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Harper's Seven Top Screw-Ups in Seven Years

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It was the coldest day in a decade in Ottawa on Wednesday. "A cold day in hell," some might say. And it's not necessarily about the weather.

January 23 marks seven years since Stephen Harper was first elected Prime Minister of Canada. The man once linked to the party of Reform and intolerant rednecks evolved to a French-speaking, cat-petting, ethnic-vote courting leader of a merged Conservative Party. As the PM took the opportunity to pat himself on the back in tweeting his self-assessed greatest accomplishments, perhaps the seven-year itch is the right time to recognize PM Harper's biggest blunders.

  1. G8/G20 financial fiasco: The billion-dollar boondoggle and the fake lake scandal that begat a youtube video "If I had a billion dollars" (Apologies to BNL). One wonders if the fake lake hath frozen over by now.
  2. Death of science-based evidence: the heart of the census was carved out, the environmental scientists were muffled and/or turfed, and decisions based on ideology rather than facts have permeated public policy.
  3. Refugee health: PM Harper froze healthcare services for refugees, despite objections of medical doctors and others who lean on logic and common sense. Even conservative Premiers have chided Harper for his lack of compassion!
  4. Appointing unilingual supreme court judges: Harper's faux-pas hat trick was half-acknowledged when he voted for an NDP-led resolution to require all top public servants be fluent in both official languages before applying for the job.
  5. Federal deficit vs. fiscal prudence: Harper took office with a budget surplus. Now the feds carry a large deficit, compounding the national debt. So much for fiscal conservatism!
  6. The F-35 jets: Harper said the cost would be frozen at $9B. That promise evaporated. The fuzzy math cleared up to reveal a $45B price tag. Oops!
  7. The persistent Y-chromosome problem: the enduring discrepancies in the handling of MPs' gaffes depending on their gender continues to baffle. Faint suspicion of wrong-doing got a female MP frozen out of caucus and turfed. Meanwhile, the latest in a long line of Teflon dons, Dean Del Maestro, remains Parliamentary Secretary while under dual investigations from Elections Canada and RCMP. Adding to that the abortion-restriction issue repeatedly brought back on the table and you have a backwards, misogynistic pattern.

Narrowing the list to just seven items proves to be a challenge, just as it must have been difficult for the PM to list just a handful of accomplishments and favourite photo ops via twitter.

Canadians know that the the Arctic freeze never lasts forever. Eventually, the cold spell yields to Spring. Perhaps the country can return to its normal temperature -- a climate that a majority of Canadians can feel comfortable with.

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