Vive Le Canada

Tories, Liberals Equal Threats To Public's Trust. "NEW" Government Loo
Date: Saturday, November 04 2006
Topic:


Because it's the same backrooms directing the PMO that the Liberals and Conservatives look and sound the same. Vote anybody but the Liberals and Conservatives. 4Canada

Nov. 4, 2006. 01:00 AM
JAMES TRAVERS

It's not the one income trust owners are using today, but there's a name for Stephen Harper's new government. As fast as liar is flying off angry lips, what fits best is old, as in familiar.

After just nine months, Conservatives are behaving like Liberals. Election commitments aren't social contracts, accountability is infinitely adjustable and nothing matters more than absolute control.

Here's just one measure of how power is changing Conservatives: Jason Kenney, the man who speaks from the other side of Harper's mouth, now says the party is keeping "the lion's share" of its promises.

Gee, talk about déjà vu and the report card on Jean Chrétien's first campaign Red Book. In scoring an overall A-plus performance, they somehow missed their own failure to scrap the GST. There's unusual symmetry in Liberal and Conservative parallels drawn more than 10 years apart.

In morphing from opposition to office, both parties confronted impossible expectations they helped create. Chrétien's government could no more kill the hated consumption tax than Harper's could tolerate a tax loophole rapidly expanding into a revenue black hole.

So, early in their terms, both took hard policy decisions to reverse easy partisan positions. Chrétien won the gamble his party would be reluctantly forgiven by voters without a viable option.

Harper is hanging his hegemony on the hope that Tories now counting their losses still won't be able to bring themselves to vote Grit.

That won't unfold before spring. But it's clear now that this government shares with predecessors more than just the facile willingness to say one thing to gain power and another during its application.

Blame it on cynical pragmatism or imposed discipline, the result is the same: Conservatives and Liberals are equally corrosive to public trust.

It's particularly unsettling that both broke their word to do what was self-evidently right and necessary. Liberals knew the GST — or something from the same gene pool — was here to stay and Conservatives knew — or should have known — that income trusts would eventually have to go.

But rather than engage history's best-informed citizens in a difficult debate, ambitious politicians fell back on a tired formula — they played voters for fools.

Sweet as short-term success may be, the long-term result is undeniably sour. Along with sabotaging individual brands, their behaviour is savaging the inclusive political sector.

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