Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Harper and the Elections Rumours. . .

The rumour mill has been working overtime predicting that Harper might call an early election. These rumours went into overdrive this week when an April date was set for the Duffy trial. The speculation of many of my esteemed peers in the blogosphere, goes like this - Harper seems to have run out of his political cache (as so many leaders do as the years go by), Trudeau continues to be very popular in spite of (or, indeed, maybe because of)  continual Conservative attacks on him, Harper has lost a number of important Supreme Court rulings and has set himself to lose more (with the prostitution bill and the Union disclosure bill), and as all his scandals gradually chip away at the Conservative credibility in general, and Harper's credibility in particular, the Duffy trial could could be the last nail in Harper's political coffin, particularly coming, as it will right before the election.

All of these facts are clear. However, I don't believe that they point to an early election, for a number of reasons. The first reason is simple: Harper is a deeply deluded and power-hungry individual and he is probably oblivious of his growing unpopularity. Harper, like many politicians with a dissociative disorder, is detached from much of what is actually going on in his own country. Furthermore, like other such leaders, Harper has surrounded himself with grovelling yes-men who don't dare point out the stark political realities to him. Harper's growing isolation, coupled with the fact that he won't want to face potentially negative news, means that he probably isn't even aware of the possible need for an early election. Reason two is this - if Harper is aware of the dire situation then he must know that calling an election a short time before a potentially devastating court battle would be perceived by everyone, even his base, as blatantly self-serving and could have a fatal effect on the electorate who already perceive him as too sneaky and partisan. (He did call an early election last time, but remember he was in a minority situation and there was no impending scandal.) The third issue that few seem to be considering is the fact that Harper doesn't actually need to have an election until may of 2016. Therefore, a more likely scenario in my mind than an early election is a late election. If Harper can avoid testifying in the Duffy case (or at least have his testimony covered by a publication ban), he can ride things out for another year, thus distancing the election from the events of the trial.

 The biggest reason that I don't believe that Harper will call an early election is that his real strategy  is now becoming clear. Like Thatcher in the early 80s or Bush in the early 90s, it seems that Harper is hoping to use a war-footing to get reelected. Perhaps aware that the Conservative record in almost every field is in tatters (poor economic record, poor environmental record, poor labour record, poor job record, poor legal record, etc), Harper is hoping to pull Canada into war in the Middle East and near war in the Ukraine because he knows that most populations, even Canada's, have a tough time not wrapping themselves in the flag. He also knows that the opposition parties don't have enough backbone to oppose his war agenda, and he can therefore make the opposition look compliant at best, weak at worst. (This worked very effectively for years with the Liberal Party that essentially rubber-stamped everything that Harper did, making their vocal opposition to him seem slightly ridiculous). I simply believe that Harper is hoping to have enough time to implement his war-footing strategy and believes that it will override his perceived unpopularity and continual scandals. Think about it, everyday on the news all we hear about now is Harper's international dealing concerning the Ukraine and the Middle East. And let's not forget that elections have been postponed beyond the five year rule in times of war before.

Stephen Harper's reign has been a kind of national nightmare for Canada. He has gradually eroded much of the good that this country represented and as taken us into what some people are calling a "post-democratic" era. He has made it clear that he doesn't like the constitution and walked all over it in his pursuit of power and his rightwing agenda. He has hired an army of communications staffers whose sole job is to spin all events in a pro-Conservative light, and has more or less turned the government of Canada into an arm of the Conservative Party, the guiding principle of which is to make money for the oil companies. He routinely has government spooks spying on anyone who opposes his agenda, and is using various arms of the government to shut down groups or silence individuals who might speak against him and his interests. Harper has so entrenched his party in power and held that power with such unscrupulous negativity, that it is not even clear that the Conservative would ever leave power voluntarily, even if they loose the next election.

Harper will do anything, absolutely anything, to stay in power and the best way to achieve that goal appears to be not to call an early election but to postpone it as long as possible to give his war strategy time to work or even to use a war to postpone an election beyond the normal constitutional limit.


Gyor said...

The NDP is opposing the new middle east war.

Lorne said...

As always, Kirby, you have provided a very interesting analysis. I have to admit that when I heard today that the U.S. is asking for more from Canada in its adventurism against ISIS, and Harper said that any further involvement wold have to be debated in Parliament (the first time he has acknowledged that institution in a log, long time), my first thought was that he was seeking some political cover, hoping either for an endorsement by Trudeau similar to the one he recently gave without knowing any of the details about our involvement in Iraq, or an objection from Mulcair, which would allow the Conservative propaganda machine to ramp up its rhetoric about how the NDP is 'soft on terrorism.'

However, Dear Leader should be cautious, given that it likely won't take too many military deaths in this fight to turn Canadians against the 'mission' and perhaps remember the futility of our sacrifices in Afghanistan.

the salamander said...

.. very interesting and detailed analysis.. Thanks !
The kind of perceptive journalism I wish more Canadians were reading.. along with many of the other Indy bloggers.

Its very important in my view, to simplify, accurately.. the ugly reckless reality of Stephen Harper. The problem with this is the endless and enormous volume of his attacks on Canada, its environment and upon Canadians. The list of failure, assault, ignorance, obstruction, litigation, denials, fraud, arraogance is stunning.. it all begins to blur together & seemingly will not fit into a brief paragraph.. or even a single page.

