More voices you won’t hear in the election campaign
April 24, 2011 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Though mentioned intermittently, Mr. Harper's determination to muzzle critics will not be a “ballot box question” for most Canadians when they vote. Yet the implications for a Canada ruled by an unrestrained Harper majority government are obvious, and terrifying. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has now published an excellent commentary by Maria Gergin called “Silencing Dissent: The Conservative Record”. [via Gerald Caplan for the Globe and Mail]

Continuing to quote Caplan, from his conclusion:

"This contempt for facts, coming right out of the Bush/Cheney/ Rove playbook, infects every decision being made by the Harper government, from jets to jails to corporate tax breaks, as someone has put it. If you want to hear some sense about defence issues, don’t miss the Rideau Institute’s fine analyses. If you want to know how taxes can be fairer and how desperately needed public services can be paid for, check out the program of Canadians For Tax Fairness. If you want more on our growing democratic deficit, try Democracy Watch."
posted by ServSci (34 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whenever I see the word "conservative", I automatically read "fascist".

One day soon, Harper, Geert Wilders, a Bush/Roveite or a new tea party leader will drop the pretense and call for a permanent dictatorship. Democracy is in a fragile place, with far more enemies than friends these days, despite their rhetoric to the contrary.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:14 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Internal Individual Dissent

In related news, Peter Kent now says Gavan Paranchothy is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being he's ever known in his life.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:14 PM on April 24, 2011


So all conservatives are fascists T.D.? David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, is a fascist? Adolf Hitler was a conservative? Such ignorant hyperbole is ridiculous. If a Conservative majority government in Canada is so obviously 'terrifying' how exactly would they win a majority in the election? What steps did George W. Bush take, exactly, to make himself dictator for life? That's more a Fidel Castro/Hugo Chavez sort of thing. If you want to support democracy then support the peoples of Libya and Syria against truly terrifying and dictatorial governments rather than pretending that Mr Harper is the devil personified.
posted by joannemullen at 7:23 PM on April 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


It makes me sad, but for many Canadians, this simply isn't an issue. I've talked about the election with people who will vote for Harper because "At least he's not American," and they don't see Layton as a viable alternative. It's a weird form of Canadian birtherism, almost. But Harper's assault on democracy in this country is almost never discussed as an election issue. Hell, there are a lot of Canadians who are so indignant that we're even HAVING an election that they'll vote for Harper to spite the other parties (who, as they see it, are solely to blame). The people who DO see it as an issue weren't the kind of people who were going to ever vote for Harper anyway; bringing it up feels like preaching to the choir.
posted by synecdoche at 7:27 PM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


So all conservatives are fascists T.D.? David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, is a fascist? Adolf Hitler was a conservative? Such ignorant hyperbole is ridiculous. If a Conservative majority government in Canada is so obviously 'terrifying' how exactly would they win a majority in the election? What steps did George W. Bush take, exactly, to make himself dictator for life? That's more a Fidel Castro/Hugo Chavez sort of thing. If you want to support democracy then support the peoples of Libya and Syria against truly terrifying and dictatorial governments rather than pretending that Mr Harper is the devil personified.


Well, eventually he will be right about one of the people who crops up in the US or Canada (or Britain, or France, or...). Eventually. Some day. For now, I think its still worth noting that most new conservative governments have aggressively expanded police powers and slowly crept back protections for the 'socially different' in recent years in addition to the muzzling of opposing view points as noted in the OP. Not end-o-the-world stuff but still quite frightening if you aren't a BMW (Big White Male).
posted by Slackermagee at 7:29 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I see the word "conservative", I automatically read "fascist".

Whenever I see the word "progressive," I automatically read "Stalinist."

See, you're like Glenn Beck's long-lost brother!
posted by Dasein at 7:35 PM on April 24, 2011


Stephen Harper; threat or menace?
posted by loquax at 7:38 PM on April 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah ... so glad Obama re-upped those sunset provisions of the Patriot Act instead of some fascist Republican.

