What Stephen Harper has in common with Glenn Beck - Macleans.ca

What Stephen Harper has in common with Glenn Beck

Politics of venom: voter turnout is near historic lows, and the sniping is only going to get worse


Chris Young CP/ Alex Wong Getty Images

How was your week? Glenn Beck’s was pretty good, thanks. On Saturday he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and faced a crowd conservatively estimated at one million people (but liberally estimated at 87,000). “Something that is beyond man is happening,” Beck said. “America today begins to turn back to God.”

Two days later, Beck launched an Internet news website, The Blaze. (“The flame of freedom is dwindling,” he told a different crowd last week. “If you don’t want it to go out on our watch, then you must stand in the blaze. The fire of truth that does not burn those who stand in it, but consumes everything that is not.”) As I write this, The Blaze’s front page has three stories about the “Ground Zero” mosque, one about the “ballooning welfare state,” four about Glenn Beck and three about how Al Sharpton’s simultaneous Washington rally wasn’t as good as Glenn Beck’s.

Also on Monday, a Gallup poll showed the largest Republican lead over congressional Democrats that Gallup has ever measured.

What you will make of these events will, in a profound way, depend. Christopher Hitchens, sometime advocate on behalf of Republican presidents, was baffled. “What does it take to believe that Christianity is an endangered religion in America or that the name of Jesus is insufficiently spoken or appreciated?” he wrote. “Who wakes up believing that there is no appreciation for our veterans and our armed forces, and that without a noisy speech from Sarah Palin, their sacrifice would be scorned?”

Hitchens’s answer was that what it takes is “white self-pity.” Whatever it is, there seems to be a lot of it going around. That crowd in front of Beck was big, and people who think like the Fox News host are contributing many of the foot soldiers for the Republican wave that seems set to push back hard against Barack Obama’s foundering presidency in November’s mid-term elections.

I’m not sure my own opinions about Beck are as important as the simple observation that so many other people have such strong feelings about him. And opinions about Beck, like opinions about so much else in public life today, are written in acid and invective.

In the U.S., but also in Australia after the photo-finish elections there and, increasingly, in Stephen Harper’s Canada, the gulf between cultural visions on the left and right is so wide the two sides cannot even speak comprehensibly to each other. Ottawa lifers have taken to calling the two sides Starbucks and Tim Hortons, but the rift is deeper than one’s choice of coffee. It’s the gulf between daycare and church, between the faculty club and the tool shop. It is coming increasingly to define our politics, and to envenom them.

In 1992, the Catholic conservative firebrand Pat Buchanan sought to mend fences among Republicans at the nominating convention for George H.W. Bush’s re-election effort. “There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.” Buchanan’s speech felt a little hot for the ’90s and was considered to be one of the reasons for Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton that year. But this fall the culture war, with more than a dose of religion to it, is back.

Nor is it confined to the U.S. Last December I wrote here about Tony Abbott, the “Mad Monk” who’d gone from Catholic seminary school to a Rhodes Scholarship to the top spot in Australia’s conservative coalition. Seasoned observers of Australian politics hurried to assure me there was no way a right-wing whack job like Abbott could win an election. Which was true, technically. All he managed to do on Aug. 21 was tie with Labor. “At the cultural level, there is a gulf between middle Australia and an educated elite concentrated in inner-urban areas who hold values at odds with one another,” an editorial in the Australian said last week. “Middle Australia is more socially conservative, comfortable with religion, patriotic and sports-loving; while the inner-urban group is progressive, secular and likely to mock suburban Australia.”

Of the secular, mocking urbanites, the Australian noted that “the political class, particularly Labor, is dominated by this group and the ABC”—Australia’s equivalent of the CBC—“broadcasts to them. The Canberra press gallery is part of this culture, explaining why so many journalists could believe for so long that Mr. Abbott was unelectable.”

This might be the moment to point out that the Australian is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News, which makes him Glenn Beck’s boss, too.

