"A democracy which refuses to heed the will of the majority as routinely as it embraces the narrow interests of a vocal fringe," Alec Bruce wrote in the Times and Transcript this week, "is no democracy at all; it is, by ambition and practice, an elected oligarchy."
In the face of opposition from over 200 organizations, the Harperites can only point to three organizations -- the Fraser Institute, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and The National Citizens Coalition -- which support their decision to abandon the long census form. No matter, wrote Bruce,
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet have, for years, waged a stunningly successful campaign against the twin concepts of expertise and collaboration in political culture. Their hard line right wing mentality has extolled the virtue of certitude in all matters of state, as bias and presumption have proscribed the meritorious, once meretricious, qualifications for public office. Meanwhile, reasonable dissent has become the province of eggheads, elitists and other assorted traitors.
Add to that the confirmation -- contained in emails from Statistics Canada -- that the agency never supported the government's decision to abandon the long form -- as Tony Clement claimed -- and you have a tipping point.
"Canadians witnessed the disgusting spectacle," Jeffrey Simpson wrote in The Globe and Mail
of careerist ministers -- Industry's Tony Clement in the lead -- tap dancing to the Prime Minister's tune. Their justification for dispensing with the long form -- the best chance of getting the most accurate data -- was a melange of distortions, misrepresentations and exaggerations of so gross a kind that Canadians recoiled in indignation.
The history of the Harper government has been a series of blunders -- from sabotaging his chance at majority rule by making intemperate comments about cultural organizations, and thus alienating Quebec supporters -- to attempting to eliminate funding for opposition parties six weeks after that election and proroguing Parliament to avoid a vote of confidence -- to proroguing Parliament yet again this year when questions about how Afghan prisoners were handled by Canadian authorities made it too hot in the parliamentary kitchen. Each blunder has been an over reach -- an attempt by an oligarchical prime minister to have his way and answer to no one.
The census decision is yet another example of Harper's insistence that he does what he does because he can. Only this time it's clear that, in spinning the rationale for the decision, he and his ministers have simply not told the truth. And the public understands that destroying Statscan's data base will make it easier for them to not tell the truth.
Jeffrey Simpson is right on target: "The long form will return. Voters won't."