Monday, June 30, 2014

Stephen Harper's Legacy


Michael Harris has written a devastating indictment of the Harper regime. The piece is a little long. After all, the man has done a lot of damage in eight years.  But, by far, most of the damage has been done since the prime minister was given his majority:

It was revealing. Unlike his minority governments, where a murder of political crows flapped overhead waiting for the fatal misstep, after 2011 there was no vote Harper could not win, and no cabal in the Opposition ranks that could topple him.

The new prime minister ushered in his majority government with a performance that both confirmed and contradicted some of his earlier pronouncements. It was true, as he once predicted, that the country was becoming unrecognizable through fundamental changes pushed through in his majority. Many of them had to do with the effective deconstruction of Canada’s democratic institutions. It was untrue, outrageously so, as he claimed, that he would be the prime minister of all Canadians after his election in 2011.

As the country quickly discovered, Harper was the Great Divider, pitting one group of citizens against another, a tactic singled out and criticized by former prime minister Joe Clark. He was the champion of a voracious corporate sector, the practitioner of bully-boy diplomacy, and the generous patron of the police and security establishment.

What makes Harris' piece so interesting is what insiders  -- some anonymously -- have told Harris:

A former Harper cabinet minister told me that the prime minister despises the Charter almost as much as he does the man who gave it to the country, Pierre Trudeau.

“Mandatory minimum sentences have no rational basis,” criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby told me. “One of the reasons Harper put them forward is that he hates judges and doesn’t trust them. So he takes their discretionary power away from them and hands more power to the prosecutors. Now a prosecutor can make a deal with an accused, waiving a minimum sentence in return for a guilty plea. The real decisions will now not be made in open court, but behind closed doors.”

“The reason for the muzzling [of scientists] is clear: control the message,” said Jeff Hutchings, an internationally acclaimed fish biologist from Dalhousie University. “This is like an Inquisition – ‘Who did you speak to, what did you say’. This wreaks of an atmosphere of suppression.”

Harper's legacy comes down to one word: tyranny. That is why, Harris writes, the 2015 election will mark a watershed:

The year 2015 will be a Rubicon election for Canada. That is the year that Canadians will have to choose between a national security state run by an autocratic cheerleader of the oil industry, and any semblance of a healthy, inclusive democracy – provided, of course, the opposition parties present that option. It is a matter of serious debate whether the Harper government’s work can be undone, or whether he has created a new normal in the country’s public life.

Mr. Harper has worked hard to make his changes permanent. The next election will determine whether or not he has succeeded.


Lorne said...

As much as I look forward to the 2015 election, Owen, I also fear it, for it could indeed mark the point of no return for our nation; some days I consider that so much is now known about Harper's ruthless and deforming rule that his re-election seems but a remote possibility, while on other days I fear that too much of the electorate is still enjoying a seemingly endless sleep, oblivious to anything beyond their own backyard.

Owen Gray said...

Like you, Lorne, my expectations change with the day. If Harper wins again, it will be more than tragic. It will be catastrophic.

Anonymous said...

There are 413,000 of Chinese in Vancouver and 45,000 more want in. Premier Christy Clark made a major suck-up to the Chinese. Christy Clark works for Harper as, Gordon Campbell did before her.

Harper will have the votes and donations from the Chinese. Harper has the votes of the, Jewish people in Canada. Harper will have the votes from, the Ukrainian Canadians. He will have the votes from the people of Syria.

We do know? Harper does nothing out of, the goodness of his heart. Harper uses foreign people to benefit himself.

If we don't get rid of Harper, like yesterday? We won't have a country left.

Owen Gray said...

As Harris says, Anon, 2015 is going to be a watershed election.

The Mound of Sound said...

"this is like an inquisition." I've heard that same refrain from two mid-level federal public servants both of them nearing retirement. They speak of an atmosphere of genuine fear within today's public service. Trust and confidence have been replaced by watchfulness and suspicion. One mentioned the sense of being observed for loyalty to the governing party. Saying the wrong thing can be a career ender. Both are looking forward to getting out.

BTW, one of these had to become a mid-tier political commissar. Her job is to screen public enquiries and, where possible, derail them. Imagine being told your job is to block public access to their own civil servants.

I've said all along that Harper's governance is patterned on Stalin's only without the mass-murder.

Owen Gray said...

And he rails about the evils of Communism, Mound.

Maureen said...

Harris refers to Harper as being a "cheerleader" for the oil companies, but that word is much too benign for me for he's much too aggressive on behalf of his oily friends. Harper may not be a mass-murderer a la Stalin, but its becoming clearer his policies are designed to dehumanize masses of Canadians to the greatest extent possible.

That old saying "are you a man or a mouse?" comes to mind. Yes, Harper is a bully, but a bullying mouse, that's all. He runs and hides at the slightest chance of being held to account. The only questions he deigns to answer are "acceptable" ones submitted by his boys in short pants. Bottom line: he is but just another coward.

A leader? absolutely not. In days gone by, a true leader stood up front with his troops; Harper does nothing of the kind. In modern days a true leader stood by what was right, not with just his ideology. No, he does not even pass the "smell" test to be considered a real leader, but just another example of a small minded, cowardly dictator.

Owen Gray said...

Bullies are cowards at heart, Maureen. I'm still not convinced he'll make it to the 2015 election.

If it looks like he'll win a minority -- or worse -- be defeated, I think he'll run away.

Steve said...

I want to hear it from Justin, he should be quoting this everyday until election time, or his attack dogs should be

Owen Gray said...

Justin should focus on Harper, Steve, not the NDP. As Harris says, we are at a tipping point.