July 05, 2007

Stephen Harper Is Being Followed... Or Is He?

Well, he isn't really, unless you count CSIS or the RCMP officers that are doing their job to protect him. "From whom?" might you ask. From the evil judges, media personnel, senators and, more recently added to the list, civil servants, that are all out to to defy the Conservatives and tarnish their reputation.

For years it seemed like that it was only the lefties that were prone to conspiracy theories or had to be afraid of the establishment. I would argue that it was and still continues to be a stereotype that is attached to the left. With ideas that the government is spying on us all, infiltrating our organizations, persecuting those who might defy them, etc. the left has been known to come up with some crazy accusations. Hell, there has been many movies even made on these ideas and even one specifically called 'Conspiracy Theory' starring an actual supposed conspiracy theorist. Why? Because they make for great stories. Lately, though, the right, and more specifically conservative leaders, in both the US and Canada having been pushing their own.

A popular one has been the activist judge argument. Stephen Harper has used this to describe some of the judges that were appointed during the Liberal days. In general, it's been an argument directed at judges that have interpreted Charter directives such as:

Section 15: Equal treatment before and under the law, and equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination.
to mean that every Canadian should have the same rights. This is a problem because apparently the actual interpretation is supposed to mean only certain Canadians are equal and the rest are only entitled to compromises. How could the Canadian judiciary get that wrong? It must mean some sort of bias is being applied and that it's a Liberal ploy of some sort.

Another good conspiracy theory is about the media. For many people this may seem like a no-brainer. Of course the media is out to get Harper. The media are either spinning stories to suit their own biases or because they just want to create a story to 'sell papers'. And frankly, there might be some truth involved here. However, I have much more faith in people than Harper does. If anyone is really to blame for much of the negative press Harper has received, its Harper and his inner circle that deserve the lion's share. The media doesn't have to spin much with this government because most of what they have done or said has been nonsense, political rhetoric, ridiculous or hypocritical. Harper talked about accountability but then gave a cabinet job to an unelected official. They promised resolution on softwood but then sold out the industry. They promised action on the environment but then wasted paper with an extremely poor plan and whined to the international community. They released a 5-point action plan that included health care improvement, then changed the fifth point, which happened to be health care, then eventually dropped the fifth point all together. They broke promises on equalization funding. They even tried to control which media people and outlets could question them publicly after pledging greater transparency. Yet, apparently, its considered bias on the media's part for reporting these things.

Then when you factor in Canadian senators supposedly stalling on legislation because their all biased and Liberals and more recently claiming that foreign civil servants are undermining the government internationally, one has to wonder if something is going seriously wrong inside the head of Harper and his crew. With these two groups it probably has nothing to do with poorly written legislation (i.e. Baird's original Accountability Act that had to be rewritten by the Senate for it even to make sense) or that the Conservatives tries to politicize public servants ('Canada's New Government' letterhead, anyone?). It probably has nothing to do with any of those types of things or anything else. It's likely that people are just out to get the Conservatives, right?

There are really two points of view that can be expressed hear. On one hand, maybe Harper is makes these claims as preposition to justify policy changes or his opinions, etc. There does seem to be a lot to this view. Harper made his argument against the Supreme Court and then went on to adapt a panel review of potential Supreme Court judges. Harper gave his argument against the media shortly before he tried to justify forcing them on to roll-calls so he could choose who would be allowed to ask questions and then ultimately banishing them from parliament. However, the latter move against the media might also be considered evidence that points to the second view.

It could be argued that Harper really is paranoid to some degree. After all, he did ultimately remove members of the media from parliament and cancelled his scrums, has forced his MPs to read from 'scripts' and concentrated all the power of the party into the PMO. Oh, and there was the release of some 'report' that claimed Canada was destined to be a 3rd-world nation if it tried to implement a real environmental plan. And then there are the contextually deceiving attack ads against Dion. These sorts of actions do point to there being an element of fear being present in Harper's decisions. He's afraid of his own members, he's afraid of being questioned, he's afraid of the environment or is it that he's really afraid of the people?

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of the two. He probably is afraid of the people because he knows that at any minute his government can lose it all. The Conservatives weren't elected with any confidence and the election was more about punishing the Liberals for really screwing-up. And even without an established leadership, the Liberals are statistically ties with the Conservatives in opinion polls. That says a lot. There is also the problem that the Harper has consistently undermined and underestimated the public's want for greater accountability, especially where the environment is concerned. And in this regard Harper has been trying to run an extremely tight ship because he's also concerned with power. Harper spent way too long trying to get into the PMO that he fell into the same trap that Paul Martin did prior. Power is all Harper knows at this point. His main focus now is on keeping it and this explains why he has spent more time working on gimmicks and illusions for the public to see than actually governing. It explains why Harper has seemingly been flying by the seat of his pants for the better part of this year. It also explains why he has attempted to maintain total control over everything his party does. Harper has become his own worst enemy and a tired, ineffective leader for Canada.

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Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)