Saturday, July 12, 2014

That Will Take Some Doing


Stephen Harper came to Ottawa like a bull in a china shop -- determined to get his way in all things, even if it meant destroying the shop in the process. But, Carol Goar writes, the bull has been wounded:

It took a while to find the chinks in Stephen Harper’s armour. But Canadians have done it now.
They are chipping away at the prime minister’s policies on everything from electoral reform to military procurement. Advocacy groups have raised red flags, the media have highlighted the damage he is doing to people’s lives and communities and the courts have reined him in. But the primary thrust is coming from citizens who don’t like what is happening to their country. 

Goar then goes on to highlight several instances where Harper hasn't been allowed to get his way:

Their plan to the rewrite the Election Act , disenfranchising thousands of voters, ran into a wall of public opposition. The harder Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre pushed his proposal, the harder Canadians pushed back. Eventually he agreed to amend the controversial bill. The new version is not perfect, but its most contentious elements are gone. It will no longer allow the Tories to restrict the right to vote or withhold ballots from individuals whose identification doesn’t meet their standards. 
Their plan to flood the labour market with temporary foreign workers worked for six years. But last April it began to unravel. The Royal Bank was caught replacing its information technology staff with temporary foreign workers. (The bank said the arrangement met the letter of the law, but apologized and launched a review of its outsourcing strategy.) Rather than squelching the controversy, that stoked it. Whistle-blowers in other sectors — mining, hospitality, food service — popped up, claiming they too had lost their jobs to temporary foreign workers. Employment Minister Jason Kenney tried to put a lid on the contagion but it was too late. On June 20, he announced a wholesale overhaul of the program, effectively shutting it down. 
Their plan to revamp — preferably abolish — the Senate without the agreement of the provinces was rejected out of hand by the Supreme Court of Canada. It delivered a stinging rebuke to the prime minister, pointing out he did not have authority to override the Constitution or change the rules under which Canadians are governed. Harper grudgingly accepted the court’s ruling, but tried to exact revenge six days later. His office issued a statement insinuating that Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin had improperly approached him. The evidence melted under scrutiny.  

What is most striking, however, is that the prime minister appears incapable of learning from these rebukes:

Their plans to crush prostitution and drive an oil pipeline through British Columbia will probably be next on the list.

Conservative policies are being thrown out with abandon these days. But the ultimate rebuke will be when Canadians throw Harper and his party out. That is still going to take some doing.


Toby said...

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

There is an element of naivety among Harper's players. They seem at times to actually believe what they are told by powerful interests. Jim Flaherty appeared to believe that reducing taxes would automatically increase jobs; he seemed surprised when banks and big corporations hoarded the money. Jason Kenny is now acting like a deer in the headlights as it becomes evident that employers, large and small, are abusing his beloved temporary foreign workers program. Conservatives across the country are scrambling to explain why the various trade deals aren't producing the good, high paying jobs
they promised.

In Harper's case we can attribute his motives to malice.

Dana said...

I still can't see Harper being denied another majority. And please, no one cite polls. If we haven't learned by now that political polling is meaningless self-gratification we're stupider than even I think. And that's saying something.

Harper is injuring himself.

Neither the grinning cheese steak that is JT nor the bearded ballyhooer that is TM have laid a glove on him.

Taken together they're barely a failing vaudeville song and dance team while their parties are moribund relics of another century.

Harper may well decide he's had enough and retire to the Fraser American Enterprise Institute but it isn't going to be because Trudea or Mulcair or both together have made life so intolerable that he just - can't - go - on.

Given that the next election in this grandiose little colonial shard of a wilderness is arguably the most important in our history and that somewhere around 45% of the electorate will stay home to see if they can organize their sock drawer by colour - what wonderful things do you expect?

Canada was always an idea.

Now it's just a bad idea.

Owen Gray said...

I've said before, Dana, that you may be right. And as I wrote, getting rid of Harper will take some doing.

The real question facing Canadians is: Do we have the courage -- and the wisdom -- to send him on his way?

We may just wait until he becomes the King of the Fraser Institute.

Owen Gray said...

Malice triumphs, Toby, when stupidity allows it to triumph.

the salamander said...

.. when you are caught naked.. ie when fools like Robert Goguen are part of the meager fabric covering you and your bare ass deceits or idiocy

.. Well, your policy, ideology, ethics, values, direction & raison d'etre are stark raving naked too

And there we find ourselves .. 'governed' by fools ..
Fools following Stephen Harper et al

Where that nonsense leads, nobody knows
What is has to do with Canada, Canadians
or the Canadian identity.. another mystery..

Mr Harper.. time to depart to your next destination
Geneva, Washington, Tel Aviv, Dubai ...
It certainly won't be Canada..
You can't stomach it ... ... ....

Owen Gray said...

Something tells me he'll find a soft place to land, salamander -- another version of the National Citizens Coalition.

Unfortunately, ordinary citizens will -- and are -- crash landing. They are the losers in this tragedy,

Scotian said...

No, the most important election was 2005, when we could have stopped this nightmare before it could ever take root. The next election is one of the most important but it is more in the comparison to taking a red hot iron brand to a massive bleeding wound so as to cauterize it before you bleed to death because you were too stupid to get out of the way of the clearly charging bull that gored you.

This was a part of what I was warning about back then about why he had to be stopped then, because if he made his methods appear workable then the other parties would perforce adapt to them buy fighting fire with fire, a very obvious pattern in warfare, be it on the military battlefield or on the political. The more/longer you fight an enemy the more you risk having to become more and more like that enemy to defeat them.

While I am not as bleak abut the next election as Dana, I do not dismiss Dana's concerns/expectation out of hand either, because he is right, that could end up being the result. So far neither Trudeau nor Mulcair have done any real damage to Harper that was not already based on damage that Harper inflicted on himself first. I am not as convinced that will stay that way as the election campaign heats up, especially once the actual cycle itself starts with the writ drop, but it is possible that despite everything Harper could still come back from all that has happened. A lot will depend on just how motivated former voters who turned off voting over the past few elections (more than a few of them Lib voters) are to come back because they are just that disgusted/horrified with what they have seen come from the Harper government, especially the Harper majority government.

This is an unknown factor going into the next election, because Canadians have never seen anything like this in this country before federally, and many truly never thought it could happen here. So it is possible we will see an explosion of turnout, and if that does happen then clearly Harper is doomed. However, if turnout remains in the same range it has been as of late, then I fear Dana's expectation could all too easily prove out.

We live in truly unprecedented times for Canada where federal politics are concerned, and it has become increasingly obvious even to those who only pay cursory attention to it that the Harper government is unlike anything we have seen before, and acts in a manner that is far more arrogant, divisive, and contemptuous of all that do not share its total vision. So it is possible we may see something like 1993, or we may not, but it is up to ALL of us to try and get as many people voting against Harper next time out as possible.

Owen Gray said...

Harper knows that his path to power is paved by disaffected voters, Scotian.

The next election will turn on turnout. If it turns on apathy, Harper will win yet again.