1.26.2006

guest post from redsock: thoughts on harper

This post brought to you by Redsock, a/k/a my partner, Allan.

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One of my favorite bloggers - NDP supporter Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition - has posted his thoughts on the election results. He's usually not much of an alarmist, so I was wondering what others here thought. Here are some snips (whole comment here):
The Conservatives have formed a "safe" government on a short leash, that in the long term may prove the most disastrous outcome. Their weak minority will force them, if they're smart (and they are, now) to moderate their agenda; actually bringing it more into line with the centrist cooing Stephen Harper was making during the campaign. Breathing space for everyone, but it just means we're in a pot that's being brought to a boil. Some won't notice until they smell the garlic butter.

Canadian minority governments typically survive about 18 months. This provides a perfect window for our increasingly aggressive corporatist media to burnish Harper's image, and for voters to feel the slight benefit of tax cuts without yet feeling the pain of cuts to social services. (And of course this is how Canadian social services will be gutted. The Conservatives must say the right thing - that they will defend public healthcare, employment insurance and the rest - all the while doing the wrong thing by emptying the Treasury. Then, well, their hands will be tied: just the way they like it.) ...

Something else to expect during the minority tenure is Harper's drawing a target on Canada's back and then claiming it is only the Conservatives who are "strong on security." This could be precipitated by a world event (say, the forthcoming and potentially unconventional attack on Iran), Harper's hellbent march into the endless "war on terror," followed closely by a Bali bombing-like, this time it's personal attack on a soft Canadian target. If it sounds like something out of John Howard's playbook, it is. Howard's national campaign director, Brian Loughnane, is also advising the Canadian Conservatives. ...
Another blogger I check in with every so often is xymphora, who I believe (no one is sure) also lives in Canada. His view is even darker than RI's, to wit:
I can say, without fear of any reasonable contradiction, that Harper is the single worst human being to ever be Prime Minister of Canada.


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L-girl here again. I felt that these views were unduly alarmist, pessimistic and paranoid. I would never say "That won't happen," because none of us know the future, and it is often stranger than our imaginations. But based on what we do know - which is all any of us can go on - these don't feel right to me.

What do you think?

Allan and I will be gone for a few hours - hanging shelves, then taking Cody to a nearby off-leash dog park we just learned about - so please play nice.

31 comments:

Expat Traveler said...

It does sound scary or at least makes my mind wander into and about the future. I already had one comment in my blog asking if I was ready to move yet!

Scott M. said...

C'mon folks, don't be silly. This is not the end of the world. I didn't want to see a Conservative government myself, but it won't be the destruction of federalism or social services or anything, really.

This is clearly just fear mongering.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I think it's a little early to declare the end of the world just because Harper was elected.

Harper will do things that probably none of us will like, but to sink into defeatism seems a little melodramatic.

I think that perhaps what's happening down south is affecting people's perceptions. A conservative and perhaps a neocon Harper might be, but he's not Bush.

doug said...

no one's giving the electorate credit in this, yes he's the leader with a fragile minority but he's still answerable to the electorate...look at Mulroney, Harris, Rae etc. Canadians are quick to pull the trigger on a politician, party with a damaging agenda....Harper becomes centrist or he's gone...in Canada it's truly the electorate that has shown it holds the power

Trevor said...

I don't think Harper will get his 18 months, or he'll completely abandon the right-wing of the party to move to the centre in an attempt for a majority next time around. Headlines for the next few months will be peppered with first-time MPs making idiots of themselves which will give the average Tory pause. Who remembers some of the gems tat came out of the Reform caucus after they sent people to parliament in the late 90s? Invitiations to fight on the floor of the Commons, constituency letters quoting Hitler, lots of crazy, dumb crap...

But it all won't matter -- I see Frank McKenna has ALREADY quit as US ambassador (Don't be fooled by his "no one will take me seriosuly because the Liberals appointed me" resignation letter). He's your next Liberal leader, and one who's track record will call a lot of fiscal-conservative/social-liberal Tories to vote Liberal next time around (L-Girl -- for an analogy, think of the 2 senators from Maine, Collins and Snowe, who are yankee Republican but certainly not Bush-ites. Overall, I think Maine's a pretty progressive state)

L-girl said...

I agree with you both re fear-mongering and the end of the world.

But one could also say...

A conservative and perhaps a neocon Harper might be, but he's not Bush.

...that Bush was not Bush, either. In 2000, none of us imagined he and his ilk would be as bad as they are. We knew he was awful, and an embarrassment, but until 9/11 gave them an excuse, they didn't show their true colours.

That's what these folks are worried about.

