The Harper-genda

Long ago, Stephen Harper said something I bet he wishes he could take back:  “You won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it“.   That sneering statement, along with appointments of vicious nuts like Darrel Reid and the fact that Harper has always felt compelled to muzzle his MPs on explosive social issues, has driven the fear of a Hidden Agenda that’s made a CPC majority government so elusive ever since.

But maybe not for long.

Let’s say there’s an election this year (good possibility), Harper wins a majority (also a possibility, though not quite as good), and he’s finally free to unleash that frenzy of social conservatism he’s kept bottled up all this time and shun, beat and stone us to a bloody biblical pulp with it.  Will he?  Or will he just go about privatizing the CBC and cutting liberal programs, and save the pious punishment for another day?  I think it would be some combination of the two: a little red meat reward thrown to the socons, but the greatest emphasis on cutting programs and privatizing shit rather than turning Canada into some kind of brainless Jesusland North… but I could be wrong…

What do you think Canada would look like under a Harper majority government?   Would we really not recognize it?

20 Responses to “The Harper-genda”

  1. 1 smelter rat Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I already don’t recognize my country.

  2. 2 JJ Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    smelter rat – Good point. One thing that’s new to me is this attitude of nationalist hubris brought about by our escalating role in Afghanistan. (Although it seems to be waning a little since it became Obama’s War.)

  3. 3 fern hill Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Me either.

    What particularly galls me is Canada’s plummeting international reputation.

    And here’s a weird thing I’ve noticed over the hockey playoffs — Canadians putting their hands over their hearts while the anthem is playing. WTF? We don’t do that. That’s a Merkin thing.

    I think Canadians are turning into Merkins before our eyes and Harper is thrilled.

    With a majority, he’ll defintely kill the CBC, all marketing boards, all foreign ownership oversight, deregulate everything in sight, impose more Stupid on Crime laws, slash more funding for the arts and other ‘elites’, antagonize unions, privatize, privatize, privatize. Starve cities and non-Con ridings of dough to punish them.

    And don’t forget he wants to kill Medicare.

    On the so-con side, look for more funding to ‘faith groups’ to do social-work stuff, health stuff, welfare stuff, education — that way he can get at some powerful unions too. Conscience clauses for officials who don’t want to perform marriage ceremonies for gays.

    And oh yeah, all those whackadoodle abortion restriction bills will resurface. Unborn Victims of Crime and Coerced Abortion are just the tip of the iceberg there.

    And never forget this — Stevie is a vengeful prick.

  4. 4 fern hill Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    And right on cue: at the March for Life, they are gloating and talking about making abortion illegal in Canada. And there were a bunch of MPs there.

  5. 5 JJ Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    fern hill

    What particularly galls me is Canada’s plummeting international reputation.

    Me too 😦 People from the US used to use our flag to ensure they got a friendly reception when traveling… now, not so much.

    I agree CBC would be privatized, but I don’t think this is a good time for deregulation, given that it was the cause of recent financial and environmental disasters.

    And don’t forget he wants to kill Medicare.

    He fucks with Medicare at his peril. It’s more likely that the health care system will start evolving into a hybrid public/private system where everyone is still guaranteed what they get now, but they have private options.

  6. 6 JJ Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    fern hill – 15,000 of them!!?? 😆 They must be stoked by Steve’s little feelgood initiative.

    This is exactly why I’m with Nancy Ruth. If this re-opens abortion in Canada, I guarantee you we won’t be walking away with the status quo.

  7. 7 Bleatmop Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I think that if you take the point that Steve-o has been muzzling the socons and everyone else in his party that want to advance crazy and unpopular shit, then you can take a look a the stuff they’ve already tried to push through with “private member bills” as only the tip of the iceberg. These elements have been only held back with the promise of the promise land of a majority government. Keep biding your time and we’ll get our majority soon enough. Incrementalism they cry. These people have been very impatiently waiting and I don’t imagine they will wait any longer than they absolutely have to.

