I like to think I'm as much a Liberal or anti-Harper activist as the next person, but this is starting to get out of hand:
... now we have an even bigger problem, according to an astonishing story in the Ottawa Citizen by Kathryn May. Nearly one in five Canadians believes that the prime minister could be justified in closing down Parliament in difficult times. A further 17 per cent believe that dissolving the Supreme Court would be okeydoke in the right circumstances. The question was asked and answered without providing any details about what sorts of crises would justify imposing a dictatorship.
... Are we sliding towards the political equivalent of Pierre Berton’s “comfortable pew”, bearing in mind that a lazy democracy is a dying democracy? Could these strange numbers explain why Canadians yawned when Stephen Harper was found in contempt of Parliament — and immediately handed him a majority government?
Could they also explain the pathetic decline in voter turnout at a juncture in history when it is hard to imagine more being at stake? A second-rate hockey team or an aging rock star can fill the Air Canada Centre night after night in Toronto. But if the last Canadian election had been an arena with 100 seats, only 60 of them would have had bums in them for the May 2, 2011 vote. What happened?
Stephen Harper has a lot to do with it. He is the prime minister who refused to produce documents requested by a parliamentary committee. He is the leader who denounced omnibus legislation in Opposition and vastly extended its use when he formed the government. He is the prime minister who muzzled MPs, misled Parliament on the F-35 acquisition, and told more stories than Hans Christian Andersen on the Wright/Duffy Affair.
Most people play by the rules; this prime minister plays with them.
Oh boy. I've heard it said many times that Harper is a dictator, that he's one more majority shy of changing Canada into something of a cross between late 1930's Germany and a Christian Iran, so on and so forth. Usually these people are the local Marxists that while away their day at your local Starbucks, rarely is it someone that's supposed to be a serious political writer, like Michael Harris.
Don't get me wrong, a lot of Harris' points here are absolutely true, but the conclusions he is reading out of them smack of hyperbole.
Let's take a few examples, here.
Are Canadians more accepting of a dictatorship? Or are many simply misunderstanding the pollster's questions, generally ignorant of how government works, or maybe, just maybe, an increase of around 5% isn't significant enough to count out of the margin of error?
Why did Canadians not care about the contempt of Parliament motion brought against Harper? Was it because they're becoming more comfortable with the notion of a dictatorial regime, or because they saw it for what it was, a hail-mary play by a desperate Opposition that sought to discredit the Prime Minister any way they could?
Why is turnout so low? Is it because people are deferring to Herr Harper's leadership, or because there is a lack of good options, a lack of issues to motivate voters, and a stable government that dots and crosses its electoral coalition i's and t's, and doesn't require being thrown out every election cycle?
Is Stephen Harper playing with the rules in an attempt to set up a one-party state bent upon dominion over all of Canada? Or is he abusing the powers of the office he's been handed as many of the previous Prime Ministers, all the way back to John A. Macdonald, have done?
The current Prime Minister is a bad guy, I get it, I agree, lets get rid of him. But why do we have to treat him like the second coming of Hitler? I don't think Harper or any of his cronies do the things they do because they're inherently hostile to democracy; I think, like any government this country has had since its founding, its full of people who like power and will do some not-so-nice things to maintain their hold on it. Its not good, but its not abnormal either.
Here's the real kicker, though: who does Harris or anyone else think this is going to convince? The average person who voted for Harper in the last election is not going to come to this article and accept the conclusions, especially when you're indirectly implying that they're essentially sheep willing to be taken to the slaughter. They will look at this and rightfully conclude that Harris is schilling for the opposition, using rhetoric that would make Pierre Poilievre blush.
Do you want to do a hit piece on Stephen Harper's many, many faults as a head of government? Go right ahead, but leave the dictator talk at home.