Want Harper to be less of a dictator? Give him a majority.

Five years of tory minority rule have been a drunkard’s walk of vote-buying and bed-feathering

Want Harper to be less of a dictator? Give him a majority.

Adrian Wyld/CP

Everyone agrees that Stephen Harper has been running the most centralized, partisan, and unaccountable government in Canadian history. The opposition obviously thinks so—that’s the motivation behind the slate of contempt-of-Parliament charges that threatened to bring down the government—unless, as looked likely at press time, unanimous opposition to Jim Flaherty’s Tuesday budget did so first. The press gallery pretty much agrees, since its members have spent the last five years complaining about Harper’s unprecedented lockdown on communications and access to information. But even the Conservative party’s own political messaging has portrayed the “Harper government” as a one-man show, a Stalinesque fetishization of the isolated leader working long and lonely into the night.

The only way any of this is going to change is if voters come to their senses and give him a majority in the House of Commons.

If that sounds odd, it is because the received wisdom for the past decade has been that minority rule is the answer to everything wrong with our democracy. It forces government to be more open and transparent with voters in order to survive. By requiring that it earn the support of at least one opposition party in order to stay in power, a minority delivers a more consensual style of governing, which enhances national unity and results in more progressive policies. As constitutional expert Peter Russell argued in Two Cheers for Minority Government, minorities empower Parliament at the cost of greater instability, but it’s a trade-off worth making.

The only trouble is, this minority Parliament has had the opposite effect. The policies and programs coming out of Ottawa for the past half-decade have been a drunkard’s walk of vote-buying, bed-feathering, and partisan hackwork, for which there has been no clear accountability. Parliament has become hysterically partisan and toxic, with everyone in a constant state of pre-election delirium.

It is worth keeping in mind that being called a tyrant is part of the job description for every prime minister who sticks around more than an year or two. The last one to do so was Jean Chrétien, who was piped out of office to the refrain that he was running a “friendly dictatorship.” The cover of Jeffrey Simpson’s book with that title, some will recall, featured a picture of da little guy from Shawinigan ginned up as Pinochet.

Everyone thought that bulletproof majorities were the problem. The solution, therefore, was minority government. There was even an apparent historical precedent to support this rosy view. Even though he never managed to win a majority government, Lester Pearson’s five years as prime minister between 1963 and 1968 saw the implementation of the Canada Pension Plan and the expansion of Old Age Security. Throw in the replacement of the Red Ensign with the Maple Leaf, and the Pearson years are justly seen as an especially fruitful and creative period for the federal government.

But if you go down the list of everything wrong with Ottawa these days, it is clear minority government is almost entirely to blame. The extreme centralization in the PMO, the control over messaging, the relentlessly partisan tone of Parliament—all result from the perpetual electioneering that is the fate of minority Parliaments. The “bipartisanship” that was held up as a virtue of minority rule is just another word for horse-trading, which explains why this government has no general principles, only short-term interests. As for every stupid policy, boneheaded tax cut, or wasteful spending plan the government has implemented, there is at least one other party that supported it. At election time, whom are voters to hold responsible? Minority rule is like joining the mob: it implicates everyone.

If the current minority situation seems exceptionally unstable, you can blame it on the proliferation of parties in the House of Commons. Previous periods of extended minority rule had one virtue at least: the government only needed to buy off one of two parties, both of which were at least committed to the continuing viability of the country as a functioning unit. The presence of the Bloc as the party of “profitable federalism” adds an especially cynical element to the balance of power in the Commons.

That is why the recent call for yet another political party—one that is centrist, principled, and freely accountable—is misguided. The problem isn’t with the Liberals, the Conservatives, or the NDP on their own. They are caught in a dysfunctional collective action problem, and adding another party, however well-intended, would only make the problem worse.

More constructive change could actually come from an election. Since becoming PM, Harper has faced the ongoing accusation that he has a hidden agenda whose most sinister bullet points will only be revealed once he has a majority. In fact, the discipline of clear and full accountability is liable to be a far more effective check on his power than anything the opposition has managed so far.

Majority leadership is guilty of all the things of which it is accused, allowing the prime minister to control the House and push through his party’s agenda unopposed. But as software programmers like to say, and as Canadian voters need to realize, these are not bugs. They are features.


Want Harper to be less of a dictator? Give him a majority.

  1. No. All that's clear is *this* minority government is to blame.

    Let's try a different minority government, and if things continue the same, then you might have a point.

    As it is right now, you're just openly shilling for Harper.

    Beyond that, what evidence do you have, at all, that Harper will be *less* of a dictator if he has a majority? Is it the abundance of free votes on non-confidence issues.. oh wait.. The budget of the PMO? The handling of the "Rights & Democracy" affair? His appointment of Fortier and Duffy? Come on Potter, presumably you're not just talking out of your ass, so you have some sort of evidence that the "When we come back with a majority, all bets are off!" Harper will be less of a dictator.

    ..leftist media my arse.

