While Andrew Scheer is their new leader, insiders concede that “Stephen Harper continues to play a big role behind the scenes” in the Conservative Party of Canada.
With Harper in Scheer’s ear, it’s important to remember just how much damage the last Conservative decade did to the things we care about most.
Here’s a look at just some of the things the Conservatives cut—the last time they had the chance:
- Health care. Conservatives rarely campaign explicitly on slashing health care funding, but after they’re elected it’s cut, cut, cut. That’s exactly what happened under the last Conservative government. Buried deep in one of their budget bills, they cut a massive $36-billion in health care transfers the provinces were counting on to improve care in our hospitals, doctor’s offices, and long term care facilities.
- Pensions. In 2012, Stephen Harper flew to Davos, Switzerland to tell billionaires at the World Economic Forum that his Conservative government would be cutting a foundation of Canada’s retirement security system—the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Support benefits. In fact, he would raise the age of eligibility for both pension programs from 65 to 67 years old, taking billions out of the pockets of seniors who have worked hard to build our country.
- Support for our veterans. The brave women and men who serve our country deserve a government that serves them too. But the last time Conservatives were in power, they cut the basic services veterans and their families rely on. The Harper government decided to shut down eight Veterans Affairs offices—from Corner Brook to Kelowna—cutting off former servicemen and women from supports that they have earned.
- Science and scientists. It’s well known that the previous Conservative government muzzled federal scientists—prevented them from talking about their findings on environmental protection and climate change. What’s less well known is that thousands of scientists were fired and dozens of scientific programs were ended during the Harper decade.
- The Court Challenges Program. In 2006, shortly after being elected, Conservatives cut the entire budget of the Court Challenges Program. Established in the late 1970s, the program provided funds to those seeking to protect or clarify equality or language rights in the courts but who could not otherwise afford to do so. It played a key role in many important constitutional challenges, including the fight for same-sex marriage.
- Corporate taxes. Sixty billion dollars. That’s how much the last Conservative government handed to big, profitable corporations during the ten years they controlled the federal government. They told Canadians we couldn’t afford the things that mattered most to us while they made business taxes among the lowest in the world—even though it never produced the investment or job creation that was promised.
It’s clear that Canadians can’t afford a yes man to the wealthiest one percent—or a lapdog to conservatives like Doug Ford and Stephen Harper—in the Prime Minister’s Office. But in Andrew Scheer, that’s exactly what we’ll get. Unless we stop him.