Saturday, October 4, 2008

Why Stephen Harper Shouldn't Be Elected...And Why Canadians Shouldn't Vote For Him

We get letters. Lots of them. None better than this one.

It seems that even some Liberal-oriented people may be buying into Harper's blue sweater "everyman" schtick. Or maybe for some in the political game, optics ARE actually more important than the content of the message.

What is pathetic about our current situation, is that Canadians have had eight years to watch Bush, another fake and disingenuous "everyman", almost completely destroy foreign and domestic institutions and dynamics.

With last week's outing of Harper's parrotting of Australia's John Howard, it should be completely apparent that if Harper isn't a plagarist, then he is a pathetic mimic of Bush/Cheney and Howard. Thank God Harper's firm hand was not "at the tiller" in 2003 when HE wanted to send Canadian troops into combat in Iraq. If he was Prime Minister in 2003, how many Canadian soldiers would we be mourning today?

The most serious question of this election should be WHY, with everything that we have born witness to in recent years, have Canadians not learned to reject cheap imitations of failed leaders, failed policies, failed economics, false and misleading rhetoric, fake and failed diplomacy, ruinous ideology, the abandonment of multi-lateralism and international institutions, swiftboat politics, Mike Harris/Jim Flaherty deficit financing, big oil control over government, and the corporatization of government?

Why have we apparently learned nothing?

With all of the criticism and outrage that came out of this country in 2003 after the Iraq invasion and after all of the sabre-rattling with Iran, Canadians should be wary of any ideological driven and partisan messaging.

With Harper there are no ideas, no plans, no platform . . . just swiftboat attacks, bogus talking points, failed ideology, a history of divisiveness, and a miserable economic track record.

If we are so much smarter than the Americans (as we so foolishly and so often like to think we are), then why are Canadians seemingly so willing to go down the same disastrous road as our American friends?

Stephen Harper has tried to make this election about "leadership". My definition of leadership just doesn't seem to jive with Stephen Harper's version of the word.

My definition of leadership would include those who take the reins when the going gets tough and when the roads get rocky.

My definition of leadership would not involve breaking the recently past election law to call a snap election because of worries that the situation is going to get worse (for him).

Real leadership for the country would have seen our Prime Minister actually working with all parties (regardless of whether he had a minority or majority) to ensure that our economy remained strong and that our national interests were being properly protected, not foolishly plunging us into an unnecessary, illegal and expensive election.

Real leadership involves caring for and respecting all people, just not the people who agree with you or those who vote for you. And real leadership definitely doesn't involve firing people who are doing their job protecting Canadians from a potential nuclear catastrophe (Kean) or needlessly suing an ailing man who has been cleared by a public inquiry (Pelletier).

Real leadership is being sure enough of yourself, your policies and your ideas that you are unafraid to be challenged by anyone, anytime, anywhere. Do Harper and his party members meet any of these definitions of leadership? Controlled press conferences, muzzled members of parliament, and ignoring or abusing parliamentary accountability procedures suggest otherwise - hence the ongoing allegations of a hidden agenda. And don't forget that Harper sought an adjournment of his frivolous and abusive defamation claim against Stephane Dion because he wanted to avoid the embarrassment of being slapped down by a judge during the election. Mark my words, Harper will abandon his claim shortly after the election.

Leadership IS about HOLDING YOURSELF to the HIGHEST STANDARD. It is NOT about holding everyone else to the highest standards.

Pandering to the lowest common denominator and sacrificing principles to win at any cost are also not signs of true leadership and this is clearly what Harper has been doing with his GST cuts, life sentences for 14 year olds, the meaningless fixed election law, his empty call for accountability and democratic reform, the In and Out scandal, Chuck Cadman, Michel Fortier remaining in the Senate while running for Parliament, the $100/month child care token, the list goes on and on and on.

Many in the media are so obsessed with the political tactics being used during this election, that they seem to have lost touch with the fact that some issues really are pressing and important.

Do Canadians really agree with Harper's ideology of deregulation of the economy? Deregulation of the oil industry? The environment? Food inspection?

Do Canadians really agree with devolving further powers away from the federal government to corporations and the provinces?

Do Canadians really want to dismantle the federal government to the point that we no longer have any meaningful national institutions or programs?

Do Canadians really want religion injected into our politics and our political system?

Do Canadians really want ideological appointments made to the Supreme Court of Canada?

Have Canadians really stopped believing that we can achieve more together than we can on our own?

These are important issues that actually affect people's lives and not just the fate of politicians and political parties.

What happened to the concept of responsible government and more importantly, over what exactly does Stephen Harper want to claim responsibility? He seems more than willing to be tough on crime, except when it's the Conservative Party that is breaking the law.

Have Canadians really stopped caring about the issues and have we honestly bought into the 24/7 discussion on the style and strategy of the election rather than on the substance of the parties' policies (or the lack thereof)?

Recent polls show that while Canadians may be watching the pundits, their voting intentions don't necessary correspond to the message that is being pumped out through the tube and in the columns. If the endless swiftboat-style ads attacking Stephane Dion, the relentless scribblings of an agenda-driven Chantal Hebert and the mindless blather of Mike Duffy on Fox News North (CTV) were working, the polls certainly aren't showing it. While the Liberals have been down in the polls, they are definitely not out. And it is clear from past elections, that Canadians typically only start paying attention to electoral politics in the last 10-14 days of an election. Well here we are!!!

