Anyone who has ever suffered through home renovations knows that demolition is much quicker and easier than construction. A crew can come in and tear out your old kitchen in a day or two while another crew will take two months to build a new one. This is not, as some might tell you, a case of efficiency. It is simply easier to destroy than to create.
The same can be found in governments. A lot of people are afraid of Stephen Harper; they believe that he is building a Canada in his own image. But in reality, Stephen is not much of a builder. He’s very good at tearing down progressive institutions but not particularly efficient at putting conservative ones in their place. I suspect it’s because his heart really isn’t in it. He is more of a libertarian ( a strangely authoritarian one) than a true conservative. So he really doesn’t believe in any kind of government – not even a conservative one.
So, he ripped down a lot of progressive systems, doing away with the court challenges program for example (as did Mulroney but Chretien brought it back). The goal was to make sure that government actions that violated the constitution could not be challenged in court by anybody but rich people. Luckily for us, some rich people are liberal in their outlook so a lot has been challenged and plenty overturned. He also did away with organizations that promoted and supported civil rights – like women’s rights or anti-discrimination groups – while putting his (our) money in a largely ineffective religious rights initiative.
One could go on – about the environment, the economy, social networks – Steve was good at tearing them down but what did he propose to create a truly conservative Canada? Well, we are told, they are tough on crime. They brought in lots of laws to create mandatory minimums and shove people in jail. A lot of these were unconstitutional and have been struck down because, and let me make this abundantly clear – THEY WERE AGAINST THE LAW – and the ones that stood up did nothing to diminish crime or increase safety (that was already happening before Steve came along) but did fill up the prisons, where, left to languish without programs or support, petty criminals became hardened ones. Way to go, Steve.
Or how about the tough on child pornography stance that Vic Toews (he of questionable morality) crowed about. Turns out they passed the laws and then cut the budget of the RCMP so they couldn’t actually do the work. Like so many things about this government, a lot of blustering speech, rather pitiful actions.
Another great example are out laws to control pollution. I remember being impressed at the heavy criminal fines proposed for ships that dumped waste in Canadian waters. Really tough stuff – almost to the point of being ludicrous. It later turns out that cuts to inspections and to the coast guard made the laws unenforceable. You can’t be prosecuted if you can’t be caught.
I could go on – about the infrastructure programs that are so badly designed and executed they can never spend the money allocated (and thus get re-announced endlessly); the billions of dollars in lapsed funds at any number of departments, the often announced arctic ice breakers that were finally cancelled.
Sadly, being a wrecker is often enough. The next government will have to pick up the pieces and rebuild, leaving nothing for Steve’s heritage but a few ugly monuments.
And that’s ten minutes.