Monday, July 11, 2011


Feeling down about the prospects for the nation under a Harper majority? Wondering if progressive forces will be relegated to the sidelines as a new dynasty takes hold on the Canadian scene? Liberals, outdated and marginalized, can we make it back? Thankfully, right on cue, Stephen Harper delivers a "cheer up" speech which we can only hope isn't simple rhetoric, but true CONVICTION:
“Conservative values are Canadian values. Canadian values are conservative values. They always were,” Mr. Harper said. “And Canadians are going back to the party that most closely reflects who they really are: The Conservative Party, which is Canada's party.”

The first sign that you've lost the plot is you get COZY. Harper declares the Liberals historical artifacts, says the NDP are blip on the radar, and that we live in a conservative country, this majority is really just the natural order. I can't blame Conservatives for this sustained "afterglow", this is a triumphant time, but for the rest of us, HOPEFULLY this is the beginning of the cancerous mindset that will lead to decay and detachment. I'm beginning to think that this new attitude isn't just rhetoric, the whole team behind Harper is also developing this almost smug disposition. When you consider the entire Conservative success to date was predicated on a certain humility, this new found arrogance is a welcome development.

The comparison is quickly made, these Conservatives making the same proclamations as previous Liberal manifestations. This comparison is largely relevant, now one disputes that past Liberal arrogance was their chief undoing. One large caveat though, while both parties have achieved similar popular vote totals, the notion that Canada is a conservative country is less rationale an assertion. Yes, 60% of Canadians had voted for parties other than the Liberals, but many of those votes were directed towards NON-conservative forces. In other words, Liberal is different from liberal, one could still make the case that as a country our instincts still fell within that camp, despite minority majority rule. Taken further, even with the Conservatives scoring 40% support in this election, you can see a clear distinction with where the rest of the support lies, very much liberal in orientation.

Harper's assertion that the last election merely represnts Canadians "coming back" to the natural point on the compass is delusional in nature. I remain sceptical Harper actually believes this statement, primarily because his past behaviour has ALWAYS taken the underdog form, up against bigger forces, realizing that these Conservatives had to work harder to overcome structural barriers. If ultimate victory- Harper finally achieving his long held goal- is leading to a new thought process, then the rest of us can quietly hope it's TRUE. The moment these Conservatives take their foot off the pedal and begin comforting themselves with endless back patting, the moment we will see OPPORTUNITY, the moment I begin to sense a soft underbelly.

Eat well Conservatives, look down on your opponents as outdated and nothing more than fads, it is this type of mentality that has brought down almost every single past administration or government in the democratic world. Harper's words, the new found smugness of the minions, for the first time I've found reason for optimism since the election.


Jim Parrett said...

Wish I could be more optimistic that it will the Cons' arrogance that will be their downfall but I'm sceptical. Harper has tuned into the same frequency used by Don Cherry and Rob Ford - the swagger that used to embarrass Canadians is now embraced as part of our new identity. Using ads and rhetoric, Harper has redefined the Liberal party. He is trying to do the same thing with Canada. We may yet become officially known as "Harper's Canada".

Harper has messaged this well. His 'we are the real Canadians' is working (ironically, this tact failed for Michele Bachmann in the US yet it works here - scary).

His confidence in his words is more important than the slogans and slogans are the new method of our media. I see Harper hanging on with more and more clout until the opposition learns to fight on equal ground. You don't have to make a message stupid to be effective, but repeating simple concepts and bragging on one's perceived attributes is a sure-fire winner in today's social media media.

Steve V said...

"Wish I could be more optimistic that it will the Cons' arrogance that will be their downfall but I'm sceptical."

I'm by no means being overly optimistic, only that this type of arrogance is a welcome development.

Tof KW said...

"When you consider the entire Conservative success to date was predicated on a certain humility..."

Not sure I agree. The majority of Harper's message over the years is littered with enemies. The Liberal party is out to get them, the activist lefty courts are out to get them, the Liberal-appointed senators and civil servants are out to get them, and of course, the Liberal-biased media are out to get them. I call this paranoia, not humility.

However, now that Harper's running out of enemies, the opposition can only hope he becomes smug and overconfident. Indeed this is a serious change in tone; from being outsiders wanting to fix the system, to becoming the establishment and being smug about it.

Over the long-haul this mindset kills governments, at least in most normal functioning democracies. But with all that this government has done to subvert Parliament under a minority situation, I can only imagine what they will accomplish over the next 4 years coupled with a CPC majority in the senate, a CPC dominated SCC, a CPC dominated civil service, and a CPC-biased media.

You are correct that boastful, arrogant governments usually kill themselves over time, but I'm not sure that Canada follows such norms anymore. I hope I'm proven wrong about this in 2015.

Steve V said...


To clarify, I mean humility in the sense that they've taken nothing for granted with regard to winning over the electorate. I don't think there is any question, the Cons have outworked the Libs in particular.

Tof KW said...

Ok, I see your point now.

Back to 2015, even with this swagger and a host of new scandals that are sure to emerge over the next four years, I still see Harper winning at least a minority.

The NDP will be facing its own internal battles between Quebec, the socialist core that does not want the party to become the new Liberals, and the Jack-faction the Harper war-room is going to have a lot of fun with them.

And the Liberals, well, with 34 seats you're going to need a miracle like Jack got just to win official opposition status.

Let's hope the new arrogance starts to grate at Harper's base over the next few years, because they are the ones who could potentially be the only game-changes in the next election.

Steve V said...

"Back to 2015, even with this swagger and a host of new scandals that are sure to emerge over the next four years, I still see Harper winning at least a minority."

Agree completely, unless there is some massive clamity, the economy tanks really bad, Harper's reign goes beyond 2015.

Tof KW said...

"Agree completely, unless there is some massive clamity, the economy tanks really bad..."

Our next door neighbours might just cause that. When it comes down to a game of chicken, we had better start to worry.
CBC News: Obama says no debt deal without GOP compromise

The only good news in this, compared to US Republicans the Harper Conservatives are a downright prudent and responsible lot. Mind you, the Harper Conservatives will be just like the current US Republicans in 10-15 years, given the usual Canadian lag on such things.

rockfish said...

At some point, the echo chamber and reserved respect the media (at least on the desk editor's side, not particularly on the reporter's side) is going to dullen and start taking notice about this arrogance. All the lies that are piling up in Harper's corners (hockey book, raising taxes, economy, senate reform, social conservativism, his height!) are going to add up to something. If his ability to project the economic downturn (it would have happened already he boasted, before post-election blustering 'its a depression!") is any evidence, his ability to forecast political parties' futures should be taken with a grain of timbit.
Time will tell; what he successfully took advantage of was the electorate's disinterest and ability to be turned off of the process. That would also work in reverse, as GWB found out. In the meantime, we must not stop working...