Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Defending Mike Harris

The rhetoric employed by the political left during the election concerning Mike Harris reminded me a lot of what you hear from British leftists about Margaret Thatcher. The left hates both of these politicians, of course. They both inherited an economy shattered by left-wing policies, and they both turned things around with tough but necessary common sense measures (usually involving conflict with the vested leftist interests who had created the problems in the first place), leaving far healthier and more responsible economies when they retired.

Leftists, as a result, scream nonsensical historical revisionism about gutted social programmes and gigantic deficits. My personal view of Margaret Thatcher is that she not only saved Britain from becoming a socialist gulag, but restored our pride, self-belief and respect on the international scene. As Winston Churchill was to the first half of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher was to the latter years of that century.

Back to Mike Harris, who has also been the victim of a dishonest leftist onslaught. Lorrie Goldstein explodes the myths currently being propagated by the left as to his government, most specifically in the Liberal election ad.

First, the ad’s claim that Harris’ Common Sense Revolution (CSR) left Ontario with “huge deficits” is false. In reality, Harris inherited an $11.2-billion deficit from the defeated NDP government of Bob Rae in 1995. Harris and his finance minister, Ernie Eves, steadily reduced it until they achieved a balanced budget in 1999.

When Harris resigned as premier in 2002, the budget was still balanced.

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Next we have Martin’s allegations that Harris’ CSR led to “environmental neglect ... shattered social programs ... crumbling schools and hospitals.”

In fact, Martin, while finance minister, slashed federal transfer payments to the provinces for health care and social spending. This began in 1996, a year after Harris became premier. Martin’s multi-year cuts cost Ontario (and other provinces) billions of dollars in funding for health care and social programs.

Essentially, Martin balanced his budget by downloading the federal deficit onto the provinces, then blamed Harris for the problems that created. Talk about hypocrisy.
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Another charge Liberals and their shills make is that Harris is responsible for the ongoing gang and gun violence in Toronto because of his cuts to social spending in the mid-1990s. Liberals have taken to calling the gangsters “Harris’ children.” More propaganda.

While many Canadians are skeptical of Statistic Canada’s annual reports on the crime rate, believing they under-report the problem, the Liberals and their cheerleaders constantly cite these figures to bolster their argument that since crime is going down, there’s no need for dramatically tougher laws.

But if the Liberals believe these numbers, how do they explain that, according to StatsCan, the Toronto area crime rate dropped by 8.6% in 2004, following eight years (1995 to 2003) of Harris/Eves policies? Why did Ontario have the lowest crime rate in Canada in 2004 (with a 5% reduction) as well as in 2003? Why, in 2003, when Canada’s crime rate rose by 6%, was Ontario only one of two places where it remained stable?

In order to blame Harris for Toronto’s gun violence in 2005, Liberals would have to explain how his policies apparently reduced crime prior to last year, then suddenly increased it. Right.

In the forthcoming Provincial election, there will be much more of this leftist nonsense, and it wil be important for Conservatives to aggressively respond and set the record straight.

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