Stephen Harper has always treated his political rivals with contempt. But these days, David Krayden writes, he is equally contemptuous of his base. Consider the case of the National Firearms Association:
Leave it to the ‘tough guys’ of Canadian politics to pick fights in all the wrong places and remind the little people of who’s really calling the shots. A former party flag-waver has learned that bitter lesson — which is why Sheldon Clare, president of the National Firearms Association, is now running as an independent against the Conservative incumbent in Cariboo-Prince George, B.C.
Clare heads an organization that wields only a fraction of the power enjoyed by its carnivorous cousin in the U.S., the National Rifle Association, the bête noire of liberals everywhere. The NRA routinely tilts the table in Senate and House races south of the border, while Clare’s group can’t really be called a power-broker.
According to Clare, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s staffers got into the act as Harper dispatched his personal servant, Kory Teneycke — fresh from ‘managing’ Sun News into the ground — to hold the line. (Teneycke’s role in this story is particularly hilarious because, as the Sun News chief, he never missed an opportunity to insert a gun story into the daily lineup. He once assigned reporter Alexandra Gunn to do five live stand-ups about a new salt-firing assault rifle designed to kill flies.)
Clare says he was told not to “be used by the NDP as a stick to beat up the CPC” and to refrain from criticizing Bill C-51 in the interests of political solidarity. In return, the NFA says it got a guarantee that Bill C-42, which addresses firearms licensing, would be amended.
Clare was outraged over the whole affair and went public, claiming that Teneycke just shrugged and said the group had been “played.” Maybe you think that kind of “play” is just good clean fun, or bad politics, or just politics as usual. At any rate, it’s politics as usual for these Conservatives. Harper doesn’t merely take his core supporters for granted — he seems to relish every opportunity he gets to rub their noses in the mud for being naïve enough to believe a political promise.
Then there are all those social conservatives who used to believe that -- like Moses -- Harper would lead them to the Promised Land:
He never had any intention of pursuing their objectives, of course. He made that clear in 2012, when MPs were debating Conservative backbencher Stephen Woodworth’s motion to examine whether a child is considered human at conception or birth. Harper gave his House Whip, Gordon O’Connor, a barn-burner of a speech to read, belittling the motion and proclaiming that “abortion cannot be eliminated. It is part of the human condition.” Debate’s over, social conservatives. Back to your kennel.And, of course, there is the military:
Somehow the DND funding chart keeps showing the arrow pointing upwards — but the obsolete equipment isn’t getting replaced. And those who leave the military — particular those who leave with lingering trauma and missing limbs — soon find out that all those kind words about service to country and a nation’s eternal gratitude don’t add up to a real veteran’s pension any longer. As with gun owners and social conservatives, the message is the same: Take what we’re offering, shut up and get back in line. Oh, and remember to vote Conservative.
The word "respect" isn't in Mr. Harper's dictionary.