Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We Can Also Surrender It


                                                  http://dedicatedfaith.org/

Stephen Harper should not be allowed to go gently into that good night. At least not until we figure out how he got away with it. Crawford Killian writes that Harper's sojourn in power was one long ego trip:

Now, as the dust settles on the election, we should consider a new possibility: Harper did what he did for no reason except to show he could do it. It's been one long ego trip.

Live and learn. Absent-mindedly, we watched him ascend to power, until he actually staged a hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservatives and proceeded to a hostile takeover of Canada itself.

We sat back passively as a man who acted like one of H.G. Wells' Martians made the government his own:

A suburban kid in mid-century Canada, Stephen Harper had a mind like one of H.G. Wells' Martians, an intellect "vast and cool and unsympathetic" to his fellow Canadians. He saw us as wannabe Swedes, trying to make the country into a welfare state. But Harper knew better.

Well-funded think tanks and lobbyists supported right-wing causes. With their help Harper herded western Canadians -- almost as alienated as he himself -- toward a conveniently empty spot on the political spectrum.

Step by step, Harper moved his right-wing fringe toward power. The Liberals, PCs, and New Democrats failed to recognize what a threat he was, which must only have intensified his contempt for them -- and for the rest of us, we who preferred to watch Jean Chretien struggle with Paul Martin.

The fault for Harper's rise rests with us who refused to see him as the threat he was. People like Joe Clark  warned us what would happen. But our minds were elsewhere. And, as long as Harper could keep our minds elsewhere, he succeeded. We allowed him to feed his ego:

So we are left with a quietly appalling conclusion: Stephen Harper was on one of the greatest ego trips in history. He studied the system, gamed it, and gained power over Canadians for close to a decade. It wasn't to promote some conservative ideology; conservatism was just another throwaway gadget, a convenient utensil. He used it to promote himself, not to promote conservatism. Whether the party survives his departure is of no concern to him. He was a dancer in darkness, dancing for no one but himself.

We dare not forget him. By his long success, Harper made himself the model for the next vast, cool intelligence that comes out of the Canadian suburbs. The alienated voters of his base will recognize the next Harper when they see him (or her). Distrusting Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the civil service, they will put their hopes in another solitary saviour. 

We can take our government back. But Stephen Harper reminds us that we can also surrender it.



32 comments:

thwap said...

The complete absence of any real, in the streets, mobilization to take down harper was something I wrote about for an extended period of time.

In the aftermath of the 2011 election, I said that harper had no claims to our obedience because he had demonstrated contempt for the legislature, for responsible government and for human rights (the torture cover-up/prorogation).

he had been elected by people who either didn't know about these things (dangerously ignorant) or didn't care (anti-democratic stooges who have no right to whine when their bullshit decision isn't respected by others).

Then, when it turned out he'd employed massive fraud to steal that majority, I would have thought all bets were off.

I didn't manage to build a movement to topple him and I didn't see anyone else seriously trying anything beyond petitions and one-afternoon rallies.

Now that he fell from power the usual way and there's a Liberal majority, harper cannot block any sort of inquiry. There should be a reckoning. Or it could all happen all over again.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, thwap. People like you -- and some others -- saw through Harper from the beginning. But the record of his almost ten years years has to be made public. Or we could endure the same history all over again.

Rural said...

That it took so long for the majority of Canadians to see that Harper was stealthily stealing our democracy highlights how fragile it is, Owen. We must try and legislate some more protections to the system and hope that future governments do nor ignore such rules.

Owen Gray said...

This is a "teachable moment," Rural -- if Canadians are in the mood to learn.

Lorne said...

As your post shows, Owen, a healthy democracy requires constant vigilance. After all the years we suffered under the Harper regime, we can only hope that lesson won't be lost on Canadians.

ron wilton said...

I believe that a sitting member of parliament has some kind of immunity from being called as a witness to testify in court.

I also believe that harper will remain the mp for his Calgary riding (although I doubt he will sit even one day in question period) until the Duffy trial is concluded, after which he will surreptitiously disappear.

Owen Gray said...

This is no time to rest on our laurels, Lorne. If we do, we will have learned nothing.

Owen Gray said...

Dave, at the Galloping Beaver, is of the same opinion, ron. If Harper sits until the end of the Duffy trial then disappears, it will be the final proof that, for him, the government's business was all a cynical game.

Toby said...

Rural said... , "That it took so long for the majority of Canadians to see that Harper was stealthily stealing our democracy highlights how fragile it is, Owen."

Even now I don't think most Canadians fully see Harper for what he is. Yes, there was/is a lot of anger at him but it's only on the surface with little understanding.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that's true, Toby. Most of us don't pay much attention to what's going on in Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

I am naive.

