A Victory Lap: Canada's First Year Under Tory Majority
by David T. Jones
Reviewed by James L. Abrahamson, contributing editor
David Jones, retired Foreign Service Officer and former U.S. Minister Counselor of Political Affairs in Ottawa, offers readers a broad assessment of Canadian politics during the Conservative (Tory) Party’s first year in office upon obtaining a parliamentary majority following five years of minority government and even more years in the political wilderness.
Even though the Canadian west and Quebec have begun to “bubble,” Canada avoided the worst of the Great Recession, and the public has come to accept—though not love—Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the country’s leader as well as the Tory Party’s efforts to reduce spending and downsize government. That said, omnibus bills, the end of the long-gun registry, a tough crime bill, a more restrictive immigration policy, and rough treatment of political opponents have created both support and ill will and given Harper’s party a “mean spirited edge.” His is not yet a “kinder/gentler” government.
Even so, Harper should remain comfortably in office until the elections due in 2015. His Liberal Party opponents are in “profound disarray.” Though the New Democratic Party (NDP), led by the able Thomas Mulcair, has become the “Official Opposition,” he personally is regarded as the “arrogant, abrasive, and ambitious” leader of a party of often-inexperienced members.
In Jones’ broad survey, a few things are of special interest to Americans: The NDP’s leader regards President Obama as a “liar;” the much-delayed and increasaingly expensive purchase of the F-35 aircraft remains unsettled; but the Keystone XL pipeline has not yet become too divisive because Harper believes the U.S. opposition will dissolve following the American election—whoever wins. Both the Canadian public and U.S. military leaders admire the Canadian infantry, its abilities as Afghan trainers, and both its steadiness in battle and its government’s ability to stand firm—unlike the Dutch and the French—even when casualties mounted. In the year ahead, the Canadian Navy will likely receive funds for modernization and begin to turn its attention to cooperation with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.
Having endured eras of very poor U.S.-Canadian relations, Jones believes that both countries should now expect to “enjoy … times that are quite good enough albeit not perfect.”