Of course Canada’s own political debate has been framed in similar terms at least since Stephen Harper became leader of the new Conservative party in 2004. More than any Conservative leader since Diefenbaker, Harper has worked to pull our politics onto the treacherous but potentially highly rewarding terrain of culture, patriotism and religion. Who believes Christianity is an endangered religion in Canada, or that there is not enough appreciation for our veterans? Enough people to give the Harper Conservatives a tenacious voter base is who.

The historical moment that most resembles the current one is the 1960s, when social change and national-security tension provided the setting for acrimony that seemed insurmountable. In his 2008 book Nixonland, author Rick Perlstein pointed out that during that period, America went from the biggest Democratic landslide in presidential election history, for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, to the largest Republican landslide, for Richard Nixon in 1972.

Throughout that period, writes Perlstein, “America was engulfed in a pitched battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. The only thing was: Americans disagreed radically over which side was which.”

And so it is today in our own politics. Whether it’s the long-form census, the long-gun registry, criminal justice or Canada’s role in the Middle East, our politics has become nasty and hotly accusatory. One noteworthy feature of the acrimony is that each side blames the other for all the ugliness. Another is that, thanks to websites and broadcasts that preach to the converted with pinpoint accuracy (Huffington Post, Beck’s The Blaze), the possibility of consensus collapses further because neither side even hears what the other is talking about.

This is useful to Harper and disorienting to the federal Liberals. The Prime Minister is content with a polarized debate, first because it suits his personality, but also because the Conservatives get all of one side and the Liberals have to fight the Bloc and the NDP for the rest. The Liberals, meanwhile, still hope to straddle a centre that’s increasingly hard even to find.

Meanwhile, all the sniping turns off legions of potential voters: turnout is near historic lows in both Canadian and U.S. elections. (Turnout’s still fine in Australia, where voting is mandatory.)

One more feature of the new landscape: because the new conservatism is resolutely populist and frankly doesn’t seriously care about fiscal balance, it risks running some surprising characters offside.

Take Conrad Black. When he launched the National Post in 1998, Black saw himself as the finest example of well-earned elitism in battle against “envy,” which he defined as jealous carping by people who had not earned their bragging rights. But Stephen Harper has reversed the polarity of Canadian conservatism: envy is in now. Elites are the enemy. Black, fresh from his detour through the correctional system, struggles to find his bearings. “It is a howling mystery to me why the Harper government is seeing to placate the reactionary end of the law and order vote,” Black writes. You and me both, boss. Welcome back to the urban elites.


What Stephen Harper has in common with Glenn Beck

  1. "One more feature of the new landscape: because the new conservatism is resolutely populist and frankly doesn't seriously care about fiscal balance, it risks running some surprising characters offside."

    I think Harper should worry about the PCers staying within his ranks at the next election.

    • "…it risks running some surprising characters offside."
      "I think Harper should worry about the PCers staying within his ranks at the next election. "

      If the US experience is any guide, the exact opposite is more likely. The tea party now and neo-cons before them drove the moderate GOP into hiding. Lately, (e.g., John McCain) they've been emerging reborn as exactly what they need to be to compete with the tea party: tea "partiers" in all but name. It's questionable if a moderate GOP even exists anymore.

      • "If the US experience is any guide…"

        Canadians aren't Americans.

        • The political parallels with the US – except for Quebec and, so far, the extreme religiosity – are pretty darn strong.

          No, Canadians are not Americans – at least not very many of us – but a Venn diagram of economic, cultural, religious, social, and ethnic characteristics and would show massive commonality. We're not nearly as different as we (might like to ) think.

          Back to the topic. I just don't see any significant likelihood of fiscal conservatives abandoning the CPC in numbers.

          Harper has been and equal opportunity failure/success; alternately infuriating every point of the political spectrum. The elephantine failure has been spending control. But, with the continued weak recovery and real risk of economic relapse, it seems to me that folks are clearly not paying attention or are willing to put up with huge deficits for a while longer. Iggy's weakness further tempers any mild inclination to stray.

          • " but a Venn diagram of economic, cultural, religious, social, and ethnic characteristics and would show massive commonality. We're not nearly as different as we (might like to ) think."

