Ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his majority government his management style has come under severe criticism.
Actually, it isn’t so much criticism as it is whining.
Indeed, many of the complaints against Harper can be summarized as follows: “Stephen Harper is a big mean bully who isn’t playing nice. Boo hoo!”
The whiners include media pundits, academics and Opposition MPs who take umbrage with the way the Harper government is limiting Parliamentary debate and with the way it treats its political opponents.
Take for example,
Star columnist Tim Harper who recently moaned about how the Harper Tories, “Demonize opponents and mock their adversaries. Their partisan elbows as sharp as ever.” Toronto
And political scientist and former Globe and Mail editor, Geoffrey Stevens argued the Harper government needs to “relax” and “back off”, instead of trampling on opposition MPs.
Then there was NDP MP Pat Martin who famously and unapologetically used the “F” word on Twitter to express his displeasure with the Harper government’s tough Parliamentary tactics.
This made Martin an instant folk hero among the whining brigades.
Of course, Harper, Martin, Stevens and other Tory critics would never consider themselves as whiners. They prefer to paint themselves as defenders of democracy and of Parliamentary institutions and of civility.
Yet, you get the feeling that what really bothers them is that Prime Minister Harper is “running up the score.” In other words, Harper continues to effectively and efficiently push his agenda through Parliament while steamrolling over his hapless opponents.
For Harper critics and for those sympathetic with the Opposition parties, this state of affairs just isn’t fair. It’s almost as if they think the Tories should voluntarily ease up just to give the Liberals and NDP a chance to get back in the game.
And who knows maybe that would happen if the Conservatives had a different leader.
But like it or not, the man in charge these days is Harper, a politician who likes to wage total political war. And right now he faces an Opposition that is leaderless, weak and generally ineffective.
So why shouldn’t Harper take advantage of this weakness? Why shouldn’t he use the rules of Parliament to advance his agenda? Why shouldn’t he promote his own political interests?
Plus it’s important to keep in mind that for Prime Minister Harper winning a majority government wasn’t by any means his end game.
In my view, his overall strategic goal is to eliminate the Liberal party as an effective political force in
. And now that he has the Liberals on life-support, Harper is not about to let up and show them any mercy. Nor is he about to give up on degrading as much as possible the NDP. And why should he? Canada
In fact, it’s unrealistic and naïve to expect that Harper would give up on tactics that so far have paid him rich political dividends.
Now admittedly Harper’s no nonsense approach doesn’t exactly make him a cuddly leader, but it doesn’t make him a wannabe dictator either.
And that’s something the whiners should keep in mind. They should also remember that most Canadians are OK with Harper’s approach to leadership. He did, after all, recently win a majority government victory.
That’s not to say the Conservatives should not be vigorously criticized. But instead of bellyaching about Harper’s Parliamentary procedures or about his supposed “bullying” tactics, his critics should focus instead on issues that actually might resonate with Canadians.
And here’s one more word of advice for Opposition MPs. If you don’t like Harper’s Parliamentary practices, the solution is quite simple: win the next election.
(This article originally appeared in the Hill Times.)