Now, Canada not being a military aggressor, and a global bully and oppressor, greatly lessens the chances of it being the target of terrorism. And to my mind negates its chance of becoming the US.

So I don't agree with the fear-mongering.

But I think their fear is not that Harper equals Bush, but that Harper could become what Bush became.

L-girl said...

Expat Traveler, several wingnuts have emailed me asking where I will move now. Yeah, right.

L-girl said...

I thought McKenna resigned as ambassador so he could take the party leadership. I thought that was a given, but what do I know.

Trevor said...

L-Girl -- are people REALLY still hounding you for moving? U gotta publish that drivel (with email addys) so we can get in touch with them :)

L-girl said...

L-Girl -- are people REALLY still hounding you for moving? U gotta publish that drivel (with email addys) so we can get in touch with them :)

Hard to believe, isn't it?? :)

This shit is more "where you gonna move now, you crybaby?". You have to say that in your best nyah-nyah voice.

At the moment I'm just into ignoring and deleting, it seems to drive them most insane. But if I ever get a mind to do battle again, I'll let you know. :)

L-girl said...

Harper becomes centrist or he's gone

That's what I think. I'm not sure how these folks think he can do the things they're worried about.

But like I said, I don't dismiss it. "Eternal vigilance" and all that.

Trevor said...

McKenna's always been kinda dodgy with respect to running federally -- waiting for the right time (He and Martin are close and similar in thinking, so he didn't want to challenge him, nor does he want to take over a party like Jean Charest did with the post-Mulroney Tories, going from a majority to 2 seats and spend the rest of his politcal life building it back up only to be ousted before they have a chance to take power). But he can't just take the leadership (at least, unless things have changed since I've been in the US), he'd have to run for the leadership, win it, then get some MP to give up their seat and win that. But he's declaring early to keep any out-of-the-blue competitors out of the ring.

L-girl said...

But he can't just take the leadership (at least, unless things have changed since I've been in the US), he'd have to run for the leadership, win it, then get some MP to give up their seat and win that. But he's declaring early to keep any out-of-the-blue competitors out of the ring.

Right, that's more precisely what I meant. Freeing himself up to be ahead of the pack, to take the leadership if he can win it.

I hope he's not really like a New England-style Republican. They're not as liberal as you might think.

But honestly, I'm not too concerned about that. I'm more interested in how far Harper's Tories will go.

Trevor said...

Not too far, I hope. I think every significant piece of great 'social safety net' policy in Canada has come from having a minority government with the NDP holding the balance of power (not to beat the meaning of 'balance of power' thing to death from the previous posts, but the Bloc are essentially radioactive so aren't an issue). So we'll see...all things considered I would have prefer that that minority government be Liberal but oh well.

Wrye said...

That's what I think. I'm not sure how these folks think he can do the things they're worried about.

It's usually with the assumption that Harper cares more about implementing radical change than his own (or his party's) longevity. Some changes (like, say, certain tax cuts or devolving tax powers to the provinces) would be very difficult to reverse. If changing the federation is that important to him, he may do it regardless of the consequences.

Ian Welsh drew a parallel with Dave Barrett.

(who?)

Dave Barrett was the NDP premier of BC for three years in the 1970's. During his time, he made a number of structural changes to how labour relations are handled in BC. He was too radical, and Dave and the NDP were thrown out and stayed out for almost 20 years, but most of the changes he made stayed in place even at the height of the Bennett Socreds. principle was more important to him than power or longevity.

So, how committed is Harper to his cause?

Trevor said...

But Barrett had a majority, didn't he?

Lone Primate said...

Mulroney, Harris, Rae etc. Canadians are quick to pull the trigger on a politician

Rae, yeah. Mulroney and Harris got second terms. And I know how hard we tried to get rid of Mulroney in '88. Same thing happened then as happened Monday: the NDP ate up enough of the support that would otherwise have gone to the Liberals that the Tories squeaked up the middle... though to a much greater extent in '88. The right just spent ten years trying to get its act together. It has. Now I think we'd better unite the centre-left.

L-girl said...

Thanks, Wrye and LP - very helpful.

It's usually with the assumption that Harper cares more about implementing radical change than his own (or his party's) longevity. Some changes (like, say, certain tax cuts or devolving tax powers to the provinces) would be very difficult to reverse. ...
So, how committed is Harper to his cause?


I hear you, loud and clear. In many ways, the US is still feeling the effects of Reaganism, and will be for the forseeable future. Some things change in an all-but-permanent sense.

Mulroney and Harris got second terms. And I know how hard we tried to get rid of Mulroney in '88. ... The right just spent ten years trying to get its act together. It has. Now I think we'd better unite the centre-left.

