Stephen Harper claims that Conservative values are Canadian values. But, based on recent polling data, Frank Graves concludes that Mr. Harper is trying to stop a wave that is not moving in his direction:
When looking at values overall we are struck by their level of stability. This is to be expected and welcomed; values constitute the moral charter for societies and it would be a very bewildering and unstable world where values were shifting rapidly. But within this placid world of normative stability there are some conspicuous exceptions. All of the values which are demonstrating downward trends are conservative values.
Respect for authority and traditional family values, still very important in older and conservative Canada, hold no resonance in younger and university-educated Canada. The overall trajectory in all portions of society is downward for these and related conservative values such as minimal government and security. Not only are these trendlines significantly downward but this decline in subscription to conservative values is even more pronounced in younger Canada, metropolitan Canada, university-educated Canada and among women.
Graves writes that the Harper government is serving a "gerontocracy," which he warns, "could have the negative effect of reinforcing the sclerotic stagnation evident in the current economy." It's strange that a man who sees himself as an economist can't see the red flags. But, then, Mr. Harper didn't see the Great Recession coming, even when it was just around the corner.
Even more importantly, Graves' findings explain why Mr. Harper insists on doing things behind closed doors. Despite his claim that Canadians are true conservatives, he knows that his interests are not in the public interest. Transparency would put an end to the juggernaut. The gerontocracy would be toppled.
Stephen Harper became prime minister before he turned fifty. But he is -- and always has been -- an old man.