What is the hold that Stephen Harper has over the Canadian people and how can it be broken?

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Rob8305
What is the hold that Stephen Harper has over the Canadian people and how can it be broken?

I'd just be interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on something that has been troubling me:

Since 2004, Canadians have had a love affair with truly one of the most right-wing creatures to ever hold the leadership of a major political party (with 100 seats or over in the House of Commons)  Canadians flocked to him in 2004 ready to give him a majority government.  It was ONLY the complete ineptness of the Conservatives and sheer arrogance combined with enough of the press doing it's job in the closing days of the campaign that resulted in Canadians rejecting him in large enough numbers that Paul Martin was able to get a surprise minority albeit a very unstable one.  Still, however, he maintained a solid standing in the polls and was able to oppose the Martin minority easily and with impunity.  In April/May 2005, he was again in position to form a majority government. Canadians were again flocking to him.  It took the utterly stuning move of Belinda Stronach and principled stand of Chuck Cadman to deny him his "precious" and save us from the most right-wing government Canada has ever seen.  Then, of course, we came to November 2005 where the Martin government fell.  The liberals held a comfortable and growing lead for the pre-Christmas portion of the campaign but then the income trust scandal (which certainly didn't result in Ralph Goodale going to jail as was bandied about at the time) broke and Canadians again flocked to this lunatic. Indeed, in early January, it looked like he was headed to a majority! Fortunately for us, however, he opened his mouth and spewed hate and ended up with not only a weak minority government but weaker than Paul Martin's! Still, though, he maintained a lead in the polls and was able to govern the parliament as if he had a majority.  Every time that the opposition made a prinicipled stand and threatened to topple him, his poll numbers shot up. Canadians again flocked to him.  Then, we come to August 2008 and again Harper is polling in majority territory! WHY? Then the hatred that fills his heart along with the hearts of the rest of his reform alliance party spewed out with the disgraceful anti-Dion AD, Quebec arts funding debacle and his incompetence showed with the listeriosis outbreak.  Combine that with the greatest economic crisis in years and he was denied his majority but JUST BARELY and only because of the voters in Quebec who elected BQ MP's (god bless them) English Canada was ready to jump off a cliff and into bed with Harper. A man who had been proven time and time and time again to be an unprincipled power hungry lunatic.

So, next we come to November 2008 when Flaherty issues his joke of an economic statement that makes no effort to tackle the deficit nor to tackle at ALL the existential economic crisis facing millions of Canadians.  The opposition calls him on it! What happens?? The public doesn't see a brute dictator willing to break his own election law to call an election when it suited him and ready to crush all opposition through denying their funds at the same time that he ignores the economic crisis and hides the deficit. They get all outraged at the coalition of the Libs-NDP-BQ that was formed to HELP THEM and flock to Harper in huge numbers sending his poll numbers to like 50% at their peak.

We see the same thing again in May 2009 when the Liberals/NDP reject the disgraceful EI reform package and threaten an election but AGAIN the voters flock to their hero, Harper, and send his poll numbers up to majority territory making an election call untenable. We see the same thing happen just in the past few weeks.

Now, to the point: WHAT do Canadians see in this thug?? If you look at the United States, President Obama's approval ratings have taken a HUGE hit due to the economic crisis and he has political skills 1000 times that of reformatory Harper but yet Harper manages to see his poll numbers rise during the great recession?  Is it the biased reporting of CTV that has blinded Canadians? Is it the National Post? How can a leader with a $56 billion deficit be soaring in the polls? HOW? Also, the United States for heavens sake (no bastion of Liberalism) is tacking to the left due to the economy and Canada is embracing the right-wing lunatics? Again, I ask what is the hold that Harper has over the Canadian people? He's led in the polls since 2004 for heavens sake.  By this time, Brian Mulroney was in total collapse mode and a national disgrace.  Also, what can the oppositon do to make Harper less teflon? Jack, Gilles and yes even Michael have more integrity, more honesty and more compassion in one bone than Harper has in his whole body and have an agenda that will benefit the lives of millions of ordinary Canadians but yet they're rejected.  Jack is berated as "Taliban Jack" and Iggy is labeled as "Just visiting" in a Karl Rove/Lee Atwater politics of personal destruction ad.

The GOP of the north is running Canada and voters are flocking to them. Chantal Herbert said on the National's at issue panel on Thursday that "Harper has never been closer to a majority". Huh?  What's happening to this country? This isn't the Canada I recognize. This isn't the country of Pearson, Clark, Trudeau, or Chretien anymore.  It's a country that I can't recognize.  Were it not for the BQ, we'd all be living under a reign similar to Bush's.  What do we have to do to stop this madman and also is there anything that I can do personally? I can't stand by while my fellow Canadians lose their minds and march towards giving this madman a majority. 

Loretta

I agree wholeheartedly and I don't know what to tell you. It's extremely frightening.

martin dufresne

As I asked in another thread: If you had to choose three points to try and convince a neighbour not to vote Cons, what would they be?

 

Loretta

It would depend on who the neighbour was but that's a good thing to consider, martin. I hope to get back to this thread with some responses.

