A timely commentary from Stan Hister:
In the current political crisis, the language of Canadian politics is reaching Orwellian proportions.
Take the word democracy. If we are to believe the prime minister, democracy means that a government elected by 37 per cent of the population represents the people, whereas a coalition of parties representing over 60 per cent of the population is an illegitimate power grab.
Take the word partisanship. If we are to believe the Tories, the opposition parties are only interested in partisan politics, whereas the Tories represent the ‘national interest’. Presumably the latter includes such ‘non-partisan’ items as removing public funding for political parties, taking away the right to strike for federal civil servants and denying women workers their right to pay equity. After all, we have an economic crisis on our hands and somebody’s got to pay for it.
Mr. Harper has also emerged as an expert on constitutional law. It seems that in the last election we, the Canadian public, did something rather extraordinary without knowing it: we voted for him personally to be prime minister, and no one else has the constitutional right to that job without going to an election. Mr. Harper forgot to mention that his title should really be President of Canada, but no doubt he’s sticking with Prime Minister for now since it has such a nice, traditional ring to it.
Then there’s working with those dastardly separatists in the Bloc Quebecois. As a Canadian, I am absolutely outraged that a party which has represented from a third to a half of the population of Quebec should have any access to power in this country.
I am certain that Mr. Harper never entertained any such notions himself. The Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson is simply spreading slander when he states: "The Conservatives survived in the last parliament with episodic and appreciated support from the Bloc. Their ministrations and supplications for Quebec nationalists of almost every hue knew few bounds." I don’t believe any of this because Mr. Harper is an honourable man: that’s why we elected him to be President.
We live, as the Chinese saying goes, in interesting times. The debasement of political language is symptomatic of a debasement of political life. The partisan warfare that has broken out in Ottawa is not something accidental, nor is this just a matter of silly ‘shenanigans’ by rowdy boys and girls who should behave themselves and get on with the nation’s business. This is what the ‘nation’s business’ looks like under conditions of an economic meltdown – a mad scramble for political power and economic advantage.
In such circumstances, victory tends to go to those who are most ruthless, and Stephen Harper is amply endowed that way. Simpson, an Ottawa insider, no doubt knows of what he speaks when he writes: "Mr. Harper’s career is on the line. He has impressive weapons at his command. He will use them all." A chilling prospect.
Is that the clank of weapons of mass destruction I hear from across the Quebec border?