  2. I really want to agree with you, Mr. Potter, but Stephen Harper has made some real head-scratcher decisions over the past few years that seemed to have nothing to do with managing a minority situation. The census decision, for example, was a completely bizarre decision with no stated policy justification or even an apparent motivation. His schizophrenic approach to funding various initiatives, his ham-fisted mangling of the "Product of Canada" issue, all indicate the lack of a policy compass that's directing him. If Stephen Harper didn't have a history of making completely irrational decisions like that, I'd be much more comfortable with handing him a majority.

    As it stands, he's completely unpredictable and I don't see evidence that his nature is going to change with a majority mandate.

  3. We will keep having the same scandals and tyrannical behavior until Canadians wake up and realize that 3 main initiatives are required and all of them have to do with Democratic Reform. These are:

    1. Make people part of the legislative process through a voter plebiscite initiative. In 2012 the E.U., will implement the ECI (European Citizens Initiative) and most U.S states have such systems in place.
    2. Make politicians more accountable to the people by implementing a MP recall initiative. If someone knows that they have four years to get away with anything without having to fear about being fired, they will act in scandalous ways.
    3. Institute checks and balances in the Government by finally working to make the Senate an elected and accountable body. National referendum on this issue should be taken to the people of all provinces. I believe that Canadians will easily overcome the minimum constitutional requirement of seven provinces totally 51% of the population to reopen the constitution and make the Senate and elected body.

    • I've purposely avoided any discussions about senate reform for the sole reason that I'm completely uninformed. Reflecting a desire to educate myself, could you provide me with a few examples of Senate decisions that actively worked against the long-term benefit of Canadians?

      I freely admit that my natural preference is toward an elected house and appointed senate; the former examining issues from a populist perspective, the latter viewing issues through a less fickle lens. However, I'm quite open to being shown that the Senate has abused their mandate.

      • All you need to know about the EEE senate reform that Rob is talking about is that it isn't going to happen, NG.

        Abolition stands a slightly better chance, and it's the option I like, but it isn't going to happen either.

        About the best we can do, I think, is find some way to reduce the patronage or at least shift the patronage to the provincial governments.

        The most likely thing is that we'll keep it the way it is though.

        • I agree that reform is enormously unlikely (though I also oppose it on principle). I don't see how handing the patronage power to the premiers — the people who put "provincial" in "provincial politicians!" — will help anyone, though. We just need to create an expectation — a demand — that better people be chosen and for Senators to use their power to balance that of the House (including embarrassing the government of the day, if necessary) in a more high-profile way than has been the case.

          • “I don't see how handing the patronage power to the premiers — the people who put “provincial” in “provincial politicians!” — will help anyone, though.”If the premiers are picking the Senators for their province, it will spread the patronage out among parties and interests. Harper wouldn't be able to stack the Senate. Neither would Ignatieff, or whoever comes next. I'm not saying it's a good solution, I just think it's the best we're likely to get anytime soon…our best shot at getting the Senate to its job.

          • Yeah, one prime minister shouldn't be able to do that. The only reason Harper's been able to, though, is because Jean Chretien's appointees were too old. Harper making 35+ Tory Senators in two years is ridiculous. That's why his proposal to limit Senators' terms to only eight years is wrongheaded — if we have to set their terms, let it be for a much longer period; twenty-five years, say.

    • Recall of MPs is essentially unworkable with our FPTP system. How many voters would need to sign a petition for a recall? Even if you set the bar at 50%, you can have what is essentially a deadlock, with everyone who didn't vote for the winner having an endless series of recalls, and that candidate will be returned with their plurality of 35 or 40%. It's just a boneheaded idea.

      • Set the minimum percentage for a recall vote equal to 100% – the percentage of the vote that the elected candidate got.

        That would tend to indicate that not only do a majority of the voters want the candidate out, but that some portion of the candidate's own plurality has decided the candidate is no longer suitable.

  4. What a crock. This article represents a new low for Maclean's. I guess Maclean's has simply become an organ of the harper-party.

    • If yuh can't beat em'……

    • I'm sure…. or maybe you haven't seen Wherry's blog. Not every piece will be non-partisan. Some pieces will have bias, some have it on purpose.

      It's called balance. Some of this, some of that. The sum of the parts should be roughly in the middle.

      • Minus the fact that the media controls a LOT of that.

    • Read again, starting with Potter's opening sentence. There's nothing above that is actually pro-Harper. Quite the opposite, I'd say.

      • Hey Chris, you're looking at the tree, not the forest. It's called rhetoric, or if you like, the power of persuasion : give a little, take a little. Don't kid yourself, the overall gist of the article is pro-Harper, obviously and without a doubt, as it cultivates, not to say promotes the notion of a Harper majority.

        • Nope, I've read more than one Potter article. You're looking at…um, the forest, not the geography. The overall gist of Potter's writing is definitely not pro-Harper, unless you think there's a long string of flattery cleverly disguised as critique. Possible, I guess, but far from "obvious."

