Monday, March 10, 2014

The Audacity of Audacity

When Stephen Harper writes his memoir, I suggest that he call it The Audacity of Audacity. ( I was originally going to suggest that title  for Christy Clark, but maybe it suits Stephen Harper better. )

The root cause of Conservative audacity and smugness is their knowledge that they need only approximately 38% (plus or minus one or two percent) of the vote to get another majority government. In addition to being indifferent to the views of the progressive majority , they are able to essentially write off the province of Quebec--currently governed by a minority PQ government and a ticking time bomb if there ever was one. Liberals, who benefitted from this system of dis-unity for many decades , should have known that one day the shoe would be on the other foot. That day has come, with deleterious, if not perilous, consequences.

When Lac Megantic followed deliberate deregulation of the railways and a quadrupling of oil being transported thereupon, Harper blamed MM&A Railway for a predictable disaster. When he appointed two high-powered media celebs to the Senate, they were expected to do aggressive campaigning and fund-raising in addition to their regular duties; he expressed anger at their expense accounts. When he appointed Gerry Schwartz's right hand man from the Onex Corporation to head his PMO, to bring his private sector-style "fixing" skills to the public sector , he expressed bewilderment and betrayal when the Boy Wonder actual used those skills. Now, when the Chief Electoral Officer threatens to actually do something about illicit Robocalls in 246 (mostly Conservative) ridings, and to do something to promote higher voter turnout, the Government accuses "the referee of wearing a team jersey" and rolls back his powers. Clearly, there is a pattern here:  Harper keeps creating the conditions that are more conducive to bad things happening, and when those bad things happen, Harper keeps shaking his head and expressing disappointment at how  Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, the Chief Electoral Officer, the private railway companies, keep letting him down.  But here is the critical point: the prime minister may have just created the conditions for these failures, but creating conditions is what governments do.  It is therefore perfectly reasonable to hold the prime minister responsible for the conditions he creates.

Polls show a clear majority of Canadians dislike the selfish waste of money and unprecedentedly partisan nature of the "Economic Action Plan" propaganda. Even the Calgary Sun--arguably the most pro-Conservative newspaper in the country--has pleaded with them to stop. No dice. Why? Because they don't care what the majority thinks--they don't need that majority to form a  government, they only need that majority  to continue to split its vote between three opposition parties. It's the Conservative plurality in a majority of ridings that the Conservatives care about, and very deeply at that.

Where does all this audacity come from? A devilishly simple place: the pure and simple knowledge that it only takes 37%-38% of the vote to get a parliamentary majority in this country, as long as the opposition vote is split, turnout is relatively low, and the Chief Electoral Officer is suitably muzzled. Here's why: this government deserves to be hated by the majority of Canadians, and the strange ironic truth is that it is.  But the government doesn't care, because it  knows that everything about the system as it is currently configured works in their favour anyways.

There you have it: Democracy, Conservative-style.

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