Saturday, March 10, 2012

By Whatever Means Necessary

Consider what has happened in the last three elections: In 2006, the Harper Conservatives -- in their quest for a majority -- broke Canada's campaign finance laws. In 2008, they broke their own fixed date election law. In 2012, by suppressing key voters in key ridings, they flipped an election.

Why? Was it simply a pathological drive for power? Naomi Klein suggested in The Shock Doctrine that advocates of disaster capitalism around the world have recognized that democracy is an obstacle to the implementation of their program. It's hard to get the public to vote against its self interest. The solution is to rig the vote.

Michael Den Tandt reports that the budget Jim Flaherty will present at the end of the month will be built on the principles of disaster capitalism:

What's interesting about the government's intentions now, heading into the budget, is how determined the Conservatives are to press ahead with a full suite of significant reform, controversies be damned — and how far the plan extends beyond the OAS system. The change envisioned is huge.

For starters, the age of eligibility for OAS will indeed rise from the current 65 to 67 (though in grandfathered fashion, so that only those younger than 50 or so now will be affected), sources confirm. Beyond that, immigration, resource development, research and innovation and trade are also being overhauled, all while the government moves more aggressively than previously signalled to balance the books. (The Finance department has said budget cuts will be in a range between $4 billion and $8 billion. As I reported here last week, the overwhelming majority of Tory ministers and MPs are pushing hard for cuts at the very upper end of that range, because they want to campaign in 2015 on a balanced budget.)

Their majority gives the Conservatives a chance to set a radically different course for Canada. Den Tendt writes that they hope the debate on the budget will blow the robocall scandal off the radar screen.

If the opposition parties are wise, they will link the budget to the robocalls. After all, one wouldn't be possible without the other. The Harper government is dedicated to Milton Friedman's revolution. And they are prepared to implement it by whatever means are necessary.


kirbycairo said...

The question begins to raise its ugly head - what does one do when faced with a criminal takeover of your own government?

I guess we need to ask the Syrians.

Owen Gray said...

The Americans faced the same question in 1974, Kirby. Canada finds itself at the same crossroads.

kirbycairo said...

Indeed, but one of the advantages of the US system is that there is a legal method by which to remove the executive. And, though lack of party discipline in the US can also be a serious weakness, in a case like this it is an advantage because the President does not rule without hindrances as the PM does in the British Parliamentary system.

It seems to me that when faced with a criminal government here in Canada we have a much bigger problem.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Kirby. The only way Stephen Harper will be replaced is if his caucus revolts -- as it did when the British Conservatives dumped Margaret Thatcher for John Major.

That isn't likely to happen. But by elections or defections might rob him of his majority.

That is about the best we can hope for.

thwap said...

It needs to be pointed out that if the government doesn't believe in the system or obey its rules, then neither does the citizenry.

Owen Gray said...

And that -- in the end -- thwap is what is so truly disturbing about all of this.

If recent polls are to be believed, Harper's supporters are not moved. Their answer seems to be, "We know you did it, and we don't care."

We get the government we deserve.

Anonymous said...

Let's not despair about the abuse Canadians are prepared to accept from Mr. Harper' government. It's not entirely clear who gives it unconditional support, and it's possible not every Conservative does.

Preston Manning lectured 250 party faithful earlier today about the importance of ethical political conduct. While he didn't point his finger at anybody in particular, his timing and his stature speak volumes.

Owen Gray said...

We can hope that Mr. Manning's message made an impression.

However, last night, Stephen Maher -- one of the reporters who broke the robocall story, and who paid the twenty dollar entrance fee -- was kicked out of the conference.

That action speaks louder than Mr. Manning's words.