During the federal election held on the 23th of January 2006, it was clearly said in the news that Stephen Harper and his troopers from the Tories were flying high in the surveys. Now, as the time goes by, it's really about time to judge Her Majesty's humble servant. In terms of Canadian national policies, Harper handles things in a fairly good way even though there are still some rooms for improvement, but given what we've seen from him in the management of the unexpected crisis in Lebanon, it should rather be said that foreign policies don't seem to be our Prime Minister's forte, but seriously, the Liberal Party can still criticize the leader of the Conservative Party, but they wouldn't be better with the Lebanese crisis.
The reason why it was said that there are still some rooms for improvement in Stephen Harper's way of taking national policies in his hands, it's because even though this man has a good memory (he doesn't turn his back to some of his promises), he definitely lacks subtlety in showing his right wing mentality. Instead of feeding Canada's national network of daycare centres, the chief of our government presents a plan that forces some women to stay at home (1200$ per year for each child under six years old in one family)1, because nothing is done in order to improve the services in the daycare centres and apparently there are not enough places in daycare centres for kids, especially in Alberta. In fact, we can learn that in this Canadian province, six women out of ten are looking for a job.2 Furthermore, this plan is such a hard blow for women who live alone with their children... All in all, Harper's frame of mind doesn't necessarily correspond to nowadays' reality.
Some people will say that Harper is saving his butt from a parliamentary disaster with his Accountability Act that can be described as "a sweeping plan to clean up the government". However, despite all the efforts that he has made, no efforts have been done in order to reinforce the Access to Information Act according to what public critics have said. Stephen Harper should try to be less inclined for total control on everything. He should learn how to give a decent margin of manoeuvre to his ministers by supporting them and not always trying to do their job for them or forbidding them to talk to the media, because Stephen Harper, while being in the opposition, has apparently been the cantor of transparence. After all, don't Canadians have the fundamental right to know what is being done with their taxes?
In terms of foreign affairs, Harper did display his weakness by the way he handles things. While so many Canadians could have been evacuated from Lebanon in a quicker way, Stephen Harper, once again, put his grain of salt for no reason. As it was written by columnist Sheila Copps in the Journal de Montréal, the ministry of Foreign Affairs encountered some problems.
The first reports on the delay directly fingers the prime minister's (Stephen Harper) office. According to certain sources from the Foreign Affairs, some evacuation plans left on the prime minister's desk remained unanswered for more than 24 hours. The official communiqués were talking about evacuation but, on the field (Lebanon), the officials were waiting for the instruction of [the government in] Ottawa.3
Finally, this what I have to say for today about Stephen Harper's weakness. To be very honest with you, Stephen Harper is not necessarily a bad prime minister nor a good one, but he certainly has chances to fix his blunders in handling Canadian politics. The upcoming blog entry that should be posted in one week will be dealing with (again!) the crisis in Lebanon and Canadian foreign policies. Good night and for independent columnism, I'm Anh Khoi Do.
1. [s.a], Stand Up for Canada - Conservative Party of Canada Federal Election Platform, [s.e], [s.l], 2006, p. 31
2. Pierre Dubuc. « La femme au foyer », L'aut'journal, Montreal, July-August 2006, issue 251, p. 6
3. Sheila Copps. « À vouloir trop contrôler... », Journal de Montréal, Montreal, July 21, 2006, p. 18