If this is truly the game plan for Election 2015, then the governing party may be in worse shape than public polls indicate. The prospect of loss, they say, brings a fear all its own.
I'm not so sure Stephen Harper's CPC is leaning more heavily on the fear button because they are fearful themselves. I think it's more a matter of looking at the political landscape through an opportunistic lens and seeing what's there that should by all rights work to their advantage.
Then, it's a matter of holding hammers and seeing nails.
That being said, I don't think Harper's organizers realize how vulnerable they've made themselves.
Harper clearly doesn't.
By the rules of the game they're playing, the prize is government and the players are those who could become government, namely the Opposition parties. This being the case, there are only certain levers that can be pulled to shape electoral fortunes.
As a sidebar, there's The Harper Agenda, which is to remake Canada into a country that reflects his world view, that is a comfortable, safe place for him to be.
Team Harper is playing the fear game on two main fronts:
- make the people fear external and internal threats, including the Opposition, so that ONLY HE can keep them safe
- kindle fear among your opponents, the public service, Not For Profits, etc, so that crossing the Harper Government results in 21st Century forms of exile.
I can't watch this play out with remembering this quote from a comic book movie:
Imagine a meme'd parody of this being sent through every social media feed, being picked up by every newspaper desperate for a controversial story and stoking every political conversation around water coolers and dinner tables.
If people are being encouraged to fear, what could possible be more frightening than a government that has abandoned the principles of democracy?
Stephen Harper is no Adam Sutler, for a variety of reasons. Yet he insists on making the comparison easy.
So here's the dynamic - Team Harper is framing the political narrative as on of a narrowly-defined view of Canadians and Canadian Values under attack by a growing rogues gallery of villains.
Terrorists who would bomb our towns and scientists who would question the policy choices of the Harper government are being attacked with similar rhetoric by the same party spokesfolk. Home-grown Jihadis and anyone who criticizes Harper's economic policy are equally dangerous to the future of Canada - at least you'd think that's what Team Harper wants you to feel, given the way both are vilified.
Then, there are an increasing body of non-political actors, including public servants, who are suggesting Canadian Politics - the institution that gives Harper any claim to legitimacy when defining what constitutes Canadian Values - is broken.
If it's all about winning government and being government gives the legitimacy to shape Canadian values, then does an attack on the institution itself count as a threat to Harper's power to define our views for us?
Were this not a democracy, the growing assault on the government's claim to represent the people could be viewed as insurgency - surely, a threat to the well-being of Canada.
Of course, if Canada wasn't a democracy, one may find speaking truth to power and exercising one's right to disagree, to protest and to question could result in the individual being branded a threat to the state.
Not the safest narrative to weave if forming government is your objective, perhaps, but then that's not everyone's goal, is it?