    Harper won’t be able to cage these rabid dogs any longer once they arrive at the promise land. Unions, woman’s groups, medicare, cbc, and indication of a social state will be immediately attacked by the Chicago School of Economics Acolytes, the Religious Right, the insurance companies, and the fiscal conservatives respectively. Harper couldn’t even stop them. His only recourse when they start putting bills forward without his permission (like I suspect the private members bills were) would be to call an election and refuse to sign those members election papers. That is it. Or he could vocally oppose them and be disposed of at the first leadership review. That, or he could just silently go along with it.

    The only other thing that could stop these guys is some of the old PC crowd left in the CPC (is there anyone other than Peter M?) could vote against their own government. I don’t see that as being likely either.

    That’s my view of the first year of a CPC majority government.

  8. 8 Bleatmop Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    JJ + Fern Hill – I like one commenter in that article that pointed out that Harper was being praised for being more like GWB. I lol’d.

  9. 9 croghan27 Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Did not (everybody’s good pal) Brian Mulroney say the same thing?

    And he did …. in fact he disfigured the country, away from the Trudeau model, that Chretien liked it so much he left it that way. 🙂

  10. 10 JJ Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Bleatmop – Pretty gloomy perspective, but you could be right. OTOH, there’s only so much change Harper can implement without committing political suicide, and why win a majority only to drive off a cliff?

    If he won another few seats from last time, he’d have a majority, but that doesn’t reflect a major change to Canada’s political landscape or attitudes. It would still mean that about 60% of Canadians don’t vote for Harper, or trust him, so if he wanted to stay in power for more than one term, he’d still have to watch his ass.

    Unless he’s batshit insane and wants his legacy to be that of the guy who tore Canada to shreds and helped elect subsequent Liberal majorities for the next 16 years.

  11. 11 JJ Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    croghan – I believe you’re right, and he did change Canada quite a bit. OMG, him and Reagan singing Irish Eyes, I’ll never forget that. Well of course now it’s probably on YouTube for all to see, but I saw it the day it actually happened 😯 I was a hardcore NDPer back then, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Chretien liked the changes Mulroney made sort of like Obama seems to be okay with some of the changes Georgie made, eh?

  12. 12 AlisonS Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Don’t think for one minute that Harpie isn’t a hardcore fundie. He is, as any perusal of his past writings and speeches not for general consumption. The only reason he is being cautious about his agenda is to get his majority. We know he is vicious and authoritarian making that prospect terrifying. Can you say Alabama?

  13. 13 JJ Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm


    The only reason he is being cautious about his agenda is to get his majority.

    No argument here, that’s more or less what I’ve always assumed. But there’s just something that doesn’t fit — he obviously knows Canada doesn’t share those ultrareligious sentiments. If he gets a majority this year and then goes full-metal fundie, he would be guaranteeing that it would be his last term, and probably the end of the CPC for at least a decade. Why would he want to do that?

    Or does he think the End Times will happen before the end of his majority? 😆

  14. 14 Bleatmop Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    JJ – Once the CPC got their majority, how could he actually stop these guys from putting bills forward? Maybe there is some kind of Prime Ministerial power that I don’t know of? I could be totally off base here, but everything I’ve seen and heard indicate that the different factions (especially the socons) wont “waste” a majority government to keep trying incrementalism.

  15. 15 JJ Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Bleatmop – You’re right, Harper couldn’t stop them even if he wanted to.

    But if Harper got a majority, it would probably be a slim one. There are still some red tories that might vote against regressive socon bills (unless the vote is whipped, but that’s up to Harpie). Of course, it’s all contingent upon Harper winning no more than a 160-seat majority.

    If Harper wins a big majority, all bets are off.

  16. 16 Scotian Friday, May 14, 2010 at 1:29 am


    I could see Harper with a majority going as far as he can, because he knows he would have at least four years (five if he pushes it) to change the system so profoundly that his legacy within his movement would be set for the rest of his life. Also, that he might well think that such changes would be too drastic for subsequent governments to reverse completely and therefore he has achieved what he has always set out to do. We need to remember that his entire political life since his rise in Reform has been that of a true believer, that he has hidden it for the past 6 years does not change this, and I suspect he would think one majority is all the real chance he would ever get to make such fundamental changes anyway so he would go for it for all its worth.

