Naomi Klein coined the phrase "disaster capitalism." Taking his cue from Klein, Michael Harris writes that "disaster democracy" is alive and well in Canada. It's not a new phenomenon. Herman Goering explained how it worked when he was on trial at Nuremberg:
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger…it works the same in any country.”
And Harper has taken his cue from Goering:
When Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down at the national war memorial on Oct. 22, Prime Minister Stephen Harper immediately connected his killer to radical Islam and terrorism. Long before any facts were in, Harper claimed that all Canadians had been attacked by the actions of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. There was never any talk from the PM about Zehaf-Bibeau’s mental instability or addiction to crack cocaine. His mother and Cpl. Cirillo’s girlfriend were left to develop that side of the debate on the fringes of the alternative media.
In the wake of the terrible events in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, the prime minister’s stagnation in the polls came to a sudden end. Almost instantly, disaster democracy gave his popularity a five-per-cent boost in the polls. That is approximately what political parties can expect after a full-fledged leadership convention. It also boosted public support for Harper’s war in Iraq, which shows every sign of leading to boots on the ground there – and now perhaps also engagement in Syria.
Now -- if the polls are to be believed -- the Conservatives and the Liberals are neck and neck. Mr. Harper proved long ago that he isn't the smartest guy in the room. But he does know how to take advantage of events over which he has no control.
Ultimately, control belongs to we the people. But there has never been a guarantee that we the people will make wise decisions.