The collapse of world oil prices is reverberating through Canada's petro-provinces; Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador; and the fallout should yet might not be a major issue when Canadians go to the polls for a dominant fragment of eligible voters to decide who will govern our flagging petro-state, Canada.
Watch for Stephen Harper to try to control the election narrative as never before. In previous elections against Dion and Ignatieff, Harper's pitch was "there's nobody better to handle the economy and, besides, look at this dork." He defeated the Dion Liberals for a Conservative minority and, quite predictably, the Ignatieff Liberals for a Conservative majority.
This time the Harper narrative will shift. Just as Afghanistan lost its political lustre when everything Harper had said he would accomplish turned to dust, this time we won't hear much about the economy. Harper won't want to run on the state of the Canadian economy and no one would. What's called for is a bit of electoral bait and switch. This time it will be all about the dreaded terrorists and that dork, Trudeau. It's a contest in which Harper already has Trudeau partially disarmed.
By supporting Bill C-51, Trudeau and Company have given themselves two choices. They can agree with Harper that C-51 is somehow needed, even at the expense of our democracy and civil liberties. Or the Trudeau Libs can allow themselves to be seen as willing to sacrifice our democracy and civil liberties in a cynical effort to retain their edge over Harper.
The trouble with C-51 - for starters - is that it presupposes that our existing criminal and state security powers aren't adequate to meet the terrorist threat. That's never been demonstrated. Where's the proof? There is none, none at all.
It's telling that we haven't explored what, if anything, went wrong with our homebrew terrorist attacks or what we can do within the existing system to shore up our vulnerabilities. We have pretty clear laws. We have lots of personnel and we can hire more if needed. We have some pretty solid intelligence resources. No one has made the case for C-51 and, here's the important part, Conservative or Liberal they're not even trying.
There's been no attempt to balance the often conflicting objectives of freedom and security. Ben Franklin warned that those who sacrifice freedom for the sake of security deserve (and usually get) neither.
C-51, for so long as its odious provisions remain on the books, alters the relationship between the Canadian people and their government. Our freedoms are diminished while the government's powers over us are increased. Dissent can be criminalized. The state security apparatus can be invoked to intimidate us. An American energy company snaps its fingers and the
Taken on its own, C-51 is bad enough. Add it to the multi-layered cloak of neoliberalism that has infested all three of our major parties and it becomes something else again.
Harper is steaming ahead with C-51 precisely because he knows the Trudeau Libs will crater just as they're doing. He knows that Trudeau fears (yes, that's the word "fear" and it comes with an inescapable stench) that standing up for Canadians by opposing C-51 could cost the Liberals votes in October. What Trudeau doesn't realize is that his capitulation to Harper's will can only further divide and weaken Harper's opposition. Harper gets to play to his base. Trudeau gets to fracture his support. Meanwhile the undecided are increasingly less able to distinguish the Conservatives from the Liberals by what they each stand for and, worse, what they both stand for.
You know what else Harper sees in Trudeau's boot-licking? It's the perfect set up for yet another electoral Donnybrook between the NDP and LPC. It's a gift to Tom Mulcair and to Stephen Harper and there's little doubt that Mulcair will use Trudeau's perfidy as a club to beat the Liberal leader to a pulp. If Ignatieff hadn't been enough to drive me out of the Liberal ranks, I expect this would have. Sap the NDP's uncertain strength, focus its energies mainly on Trudeau, while compelling Trudeau to defend the Liberals from attacks on both fronts and the ultimate winner is - Stephen Harper. Mulcair can't resist a second term as leader of the official opposition. It's just too good to pass up and he won't.
At the end of the day the real losers will be you, me, and Canada.