Canada: Two years of Conservative government

Written by  //  January 24, 2008  //  Canada, Politics  //  No comments

The automaton goes on and on
(The Economist) Jan 24th 2008 | OTTAWA
In two years in office Stephen Harper has earned respect but not love. Yet Canadians show no sign of tiring of bloodless politics
MINORITY governments seldom last long in Canada. So when Stephen Harper led his Conservative party to office, but without a parliamentary majority, in a federal election in January 2006, pundits confidently predicted he would soon seek a bigger mandate from the voters. Five fairly straightforward campaign promises were ticked off quickly. But the expected election call never came. Instead Mr Harper pushed through a law fixing parliamentary terms. Unless the opposition gangs up to bring him down, or unless he engineers that outcome himself, his government will soldier on until October 2009—a span exceeded only once before by a minority administration.
That is partly testament to the disarray of a divided opposition. The Liberals, its main element, were leaderless for much of 2006 before picking Stéphane Dion, a mild-mannered policy wonk, who has made a slow start. But Mr Harper has been unable to do much more than survive. Respected for his competence, he has all the charisma of an automaton. “I thought that people needed time to get used to Mr Harper,” says Roger Gibbins of the Canada West Foundation, an Alberta-based think-tank. “But it’s turned out that to know Harper is not to love him.” That is especially true for women. Opinion polls show little change in allegiance since the last election—except for a brief moment of Conservative advance last autumn. More).

(National Post) Harper’s minority still rules to make Canadian history
Second Anniversary; Kept minority government in power the longest
When Stephen Harper celebrates his second anniversary as Prime Minister on Wednesday, he will have kept his minority government alive longer than any other Conservative in Canadian history.
While minority governments last an average of 16 months, the ones that exceed their natural life expectancy tend to be Liberal. William Lyon Mackenzie King kept his first minority alive for more than three years while one under Lester Pearson survived well past its second birthday.
Critics say Harper creating ‘fog over information’
Robert Marleau, the information commissioner of Canada, says that contrary to Mr. Harper’s election pledge to make transparency a hallmark of his administration, a “fog over information” has crept across the government’s activities.
Marleau said complaints to the commissioner’s office about lack of access to government information have doubled in the past year.

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