Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stephen Harper

I have believed for several years now that there is something wrong with Stephen Harper.  I know that comment can easily be dismissed as partisan rhetoric, but I think it is true.  At every turn, he has done as much as he can get away with, to shape Canada into a form that he can control.  He has taken actions which have often crossed lines of ethics, and are occasionally legally questionable.

Of the most extreme manipulations, he is the first Prime Minister in recent Westminster Parliamentary democracy to prorogue the House of Commons in order to stay in power.  Twice.  He has repeatedly shut down inquiries, forced closure, had his people disrupt committee work, fired regulators who questioned some aspect of His policy/ worldview, and centralized authority in his own office like Chretien and Trudeau could only dream of.

He is the first Prime Minister to have been found in contempt of Parliament.  He dismissed Elections Canada rulings that his party overspent in the last election as a simple disagreement.  His party likely had a connection to an advertising agency (that they have worked with before) that engaged in the most heinous voter suppression ever seen in Canada.  They, posing as Elections Canada officials, called non Conservative supporters to inform them of an incorrect poll location.  Statistics have shown that if a voter turns up to the wrong polling station, they are very unlikely to attempt to vote at the proper location.

There were earlier signs.  Far too many to list right now (but I might start working on a comprehensive list later) but some of them were particularly telling.  One little reported story, which was once mentioned to Deborah Grey in an interview, was that Harper had replaced all the pictures of former Prime Ministers in the Parliamentary Press Gallery with images of himself.  That alone says something about where his mind is.  He is totally focused on retaining power.

I know he doesn't think of himself as a would-be dictator.  I'm sure he does it for what he considers to be the greater good.  He has referred, on a number of occasions, to an entrenched Liberal bias.  He once said that this bias would prevent him, in the case of a majority government, from really being able to implement all of his ideas and indicated that that is a reason why voters shouldn't worry about handing him a majority.  If memory serves correctly, that was early in the 2006 campaign.  I think that he sees his actions as justified in light of his view that Canada has been dominated by a certain kind of central Canadian power structure that has left the west out.

He's probably right on that.  But, the consequences of his methods for achieving his goals are shocking.  When he eventually loses power, it would be very easy for whichever party replaces him to use at least some of his examples for their own goals.

Perhaps that party (Liberal, NDP or perhaps a new party) wouldn't go as far as Harper has routinely gone, but it would be very easy to at least use some of his dirty tricks.  Canadian democracy may now require more written constitutional elements to protect against what Harper has brought upon us.

Everything that is done in the dark will be exposed.  I believe that to be a universal and inescapable truth.  I just hope people will still care.

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