            We are discussing politics and on that front, we are quite different. Americans are far more conservative than us, hence the reason why people like Beck and Palin are able to have such an appeal. Even Harper recognizes this and it is why (until recently) he's always tried to appear more moderate and has gone to extraordinary lengths to gag a good chunk of his caucus.

            What works in the US politically will not work here.

            "Iggy's weakness further tempers any mild inclination to stray."

            Yeah well this one no longer holds. Harper has swung so far right of late that he just may have become the greater of the two evils for quite a few people.

          • "Iggy's weakness further tempers any mild inclination to stray"

            I agree with you that this may no longer hold. Only talking for myself here, I have always voted conservative but I will unlikely do so in the next election. I do not want the Canadian conservatives trending so far right. I will likely vote Liberal, not because I agree with everything suggested by Iggy, but the Liberals do not seem to be extreme right or left.

          • You are right, for now, on how Americans are more conservative. What worries me mightily is that many Canadians will be, if we're not already, where the Americans were a few years ago. Which means that a few years from now . . .

          • "What worries me mightily is that many Canadians will be, if we're not already, where the Americans were a few years ago."

            You must have been under the impression that Americans used to be as moderate as us. That's not the case. It's just that the Far Right is now getting more media exposure but they were always there. Remember the era of Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition? They were responsible for the 1994 GOP/Gingrich sweep.

            I don't share your worries, Jenn.

          • Boy, I hope you have the right of it.

          • I have read Perlsteins book "Nixonland" and was on the lookout for his latest, but lost interest and forgot to see if it was published yet.

            It is a long time since I have spent many days in the South, but remembering the codes from the results of the Civil Rights legislation, I see similar codes now that to me express the reality of what is going on down there but about which nobody writes and speaks out loud. . Not to be dense, they say something like ,"How did we ever let that N-word into the White House? Mutter mutter words like, they say he wasn't born in Hawaiii (in the WH illegally), mutter mutter something like "he's really a muslim, mutter mutter.'" I suspect that unless you have lived in the now-Republican South (was once Democrat for a century because of the Civil War Reconstruction) it is hard to appreciate that despite how smooth they are on the outside there is roiling hate still there; witness the awful way the poor (mostly African American) were treated in post Katrina.

            And look at the opprobrium the Pres is collectiong for not curing problems that are 90% leftovers from the Bush days As if anyone could in 2 years).. Not in the swim there anymore, but it sticks out like a sore thumb. Little to do with policy, little to do with politics, but seething with deeply buried hate. I don't see any parallel there in Canada. Just Harper too close to the religious right and that's why he must never get a majority, whereas he is safely penned in a minority, and as such is better than a money-les bunch of corrupt libs led by a novice.

          • The elephantine failure has been spending control

            I don't buy that. While I'm the first to say that our government is too big, too expensive and spends far too much, I'll also point out that compared to the rest of the developed world Canada is in good shape in that category.

          • Your statements are correct about Canada's situation, scf, but I will still call Harper's "spending control" an oxymoron, and a major failure. If a Conservative can't be conservative when it matters most, why bother?

          • Sometimes it's all relative. Harper could have killed spending and been turfed from power in a month.

            How does that help the conservative cause?

            Look at what happened when he refused to blow up the budget with a stimulus. We nearly had a 3-headed leftist coalition that would have spent a gazillion dollars. So instead, he compromises and produces a smaller waste of taxpayer money. Would we be more conservative or less with the 3-headed monster coalition in place? Spending control would have gone out the window, just like it did in the US with the lefties in charge.

            You know, when Mulroney was in charge I did not like that he betrayed conservatism in so many ways. But these days, I just don't see it the same way. Politics is the art of the possible.

          • Got any proof it was smaller than it would have been?

            Hint: Simply being "not conservative" is not proof.

          • You are a fool to even ask. Do you have any proof that the sky is blue?

          • Well, apart from Russ' astute comment…

            There is the fact that the opposition leaders were telling us that they wanted to spend a gazillion dollars. If a politician is telling you he will spend money, you can believe it. Additionally, you can look at what parties of similar persuasion were doing elsewhere, in Europe and the US, and you can conclude that if our own liberal and progressive parties behaved similarly, they would spend a gazillion dollars. Thirdly, there is the fact that Harper himself said that his stimulus would be modest and small, and for saying that the opposition attempted to turf him from power with their 3-headed monster coalition.