It's not about Democrats vs. Republicans any more, and it hasn't been for quite awhile.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:22 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Harper and his brand of politics are symptoms of much larger problems. People are worried. They're worried about a lot of things, but when it comes right down to it they're mostly worried about money; the job market, the worldwide financial crisis, the rising price of pretty much everything, etc. There is a tremendous amount of anxiety out there.

I don't think you have to be a James Kunstler-style peak oil doomer to wonder if North American society is moving towards a new model where most people (i.e. the middle and lower classes) are going to have to get used to a lower material standard of living than they've grown accustomed to since WWII. No-one wants to give up what they already have, though, so if standards of living start to slip, it will be easier for politicians to play people off against each other (eg. anti-union vitriol). They'll resent the lack of what they've already lost and fight harder amongst themselves to keep what remains. Rob Ford's mayoral campaign (by way of example) catered to voters who are worried about money and wonder why their tax dollars should go towards anything they don't like or that they perceive as not directly benefiting them. It's easy to appeal to the greater good when times are good, but when they aren't a lot of people are going to vote with their wallet, and "I'll lower your taxes" is going to be a much more appealing sound bite than "Taxes are a necessary component of a functioning civil society."

Which brings us back to Harper. It's important to remember that according to the polls somewhere between 60%-65% of the country doesn't want to vote for the Conservatives, but I get the impression that a significant aspect of his appeal (aside from social issues, which are really just another way to play people against each other) to the 35%-40% is the impression people have that a Conservative government will be better for their personal bottom line. Everything else comes second, or third or not at all. It's depressing and it's scary, but here we are.

Personally, I'm horrified by the prospect of a Harper majority. I think if he gets one it will more or less spell the end of Canada as we know it. His critics speak of a hidden agenda, but I really don't think it's all that hidden; he's made it very clear what sort of place he'd prefer Canada to be, and it doesn't have very much in common with the sort of country I'd like my friends, family, neighbours and I to live in.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:24 PM on April 24, 2011 [24 favorites]


I have a friend who tends to vote conservative, and I have in the past as well... but neither of us will this time around. He, because of Harper's ads says that Ignatieff "didn't come back for you", which he feels sort of generally attacks all Canadians who've ever lived out of the country as being somehow less worthy. Me, because of the sheer cynicism and intolerance of dissent (e.g. Mounties removing a woman from a Harper rally because the kids posted a picture of herself with Ignatieff at a previous rally). Being conservative is one thing, being Bush-like is going too far.
posted by kevinsp8 at 8:59 PM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


“My view is that the people of Canada expect the party that wins the election to govern the country. I think anything else the public would not buy.”

This. This is the type of speech that worries me. I don't accept his implication that the public won't accept how our parliamentary system works, and I dont' accept him speaking for the public.

And Dry White Toast, thanks for pointing out the echo-chamber discussions, I genuinely look forward your FPP on the Canadian election.
posted by phyrewerx at 8:59 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


""I'll lower your taxes" is going to be a much more appealing sound bite"

Especially when they're pretty sure they won't have to face the consequences until a couple of election cycles down the road when somebody else is in office and can take the blame. Permanent Conservative Victory!!
posted by sneebler at 9:23 PM on April 24, 2011


My take on the debates was that Harper's message was, "We focus on the economy. Give the big corporations a tax break, and they'll take care of you."

Canada is more than just an economy, and Harper is running the largest deficit ever.

What can we do, in the next week, to get him elected out of office?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:30 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Canada is more than just an economy, and Harper is running the largest deficit ever.


That's a wonderful summary, Multicellular Exothermic. Also, a lot of "non-economy" things end up helping the economy; for instance our healthcare policy being an incentive for automotive companies to choose to start plants in Canada instead of the US. Despite the lack of "tax incentives."

I managed to convince someone who wasn't going to vote to go vote for anyone but the conservative in his riding.

