Friday, June 08, 2012

The Matador Of the North

Michael Harris wrote this week  that Stephen Harper is the Matador of the Great White North, treating the opposition -- all opposition -- like a benighted bull:

You know the bull will soon drop to its knees, pink froth at the nostrils, eyes rolling up inside the skull, instinctively thrashing the air with sluggish horns. It doesn’t know the contest is now a formality – like democracy in Canada. 

Last May's election literally made Harper the King of the Hill. And, these days, he does whatever he wants to. But, Harris asks, how long will the people in the seats allow the bull's torture to continue?

But what about all those spectators sitting in the arena watching the bull’s slow and sloppy death in the dust? Will the daily bludgeoning of democratic institutions become the new normal or will it offend? Might it even become the proffered evidence of Stephen Harper’s superiority and fitness to govern? After all, this is a torero who goes for ears, nose and tail with brio.

Today, writes Susan Riley, there are signs that the spectators are tiring of the show. And some of the people who won't take it any more are Conservatives:

The dissidents are mostly Progressive Conservatives, but not exclusively. This week, for instance, former Alberta Reform MP Bob Mills joined Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in decrying the elimination of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (a Mulroney-era initiative.)

More importantly, there is rebellion brewing in Harper's own backyard:

Harper, busy defending the dinosaurs, risks being eclipsed by newly-visible conservative moderates like [Alison] Redford. While the prime minister remains determined to remove any obstacle to rapid development of Canada’s resources, environment be damned, Redford insists on sustainability. While Harper is quick to exploit divisions — portraying Alberta as a potential victim of mythic eastern bastards — Redford is promoting a pan-Canadian energy strategy, led by Alberta. In tone, Harper is tough, impatient and secretive — note the many surprises buried in his omnibus budget bill — while Redford preaches inclusiveness and transparency. She will be the first Alberta premier ever to launch Edmonton’s pride festivities.

It's still too early to make predictions, of course. But a wounded bull is an angry bull. And Harper could find himself hoisted on more than the horns of a dilemma.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I loved Mr. Mills comments. A real conservative would certainly want to conserve our environment and improve it and repair it to how it was in a former age.

Having myself been caught between the legs with the horn of a cow, I attest to the truth that it is a very unpleasant and possibly a life altering experience. I personally hope the metaphorical bull catches the Harper matador and tosses him a good one sending him packing, in a life altering experience.

The latest nanos poll shows the NDP just ahead of the Conservatives, Perhaps, Harper should be getting worried, really worried. He may be failing on moving the country to the new conservative center.

Owen Gray said...

The success of the NDP suggests that there are a lot of Canadians who aren't buying what Harper is selling, Phillip.

And it would appear that some Conservatives -- the ones who used to call themselves Progressive Conservatives -- aren't buying it either.

Anonymous said...

What Canadians need to understand or realize is this: What we have today in Canada is not the real Conservative Party of Canada.

By that I mean this: Stephen Harper had been the leader of the Canadian Alliance Party. At that time he did not even want to merge with the Conservative Party of Canada.

"Stephen Harper, a bilingual economist and early policy guru of the Reform Party of Canada, has maintained that he is not interested in joining up with Joe Clark and the Progressive Conservatives. In his acceptance speech, Stephen Harper said his team will be working on the premise that the Canadian Alliance Party is a "permanent political institution." "

Canada Online Dateline: 03/22/02

But when Harper realized he couldn't get nationally elected under the Canadian Alliance Brand or the Reform Brand he needed a national party name. And it was the Conservative Party of Canada.

When Peter Mackay became leader of the Conservatives, nowhere in his platform while he was running to become leader did he state that he had intentions of merging the two parties. Joe Clark, Flora MacDonald and other Tories were adamantly opposed to this merger. they believed that Stephen Harper's brand of conservatism did not belong in the Tory Party.

So essentially what you had happen was a "hijacking" of the Conservative Party by Stephen Harper with the collusion of Peter MacKay. It was the only way Stephen Harper ever had a chance of becoming Prime Minister.

Harper is simply using the Conservative Party to maintain his position of power. Without the Conservatives he would never have become Prime Minister.

Another example is the recent Alberta election. Alberta, Canada's most conservative province voted against the Wildrose Party. why? Because the were too extreme. The reports that Harper didn't want them too win are nothing more than what he wants Canadians to believe.

Of course he wanted a Wildrose win. It would have simply strengthened his ideological drive to change Canada completely. If Wildrose became a national party that had a chance of winning an election you don't think Harper wouldn't jump ship and try to become leader of their party?

What is happening right now is this. Conservatives are beginning to wake up and realize what's going on. They may be attempting to reclaim their party. They're beginning to see the damage Stephen Harper is doing to the environment, to the scientific community and to Canada's position abroad. Never has Canada had such a low standing in the world as under Stephen Harper.

This is why old time Conservative members are beginning to speak up. They disagree with what's happening.

You get NDPers, Liberals and the real Canadian conservative voters and supporters out there, Stephen Harper will be yesterday's news and hopefully become a historical warning to others the dangers of electing someone who believes himself to be the "smartest man in the room"

Owen Gray said...

What you've outlined, Anon, is the kind of coalition of voters it will take to defeat Stephen Harper.

But until enough of these voters vote strategically, Harper will remain King of the Hill.

Anonymous said...

Harper's Northern Foundation Party from 1989, suits his dictatorship style of government to a T.

Harper did say, we wouldn't recognize Canada, when he was through with our country. Damn right we don't and, he is held responsible for it too.

Destroying our Democracy and our Civil Rights and Liberties. Selling Canada out to a Communist country, has really angered the people. Not protecting Canadian jobs by, permitting foreign country's, to bring their own people over. Losing our manufacturing company's, driving Canada into one economy is insane.

I have lost track, of how many lawsuits there are against Harper.

The citizens in BC, are right fed up with Harper's, Campbell/Clark BC Liberals, and Harper's Henchmen Boessenkool. Ex BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell, was rewarded, the post of High Commissioner to England, for doing Harper's dirty work for him. Harper's BC Liberals, are one their way out too.

Owen Gray said...

Eventually this will all catch up with Harper, Anon. We should hope that it doesn't take long.

kirbycairo said...

It is interesting, from a historical point of view, that Harper has been able to maintain this kind of coalition together for as long as he has. Since it is obvious that he is suffering from some kind of narcissistic disorder and since he has strayed so far from the basic traditions of the conservative movement, it seems that history would predict a fairly spectacular break-up of this strange historical cabal.

On the other hand, principled abandonment of one's party by a legislator is actually a fairly rare phenomenon even when the party strays far afield from its traditions or into dubious areas of government action such as wholesale destruction of democratic institutions. The rarity of such principle on the part of individual legislators is probably the result of a psychological syndrome similar to the mob mentality when no individual steps up to stop immoral or illegal actions because they are convinced that the failure of others to step up is a collective sign that the actions can be deemed socially acceptable. I believe the phenomenon is called the "by-stander effect" or "diffusion of responsibility." Of course, under such conditions it usually only takes one person to stand up and the floodgates open to mass dissent. In the meantime, a tyrannical leader often maintains order and loyalty by a combination of fear and this 'Diffusion of responsibility."

Owen Gray said...

It's absolutely true, Kirby, that we get the government we deserve. Until Canadians have the courage to send Harper packing, we will get more of the same.

Perhaps opposition to the budget bill will light a fire.