It seems to me that it is not at all difficult to understand what has been going on in Canada for the past five or six years, politically speaking. The scale and depth of the poisoning of the political system orchestrated by Harper and his party is remarkably clear. Even some rightwing pundits in this country don't deny the stark reality Harper's blatant anti-democratic tendencies, his attacks on accountability, freedom of information, House procedures, freedom of speech among the public service, and now on the voting system itself.
And on top of the rather frightening extent of Harper's malfeasance, his supposed strong suit - fiscal responsibility - has been little to brag about. His denial (or lack of anticipation) of an economic crisis that we all saw coming was almost comical. And though the deficits that his government has run have been partly a result of an international crisis, they were significantly inflated by his overspending in the period prior to the downturn. And, perhaps more importantly, most of the factors that insulated the Canadian economy were Liberal policies that Harper vehemently opposed during his time in opposition, and Harper always maintained that deficits should be illegal in the first place.
Given the magnitude and obviousness of Harper's shortcomings, we are left with troubling questions. Under most circumstances one would expect not just unpopularity for Harper but near insurrection. There is little doubt that among his large number of detractors, Harper is surely the most vehemently despised leader in recent memory, if not of all of Canadian history. However, the failure of a large minority to appropriately react to his malfeasance begs the question - is there just a huge number of people who are completely ignorant of how our political system works, or is supposed to work? Very bad people have been elected in the past. Nixon was reelected even after the Watergate scandal had begun to break. Lestor Maddox was elected governor of Georgia on a staunch segregationist policy and let us not forget that the Nazis were elected with about 44 percent of the vote in 1933. There is no doubt that democracy sometimes favours the very worst kinds of people. But the more I see in contemporary Canada, the more it seems to me that a huge swath of people are just so uninformed and many are so apathetic that it really doesn't matter how criminal or Machiavellian Harper becomes, the only thing that will defeat him is the inevitable boredom of the electorate.
However, any way one looks at it, the tolerance of Harper's misconduct and political corruption is deeply disturbing and demonstrates not only the ignorance of many Canadians but bodes very badly for the future of this nation as a solid democracy.
2 weeks ago