By Mike Archer. Stephen Harper’s biggest problem in the next federal election is not the Liberal Party, the NDP or even the Mike Duffy scandal. Stephen Harper’s biggest problem is the Conservative Party.
The historical basis for Harper’s power is, in fact, pretty flimsy. Harper’s base is made up of the radicals which the old Progressive Conservative Party, under leaders like Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, Robert Stanfield and John Diefenbaker protected us from by paying lip service to their strange ideas knowing full well that they had only one party for which they could ever vote or could ever think of joining.
They were too radical and too few in number to start their own party and therefore had to live with the fact that a coalition of Ontario business interests and right wing centrists from Central and Eastern Canada governed the only party they could join.
The Right-Wing Fringe
The religious, moralist, anti-intellectual, law and order agenda played well in Alberta, parts of the Maritimes where education wasn’t a priority and parts of the Bible Belt in BC.
Not for these relics of a bygone era the ideas rampant in a country they were finding less and less to their liking with each passing Liberal government. Even Brian Mulroney was much to French and much too progressive for their tastes.
Then Mulroney destroyed the Progressive Conservative Party and under Kim Campbell it was left with two seats in Parliament. Preston Manning created the Alberta-based Reform Party of Canada; Peter MacKay ended up running the almost non-existent Progressive Conservative Party and the Liberal Party continued its dominance of Canadian politics.
The Reform Party morphed into the Canadian Alliance under Stephen Harper. Peter MacKay made a deal with Harper to fold the two parties together (in return, it seems, for a job-for-life in Harper’s cabinet) and then the sponsorship scandal convinced Canadians it was time to change governments.
Suddenly the right wing fringe of Canadian politics was presented with an historical opportunity to storm the gates of Parliament and they did, gaining a minority government and the Harper era began.
With the gift of weak Liberal and NDP leadership Harper was able to survive by keeping his agenda in check and then, in 2008, New York bankers gave him the biggest gift of his career – the worldwide economic crash.The Gift Of Economic Collapse
Quickly abandoning his plans (legislation was on the books) to allow Canadian banks to engage in the same chicanery which had destroyed the American, British and European banking systems, Harper hid behind the deficit cutting and bank regulations put in place by the Liberals and took credit for the fact that Canada had not suffered the same fate as the rest of the world economy.
He then went deep into deficit and debt, spending the accumulated surplus of the Liberals on unnecessary make-work projects, construction jobs, billboards and advertising campaigns talking about the economy to a frightened Canadian electorate worried that we would suffer the same fate as the other countries which had adopted the same hair-brained policies he was about to adopt in 2008.
Now the chickens are coming home to roost. The phony ‘Economic Action Plan,’ which hasn’t existed for years and didn’t actually accomplish anything, has fizzled. Economic growth has stalled. The world economy is stagnant and Canada’s financial status with the ratings agencies has been downgraded because Harper insulated the Canadian government from having to bail out the banks by shifting that burden to the shareholders and those with accounts at the banks (Do you have a bank account?).
The economy is going from marginal to worse; the Supreme Court has refused to allow six separate pieces of legislation dear to Harper’s heart as illegal and unconstitutional under Canadian law; his law and order agenda has evaporated under one of the most scandal-ridden and crooked regimes in recent Canadian history; and he has turned out to be even more unlikeable than Brian Mulroney.
With the economy sinking and the Mike Duffy trial as a backdrop, Justin Trudeau is going to look awfully good to most Canadians no matter what monkey shit Harper intends to throw at him.
Ministerial IncompetenceCanadians will forgive any prime minister for having a few idiots in his cabinet. We understand that, given the size and the divisions between the many regions, nationalities and social groups which make up the country, we must make a few allowances for some of the numbskulls which, by default, must sit at the cabinet table.
But Harper has had an incredibly shallow talent pool to draw from and he has wasted some of the people who could have been stars, like Abbotsford’s Ed Fast, in portfolios like International Trade, where he had no chance of winning any deals for Canada or the Conservatives. It has been a tremendous waste of talent on a dead end file. We have had to put up with a litany of losers like Rona Ambrose, Dean Del Mastro, Peter Mackay, Jason Kenney, Vic Toews (your either with us or with the pornographers) and a record of bland, incompetent, mean-spirited little people who have risen to the top under a leader who seems to like nothing better than fighting with Canadians.
In over a decade in power Harper has failed to provide a single member of his team to whom the country can look up and see a leader, a visionary or a citizen of distinction. His own failings in that regard along with what seems a deeply ingrained need to be mean and vindictive, have made him, and his entire party a singularly unpalatable bunch of people in the annals of Canadian political history.The Yahoos From Alberta
If that wasn’t enough … the centrist wing, which used to govern the Progressive Conservative Party and which kept the yahoos from Alberta in check, is fed up. Ontario and Quebec have had enough of what Alberta sent them to govern the country and have had enough of right wing fringe politics probably for another generation.
Quebec has announced it is tired of the Bloc Quebecois. It’s brief flirtation with the NDP (because of Jack Layton) is over and the province will send a solid sea of red Liberal MPs back to Ottawa in the next election.
Ontario has no more time for the incompetence, the negativity and the Tea Party-style right wing rhetoric of Harper’s Calgary conservatives. Now that, due primarily to Liberal cost costing and strict banking legislation, we have survived the worst of the worldwide economic crisis, most Canadians want to carefully get back to nation building and regaining our worldwide reputation as a modern, caring country which prides itself on an educated citizenry, an enlightened view on human rights, living up to our environmental responsibilities and defending the rights of those who are unable to defend themselves. It is a task for which Stephen Harper is singularly unqualified.
If Harper was a man who knew how to build consensus, engage in intellectual discussion, sell ideas on their merits, or if he even knew how to make friends … things might have been different.
As it is … Stephen Harper has merely reminded central Canadians why they never used to listen to those whackos from Alberta.
The real Canadian conservatives are going to sit on their votes and stay home in droves during the next federal election. And Stephen Harper will be the reason that Canada, for better or worse, will enter into a new Trudeau era.
Cover Art: Stephen Harper postcard by Mendelson Joe