Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Remaking of Canada. Are we Really Prepared for This?

Like many people living in Canada, I am ashamed of our current government. I am ashamed and I am appalled by the actions it has undertaken, and continues to undertake, in our name. I have never been particularly patriotic, but I do have a Canadian passport and I do pay taxes to the Canadian state. By virtue of these simple facts, I am responsible, like any citi­zen, for my government's initiatives. For this reason, I have to take action because feeling ashamed is not enough. I have to understand who I am dealing with, exactly what it is that they want, and why this government, with considerable success to date, is changing the face of our Canadian institutions.
That is the opening paragraph to Christian Nadeau's new book, Rogue in Power, and his words are chilling. I've often wondered myself just what Stephen Harper does want with us, and why a majority is so necessary, given the enormous amount of control he currently has over every aspect of government, and all Canadian institutions.

In fact, can I still call them 'Canadian institutions', or are they 'Harper institutions' now? Much of the political discourse today centers on the bogey-man coalition, with the Harper team keeping it alive to deflect attention from other things, like their Contempt of Parliament charge. And unbelievably, there are many in the media applauding his strategy. But what is that doing to our democracy?

During an election campaign we should be presented with the issues and that's the only thing that should matter. Yes, politics is a blood sport, and attack ads par for the course, but the Conservatives have been engaged in visceral assaults on their adversaries for five years, especially on the Liberals. As Andrew Cohen writes in the Ottawa Citizen:

There is a story of a meeting between Stephen Harper and a visiting head of government. During the conversation, which took place in the Prime Minister's Office, the two leaders eventually discussed the parliamentary opposition in their respective countries. What struck the visitor was Harper's antipathy toward the opposition, particularly the Liberals. "I don't like my opponents," the visitor allowed afterwards, "but I don't hate them. He hates his opposition.

Hatred is a strong word. Whenever we spat "I hate you!" in the schoolyard, teachers told us to watch our tongues; you disliked the bully who washed your face with snow, but, really, you didn't hate him.
You have to wonder about how little personal regard Stephen Harper has for his opponents and how it affects how he runs a government and fights an election. More than any other politician in this country, this is a man with animus.

Others in his circle have said that he can't be nice. "It's not in his DNA".

We know that the coalition flap has a shelf life, and after that I shudder to think what his next move will be. To date his policies are only getting negative attention. Can we expect even more poisonous darts thrown Ignatieff's way?

The fact that he's still standing says something of the Liberal leader's strength of character. I'd have been reduced to whimpering mass months ago.

Ezra Levant already wrote of an Ignatieff ancestor who was anti-Semitic. How relevant that is today is beyond me. When I was doing my family history, I discovered that some of my Acadian ancestors, who helped to settle Louisiana, owned slaves. It hardly makes me embrace slavery.

But what does all of the poison, all of the anger, the hatred, the bullying, the secrecy and contempt, really mean? What is the endgame? Is it simply power or is it something more? Nadeau believes that "the primary danger represented by the Conservatives lies in their profound belief in certain ideas and values and in their willingness to impose those ideas and values on Canadians." But I think that's only part of it.

Tom Flanagan has said in the past that Stephen Harper himself is not a social conservative. He only sees the Religious Right in his party as a means to an end. But he is willing to allow them to impose their version of morality on the rest of us, for his sole benefit. His new tax plan for families, only helps the nuclear family. Husband, wife, children. Not single families, same-sex relationships or any other configuration. This is clearly written to draw that conservative Christian-Judeau support. They are the ones with the websites and mailing lists who can bring him the votes.

Most religious organizations are worried about the poor and homeless, not whether gays want to marry and raise families.

This same strategy, was no doubt behind his decision to drop license fees on guns, which will reduce our revenue by $21 million. Gun enthusiasts see his party as the only one willing to take up their cause. It's interesting that the budget only mentions 'sports shooters' and 'hunters'. Not farmers this time.

So if all of his policies are designed for the sole benefit of religious fundamentalists and the gun totin' crowd, what happens to the rest of us? And why should we care?

There is a reason why Stephen Harper draws on the radical right for support, and it has nothing to do with his moral values. His is a government that operates solely for the benefit of multinational corporations. Canada or Canadians rarely cross his mind, except to exploit for political gain, in a fierce, albeit ambivalent nationalism.

In the video provided at the bottom of the page, you'll hear Harper first tell the Canadian media that we will not be expected to "surrender our sovereignty", yet in his speech to the G-20, he's pretty clear that he understands why people oppose the notion of global governance, because it "means a loss of national sovereignty". He also goes on to say that there is no longer a Canadian economy only a global economy.

Did we miss the memo? Or do Canadians really not care if we are still a united Canada? For all the hoopla over the Bloc wanting to break us up, it would appear that there may be nothing to break up. His speech certainly doesn't sound like a commitment to this country. His only commitment is to a Global economy. Multinational corporations.

Policy is designed to keep us passive. And if he can't pacify us, he'll turn us off the entire process, by making Parliament so toxic we no longer have the will, or even the desire, to save ourselves.

Journalist Russell Wangersky has a suggestion: "So, while you’re out there, caring about your wallet and the economy and little else, ask yourself this: regardless of how you’re going to vote, is that the kind of place you really want to live? It’s certainly a different country than the one I grew up in, and treasure."

We cannot give this man another mandate. It's that simple.


1. Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is remaking Canada by Stealth, By Christian Nadeau, Lorimer Press, ISBN: 978-1-55277-730-5

1 comment:

  1. Can Harper et al really be involved in the bizare level of Machevelian politics I lay out?
    Perhaps not, but what if I'm right?