Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Fifteen Year Reign?

Yesterday, Lawrence Martin floated a depressing thought: We may have to live with Stephen Harper for a long, long time:

With still plenty of time in his current term, Mr. Harper will join the group of long-time tenants and it’s even possible he will one day make the 15-year club. Opposition party members will quietly tell you that without amalgamation or a co-operation deal of some kind among progressive parties, the chances of unseating the Conservatives are small. Reducing them to a minority is well possible, they feel, but not throwing them out.

Harper, most certainly, has been blessed with good luck. But his long term prospects have thus far been guaranteed by a bitterly divided opposition. And, at the six year mark, that opposition is still bitterly divided -- even if their combined number of seats is better than the Conservatives:

Currently, the country’s political dynamic sets up splendidly for him. He can, strange as it seems, do poorly and still win. In the past year or more, he has dropped five or six points in the polls. The opposition parties, by contrast, have all had good years. The New Democrats elected a strong leader in Thomas Mulcair and maintained the new-found strength they gained in the 2011 election. Bob Rae kept the Liberals afloat and Justin Trudeau has set their hopes ablaze. The Bloc Québécois got back on its feet in 2011. The Greens showed they aren’t going away.

As long as Stephen Harper can keep the opposition parties quarreling among themselves, he wins. He used that tactic last week in dealing with the First Nations. He used it during the last three elections. The lesson should be pretty clear. Unless -- and until -- the opposition can put country ahead of party, Stephen Harper will remain in the catbird's seat.


Danneau said...

I, too, found this prospect disturbing and daunting, just as I find the general tenor of the Globe and other outlets of its ilk distressingly monolithic in their unwillingness to harbour and promote debate. Not only must the opposition parties put country above politics, the citizens of Canada must put society before private gain and recognize that Harper and Company represent a threat of unprecedented proportions. I fear this might be too much of a stretch for many of us.

Owen Gray said...

It's no exaggeration, Danneau, to claim that Harper wants to remake the country. And the Canadian press -- with perhaps the exception of the Toronto Star -- don't seem to recognize the danger he represents.

Until Canadians -- through opposition parties which rise above parochial concerns -- offer genuine opposition to his program, the juggernaut will continue.

ChrisJ said...

This just makes me sad.

Also, I'm not holding my breath for many people to put country before personal gain; that concept seems to be fading from the world.

Owen Gray said...

It was Maggie Thatcher who claimed that there was no such thing as society, Chris.

There were only individuals. It would appear that, unfortunately, a lot of people took what she said as gospel.

Anonymous said...

The absolute number one thing a Dictator has to control, is the media as their propaganda machine. Then they grab control of everything, they get their hands on. Name me one thing, Harper doesn't control? That's exactly the tactics, Dictators, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini used. They controlled. Besides which, all of them lied, deceived and cheated to win. They all had the same typo personalities. None of them deserved to win either.

There are no, ethics, morals nor decency, left in this country. Canada has now become a, disgraceful, shameful country. I am no longer proud to be a Canadian. The evil corruption, going on in this country, has sickened me.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that the majority of Canadians feel as you do, Anon. The problem is that not enough of them are voting.

Fightfordemocracy said...

Given the passivity and wilful ignorance of most Canadians, the current dictator may well be in power for a long time. The Germans were lucky to lose Hitler after only twelve years. Most dictators, once entrenched, are there for life.

Harper, as Hitler was, is a warmonger. It may be that his aggressive approach to foreign affairs will be his downfall. God knows, Canada is rapidly losing all reputation abroad, and this in a globalized world where reputation counts more than ever.

I see that Harper has dragged Canada into a foreign war in Mali, and we only found out because the president of Mali tweeted about it. The Ottawa Citizen picked up on this tweet and published the good news Monday and only then did Harper "announce" it. Yes, I know, Canadian involvement is supposed to last only a week, but given his approach to honesty and transparency, I wouldn't be surprised if somehow we find ourselves in a prolonged mess. Apparently there are Canadian mining interests in Mali.

Most Canadians don't seem to mind being lied to, if they even know what is going on. They don't mind their taxes being squandered on foreign wars entered into without debate. They don't mind major issues like global warming being completely ignored at their expense. But they will.

Owen Gray said...

There will be a price to be paid for Harper's folly, Fighting -- and the longer he is in office, the higher the bill will be.

Here in Ontario, Mike Harris's downfall began when he tried to evict natives from Ipperwash Provincial Park. It may be that the Harper government -- with its prominent Harris alumni -- is headed in the same direction.

Dana said...

There will never be any level of cooperation between the LPC and NDP. Ever. Not ever. Put it out of your mind.

Neither of those parties give a moments thought to the current state or future of the country - only to the current state and future of their electoral prospects.

Which puts them solidly behind the Harperites because they do think about the current and future of the country.

The Canada you thought you remembered or you thought you grew up in is dead and gone.

Our erstwhile reputation as a peace keeping nation took almost a half century to sink into the consciousness of the average comfortably numb and complacent so called citizen.

Fifteen years is nothing.

Owen Gray said...

I don't disagree with your take on the Liberals or the NDP, Dana. The problem is that the "old Canada" you referred to was a delicate balancing act.

And the New Canada you refer to -- the Conservative Canada -- will be a fractured Canada. The centre will not hold.

But that's the Conservative way. Like the corporate raiders they idolize, after buying the business, they sell off the constituent parts.

Dana said...

Owen, I remember, back when I was posting regularly at the Galloping Beaver in 2006, writing a post imagining what it might be like after a decade of having a PM whose first instinct was division. We've had divisive PMs and governments before of course but never one whose first instinct was to divide.

We're finding out.

And I agree the centre will not hold.

Absent a Council of First Ministers with very strong federalist tendencies (oxymoronic, no) I can't see a way for the Canadian federation as we know it to survive another decade of Harper.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Dana, what you suggest could well come to pass.

Harper's political instinct is to divide, not to widen the circle of citizenship.

He's the anti-Canadian.