Friday, October 23, 2015

Eventually They Figure Things Out


Monday's election was historic. But the corporate media and its scribes are already trying to re-write history. Michael Harris writes:

Nor is there much more of the historian in Paul Wells’ touching but mostly irrelevant comment that he still likes Harper, whom he believes will be seen by history as an estimable prime minister, maybe even a great one.

And John Ibbitson, who saw Harper's 2011 election  as a Big Shift, still hasn't grasped what happened on Monday:

It was curious to see another author and journalist, John Ibbitson, opining as an ‘expert’ about the reasons for Harper’s political demise. For one thing, his most recent book on the Conservative leader was more of a peck on the cheek than an investigation — a few gentle scratches, but mostly purring.

For another, Ibbitson is the government-friendly columnist from what is left of the Globe and Mail, that rabbit hole of a newspaper that believes you can endorse a party without its leader. In his previous book, Ibbitson predicted a “seismic shift” in Canadian politics and culture, a Tory dynasty stretching out to the crack of doom.

And, as Andrew Coyne can testify, when push comes to shove, The National Post has no room for dissenting opinions.

It's important to note that, despite the support of Canada's publishing moguls, Stephen Harper finally had his rendezvous with the people -- who knew who he was and decided they had had enough of him:

It comes down to this: you can’t have a dictatorial liar running a democracy for the benefit of his corporate buddies and expect a country like Canada to tolerate it forever. Canadians ultimately drop the gloves when they come face to face with tyrants — and kick the stuffing out of him.

That is what really happened here. The country really did embrace the “better angels of our nature”, to borrow the phrase Trudeau borrowed from Lincoln. It was more disgusted by than afraid of Stephen Harper.

It didn’t appreciate his lies about what he was doing and why, his degradation of Canadian foreign policy for domestic political gain, his toxic manipulation of information that belonged to everyone, and his vicious mistreatment of anyone who dared to tell him that the sun didn’t orbit around … him.

The people are not always right -- the first time around. But, eventually, they figure things out.


Mogs Moglio said...

Funny though he still got voted back and some of his cons as well. I guess those voters too believe the sun revolves 'round Steve. I'm still mighty curious as to the real reason he is sticking to his opposition leader seat. Now that Just In has a majority he can be silenced any time the younger Trudeau decides. He must know that, he is a walking talking living embarrassment to us he should quietly slip back into his hidey hole in the closet and remain there. Perhaps he is attached to life in Ottawa his kids go to school there and he has taken a fancy to Stornoway he wants to live in the shadow of Mulcair Layton and other inhabitants of Stornoway. Like Conservative leader George Drew that was the first resident (1950–56-being the year harper was hatched)followed in 1958 by Lester B. Pearson. Since then, Stornoway has been home to a succession of political families — the Diefenbakers, the Stanfields, the Clarks and many others — continuing to this day. Never has an ex-prime-minister humiliated himself before [To the best of my knowledge] by moving from 24 Sussex to 541 Acacia. It's usually the other way around. Harper though has had a number of firsts like first PM to be censured as a man held in contempt of parliament most retire gracefully but there has been no grace or fullness from the Harperium to date.

Owen Gray said...

Once the Conservatives choose an interim leader, Mogs, they'll be no place for Harper at Stornoway.

The Mound of Sound said...

Benjamin Perrin only scratched the surface when he declared that Harper had "lost the moral authority to govern." Who didn't know he was morally unfit going back as far as the Grewal and Cadman scandals? It was obvious in his contempt for democracy that he was morally unfit for the responsibilities of high office.

Yet his moral defects were matched by his lack of intellectual depth and discipline. His rejection of science and fact was as much a measure of his arrogance as it was his incompetence. Fact was whatever he chose to believe it to be. Recall the instance when he addressed his caucus on his prison building initiative. He told them that, sure, statistics showed a steady, even decadal decline in crime rates but he instructed them to simply reject that and go by their 'gut instincts' which, of course, meant his own instincts.

Great leaders take the world as it is, not as they like to imagine it, because that is the only starting point for meeting its challenges and prevailing. Harper's construct - both domestically and internationally - was detached from reality.

Running a country is similar in some ways to maintaining a household (emphasis on maintenance). If the roof needs replacing, you hire a firm to put on a new roof. When the water heater is time expired, you buy a new one. You don't wait until the roof fails and your waterlogged ceilings collapse to the floor. You don't wait until your water heater fails and floods the house. You maintain the place. Contingencies arise that may be costly but if that means you have to forego a planned holiday, you go ahead and fix the roof anyway.

