Have Progressive Conservatives Gone the Way of the Dinosaur?

Those who don’t normally read The National Post may be interested in several articles in today’s paper dealing with issues that should be on the agenda of the federal election.

Douglas Quan has a relatively balanced piece called “What TPP Means to You.” It is ironic that the 1988 Canadian federal election was largely fought on a single issue, the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA), signed by Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and opposed by the Liberals and the NDP. This time round, the Harper government is negotiating the much larger and much more pervasive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) at this very moment and Canadians know very little about it. The Harper government talks in generalities about the TPP, but where is the “intelligent adult discussion” that the issue warrants? Quan at least identifies the issues. 

John Ivison looks at “Montrealers waiting on a new wave.” His conclusion is that “it doesn’t much matter to many voters whether the swell is red or orange… it is clear that the vast majority want a new federal government….” The focus is on the intense rivalry between the Liberals and the NDP and the horse races facing high profile Liberal Marc Garneau and even Justin Trudeau from the NDP. (As an aside, it is embarrassing that our incumbent Prime Minister is fanning the flames of xenophobia with the niqab issue. I have faith that, whatever consensus exists about “secularism” in Quebec, my thoughtful Quebec friends and colleagues of yore will recognize that Harper is using this issue solely to divert attention from his track record.)

Matt Gurney writes about the irrational and inefficient hodgepodge which is Canada’s “boutique tax credit system.” In 1963 the comprehensive Carter Report on Reform of the Canadian Tax System recommended, among other things, doing away with “tax credits” put in place for partisan purposes. Both Liberals and Tories have ignored this proposal, although none more so than the Harper government. Gurney notes that “all the maddening little boutique tax credits the Tories have loaded up the tax code with in recent years… have tortured it into a twisted mess… complicated… expensive…less fair and less efficient…(and not) very… conservative.” Although he does not endorse the Liberal plan, he writes that “it is, at least, refreshing to see a major party actually talking about starting to untangle the mess we’ve made of our tax code.”

In my view, some of the most intelligent political analysis during this election campaign has been found in The National Post.

Have Progressive Conservatives gone the way of the dinosaur, as my Conservative son insists? If not, they might want to see a strong anti-Harper vote, so that a new, truly conservative, party might arise from the ashes of the hyper-partisan, anti-empirical, “non-conservative” (Andrew Coyne’s view) Harper regime.

***** Don’t forget that Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau are debating Canada’s role in the world at 7 p.m. EDT tonight. The bilingual debate takes place at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall. It will be live streamed at Munk Debates and on Facebook, and carried on your local CPAC channel. CBC News will host a special live blog featuring debate highlights and analysis, at cbcnews.ca/canadavotes.

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