Defibrillator play by hockey-loving Harper delivers much political bang for little buck
Prime Minister Stephen Harper drops the puck for a hockey scrimmage in 2011. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Friday, February 22, 2013 6:00PM EST
Traditional politicians tend to promise big-ticket items like smoother roads, greener parks, cleaner air or lower taxes. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not a traditional politician.
Give him a majority mandate, absolute control of the Senate and a handpicked bureaucracy, and he harnesses that perfect storm of raw power to promise -- prepare to be shocked here -- defibrillators in every hockey arena.
Forget soccer fields, basketball courts and swimming pools. Hockey, it seems, is the most likDeely venue for older guys like me to overexert themselves into cardiac arrest.
Ok, so the Constitution decrees delivering health care -- and that includes defibrillation -- is the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. That'll be a technicality to budget-stressed provinces. They will gladly stand clear of territoriality concerns to welcome this small jolt of federal generosity.
The interesting twist is how this announcement in a Saskatchewan arena, with hockey players serving as potted plants in the background, reflects so clearly the essence of this prime minister in policy and personality.
As the mid-term of his first majority approaches, Harper has proven to be initiative-adverse in policy. He doesn't look for grand government schemes. In fact, he looks for excuses to push them away.
His agenda is not to unleash power for change as much as using it to keep others from changing the government in power.
But the true beauty of these arena defibrillators is how $10 million in federal pocket change will buy a real-life link to a class Harper instinctively understands: because he's one of them as a hockey fanatic and parent.
Every life saved by a Conservative government-installed defibrillator will become a news story backed by a government press release.
The genius of the move is how Harper delivered a memorable bang for very few bucks.
It's the sort of investment which saves lives -- and preserve governments.
That's the Last Word.