A classic example of "a chicken in every pot", the Conservative budget aims to keep the government in power and win the next election. Whether it stimulates recovery is only secondary and based on the Conservatives' November Economic Statement, the government likely doesn't believe in it. Why else would Harper spend $438 million on arts and culture? That won't help economic recovery.
So once again Stephen Harper reverses his position on policy matters to cling to power. Harper's turnarounds include:
• The Senate. He was adamant he would not resort to the old politics of stacking the upper chamber with party cronies. But faced with the possible defeat of his minority government, Harper moved fast before Christmas to fill 18 vacancies with loyal Conservatives, many failed candidates or with party ties.
• Fixed election date. In May 2006, Harper proposed fixed election date legislation that would set the next election date in October 2009, to stop political leaders from "trying to manipulate the calendar."
• Supreme Court appointments. In December, Harper appointed Thomas Cromwell of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, bypassing a parliamentary hearing process he championed to more openly scrutinize nominees.
• Government appointments. The Prime Minister had promised to implement a public appointments commission to eliminate cronyism in such appointments. It was to be part of the government's much-vaunted Accountability Act. It never happened and, since winning its first minority government in January 2006, the Tory government has made some 1,500 appointments, many based on political pedigree.