It's truly demoralizing to discover that a significant number of Canadians continue to believe in Stephen Harper. Michael Harris writes:
And now we have an even bigger problem, according to an astonishing story in the Ottawa Citizen by Kathryn May. Nearly one-in-five Canadians believes that the prime minister could be justified in closing down Parliament in difficult times. A further 17 per cent believe that dissolving the Supreme Court would be okeydoke in the right circumstances. The question was asked and answered without providing any details about what sorts of crises would justify imposing a dictatorship.
These alarming statistics are contained in a study by the Americas Society headed up by David Rockefeller in association with Vanderbilt University. The group surveyed attitudes towards democracy and governance in interviews with 50,000 people in 28 countries. It found that Canada was among those nations most likely to support shuttering its legislatures. In fact, the study found that only the citizens of Paraguay, Peru, and Haiti were more likely to put their democracies in mothballs than Canadians.
And, so, the juggernaut continues. The Harper Express to One Man Rule rolls merrily along:
He is the prime minister who refused to produce documents requested by a parliamentary committee. He is the leader who denounced omnibus legislation in opposition and vastly extended its use when he formed the government. He is the prime minister who muzzled MPs, misled parliament on the F-35 acquisition, and told more stories than Hans Christian Andersen on the Wright/Duffy Affair.
Most people play by the rules; this prime minister plays with them.
As long time Clerk of the House of Commons and former Information Commissioner Robert Marleau told me:
“We operate under Westminster rules — an honourable understanding that you will play within the rules and by the rules. Mr. Harper has not played within the rules. Having attained absolute power, he has absolutely abused that power to the maximum.”
The clearest sign that Marleau is right is Harper’s constant refrain that he is the only person qualified to run the country — not the best person, but the only one. He has said on more than one occasion that his job is to persuade Canadians not to choose the wrong person – i.e. anyone other than him. His long term goal is to do to Canada what the Progressive Conservative Party has done to Alberta for the last 40-plus years; turn it into a one-party petro-state where voting is the last priority on the to-do list.
Only Harper, the spin goes, is capable of running the country -- if you think that dictatorship is good for the soul. The price, of course, for that conviction is that Canada must lose its soul.