I’m not sure whether what has happened via the federal government in the last few months can be classified as pork barrel politics. Pork barrel politics after all happens during the lifespan of a government with cash in hand. The intention of the Tories, though, is the same as the original definition of that term: to win public support and re-election. Promising large amounts of money to various projects, it seems to me, goes counter to what a thoughtful and prudent government would do with taxpayers’ money. Governing after all is a long-term project, hopefully with generations yet to come in mind.
If the Tories are proud of their record why would they pander to the free spending promises of someone at a poker table with questionable IOUs? Are they caught up so much in the promise and the excitement of regaining power and control that the discipline of financial responsibility is no longer a constraint?
Outside of these promises though, what is it in the Tory’s tenure that suggests a supportive, consultative, mutually respective engagement with provinces, municipalities and aboriginal peoples in the future? Health care, an economic strategy beyond, but not limited to, natural resources, and an awareness of the human impact on climate change: all these involve collective federal and provincial engagement.
I have no doubt that Mr. Harper is a strong leader, but I’m guessing, like me, he feels at a loss often in large consultative sessions where the introvert in him comes out and competing voices and interests disrupt his agenda. After 10 years in government he’s not going to change. We do need a consultative, engaged leader.