I believe people get into politics because they sincerely think they can make a positive difference to their society.

The problems start when they have been in for awhile and they start aspiring for higher office. That combination leads to less altruism and more being about 'me' mentality. Soon the say anything behavior steps up.

When they started saying "The West wants IN" all I heard was "The West wants OUT".

It was my belief then, and my belief today that the Reformers wanted to cleave off western Canada into its own nation before Quebec forced the separation - literally reforming the country. Harperman wanted to be that great divider.

Owen Gray said...

He was precisely that, Anon -- The Great Divider.

The Mound of Sound said...

There was a powerful psychopathy in play here, Owen, that pre-dates Harper's premiership by a good many years. The remarkable part is that so few were willing to mention it, especially in the top tier of Canadian journalism. It's great for Crawford to grow a pair now that Vader is gone, but... One shining exception that does come to mind is Rafe Mair writing in The Tyee. Most of the others were, to varying degrees, enablers. The Sun and PostMedia crews gleefully so which is why they remain so churlish now that their thug has been sent packing.

lungta said...

divider from the beginning

"Whether Canada ends up as o­ne national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion… And whether Canada ends up with o­ne national government or two governments or ten governments, the Canadian people will require less government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of any future country may be."
Speech to the Colin Brown Memorial Dinner, National Citizens Coalition, 1994.

Owen Gray said...

That's a quote I haven't seen until now, lungta. It defines the man -- and I suspect it will leave lots of us horrified.

Owen Gray said...

Harper's enablers, Mound, still don't understand why Canadians bounced him from 24 Sussex.

zoombats said...

I think we have all given Harper too much credit as as a strategist and intellectual. Remember the words of H.L. Mencken, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

Scotian said...

Owen:

Really? I remember that quote lungta cites from when Harper made it, and I've seen it cited many times since. It was one of the reasons I was keeping an eye on the man long before he ever came back into politics from the NCC, and why I was so determined to try to get people to understand how dangerous he truly was. It is also why Jack Layton is forever on my shit list, because he had to have known Harper's history, it was well documented publicly, and he STILL chose to let Harper gain power instead of stopping him, or at least doing all he could to try at the absolute minimum. Remember, in the 2006 campaign the problem wasn't just Layton letting Martin fall, it was how he failed to go after Harper and his record in the campaign while denouncing the Libs as the vilest thing ever. That too made a very real difference, and ever since then Layton never went after Harper anywhere nearly as strongly as he could and should have given the Harper record out there. THAT has always been at the core of my anger with Layton and the NDP followers who went along with it thinking it was their path to replacing the Libs and becoming government.

Well boys and girls, hows that working for you now, hmmmm?

As to the point of your post, many times in the past I've made the point that democracy and democratic government is a "use it or lose it" kind of thing, and the powerful forces within a society are always working to tip the scales towards lose it, so it is up to the citizenry to stay active, informed, and engaged, otherwise you get things like what we just endured in the decade of endarkenment. We now need to make sure the full record of Harper's government is seen by the wider public and held up as an example of what we never want to see any government or party pull ever again. We need to ensure this is understood to be anathema to Canadian values whatever your political ideology/persuasion.

I said a decade ago that Harper's best secret weapon in his quest for power was the belief that "it can't happen here", this sort of abusive corrupt and stealer of rights and freedoms government. That we were too progressive, too polite, too civilized to allow such a thing to thrive here. Well I said then that was a dangerous blind spot that actually increased the chances of something like that happening here, and that Harper was clearly taking full advantage of it. Since we have had to pay this heavy a price for people to realize it CAN happen here, we need to drive home that knowledge and the costs of learning it so that none in Canada ever need to pay this price AGAIN!

Lulymay said...

Being brought up to be aware of politics as well as be wary of those politicians who occupy that playpen, I knew from the start the one should, or could not, ever trust Harper. Anyone who followed his claptrap from his Northern Foundation creation knew that. There's a well known saying that I believe came out of WWII which starts with "And when they came for the Jews, I didn't protest because I wasn't a Jew" and so on and so on until "and when they came for me" ..... I think what finally happened is 70% of the voters had a coming to Jesus moment and finally realized that he was now "coming for me" and took remedial action. However, it still defies logic that another 30% still see nothing wrong with him.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that a good portion of that 30% are fundamentalist Christians, Lulymay. And they believe Harper has already come to Jesus.

Owen Gray said...

We thought it couldn't happen here, Scotian. Obviously, it did. It's time we examine our cherished assumptions.

Owen Gray said...

Point well taken, zoombats. Con men can only succeed if they have an audience of rubes.

Raven Corvoid said...