This is scary, because the left will always divide over this. I have to assume (based on my general knowledge of leftist politics, not specifically about Canadian lefties) that some NDPers will always reject the drive to unite with the Liberals. Some will vote strategically, but some never will, no matter what.

Right-wingers are always so much more monolithic than lefties. It's a problem when you think so much! ;-)

Echo Mouse said...

I actually don't find those comments alarmist at all. We've experienced it before. We tried so hard to get rid of Mulroney but couldn't. And now, he's behind Harper 1000%.

I also read an article in the Globe & Mail which said that Harper CAN make changes to Canada's ... shoot can't remember the word ... federal mandate or something. And he can do it WITHOUT needing support from the House. There are enough things he can do, completely on his own, because he is Prime Minister. He will ruin Canada if we don't keep on him mercilessly and every.single.day.

Mulroney is definitely orchestrating everything. That's enough reason to see Harper as our Reagan. It just may be all downhill from here. I hope to God it's not but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid for Canada.

L-girl said...

There are enough things he can do, completely on his own, because he is Prime Minister.

Such as...? Anyone?

As always, I'm not being sarcastic or flip. Truly asking.

Mulroney is definitely orchestrating everything.

Is this true?

Echo Mouse, it's not that I doubt your sincerity. I just need more information. I've never heard this before and need some corroboration, a cite, something.

The phone lines are open.

Lone Primate said...

There are enough things he can do, completely on his own, because he is Prime Minister. He will ruin Canada if we don't keep on him mercilessly and every.single.day.

Well, really, there are only so many things you can do in Canada with Orders in Council. They still have to be financed, and even the PM can't pretend he's Charles I and do it without Parliament. And remember what Parliament did to him. This guy's minority PM, and in spades. He's a long way from a majority and he'll never get it in by-elections if I stays on all five years. It just won't happen. If he gets too big for his britches, the people are going to say so, and the other parties will simply vote down the next money bill and put the electorate in the jury box again.

Harper has to come to grips with it. He's got some room to make changes, but not much. It's as obvious as the nose on his face that Canada (at least outside the earshot of Calgary) did NOT give him a mandate for sweeping change... we barely gave him a government, in spite of everything. So he gets to manage the store for a while -- not rip it down and build a church or massage parlour for GIs or something.

Trevor said...

Mulroney is behind it? I'm not even sure Brian Mulroney's family listens to him anymore.

Echo Mouse said...

Ok, I'm digging the newspapers out of the recycling bin. Also, yesterday I found a Globe & Mail magazine from May 2004 with Mulroney on the cover. Huge article in there about him and what he's up to behind the scenes. I'll find it all and come back to share.

Echo Mouse said...

Ok, I just ransacked our garbage but we just had a pickup apparently a couple days ago. I wish I could remember the name of the Globe columnist who said what Harper could do alone, without need of a vote in the House. Anyway, because of this, I've now coughed up my credit card on the Globe site LOL I'm searching archives.

Here's what I've found regarding Mulroney quietly guiding and leading Harper and his team -

PM-e? It doesn't make sense

From the Conservative Press office at 4:25 p.m. EST:
Ottawa — Statement by Prime Minister elect Stephen Harper:

"The Conservative transition team will be led by Derek H. Burney, who served previously as Canada's Ambassador to the United States and as Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Mr. Burney will be assisted by a group with extensive experience in government. Their main objective will be to ensure a smooth transition from the outgoing to the incoming administration."

[Note to the Conservative Press office: This is Canada, not America. We don't elect a Prime Minister in this country. The correct terminology is 'Prime Minister-designate.' Please drop the 'Prime Minister elect' business.]

Updated Tuesday, January 24 at 04:40 p.m.
Send your comments on this item to email@dancook.com


I've also emailed Dan Cook at the Globe asking him if it was his column or one of his fellow journalists. AND I'm dusting off the May 2004 Globe magazine I have, which lists allllll of Mulroney's connections and influences.

L-girl said...

Go, Echo Mouse, go! :)

You are great to research this for all of us.

Derek H. Burney, who served previously as Canada's Ambassador to the United States and as Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

In of itself, this doesn't mean there's a Mulroney connection. I don't know Burney, but many career government types serve under many governments, they don't necessarily serve the same master each time.

Echo Mouse said...

Okay, i'm blogging this at my newly established political blog LOL but here's what else I found today! First, the link to the article in today's Globe where they say Mulroney is defintely behind Harper

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20060127/MULRONEY27/TPNational/?query=Mulroney

EXCERPTS from today's article:-

"While it's hard to know just how close Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Harper are -- many sources say they speak, but not all that regularly -- it's clear that the former prime minister has some influence over the prime-minister-designate. Indeed, a good number of the men and women whose job it will be to help Mr. Harper with the transfer of office are former Mulroney confidantes and staffers."