Too bad he isn't in a Con/Lib riding (rather than a Lib/NDP one); Canada needs more people, who hadn't voted in the past election(s), in ridings that have previously gone conservative to go out and vote.
posted by porpoise at 10:03 PM on April 24, 2011


I get so depressed when I see a third of Canadians are on the side of batshit policies that are proven to be utter failures. WTF, Canucks?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 PM on April 24, 2011


To be clear, I was joking about lazy rhetoric with my previous, favourited, comment (which I'm not used to seeing for my post in cancon politics threads). The end of Canada as we know it? Undemocratic? Disrespectful of "the people"? Are we talking about the Canada that elected Trudeau over and over again, then his lackey Chretien for another 10 odd years? Or do we only care about this sort of thing when it's coming out of a conservative mouth? I've lived in Canada my whole life, and frankly, things have rarely been better. Not to credit Harper for that, but what the helll are people complaining about? Our strong dollar? Modest deficit relative to other G7 countries? Lack of a housing and banking crisis? Oh! I didn't realize there was some Facebook bullshit in Halifax or whatever, by all means, vote Layton. Regime change is the only thing that can save the Canada of Pierre "war measures act" Trudeau and Jean "adscam" Chretien. Throw in Brian "airbus" Mulroney if you like.

Whatever, I'm voting Marijuana party again. The vibrancy of canadian democracy has resulted in my vote never counting for anything, and Olivia chow ruling trinity-spading with an iron fist.
posted by loquax at 10:05 PM on April 24, 2011


He, because of Harper's ads says that Ignatieff "didn't come back for you", which he feels sort of generally attacks all Canadians who've ever lived out of the country as being somehow less worthy.

I think it is more than that, it is a kick at Justin Trudeau's famous eulogy of his father Pierre, which ends,

He left politics in '84. But he came back for Meech. He came back for Charlottetown. He came back to remind us of who we are and what we're all capable of.

But he won't be coming back anymore. It's all up to us, all of us, now


I mean a political junkie like Harper (he's never had any other kind of job) would be well aware of the eulogy and, well, nothing is beneath him, not even mocking a former Prime Minister's eulogy.
posted by Rumple at 10:28 PM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


At the all-candidates meeting in my riding last week, the Tory incumbent responded to a question about the omnibus crime bill by insisting that it was merely interference by the opposition parties that obliged the government to create these omnibus bills; furthermore, he acknowledged the questioner's discomfort with the bill and told the audience that the surest way to avoid more such omnibus bills was to send a Conservative majority to Ottawa.

In other words, if the Tories worry you, you should vote Tory.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:45 PM on April 24, 2011


I get so depressed when I see a third of Canadians are on the side of batshit policies that are proven to be utter failures. WTF, Canucks?

What are you referring to?
posted by skwt at 11:40 PM on April 24, 2011


At the all-candidates meeting in my riding last week, the Tory incumbent responded to a question about the omnibus crime bill...

I find that hard to believe. What was a Conservative incumbent doing attending an all-candidates forum?

Here in Calgary, they don't even bother to attend, because they know they will be reelected, and because they have nothing but contempt for democracy.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:41 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It makes me sad, but for many Canadians, this simply isn't an issue. I've talked about the election with people who will vote for Harper because "At least he's not American," and they don't see Layton as a viable alternative.

It really does amaze me how people will say "oh, Ignatieff's not really Canadian" and then turn around and vote for the guy who's actively trying to turn Canada into the U.S.

Harper once said that Americans know only about one country, which is one more than Canadians know about. I'm starting to believe him.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:49 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The people who were in power before Harper may have been bad. They may have done things that make us regret supporting them. The Harper Government seems to be dismantling the system we have of complaining about these things, though. If his predecessors were bad, imagine what it will be like when the actual structures of dissent are dismantled.

That seems worse to me on some "meta" level. We'll never even know what is going wrong... there won't be another "sponsorship scandal" or whatever. Instead of changing the Charter of Rights he's just defunding the advocacy groups who pursue violation complaints... it's actually disturbing.
posted by ServSci at 6:32 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


"All conservatives are fascists"? Yeah, that goes beyond the evidence.

But to pick up on Homeboy's phrase, at least in the U.S., 'conservative' Republicans have a lot more "Contempt for Democracy". Democrats ain't no saints, and Obama's preference seems to be for powerful technocrats. But I don't get a whiff of actual scorn for the process, like I got from so many of Bush's people.

Conservatives Republicans seem to think "we won the election, now we get to run the whole thing, with no limits". Thus missing the entire point of the whole U.S. fucking Constitution.

