One of the drollest of neo-conservative follies is the belief that government can and should be run "like a business". This formula--often taken seriously even by those alive to the futility of trying to run a train like a yacht--presupposes the notion that the ethos of selling as dearly as possible what one has made as cheaply as possible is both the key to sound national stewardship and the very essence of ministerial integrity.
This notion totally inverts the facts, of course, as does every article of neo-con faith: the optimal way for a government to pursue its rational self-interest (defined by maximising its return and minimising its costs) is to do precisely nothing on behalf of the electors it ostensibly serves: according to pure market values, it is illogical for a federal government to waste its four-year span of electoral impunity working on behalf of a people whose assent it no longer requires and who haven't the power to penalise the incumbents no matter how wasteful, arrogant, or inefficient they are; instead, the logic of pure self-interest requires government caucus members to use their four-year executive monopoly to enjoy and invest whatever personal equity they can extract from their position, particularly by cultivating the kinds of corporate contacts that will enrich them after their legislative mandate elapses or is withdrawn.
If this sounds uncomfortably close to the way Canadian governments actually operate, it is only because governments from across the ideological spectrum all do tend to behave like businesses, as will any human system that confers instant privilege, power and wealth upon ambitious social climbers with weak or expired commitments to any notion of civic responsibility.
"Running a government like a business" means producing as much wealth as possible for the party's shareholders (i.e. M.P.'s , party members and camp followers) whilst doing as little on behalf of tax-payers as possible--in other words, doing precisely what causes Canadians to throw out governments in disgust every eight years or so. This is not a formula for "efficiency" or "accountability"; it is a formula for the sad, dreadful status quo, and its dreary consequences are not the result of political "failure" in the strict sense but of an intentionally elaborated programme.
We need to keep all of this in mind when assessing the performance of Stephen Harper's regime: what appear to be its failures and scandals are actually the perfectly normal and predictable output of the CPC's business model of governance. In fact, it is on this most fundamental level that the CPC has arguably performed at its best, at its most creative, and at its most inspired.
Honest analyses of "Conservative" crises will reveal all the symptoms of an aggressive, disciplined approach to the "government-as-business" model: not content with safe, narrow, low-yield disasters, Harper's government has always sought functional depth in its flagrancies and has been content only when its wretched incompetence and venalities have achieved synergistic cross-platform interoperability.
The Lisa Raitt fiasco serves as a recent example. A Liberal version of this scandal would have seen the offending minister misplace a binder full of classified documents, resign in disgrace, and then quietly reappear in cabinet later when the smoke cleared; the typical Liberal inability to innovate, improvise and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances would have allowed this event to pass by without having its full potential exploited.
In sharp contrast, the CPC recognised the polyvalence of the Raitt affair and acted decisively to make sure that Canadians were exposed to the full wattage of its surreal brilliance. First, we heard that the binder was lost; then we heard that its information was classified not because it was dangerous to the state, but because it was dangerous to the party--revealing as it does that the cost of funding Atomic Energy of Canada will likely cost tens of millions more dollars than the government said it would in its January budget. Then we heard that the government fired Raitt's 26-year-old assistant for the misdeed without even bothering to establish that it was she, not her boss, who actually committed the misdeed.
Now, that is how incompetence is done when you really mean it: never be satisfied with the force of just the most obvious dimension of your stupidity; always strive to add value and layered functionality to it. In this case, we have a party caught withholding information the public deserves to have while misusing a classification protocol designed to protect the state while being caught in an act of colossal budgetary ineptitude while betraying ignominious cowardice in its invertebrate refusal to respect the tradition of ministerial responsibility, by which heads of departments have always held themselves accountable for the actions of their subordinates.
Astonishing. That's a four-part invention of uselessness; a tetra-fuck-up. That's the kind of pioneering drive CPC shareholders expect from their party, and, in our increasingly competitive global market environment, it's the kind of drive they deserve.