(virtually no social safety net, fiscal policy benefits corporations - not people, loss of gains to women, cuts to the Charter Challenges Program, lies, manipulation, bigotted, lacking in compassion...do these start the ball rolling? I can cite examples, too.)

martin dufresne

I am assuming that the neighbour is either uninformed or hostile to minorities and/or social programs if he or she has been voting Cons. So I see the challenge as choosing three issues in that laundry list we all have, issues that may well be reasons for his or her reactionary vote, and developing convincing speaking points to turn the tide as if our lives depended on it. (As if they didn't...) 

remind remind's picture

1. Has run up the largest deficit in history, without our even knowing what it has been spent on, and it wasn't on economic bailouts. That is to be tallied later

2. Illegally broke his own election law and wasted 300 million dollars.

3. Made Canada the laughing stock around the world, with examples.

Rob8305

As much as it was derided, I think the Liberal 2004 (or was it 2006?) strategy of "choose your Canada" was the most effective strategy used against Harper so far I think.  As far as what I'd tell a neighbor, I'd think I start by having them imagine that Harper is in year 1 or 2 of a majority government.  We'd see his far-right flank pushing for a death penalty debate and repeal of the legalization of SSM.  We'd see changes brought foward to the Canada Health Act to try to open the door to privatization. We'd also see (if a republican administration was in place in the U.S.) Harper lining up alongside to support their next war.  Do you want young Canadian boys and girls to die for Haliburton? The economy would probably be what they care about most. I'd say do you want to see federal transfer payments slashed as Harper tries to "slay" the deficit? Do you want massive tax cuts for the corporations? I'd say did you know that Harper deregulated the Canadian banking industry in 2006 and it's only because the U.S. banking system collapsed so soon after that that we didn't see similar devastation? Do you want a government that doesn't believe in stimulus spending during a recession?

I don't think that'd be effective on them but it'd be a start at least.

Doug

It's the hypnotic sweater-vests. I think it would be a mistake to claim that most Canadians have a love affair with Stephen Harper. Most will never vote for him, Somewhere between a third and 40% will, however, and most of those people would probably offer the explanation that they see him as less bad than the other two. That's what needs to be changed and good thing too, since it's hard to dissuade someone from a love affair.

janfromthebruce

I'd say do you want to see federal transfer payments slashed as Harper tries to "slay" the deficit?

Just like the liberals did in the mid 90s?

Do you want massive tax cuts for the corporations?

Will the Liberals roll back or delay massive corporate tax cuts. Nope, not even to deal with the massive deficit the Conservatives have created.

We'd see changes brought foward to the Canada Health Act to try to open the door to privatization.

Would Ignatieff help us stem the steady privatization of our public healthcare system? Nope, Ignatieff believes, “more private delivery could yield needed cost-efficiencies.”

Will the Liberals help us protect worker pensions. Nope, in fact they think protecting worker pensions is “irresponsibility of the highest order.”

So far Rob, all is true about Harper but under Iggy it would also be true. See My Blahg

That's the funny thing about the liberals - they are shape shifters. Harper at least you know where he is at.

Stockholm

First of all, Canadians don't have a "love affair: with Harper, in each election, the vast majority of people have voted against him. Secondly, if you are a political junkie who follows Canadian politrics EXTREMELY closely and knows all about the inner machinations in Ottawa and has read about speeches Harper gave 10 years ago where he revealed his very rightwing views - then yes, you might think Harper was some "alien plant" from the far right ruling Canada. But 98% of Canadians are NOT political junkies. They take things at face value.

Quite frankly, if I were your average moderately informed Canadian who watched the news a few times a week and picked up the odd newspaper, I'd probably look at Harper and think "Gee, people told me he was so scary and there would be troops in the streets and that Canada would be annexed by the US if he won - but he's been PM for 4 years now and none of the things people warned me about have come true - we still have abortion rights, same sex couples can still get married, we still have public schools and I still don't have to use my credit card when I visit my GP and I see no sign of Canada being annexed by the US - though now that the US is ruled by Obama and not Bush - that might not be sch a bad thing. Harper seems to be spending a lot of money and running up the deficit and appointing a lot of hacks to the Senate and I don't like that - but those are not exactly examples of being a rightwing ideologue - Harper is just following in the footsteps of Mulroney, Chretien and Martin". Oh yeah, he also declared Quebec to be a "nation" and apologized about residential schools - was that what i was supposed to be scared of???

The reality is that as a result of always being constrained by only having a minority government, on the policy front Haroer has ben forced to govern like a Paul Martin Liberal. Of course we all know that if he had a majority there is no telling what he might do - but to most Canadians, they have seen him in power for 4 years and they simply don't see anything drastic as having happened and the longer he is PM the more people get used to him and start to find it hard to believe that he would be such an extremist if he had ther power to do as he pleases.

Fidel

[url=http://www.dwatch.ca/camp/moneydir.html]Money to the Ref?[/url] We don't allow it in sports - but in politics it's legal!

Quote:

Please help now to get big money out of Canadian politics.
ALERT - it is still legal to make secret donations of unlimited amounts of money, products and services to all types of provincial and territorial political candidates, and to federal nomination race and party leadership candidates!!

