(Read it here first. This is an exact copy of the Globe editorial. Only the words have been made up.)
Last week on these pages, we expressed our preference for Michael Ignatieff over Jack Layton. We found Mr. Layton to be living in a past when income gaps between the rich and the rest of the population were narrower than today, and social programs were stronger than now. Mr. Layton's Canada is gone, replaced by the bracing and refreshing winds of a global capitalism that has taken flight, a flight this country dares not miss. Jack Layton has not boarded that flight.
We discovered in Michael Ignatieff a powerful intellect that has honed a thankfully modest set of proposals for reform. A dollop of hope afloat in a sea of realism is how we would summarize the Canada Mr. Ignatieff would lead.
But that brings us to Stephen Harper the candidate for prime minister this paper endorses to lead the country for the next half decade.
Over the past five years of Conservative minority government, Canadians have come to trust Stephen Harper and he has come to trust quite a few of them as well. He no longer fears that most Canadians are welfare sloths, hooked up to the drip, drip, drip of socialist chicanery. The odd young woman in a crowd in Guelph still spooks him, but he's ever calmer as his crowds howl down reporters' questions.
The switch to the glasses and the sweaters has helped. And the piano playing has been therapeutic whatever those who cherish the memory of John Lennon might say.
Given the greater relaxation Mr. Harper would experience as leader of a majority government, we feel sure that over the next five years he will complete his book on hockey and even learn to skate.
Mr. Harper has come a long way from his days in the Reform Party, and at the helm of the National Citizens Coalition, when he believed that Medicare was sapping the vital bodily fluids of Canadian manhood. Now it is all Canada around which he is throwing up firewalls and not just Alberta. That is to be cheered.
Mr. Harper's hand on the economic tiller is steady as she goes. It's a good thing that neither Mr. Harper nor Jim Flaherty anticipated the economic crash of 2008 or understood that it would hurl Ottawa into years of deficits. Better a team of political leaders committed to tax cuts than a prime minister and a finance minister with a clue about how the economy functions. We prefer sleek headed men who sleep at nights and attend barbecues by day. This country needs leaders who do not terrify investors through excess thought. Such men are dangerous.
At this paper, we have had our share of concerns about Mr. Harper. While we support the purchase of the next generation of jet fighters -- the price of admission to meetings of the truly powerful, where on occasion Peter MacKay has been mistaken for the doorman -- we're less sure about the new prisons. Who exactly is going to inhabit them? Longer prison sentences inexorably lead to the incarceration of men over sixty. Men over sixty -- however bad when they were young -- lack the hormones for serious nastiness. Providing such men with room, board, free medical care, television and dominoes-for-life is an oddly socialist idea, more a reward for crime than a punishment.
In any case, excess space in the prisons can always serve as hangars for the fighters.
Some of the members of past and present Harper cabinets have worried us and we're not just talking about Bev Oda, Helena Guergis, and Maxime Bernier. On the whole, it's better for ministers to be able to distinguish between their positives and their negatives, to avoid attacking the hired help at airports and not to lose classified documents in the lingerie. We're not sure if Lawrence Cannon knows which wars we're in and the ones on which we've taken a pass. At times Jason Kenney seems to be auditioning for the role of costumes consultant for a Canada Day pageant, complete with dancers from every land whose sons and daughters have graced our shores. They're citizens, not props, we try to tell him. But you can't fault his enthusiasm.
Tony Clement can be problematic. During his watch, every Port O Potty in Muskoka was freshened up, recalling the days when local businessmen won contracts to build Post Offices and bridges and to plow Main Street. (Oh, those days are now.) To give Clement his due, he's so busy Tweeting that he can lose touch with the winking and nudging that goes on between Bala and Severn River.
The cancelling of the mandatory long form census struck as at Canada's National Newspaper as a little nutty. We worried that Stephen Harper might be spending too much time listening to talk radio from Montana where there is anxiety that the United Nations guys in the Black Helicopters are about to seize power.
Mr. Ignatieff is a man with a big brain and a small program. He has laboured mightily and brought forth a mouse.
We prefer Stephen Harper, a helmsman not easily budged from his convictions, however unfashionable they may seem to some. They called him a colossal fossil in Copenhagen, but he stayed in his hotel room, kept his head down, and took pride in leading a nation where fresh water and clean natural gas are deployed by giant machines to separate bitumen from sand.
Tailings yes, and the odd dead duck, we can agree. Warts acknowledged, and greenhouse gases are warts, Stephen Harper gets it. Canada is, always has been, and will be over the course of the 21st century, a land of stuff. Comparative advantage, this paper embraces. Some peoples create cities, new industries, culture, education, ideas, science and cures for disease. We do stuff.
Stephen Harper is the leader this country needs and this paper endorses.
This article was originally published on James Laxer's blog.
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