            If that is not enough for you, refer to Russ' comment.

          • Hint: Opinions pulled from your arse are not proof.

          • Hint: Russ is right, you're a fool. Obviously the facts don't matter in your bizarre world. Those things I mentioned are facts, and anybody who is or was paying attention to anything over the last few years would know that. I'm not gonna waste my time proving the sky is blue.

          • Of course you are totally ignoring the fact that he could have brought in a far smaller stimulus package–and not stuck a poison pill or three in there at the same time. Who knows what would have happened if he'd taken the recession a little more seriously, and his desire to screw the opposition a little less seriously?

          • He took the looming recession a little more seriously in the Ef-You Fiscal Update. I recollect that it didn't go over so well. He abdicated limited-government conservative philosophy after that.

          • MYL! Rewriting history? At the time of the FU, they were still on about how we weren't going to have a deficit, and were only going to have a "technical" recession in Canada, later, not now, etc. etc.

            If that's your idea of seriously, that's maybe the problem. I mean, I didn't need him to do the whole "economic action plan" thing, but maybe extending EI benefits in addition to fixing the banking structure they broke previously would have been enough–as well as not attacking the other political parties, civil servants and women.

          • Don't re-write the present, Jenn. I said "a little more seriously." Not "a lot more seriously." And the comment on abdication of conservative philosophy stands on its own just fine.

          • "And the comment on abdication of conservative philosophy stands on its own just fine."

            No quibble there, and I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on what "a little more seriously" response would have been.

          • scf, if Harper would come before the public and confess, "Yes, it was a waste of money, and yes, we knew it would get wasted on dumb projects in haste, but it was the least damaging decision we could come up with to stave off the coalition menace, which would have been far worse for Canada" then I would STILL resent him for the decision, but I might trust him a wee bit more. But that's not what he and his ministers are spewing. They are actually taking credit for Canada's enviable economic position being thanks to their Goldilocks-just-right amount of stimulus. Blech.

          • That type of argument is something a politician will never do, along the lines of "we only did it to remain in power and avoid the far worse predicament of being turfed". Or even worse "we did not want to do it but we did it anyway".

            Perhaps you'd trust him, but he'd be polling in the low single digits with that type of remark. Politicians will also be blamed for what happened while they were in office, and if they try to evade it, then voters will punish them.

            I guess I'm arguing that the reason for their course of action is something they would be loathe to admit, even though it makes sense.

            I would agree with you though, that there is lots of room for them to be arguing that the invisible hand of the free market is the primary source of economic recovery. This, they are failing to do, and instead we are getting the same old same old that has become commonplace in Canada.

      • There's a difference between guys like McCain and guys like Black, though – and that is that Black isn't running for anything.

        Black is the type of guy that someone like McCain used to try to placate, but have now spurned in favour of the Beck influenced masses. While the zeal may not be ratcheted quite as high in Canadian politics that the cleavage is as apparent, it's definitely catching on – as repeated laments in the writings of Coyne and now Black indicate.

        The imperative to abandon conservative 'elites' in favour of the 'populist' 'reactionary' crowd may be even greater in Canada, where an 'Elite' can only write you a check for $1000 (or two checks for $1000).

      • It's also questionable if a moderate Democratic Party exists anymore.

        • B-b-b-b-but the press calls Dem positions moderate, and Repub positions extreme, so it must be true…

          • In fact, in some cases, the press calls the position of the majority extreme, and the position of the minority moderate.

            Sometimes they'll even say everybody is wrong. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/09

            The most common mistake they make, is that they'll look at polls at make ridiculous conclusions. for instance, if you have three polls with the results:
            60% support lower taxes
            60% are against spending cuts to A
            60% are against spending cuts to B

            Then the press will look at these results and claim the public is schizophrenic, they want tax cuts and no cuts in spending at the same time.