    That is why I have always been so terrified of a Harper majority JJ, I don’t think he is in it solely for power, but the power to do what he has always claimed (and acted like from the 80s until after the 2004 defeat to Martin) he would do with power. That is to change us to resemble the ideal of the moral majority neoconservative model of our American neighbours, and I really think he would do it even if it meant he would be tossed out afterward. True believers are dangerous that way, and I am convinced that he is one, the reason he is so tactical to date is to get to the promised land of majority, not simply because he likes being a PM.

    This man is something alien to our political culture and traditions, so making assumptions that would be reasonable with normal Canadian politicians in his case I fear is a great way to go horribly wrong. This is one of the core/primary reasons why I’ve been so infuriated with Layton’s decision to allow Harper power while he tries to replace the Libs. As I’ve said to that many times, if it was the PCPC I would be fine with it, but this guy is something else, and something far more dangerous to progressive policies and social justice than anything we have ever seen in our federal politics as a party leader let alone a sitting PM. He simply cannot be allowed to have a majority EVER, the risks are simply too great to all of us Canadians that do not share his fundamental beliefs, which is the super-majority of us after all.

    What would Canada look like after a Harper majority? Like nothing any of us would ever have believed possible, and something that would among other things almost certainly provide enough steam to the Quebecois Separatist movement to succeed in getting Quebec out of Canada given the fundamental progressive nature of Quebecois society. Since I live in the Maritimes that would cut me and the rest of my fellow Maritimers off from Canada and further damage our economy and sense of connection to the rest of the country (Which is not as strong as it once was, many of us feel very forgotten about except when it is time to either complain about us as drains on the public purse with our “culture of defeatism” or to make fun of us by the rest of the country. We also so often hear Ontario and Quebec referred to as the East and Eastern Canada that we wonder whether our existence has been forgotten about.) which is not as strong as it once was alas.

    Sorry about the length, but to honest this is but a fraction of what I could write to describe what a Harper majority government could leave Canada looking like, even with just one term. It is something to be prevented, as it is we flirted too close to that edge already for my comfort.

  17. 17 toujoursdan Friday, May 14, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Sadly, I don’t recognize Canada anymore either.

    But Harper doesn’t need to kill off the CBC. Just put 10 more Kevin O’Learys on and it will be Fox News North in no time.

  18. 18 JJ Friday, May 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    toujoursdan – It has changed since Harpie took the reins, no doubt about it.

    CBC is conducting some kind of internal review about whether their reporting is biased… they’re already feeling the heat. A few more O’Learys might stave off their imminent destruction, but then they wouldn’t be worth saving.

  19. 19 JJ Friday, May 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Scotian – Welcome back! ((hug))

    You make good points, and many Canadians have expressed similar concerns.

    One of the things that mires Harper in the 36% area in polls is that he’s so hard to read, and Canadians are put off by this. At least with a Chretien or a Mulroney, you knew more or less what you were getting.

    What I don’t get is, if Harper does have some hidden agenda that he thinks would be so good for Canada, why keep it hidden? Why not make the case for it? The fact that he won’t do this has always seemed a little weird to me.

  20. 20 Scotian Friday, May 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm


    (thanks for the hug, right back at ya)

    This is going to be short because I am off for the weekend. The reason Harper doesn’t make the case for this is because when he used to (pre 2004) he kept losing and leaving himself and his party vulnerable to effective attack from progressive and centrist parties. What has always really infuriated me with the national political media is how they facilitated his transformation into this so called centrist conservative without asking him to explain why he suddenly reversed himself in so many ways on so many of his core principles of the prior 15-20 years. I watched this man since the late 80s JJ, and I tell you truly that the Harper we have seen since Martin won his last election is not the Harper that was consistent throughout his entire adult life prior to then.

    He does it because he knows it is a loser for him politically, it prevented him from even reaching power let alone getting to majority. This is a man whose core political philosophy embraces the noble lie after all.

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