Biggest war chests for propagandizing the public wins elections. It's even worse in the USSA where Americans do not pick presidential candidates - big business, Wall Street, and and handful of superrich and powerful ppl do. It's not real democracy but a dollar democracy. And we accused the Soviets of "backsliding on democracy" Throughout the cold war era it was the old grimey pot and frying pan situation.

Reagan, Mulroney, Chretien, Martin, Dubya, Harper etc are all proof that big money interests can prop up any stooge and win elections. This is why we have autocratic government in Ottawa. And the next election will be a stooge-off like all the ones before it.

mahmud

Harper and his Cons play to the lowest denominator . The good news is that they do not have the support of the majority of Canadians, the bad news is that they are gaining terrain.  The Liberals and New Democrats seem to be failing to expose Harper and his government as they are, perhaps for fear they will stir the lowest denominator in their own constituencies.

Here is for example what Dennis Edney, one of Omar Khad's lawyers stated to the media: "The Harper government is amean-spirited government that picks and chooses which Canadians it should help and represent, and Omar Khadr being a person of colour, does not fit into that list."  (www.canoe.ca: Canada Accused of Racism in Khadr Case".

When was the last time a Liberal or New Democrat stood in the House of Commons, cited and contrasted cases and informed Harper that he is racist ? Perhaps the Liberals and the New Democrats did not want to throw the first stone and kept playing the white male's "parliamentarian" collegial game .  Some Babblers may remember in the late seventies early 80's when Monique Begin stood at the House of Commons and said that 15% of Canadian women experience abuse and the House roared with white male jack asses' laughter. Racism is now to our paliamentarians what sexism was then to them. 

That is an example of how evil triumphs because good people choose not to confront it. I am not saying that Liberals and New Democrats are good, just paraphrasing the quotation.

bekayne

It's his boyish charm.

Rob8305

Stockholm,

To me even the most casual observer of Canadian politics should take it as a given that of course Harper would implement a far more radical agenda if he had a majority.  Anyone who thinks that the Minority Harper is the true Harper needs their head examined.  To me, its just common sense.  The fact that Canadians are so stupid as to think that this is the real Harper appalls me.

And to the other post above which was essentially a variation on the theme that there's no difference between the Liberals and Cons, would the Cons have?

1. Implemented a national daycare accord?

2. The Kelown accord on aboriginal rights?

3. Legalization of SSM

4. Promise to legalize marijuana

5. New deal for cities.

6. Health care accord in 2004 that brought drastic improvements to the system.

7. Opposed the U.S.-led war with Iraq.

There's a huge difference. Also, would anyone seriously argue that Trudeau had the same policies as Mulroney?

It's extremely hard to make this argument without sounding like a Liberal supporter and I fully understand if people wish to accuse me of that, but actually I'm not. I've voted NDP in every provincial and federal election since 2001 and think that Katrine Conroy and Alex Atamenko do a great job.  I'm in the B.C. Kootenays.  What I won't deny, however, is that if my riding was a toss-up between the Libs-Cons with the NDP largely irrelevant (my riding is the reverse and a NDP-Con toss-up with the libs irrelevant) would I vote lib to keep the cons out at the expense of casting a vote for a NDP candidate who wouldn't win, you bet.  My preferred government is a Lib-NDP minority with the NDP having strong clout.  Of course, that will never hapen now as Harper has managed to convince the masses that a coalition is big and bad when it's happened countless times in provincial and even to some extent national minorities with good results.

Lastly, don't underestimate Harper's appeal.  He is getting stronger whereas Mulroney was all but destroyed by this point.  That is what galls me.   I consider this man an existential threat to every social, economic and philosophical value that I hold dear, the most existential threat of my lifetime (even more so than Mulroney) and I make no apologies for being concerned.  Iggy does hail from the right wing of the Libs but I trust people like Bob Rae to hold him in check.  He is not a progressive that's for sure but there will be progressive forces tugging at him. Harper has no such forces.

P.S: I'd prefer the liberals to become more what they were under Trudeau and Turner than what they were under Chretien/Martin (con-lite)

Tommy_Paine

 

In any conflict, one can do okay by just concentrating on eliminating one's own mistakes, and forcing your opposition to beat you.  You can play .500 hockey, or baseball with journeymen players, and you can look like a half decent chess player by doing this.

I think this is what Harper's done.  He's kept a lid on the looney's in his caucus, and whatever has escaped he's managed to use his power to make sure the media runs with it, for the most part, his way.

The fact this is turning out to work over a long period, and may even be a winning strategy instead of, really a deffensive strategy one might use to rebuild forces and fortunes, speaks more to the ineptness of the other players in the game.

 

 

Stockholm

Rob8305 wrote:

To me even the most casual observer of Canadian politics should take it as a given that of course Harper would implement a far more radical agenda if he had a majority.

I agree, but I think that a lot of people assume (probably correctly) that Harper won't get a majority and they find a Conservative minority government to not be all that "scary" since they really haven't done anything all that drastic.