          • Well perhaps if one looks at the bulk of his commentaries, but with regard to this article in particular, there is no doubt it is pro-Harper in that it promotes a Harper majority. Even the title mirrors this. On another note, if Harper had his majority we definitely would be better positioned to see his true colors. But the big question is, at what cost ? I am convinced his colors wouldn't change, only confirm his true nature.

    • Personally I think this was one of the most balanced article I've read. It didn't blame anyone but blamed everyone. You know, sharing and non partisan. If you really want to read about how everything is Harpers fault, go to the CBC. If you want a more balanced view, read pretty much anything else.

  5. What a very stupid article!!!! Every once in a while you read a stupid articles like this that twists the truth around to fool the foolish. Harper is bad but thats cause he runs a minority government, to stop him from being bad we have to give him a majority…what crap. If someone steals something from my lawn, I am not going to give him the keys to my house. I hope those that read this article truly see it for what it is…propaganda.

    • Actually, it was the libs who stole from Canadians.

      • Actually, it was the CPC who tried to steal from Canadians.

        Elections Canada just happened to catch them.

        • You have a very delective memory.

  6. Everyone agrees that Stephen Harper has been running the most centralized, partisan, and unaccountable government in Canadian history.

    …and the only reason that it has revealed anything at all is because (a) the opposition parties have forced it to reveal information and (b) independent watchdogs have consistently demanded that the government be accountable.

    If Harper gets his majority, he will no longer have to tell the opposition anything, and he will have the votes to fire any independent auditors who dare to cross him.

    A Conservative majority would give absolute power to Stephen Harper. Given his track record, how could anyone think that this would be a good thing?

    • You're over-reacting. As mentioned in the article above, Chretien's majority governments were a fine example of the dictatorial style and information control that you're decrying in Harper. The Harper minority was governing like a typical majority government, but the opposition parties were able to actually do something to back up their complaints this time.

      • No, not over-reacting. What Out There says is totally true. Face it, you're a con apologist.

    • Trudeau was easily the most anti-democratic, dictatorial P.M. this country has ever seen. ("Try me…") Chretien is definitely a distant second.

      Stephen Harper may share third place with Laurier or Mackenzie King.

      P.S. Please lose the ideologically exaggerated opinions. They're childish. Try seeing things for what they are.

      • Are you kidding me ? Harper, were he to get his majority, would make Trudeau / Chrétien look like Tommy Douglas. Gimme a break, Mr. Spin.

  7. The presence of the Bloc as the party of “profitable federalism” adds an especially cynical element to the balance of power in the Commons

    That's an excellent point Mr. Potter.

  8. Harper's dictatorial style is a natural result of the strategic advantage he has held for the past 6 years. The Conservatives are more than able financially to weather perpetual campaigns and annual elections. The Liberals on the other hand spent much of the last 6 years in near bankruptcy.

    Harper's gambit is based on the premise that this election will return either a Conservative majority or minority government. If he fails to win a majority, Harper can take solace in the fact that he will be facing a Liberal party that has depleted its financial reserves. At that point he doubles down on his bad behaviour and tries to force the opposition to bring down his government. If the GG at that point sends us out to the polls again: hell even I might vote Conservative to end the pain.

    • If, as you hypothetically suggest, the opposition brings down Harper's government a second time, the GG will not drop the writ, not right after an election. The Opposition would be given a shot at governing. In 1½ – 2 years down the road ok, but not if the govt is brought down soon after an election. To suggest that is ludicrous.

      • How good of you to know the GG's mind for him.

        • It's a pretty safe guess — I mean, right after an election? Come on.

    • There's another possibility there Stewart, if your scenario were to unfold. A lot of people might feel they feel bound to donate to the liberals or the ndp, whoever is best postioned to oppose Harper. It's the least we could do.

      • Agreed! Send them all your money. It has long fascinated me that the Conservatives are the only one's who seem able to fundraise, especially considering that I spend time on these comment boards where if you "Ignatieff good" you get thumbed up to the heavens, but if you say "Harper good", you get thumbed down into oblivion. Truly fascinating.

        • Can't say i like the thumbs up/down system at all. Originally i thought it might cut down on the flame wars[ it has] but at the cost of a lot of mindless partisanship, and fuelling the need to be right syndrome we all suffer from to some extent or other. Personally i would rather put up with a little more name calling if it meant folks who didn't like your pov had to defend their pov or simply not comment. On the other hand maybe i've just forgotten how bad the old flame wars were – i quite liked them. Some of them were very funny.

  9. The sooner Harper is gone, the better off Canada will be. And Potter, you should refrain from periodically engaging in pointless bouts of intellectual masturbation. Don't you have anything better on your hands besides elaborating on nonsensical thoughts ?

    • The sooner the Liberals take power, the sooner we can end up like Greece, Ireland and/or Portugal.

