I, for one, was always a little (should I say, morbidly) curious exactly what lengths Stephen Harper would go in his blatant denial of inconvenient facts when they became clear. We all know the degree to which Harper's political career has been based upon a simple strategy of lying. Say the economy is healthy even when it's in decline. Say you are vigorously defending the environment even as you are rapidly deregulating in such a way as to make the environment significantly more vulnerable. Tell people that you are making government more transparent and accountable even while you are blatantly making government more secretive and top heavy. Appoint a Minster for "Democratic Reform" who actually actively attempts to make government less democratic. It is all part of a strategy that says, as a government you can do almost anything you want as long as you keep saying publicly that you are doing something else. And the strategy has working shockingly well given the depth and blatantness of the lies involved. The success is, I suppose, partly a result of media collusion, but we have to hold average people largely responsible, people who are simply too lazy to be informed citizens and simply parrot the talking points that they are fed by a deceptive administration.
And given the relative success of this strategy of blatant lying, it is hardly surprising that Harper has now double downed on it. A lot of what a government does is complex. And complex issues are things that can be debated, confusing, and difficult to understand. Thus, the strategy of writing legislation that is really designed to weaken our environmental laws while saying publicly that you are strengthening them, can be sadly effective. Environmental legislation, for example, has long term implications and impacts, statistics can be intentionally misused, etc. Similarly, the economy is measured and understood in a lot of different ways, so saying that the economy is healthy even when you know it not to be, is not huge leap. But what happens when the facts that you are denying are relatively simple? Does a blatant lie, one that almost everyone uniformly understands to be a lie, make a politician more vulnerable, or has our political discourse become so twisted and perverted that a blatant lie just rolls off people's backs? This is the question to which we will see the answer in the next few weeks. As recently as today Stephen Harper has continued to say that only two people knew about the illegal payment to Mike Duffy. This is not a complicated lie, it is not one that can be hidden behind statistics and policy approaches, future targets, or ideological emphasis. It is a straightforward, unadulterated, simple lie. Sworn statements to the police, a mountain of emails, and testimony in court demonstrate that it is a lie. Stephen Harper's problem is that it is a lie that he has maintained for years, and though many people assumed it was a lie, it is only now clearly and demonstrably false. This puts the Government in a rather awkward position - they are now forced to simply deny the facts as everyone knows them. It is like a spouse being caught red-handed in bed with someone else and simply saying "but I wasn't cheating."
The depth of someone's duplicitousness is only really understood when they are caught red-handed in a lie. A psychopath will often continue to maintain their innocence even when exposure is full and unadulterated. This can be a result of a mental illness so deep that they can't actually bring themselves to admit to themselves that they have been duplicitous. Or it can simply be a result of a personality that is so twisted and/or so childlike that they are too weak to admit wrongdoing.
For whatever their personal reasons, Harper and those around him are now simply blatantly denying facts which are publicly known and understood. And luckily for them, they have so effectively taken over the RCMP that they are basically immune from prosecution. Because, make no mistake, this is what is going on here. If the RCMP continued to be an independent organization, several people, including Ray Novak and Nigel Wright would already be under arrest. So the only question left is - is our democracy (though weakened) strong enough to save itself?