Stephen Harper may be defeated in the upcoming election because the economy has tanked. But, Ralph Surette writes, there are other reasons -- better reasons -- to send him packing:
This is not an election like any other. What's at stake is nothing less than the integrity of Canada's most fundamental features -- the justice system, the electoral system, the public service, the tax system and Parliament itself -- all of which Harper has relentlessly assaulted and would complete the job of reducing to his personal playthings if only enough people could be kept deep enough in the dark to give him one more majority.
It has been a mark of Harper's manipulative genius to keep all this under the radar. It has also been the signal failure of the opposition parties to raise their sights and crystallize these crucial arguments against him. (Thursday's leaders' debate brushed past all this -- a segment on "democracy" dealt mainly with electoral reform, the Senate, the role of MPs and so on).
Along with the dismantled watchdog bodies, the fired and muzzled scientists, the harassment of charitable organizations with tax audits, the totalitarian instruction to federal librarians to "demonstrate loyalty" to the regime even when off duty, the dismissal of evidence in favour of ideology in policy and legislation, and on and on, you might note this: cuts in staff at the Department of Justice are such that legislation riddled with errors has been passed, usually hidden in democracy-mocking omnibus bills. Some have been, and others probably will be, knocked down by the Supreme Court.
The Harperist mentality is not to fix this, but rather to try harder to rig the courts (so far even Harper's appointed judges have gagged at his legal predations), as concerns rise in legal circles about some of his appointments, including his latest to the Supreme Court, an Alberta judge who was only a few years ago, as a law professor, blogging the Harperist line.
Geoff Stevens writes that many Conservatives are appalled by Harper's behaviour. But they like his tax cuts. The fundamental question they face is: Can their votes be bought? Mr. Harper is betting that they can be.
Fifty-five years ago, John F. Kennedy famously said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." If Canadians answer that question honestly, they will conclude that the best thing they can do for their country is to turf Mr. Harper.