We know that Canada's infrastructure is in a dangerous state. Much of it is a provincial responsibility but there's plenty enough that is federal. The environment is changing in destructive ways far more rapidly than we imagined even when Harper first became prime minister. Much of what we rely on every day to earn our livelihoods and keep the economy functioning is aged and, in some cases, dilapidated. Almost none of it was engineered to incorporate the materials and strength needed to meet the demands of our new environment. So what have we done about it? On Harper's watch, nothing. That would have upset his priorities. Taxes would have been required and the little people aren't doing all that well at the moment so levies would have to be exacted on corporations and the wealthiest among us. Can't be having that. Instead Harper handed corporations and the most advantaged various tax holidays. Hell, do we really need a roof?

No, Harper was never a man of his times. He governed as though we were in the 1970s and all was still golden. He chose to focus on a few initiatives, primarily Alberta-centric, and ignore the greater problems and issues. Some years back I wrote about this calling Harper Canada's first 'fractional prime minister.'

To cast Harper as one of the great prime ministers requires that he be looked at in the narrowest of angles with a very curious lens.

Anonymous said...

As they say, you cannot fool all the people all of the time.

But you sure can fool some of the people all of the time .... and most of those are Cons since 32% still voted for Harperman and his acolytes after all he had done. Lol.

It is scary to think that in a supposedly well educated country (at least relative to most of the world), one out of three voters actually wanted more of the same that this government had been dishing out for the past nine years.

And that there are journalists like Paul Wells who could suggest that Harper may be viewed as a great PM.

You'd think that Wells would have been embarrassed by his foolish claim that Harper was a master strategist after Harper's own flawed strategy to run a longer than usual campaign had allowed Trudeau to recover from his initial stumbles and even grow his support.

Steve said...

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Lorne said...

Something that I have noticed on the political talk shows, Owen, is the mythology Conservatives are purveying that their defeat was not a defeat for the party's policies, that Canada approves of what they did. The empirical basis for such a claim is, at best, shaky, and if they persist in such thinking, I suspect their place in the political wilderness will be ensured for the foreseeable future.

Bill said...

You wrote: "The people are not always right -- the first time around. But, eventually, they figure things out."

Well, we might rather say that 40% of the people figured it out, which is the same % that figured out something different in 2011 -- and maybe the same % that will figure out something quite different next time 'round: 40% of the votes yielded, last time and this time, 54% of the seats.

We must urge Trudeau and Mulcair (and all LPC/NDP MPs) to honour their pledges to make the 2015 election the last one conducted under the FPTP system.

Toby said...

Like Mogs, I'm a bit puzzled by Harper deciding to stay in Parliament. As such, he will be able to sit in caucus meetings. Imagine being Party Leader and having Harper in your tent. Who will be running the show?

Owen Gray said...

With some kind of proportional representation, it will be a new ball game, Bill. And the model for leadership will change.

Owen Gray said...

It will be a bit like Diefenbaker being in caucus when Bob Stanfield took over the PCs, Toby. I read that it was not a pleasant experience for Stanfield.

Owen Gray said...

As I read the election results, Lorne, the Conservatives got 30% of the vote -- the same 30% they've always had. The majority of Canadians have never agreed with them. And they know it.

Owen Gray said...

The future has possibilities, Steve. We'll have to see what Justin does with them.

Owen Gray said...

The masthead of this blog gives Tolstoy's prescription for greatness, Mound. In my book, Harper met none of the three criteria.

Owen Gray said...

In many ways, human history is the March of Folly, Anon. Folly is guaranteed in dictatorships. Only democracies -- true democracies -- stand a change of reversing the march.

Mogs Moglio said...

"Once the Conservatives choose an interim leader, Mogs, they'll be no place for Harper at Stornoway." Store-no-way?

What if he stores-yes-way [hah] in the garage like Novak? Thought you might get a kick out of that.

Owen Gray said...

That's a possibility I hadn't thought of, Mogs.

Mogs Moglio said...

I know I am thinking like Toby Harper in your tent? Is that why they called Dief the thief? Now will it become Harper the hacker? From behind the scenes his PMO have infiltrated much social media I know I was one of the victims of their brutal and senseless attacks more than once. They used racist slurs political slurs sexist slurs and more in their arsenal to try and quell no I should say throttle logical debate now they have disappeared like snow off a ditch in the spring. Geez I wonder why no I do not because Harper's tax funded budget to get the low down con smear kitty cats in action just evaporated when he got defeated by his base and all Canadians or was that defecated like in ya know spit out the rear end?

I pray for better days Owen,


Owen Gray said...

Let's hope our better angels are on public display more often, Mogs.