Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Harper’s ‘bullying’ gives opposition hope, Economist says

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at a news conference following the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, Tuesday June 19, 2012.


One of the world's leading economic journals says the "bullying" ways of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives could tilt popular opinion to the opposition – specifically the New Democrats.

In an editorial published in its July 7 edition, the Economist – which boasts a global circulation of nearly 1.6 million readers – says the actions of the Conservative government have offered the opposition new hope by reminding Canadians of what they dislike about Mr. Harper.

Specifically, the magazine cites the government's omnibus budget bill that amended almost 70 different laws – from fisheries protection, to reducing environmental oversight, to immigration reform – and which the opposition labelled as a subversion of democracy.

Story continues below advertisement

"During his six years as Prime Minister – five of them with a parliamentary minority until he won a majority at an election last year – Mr. Harper has acquired a reputation for playing fast and loose with the rules," the editorial says.

It is not the first time that the Economist – an influential and mostly right-wing British magazine that has occasionally embraced socially liberal causes – has taken a swing at Mr. Harper. In January, 2010, it took a dim view of his decision to prorogue Parliament, apparently to avoid questions about the handover by Canadian soldiers of Afghan prisoners to authorities in that country. In that piece, Mr. Harper was labelled "a competent tactician with a ruthless streak."

The new editorial says he leads a government that is intolerant of criticism and dissent. "This strategy of polarising the electorate, playing to core supporters and vilifying opponents has been effective," the Economist says "But there are signs that it may be wearing thin. In recent provincial elections in Alberta and Ontario parties linked to Mr. Harper lost elections they expected to win."

Meanwhile, there are tentative signs that the opposition is becoming more credible, it says, noting NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's "balanced approach to developing the tar sands" which takes more note of environmental worries.

The magazine credits the Harper government for guiding a Canadian economy that "stands out from its peers" in terms of growth, unemployment and deficit reduction.

And Harper remains his generation's most accomplished political tactician, the editorial says. "Polls show that voters still consider him a more impressive leader than his rivals. But as they hobnob around the barbecues, opposition politicians have some hope that the prime minister's dominance is waning."

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