Previously in this newspaper, there was a call for an impartial evaluation of Stephen Harper. It is fair request and I agree with it. This is my attempt to be fair based on these four criteria: domestic policy, international relations, economy, and environment.
I’d like to start with something positive, the economy. Nobody can deny that Mr. Harper’s economic policies are working.
In addition to his own economic conceptions, he has encircled himself with the right people for the right job (notable naming the late minister of finance, Jim Flaherty).
As a result, Canada did not suffer as much as many other countries did through the great international depression of 2008 and 2009.
Mr. Harper also deserves many credits in the area of domestic policy. He kept interprovincial relations relatively unbroken which include the relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada. He was smart not to touch controversial issues like abortion, divorce, and the death penalty and also not to irritate special interest groups This was not an easy job and he deserves credit.
Conversely, we have a different situation when it comes to international relations.
The dominant feature in the area of international policy is the fact that Mr. Harper seems to harbour a deep personal dislike of Mr. Putin. This obviously happened long before the Ukrainian crisis (that is why he did not go to Winter Olympics in Sochi, for instance). Personal likes and dislikes of any prime minister should in no case be influencing a country’s international policy.
The leader who cannot disassociate his feelings from his governance role is prone to make serious mistakes. As an example, Mr. Harper was the very first western leader who rushed to Kiev to shake hands with members of, at that moment, the illegal Ukrainian government. Also let me point out Mr. Harper’s awkward affront to Mr. Putin at the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia.
Even more damage to Canada’s international reputation under leadership of Mr. Harper is due to his tendency to build barricades instead of bridges between nations.
The barricades have one very unpleasant feature. There is no middle ground on barricades and their very existence often leads to bloodshed. For example, Canadian war planes are bombing people in Iraq and Syria.
The blue berets of Canadian peacekeepers are being replaced by the khaki helmets of Canadian troopers.
A few words about the environment.
According to the Globe and Mail of May 8 2014, Canada has one of the worst scores on environmental policies: Canada ranked 38th out of 41 countries. Likewise, all reputable environmental organizations rate Canadian environmental performance at the bottom of the scale.
And there is no doubt that the government’s record on the environment must reflect Mr. Harper’s personal position on this issue.
A recent promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 is such electioneering that no person in his right mind can take it seriously.
It’s a last-minute, desperate effort to show that the administration finally promises to do something.
However, the clear evidence that the Harper government is not serious about this promise is a proposal to buy carbon credits.
Likewise, an attempt to move responsibility for environmental matters to provinces is another deceitful effort to shift the future blame on someone else.
All told here is the summary: two out of four.
At this point, I have to confess that I have voted for Mr. Harper in all previous elections in which he was a candidate.
I will not this time.
Because two out of four is not good enough for my future prime minister.