Canada Politics

Advice to the Harper Conservatives: dial down the arrogance

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Stephen Harper (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

It's been said that over time all governments become arrogant. Regimes that have been in power for a while feel a sense of invincibility, they take risks in order to keep power, and they take voters for granted.

It appears that, after seven years, the Harper Conservatives are at that stage.

The Peter Penashue saga is the perfect example of that.

Penashue, you'll recall, was forced to resign his Labrador seat after it was learned that his 2011 campaign accepted over $40,000 in illegal donations.

The Tories are allowing Penashue to run again under the Tory banner in the byelection called for May 13th. Not only that, but they started campaigning even before Penashue stepped down and, just four days before Penshue resigned, the Harper government conveniently invested $1.35 million into the region for broadband improvements.

[ Related: Something smells rotten in Peter Penashue’s riding of Labrador ]

This claim of arrogance could have began a year ago. The omnibus budget bills — Bills C-38 and C-45 — sparked protests across the country with individuals from all political stripes complaining that the Tories were simply ramming legislation in an attempt circumvent parliamentary debate.

It's about the PMO believing they can act as puppeteers to democratically elected MPs. It's about an Economic Action Plan ad budget worth more than $21 million.

These are things, when in opposition, the Tories complained about against an equally arrogant Liberal government.

It's also about a 'can't touch me' attitude with regard to ethics and transparency.

According to a new Ipsos Reid/Postmedia News poll, released on Monday, two-thirds of Canadians think the federal government "is too secretive and has failed to govern with high ethical standards."

"Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page and former finance officials have complained of excessive secrecy surrounding budgetary matters," notes the Postmedia News article about the survey.

"Government scientists and librarians have complained they are being muzzled. Even some Conservative MPs have complained to House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer that their own party leadership has imposed unreasonable restraints on their freedom of speech."

The Liberals are poised to elect Justin Trudeau as their new leader this coming weekend.

He's a fresh face offering 'hope' and a 'new style of government'. Over 40 per cent of Canadians say that they would vote for the young Trudeau if an election were held today.

[ Related: The secret to Justin Trudeau's popularity: Thomas Mulcair ]

Can the Conservatives really afford to be arrogant?

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