Harper's Bushlike policies? Oh what a load of simplistic non-sense. Please Dan Gardner in the Ottawa Citizen actually wrote a fairly well thought out rebuke to this recently and given the adequacy of that article I see little need to reinvent the wheel. http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/columnists/story.html?id=0af97da6-b4bb-4d21-992f-2f9d688ff8f1
Dan Gardner . Harper and Bush
Dan Gardner, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Friday, October 03, 2008
First, Stéphane Dion's Liberals tried thoughtful policies and constructive debate. That didn't work so well. So the campaign has shifted to something a little more orthodox.
"My pal Steve and I have the same economic plan, if you can call it that," a George W. Bush impersonator cackles on a new Liberal website. "Heck, he would have joined me in Iraq and you'd still be there. I'm going back to Texas but if you vote for Steve, it'd be just like I moved up there with y'all."
Got it? Stephen Harper is Mini-Me to George W. Bush's Doctor Evil.
In political terms, it's a smart move. This meme has been proliferating for years and it's always good politics to tie your opponent to someone less popular than listeria.
But is it true? To answer that, we have to set the terms of reference.
First, "hidden agendas" are out. I can't read Harper's mind and neither can you.
Second, statements and actions that precede Harper's time as Conservative leader may be indications of his secret longings but they're not relevant here. All prime ministers are tied down by political constraints. They cannot indulge their beliefs, dreams and fantasies.
It is what Mr. Harper said and did as leader of the opposition and prime minister that counts.
- Iraq. Let's start with the obvious. Mr. Harper did indeed want to join the "coalition of the willing." But so did many others, in this country and elsewhere, who cannot possibly be described as W.'s ideological kin. One of them is currently the deputy leader of the Liberal party.
- The Military. George W. Bush massively increased the already massive budget of the U.S. military: In 2009, it tops half a trillion dollars.
When Stephen Harper took office, the budget of the Canadian military was so lean after the cutbacks of the 1990s that analysts warned operational effectiveness was in jeopardy. Mr. Harper boosted the budget to $18 billion, a substantial increase in line with what Paul Martin's Liberal government had budgeted.
And contrary to urban legend, the Kandahar mission is not evidence that Harper is doing his master's bidding. It was the aforementioned Paul Martin who signed us up.
- Economics. The Liberals don't say what "economic plan" W. shares with "my pal Steve" and I'm not sure what that might be.
In a recent interview, Harper was asked what factors he believes are responsible for the current crisis on Wall Street. It was mismanagement, he responded, including poor oversight, cheap credit and a tax structure that may encourage housing bubbles.
If Harper is Mini Me, he just kicked Dr. Evil in the shin.
- Spending. Among conservatives, "smaller government" is a mantra and there is no question that both Harper and Bush would like to shrink the size of government relative to the economy.
The two leaders also share results on this score: Under both, the size of government has grown.
- Balancing the books. Stephen Harper inherited a budget surplus and kept the government in surplus, although with a reduced margin for error.
George W. Bush inherited a surplus and then promptly maxed out Uncle Sam's credit cards.
Taxes. George Bush made huge cuts to income taxes, the benefits of which went overwhelmingly to the rich. This was in line with conservative doctrine on taxes, which favours reducing progressive income taxes as much as possible. The same doctrine also calls for the tax burden to be shifted to consumption taxes, which are not progressive.
Stephen Harper cut the GST, which is a consumption tax. Lefties did not cheer but they should have.
Harper also cut corporate taxes. That may sound Bushian to the blinkered left -- I'm looking at you, Jack Layton --but the U.S. actually has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. Some of the lowest corporate tax rates are found in Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands and other northern European countries seldom described as bastions of unfettered capitalism.
Foreign policy. The least we can say about Mr. Bush is that his foreign policy is clear. He even has a doctrine named after him.
And Mr. Harper? If he has a foreign policy, I can't find it. Sure, he talks about Canada being "back" on the world stage. But what does that mean? Where are the observable results? Even Mr. Dithers produced a windy, vague discussion paper. Harper hasn't managed half as much and Canada is as insignificant as ever.
And here's a little-known fact: While Harper let foreign aid slip, Bush boosted it.
- Climate change. One man is a politician from oil country who rejected Kyoto and didn't take climate change even slightly seriously until it became a political liability. The other is Bush. Or Harper.
Score one for the clone hypothesis.
- Health care. Let's get serious. If Stephen Harper were to deliver a speech outlining his government's health care policy at a Republican convention, he would be seized and tied to a stake. Burn the witch!
- Arts funding. Stephen Harper cut it and mocked artists for swanning about at lavish galas.
George W. Bush increased the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts by 30 per cent.
- Criminal justice. No doubt about it, Conservative "tough on crime" policies are red-white-and-blue Americana. But they're not unique to George W. Bush or even the Republican party. Democrats embraced them as well, particularly during the 1990s.
once saw Howard Dean extol the virtues of long mandatory minimum sentences, for goodness sake.
- Abortion. This is where the distinction between political beliefs and political reality kicks in hard.
Stephen Harper may secretly wish to curtail a woman's right to choose. I don't know. I do know that he can't. Even a whisper to that effect would devastate the Conservatives -- which is why Harper would sooner be exiled to a puffin colony than talk about abortion.
As a Republican in the U.S., the political reality is precisely the opposite for George W. Bush. Not only can he talk about it, he has to.
- God, guns and gays. It's true that neither Stephen Harper nor George W. Bush supports gay marriage. But then, neither does Hillary Clinton or almost any Democrat you can name. And Harper did support civil unions as an alternative to gay marriage, which happens to be the position of Barack Obama.
Guns? Recently, a Conservative candidate who had written in a blog that he supports a concealed-carry law -- imagine handguns in women's purses instead of whistles -- was forced to resign. Try explaining that to a Texas Republican.
God? Harper once ended speeches with "God bless Canada" but he doesn't any more. Aside from that, the only real evidence that Harper is pushing the religious right's agenda is an amendment that bars funding for films deemed to be obscene or otherwise contrary to the public good. A smoking gun? Well, that amendment -- word for word -- was originally proposed in 2003 by Liberal minister and heroine of the arts Sheila Copps.
As regular readers of this space will know, I am a fan of neither the president nor the prime minister. It would be so much easier to drown these kittens if I could drop them both in one sack.
But I cannot. The facts do not permit it. The equation of Stephen Harper and George W. Bush is nothing more than a political caricature.