Just how much damage has Stephen Harper caused the PMO and Canadian democracy and can we really expect his successor to undo the damage? This dark question is posed by Crawford Kilian writing in The Tyee. What begins as a review of Lawrence Martin's Harperland turns into speculation of whether Harper's successor will simply continue Furious Leader's excesses:
"...the really depressing aspect of Martin's book is this: After all these years of watching [Harper] in action, a third of us still support him.
Think about that. Anyone can see how he's attacked the values and institutions of 20th-century Canada. He promised "transparency" and delivered an information clampdown Stalin would have admired. He sent Canadians into harm's way in Afghanistan, and then smeared Richard Colvin for saying our troops were handing prisoners over to torturers. He sacked, or drove from office, the brilliant people who ran AECL and StatsCan, because they told inconvenient truths.
This is the kind of culture-war wedge politics that Nixon exploited in the 1960s and 70s. It has become routine in the U.S. since then because some American cultures intensely dislike other American cultures.
Similarly Harper has attracted plenty of Canadians who despise other Canadians. Many are willing to run as Conservatives for a seat in his emasculated Parliament. His senior public servants have decided their careers are more important than their country, and go along with him. Canadian reporters let him frame the issues. So do the opposition parties."
Kilian warns there's no reason to accept on blind faith that even someone like Ignatieff might not find Harper's abuses of democracy quite convenient or far easier to continue than to dismantle. I think it's a legitimate point, one that needs to be addressed before, not after, we have a change of government. The Liberal rank and file need to do a little soul searching and obtain concrete commitments from their man that he won't settle in to Harper's status quo but will break the shackles Harper has used to bind our democracy.