This is personal. I regret the time spent with Stephen Harper. I’m not bitter. Life’s too short. But nor should I forget.
When I was a member of his caucus, Mr. Harper carefully engineered my ouster and ostracism. He went further then to ensure my political career would be destroyed and that I’d be defeated and eliminated in the next election. In all of these things he was wholly successful. Then he arranged for additional personal and professional embarrassment.
Thus, I was not merely fired in a one-on-one meeting, but my demise came in a public way, complete with a media orgy and live TV coverage. While taking care of the big stuff – throwing me out of the caucus, then banning me for life from the Conservative Party – the PM’s office also paid attention to the smaller details. My seat in the House of Commons was moved into a back corner brushing the curtains, and my office on Parliament Hill was drastically downgraded. I was accompanied out of my old one by three security guards.
Prior to these actions the PMO had tried to oust me from elected office by contesting my riding nomination – unheard of for a sitting member. The other day Dorothy reminded me the only time she’d been to 24 Sussex – to attend a caucus event for spouses – Mr. Harper turned his back on her.
My crimes had included blogging about being an MP, engaging taxpayers in issues coming up for votes in Parliament, interviewing opposition MPs and posting their vids so voters could gain more perspective, plus trying to create what I thought was a good thing – digital democracy.
I mention all of this because my relationship with Mr. Harper was a low point in my life. I’ve been elected an MP twice in my career, the first term serving harmoniously under two prime ministers who may have looked at me sideways, but respected my efforts. The second time – when he was party leader – it was quickly apparent things would end badly. And they did. He demanded complete subservience, but I was unable.
As I said, it’s personal. I’m motivated to never support Mr. Harper again, believing he would have been wiser to embrace a more open government and even an irritating little pecker like me. I’m also dismayed that during his time as leader of Canada, he increased the national debt by $170 billion, run a deficit almost every year and worked tirelessly, with 40-year mortgages, home reno tax credits and other tools to inflate houses and indebt citizens. I’m not happy we put so many eggs in the oil patch basket and will have to suffer the consequences of a commodity bust. The GST should never have been cut. Duffy never appointed. Or science muzzled.
You may feel you have reason to hate Mr. Harper and wish to punish him. Trust me, I have more.
Thus the election, his final one, poses a dilemma. Do we vote against, regardless of what we’re voting for?
The leaders debate on economic issues this week helped clarify things, if you happened to catch it. Harper was cool and robotic. Trudeau wanted to be Trump. Mulcair tried to look like grandpa. Not scary. The differences in policy and potential outcome are dramatic, however, and outweigh the personalities of all three men (I know them).
Both the Liberals and the NDP propose more tax, more spending and more government. At a volatile time when the economy is staggering along in technical recession, with record debt and unhappy job prospects, that’s a dubious premise. Mr. Trudeau says the rich will pay and the rest will benefit, which is a fairy tale. There are but 300,000 one-percenters in the land to soak, many of them with the ability to leave or shift income, and who already pay a ton. Both he and Mr. Mulcair say corporations will hand over billions more a year in levies – another fable. Corporations can easily restructure or relocate. Besides, with job insecurity, do you really want to drain your employer?
Personally, the NDP would see you contributing a lot more to the public pension plan, reducing take-home pay. Both the Libs and Dippers would trash the $10,000 contribution limit to the TFSA, while members of Mr. Mulcair’s party have been calling for a lifetime limit on tax-free savings and an end to the break investors receive through capital gains tax. In other words, this is a move against personal wealth and independence, in favour of the collective.
All three parties, sadly, are catering to house lust and anxious to promote even more household debt. But at least the Cons understand that additional tax – on workers or the wealthy or employers – is regressive. That includes the NDP’s carbon tax and all your taxable assets in years ahead that could have been sheltered within a TFSA. I guess if you trust the government more than yourself, then Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair are your guys.
The polls are tight and the outcome uncertain. Comments here show a visceral dislike of Mr. Harper. Seems a lot of people will, as in Alberta recently, vote to punish.
That may feel good for a day or two.