Its his hidden or masked sociopathy.. the well hidden presumption accompanying his evangelical twist.. and the naked conceit and arrogance that should disturb Canadians.. The failed legacy is a list.. its the person that is the problem. The PM is a disturbed loser, fawned upon or frared by most mainstream media.

Ray Novak, Jenni Byrne, Stephen Lecce, Arthur Hamilton.. etc etc etc.. seem to operate in some gilded space.. Nigel Wright now manages our Pension Funds.. What ?! We have a secret in plain sight evangelical caucus operating in Parliament, a majority of MP's and Ministers are anti abortion.. Let's not even start with the nonsensical 'stand with Israel' baloney..

The magnifying glass needs to be turned on Harper..

Kirby Evans said...

@Gyor - The NDP, as usual, is luke-warm in their opposition and failing to actually talk about the roll that the West played in creating the situation in the first place. This is the continual process of the West creating these situations (and groups) and then acting as though they are on the moral high ground when they opposes them. When all they are really doing is using such adventures to sell more weapons etc. I have little respect for the NDP until they start talking about the real issues here.

Furthermore, as Lorne so well points out above, Harper will use this lukewarm NDP opposition as a wedge to marginalize the NDP as "soft on terrorism." And BTW, this approach would be a lot less meaningful if the NDP actually took the issue head on.

Askingtherightquestions said...

Nicely proposed Kirby. Harper must realize he is in some trouble (hell, anyone with Peter McKay as your lawyer in chief should be running from the Supremes, not taking pot shots, but I digress.......). He certainly looks to be using Bush Jr.s (and the Republican) playbook for war as distraction and a "competence" building exercise. But he is playing with fire. We do need to get the word out - the ISIL fear mongering is bizarre. I would put it to the CPC and Harper this way: We'll follow you into Iraq ONLY if Calandra, Baird, Bezan and Harpo are in the lead vehicle!!

Scotian said...

Well put, Kirby.

While I hadn't written about it I also have considered the possibility that he would instead of going soon instead delay until legally required in May 2016. I certainly find your argument as viable a possibility as any I've heard expecting him to call an election before the Duffy trial, and I also think you are correct that Harper is extremely unlikely to leave office voluntarily at this point. Currently he is at the peak of his power in his mind, he is not going to let it slip out of his hands until it is pried from his cold dead fingers, to borrow a quote from Mr Heston.

I am also inclined to agree with you regarding just how far into his bubble Harper is, because his bubble is far thicker than anything anyone has ever seen in Canadian federal politics, let alone from a sitting PM. He also clearly believes his own spin on Trudeau. and I think for him the idea of leaving (running away) before beating him is something he cannot bring himself to do (the Con obsession with Trudeaus and his clear belief that Justin is truly an empty suit/vessel, which I think is a serious misread, but then that is a misread I think a lot are making on both sides of the spectrum), because he does see him as such an easy defeat, and since Harper also understands that in the event that the Libs lose those they have attracted there is a real chance they will be more inclined to go CPC than NDP (the NDP problem is that they are not seen as centrists, even when they try to position themselves as such every time they pull out the Lib Tory same old story crap they show to real centrists just how far out to left field they truly are to be able to believe such especially with the Harper regime record) even with the dislike of Harper. It worked out that way in 2011 after all for Harper with a much stronger Dipper leader than Mulcair has proven to be to date electorally speaking. So there is a lot of incentive for him to stay on if you accept the premises he could and maybe is working under, which to my mind makes your projection a very viable one indeed.

I also think you may be correct regarding Harper's strategy on the war leader front, although I am far less convinced it will be a viable one for him given all other variables in play, but at this point it is still his best chance to retain power. It also plays to his message of Trudeau being in over his head (and on foreign policy Trudeau is clearly still learning which leaves him vulnerable, although I think even there the weakness is less than most of his opponents do) and it best suits his own personality traits best. He clearly has lost the economic argument, he may believe it to be true but he may also be aware that the perception in the nation is that it is not true even if he does believe his spin on this, and so he knows he needs another path to victory.

Again Kirby you show why I love to read your thoughts, you truly think for yourself and not simply jump on bandwagons, something all too easy to do in charged political climates such as ours. This is a very well thought out post and raises a very needed alternate possible path Harper can and could take, so well done for putting it out there so well.

Thank you.

Simon said...

hi Kirby....nice post and elegantly written as usual. And you will be surprised that I don't disagree with you. ;)
I do think he will hang on as long as he can waiting for a war so he can pose as our Winston Churchill.
Or more likely a terrorist attack on Canada so he can pose as our George Bush. But we already are in a war of sorts, Canada's contribution will be limited. He can't hold an election campaign during the trial, so he can only hold it before or afterwards. I think that hoping the effects of the trial will be quickly forgotten is too much of a risk to take. So my guess is that he will hold it in March
Yesterday he revealed that the deficit reduction plan is ahead of schedule, the machine is revved up, so why would he wait until October. However, this is just a guess, and the main point I want to make is that it COULD come earlier than most imagine so we better be ready....

P.S. If that doesn't satisfy you we are going to have to have a (very) small bet.... ;)

Kirby Evans said...

I guess we can only wait and see Simon. If I am totally honest, I should say that my predictions concerning these kinds of things have be pretty poor. Like you, I just put it out there as a possibility. The very fact that a guy with so little capability and even less charisma like Harper could be elected in the first place is totally amazing to me, after that I suppose nothing should surprise me.