Olaf has an interesting post, which articulates frustration at anyone who still "trots out the boogeyman" when it comes to the Harper government. To categorize Harper as a right-wing ideologue, akin to the American neo-cons is outlandish, downright dishonest. Simple fear-mongering, the facts of one year in office don't support the alarmist thesis. Olaf does a commendable job laying out the initiatives and discrediting some lines of attack. The one glaring hole in the argument, can we say with certainty that this is the real Stephen Harper? Can you take this weak minority situation and extrapolate that reality as the true nature?
The problem I have with Stephen Harper, you have to subscribe to the "epiphany" theory to reconcile his long paper trail with the current rhetoric. Any objective reading of Harper's past musings would have to conclude that he favored a right-wing agenda. I'm not going to recite the opinions, they have been discussed to death. Conservatives conveniently ignore the past, "get over it", as though irrelevant to the current situation. I would be inclined to dismiss a lot of Harper's troubling positions, if they were the product of a reckless youth, but the real problem, there is a consistency that weaves its way through Harper's entire adult life- a logical pattern, that only now seems different.
What has changed to create the "new" Stephen Harper? Does anyone doubt the change is largely a result of electoral prospects, as opposed to some evolution in thinking? Did people miss the concerted effort to re-introduce Harper's conservatism during the last election? The motivations seem clear in my mind, the rhetoric is a packaged response, sharp marketing. I'm not prepared to forget the telling positions, articulated when Harper actually spoke freehand. As a matter of fact, I will take the uncensored Harper over this propaganda campaign everytime, because it simply a man expressing his self, without the lure of votes.
Put me firmly in the "idiotic" fear-mongering camp, I'm not buying the kinder, gentler Harper agenda. If we were two years into a majority situation, then I might temper my hysterics, but we're not and that point is central to any argument. Harper must move to the center, Harper must augment his rhetoric, Harper must morph to appeal to mainstream Canada. Has Harper changed? Please. Has Harper changed his tune to secure power? If you take Harper in totality, the answer seems obvious from here.
People can point to policies while in office, as evidence that the fear-mongering is misguided, asinine even, but I see a lot of this as the minority illusion. I'm not suggesting it isn't working, Liberals will have a hard time convincing Canadians that Harper should be feared, but that doesn't mean that it isn't true. You have to sift through so much rhetoric, mis-information, that any clarity is lost.
So, who is Stephen Harper? IMHO, Harper is the same guy who spoke about "firewalls" and "welfare states", the only difference now, that honest talk doesn't quite jive with electoral success. The only "epiphany", a cold, hard calculation of what is required to take the helm. I fear a Harper majority, nothing to date has tempered that sentiment. I'm not buying, because clearly I'm being sold.