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Little more than promises …. that can be fulfilled

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on August 28, 2015 with No Comments

The election campaign is now moving into the fourth week, leaders have had their share of debates, their share of focus and attention. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his conservatives have had their share of tough questions as a senator appointed by Harper is standing trial. Mike Duffy scandal has shaken the Harper’s conservatives and their chances of coming back to power, by revealing a plan to cover up a payment of $ 90,000 by the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright to Duffy. With each passing day, Harper is finding it hard to brush aside questions about the involvement of his current chief of staff, Ray Novak, in a secret 2013 payment.

Last week the trial revealed that Wright’s successor and longtime Harper aide Ray Novak, was also aware of the plan to pay Duffy. The revelation came as a strong contradiction to what Harper has been saying consistently ever since the scam broke out-almost two years back. Wright had testified the same. The trial is drawing attention in the middle of an election campaign, and is indicative of Harper’s inner circle being implicated in serious wrongdoing. Questions are being raised now about what and how much Harper knew and when did he come to know about the same. The matter has snowballed for Harper, who insists that it was only Wright and Duffy who were responsible.

Harper would have to remember that Canadians elected him when Prime Minister Paul Martin and his Liberals were adversely affected by the sponsorship scandal –designed to increase the federal government’s status in Quebec, and presently his repute in stake due to a scandal connected with yet another of this promises linked with reforming the senate. With all at stake, Harper has all to lose and more to gain, but the baggage of Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright is too big for the conservatives to handle, even bigger than the unfulfilled promises on senate reforms and immigration.

While Prime Minister Harper has a lot to defend, his rivals both Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair have a lot to promise and both of them have gone into that mode at the very onset. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has given a new twist to the debate and promises when he talked of “a renewed partnership for health” with improved access to and quality of health care across the country. He also promised to review the terms of equalization taking into consideration the tax framework. He has given a new hope to the issue of true partnership between the federal government and the provinces, by stating, “The challenges we face cannot be solved from Ottawa.” On the Liberals’ Senate reform plan, Trudeau said it could be implemented without having to dive back into lengthy constitutional negotiations.

Unstable global economy too came to focus, with both NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau blaming Prime Minister Harper for the economic mess, and created an opportunity for themselves by assuring Canadians that they would do a better job of running the country’s finances, forcing Prime Minister Harper to repeat his stance that his government is best equipped to handle Canadian economy in these uncertain times despite the fact that the Canadian economy too is looking downward. It’s fast turning out to be an election on who would be the best suited to handle economy, and the issue would remain in the forefront and would drive the voters to the booths.

Justin Trudeau at a rally in Brampton struck the right chord with the voters when he assured that Liberals are committed to balancing the books. The platform was right for him to attack both Prime Minister Harper and NDP leader Tom Mulcair by stating that choice in this election is between jobs and growth or austerity and cuts. His reference to austerity and cuts was directed at Tom Mulcair. And he took a dig at Prime Minister Harper too by stating that the time required for balancing books would depend upon “the mess the Conservatives leave behind”. In days to come, the leaders may have to move from assurances on economy to a frame work that would deliver results. Concrete plan by leaders and their skilful presentation to the voters would be a point of interest with a potential to change the ratings and mood of the voters.


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