I’m a Harper fan (I think he’s actually one of the best leaders of any country around at this moment - a pretty low bar, but he’s over it).
However, the election call does piss me off as well. I hate it when people who style themselves as reformers get elected and do the very things they fought against. But in the real world of hardball politics, the problem with this kind of reform is that if you promise to hold fixed elections and stay true to your word, but your opponents won’t do that when they’re elected, you just wind up permanently conceding a tactical advantage.
Anyway, since Harper has actually come through on more of his promises than Cretien or Martin or Mulroney did, I’ll cut him a bit of slack on this.
I don’t like the pork being thrown around in front of the election either.
And Harper IS right that the Parliament is dysfunctional. When Liberals continue to bail on vote after vote to avoid causing an election, their constituents aren’t getting very good representation. Too much of our day-to-day governance is dominated by political strategy rather than what really needs to be discussed and voted on. But if Harper gets another minority, nothing there will change.
Why was the election called? Because Harper has decided that the battleground currently favors the Conservatives more right now than it would later, of course. Party because the Conservatives have recently undergone another bump in popularity and pushed Harper within striking distance of a majority. And party because there are storm clouds on the horizon that could make an election fight in the next few years very difficult for the party in power. The economy, energy, Afghanistan, security issues with regard to Russia and Pakistan… We’re heading into a rough stretch, and Harper doesn’t want to fight an election in the middle of it. Especially if the economy goes into the tank.
Also, the Liberal’s “Green Shift” has turned out to be a disaster for them. It’s confusing, and it promises to raise energy prices at a time when high energy prices are a key concern of the voters and Global Warming seems to be losing its political traction somewhat. And of course, it’s absolutely hated in the west, and primarily in Alberta.
I’d be interested in hearing specific things that Harper has done that you don’t like. I thought he’d had a pretty good year, even from the Liberal point of view. He’s lowered the GST, which was something the Liberals ran on under Chretien. He’s been rebuilding the military, and he’s asserted sovereignty over Arctic waters and building new ships to patrol them (a critically important issue completely ignored by the Liberals. The importance of this will become apparent soon with Russia becoming more aggressive and the northwest and northeast passages opening), and I honestly haven’t seen a lot of culture war stuff going on. My impression of Harper is that he’s been governing as a center-right moderate with a good deal of horse sense.
He does have some idiots in his cabinet, and there are a few yokels in the government, but Harper is clearly the leader and doesn’t let them push him around or do anything really stupid, other than to themselves.