Rob8305 wrote:

To me even the most casual observer of Canadian politics should take it as a given that of course Harper would implement a far more radical agenda if he had a majority.

And to the other post above which was essentially a variation on the theme that there's no difference between the Liberals and Cons, would the Cons have?

1. Implemented a national daycare accord?

2. The Kelown accord on aboriginal rights?

3. Legalization of SSM

4. Promise to legalize marijuana

5. New deal for cities.

6. Health care accord in 2004 that brought drastic improvements to the system.

7. Opposed the U.S.-led war with Iraq.

Most of this list is quite laughable - given that we all know that if Paul Martin had had a majority government - its is 100% guaranteed that not one single one of those things would have been on offer. Its funny that you mention the Iraq War - given that the current leader of the Liberal Party Michael Ignatieff was an outspoken supporter of the invasion of Iraq. Its also common knowledge that Paul Martin was INFURIATED when Chretien declared that Canada would not take part in the war. Martin was DYING to send troops to Iraq. Of course before we give Chretien any credit - its also common knowledge that the only reason Chretien announced that Canada would stay out of Iraq was to help the Quebec Liberals win the provincial election in 2003 against the PQ!

Anyways, I'm not trying to argue that the Conservatives and Liberals are IDENTICAL. They clearly aren't and there is a reason why the NDP was prepeared to enter into a coalition government with the Liberals last December - but would never do that with the Tories. Your OP was asking why so many Canadians are "sanguine" about Harper being PM and I'm trying to explain why I think that is the case. I think that in straight policy terms - whether rightwing or wrongly - most people just don't see the ideology of the Harper gov't to be VASTLY different from the previous Liberal government.

 

Rob8305

Stockholm,

Alas, you are quite correct on everything that you posted. I was even thinking about those things as I wrote it! lol.  I'd think I'd rather take my chances on that though with the hope that the Trudeau wing of the libs eventually reasserts itself than get the full monty with Harper.  Bob Rae's influence in a Lib government would be interesting to see as well.  Both parties leave a lot to be desired. If only the NDP could form a majority government....

Tommy_Paine

 

Har har, hardy har har.

Pierre Trudeau. The man who put soldiers.  In our streets. With guns.

 

My other belly laugh of the week was the result of hearing Harper call Bob Rae and incompetent left winger.   Proving my point above that Harper, at best, is only a .500 player.

 

 

George Victor

Let's see:

You have all of the privately owned media on your side, and a vacillating, frightened, public TV and radio, controlled by conservatives.

You have a budget to print propaganda, unmatched by any of the other parties, and you use it in months long rundowns to election time, and fill the airwaves with similar messages that play on the vears and concerns of your target voter.

You have no inhibitions (moral hesitancy) about your campaign of lies and half truths, knowing that politicians are not expected to play by the Queensbury rules, and you leave it to the opposition to try to spell out eh niceties - discussions that are never seen.

And, finally (with apologies to u) you count on the people you are subjecting to this barrage of propaganda, the Unread, to have no means of countering it with factual knowledge of their world, because they are never exposed to those realities.

If one can find the financial means to counter propaganda with another perspective, one can break "the hold that Stephen Harper has over the Canadian people." The very thought of his ascension to power with a majority is just about enough to cause one to call for strategic voting. Even in a venue like this where political suicide is so easily embraced, and practical politics - the only politics recognized by the Unread - is disdained.

Webgear

Tommy_Paine wrote:

 Har har, hardy har har.

Pierre Trudeau. The man who put soldiers.  In our streets. With guns.

 

 Laughing

We are like cloaks, one thinks of us only when it rains.

stellersjay stellersjay's picture

Hi, all. First time poster, long-time intermittent reader.

It's probably safe to say that the level of engagement and self-education on display here is not even close to representative of the Canadian public. Most people don't pay that much attention to politics and have the memory of whatever the opposite of elephants is. Mice?

How many people, for example, would you have to stop in the street before you found someone who knows what the SPP or TILMA are? How many people have ever used the Parliamentary website or howdtheyvote.ca to check the voting record of MPs? How many people knew what proroguing even meant before the media explained it (at which point they became overnight constitutional experts*)?

By and large, people consider things to be working pretty well right up until they're hurting personally. In the past, that's translated into gains for the left in hard times, but the, pardon me being blunt, astonishing laziness of the electorate combined with the corrupt corporate media and the absorption of the US myth of self-reliance (except for the rich, of course) through American cultural products seem to have combined to create a perfect storm of political stupidity and identification with the interests of the ruling class.

Honestly, I don't know what the solution is. These days I reside in Vancouver, but I live in Fear. We're so close to the precipice I can smell the sulphur, but we're still too busy watching hockey (—no offense intended to hockey fans) to do much but complain.

