Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Reverse Midas Touch

In 2008, when Stephen Harper cut public funding for political parties, the opposition rose and threatened to take down his nascent government. He prorogued Parliament and bellowed that the other parties were engaged in a conspiracy to deny Canadians the minority government of their choice.

In 2011, after being found in contempt of Parliament, he declared that "contempt" merely meant being outvoted, then raged rabidly about "separatist coalitions." Now, when the political threat comes from within his own ranks, he rages at those he appointed.

The pattern is pretty clear: Stephen Harper assigns blame, but he accepts none. And that, Andrew Coyne writes, is the problem:

As diverting as these tales of petty vendettas and double-crosses and he saids-she saids may be, it is important not to lose the thread. We can marvel at how much this or that senator claimed on his or her expense account, we can debate whether it was smart tactics to threaten so and so with such and such. But what’s essential is to ensure that the integrity of public office is upheld. That’s what makes this such a big story. That’s why it matters.

Harper is working very hard to make sure that Canadians lose the real thread -- because it winds its way back to him:

This is what makes the prime minister’s interventions in the House this week so problematic, in hindsight. Granted, he has been suspected from the start of having directed the secret payment to Duffy, and the subsequent whitewashing of his misdeeds. And indeed Duffy’s peculiarly blinkered sense of outrage, that the prime minister should have demanded he repay expenses he had falsely claimed, gave him the opportunity, as I wrote last time, to turn the situation to his advantage. No, he had no knowledge of Wright’s activities. But had he ordered Duffy to repay? “Darn right I did!” Was he in support of the Senate motion to suspend all three senators without pay? “Unequivocally.”

But in so doing the prime minister, more than anyone has to date, made himself the issue. By boasting of how he had been the one to bring Duffy to account, he was in effect saying: I am the standard. I am the enforcer. The rules are what I say they are, and I will decide in any given case what punishment should be given out.

The prime minister has always insisted that he makes the rules -- parliamentary conventions and the law be damned. The result is that he has thoroughly corrupted the Canadian political system. The late Gore Vidal claimed that modern Republicans possessed a Reverse Midas Touch. "Everything they touch," he said, "turns to poo."

The same can be said of Stephen Harper.


the salamander said...

.. manipulating the so called facts .. in the right wing direction .. while trying to herd the disparate feral partisan cats of Ottawalberta is a faux politikal cowboy's nightmare..

Yippee yi yowl k-iii yay .. git them pussy MP's movin along, whip em hard !! No dissension or discussion allowed in this toxic zombie herd.. y'hear !! Darn right !!

Good luck Mr Harper .. you wannabe legacy'd cowpoker from Fort Flanagan via Toronto

If selling out, smothering democracy and attacking Canada and our environment is 'legacy' .. you have a smokin hole legacy for sure.. pardner ..

Lorne said...

One of the key questions, I think, Owen, is whether the corruption of democracy that has taken place under Harper is reversible. On a related topic, I was reading a review of the new Paul Wells book about Harper, and he points out that the incrementalism that has been the Prime Minister's strategy all along, turning the country away from liberal traditions and practices, is not likely to be reversed by anyone who comes after him. I hope he is wrong, but judging by pronouncements by young Justin and Thomas Mulcair, I suspect he is spot on.

Owen Gray said...

I have listened to Wells a couple of times, too, Lorne. And like you, I'm worried.

In the end, the defense against Harper must be grounded in the rule of law. If he succeeds in this case, then he will, indeed, have trumped due process.

And, although I have no sympathy for any of the three senators, I believe that their demand for due process is what this fight is all about. Without it, our democracy is in deep trouble.

Owen Gray said...

This really has turned into a cat fight in a cat house, salamander.

For the good of the community, the people who run the place have to be given their walking papers -- after the established legal procedures have been applied.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, during this mountain of distraction?

Flahery is busy with, the last of Harper's Omnibus Bill.
Oct 26/2013

This last bill also has, very little to do with the budget either, nor did the past Omnibus Bills.

We really don't know how much of Canada, Harper has already handed Communist China. Won't be surprised if Flaherty hasn't readied, a lot more deals for Communist China.

Harper was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation of 1989. Harper most certainly is no Conservative, what-so-ever.

People thinking Harper will go down this time, had better give their heads a good shake. Harper is a Dictator and a control freak. Harper's favorite henchmen, do his bidding.

Harper is every bit as hateful as, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini. They too, lied, deceived, thieved, were corrupt, dirty politics, dirty tactics and, all of them cheated to win.

I believe Hitler made a law, no other political parties were permitted in Germany.

It is well known, Harper as a dictator and a control freak, wants no more elections either. However, that doesn't matter to Harper? He can always cheat to win. Citizens say, Canada is Harper's Fourth Reich.

Owen Gray said...

He certainly appears ready to hang on to the bitter end, Anon. As Wells says in his book, he plans to be around for a long time.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

All the caw caw looks good on Harper. It looks like tomorrow the Senate will work or a compromise in an effort to get a majority of Conservatives to vote to have the rogue Senator's "gone". They will be allowed to stay with some other punishment. This will be a deny Harper of getting his way.

Owen Gray said...

Who knows what the compromise will be, Philip? There appear to be a number of Conservative senators who want to look like they're independent of Harper.

Whether or not this is a genuine rebellion is yet to be seen.