Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When The Leaving Was Good

As Stephen Harper seeks his fourth mandate, Geoff Stevens writes that he knows neither love nor respect:

This will be difficult, I know, but try to imagine you are Stephen Harper.

You are prime minister of Canada. You are approaching your 10th anniversary in that high position. You have won three consecutive general elections and are looking to make it four in a row on Oct. 19. With your majority in Parliament, you have more power and control today than an American president. You rank among the most successful political leaders in Canadian history.

Yet something is wrong.

Success does not translate into affection and admiration. You are successful, but you are not loved. Schoolchildren do not squeal with delight when they see you. Their fathers do not hoist them on their shoulders for a better view. Their mothers do not rush home to tell neighbours they have touched the garment of the prime minister of Canada. For all the sense of moment you generate, you might be an ordinary MP or a school trustee. 

Harper's success, ironically, has been fuelled by his ability to make enemies. And, ten years in, he has made a lot of them:

You have already assembled an impressive enemies list for the election campaign. Heading the list is the chief justice of Canada and her infuriating Supreme Court. The court keeps saying "no" to you. "No" to mandatory minimum prison sentences, "no" to appointing supreme court judges who don't meet eligibility requirements, "no" to abolishing or reforming the Senate without provincial consent, "no" to federal anti-prostitution laws, "no" to banning doctor-assisted suicide and, most recently, "no" to your government's efforts to stamp out the medical use of marijuana.

You upped the ante in your war with the court last week when your health minister, Rona Ambrose, declaring that she was "outraged" by that ruling, accused the court of steering young people toward marijuana use, just like, she said, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau who proposes decriminalizing possession of pot.

An election that pits the government against the Supreme Court would be an appalling precedent. But it's not as though Harper doesn't have other enemies to choose among. There's also the Senate — his own Senate — which cannot control the wastrels in its membership. There are all those terrorists in our midst who must be put down by Bill C-51, the new anti-terrorism law. There are those annoying scientists and environmentalists who keep insisting climate change is real.

And there is Vladimir Putin. Bashing Putin must be good domestic politics, because Harper was back in Europe again last week, stamping his foot and demanding the Russian leader get out of Ukraine. If Putin noticed, he has not responded, but he will have other opportunities to yield to Harper's demand before the polls close here on Oct. 19. 

What it all adds up to, Stevens writes, is that Harper's back is against the wall. One wonders if he occasionally thinks that he should have left when the leaving was good.



Mogs Moglio said...

1)he is to power hungry for that 2)he wants to destroy Canada that he has not completed the way is grotesque mind wishes 3)he wouldn't get to live on our 'dime" 4) he couldn't play the 'great leader game' anymore 5) he would be lonely as hell

He even admitted once "I have no friends pathetic.


zoombats in Hong Kong said...

Hi Owen. With all the evidence pointing to the demise of the Harper Government I still can't help being very nervous about the outcome and how I should vote. I have always been a lib but have steadily lost interest after Paul Martins reign, Dions problems, Iggy's lacklustre performance and the more recent blonde bimbo welcomed into the fold. Add to that the stand on C-51 culminating with Blair's anointment into the fold, What's a Libber to do. If Blair is a liberal, then I'm the Queen of England. If you talk about the writing on the wall, maybe we should read it and get on board one side and make a push. Could any choice be worse than what we have?

ron wilton said...

Regardless of when or how he leaves, he will go down in history as the absolute worst first minister this country could ever have produced, leaving Canada and Canadians with a black pall that will take years, if not generations, to heal.

Lorne said...

Put in those terms, Geof Stevens presents a chilling portrait of Canada's current state under this most oppressive of prime ministers, Owen. there is also a report coming out today signed by the former head of Oxfam, Amnesty International Canada and Greenpeace Canada accusing Harper of stifling democracy in our country.

Taken in the aggregate, if these things don't move our fellow citizens, I don't know what will.

The Mound of Sound said...

I wonder how Simpson can declare Harper one of the most successful prime ministers our country has known. What success? Is longevity the hallmark of success?

Surely success is a measure of achievement. Harper is a dud on that score. As Mel Hurtig points out, Harper has delivered 7 consecutive deficit budgets and, with oil revenues in the tank, the next will repeat what's now the standard. Is that success?

Harper, with the collaboration of the Liberals and New Dems, has succeeded in compressing the political spectrum. The Libs, under Ignatieff, moved well to the Right where they remain mired under Trudeau. In an even more unprincipled power play, the New Dems abandoned the Left and themselves moved sharply Right. Ignatieff/Trudeau and Layton/Mulcair made Harper's dream of permanently shifting Canada's political centre hard to the Right come true. That could be called success for Harper but at great and as yet not fully understood cost to the Canadian people.

This move to the Right has consolidated neoliberalism as the default operating system of the government and opposition parties alike. This explains why so many Canadians have become politically disaffected, estranged from government and politics. They're grey suits stuffed with wet cardboard, the lot of them. Technocrats, administrators, petit fonctionairres.

I have recently been giving some thought to whether today's "new world order" - national, regional, global - has left political institutions so shackled, fettered, as to be unable to respond effectively to the mortal threats confronting us this century. A great deal of sovereignty has been surrendered to globalism which is ultimately a capitulation and surrender of political power to global corporatism. Yet you will hear no challenge to that from any of our political parties and their complacency ensures our future and our children's will continue to be subordinated to corporate interests.

Just to call Harper "successful" reinforces my point.

Rural said...

When some one with little or no moral compass with as much power as Harper has taken for himself is "backed against the wall" it scares the H out of me Owen. I begin to wonder what he will do to retain his strangle hold on our Canadian democracy in the next few months!
The just released Voices-Voix 'Dismantling Democracy' report at www.voices-voix.ca details what he has already done in this regard.

Owen Gray said...

Harper lacks a conscience, Rural. And when he's backed against the wall, he knows no restraint.

Owen Gray said...

Harper is a courtier to those with economic clout, Mound. If being a lap dog to those who will make you comfortable is a measure of success, then Harper has been successful.

Owen Gray said...

Harper has left a wasteland in his wake, Lorne. And, he will do whatever it takes to maintain that wasteland.

Owen Gray said...

I agree wholeheartedly, Ron. History will not be kind to Harper.

Owen Gray said...

Lots of choices come down to being the least obnoxious choice, zoombats. That's exactly the choice voters are going to have to make in the next election.

Owen Gray said...

He's being shown the same contempt which he has shown others, Mogs.

Les Smith said...

Regarding the outcome of the coming election, I'm more than worried.

The owner-Manager of my local M&Ms is a good indicator of the "average" voter.

She's happy that she's had tax reductions, she's looking forward to receiving that cheque from Harper, and she swallows whole all the ads on television that say how great Harper is, and how bad everyone else...

This is the sum total of her knowledge of politics.

At the Five Guys hamburger place (they're excellent, BTW), I noticed that they had a sign proclaiming that they were using potatoes from Cavendish.
I commented that they were from the place that Mike Duffy pretended to live.
The response:
"Who's Mike Duffy?"

These are Canada's typical voters.

Owen Gray said...

Ignorance and apathy are Harper's allies, Les. And he cultivates both.

Steve said...

two seats, two seats, come on Canada make it so.

Owen Gray said...

Small minds can't see past their noses, Steve.