On the surface, Stephen Harper and Pauline Marois couldn't be more different. They have diametrically opposed visions of what is best for this country. But, Haroon Siddiqui writes, they are disturbingly alike:
Both use phony wedge issues to consolidatetheir base and polarize the public. Neither cares for the long-term consequences of deeply dividing society. Her charter of Quebec values dealt with a crisis that did not exist. He spent billions on “tough-on-crime” initiatives when crime has been going down. Both exploit prejudices against minorities. Marois was crude in going after Muslims, Jews and Sikhs in the name of secularism. He is clever in isolating Canada’s one million Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism. Both use the same tactics of hand-picking totally unrepresentative Muslims to attack the community. Both copy the Republican Party’s dirty tactics of suppressing the votes of groups that are likely to vote for the opposition. For years, the GOP has been making it nearly impossible for blacks, Latinos and the young to vote. The PQ government made it difficult for Anglos, especially students, in Montreal to vote. The Harper government is changing election laws to try to disenfranchise about 500,000 people who are not likely to vote Conservative. Both use Orwellian terminology to peddle their wares. She called her signature issue the charter of secular values when, in fact, it violated the most fundamental secular value, the right to religion. He calls his plan to make elections unfair “the Fair Elections Act.”
Siddiqui adds to the list:
Both Marois and Harper spend government money on advertising campaigns promoting programs that advance their partisan purposes — she in pushing the charter, he in spending at least $200 million on his Economic Action Plan and other initiatives central to the fortunes of the Conservative party. Both treat the opposition not as adversaries but enemies. Anyone who does not agreewith her is not a true Quebecer; anyone who does not agree with Harper is not a Canadian patriot.
You get the idea. In fact, when it comes to doing politics, Harper and Marois come from the same gene pool. In the last election, Quebecers took back the keys to Marois' kingdom. Siddiqui wonders if Canadians will eventually do the same for Harper.
Perhaps -- with two caveats: First: Marois was defeated by an opposition which was sustained and focused. And, second: Campaigns matter. Besides having to deal with relentless opposition, Marois was disorganized and anything but focused.
We shall see.