The Vaderization of Harper, a recent column by my friend Kate Heartfield of the Ottawa Citizen has been on my mind of late. She suggests in her article that the opposition is resorting to hyperbole and that Harper is not a dangerous, power-mad tyrant. She says--and forgive me for the paraphrase; please read the article yourself—that to call Harper a dictator is to do a disservice to those who live under authoritarian regimes. Her evidence is that she has written critical pieces about Harper and is not in jail.
To take this literally, yes, Kate is right, Harper isn’t a dictator…yet, but consider the direction he and his government is taking. Consider that instead of debating issues where his government is in danger of having allowed for serious atrocities, such as the Afghan detainees issue, he either prorogues Parliament or calls an election.
Consider that for his tough on crime legislation he is planning to pass it within 100 days, including proposed legislation that fell off the order paper when the election was called.
Under his government, the census long form has been taken away. This means that substantiation for community services can come only from word of mouth rather than actual fact. It’s easy then to make a claim for the need for more prisons, which Harper wants.
Kate says that calling Harper a dictator is fearmongering, yet doesn't mention Harper's fearmongering in which he says that if we don't elect his government, we will suffer economic collapse, street crime, etc, etc.
The Harper government muzzles government scientists, and other civil servants. Civil servants must get approval from the government prior to giving interviews or sharing information of any kind. They must use the phrase “the Harper Government” when referring to the government. While other parties have used such terms, the Chretien Government, etc, from what i can find out, they have never dictated that their civil servants and government workers use such. (correct me if i’m wrong).
In this bubble campaign, Conservatives are following a tightly controlled script, in some cases even avoiding public all candidates meetings.
This government has undermined the independence of key agencies such as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission by firing dissenters and replacing them with proponents of Conservative policy.
The Conservatives want to take away party subsidies to eliminate minority parties such as the Green Party and the NDP who don’t have the support of big industry , such as the Conservatives do. Think oil.
Not letting the public in to its rallies. Checking FaceBook profiles to vet those who don’t support Conservative tenets…
If these aren’t the signs of an impending dictatorship, I don’t know what is. Of course it isn't the same degree of dictatorship that would take place in undemocratic countries, but this is how it starts. He isn’t riding around in an open jeep with a gun strapped to his body, but step by step, Harper is undermining democracy in this country. And I think we need to take that seriously.