The Harper government has turned Von Clausewitz' dictum -- that war is "politics by other means" -- on its head. For this prime minister, politics is war. Last week, he moved to finally obliterate the long gun registry, records and all. The Canadian Wheat Board is next in his sights. Eight years ago, he demolished the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. And, in the last election, he almost did the same to the Liberal Party of Canada.
His next target, Lawrence Martin writes, is organized labour. Mr. Harper sees the NDP's ties to labour as its Achilles heal. And he's betting that union bashing wins votes:
A series of recent anti-labour moves by the Conservatives have been judged as politically popular. Lisa Raitt, the union-bashing Labour Minister, has racked up points in using heavy-handed tactics to prevent strikes by postal workers and Air Canada flight attendants.
In a sure signal of the government’s hard-line intent, she said last week that she was considering changing the Canada Labour Code so that the economy will be defined as an essential service. In that almost any strike could be said to affect the economy, such a move would give the government extraordinary arbitrary powers.
The Harper government has no intention of serving as a mediator between management and labour. It has made it clear that, in any negotiation, it sides with the bosses. And recent history is on the side of the bosses:
The strength of unions has declined significantly over the years. They accounted for 38 percent of the Canadian work force in the 1980s, but only about 30 percent now. Big labour supporters argue that just as unions have declined so has the middle class and so has the gap between rich and poor increased. It was the unions that were a major force in creating middle class prosperity, they say.
Mr. Harper says that his government stands up for the little man. But the growing income inequality of the Harper years belies that claim. Like all modern conservatives, Stephen Harper has declared war on the poor -- and anyone else he considers his enemy.
Some years ago, taking his cue from Sun Tzu, David Horowitz wrote a book titled The Art of Political War. But before Horowitz, George Orwell reminded us that Big Brother needed perpetual war -- with interchangeable enemies -- to successfully remain in power. That war was fought under three banners: War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery.
Sound familiar? It's time for the opposition parties -- all the opposition parties -- to get their act together.