Opinions
Gina Freeman

Mr. Harper, your pants are on fire

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Stephen Harper, you're a liar.

Harper is going back on his 2006 election promise to enforce fixed election dates, threatening to call an election by the end of the week.

If Harper makes the call-- a near certainty after asking Governor General Michaëlle Jean not to attend the Paralympics in Beijing and putting out election-like ads last Friday-- it will be the third election in four years. This is a significant figure, with each election costing tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Not only did he go back on his promise, as politicians are known to do, but Harper himself said he is expecting another minority government, leaving many to wonder what the point of an election will be. The Conservatives already have a mandate from the people to govern and if the election leaves parliament much the same as it currently exists-- as most observers are predicting-- it will only leave the Conservatives in the same place they were at before spending taxpayers dollars.

Polls have shown that Canadians have not changed their views since the last election. The latest Ipsos Reid poll showed the Conservatives and Liberals were virtually tied. Another Ipsos Reid poll shows that Canadians are becoming more in favour of an election, yet the number is still only at 40 per cent.

As well, Canadians have been critical of many of Harper's policies. His environmental policy is internationally embarrassing, his tight grip on MPs speaking out has drawn criticism from journalists across the board and his economic policies are wanting. Harper has said Canada needs a strong government that can perform in a time of economic uncertainty, but the Conservatives haven't shown their economic prowess. In a tough economic environment, Conservative policies have not stemmed what might be a slow fall for Canada into a recession.

Harper made amendments to the Canada Elections Act to fix election dates for once every four years, but has said it only applies to majority governments. That thinking makes sense in so far as opposition parties are able to bring down the government at any time, but when the ruling party-- the ones promoting fixed election dates-- is calling for it, it makes them look hypocritical.

Harper is showing he is a shrewd political strategist, but strategically calling an election is something he has asserted isn't fair to voters. A quick fall election would take place before the four byelections are to be held, most of which are in areas where Liberals have the perceived edge. It would also beat the outcome of parliamentary hearings into the Chuck Cadman affair, in which Harper is accused of being aware of Conservative bribes offered to Cadman, a former MP, to vote against the '05 Liberal budget. As well, such an election would deflect attention from Conservative financing irregularities during the 2006 campaign. Lastly, another election will further push the Liberals into financial trouble.

As Harper made clear in 2006, elections should be called when they are in the interest of the public, not when it suits the interests of the ruling party. A government must represent its people, and by calling an election Canadians haven't asked for, Harper is failing at his job as the leader of the people's government.

Minority governments must work together and despite Conservative allegations that the Liberals haven't made an effort to do so, Harper's Conservatives haven't led by example.

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