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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Who Is Stephen Harper?

As Stephen Harper slowly dismantles Canada's Parliamentary democracy by trouncing all oppositional voices, blatantly misrepresenting facts to the Canadian public, stifling research and blocking our elected officials, even those in his own Party, from doing the job they were elected to do, comparisons to George Orwell's 1984 are growing in number.
I don't think that's particularly accurate.  We know Stephen Harper is a real person, and he certainly doesn't attempt mind control.  There are enough tools out there for the populace to get the real skinny, should they care to.  But they don't.  It seems like every week there is a new scandal of some sort emerging from his Party, airplanes and misspent dollars and vital facts ignored, like the impact of policy on the well-being of employees.  Again, it's all out there, but we're too comfortable to put in the due-diligence and get the other side of the story.  Harper knows this and has played on our collective, willful ignorance to great effect.
Harper's self-proclaimed big policy narrative has been to make Canada a strong presence on the global stage, both economically and militarily.  That sounds good, but what he's really been doing is undercutting our front-line troops, turning the military into a political office and now, he's even shrinking our diplomatic presence overseas.  Those pesky separatists are stating to make noise again, too - Canada, they say, isn't working for them.  Harper will continue to ignore this fact until and unless separatists start taking actions bolder than hiding the Maple Leaf.  If that happens, it could quite likely be after Harper has left the federal stage and returned to his beloved Alberta, swimming in oil wealth.  In a Canada wracked with financial and constitutional challenges, it might just be time to  get back to his business of firewall building.
What Stephen Harper is, first and foremost, is a cunning politician who knows how to play the game in the long-term interests of his Party and his home province.  Sadly, that kind of thinking comes at the expense of an atrophying Canada.   His political pundits will tell me I'm a nut-wing socialist for suggesting that Harper is anything other than the best Prime Minister in the history of the parliamentary system and certainly won't agree that Canada's international reputation continues to plummet under Harper's watch.  Any examples I cite from people who work in international diplomacy, foreign news or stories of Canadian travellers back depressed at how they aren't getting the same kind of cheerful response they used to will be dismissed, ignored or criticized as propaganda.  Why deal with the evidence when you're convinced you can make up reality as you go?
But that's Harper's ambitious little political circle.  What of Harper as an individual?  He's a man who appears to think of himself as the smartest in any room, is deeply suspicious and perhaps even contemptuous of people who he feels "don't get" what he sees as the fundamentals of economics or his particular world view.  Harper has essentially declared political war on creative/collective types like artists, socialists, environmentalists, human rights advocates.  While our Prime Minister by no account enjoys the political spotlight, he's supposedly quite funny and engaging in his smaller circle of like-minded individuals.  Though I'm sure that circle defines those terms differently than the rest of us might. 
There's a pattern of behaviour here, familiar to anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged.  Perhaps it's not Big Brother that Harper is modelling himself after - maybe in his heart of hearts, he sees himself more as the real-life manifestation of the fictional John Galt.

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