      Of course, all of these countries are going, not just through a financial crisis, but a national existential crisis as well. (comes with begging the E.U. to bail you out)

      Our national identity is safe only in the hands of a Conservative government.

      P.S. please lose your outdated, manic, anti-conservative biases. Their entirely emotion-driven and not rooted in reality.

      • Pele, face it, you're a corporate apologist and your drivel mirrors that fact.
        Plus, you're a fearmongerer, just like your pathetic soon-to-be-dethroned master of the abyss.

        • Anyone who doesn't share your point of view is either an appologist, wrong, or stupid. Sorry but one day you're gonna have to face facts. Didn't you learn this in elementary school? Calling them names won't change their minds and well, bullying them…isn't that what you accuse our PM of doing? Grow up! Keep your opinions, even express them..but give the name calling,rediculous accusations, and paranoia to yourself.

          BTW, wasn't the abyss a movie? And do you really believe that we have "master's" in this day and age? I'm more scared of you than of anything Harper could do yet you call him a fearmonger!

      • Keep your identity politics out of it.

  10. As for every stupid policy, boneheaded tax cut, or wasteful spending plan the government has implemented, there is at least one other party that supported it. At election time, whom are voters to hold responsible?

    Simple. The governing party.

    The Tories SHOULD have refused to abandon their principles in Flaherty's eff-you FU. That means they either go back to the voters on it, or they go to the voters a couple of months later when the Dion-Layton-pus-ou-moins-Duceppe mess falls apart.

    But no. The Tories went all big-government-drunken-sailor on us. They deserve the blame for this.

    • I felt very much the same. The party's principles didn't seem to matter a whit when their power appeared to be threatened. Not much different than the response of the "coalition" participants, when one thinks about it.

    • Actually they are trying to hog the credit.

  11. Alzheimers and how to tackle the tsunami that has begun, must become an election issue, since health spending looks to eventually cripple Canada's economy.
    Why? Let me explain.
    How many adult children have been asked or told by their aging parents to help them die quickly once they are diagnosed with dementia, especially as it noticeably begins to rot the brain?
    And its not just very elderly parents.
    How many people are asking themselves who will help them die quickly and with dignity if they are ever diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzheimers — something, statistically, that is increasingly likely to happen.
    Don't ask God for help. He/she won't because it is a human decision.
    Voluntary euthanasia? Assisted suicide? Or life suffering the most horrible terror known to mankind — not knowing who you are, where you are, or what is happening. Zero except for the terror of not knowing, nothing, zip, except for the occasional moment when it all floods back for a few seconds or minutes, then back to the unfathomable terror and not knowing how to do anything, like wash, cook, clean, exercise: nothing but staring blankly while lying in a bed or after having been plopped into a chair for a few hours until somebody — a stranger to your — drops you back into a bed.
    Have your parent(s) asked you to promise to help them die, or thought about planning your own end in dignity instead of terror?
    Very frightening. It must be discussed nationally: rot alive or die with dignity?

  12. Today I listened to the promises of the left. Both making promises they will never keep .Most Canadians do not blame Harper for the recession that affect the globe and that our young military must have the best equipment to be part of the global community.The prison system has been an excuse for Liberal judges to run a swinging door ,many have committed murder a second time because of our parole system and claims of not enough prison spaces.Listening to Jack Layton he has made so many promises,everything except polishing ones shoes.If Jack ever gets power just mail your weekly check to the tax department so he can re direct it to all the special interest groups.I am amazed with his speeches.How could any homemaker who has ever run a budget take this guy's promises seriously?

    • If Canadians aren't blaming Harper for the recession then why is he taking credit for the recovery? Are they not the same thing?

      And I'm sure you have the numbers on hand to corroborate your claim that "many have committed murder a second time because of our parole system and claims of not enough prison spaces." Could you provide an estimate of just how many murders have been committed by people who have been let out of prison early because of limited prison space or overly-lax parole standards?

      • "Out of jail already! Sweet! Now, what's to do?"

  13. Sorry, not buying this. Harper is a control-freak Stalinesque dictator when in a minority but its the minority's fault? Give him a majority and he'll be better? Please.

    Yes, this minority has been highly dysfunctional but that, IMHO, is only because Harper does not play well with others and has chosen brinksmanship and bullying to get what he wants instead of working with the other parties – which is where the benefit in other minority governments come from. All Harper has done is rule as if he has a majority and sneer at the other parties, daring them to take him down. He went to far and the NDP finally had enough (I maintain that the LIberals were posturing, they didn't want an election and were counting on the NDP caving).

    Harper has indeed been running "the most centralized, partisan, and unaccountable government in Canadian history". And he has been willing to abuse his powers at will – when he has a minority. What do you think he will do with a majority? Sorry Mr. Potter. There is no way I am going to give that man that kind of power …

    • Ya right. But I guess you didn't have a problem with giving Chretien "that kind of power." (Or Trudeau, if you're as old as I am.)

      Gimme a break…

      • Actually I did, but I was outvoted then too.

