We are eager to write off Harper and his government as dead in the water. We were especially eager to write them off after their reaction to the tragedy of the refugee crisis in Europe. Harper's effort to change the channel on the terrible hardships of the refugees fleeing the Middle-East and North Africa and to focus on his war and his "security" concerns is both monumentally frustrating and deeply sad.
Harper's position is frustrating for the following reasons -
1.Canada has almost nothing to contribute to the military effort against ISIS. The current military effort against ISIS is nearly completely pointless anyway. The very best you can argue (and this is pretty thin) is that the bombing campaign can slow ISIS down, but it will by no means stop it. The proof of this is in the pudding, so to speak. The allies have dropped thousands and thousands of bombs and ISIS is as strong as ever and in some areas has made gains. And even if the bombing was working Canada has VERY little capacity to contribute to this bombing campaign in the first place. I think you might make a cogent argument that a military element is necessary in the fight against ISIS but it would involve soldiers on the ground, and Canada has even less ability to contribute to that campaign than they do to the bombing campaign.
2. ISIS largely exists because of Western adventurism in the region in the first place. (This is a long argument that deserves a book in its own right) However, even if that wasn't true in the past, ISIS is only able to maintain itself today because of support from a) the Saudi state and b) their oil sales. In both these cases the Western countries are culpable. The Saudi's (who largely responsible for 911) have been the primary backers of ISIS all along. The Wahhabi Movement that bolsters the Saudi Government is the same one that bolsters the fighters of ISIS. And even if we agree that the Saudi State is not actively involved with ISIS, it is actively turning a blind eye to its citizens who are. Meanwhile Canada and the US support the Saudi's in myriad ways. But the West is also turning a blind eye to ISIS's use of oil to fuel their fight. ISIS is smuggling oil through Iraq to Kuwaiti and Saudi refineries as well as into Turkey. The Western nations have made shockingly little effort to stop this smuggling because their allies are profiting from it.
Instead of worrying about more military involvement in the Middle-East, our country should be taking a much more active role in humanitarian efforts as well as diplomatic efforts at curbing conflict. Unlike the military adventurism, this would be an effort to which Canada could make a real and lasting contribution.
However, here is the saddest part. Far from seeing the refugee crisis as a negative for its effort a reelection, Harper and his conservatives are seeing it as the perfect opportunity to win. It is depressingly easy to exploit the deep-seated fear and bigotry at the heart of the Canadian public. And no one is more eager to exploit that fear and bigotry than Harper and his nasties. I believe that the terrible images of dead refugee children on Turkish shores was greeted with great relief by Conservative insiders because they knew that this was their perfect wedge issue that will carry them to another election victory. Over the next few weeks you will see discourse shift from concerns for the refugees to ever greater concerns for our "security" as the Cons exploit people's fear and racism. Far from reducing their support this will be a boon for the Conservatives. And Trudeau and Mulcair will whither before this onslaught as so many average Canadians will buy the spin of fear and let their basest instincts guide their voting hands.
I now predict the Cons will win another Majority government with somewhere around 38% of the vote.
God I hope I'm wrong.
Quick update - in the past week and a half (since the refugee crisis broke) Harper has gone up in the polls by several points. And is now in the lead for the first time. My prediction is already coming true.