Stephen Harper, now that he is the leader of a parliamentary majority, should hold fast to his dictum in his press conference on Tuesday: "Surprises are generally not well received by the public." That is, the Prime Minister should proceed with the budget on which he campaigned, and generally adhere to the Conservatives' election platform, governing moderately and prudently, as they did for the most part in the previous Parliament - and continuing to wean Canada off stimulus spending, heading toward debt reduction as the deficit is brought under control.
Though the very notion of a "natural governing party" may tend to diminish the importance of democratic choice and changes of the party in power, it is a wholesome aspiration for a political party, encouraging politicians to respect what Winston Churchill called (in a speech on democracy) "the settled will of the people." The federal Conservatives' long-term ambition to be in power more often than not is a strong incentive to govern well and govern sensibly - not to inflict on the country a one-time ideological transformation.
At the same time, some renewal of the front bench is desirable. Newly elected MPs who deserve consideration include Kellie Leitch, in Simcoe-Grey, a surgeon who has the Order of Ontario for her work for children; Chris Alexander, a distinguished diplomat, in Ajax-Pickering; and Mark Adler, the founder of the Economic Club of Canada, in York Centre. On the other hand, the long experience of Bernard Valcourt, a Mulroney cabinet minister who has returned to Parliament in Madawaska-Victoria, is welcome. Moreover, underused Western talent, such as Diane Ablonczy and Ted Menzies, should be looked at for promotion.
The minority Conservative government made a few hard-to-understand decisions, such as the abolition of the long-form census. So it is a promising sign that Mr. Harper said on Tuesday, "We intend to move forward with what Canadians understand about us and I think what they're more and more comfortable with." Intelligible policies tend to add up to intelligent government. The majority government ought to add to that comfort, by staying the course that it has laid out.
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