Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Conservatives Have a Big Decision in this Election. What'll It Be - Canada or Harper?

I backed into what became an argument today with an old friend and I did not feel very good about it at all.  We both knew Duffy way back when and naturally the conversation turned to the trial.

Trev is one of those guys I mentioned this morning who doesn't think that the Duffy trial is a big deal that undermines the Harper government. He just thinks it falls short of being significant in deciding how he'll vote. He is unhappy at how the Harper government has treated veterans but, again, it won't keep him from voting Tory.

Trev has it in his 75-year old mind that Harper has done a pretty good job with the Canadian economy. He can't say why that is, it's just the way he feels. He had no idea that Harper has turned in 7 consecutive deficit budgets. He had no idea that Harper has swollen our national debt to the tune of $150-billion.  He still thinks Harper has done a pretty good job.

I told him that, in this election, he'll have to choose. Will it be Harper or will it be Canada?

In every election since Trudeau first led the Liberals I have never felt that any party leader was less than dedicated to our country. Sure they had differing views, irreconcilable ideologies in some respects, but that didn't negate their commitment to the country and the Canadian people.  All of them would respect our democracy and do nothing to degrade it.

In no way can I find any of that in Stephen Harper.  As Harper cheerleader, John Ibbitson, recently wrote:

The Conservatives’ autocracy, secretiveness, and cruelty, critics accuse, debase politics to a level that threatens the very foundations of Canadian democracy. “Hardly anything in this world hints of Putinism more than Harperism,” columnist Ralph Surette of the Halifax Chronicle Herald opined.

Michael Harris, no fan of Harper to be sure, nonetheless put it both fairly and accurately when he wrote:

The hallmark of the Harper era has been an attempt by the government to take ownership of all federal human assets in a degrading and political way. Civil servants have been used as props in fake TV news items. The justice department has drafted a string of unconstitutional legislation reflecting the CPC’s ideological agenda. Federal scientists have been muzzled like unruly dogs.

But one of the most disturbing elements of this tyrannical capture of every aspect of the machinery of government is the increasingly partisan behaviour of the RCMP. The Force has been used against Harper’s political enemies, often without a shred of real misconduct on the table.

Then, today, long-time Harper booster, Andrew Coyne, captured the culture Harper has bred within his own Prime Minister's Office, one that would befit The Sopranos:

...It is noteworthy that, almost without exception, no one at any point raises any objection to what is going on: not the public deception, not the attempts to tamper with the audit, not the whitewashing of the committee report. The lies are so habitual, so instinctive, so much a part of the normal run of things that no one seems to think them even unusual, let alone unacceptable. It matters, in the end, because the things that should have mattered to them, like honesty and integrity, didn’t.

Harper, like a monarch rather than a prime minister, has indeed taken "ownership of all federal human assets in a degrading and political way."  For years I've lamented on this blog how Harper has corrupted everything he touches in a blatant coup to subvert parliamentary democracy by transforming our public service, our state police apparatus, even our armed forces into his personal, partisan agencies.  What he has truly degraded, with clear contempt, is our democracy - the same democracy that our veterans for so long fought and died to defend. Harper has instituted illiberal democracy his worst excesses restrained valiantly by a courageous Supreme Court. In my view that's nothing short of treason.

It should make no difference - Right, Left or Centre - we should all be Canadians first regardless of our partisan affiliations. Canada comes first. Our fellow Canadians come first. Any leader who places himself above the country, above our people, who treats our government as not ours but his and our 'federal human assets' as his property is not a leader but a malignancy. 

Harper is solely responsible for making Conservatives choose between Canada and their party.  Through four successive elections they've empowered this betrayal of their country, our Canada. Now they've had four years of majority rule to see what Harper is, his true face and now they've seen it, they have to choose.


the salamander said...

.. not a single glowing heart to be found.. in the Harper loutpack..
Instead they have a sort of bovine sickness ..

Toby said...

Mound, I have had several arguments with friends such as yours. Curiously, most of them are retired police, military and prison guards. Is there something in those careers that teaches practitioners to be dumb as dirt?

The Mound of Sound said...

Toby - there's nothing like breaking with a party you've supported for 40-years to achieve insight. I supported the Liberals up to the first half of Ignatieff's disastrous reign. With him at the helm and with the fulsome support of the Liberal rank and file, Ignatieff moved the party far to the right of anything that resembled the political ethos I had embraced from the Pearson and Trudeau era. I didn't so much leave the party as it left me - and the rest of its progressive supporters.

From the outside looking in I saw the depressing reality. Most LPC supporters would accept almost anything so long as it bore their party's label. Ignatieff's "muscular (i.e. manly) foreign policy" - as though the world suffered from a shortage of people waging war; his unquestioning and unbalanced support of Israel including absolution for the Gaza atrocity; and his pathetic embrace of the Tar Sands as "the beating heart of the Canadian economy for the 21st century."

The LPC had become a genuinely conservative movement, fitting of a truly neoliberal operation.

As disappointed as I was with the Libs I was aghast at how Layton and Mulcair, questing for power at any cost, abandoned the Left to turn centrist. They transformed their party into the very thing that for two generations their leaders and supporters had utterly reviled. They also embraced neoliberalism - free market fundamentalism. Now we find they've got a guy who used to get hard at the mention of the name Margaret Thatcher. Despite this their supporters have followed their leader, stuck with the party.

The Tories have gone far past anything that could be considered conservative. The Libs have become conservative-lites. The New Dems are New Libs. Along the way what had supposedly been principles were freely discarded.

The groups you mention are inherently "law and order" types. They gravitate to somebody like Harper and aren't troubled by what he's doing to the country. Their affinity isn't based on principle or lofty ideals.

Anonymous said...

Old. White. Men.
They are killing this country.

Anonymous said...

There are essentially 3 groups that support every government: those on the gravy train, those on the ideological train, and, lastly, the disengaged voters who come in 2 subflavors, the ignorant and the stupid.

Of these, only the ignorant subgroup can be expected to change their minds (stupidity is forever) as they inform themselves of the lies, deceit and other political sleight of hand carried out by this government.

You know your friend better than I do, but perhaps 2 possibilities: ideological or stupid, eh?

Lorne said...

Yet another victim of the Harper years, Mound, is our better natures. Harper has consistently appealed to the worse parts of humanity, the parts that favour greed and selfishness at the expense of the collective good.

Real leadership is the cultivation of the best in all of us. By that measure and many others, Harper has been an abysmal failure.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 8:49. My friend is neither particularly ideological nor stupid. I think he's been influenced by a pack mentality. Hanging around with a bunch of old guys at the coffee shop one tends to evolve a collective mindset.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Lorne. You're quite right. It's no small irony that Harper employs his most powerful weapons - fear, deception and incitement of base instincts - on his own base. All of these tactics are inherently abusive. They debase the people they reach which is something Harper doesn't hesitate to inflict on them. He long ago figured out with some precision the effective parameters of wedge politics on electoral outcomes. He effectively manufactures supporters like Earl Cowan, that fellow who launched into an abusive tirade at reporters last week.

Anonymous said...

Anyong said.....10:17. If people believe the "stuff"( because that is all it is) that comes out of Harpers' mouth, then they are not so bright.