Harper's campaign has been the most abusive, cynical and vacuous campaign that this country has witnessed in recent memory.

For a guy that publicly cried about needing a new mandate, Harper sure hasn't run a campaign that shows Canadians what exactly it is he plans on doing IF elected - unless his plan is to spend the next four years continuing to beat up Stephane Dion.

Now that we are in the final stages of this election, Canadians will start to focus on what this election really means for the future of the country.

Canadians will either accept or reject the Republican-style campaign of swift-boat attacks, empty platforms, gimicky commercials, and blue-sweater image consultant manipulation.

Canadians will start to focus on the fact that some of the parties do actually have substantive platforms and well-formed plans to tackle real issues.

Hopefully Canadians will be able to see their way through the bad commercials, the din of pundits, columnists and the media echo chamber, to decipher what we really want and who we trust to deliver meaningful policies and programs.

h/t to the TWDIKG editorial board for this lovely and thoughtful letter.


Lizt. said...

Harper already sold many of our buildings, and it makes me sick....
where are the media..are they stupid?
There are so many media, that would bend over backwards to make sure they protect Harper. The only media. that is not too much like that, is The Canadain Press.
On CBC, someone who said if someone was willing to pay, FOX
News for the item of Harper crying to them, about us about not going into Iraq...Would I love to see this and, IT WOULD SHOCK MANY!

Lizt. said...

CTV has a news item from 2003 about what Harper said about Iraq. We need to see film of him, from 2003 and FOX NEWS

WesternGrit said...

Problem is, conservatives actually BELIEVE all that stuff they're doing (children in jails, more jails, spend more on military, tax cuts combined with - or resulting in - smaller government, etc.).

There is only one way in stopping the rich/corporations and unions from owning or controlling elections (I've posted on this before) - or we risk losing our great democracy to extreme right-wing ideologically driven policy, hidden by corporations smoothing everything out with pro-Con leanings: We must tighten the restrictions on advertising, 3rd parties, etc.

Right now, is it really fair that many Canadians won't be able to hear what the Greens have to say when deciding who to vote for? The election spending limits are WAY TOO HIGH. A rich party (or a party backed by the rich or strongly ideologically driven) can easily swamp voters with their message. As a voter, I may never see a Green ad.

There is another part of election spending that needs to be made illegal: partisan ads prior to elections (like Harper's swift-boat ads about Dion). If we wish to allow advertising, there should be an equal limit imposed on all media channels - and guaranteed equal airtime. If the poorest party can't afford this, then the limits need to be lower.

It's the only way to ensure the message of each party is heard equally by all voters... Then let the voters decide...

Beijing York said...

What a fantastic letter. We need more of that.

The media has been dreadful in covering the election and pimping Harper. What ever happened to their dog with a bone approach to scandals? Harper has been given a cake walk despite having a handful of pretty damning scandals hanging over his head.

Adscam didn't KILL 18 people. Tainted meat certainly did. Harper is a liar and crook but the media just keeps cheering him along, much like our US counterparts did with Bush in 2004.

A Harper leadership, with or without a majority, is the most dangerous political challenge Canadians have ever faced. Look at how much damage he accomplished with a minority. He has shown that he doesn't care about the rules and etiquette of our Parliamentary system and will be more than willing to continue pursuing his (not ready for prime time) mandate even with a minority.

The Rat said...

"There is only one way in stopping the rich/corporations and unions from owning or controlling elections (I've posted on this before)"

Is this a serious comment? From the Liberal party that lived off of Bay street donations in the era of unrestricted purchasing of elections? The Conservatives get their money form thousand upon thousand of small donations from average Canadians, something the Liberals just can't seem to do. The idea that the Liberals are anything other than the "for sale" party to the highest bidder is utterly ridiculous. Laurier club anyone?

But is just like the Liberals to re-cast themselves in any way they can in order to win. No principle is so important that it can't be tossed because of one poll or another.

Mala Fides said...

Yeah, and don't forget about Harper's pitting the provinces against each other for political gain and his peddling of different messages about the arts and culture in Quebec.

Hey Harper, this is the 21st Century!!!!

You can't get away with that kind of crap anymore!!

James Curran said...

Laurier Club? WTF are you talking about? You know, I hate when rats invade my blog and spew pure bullshit all over.

Laurier members are subject to yearly donation limits. Just like the rest of the donors...even Cons... to political parties. I am a member. Why aren't you you mouse?

mtler from BC said...

Further to the observations on leadership, I encourage everyone to read the G&M Books section review of Gen. Lew Mackenzie's autobiography . . . in it the reviewer (Taylor of Esprit de Corps) notes Mackenzie's 'rules for leadership'; one of them was "A leader takes responsibility, even when he s not responsible". It would be good if Stephen Harper, an admirer of the Canadian military (see Jeffrey Simpson's piece yesterday), paid some attention to a Canadian general who also was a Conservative candidate at on time.

samflutch said...

Newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has forbidden the media from attending today's arrival of the remains of four Canadian soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan. Mr. Harper has also declined to lower the flag on Parliament Hill to half-staff.Stephen Harper forced to admit, in order to gain votes, that the US invasion of Iraq was a mistake.