  14. Harper wants more power and less scrutiny. A desire shared with great leaders like Mubarak and Gaddafi. Let's just give it to him to test if absolute power really corrupts absolutely.

    • What are you, twelve?

  15. If Harper gets his majority it will be the end of Canada. He will systematically vasectomize Ottawa, rendering it absolutely impotent. Canada will be transformed into a police state, pure and simple, its sole purpose being to protect the interests of Big Corpo / Big Oil. No more social programs, no more human rights, bigger prisons, bigger military, repression. You get the picture.

    With a majority Harper would justify his razing of Canadian democracy and our Westminster parliamentary style institution by saying the people gave him the mandate. And consequently, given the chance, he would not hesitate in the least to implement drastic measures that would indeed change the Canadian political landscape forever. He would literally bulldoze his reform agenda through come hell or high water. If you think you've witnessed 'contempt of Parliament', you ain't seen nothin yet !!!

    "You won't recognize Canada when I get through with it."

    • This comment was deleted.

      • And perhaps you should quit burying your head in the sand…

    • Your hyperbole and rhetoric is even thicker than gar's a few posts above.

      If you actually want the Liberal party to be successful in this election you're going to have to put aside your fear-based rhetoric and actually outline what the libs would do better.

    • Your understanding of democratic politics is pathetic.

      • Politics is a game, and it's not my bag… I'll leave that to the politicians. What I like to do is paint the big picture, cut through all the bovine excrement. If you can't see it, well, you're most likely in denial, or you're blind, ignorant, indifferent, or simply duped or brainwashed… or a combination or all of the above. You can't only focus on the trivial because you'll get lost that way. Start looking at the forest, not just the tree.

    • Jim Travers of the To. Star had it right."The systematic deconstruction of democracy in Canada".It would be unimpeded with a majority for Harperium.With a minority,that Senate has now become useful to kill commons- approved bills.

      • I agree with your quote. Travers was a man of integrity and I believe he would be correct in his assumption. Do not be duped to think Harper has the Canadian people at heart. It is about him and the power he wants. He is looking beyond his electoral years with Canada.

        His attack on Ignatieff just visiting is actually a sign of envy. Remember Ignatieff was in the US for career advancement,
        Mr. Harper was a want-a-be, writing to the Wall Street Journal apologizing for the Cdn. people when we did not enter the Iraq war.

        Maybe it is time he paid attention to the Canadian people instead of quoting in an interview a few years back, that he does not read Cdn. newspapers he prefers the USA papers.

  16. The only way to make Maclean's even stupider and more blatantly partisan is… umm… forget I said anything.

  17. Geeze Potter, did the Conservatives pay you for your dignity and common sense, or did they beat you up and steal it from you?

    The problem in Ottawa is Stephen Harper and his party. They rule from a position of arrogance, unaccountability, and incompetence. They seek to divide. They bully.

    You want to reward them for that by giving them a majority?

    • As much as I fear the idea, it might, on reflection, be the shortest route to getting rid of him and his party. There would be no blaming the opposition; the Liberals would have time to stabilize and rebuild their base; and I'm confident that one term would be enough to ensure they end up on the opposition benches for a good long time.

      Assuming there's a country left.

      • Except that Harper would use a majority to financially cripple the opposition.

        • If he did as bad a job as I think he would, even the Greens would have a shot of getting more seats than the Cons next election. OK, an exaggeration – but as long as the other parties had money to pay the registration, they'd barely need to campaign. People would be that willing to dump him that any non-CPC, recognizable name would get in.

          • That's possible, don't get me wrong.They still have to run campaigns though, and that costs money. In between campaigns they still have to run their parties too, and things get pretty sticky there.I also wouldn't assume the Conservatives are incompetent at politics. Yeah, they are incompetent at running a country, but governing and getting elected are two different things. Remember, even Richard Nixon got re-elected. Hell, Americans still think Reagan was somehow not a disaster.Conservatives in a majority might be very hard to get rid of.

          • "Assuming there's a country left."

            I've said it elsewhere, I'll say it again here once more: these kinds of statements truly make me wonder about their author's ability to engage rationally in political discussion.

            "Except that Harper would use a majority to financially cripple the opposition"

            Also, it has long fascinated me that the Conservatives are the only party that appear able to fundraise, especially as someone who frequents these boards, where pro-Liberal comments are automatically thumbed up and pro-Conservative comments are automatically thumbed down. I say to all you Harper haters out there, send 20 bucks to your party of choice already. Frick!

            "If he did as bad a job as I think he would…they'd barely need to campaign"

            Again, that bit about one's ability to engage rationally in political discussion is pertinent.

          • Yes, it is hard to believe that this per vote subsidy was only brought in by Mr. Chretien. How did these national political parties ever flourish prior to this quite recent development? Their supporters providing funding.

  18. So when a government offical comes forward and says there is evidence the government is breaking the law regarding torture of prisoners, the government can say "no, I don't think we will investigate that at all", and it is best for there to be absolutely no recourse in parliament whatsoever?

