for funds -- Translation: devolving tax points to the individual provinces. Love it or hate it, you have to admit this policy has winners and losers...

In the article, Harper also promises serious tax reductions and measures to "clean up the government" to prevent future scandals like the current one. He reiterates his civil unions position for same-sex relationships and says the Kyoto targets are unattainable. Oddly, he accuses Jack Layton of being a weasel who will bail out of his agreement with Paul Martin.

The Toronto Star also reports that Harper has affirmed his support of the Canada Health Act and the role of the federal government in medicare.


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