"At the core of the colonial mindset is its self-destructive logic. It is unconscious nihilism. Insecurity often drives an elite to believe itself incapable of taking the lead in its country's own affairs. For reassurance it seeks out and clings to some outside force, thus hoping for special consideration. Consideration for what purpose? To provide a direction and, as if by association, a certain importance. Typically this is called a 'special relationship' by the insecure party. As for the outside force, it rarely bothers to call such a relationship anything at all, except when poked by the weaker party seeking more reassurance.
And when the much-hoped-for special consideration does not materialize, the insecure party is confirmed in its fears. The false hope for security becomes the mechanism for turning these fears into a reality."
~ John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country (pg.250)
Stephen Harper's entire tenure has been about appeasing someone or something else. Whether it has been the U.S., the West, his past professors and mentors, etc. Harper has done little for the good of Canada and even less to make Canada a leader in any area. Rather, it could be argued he has negotiated away and intentionally withdrawn Canada's capacity to be a player on a world stage.
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Much of his work prior to being a legit politician was about how Canada shouldn't do certain things or that Canada was doing to much and as such he viewed Canada as weak, a "welfare state" and "second-tier socialist country". Never was his work about how strong Canada had become in any area or recognizing that Canada was succeeding in many areas, both social and fiscal. That the very programs and ideals that he viewed negatively were actually contributing to the strength of Canada, both within and outside of the borders.
Even after joining the House of Commons, Harper has continued to look down on Canada. When the government of the day refused to enter the Iraq war, Harper ran to the US media to proclaim his support. And during his tenure as Prime Minister he sold-out our industries to foreign interests, whether it was softwood or high-tech, etc. and undermined many contemporary policies that deal with the environment, women, minorities and so forth. At any point if there was leadership to be found or had for Canada, Harper has allowed it to simply slip away and let others take over.
What is it that has Harper so fearful of being a leader within Canada and allowing Canada to be a leader within the world? What is so wrong with Canada standing up for its citizens and values that both have gotten Canada where it is and made it significant and unique in the world?
It seems Harper is stuck in a colonial mindset. He seems to beleive Canada can't be a leader. That it can't stand up for itself. To him it's just Canada, a provincial country that is meek in comparison to the great powers. And as such it should behave accordingly.
As a conservative Prime Minister he has also shown these tendencies when it comes to running the government. He's constantly playing politics rather than governing. Willing to cater directly to his core supporters, saying one thing in public only to contradict himself in private. He'll even as going as far as fashioning policies to favour his base (environment, employment insurance).
It's easy to say that he's just power hungry, which there seems to be little doubt anyway, but it has to be more than just power. With power comes real responsibility and certain privileges. Both of these Harper has shied from. Really, he's afraid; Afraid of having to put himself or Canada in the spotlight. He's afraid of taking risks both personally and as a country. He's afraid of possibly having to truly lead.
If he wasn't afraid then the Harper in private would also be the Harper in public. He would show confidence in his ideas, the policies he believes in and in the strength of this nation. He would stand up for Canada and therefore have Canada stand up for itself. But being afraid at home means Canada has become afraid outside. So instead he plays politics, rather than govern, because he fears what might be and what is. He would rather sell himself and Canada out to others in hopes that they will do something for him and us.
US not following the rules when it comes to softwood lumber? Sell out the industry. Maybe they'll return the favour later and make him look good... Oops, that didn't work.
Climate change a global issue? Well, release several plans that take more effort to print and publicize than it does to understand how little they do. But don't forget to make sure the tar sands get more favourable terms. And internationally, let's disrupt any possible progress and shake hands with other hold outs. They'll thank us later...Well, that didn't work out for us either, since all the other deniers are now from power.
How much longer can this 'please notice me' attitude continue? As long as Harper and the Conservatives are in power is the simplest answer. Canada has lost face internationally in almost every area since Harper has become Prime Minister. Our global economic prowess has decreased significantly, it is now common policy to abandon our citizens in times of need, and so on. All just so Harper can tread lightly and buddy up to those with ideas and with the courage to lead and hope that they take us along with them.
Canada wasn't built on the attitude of being subservient or new but shy student in the class. Canada has a long history of stepping out of the box, building consensus, taking risks. Generally speaking, that is how we got to where are today. Those leaders in the past that also played into a colonial frame of mind, didn't last very long and are even easily forgotten by students of Canadian history. Our founding fathers were all strong, proud Canadians who had a very clear idea of what they wanted and believed Canada could be. It didn't involve hiding in the corner, afraid of others. It meant standing up for your convictions and what's right. That's what Canada needs from its leaders and the effects are obvious when it's absent.