Before we get too happy with ourselves, we should remember that we're a country that elected Harper for two terms and that few people in Toronto believed that Rob Ford would be elected. Once he was, it was easier to satirize him, to act bemused or distance ourselves with irony. It was much harder to watch the way his decisions and statements affected our lives.
At last count we had 12 people who have entered the Conservative leadership race or who have said they will enter it, all believing in their own mind that they can be the next prime minister of Canada, assuming of course they win the next federal election.
I had the pleasure of moderating a debate - actually, more of a discussion - among six candidates for the Conservative Party leadership. Present were Kellie Leitch, Brad Trost, Erin O'Toole, Andrew Scheer, Michael Chong and Maxime Bernier. There is serious talent in the field.
How you feel about this decision depends on how you felt about the target was in the first place. The Harper target is a 30 per cent reduction in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. That works out to eliminating 208 million tons of carbon over the next 14 years. Is that ambitious? Maybe not, if you think Canada's goals should be judged by what our peers are doing.
Since announcing this proposal former Ms. Leitch's opposing leadership candidates, interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney have all condemned the policy. If we subscribe to Trudeau Sr's idea that there is no such thing as a model Canadian, that a society that emphasizes uniformity creates intolerance and hate how can we classify anything as "anti-Canadian"?
Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper apparently isn't satisfied with having destroyed a lot of wonderful and important things in Canada. Now he has signed on with Dentons, the world's largest elite law firm, to spread his dark viewpoints around the globe.
The wedge politics and fearmongering of the Conservatives in the last election were resoundingly rejected by Canadians. Whether it is Kellie Leitch playing to xenophobia with her values test or Tony Clement gleefully trampling our rights, it seems the Conservative Party still hasn't gotten the memo.
As with most leadership races (regardless of political party) the voting public will be treated to leadership candidates turning on each other like dogs fighting for a bone. While the nastiness and name calling might end in May 2017, the divisions and animosities created will linger on until well after the 2019 election.
Members of the Ethiopian community in Winnipeg recently called on Canada to sanction the country. The protesters are angry about the regime's violent crackdown in the Oromiya and Amhara regions. Hundreds of peaceful protesters have been killed and many more jailed since unrest began over a land dispute 10 months ago.
With Harper gone, you would think the Conservatives could return to providing a reasonable alternative for voters. If you thought that, you'd be wrong. We could go on all day about how Harper's tax cuts for corporations and the rich gutted the social programs and economic development that the rest of us depend on, or how his poorly negotiated trade deals put more power in the hand of corporations at the expense of jobs and a stable future for working Canadians, but the real point here is that these sorts of comments show just how out of touch the Conservative Party has become.
Canada is a young country and we lack the long history and cultural heritage like European countries. We do not share the American Dream nor America's melting-pot culture. Thus, we provide better ground for multiculturalism to flourish; we let refugees and immigrants from around the world preserve their culture and heritage.
He won't talk about his government's non-progressive policies, but man does he ever look good with his shirt off. This calculation is duplicitous; it showcases an accessible leader but one with little time to get into the specifics of the policies that run counter to Trudeau's reputation of a real progressive. It is the best of Trudeau, it is the worst of Trudeau, and until his gushing fans and the complicit media start doing their jobs by demanding transparency, we will be stuck having to tolerate both.
Stephen Harper emerged in May from his self-imposed obscurity to say goodbye. I say good riddance. The former prime minister who once boasted, "You won't recognize Canada when I'm through with it," lost the federal election last October and stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party, but remained a Member of Parliament.
Canadians have spoken. Reasonable risk has been established. Evidence has been presented. All possible red flags have been raised. At this point, proceeding with this deal will utterly and predictably undermine the integrity of Canada's export control system.
The press is aiding and abetting the PMO's strategy of image first, substance second, to the point that we can't seem to go a few days without seeing our country's leader in that all too common, casual photo op, reassuring Canadians that he is unlike his predecessor, Stephen Harper. We get it. Trudeau and Harper are different. Only, they do have one huge leadership component in common; both men have taken an element of public relations and used it as their main mechanism to influence public perception. In fact, both men have staked out their preferred piece of PR and taken it to heights previously unknown in the stale world of federal politics.
Manners are increasingly taking a back seat and it shows. What stuns me is how completely oblivious people are to their own lack of manners in a given situation, but how quick they are to point out ill-mannered others. Time to take an etiquette selfie. You might be aghast at what you see.