That's the question Bob Hepburn asked in yesterday's Toronto Star. The record is stunning:
How does Harper get away with dismantling the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, which promoted democracy and human rights around the world for 24 years?
How does Harper get away with cutting funding for organizations such as Kairos, a coalition of church groups that advocated for human rights?
How does Harper get away with introducing a fair elections act that was so unfair it should rightly have been called the anti-democratic elections act?
How does Harper get away with slapping gag orders on public servants and scientists, preventing them from speaking to the public?
How does Harper get away with letting cabinet ministers restrict freedom of speech and information tenets, withhold and alter documents, and launch personal attacks on whistleblowers?
How does Harper get away with slamming the chief electoral officer for doing his job?
How does Harper, who loves to tout federal-provincial relations, get away with openly snubbing the premier of Canada’s most populous province for more than a year?
How does Harper get away with blissfully ignoring Conservative election scandals, from the infamous anti-democratic robocall affair to voter fraud and election spending violations?
How does Harper get away with shutting down Parliament not once but twice for partisan political reasons?
The reason is not hard to find:
While some pro-democracy groups have raised alarms in the past about Harper, most Canadians have just shrugged their shoulders, albeit in disgust. They are disengaged, discouraged by government scandals and believe politicians don’t listen to them and aren’t interested in the issues that are important to them.
Harper thrives on the cynicism he creates. He has raised Canadian cynicism to new heights, knowing that cynicism -- when it becomes fatal -- causes paralysis. And paralyzed institutions will offer him no resistance.
That's why this year's election is seminal. If Mr. Harper is re-elected, that paralysis will become permanent.