Editorial — Conservatives get better at managing expectations
The Conservative government on Wednesday marked one year since it won a majority of seats in the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to MPs to continue working on the issues the party campaigned on — reducing and eventually elminating the deficit, making Canada competitive in the world economy, getting tougher on crime and managing the federal government more efficiently.
The Conservatives have now been in power for close to six and one-half years. The first five and one-half were as a minority government, and that taught Harper and his MPs some valuable lessons.
One of the most important is to keep the rhetoric to a minimum and concentrate on getting the job done. It is always better to outperform what is expected, rather than trumpet loudly about what you hope to do, and then not achieve it.
It’s not that the Conservatives don’t ever go the boastful route. One of the dumber moves during the past year’s majority government came when Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said about an online monitoring bill: “You are with us or with the child pornographers.”
That started the infamous Vikileaks affair, led by a Liberal staffer (who has since resigned). This put details of Toews’ divorce all over the internet.
While it was an over-reaction, Toews should have learned a lesson there — don’t boast and don’t get too dramatic.
Harper himself recently put a toe across the line by claiming that a former NDP leader had opposed the Second World War. While he was correct that CCF leader J.S. Woodsworth opposed the war in 1939 (and immediately lost his post as leader), the NDP itself was not formed out of the CCF until 1961 — 22 years later.
The point is this politicians are far better to keep expectations low and make comments that are non-provocative, and deliver more than the public expects. One way to do so is to avoid rhetoric and concentrate on the job at hand.
For the most part, the Conservatives have done that. The deficit is steadily getting lower, there is some effort to reduce the size of government, taxes are not being raised and Canada continues to be in a stronger economic position thant most countries. A steady and careful approach to government is the best way to continue to achieve results.