*I mentioned that because it speaks to an arrogance that I see all the time. As you all know, in BC we voted in May on a form of proportional representation and it went down to stunning defeat. What really stung about it for me is the absolute conviction that, of those who bothered to cast a vote, most people who voted against it couldn't tear themselves away from the 'Nucks playoff run to actually understand how it works, but they were confident they knew better than 160 people who spent 11 months studying forms of PR before recommending the STV. (I have no personal axe to grind; I wasn't one of them.)

siamdave

You need to step back a bit and think about the things the media tells you - and ask why they are telling you such things, and how much you can rely on them. For instance, to say 35 or 40% of Cdns 'support Harper' is blatant BS - last election he got about 5 million votes, which is about 15% of the population, maybe 20% if you confine it to eligible voters or something. The question is - why do we allow a system where such a small minority of voters can elect a majority government? And equally as important, why does our media support such a system, by refusing to be honest about such things? And again related, why are so many Canadians content to allow this situation to continue?

The media is the enemy here - to rely on things they tell you is to guarantee your continued ignorance. (don't take that personally, just a general comment)

martin dufresne

So, I would say that the biggest hurdle to meet the above challenge would be to generate enough interest/respect for one's neighbours to attempt meaningful contact. Could we be overtrained in advocacy, all rhetoric and too little eye contact?

 

mybabble

Talking about it is a good start.

Frmrsldr

In a word, megalomania. Before there were pop and rock stars that masses of people swooned for, there were the likes of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Harper is the vengeance of the right wing fascists for the rest of us having ignored them for so many decades. Whether this is accurate or not, they see themselves as the stereotypically ignored silent majority and Harper is their champion and hero. Harper speaks for them and to them.

To look at it allegorically, Harper (like Mussolini and Hitler) made a Faustian bargain with the devil for political power. At first, success is heaped upon success. We all know how things ended for Mussolini and Hitler. When the devil calls his dues - and he will - things end rather badly. When Harper's political career comes to an end, I can't see it ending in a good way. Harper's political strength is based on hate and fear. Eventually that hate and fear will turn against him - quite possibly it will come from his own supporters and political base.

Before things get better, they're going to get worse. A lot worse.

That's the negative, fatalistic explanation.

It's not all gloom and doom, however. Here's a positive and inspiring scenario.

Go to:

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

Download Bob Altemeyer's book: "The Authoritarians" for free by clicking on Whole Book (PDF version 1.35Mb)

Read the (PDF) book. It explains who authoritarian leaders are - people like Harper. It explains who authoritarian followers are - Harper's supporters. The last chapter (Chapter 7) explains what can be done to change our world for the better.

I hope you greatly learn from it (I did). I hope you are inspired by it (I was). I could write on and on (I won't). For those of you who read it, it will make for some very interesting and inspiring dialogue on this thread.

Unionist

Quote:
What is the hold that Stephen Harper has over the Canadian people...

Lack of a clear, principled, credible, honest alternative.

Quote:
... and how can it be broken?

... by building one.

Telling people how bad Harper is when all the other parties prop him up, at one time or another, doesn't draw a whole lot of blood. Show them the words, the deeds, and the individuals that will enable people to fulfill their interests. That doesn't take access to the media. It takes courage, consistency, and character.

 

 

stellersjay stellersjay's picture

Well, I'm obviously in the right place. I'm a big fan of Altemeyer and took advantage of that free download some time back. I thought his findings about how religious beliefs and RWA values fit together in a study of Manitoba parents were fascinating.

Frmrsldr, I believe you're right about the vengeance thing. I've spent a lot, OK, far too much, time in the past couple of years scanning comment threads on news sites in the hope of getting some sense of what really motivates Harper's supporters and what has stuck out most is the sense of aggrieved, vindictive superiority. I long ago lost track of the number of “Hahahaha, suck it up Lie-berals!” (or leftard moonbats, or whatever) comments I've seen by now.

 

martin dufresne

Beware of the intellectual comfort of looking down on the people you need to convince or defeat as deluded ignoramuses.

stellersjay stellersjay's picture

Oh, boy, my first lecture and I've just joined. This must be a ge-nu-wine left-wing forum. Sealed

martin dufresne

Oh gee, sorry. I should have simply expressed skepticism or gone for a bit for sarcasm, maybe?Foot in mouth

 

 

stellersjay stellersjay's picture

Actually, at the very end of his book, which was really an addendum written after 9/11, eleven years after the rest of the book in which he'd already admitted that many of the strategies he used to suggest “will only produce changes in high RWAs in the long run,” and expressed doubt about whether there was a long run, Altemeyer stated quite clearly that he believes “the authoritarian threat has grown unabated, and almost all the protections I saw in 1996, such as a “free and vigilant press,” are being eroded or have already been destroyed.”

He was talking mainly to an American audience, but few here would argue that the same can't be said of Canada. He concluded by saying, “We have to contain authoritarianism lest it destroy us,” and offered the opinion that our only hope was indeed to make common cause, but with “other liberals, other moderates, other conservatives with conscience.”

Literally his last words on the subject, after having offered encouragement that we can do a lot by mounting a vigorous defense of free speech, equality and the principle of democracy itself, are, “But time is running out, fast, and nearly everything is at stake.”

Frmrsldr

martin dufresne wrote:

Beware of the intellectual comfort of looking down on the people you need to convince or defeat as deluded ignoramuses.

