It is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to see the Prime Ministership of Stephen Harper and the history of the Conservative Government as anything but a spectacular failure at almost every level. Even judged by their own standards this government has really failed badly on almost all portfolios. The only area in which Harper can say to have succeeded is in the break down of democracy in general and the destruction of transparency, accountability, and due process in the Parliament in particular.
Some areas of Harper's failure have been rather pathetically predicable. Take Senate reform for example. Rank and file Conservatives (most of whom don't seem to understand the function and process of our government) were naive enough to believe that Harper could do something to reform the Senate. If one understands our system of government, however, one knows that any significant reforms to the Senate would (or will) be monumentally difficult and will probably require the agreement of all the provinces. And yet Harper vowed that he would never appoint anyone to the Senate and that he would reform that rather antiquated body. He has now appointed 58 Senators and all of those appointments have been wildly partizan. And while all appointments to the Senate are inherently acts of patronage, this fact should not preclude a PM from appointing competent individuals to that office. Harper, on the other hand seems to have no regard for any qualification other than the degree to which party hacks deserve rewards on the Senate gravy train. As a result of his disregard for vetting his candidates (and this failure applies to his appointments outside the Senate as well) and his lack of concern for qualifications, Harper has appointed a remarkable group of buffoons to the Upper Chamber.
One can only surmise that Harper is, in regard to the Senate, either a terrific failure or that he never had any intention of reform. Either way, Harper is enjoying bringing his friends to the Government trough and shamelessly continues to appoint Senators while talk of reform has disappeared from Government talking points.
In other areas of public policy Harper has similarly failed. Fiscally speaking, Harper blew significant government surpluses and is now head the most deficit ridden government in Canadian history. Of course, one might argue that this has been a conscious effort on Harper's part to bankrupt the government in the short term so that he can gut it long term. However, while Harper has begun the gutting of social services (something we always expected him to do) his reckless spending continues unabated. The problem is, of course, that regardless of one's political stripes, money, power, and spending are addictive, particularly for people like Harper whose real goal seems to be to find ways of diverting money from the middle and working-class to the offices of large corporations.
Harper's failure on the energy and environmental portfolios is probably the most spectacular of all. He has been gutting the environmental restrictions in an effort to promote runaway oil development but this effort is increasingly looking like it is going to fail. Thanks to gradually changing usages and new finds, the US will soon be oil self-sufficient. Meanwhile, because of the high costs of tar-sands extraction, Alberta's economy will soon once again experience one of its many dramatic busts (and this one could be the very worst they have ever experienced). Harper has attempted to create a third-world style extraction economy in Canada, an economy with very little manufacturing or innovation in which the middle-class disappears for the benefit of a small ultra-rich ruling class. However, it looks like in the long term even this rather nefarious effort will be a failure for Harper because soon our extraction economy will also fail and the wealth required for Harper's corrupt model simply won't be there. Instead, Canada will eventually look like the worst kind of Banana republic. More ominously, Canada could follow the road of countries like Spain in which the ruling class exported all their wealth to other countries and ended up undermining their own development.
Over all, Harper has surrounded himself with criminals and incompetents (men like Flaherty who seems to be genetically incapable of balancing budgets even in times of wealth). As things get worse for Harper he, like so many petty, secretive losers with persecution complexes, is receding increasingly into the shadows. Harper has never once since being Prime Minister ever faced the press or the people in an honest, unvetted, straightforward situation. But as his agenda begins to break down, as it becomes more and more evident that his time as Prime Minister is not only drawing to a close but is doing so under a growing cloud of incompetence, Mr. Harper is beginning to recede behind the wall of his office and his security staff like a Soviet-Era dictator. Harper long ago lost any moral authority that he might have had to govern. Now that it is becoming clear that his government is not only immoral, steeped in a growing list of shocking scandals, but is hopelessly incompetent as well, Harper is turning into a Stalin-like figure before our very eyes - a shadowy, bizarre figure who seems increasingly uncomfortable in the public eye and whose obvious narcissistic disorders are destroying him and his government.
2 weeks ago