[::]

"They include people like former Mulroney chief of staff Derek Burney and Maurice Archdeacon, a former inspector-general at CSIS who served in the Privy Council Office under Mr. Mulroney.

Camille Guibault, a former deputy chief of staff to Mr. Mulroney, is also on the team, taking a key role in helping to find staff, sources say. Also on the team is Elizabeth Roscoe, a former chief of staff to Mulroney heavyweight cabinet minister Barbara McDougall.

Sources say that most of Mr. Mulroney's influence is exerted through those who used to be around him.

But the former PM was also active during the recently completed campaign, speaking to Mr. Harper, but more often getting his points across through Senator Marjory LeBreton, his former appointments secretary, who travelled with Mr. Harper.

According to sources, Mr. Harper began calling Mr. Mulroney in the fall of 2004, a few months after the Conservative Party election defeat earlier that spring.

"They began developing a relationship," one source said. "Harper is a really smart guy who learns from his mistakes." "

L-girl said...

Thanks for that, Echo Mouse. Interesting!

Let me know if you want a link to your political blog.

sharonapple said...

There are enough things he can do, completely on his own, because he is Prime Minister.

Such as...? Anyone?

As always, I'm not being sarcastic or flip. Truly asking.


Appoint judges and senators if he wished. There's one nut in America that believes that he should stack the courts with Conservative judges.

"As has been the case in the United States, cultural Marxism largely has been foisted upon Canada by the courts. If judges who respect the Constitution were to be appointed, they would confirm that such rights are not to be found in that document."

Actually, equal rights are there in Canada's charter of rights.

Haha! Thank you Trudeau.

Still, this bugged me:

Paul Weyrich examines the result of Monday's election in an essay posted to the website of the Free Congress Foundation, the Washinton-based think tank that he heads. "The people of Canada have become so liberal and hedonistic that the public ethic in the country immediately could not reversed," Weyrich writes.

"It will take time. But with leadership it well may be possible to change the public ethic."


Scary. And this can happen because in the sixties liberalism was widespread in America.

http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/politics/news/shownews.jsp?content=n012702A

I hope he's not really like a New England-style Republican. They're not as liberal as you might think.

Frank McKenna seems pragmatic than anything else. He honestly seemed passionate on trying to improve things for his province when he ran New Brunswick. Typical politician it's tough to nail him on issues, but he has said in the past that he doesn't believe a person's personal views should be placed ahead of "overall societal objectives."

There are a couple of darkhorse candidates that I hope make a good showing.

One is Gerard Kennedy, the former executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank. Charismatic. Leftist. Outsider. Not hard on the eyes. Effective as the Ontario Education Minister. Can speak french. (But then people claim that Belinda Stronach can as well... and she really can't.) Came from the West. He's almost too perfect.

There's also Brian Tobin. He's quick with the comebacks. During the 2004 election, he verbally smacked David Frum around to the point that Frum decided to leave the CTV broadcast. When Tobin first ran, at the all-candidates debate the PC and the NDP candidate stated that they were against abortion because the district polled against abortion rights. Tobin stood up at the debate and told them that he was pro-choice. People were shocked, but they voted him in.

L-girl said...

Appoint judges and senators if he wished.

Oh yes. I have questions about how this is done here. I'll post about them.

"The people of Canada have become so liberal and hedonistic that the public ethic in the country immediately could not reversed," Weyrich writes.

"It will take time. But with leadership it well may be possible to change the public ethic."

Scary. And this can happen because in the sixties liberalism was widespread in America.


It can certainly happen, although will Harper be in power long enough to see it through? And is it really his agenda, or do are the social conservatives just hoping they can get through their own agenda on his coattails?

The US grew more liberal through the 60s, into the mid and late 1970s. The turning point was Reagan's election in 1980, when the country took an extremely sharp turn to the right.

Canada today seems very different than the US in those days - but then, my understanding of Canada is a work-in-progress.

Trevor said...

Ah Brian Tobin -- another in a long line of Newfoundland politicians (reaching back to Joey Smallwood himself) who great orators -- but less than stellar executives. Then again, one could say the same of Chretien early on. Like the leaders of many nations, surrounding yourself with a competant cabinet gives you all the time in the world to make grand speeches.

Trevor said...

...and how couldn't you like his appearance on that barge outside the UN in New York in the East River during the 'Cod War' with Spain in 1995 (94?), talking about that 'last little codfish hanging on by its fingernails" - Tobin's great at that!