You're exactly right. In the last chapter (Chapter 7) of "The Authoritarians" Bob Altemeyer explains that we can't talk down to these people. We also can't criticize (even constructively) the people and parties they voted for and what they stand for as this will have the opposite effect we intend. Rather than seeing the contradictions and undesirable outcomes, such people will only cling more tightly to their views.

If we want to make positive change, we must do so through subtle and gentle moral suasion and example. We need to find common ground where we all agree, and then work together on say, a local environmental clean up project, for example. From there we can work together to improve the communities and country we live in, politically - (but also in this example, physically and environmentally Smile).

Frmrsldr

stellersjay wrote:

Actually, at the very end of his book, which was really an addendum written after 9/11, eleven years after the rest of the book in which he'd already admitted that many of the strategies he used to suggest “will only produce changes in high RWAs in the long run,” and expressed doubt about whether there was a long run, Altemeyer stated quite clearly that he believes “the authoritarian threat has grown unabated, and almost all the protections I saw in 1996, such as a “free and vigilant press,” are being eroded or have already been destroyed.”

He was talking mainly to an American audience, but few here would argue that the same can't be said of Canada. He concluded by saying, “We have to contain authoritarianism lest it destroy us,” and offered the opinion that our only hope was indeed to make common cause, but with “other liberals, other moderates, other conservatives with conscience.”

Literally his last words on the subject, after having offered encouragement that we can do a lot by mounting a vigorous defense of free speech, equality and the principle of democracy itself, are, “But time is running out, fast, and nearly everything is at stake.”

It seems the PDF you have might be older than mine. The PDF I have makes references to the 2004 Presidential election and the 2006 Congressional elections. I walked away from it with a more optimistic feeling. Maybe it's because I look at history, and rather than seeing linear progression everywhere, I see a "pendulum swing" - especially in the areas of culture, society and politics. Nothing lasts forever. We may be in a bad epoch, but things will get better. However, I am not a fatalist or determinist. I do believe that good people who are aware of what is going on need to use their intelligence to figure out ways to improve things and then act upon the plans they have conceived to make things not only better for themselves but also for everyone else.

George Victor

So, in all areas of capitalist society life chances are determined by $ , but in politics it's just a matter of moral suasion. 

And the suasive tools are one on one eye contact and ego enhancement.

What a giddy scenario. 

stellersjay stellersjay's picture

frmrsldr, my PDF is from March, 2007. Regardless of whether Altemeyer had a post-Congressional election hiccup of optimism, I believe his dire warnings are apposite. I certainly haven't seen much in the way of developments here or south of the border that would allay my fears.

I agree completely with you about linear progression and pendulums, though, since I also read history, and I'm convinced that Stein's Law (If something cannot go on forever, it will stop) doesn't just apply to economics. These days what cheers me most is remembering our rotten record of predicting the future.

If you have the heart to attempt moral suasion with the RWA types, I salute you, and I mean that sincerely.

George Victor

Diogenes:

"Canada's economy is not the issue. It seems to be recovering."

 

 

 

Except for the unemployed, of course. Which leaves the question, in what sense can it recover in the long term?

Tommy_Paine

 

That's the ticking time bomb I suspect all three parties are trying to manouver around, George.

While the bail outs and stimulus packages all across Europe and North America have been very successfull for the wealthy, it hasn't "trickled down" to the under and unemployed.  It wasn't intended to, nor will it.

The good jobs that went in this last economic catastrophe are not coming back.

Why the NDP is not screaming this from the roof tops across the country boggles my mind.       

And, it's this kind of leadership vaccuum that makes the mediocrity of Harper look like political prowess.

 

Diogenes Diogenes's picture

Unionist wrote:

Quote:
What is the hold that Stephen Harper has over the Canadian people...

Lack of a clear, principled, credible, honest alternative.

Quote:
... and how can it be broken?

... by building one.

Telling people how bad Harper is when all the other parties prop him up, at one time or another, doesn't draw a whole lot of blood. Show them the words, the deeds, and the individuals that will enable people to fulfill their interests. That doesn't take access to the media. It takes courage, consistency, and character.

Nice post Unionist, full agreement here.  There is no grand unifying issue but there are a lot of small ones to ensure that Harper never gets his coveted majority.

But first let's enumerate the one strategy that is doomed to fail to topple Harper. Allow me to mangle a somewhat successful campaign slogan used by our US neighbours (and not directed at anyone here in particular)...

It ain't the economy, stupid.

Canada's economy is not the issue. It seems to be recovering.

EI reform?  That was rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Throw it out and bring in a real Unemployment scheme where frequent claimaints (employers and employees) pay higher premiums/deductibles - that means seasonal employers like landscapers, oil drillers,  contractors and any company frequently lay off a lot of staff (mergers?) pay more.  Hello Tim Horton's, Westjet, Suncor/PetroCanada.

I would like someone in Parliament to ask questions tough questions about Afghanistan.  It has been a failure.  When will the government admit this and begin withdrawing our troops as soon as possible?

