July 20, 2005

Czar is a non-starter

Although Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is well into his much-touted barbecue circuit, it seems he still has little idea what people want to see on the menu.

Taking a break from the backyard grills of the nation, Harper was addressing delegates of the International Democratic Union in Washington Monday, where he announced that a Conservative government would create the office of a commissioner of national security to co-ordinate Canada's security agencies.

He also vowed to "reverse the record" of Liberal governments that have gutted funding to military, peacekeeping and foreign aid programs.

"A new Conservative government will do significantly more to contribute to its own national security, to continental security in alliance with the United States and to global security in concert with all free nations," Harper said.

That's a great idea, but do people really want to hear about something so relatively esoteric while they're chilling by the pool and firing up the barbie? It's a bit like trying to serve steak tartar when some plain old meat and potatoes -- hotdogs and hamburgers, in this case -- are what's really in order.

Let's face it. Harper's self-styled mission for this summer is to meet and greet average Canadian folk.

Of course, we would also like to see him and his party take the time to review and revise some of their platforms, and come up with some strong stands on issues that really matter to people in their daily lives.

The Conservatives are in dire need of some original stances that will set them apart from the competition.

With that in mind, summer is the perfect time for Harper to be talking to voters on matters near and dear to them -- taxes, health care, education, you name it. Not some high-falutin' concept for a "security czar."

If Harper keeps up with this sort of thing, he and his party will remain firmly on the back burner of most voters' consciousness. That's not the place to be if the idea is to turn up the heat in these pre-campaign days.

And another thing ...

Seems we're not the only ones struggling with hot weather and its effects on hydro usage and prices.

In Beijing, 4,689 businesses will be taking mandatory week-long breaks on rotation to cut down on energy use and avoid pushing up rapidly climbing power prices. While workers will have to make up the time in the fall, the idea of some bonus paid vacation in the middle of the summer might be something for Ontarians to consider.