Stephen Harper despised Pierre Trudeau. He was nine years old when Trudeau became prime minister, and twenty-five when Trudeau retired. Watching Harper pontificate and react, one gets the impression that Mr. Trudeau was the bogeyman who haunted Stephen Harper's childhood nightmares. Indeed, it's not too much of a stretch to believe that -- somewhere in the prime minister's office -- there is a portrait of Trudeau which Harper uses as a dart board.
Nowhere is Harper's disgust for Trudeau more apparent, Lawrence Martin writes, than in the right wing nationalism Stephen Harper trumpets:
Patriotism pivots on pride in a resurrected military and morality-based missions. Pride in country is now linked to our refurbished armed forces and what Harper sees as moral crusades. National security, law and order, tighter immigration standards and bumper-sticker sports populism are among the features of a new right-wing nationalism. It is an accelerating trend and many Canadians worry that Harper, the anti-Trudeau, is taking it too far.
Martin then goes on to enumerate the various manifestations of Harper's right wing mania: message control, anti-democratic instincts, anti- labour policies, and anti intellectualism. But most disturbing of all is the Harperite cult of the leader. Recently released e-mails illustrate how the government has sought to define itself as the product of one man's vision. And, for five years, we have seen the flip side of that equation -- smearing the leader's opponents, whether they be Stephane Dion, Micheal Ignatieff or, more recently, NDP environment critic Megan Leslie, who the Harperites accused of treachery.
Pierre Trudeau had his faults. But he understood the horrendous consequences that accompanied the right wing nationalism espoused by leaders like Maurice Duplessis and Adolph Hitler. His opposition to that ideology was based on the results of its application in the 20th century.
Unfortunately, all of that history is lost on Stephen Harper. And he appears quite willing to repeat it.