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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.

Monday 2 September 2013

A Reflection on Stephen Harper's Canada

It is worth remembering that the Conservatives have a history of launching major policy initiatives with little or no evidence.  The government's multi-billion-dollar Safe Streets and Communities Act, featuring harsh jail sentences, was unveilved when crime was dropping.  Stockwell Day, defending the crackdown, said it was needed to curb and alarming rise in "unreported crime."  Its decision to cancel Canada's long-form census was justified on the ground that 10,000 people complained the questionnaire violated their privacy.  In fact, 27 individuals had complained.  Then there was the F-35 fiasco.  Peter MacKay insisted there was no need for competitive bids because Lockheed Martin's Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter was the only one that met Canada's needs.  That, too, turned out to be more fiction than fact.

Here's a Harper's New Government recap for you:

The Liberals and all other Opposition Parties deserve to be pilloried because, frankly, they're just bad people.  Kick the corrupt bums out, only we can clean up shop.  It doesn't matter what policy positions they come up with - even if they're ones the Conservatives eventually mimic - anything the other guys do is stupid.

Once in government, start stifling dissent - doesn't matter where it comes from, be it internal, really internal or even from outside Canada's borders just shout it down, belittle it or starve it of resources.  Hey, if your opponents' claims had any validity, they'd end up being selected regardless, right?

Policy is about validation and enabling the base.  The message should be thus - you are entitled to whatever you want if you support the Party, but if you don't - especially if you are in any shape or form reliant on government handouts (not to be confused with sole-sourced government contracts, 'cause that's clearly different).  There's really no need to debase oneself with research, systems theory or modelling; those are all just fancy ways of committing sociology.  When you're tough, you eliminate the weak and take the resources you want, full stop.  Low hanging fruit are always abundant.

When this mentality starts taking root among your own ranks - when members of your own team get a bit too comfortable with picking from the national tree - bury the story in the usual ways and if that fails, well, do unto them what you do unto all opponents (throw 'em under the bus).

It may happen that consequences of tossing the policy warning tickets in the partisan glove box start to add up.  This gets uncomfortable, but you don't need to take responsibility - like in a sitcom, you're always just one clever scheme away from disappearing your problems forever.  Just keep spinning, denying and attacking others, all will be well!

So this is where we find ourselves, in a grave of our own making.  You see, we can blame Harper (and increasingly, that's exactly what Canadians are doing) who in turn is passing the blame on to others, but that's hardly fair, is it?  Who he is and how he operates has been clear since day one, all those years ago.  It was always predictable where he would take our country - where he will continue to take our country.  

Harper is a symptom, not a cause.  He's been holding out a mirror, allowing Canadians to see just what they wanted to see; an ideal, contained world that reflects what we want perfectly.  We're the ones who've neglected to look beyond to what's really happening in the world.  We're still doing it.  Team Harper is still finding new ways to beat the exact same dead horses.

Canada was lucky to enter the economic recession with a full well, but we're getting to the point where that well is going dry.  There are plenty of new directions and new opportunities we could harness, but not if we refuse to acknowledge reality and move on from the past.

If we don't - if we continue to listen to what we want to hear and ignore the rest - it won't be Harper we have to blame.

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