I would like someone in Parliament to ask intelligent questions on what this government is doing to help Aboufisian Abdelrazik recover from his horrible treatment in Sudan and what measures are being taken to ensure that someone like Suaad Mohamud will never again have to deal with the implicit racism and incompetance of a Foreign Minister and his/her reckless us of "royal perogative".  Abdelrazik has returned home. Can he have a bank account yet? Can he get a job? Or is he still on some bullshit "1267" list?

I wish some opposition MP would ask why Lawerence Cannon is still Minister of Foreign Affairs. Or why some Canadians have no rights if they leave the country.

I wish someone would ask Stephen Harper exactly "When is a Canadian NOT a Canadian?".  Black, muslim, left the country, child soldier, arab or palestinian sounding last name, Israeli aparthied protestor?  We would like clarification here.

And I wish someone in Parliament would ask why Canada is so strongly supporting Israel's illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank and it's emerging aparthied regime. 

Canada's standing in the world is diminishing. We are no longer peace keepers. We are occupiers. And we support those who of occupy illegally in the eyes of most of the world.  This is not our history, this is NOT a Canadian value.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

The economy is not recovering. What we are seeing is the effects of unsustainable government stimulus spending (where are all our right wing ideologues and conservatives to tell us governments can't create jobs?). The so-called economic recovery is artificial resulting from government largesse employing mostly construction workers. The fundamentals, if you will, remain unsound: unsustainable consumer and government debt; no real preoductive economy; an economy still founded upon consumer spending on goods manufactured off-shore; rising energy costs; increasing inequality; failing residential and commercial real estate markets south of the border which will impact the Canadian economy.

What happens when the EI payments to all those laidoff manufacturing workers finally end? What is the state of the economy when the goverment stimulus runs out? How many Canadians can Tim Hortons reasonably expect to employ?

Prior to the crash the media and the politicians were singing all is well, don't worry. Now they're again singing the same song but not a thing has changed.

George Victor

Readers of the NYTimes awoke to a eulogy for Irving Kristol by David Brooks, and to some very important observations and quotes by the newly late I.Kristol the "Godfather of neo-conservatism".

 

Tim Connor Wheaton, IL September 22nd, 2009 6:53 am: " It is particularly fitting that David Brooks would defend the man who made the following statement:

"Among the core social scientists around The Public Interest there were no economists.... This explains my own rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems. The task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority - so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government..."

 

This explains why conservatism could go into record levels of debt, and it shows us where Steve takes his ideas from (and where we are headed with this neo-con of a Conservative Party of Canada leader).

martin dufresne

George Victor

Yours truly could not resist a shat at the bastard.  It did not get the rave recommendations from the readership that attended Tim Connor's, but the response was not too shabby:

 

"Irving Kristol is to be discovered in at least two works on Leo Strauss,Anne Norton's Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire, and the more academic treaty, Shadia B.Drury's The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss (2005 edition).

 

 

"
"The neo-conservatism of these folks is a New World revocation of all things old, the egotistical construct of people who in their hubris can write about the "conservative predispositions of the people" (Kristol) and "the way people are."

 

 

"
"What they are really describing, of course, is the natural greed of an individual freed of social and regulatory constraints. The Straussians played this for all it was politically worth, to the detriment of all.

George Victor

That sums it graphically, martin.  But we need to know, in depth, why all the items listed by FM seem to be sluffed off by Steve and the boys:

 

"The economy is not recovering. What we are seeing is the effects of unsustainable government stimulus spending (where are all our right wing ideologues and conservatives to tell us governments can't create jobs?). The so-called economic recovery is artificial resulting from government largesse employing mostly construction workers. The fundamentals, if you will, remain unsound: unsustainable consumer and government debt; no real preoductive economy; an economy still founded upon consumer spending on goods manufactured off-shore; rising energy costs; increasing inequality; failing residential and commercial real estate markets south of the border which will impact the Canadian economy."

 

 

And, of course, it's like Kristol, son of Strauss said, "so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government."

 

And that is the centerpiece of the book of holy writ for the gang out of the Tar Patch. How power corrupts completely.

Debater

 

Rob, I wouldn't say that Canadians have a "love affair" with Stephen Harper, or that he has a "hold" over the Canadian people.  He hasn't even been Prime Minister for 4 years yet, and hasn't even won a single majority in that time.

It is also important to remember that the only reason he became Prime Minister is because of the Sponsorship Scandal.  If that hadn't happened, he would never have been in contention for the PM in the first place.

 

George Victor

But he does stay on, like a bad hangover.  So "What is the hold...."?

 

And please don't leave the fray, stellarsjay.  You were developing an answer to the thread's question. :

 

"Hi, all. First time poster, long-time intermittent reader.

 

 

It's probably safe to say that the level of engagement and self-education on display here is not even close to representative of the Canadian public. Most people don't pay that much attention to politics and have the memory of whatever the opposite of elephants is. Mice?

"
How many people, for example, would you have to stop in the street before you found someone who knows what the SPP or TILMA are? How many people have ever used the Parliamentary website or howdtheyvote.ca to check the voting record of MPs? How many people knew what proroguing even meant before the media explained it (at which point they became overnight constitutional experts*)?

