That's what Stephen Lewis calls the Harper government. Lewis has always known how to turn a phrase. But he's also always known how to make an argument. And the evidence he offers in support of his case is damning. Tim Harper writes in the Toronto Star:
Canada’s world standing is in free fall.
The Harper government’s contempt for Parliament and its traditions has degraded political life and fostered voter cynicism.
Its attitude to aboriginals is not paternalistic, it is racist.
Harper’s refusal to join the rest of the world and move toward renewable energy sources is endangering future generations and contributing to a looming planetary meltdown.
Civil society and the ideas it fosters have been slapped down and censored, subverting democratic norms.
Lewis understands just how far Canada has moved from its moorings:
"Vitriolic nastiness in debate does not breed respect,” he said. “Nor does adolescent partisanship, nor do pieces of legislation of encyclopedic length that hide contentious issues, nor does the sudden emergence of frenzied TV attack ads, nor does the spectre of a Prime Minister’s Office exercising authoritarian control.”
"It is as though Canada had decided, like some mindless national curmudgeon, to be a permanent outlier on issues of minority rights and women’s rights,” Lewis said. “It does us damage. It does us shame.”
He has said that there was a time in Ottawa when his father, Robert Stanfield and Pierre Trudeau led their respective parties. They could disagree and they could do it with wit. He recalls the time his father stood in the House of Commons, pointed at the prime Minister and proclaimed, "There, but for Pierre Trudeau, goes God!"
But the three men respected each other. Lewis still believes that we can return to that kind of Canada:
“Somewhere in my soul,” Lewis says, “I cherish the possibility of a return to a vibrant democracy, where equality is the watchword, where people of different ideological conviction have respect for each other, where policy is debated rather than demeaned, where the great issues of the day are given thoughtful consideration, where Canada’s place on the world stage is seen as principled and laudatory, where human rights for all is the emblem of a decent civilized society.”
Let's hope he's right.