Monday, June 11, 2007

Dare to be stupid: Stephen Harper edition

Only someone as self-absorbed and sure of himself as Vanity Smurf * -- um, Stephen Harper -- would actually do what the Prime Minister did today; daring the Atlantic provinces to take him to court over breaking the Atlantic Accord.

Fine. I think the people "Down East" are going to take him up on the challenge. This was the same Stephen Harper after all who spoke about a mentality of defeatism in Acadia and The Rock while demanding Alberta build a "firewall" to ensure the Atlantic stayed poor. And now that he's in power he manages to tick off everybody including his home base. Mo' money may be money, but the question is whether it's sustainable funding.

There is a special case to be made for the Atlantic too because for decades industrial policy made the less affluent provinces the clients of Québec and Ontario and both exacted a very heavy price. They need that extra bump to become self-sufficient as the rest of Canada, because the oil and natural gas isn't going to last forever.

Harper's saying "it's my way or the highway" is not a way to govern Canada. Time and time again the voters have rewarded parties that broker the differences between the regions and craft policies that benefit the country as a whole -- and they get angry when their PM plays off one region against another. I'm not saying make it absolutely equal -- just bring the provinces up to the average.

Some will say the era of brokerage parties is past. I believe it may be back to the future. And Harper's stupidity demonstrated today may cost him big time because the courts -- funny as these things are -- might just rule against him and award the aggrieved provinces punitive damages; payable, naturally, by all Canadians. Based on today's events, Stéphane Dion may have well found his next campaign slogan: "Promises made, promises broken."

Just spare us that cheesy K-Tel-like commercial Joe Clark tried in 2000, though.

* I'm not implying anything about Harper's choice of lifestyle, by the way, because he's straight as they come. Vanity wasn't gay either, he was what we today call a metrosexual. And Harper does have good taste in fashion and hairstyle, I'll give him that. His choices of suits or hairdresser / astrologist, though, won't help him any in court.

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