"
By and large, people consider things to be working pretty well right up until they're hurting personally. In the past, that's translated into gains for the left in hard times, but the, pardon me being blunt, astonishing laziness of the electorate combined with the corrupt corporate media and the absorption of the US myth of self-reliance (except for the rich, of course) through American cultural products seem to have combined to create a perfect storm of political stupidity and identification with the interests of the ruling class.

Honestly, I don't know what the solution is. These days I reside in Vancouver, but I live in Fear.

Frmrsldr

Here's something else to add to the fear factor:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/09/24/conservative-prison-plan024.ht...

Having the nation at war and creating a law and order state are things fascists love to do.

Uncle John

I think most Canadians are a lot more conservative in nature than many people on this board would expect or desire. Harper plays to that. Rightly or wrongly, Canadians see the Conservatives as an alternative to the corruption which is perceived in a non-ideological Liberal Party, and as an alternative to an ideology which is perceived in a non-corrupt NDP.

The more that some people say that the world is coming to an end because we have a Conservative government, the more most people will tend to vote Conservative. As some people say the Conservatives are fascist, most people will consider this unreasonable and support the Conservatives. Indeed, when you call your political opponent a fascist, you have lost the argument.

The other factor which is very important is the distribution of seats which is biased away from the cities and towards rural areas, which tend to be more reactionary or Conservative if you like. Tactically if the Tories keep their hold on these rural seats, they only have to get a few ridings in small- and medium-sized cities like Kitchener and Brandon and a few more in the suburbs of our largest cities to win.

The only way the Tories can get a majority is if they get ridings in Toronto and Montreal, and the chances of this are just about zero, as the recent provincial by-election in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's amply demonstrated.

Slowly but surely the Tories are replacing the Liberals as the natural party of government, and as a result they will become less ideological. They will wave a few flags like "The Death Penalty" to placate their base, but nothing much will come of that.

The way things are is what was chosen by the voters of this country, and it is the height of arrogance to second-guess that.

 

George Victor

Yeah, that's "the way people are", UJ. But the old "progressive" conservative had to be wiped out by Steve's CRAP from the west, so that it's not longer the Tory party, but the manipulative neo-con Conservative Party, a brand new, New World ideology introduced through the University of Chicago...just like the economists, Naomi's Boys from Chicage.

The "few flags" they are waving now are about to get us a penal system along the lines of the U.S. (of course), punitive, with little idea of rehabilitation - cause that the way people are.

We are going to spend more on the military and less on medical care and homes for the aged and social housing and education, because "that's the way people are". 

But nothing monstrous has been created, and we can see no evidence of that monster in the remnants of a U.S. (and world) economy, or in the neo-fascist rump of a Republican Party in the U.S. "The way things are is what was chosen by the voters of this country, and it is the height of arrogance to second-guess that."   

I suggest your position is the height - the very pinnacle - of ignorance.

Snert Snert's picture

I've often seen or heard of Conservatives criticized from within the context of money or class only (as in "why would the majority of Canada -- low or middle class -- vote against their best interests?").  I've seen Conservative supporters criticized as "greed heads" even though, if you look at the numbers, voting Conservative isn't really making that many Conservative voters rich... more like the other way around.

I'm more and more inclined to think it's the "moral" component of Conservatism, not the class or economic component.  If, at some level that's important to you, you believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, immigrants aren't really like us, Natives get all the breaks, potheads belong in prison, women's strength is looking after the kids, and our troops should kick some Brown Ass, who else are you going to vote for?  That's not greed, that's just backwardness.

Michelle

The hold is our first-past-the-post electoral system.  The way that hold can be broken?  If I (or anyone else promoting proportional representation) had the answer, it would be broken by now!

Sean in Ottawa

To answer the thread title's first question: Greed first and a desire for security second. Few people like Harper but they think they will personally have more with him in power and that what they have is safer with him in control. They believe he will keep down spending on other people and keep their taxes lower than the Liberals would. They beleive he is less risky than the alternatives.

To answer the second, if you believe what I wrote above then you have to convince people that they are not going to be better off or safer with Harper. Appeals on the environment, social justice etc. will go nowhere. Point out how much we are spending in Afganistan and you might have a hope. The NDP should run an ad saying we are spending X dollars per person on this war. This money could buy Y things that you, ordinary voter, needs.

And, the war in Afganistan is not going to work anyway. Fighting the war on moral grounds is a nonstarter because Con voters are motivated by Greed and fear not morality, not love and inspiration. But fighting the war as bad spending -- together with other spending policies this government has followed-- list the squandered public money is a start and then what we could have done with that money-- in that Afganistan is just a part.

This is the kind of campaign it will take to defeat Harper and it starts by recognizing the motivation of the supporters of his party and what it will take to move them.

The NDP imagines that the motives of the voters it has are the same as those it does not have and that is the first mistake-- you can't assume we used this argument to get us 15% then more of it will get us 30%. This next campaign will be about economic security and greed. Most campaigns are about this when you pull away the rhetoric. The other parties have to show how their proposals are  going to lead to greater security if not prosperity. Sounds simple. It isn't. But this is the issue and at least needs to be in the narrative of any party hoping to win.

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