    I cannot agree.

    • One person claimed torture. Mr. Colvin. He said that all prisoners being turned over were tortured and that the military and government were complicit. Yet his boss, a respected diplomat disagreed as did the former and current CDS, the Army commander, the commander on the ground and many others. Colvin may sincerely believe his own story, but there are too many others who dispute it to make it credible. Unless, Mike you believe them all to be liars!

      • I'd believe him before them. He had no reason to lie, they did.

      • Then no one should fear an investigation, now, should they?

  19. WOW! Proves my point that all Canadian media is owned by the tories! What a shame!

    • Yes, CBC, and the Toronto Star included.

  20. As much as I don't want Harper to have a majority, Potter is most likely right.

  21. Count me under "not eager to test this contrarian hypothesis".

  22. <div id="idc-comment-msg-div-138185940" class="idc-message"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(138185940)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.macleans.ca%2F2011%2F03%2F28%2Fwant-harper-to-be-less-of-a-dictator-give-him-a-majority%2F#IDComment138185940&t=I%20just%20commented%20on%20Want%20Harper%20to%20be%20less%20of%20a%20dictator%3F%20Give%20him%20a%20majority.%20-%20Andrew%20Potter%20-%20Macleans.ca&quot; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(138185940)">Close MessageWhat kind of argument is this? It is up up to the Prime Minister to make a minority government work. Join the real world Potter. Harper is not good at leading, he is good at controlling. I am almost fearful on what he will do if he does get an absolute majority. God help us!

  23. This comment was deleted.

    • How can you say that when it is the tories that have us in record dept and deficiet? With over 80 Billion of our money going on fighter jets, jails and corporate tax cuts I think Harper is doing quite well on sending us into bankruptcy!!

    • Quit your pathetic fearmongering, you corporate harperite apologist,

    • Bwahahahaa!! Try a different website buddy, I dont think you will fool many MacLeans readers so easily . I'll give it a try though:

      Here is the Central Theme of this election.

      If you want Canada to be like the US under Bush, vote Conservative.

      If you want Canada to be strong, influential and democratic, vote Liberal. Everything else is just not worth paying attention to.

    • History refutes you.


  24. I suppose you could effectively argue that every majority government is guaranteed authority for roughly a four year mandate. Thus making it a temporary dictatorship or a leased one.
    There were times in the past few years that the Liberals and the NDP decided to belly up as opposed to taking a firm stand against the actions of the government.
    At least a majority would this endless game of "chicken" in the House of Commons.

  25. The Liberals and NDP talk only about spending. Tax and spend…Tax and spend…Tax and spend.

    The Conservatives are the only party dedicated to sustainable spending in the context of nurturing a world-class national economy.

    Greece, Ireland and Portugal are examples of how countries fall when they refuse to curb overspending. The Harper Conservatives are the only sane choice for Canadians.

    • The Liberal policies in the current platform actually will cost less than the Conservative platform, so quit fearmongering with all the 'overspending' rhetoric.

    • At what cost comes the "world-class national economy"?

    • liberals actually spent much less than the conservative government, they actually ran a surplus for years where as Harper ran multiple record deficits

  26. Over the last 5 years the Conservatives have done a competent job of overseeing the vitality of our economy through one of the worse global recessions the world has seen.

    The opposition, meanwhile, have not ceased to play perverse parliamentary games. Every perceived misstep by the Conservatives has been hyper-exaggerated and used to fabricate a dishonest facade of contempt. They abused parliamentary law to falsely accuse the Tories; classic socialist methodology. Is it any wonder the Conservatives have to play tough in the presence of so many cheap-shot-artists. At least the Conservatives fight fair.

    Our Canadian livelihoods are at stake. Pragmatic Canadians who want to give their children a strong future will vote Conservative.

    • con apologist, dishonest facade of contempt my but… a fine example for our children indeed… be deceitful, be crooked, it's ok, as long as you get your way.

    • Stop lying.

  27. I broadly agree with this thesis. To make Parliament functional again, one of the parties must be allowed to go extinct. I had always hoped against hope it would be the Bloc Quebecois. But that's not happening. So it has to be the Liberal party. The poll trends indicate that the public is reaching the same conclusion (even among Quebeckers – Liberals at 11% in Quebec, 7% among francophones).

    Like the British Liberals after the premiership of David Lloyd George, the once-great Liberal Party of Canada will just fade away. What's left of it will merge into the Conservatives.

  28. "Want Harper to be less of a dictator?"

    Whatever you do, don't cross Stephen Harper with a potato.

  29. Finally, Harper is asking for a majority. The scary 'hidden-agenda' seems to have run out of steam. He even said "God bless Canada" at the end of his first campaign speech and there were no nasty comments. Perhaps the tide is turning.

    We need a majority government to get serious about the deficit, healthcare, immigration, etc. It is the only way to break "a dysfunctional collective action problem" and the "profitable federalism”.