            But all this does is expose the stupidity of the press. Because it's quite easy to explain such results:
            30% want tax cuts with spending cuts to A, and no spending cuts to B
            30% want tax cuts with spending cuts to B, and no spending cuts to A
            30% want no tax cuts and no spending cuts to A or B
            10% are undecided

  2. Yep. What we're seeing is a widening of the ideological gap between left and right; mainly because the right is becoming more extreme. It happened in Canada when the Reform party bought the Progressive Conservatives and it's happening in the USA with the Tea Party crazies winning in the Republican primaries.

    I believe that Harper and other dangerous right wing ideologues get elected because there are so many apathetic, uninformed, undecided voters who don't understand the dangers of right wing policy. These people simply vote as programmed by clever media ads, never bothering to check facts or question policies.

    Anyone who can read can easily learn that conservative fiscal policy has been disastrous for the USA and in Canada. The historical numbers on debt, deficits, job growth, crime, quality of life and practically every other indicator are unkind to right wing administrations. So the right wing spin doctors create fear-based issues to distract the electorate into voting with their hearts instead of their heads. Only this can explain why the right wingers talk with disdain about education (“elitists being one of the right's favourite terms for the educated, even though the right ironically caters to the richest of the rich). If people read history, right wing policies would be relegated to the dark ages where they belong.

    Here are a few examples for the budding history buffs out there:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artihttp://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/p60-236.pdf http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2008/09/notes-to-se

    • "One noteworthy feature of the acrimony is that each side blames the other for all the ugliness."

      • You are crying wolf. Harper has not so much as suggested any "dangerous right wing" action. Everything he has done has been reasonable. Do you really expect to be taken seriously with your over-the-top words?

        • "Everything he has done has been reasonable." HAHAHAHAH!!! Funny guy! Ever considered a career in standup?

        • Just a coupla examples for the ignorant: Harper, during the 2006 election actually accused Paul Martin, the Liberals and the NDP of being in favour of child pornography. He did not recant. He repeated with a similar attack on the BLOC last year scandalously claiming the BLOC is in favour of sexual predators stalking children. Harper has accused the Opposition of attacking Canadian soldiers and being pro Taliban. Jack Layton should give him a shot in his potty mouth.

    • I agree the right is becoming more extreme, but you should take a look at the Left sometimes. The left wing fringe and its ideas are increasingly becoming mainstream on university campuses, always a first step. Beliefs such as
      -the innate racism of the West, for example the belief that Canada is an apartheid state
      -that Western, especially American, culture is phony and pollutes the pure world
      -that the pure world ought to consists of authentic culture-communities bound together by social movements
      -that individualism, which births poluting Western thought and culture, is morally wrong and ought to be subordinate to group rights
      -that parliamentary/republican democracy is a failure and that only facilitated grassroots democracy has any authority to govern over pure, authentic culture-communities

      Look at the Left, as well as the Right, next time.

      • You have quite the imagination.

      • There's a reason it's called a "fringe"

        Or are you willing to claim the right wing fringe as being representative of the group?

        • Ok. How about the Liberals last election proposing legislation that would shut down the only industry in one province that happens to not vote for them?

          How about a government department dragging journalists and commentators before tribunals to parse their jokes?

          How about redefining what a family is?

          This stuff is radical. Anyone who held moderate left positions 25-30 years ago would be now a raving right winger.


          • Are you aware that 25-30 years ago puts us squarely in the early eighties? Considering that the fringe right only covers about 10-15% of Canadians, how many baby boomers you think were radical socialists in the mid eighties?

      • Peter: Most of those beliefs are part of the Left. The right wouldn't understand what you're saying. The Left has a concept of reality whereas the Right has been kidnapped by white televangelists who are too often recovering alcoholics (Glen Beck, Brian Mulroney) or drug addicts (Rush Limbaugh), born again cowards (George W. , Cheney, Wolfowitz and the gang of deserters and draft dodgers, or common perverts found in public washrooms with their pants around their ankles.

      • What Universities are you referencing? I have attended 2 Ontario Universities in the last few years, and while definitely liberal leaning, only your first point have I ever heard seriously discussed.