[I'd feel foolish talking about the U.S. in a thread about Canada, but it doesn't sound like it's that different north of the border.]
posted by benito.strauss at 7:44 AM on April 25, 2011


I'm with ServSci on this.

Harper's Conservatives are following the Leo Strauss doctrinal playbook, which essentially says, "You just carry on with your ideological changes to the structure parliament and the democratic processes we've come to think of as Canada. You don't need to explain this to voters, because they're better off as unbiased (unthinking) economic units, and everything you're doing will benefit them economically when your plans come to fruition. When they find out that the free market is freely supporting you, Mr. Prime Minister, they'll not only vote for you, they'll love you for your dedication to Canada's free market, Republican future. Don't worry that some people call it contempt for parliament! You know best."

And Multicellular Exothermic's comment bears repeating: Canada is more than just an economy.

"I get so depressed when I see a third of Canadians are on the side of batshit policies that are proven to be utter failures. WTF, Canucks?"

skwt: What are you referring to?

He's referring to the wholesale copying of Republican party platforms from the US. It goes something like this: You know, that kind of stuff.

Please explain how these policies are likely to benefit Canadians now or in the future, when they are in the process of turning the US into the world's largest Third World nation: huge deficits, a permanently impoverished underclass that's a significant portion of the population, and most of the economy in the hands of corporations and the privileged few.
posted by sneebler at 8:32 AM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've talked about the election with people who will vote for Harper because "At least he's not American," and they don't see Layton as a viable alternative.

This makes no sense to me. We don't vote for prime minister, we vote for our own MP. Maybe your friends watch too much American TV?

If you agree with the NDP's policies, and you live in a riding that's up for grabs, you should vote NDP. You might get the MP you want, and you don't need to worry about Jack Layton becoming prime minister.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:28 AM on April 25, 2011


We don't vote for prime minister, we vote for our own MP. Maybe your friends watch too much American TV?

In the U.S., there's actually a distinction between the two. Not so in Canada, where just about every vote is tightly whipped. You are effectively voting for the leader; any MP who doesn't do what the party leadership wants will suffer the same fate as Helena Guergis.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:06 AM on April 25, 2011


This makes no sense to me. We don't vote for prime minister, we vote for our own MP. Maybe your friends watch too much American TV?

They very much understand it as voting for the Prime Minister, especially those people who come from constituencies whose issues don't exactly tend to get brought up in Parliament. Plus, they see it as giving Harper/not-Harper a seat, which means that he controls the government. Also, what one more dead town said.
posted by synecdoche at 11:43 AM on April 25, 2011


So you're saying they don't want e.g. Jack Layton as PM, but also not as party leader of their MP.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:53 AM on April 25, 2011


"Maybe your friends watch too much American TV?"

This is part of the problem. I've met a few people who clearly believe that the US constitution is applicable here, or that we're Republicans and Democrats. But they mostly also believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, so there's that.

But there are far too many Canadians who buy the whole Right vs. SOCIALIST! rhetoric of FOX/Murdoch, and support Stephen Harper based on this reading of US hot-button issues. This is part of my theme above that we're being converted into the Republican Paradise of USA North, whether we like it or not.
posted by sneebler at 12:14 PM on April 25, 2011


It's more like... The person who I quoted earlier said he won't vote for the Liberals, because he'd prefer Harper to an American. He would, however, vote Liberal if Jack Layton was their leader. That said, he won't vote NDP, because they just don't win.

I'm not saying it makes sense. This is just what I hear, and you can't convince (many) people to see things differently.
posted by synecdoche at 1:02 PM on April 25, 2011


So all conservatives are fascists T.D.?

You're new here, aren't you?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2011


I'm a lefty, but I won't vote liberal. The condescending tone that you see here, where everyone who votes for the Conservatives is wrong and eats babies is what's turning people like me off and towards NDP and Greens. The left has become worse than the Glen Beck right with their exaggeration and hate, and the evidence is right here in this thread.
posted by dripdripdrop at 11:06 AM on April 26, 2011


Majority out of reach, Tories say.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:36 AM on April 29, 2011


Thank goodness. Maybe we can get a few years of a cooperative coalition government.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


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