Stephen Harper once told an American right-wing think tank, “You won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it.”
I used to think that was just a rare unguarded, boastful moment from Harper. He was in a comfortable environment (American right wingers, whom he has been emulating for years), and who knows, he might have had a sip of low-alcohol beer that loosened his tongue. But now, with Harper in a majority and nearly unstoppable, I’m beginning to think that he wasn’t just boasting, but prophetic.
Consider Stephen Harper’s Canada. It’s not my Canada.
In Stephen Harper’s Canada, we’re building more prisons in anticipation of putting more and more people in jail. Harper has made law and order, raw meat for his followers, the cornerstone of this government. His government has added multiple provisions of mandatory minimum sentences on a wider range of crimes than ever before, which removes the power of judges to make rational, intelligent decisions. Yes, sometimes judges are soft, but I’d rather have a judge make a decision based on what he or she has heard rather than arbitrary rules laid down by a power hungry, vengeful government.
Failed U.S. style justice is Stephen Harper’s Canada. Not my Canada.
Then we have the actions of Harper’s Untouchables — his diabolical cabinet. There’s Vic Toews, the public safety minister, who said anyone opposed to his bill that allows the police easier access to personal Internet information is on the side of pedophiles. Or how about Peter McKay, the defense minister? McKay was caught using search and rescue helicopters as a private taxi service. When he was caught in the act, he lied a bout it. Then, the army was asked to look into previous trips by Liberal MPs. McKay, or someone in his office, clearly ordered the armed forces to dig up ammunition against his enemy.
Smearing opponents with the worst kind of unfounded allegations. Using a powerful bureaucracy to dig up information against your enemies. That’s Stephen Harper’s Canada. Not my Canada.
And now we have then burgeoning scandal of dirty tricks against Liberal and perhaps NDP candidates in the last election. First up was the robocall scandal, where upwards of 34 ridings were targeted for automated phone calls that were purported to be from Elections Canada, telling voters that their poll locations had changed. Then we got reports that harassing phone calls to Liberal supporters, supposedly from the Liberal candidate’s team, that were designed to make the supporter angry enough to turn on their party. These are dirty tricks that we haven’t seen in Canada before. And there is no doubt that this scumbag activity came directly from the win-at-all-costs playbook of the Conservative party. Remember, this is the party that, for the first time in Canadian history, ran vicious attack ads against Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff before an election that went a long way towards destroying their leadership careers.
Did Stephen Harper know about the robocalls? Highly unlikely. The guy is an anal-retentive control freak of the first order, but he’s also smart enough to stay clear of overly illegal acts. But Harper has to take the blame for fostering a culture within his party that would lead to his followers coming up with such disgusting tactics.
Cheating and lying to win elections. That’s Stephen Harper’s Canada. Not my Canada.
Stephen Harper’s Canada is, indeed, becoming more and more unrecognizable. Even with a majority government, this charmless thug is governing like a man with a 50 kg chip on his shoulder. He wants nothing more than to destroy the Liberals (the New Democrats will take care of themselves, now that Jack Layton is gone), no matter what the method. He is pushing Canada further and further to the right, and will continue to do so as long as Canadians sit on their collective cans and yawn. There are more important things to worry about, like the NHL trade deadline, right.
That’s Stephen Harper’s Canada. Not my Canada.