On unveiling his party's platform on January 13, Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leader Stephen Harper explained, "I'm basically a cautious person. I don't measure progress by the level of emotion or the intensity of the sales pitch. I measure it by achievement, one step at a time. I believe that it is better to light one candle than promise a million light bulbs."
Sounds reasonable. But what does he hope to achieve? Toward what goal will this first step take him, and the country he hopes to lead?
We can discern an answer in the words of Harper's speech to a group of conservatives on April 25, 2003, reprinted on the Christian Coalition International (Canada) website. Of course, the Liberals have tried to hold this speech against them, but in their desperation to be shocking, they grasped one of Harper's few attempts at humour and neglected a deeper, and more significant, analysis of his arguments.
His speech, which preceded the merging of the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance, concerned how to build a conservative coalition between economic and social conservatives. At the same time, his idea of a unifying program for conservatives with a goal to winning elections and achieving real power bears directly on his electoral ambitions today.
Harper was talking to a friendly audience, so he did not have to cloak his thoughts in the careful, focus group-tested language of an election campaign. Therefore, we can reasonably conclude that Harper spoke his mind, and regard his speech as an honest insight into his philosophy and his plans.
(Originally posted as One Step at a Time: Harper Supports the Incremental Approach. Thanks to Adrian Duyzer for drawing attention to Harper's speech.)
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 18, 2006]
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One Step at a Time: Har...