    • "Finally"? You mean those last two minorities were planned?

  30. What a nonsensical rationale for giving Harperium a majority.Macleans letters about Ignatieff flat-lining were nauseating enough(4 blatantly anti-Lib,0 for Ignatieff,photo with repeated statements plus reminder of flat-line cover);to be expected based on past performance but then the Potter theory is just too much. Harper,with a minority,will still have the Senate to kill bills,ie environmental standards approved by commons,no doubt would have Bill c-393;;generic drugs for Africa promised 8 years ago. As the only national mass-circulation magazine that indulges in politics,you should have a far more balance dapproach. But then pressure from the top seems to necessitate your obvious biasI venture. it is not shared by the majority of the 75 % of eligble voters who gave the Consrvatives their chance.How about an article on the absurd ignorance about coalitions,our rapidly fading of a once-proud image in the world.the rejection of any of some 134 Senate/Commons recommendations to tackle poverty+++ Balance is good,try it..

    • I actually thought this article was satire.

  31. Sure, let' s give Harper a majority! to uh…. make him accountable? huh?
    prometheus unbound perhaps

  32. Can I have some of that weed?

  33. The real problem, and one that no one wants to talk about, is that Canada is in a state of undeclared civil war. The West and rural east, vote Tory, Toronto and Maritimes vote Liberal, and Quebec votes the Bloc. Nothing will change in the current make-up of Parliament, or in the general tone of government until that stand off ends. The West isn't going to blink, and neither will Quebec from what I see. This means it's up to Toronto….blink, or stand by for more of the same.

  34. A sweet dream. But I strongly suspect that's all it is.

  35. I'm not going to join the frankly childish chorus of those accusing Potter of bias; he's been pushing this view of minority govt's for a while now.He likes to challenge accepted wisdom. That said, i can't say i'm willing to roll the dice on Canada, as Brian and now AP, so cavalierly seems to want to. As any one who like to take a flutter on the nags knows, one doesn't discount previous form.
    Harper had a chance to take the high road after 08, he chose not to. So be it!

    • Whenever someone implies (or outright states) that a Harper majority will mean the destruction of Canada – "roll the dice on Canada" – I simply can't help but wonder about the author of that comment, and their ability to think rationally about the choices on our political landscape.

      I don't mean any offence, but seriously, how can you hope to hear anything that Harper says in a non-bias way when you look at him and think he is out to destroy everything that we hold dear?

      • I'll admit the statement is a little over the top. But i meant it in the sense Mulroney did – lets take a gamble,not as you inferred: Harper is out to destroy Canada per se [ although i think he's out to radically change, maybe even destroy my Canada – though not yours]. So tell me why should i look at him in a non – bias way? You need to expand on your definition of rationally. It's the work he does in the corners and under the radar that worries me. I don't for a moment think he'll destroy Canada by say lowering taxes. But that is missing the point. I'm talking "hidden agenda man!"…cue the scary music.

        • He's already done some serious damage to my notion of what Canada stands for by successfully turning coalition into a dirty word, or at least one that the media thinks needs to be debated. It's not for nothing that the word Progressive was dropped from the party's name.

      • Look at Harper's roots, his track record, his statements, his actions, etc., etc., etc… ONE + ONE + ONE__Do you want us to draw you a picture ? Harper's so sleazy and secretive you're not even aware of his agenda and how's he going about implementing it in incremental fashion, namely the systematic deconstruction of Canadian parliamentary democracy. He's got you and thousands of others mesmerized, and you're all positioned exactly where he wants you to be. Call it fearmongering on my part if you like. I call it simply being aware, and all I'm doing is sharing this awareness with fellow Canadians.____Mark my words, if Harper gets his majority, you ain't seen nothing yet ! And after he has implemented the vast chunk of his reforms during a 4-year mandate, you won't recognize Canada. And once that happens, if you still can't see it, well, we can only assume (nothing personal mind you) that you're either blind or ignorant. And that blindness / ignorance would probably be due to your being duped / brainwashed / tricked by the Harper spin machine. Do not underestimate propaganda as it is a very powerful tool.

        • I'm blind? I'm ignorant? I'm duped? I'm brainwashed? I'm tricked? All your doing is "being aware" and "sharing this awareness with fellow Canadians"? Oh filiturk;jasdksruishf;kla, how I wish I could be as "aware" as you, alas, it seems I am destined eternally to be a mindless peon, moving whichever direction Master Harper bids me move.

          By the way, explain to me – you know, as part of your mission to share awareness – how what you just wrote above is NOT propaganda.

          Also, share with me your theory on why so many people have been duped/brainwashed/tricked by Harper? I have a guess at your answer, but I am curious what you will say.

          Oh this is so depressing. Say, fililstioehoihgioejofijf, do you think you could stick around for the next few hours, and we could just comment back and forth, and maybe you can discover the root of my ignorance/blindness and really help to lift me out of this sorry state. I mean, I just didn't realize how much help I needed, but please know that I am definitely willing to get help. That's at least a good first step, right?

