Monday, January 05, 2015

Losing Its Soul

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.


Lorne said...

Hi Owen. Alison at Creekside has an interesting take on the poll. While you may have already seen it, it was updated yesterday:

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Lorne. When looking at poll results, it's always wise to remember Mark Twain's admonition about "lies, damned lies and statistics."

On the other hand, it's also wise to remember that Harper got to where he is with the support of those who were willing to believe lies, damned lies and statistics.

Kirby Evans said...

Hi Owen -
I have thought a lot about why this phenomenon might be true. The only thing I can conclude is that Canadians have so long lived in such a relatively stable democracy with so little in the way of extremisms and controversy. People who take something for granted and have no sense of what the opposite would really look like, are in danger of being complacent. Some rightwing extremists are just wing-nuts, and some are genuinely ignorant about what kind of dangers lie in wait for them.

Owen Gray said...

I think you're on to something, Kirby. When people get used to politicians who play by the rules, they think that all politicians play by the rules.

Or they believe there is no clear and present danger. It's good to hear from you. Happy New Year.

mogs moglio said...

Kirby Lorne and Owen if you have not seen this you need to watch and spread around Canadians need to know:

Michael about destroys the Harper/con government with revelations he has uncovered. All Canadians that love their country should be paying attention as Mr. Harris has.

Owen Gray said...

An excellent clip, Mogs. "If we stand up, we can stop this man."

Anonymous said...

Harper the devout Christian, who *preys* for guidance every day.

Many of us have been brought-up, in the good, decent democatic Canada. How many times have we heard? But, this is Canada and Harper can't do that. We must change our mind sets. We must not expect the best from Harper. We must expect the worst from Harper because, worst is all we will ever get from Harper.

Harper's chacteristics always remind me of, the dictators from the 30's and 40's.

Owen Gray said...

"Preys" is exactly the right word, Anon.

Toby said...

That Creekside link that Lorne posted is as interesting as the Michael Harris story because of the biases in the poll. And this:

"Also I'm sceptical as to why Canada has been included for the last four surveys in what was originally a USAID project aimed principally at Latin America and why a PostMedia paper has now run six separate stories touting the results of this year's survey without mentioning that."

Taken together, they display a big problem.

Owen Gray said...

It says something about our obsession with the horse race, Toby.

On the other hand, Harris' central point about Harper's obsession with power remains in tact.

Hugh said...

Massive budget deficits for 7 years in a row since 2008, hugely increasing the federal debt.

Who would vote for that?

Owen Gray said...

You would think that very few would, Hugh. But it's always easier if you let other people tell you what to think.