    • "…. the right is becoming more extreme.."?????!!!!!!!

      What would you call it if the Canadian liberals were uniting with the socialists and separatists in a desperate attempt to overthrow the duly elected conservative gov't within weeks of an election …. and forming a Coalition Troika Junta that's essentially a Toronto-Montreal axis of evil ..?????

      I think lefty liberals suffer from a 3-Monkey Syndrome ….!!!!

      • sigh…

        you might remember that move towards a coalition, but what you don't remember is the government pushing the opposition parties to the point of desperation by threatening to cut off their election funding. Not only that, the Conservatives tacked on some hard pills to swallow like the elimination of pay equity. They knew they had the money to run another election, while the opposition was broke, so the opposition knew they couldn't defeat the bill as a motion of confidence and risk an election. Thus, the opposition made the only move they could.

        • Peter,
          The Opposition could have done the novel thing and worked to the benefit of Canadians, instead of themselves. That would have impressed me more. The Opposition should get over "their entitlements" from the taxpayer and work for 12 or 15 years like the Conservatives and EARN their support from Canadians. They just don't want to work that hard. Harper could soften the blow and offer to phase out political funding over 3 years. By then, they should have got their act together–but I don't see them moving much in that direction.

          • As the leader of a minority government, Harper should have made the attempt to work with the Opposition but he is too meanminded and vindictive to work well with anyone. It was Harper's caucus who were issued manuals on how to disrupt Parliamentary committees, because they prefer to betray Canadians and push their narrowminded partisan ideology than to make an honest effort to provide good government.

          • Wow! A long throw from deep left field but didn't even make second base.

      • "…a desperate attempt to overthrow the duly elected conservative gov't…" You make it sound like some kind of coup. Despite the Tory spin, it was a perfectly legitimate and legal act of Parliament – and far less suspect, legally, than either the subsequent proroguing – or, for that matter, the just-completed election, which was called in direct contravention to the law as enacted by the Harperites themselves. It's regrettable that no one (to my knowledge) challenged the election in the courts, as we'd likely have found that our current government is illicit and founded on a fraudulent election.

        • Democracy Watch did challenge it, I believe. It was tossed. There was no legal contravention because the law was, and is, absolutely meaningless since it places no restrictions on what the PM can do, and can't place restrictions on the GG.

          Basically, the whole thing, including all the harping from the CPC side about how the bill would prevent any prime minister from calling an election when it suited their own political convenience, was a waste of (expensive) MP and bureaucrat time at best, diliberate lies at worst.

        • Keith, it WAS a "legal" coup. An acceptable form for a coalition would have been to include the Conservatives in any coalition as they were the "first past the post" winners. But the Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition would have excluded every Tory MP in the country. Their pact would have given them control of the government for 2 1/2 years (the signed coalition is still in effect by the way) with no opportunity for Canadians to oppose them. They would in effect, bypass the electorate. Now THAT, next to proroguement (which has been used many times by the Liberals — so that argument is consummately hypocritical), was the biggest assault to democracy I have seen in my lifetime.

          • It's the Conservatives who are undermining good government in Canada and therefore betraying Canadians.

          • "A coup d'état (English: /ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː/, French: [ku deta]; plural: coups d'état)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden unconstitutional deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either civil or military." Keyword here is "unconstitutional"; the action attempted was 100% constitutional; cries of a coup were complete histrionics. A coup d'état ("coup" is the comon idiom, but that's what we're talking about) is by definition an illegal act, so talks of a legal coup is absolute nonsense; pure propaganda.

          • The CPC's first act, upon resumption of Parliament, was to introduce a number of changes which WERE NOT in their platform, which were completely partisan, and which were designed to make it more difficult for parties to obtain funding (and thus harder to run election campaigns). Once again proving that power means all and their word means nothing to them. These actions were at least as much an "assault to democracy" as the REaction from the opposition parties.

