For the last ten years, Stephen Harper has been trying to remake Canada in his own image. Alan Freeman writes that, despite his Herculean efforts, Harper has failed. Want the proof? Consider his Heritage Department's attempt to identify the ten most influential Canadians:
Topping the list of Canadian icons was none other than the Antichrist himself, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Number 2 was Terry Fox. Tommy Douglas, the socialist father of medicare, came in third. Lester Pearson, father of the wishy-washy UN peacekeeping tradition, was fourth. Environmentalist David Suzuki and the late NDP leader Jack Layton came in sixth and seventh, respectively.
The only Tory on the list was Sir John A. Macdonald, who punched in at No. 8. Wayne Gretzky, whose ill-timed entry into the current election campaign at a Harper rally makes him an honorary Conservative, was ninth.
When asked what national accomplishments made them most proud, the respondents’ answers were every bit as depressing from a Harperite point of view: medicare, peacekeeping and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nobody seemed to care about the War of 1812, income-splitting or the founding of the Tim Hortons donut chain.
Heritage Minister Shelley Glover dismissed the whole exercise, saying that "the government 'will not be telling people whom they ought to be celebrating' — news to those of us in Ottawa still getting used to those frequent CF-18 flypasts."
Yesterday, the Globe and Mail endorsed the Conservatives, but not Harper. Word on the campaign trail is that, even those who plan to vote Conservative are saying they don't like Harper:
As hard as Harper tried, this country hasn’t really come around to his way of thinking — something the ‘experts’ had been telling us for years was bound to happen. The core Conservative base remains somewhere around one-third of the population, having hit a high-water mark of 39.6 per cent for the Tories in the 2011 election.
More than 60 per cent of Canadians have always rejected Harper’s vision for the country. Conservatives have been virtually wiped off the electoral map in the provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland/Labrador and Saskatchewan, where Tory-like Brad Wall is premier.
“The values and attitudes of ordinary Canadians have not shifted notably,” said pollster Michael Adams, who has done extensive work on social and political views in Canada and the U.S. On foreign policy, Canadians still value the Pearsonian concept of peacekeeping as much as they honour the military legacy of Vimy Ridge. At home, Canadians don’t want to see their federal government dismantled and they still favour carbon taxes to fight climate change.
Who knows what Monday's outcome will be? But it's beginning to look like Stephen Harper is the Willy Loman of Canadian politics -- someone with big dreams, who eventually committed political suicide.