Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mr. Dithers Got More Done

Buried deep in this CBC story is an interesting fact:

Since the Conservative throne speech in April 2006, the Harper government has introduced 47 government bills and passed only 13. This compares to 93 introduced and 54 passed by the previous Liberal minority government of Paul Martin over a period that was just two months longer.

Martin, for all his perceived indecisiveness, was batting over .500 when it came to success in passing legislation. Harper, with a much thinner agenda, has thus far barely managed to clear the Mendoza Line.


Anonymous said...

Interesting only because the factoid supports the argument that Mr. Martin's government was indecisive. A flurry of various and sundry legislation does not a decisive government make. A clear vision, implemented by considered legislation, regulation and executive decision-making does. Regardless of what you think of the Harper government, Mr. Martin's was an embarrassment for the party and the man.

rabbit said...

I am curious, Why were only 13 out of 47 bills passed? How many were defeated or withdrawn, how many are in committee, how many are waiting on the senate, and how many are waiting on the house of commons?

Those might be interesting statistics, and far more enlightening than just stating "13 out of 47".

Jay said...

No surprise. The conservatives ahve just twisted, lied, about, and presented half truths about the former government.

!3 years of doing nothing they say, how could you when they were left with debt in 1993 and by the time they had the situation under control and brought us back into the black, Mr. Harper was obstructing anything constructive on the environment with his delusional rantings about socialist agenda's.

Jay said...

To make it all worst, His delusional rantings about Kyoto being a socialist scheme has hit the headlines in the US. At a time when they are digging up what Bush has done through hearings on the environment.

Now he's ruining Canada's reputation on the world stage, personally without Rona.

bigcitylib said...


The percentage figure is most important. It tells you that Martin got more than half of what he wanted passed, passed. Harper has only been able to manage just over a quarter, with a better hand to play.

I never thought much of Martin either, but by this measure he was a more effective PM than Tory boy.

Peter Loewen said...


I just don't think it's a valid comparison, unless you are willing to assume that all legislation takes the same amount of time and effort to pass. And we know this is not the case. While there is fixed cost to all legislation, there is also a large component which varies depending on the legislation.

Now, I don't know the comparative distribution of Harper's legislation or Martin's on some scale of magnitude or difficulty, so it's harder to say who was more productive. But I don't think you or other commenters do either, so let's not jump to conclusions.

Jeff said...

nice find. if the libs use this as a talking point, all the better for the continuing deconstruction of canada's new government and it's rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Pretty difficult to try to make comparisons year to year, or government to government.

It would be the content of what was passed, the effort needed to get it through, how big a change it was to the country, that sort of heft that needs to be the focus of comparison.

Even then, what may be huge to one person, will be minmal to another. Comparisons like this, by number, are useless.

Many of the bills are still in some stage of going through the channels they have to pass, are they not?

Anonymous said...

CTV's Robert Fife pointed out today on Mike Duffy Live that Stephen Dion as environment minister for a little over a year accomplished more on the environment than Harper has.

Scotian said...

For those claiming this doesn't really say much, or is not valid or irrelevant, you are forgetting something. The CPC have made it relevant by their near constant refrain of “The Harper/CPC government has done more in 'x' months than the Liberals in 13 years" and this is especially popular when compared to Martin aka Dithers' record of legislation passed. If the CPC from Harper on down to the Trolletariat online and the vast majority in between had not made this such a talking point then such comparisons wouldn't be relevant nor fair nor doable.

If it is not doable then the CPC rhetoric is shown for the empty meaningless pap that they claim this is. If the CPC were not using this talking point as a primary theme and had been for many months now then it would not be relevant, and as for fair, well the same argument works equally well there.

Martin was able to make his minority government work far better than Harper has, and Martin had the double barrels of Adscam and the Liberal civil war fallout working against him. Harper has had an easy ride for his first year and the fact he has done so little is either due to incompetence or ideological incompatibility with the majority of Parliament and Canadians and therefore cannot introduce the legislation he really wants until he has a majority. That he has not been able to pass much significant legislation (and that which was was weakened by his actions like with the Accountability Act and the massive wave of appointments just before it went into force and stripping out of Access to Information elements) shows a poor track record of governing when circumstances were considerably more favourable for him than Martin had. Martin never had a honeymoon period as PM; he had the AG report given to him as a parting shiv in the back by his former rival Chr├ętien which in the end would doom his government. Harper had an Official Opposition without a leader for almost a full year and no real risk of anyone trying to bring him down and a honeymoon period of at least several months (I'd say a minimum of 6 but you could argue I'd say between 4-10).

Say what you want about Martin, his style, and his decisions on how to manage the last election as well as the damage from the Adscam scandal which was the creation of and closely held controlled by Chr├ętien, not Martin. At most he should have twigged from his position at Treasury Board (not Finance, it is not that Min's job to oversee spending within individual depts, it is to allocate/oversee spending to all depts in the form of the total government budget) but he was not the corrupt pos the CPC have in particular gone out of their way to claim IMHO. He has his faults, especially as a PM, but not that one in my view.

That Harper is unable to manage to do anywhere near as well reflects on his inability and inexperience (as well as I think still acting more like an opposition party instead of a government) and a poorly drafted set of legislative ideas from their election platform. Too many of Harper's fans I think are mistaking appearance and style for actual substance, since most government work is not terribly exciting or good TV to make political hay out of. While I'll give him full credit for his capabilities, the main reason Harper has the problems he does come from the blind spots in the Canadian psyche that ideology has created. I mean if I though Harper was just a bumbling incompetent fool I wouldn't work so hard opposing him, I would be comfortable just watching for the most part as he self destructed and took down his variant of conservativism with him. That I will close on also leaves me a little less than surprised that his actual track record of actually changing/creating laws (which is actually "doing something" instead of talking/planning to do so) is as weak as it is in both terms of overall number to be passed and ratio of passed to not passed.

While I know many CPCers are going to say "what about the obstructionist Liberal Senate", well that is a charge often laid but rarely born out by actual evidence. More, almost always when this charge is made there is no specific evidence provided to back it up yet to challenge this is considered proof of the close-mindedness/partisan blindness of the one asking for evidence. When I see that as the main form of argument then I tend to discount the credibility/merits of what is being treated so, yet for far too many CPCers it appears to be proven fact. So that argument does not wash for an overall explanation even if there is the odd example like the Accountability Act where one could make an argument that it was somewhat slow walked if not as much as the CPC tried to make it seem by the Liberal Senators.

Anonymous said...

You can read the descriptions of bills on Parliament's web site. Much of the stuff introduced, and many of the bills which received royal assent - in both parliaments - are ho hum. The question to ask is, which bills really stood out?

Anonymous said...

Martin was on the verge of provoking the UN to doing something about darfur; Harpor would have fought it tooth and nail; Martin's gov't brought in a 10b plan for climate control; Harpor kicked and screamed, tried to stir up a fearstorm, then decisively dismantled it without a real replacement, unveilled later as a 45-year wish for your grandchildren. Martin was bringing forward a committee to study the whole income trust issue - brison helped scrw that up - but Harpor did one better. Campaigned on building a firewall around ITs, then came out in his Count Frawd costume on halloween and pulled the rug out. Oh, and lets not forget the whole 'blame the press', hide things from the press etc, I guess Martin could have done that if he was of that character. Nope, Harpor's gone a long way to raise Martin's legacy in my eyes.

Anonymous said...

What role did the Senate play in this?