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Bastards and Boneheads

By DJ Kelly December 2, 2008

Also available on the Calgary Herald’s Q.

The title of this post gets its name from Will Ferguson’s entertaining book of the same name. In the book he travels through history applying the label “bastard” or “bonehead” to each Canadian Prime Minister. If memory serves me correct, each PM who lead a minority government received the title of “bonehead”. Inevitably they did something stupid to lose power there-by granting them the moniker for eternity. (Except maybe Pearson who led a minority seemingly forever.)

Stephen Harper has led a minority government for a couple of years now and I’m pretty confident up until this past week he easily would have fallen into the “bastard” category. Lot’s of people hate him, but there’s no arguing with the results. And just two months ago Canadians, as a whole, re-upped his contract.

But now he’s gone down that other road and fallen squarely into “bonehead” territory. Call it what you will – ‘arrogant’ appears to be most people’s fave – but Harper’s political manoeuvring, so successful in the past, has caught up with him as he went back to that trough one two many times. Instead of just focusing on governing and the “global financial crisis”, he decided to take one quick swipe at the opposition parties and attempt to kill them off under the auspice of saving Canadian taxpayers some money. (Money that would stay in the government coffers and not actually save Canadian taxpayers some money, mind you.)

When you dance with the devil you get burned.

You can slam the opposition parties’ policies, you can spend millions discrediting their leaders, but if you threaten to kill them you had to expect they’d fight back. And fight they are.
And in a minority parliament you need their support to survive – you can’t pick fights. Yup, that makes Harper a “bonehead”.

I’m not impressed with how anyone in this situation is handling themselves. Harper could have done the right thing in the first place and not brought this upon himself. The opposition parties could have decided the party they wanted to work with was across the house from them (the government). But for anyone on either side of the political spectrum to consider this situation “undemocratic” is ridiculous. We have a parliamentary system of government, this kind of “power play” is absolutely allowed – it is intended to make government more accountable. And it has worked. Harper has backed down on just about everything everyone found incredulous in his economic update.

Now it is the coalition’s turn to back down and get back to governing. Otherwise we’ll just have another “bonehead” running things.