I know you moderate your own site here Owen and not having a site myself I'm curious. Did you have a lot of trolls here during Harper's ten year reign? CTV and CBC exposed the fact that Harper had armed himself at our expense with media trolls social media trolls and blog trolls to correct misinformation like Goebbels. I had been attacked by them over at the Tyee so had others. Our community though is pretty strong and we recognized them for who they were. When we found them they would change their name and come back again. But their rant would always give them away. They all idolized their master Harper and with words would strafe and bomb those who were not so fond of their boss or his deranged policies. So I assume that Harper is no longer in power they are out of a job. But then again depending on whose estimates you use Harper never having worked has collected a fortune of between five and seven million $CDN. So he could afford to hire the trolls with his own pocket change. That came from the sweat off the backs of people he loved to hate.

It was weird cause over at the Tyee they were fast and furious prior to the writ of election. Than boom they disappeared. Prior they were slurring the NDP in any fashion they could weird stuff I might add. After the writ was dropped like I said they the trolls disappeared like snow off of a spring time ditch. Then when it became obvious that Trudeau was solidly in the lead they returned in hoards of pathetic werewolves. Now the rants were no longer anti NDP they were a blood lust for Trudeau. I used to laugh at them poke fun at them by asking how often they were required to check in with the PMO or the boys in the short pants. They would not follow my comments anymore and pick another victim so to me they admitted who they were. One even used the Harper con C as avatar and after the election he changed it to an orange NDP flag I wonder what Kool-Aid he was drinking. He used to sneer at us and tell us how sad we would be when the right Canadian people would put Harper back in his rightful place in the leader's seat. Now he's pro-NDP and mourning their loss?

I suppose now most are on EI?

http://www.straight.com/news/482846/government-trolls-use-psychology-based-influence-techniques-social-media

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpVUYGcgtjw

They seem to be gone for now.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

The opposition who had a front row seat to Harpers authoritarian agenda, never addressed his pursuit of power. The MSM not only gave him a complete pass, but supported him in many of his power grabs. People like myself and yourself Owen and many others on this blog understood what Harper was after, Neoliberal power and how he was going after it, in secrecy and by dismantling democracy. Canadians came a breath away from losing their freedom, as Harper was one election away in Oct. 2015 from becoming Canada's first fascist dictator. We need to set up a legislated citizens committee, whose only mandate is to monitor government. A committee that has the full support of the courts and the people. Democracy, just being democracy is not enough.There was nothing subtle about Harpers pursuit of power, which made it even more inexcusable that the MSM chose to not address it.Canadians finally got to see that he essentially was a nasty piece of business and primarily that is why they voted him out.I'm still amazed at how close he did get in achieving his autocratic goal and all it took to stop him was enough people voting him out.We must never let a Harper come to power again.

Dana said...

"Members are exempt from appearing as a witness in any court when the House is in session, 40 days before and after a session, and 40 days following a dissolution of Parliament.[211] This includes periods when Parliament is prorogued."

From http://www.parl.gc.ca/procedure-book-livre/document.aspx?sbdid=abbc077a-6dd8-4fbe-a29a-3f73554e63aa&sbpidx=7

So Harper can be called but the timing must be right.

Owen Gray said...

Let's hope the timing is right, Dana.

Owen Gray said...

If what we used to call "the press" become enablers and refuse to do the their jobs, we're one step away from dictatorship, Pam. I'm not sure that idea has sunk in.

Owen Gray said...

I know that various ministries tracked this blog, Raven. But I got only a few pro Tory comments. One person -- who called himself True Blue -- was simply taking the other side to see what kind of reaction he'd get.

I suspect that trolls considered this blog simply too small and inconsequential.

Steve said...

As others have said we have seen how the heart of darkness can overtake a peaceful prosperous people. Its easy to see now how Hiltler was possible. Germans were living like refugees in thier own country and their Harper offered solutions.

Owen Gray said...

Simple solutions to complex problems give rise to dictators, Steve.

Raven Corvoid said...

Perhaps that is it Owen The Tyee being in BC is our source of internet news that is not owned by major money they depend on donations. There can be up to several hundred comments after each article I love that e-rag where BCer's mostly but others from across the country can visit and share. That's what I like about you too. You have a smaller but highly intelligent crowd do you pay them? Teasing I know you do not :> David Beers one of Tyee's founders and chief editor got heavily bombed and strafed as I said with words when he wrote articles heavily anti Harper but the fact is the man spoke the truth. So under Harper's paranoid regeime if you tell the truth nothing but the truth so help you god if it shows Harper for what he is :> troll attack time. They called Beers Communist, Socialist, NDP troll, Union Monger among other colorful descriptions I hope they RIP this hallowed eve on the traditional 31'st :>

Owen Gray said...

There are advantages to being small and out of the way, Raven.