          • I'll tell you one thing jonatwitan. You're definitely annoying! Certain people are genuinely uncomfortable with Stephen Harper's autocratic style and having folks such as yourself who substitute bloviation and character assassination for debate do nothing to move the dialogue forward. So instead of spewing thinly veiled hatred for anyone who doesn't agree with you why don't you take a moment and try and convince us why you think Harper is so great for the future of our country despite his showing nothing but contempt for its political institutions.

          • I'm flattered, really I am.

            First, insofar as I have bloviated (ourch!) and conducted character assassination (double ouch!), I put to you that it has always been a response in kind. I mean, you really see a difference between filiturks post and my response to that post? And by the way, that's the point. Filliturk is the one who was doing nothing to move the dialogue forward, and sometimes instead of ignoring those types of posts, I like to make fun of them at length. It's a guilty pleasure, I admit.

            As to telling you how great Harper is, I feel no compulsion to do that, as I would not necessarily ever say that. Personally, since you asked, I think he hovers between the lesser of evils and a decent choice. There are certain things that Ignatieff could propose, and he would have my support.

            That being said, I simply do not buy the over the top rhetoric that Harper is evil and out to destroy Canada. He is out to change the political culture in Canada, yeah, for sure, but it is a weird fantasy to imagine that means he will destroy Canada.

          • Thanks for responding. I'm not sure if responding in kind to those kinds of posts really does much good. In any case I don't spend as much time around here so no doubt you couldn't help yourself. I don't like Harper. I actually have less of a problem with the Conservative platform than with Harper himself. He really does not give a rats ass for procedure. We have a history of autocratic, strong arm Prime Ministers. The only thing that can keep a majority government in check are the traditions and rules of Parliaments. Now I am no expert in this domain but while every party and its leader finds their way to bend the rules Parliament itself is telling us that Harper has gone much further than any of his predecessors in undermining our political institutions. You would think that being held in contempt of Parliament, if not outright treasonous, should not be taken lightly. But because there really is no precedent I don't think the population at large really knows what to do about it. I suppose the best we can do at this point is to consider this election as a referendum on Harper's governing style but that is far from being the clear intent of the said election. So there you go. I don't like Harper. So long as he stays leader of the Conservative party, mine is one vote they don't have a chance in hell of ever getting.

  36. Similarly, giving a pedophile access to a school full of children would cure him of his urges.

    • And refusing to allow anonymous comments would cure this board of idiotic analogies.

    • Actually it would most likely get him arrested but only after many, many lives have been destroyed.

  37. "I'll change really I will! Just give me one more chance! Just give me unchecked power and I'll be so much better than I am now!"

  38. The Harper regime lies and withholds information constantly (don't make me list the dozens of examples ). And the advice here is to give him unlimited power?!

    Oh please.

  39. This article is ridiculous. Giving Harper a majority will only make it worse and who knows what he will do – it's scary. Your analysis shows so much bias towards Harper and the Tories that it's laughable. Harper`s nonsense about the "coalition" shows his ignorance of how the Canadian parliament works or more likely, his deliberate attempt to mislead people. Party leadership in the House of Commons depends on the ability to command the support of the elected members. If the party with the most seats can`t command support due to a minority situation or its inability to elicit support, then the party with the next most seats has a chance to do it. There`s nothing about a coalition being involved – just the ability to get enough votes to survive. Which Harper did for 5 years until being defeated due to arrogant mistake after mistake. He deserves to be relegated to the dustbin of history. And shame on Maclean`s for its ridiculous support of a bad government and party.

  40. From Magna Carta to Magna Notta

    It’s quite amusing to watch some of my fellow Canadians chatter in righteous indignation re. the erosion of Canadian democracy. Frankly I would hope that if the citizens of this country actually believed that democracy was crumbling and despotism was rising to seize our land that they would step into greater action than making facebook posts and complaning over a latte at their local cafe.

    We live in such a confortable and insulated environment that our whining about democracy is an insult to truly oppressed and downtrodden peoples; past, present, and future. I should hope that if concretely threateded, Canadians would rise en masse to defend their national heritage, not simply posture and ruffle while democracy burned.

    My message to Canadians: Grow up, shed the naivete, and for your own sake (and the dreadfully low statistical voter turn out) vote in the upcoming federal election.

  41. you partisan HACKS will get your wish. A harper majority is guaranteed. I plan to leave Canada on May 3rd. This continent can BURN for all I care. i hope the streets run red with the blood of your children.

  42. what a load of garbage, obviously as we are seeing now with his majority, you are wrong.

  43. I love how this article claimed that minority government was to blame for Harper being a dictator.  The extremely flawed and dangerous omnibus crime bill passed last night.  Pushed through by the now majority government that Harper has.  This certainly won’t be the last bill to be pushed through like this.  If anything, a majority had made Harper more dangerous than ever before.

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