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Friday, October 03, 2008

Weathering The Storm

I watched the Leaders' Debate with a great amount of interest, hoping to see something that would prove me wrong about our current PM Stephen Harper - maybe make my knees stop knocking at the thought of a Conservative Majority.

It didn't happen.

In fact, as I watched him sit there with that thin, smug smile I couldn't help but think "He knows he has this in the bag - he's just weathering out the storm".

And so he did.

Even though Jack Layton repeatedly asked him "where's your platform?", even though he pointed out that (then) 12 days from the election - the Conservatives still had not made it clear what they'd planned to do with the country...

It didn't matter.

PM Harper was only there in body, content to ride out the winds while bolstered by the knowledge that no matter what he was going to be Prime Minister again - it was just a matter of seeing if it would be a majority or a minority government.

Today, days after that lively debate where Stephen Harper coldly deflected attempts to put him on the spot, our Prime Minister has finally decided to grace us with his message.

His 'plan' if you will.

His decision to back down from his attacks on the 'elitist' Canadian Cultural sector while tossing $400 million in loans to prop up our ailing Manufacturers.

All the while plucking that one-note string, repeating the only sound bite sure to send shivers through his base: 'higher taxes'.

'What do the others offer? It doesn't matter! They'll raise your taxes! Don't rationally look at their platforms in time for the elections - trust me! They'll raise your taxes!'

It's a great way to play off our uncertainties and fears - a great way to distract us while waving only the tiniest of carrots in an attempt to shut up those who are squawking (read: the Cultural and Manufacturing sectors).

But is it enough?

As the home stretch looms on the horizon, as another day is ticked off my ominous internal calendar, I listen to my co-workers fretting about the effects of the American economy on our own; watching helplessly as the TSX drops 1100 points in a single day; wondering about what else will happen to their country let alone their mortgages, their families and more.

I listen to the people I care about and hear the worry in their voice.

And yet what advice does he offer when he finally stands before the battered masses?

He gets biblical: "As the saying goes, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark. Which is why when the rain came, Noah didn't need to panic and he didn't switch boats."

He asks us 'not to switch boats' in the middle of an economic storm.

Of course we're just supposed to forget that our supposed leader had chosen to stay silent for months, hoping our economy - much like his political ambitions - would weather said storm.

We should forget that he stayed silent until the unrest got to the point that he HAD to say something.

We should forget that he waited until the other political parties had put forth their plans, until after he'd seen and studied and criticized them all, to step up with his idea.

Great way to show your leadership, Prime Minister.

Yet who can blame him? That's just the kind of leader Stephen Harper is.

Instead of standing at the helm of the ship, lashed by wind and rain, steering us through the greatest economic threat we've faced in a generation or more, Stephen Harper - the man who wants the majority of control in our country - would choose to huddle in blankets in the bowels of the ship, waiting for everything to fix itself, hoping against hope that nothing will dash us against the rocks in the meantime.

Only when the threat hits home for him - when the unrest around him becomes palpable - does he try to "buy voters with their own money".

Only then does he choose to waffle on his attacks against the Cultural Sector, only then does he choose to toss some money to the manufacturing sector that he allowed to wither.

This man is not a leader.

This man has not earned my vote.

In fact, only now as people would gather around their tables en masse, as they would sit and have public discourse in a traditional setting, is Prime Minister Harper getting serious.

What took him so long? Why even bother this late in the game?

Is he afraid that maybe, once we all get together, we'll realize his 'plan' is a sham? That when given the chance to talk freely and openly with one another we'll undo all his carefully laid plans?

Is he afraid we'll tell each other about Bill C-50 and share what we've learned about his immigration reforms? The ones that allow the Conservatives to 'cherry pick' the immigrants that fit their idea of what a 'proper' immigrant should be. That allow them to pull the 'qualified' immigrants out of line and leave the rest (who've patiently been waiting their turn for YEARS) to rot.

Maybe he's afraid we'll tell each other about Bill C-51 and how his government tried to sneak in legislation that would've allowed for search and seizure without a warrant or evidence - and that the only reason that Bill is dead right now is because the Conservatives dissolved the government to try and take up another election while the polls showed that they were the heavy favourites.

Or, hey, maybe he's afraid all us young'uns will get together and learn about what he had planned with Bill C-61. More than just a 'copyright reform' bill, this harsher version of the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act would've put the government into the interesting position of having to become a virtual 'online big brother' in order to A) know that we were breaking the law and B) to enforce the provisions of the law. Basically, to even know that you were breaking the law, they'd have to be watching you in the first place.

You see, Harper's been skating by on the fact that the 'Left' is fragmented and as the only 'Right-wing' party, his power is already consolidated. He hasn't needed a 'plan' until now. He hasn't had to sell himself.

His goal was a simple one: keep us all busy debating the nuances of each party while his Conservatives skate on through come October 14th. Quite possibly into a majority.

But now the waves are crashing and the wind is roaring and people are actually looking to their leader for inspiration. We want to know what he will do to save us as we're tossed about in open waters.

Yet he has no answers. No solid ground on which to land us. All Stephen Harper can do is ask you not to 'switch boats' while throwing money into the wind with one hand and clutching his tattered sweater with the other - saying a silent prayer that we won't figure that out before election day.

Look at the facts. Look at what he's done - behind our back or otherwise.

He is not a leader. He is not our ally.

Stephen Harper is bad for Canada.

And so I ask you to go HERE, put in your Postal Code and take an objective look at what is going on in your riding. Look and see if, like so many others, your vote can push any other party to victory over the Conservatives.

See if you're in a riding like Mississauga-Erindale where the incumbent won their riding by a paltry 328 votes in 2006.

See if your vote can help change the entire direction of this election.

Our Prime Minister wants us "ordinary Canadians" to weather the storm and 'not switch boats' while he hides safe and protected and smug below.

Come election day, cast a vote - cast a strategic vote - and let's stick him and his Conservatives back in the galley where they belong.


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