            The CPC were the authors of their own fate in this instance. Their trickery and treachery on the heels of an unnecessary election (please: no BS about Parliament having become "dysfunctional"; the only problem was – and is – Harper's unwillingness to work with the opposition parties. Which, BTW is the mandate he received; if Canadians wanted to give him full rein, he'd have had his majority. We clearly don't have enough trust in him to give him that – and, I think, with VERY good reason) led directly to the attempted coalition.

          • Democracy: majority rule
            Conservative Reform Alliance Party (CRAP): ONE THIRD of fifty percent who bothered to vote.
            Liberal/NDP/BLOC/Green: Two thirds of fifty percent who bothered to vote

            Ironically, Harper's party has always been a coalition. The Progressives and the Conservatives. The Conservatives, Reform, Alliance, Socred, Liberal, Vander Zalm, KKK, Western Front etc.

          • how can the elected representatives of 2/3 of Canadians, be viewed as anything but legitimate. If Harper and Co are unwilling to work as a coalition there are people who are willing to work for the good of Canada. Harper needs to understand that in a minority situation, he needs to form a coalition, it is not possible to go it alone. when will the ordinary conservatives realize that with Harper in control they will never have a majority.

          • What do you call an attempt to take a left -of- centre- non- governing party and coalesce with a never-governing party that has far-left elements, but who have been persuded to waffle more towards centre lately. Obvioiusly an attempt to glue together a party led by Laughable Layton and Dizzy Dion has to be termed an attemted coup, particularly that when in the heat of the vote Duceppe (the once and would-be king of New France) needed to be called to the plate to support a vote. Crazy! It's no wonder that GG gave time for the public reaction to be measured.

      • Duly elected gov't? A majority of the elected members is the duly elected gov't comprising sixty five per cent of the popular vote. Harper, who had a two decade laugh at Joke Lark for losing power, deliberately provoked the majority by removing their funding (leaving him with more than all the other parties combined), and denying what the world was calling the worst financial crisis since 1929. NO DEFICIT. NO RECESSION. Canada was in deficit BEFORE the recession hit. The majority of the House rebelled and Harper begged a foreign lady's (Queen) foreign representative (GG) to padlock Parliament for MONTHS to prevent Canadians from governing Canada.
        Two years prior Harper had a written agreement with the BLOC, and the NDP to do what Opposition parties do–OPPOSE.
        As for socialists, all parties support capitalism as a matter of official party policy. NO ONE ADVOCATES SOCIALISM.

    • I recognize your association of the Canadian Reform Movement to the Tea Party, but I disagree with your entire argument. What you will see if the Tea Party becomes a established force in US politics is a weeding out of the extreme element within the movement ( this happened in the Reform). Certainly a lot of the extreme ideas and individuals need to be weeded out, but, unfortunately, some of the good ideas get thrown in the trash as well. Ofcourse, you will disagree with me (because the Reform movement represents absolute evil to you), but read anything Andrew Coyne says about the lack of good conservative ideas/principles in the Conservative Party – He could (and has) argue this way better, and more forcefully than I ever could (my humble nod to the elite ;))

    • Paul is longing for the good old days when he was mooching a years free rent at Don Boudria's cottage.

    • So you want a leader, who hasn't lived in Canada for three decades to know what we Canadians want! You should spend some time in the U.S. or Britain! Say thirty years ! That's so we wouldn't have to read your Garbage!

  3. I groaned when I read title but was relieved when I saw that Wells' wrote column and not Wherry or Weinman or Geddes or …. I knew I would not agree with most of what Wells wrote but at least conservatives get fair hearing, which is all I desire.

    A few thoughts:

    1) "It is coming increasingly to define our politics, and to envenom them." – Since the late 80s/early 90s and the introduction of political correctness, I have been called racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic …. quite often all because I am libertarian and believe in equality for everyone and not just a few select groups. I think politics of venom started long ago and not by Conservatives. Cons think liberals/progressives = naive/stupid/idealistic whereas liberals/progressives think conservatives are racist, homophobic …. Liberals are misanthropes who project some nasty thoughts onto others.

    2) I don't understand the relationship with Hitchens, who spent a considerable amount of time admiring Trotsky, and his fans. As far as I am concerned, Hitchens might as well as spent the first thirty years of his life admiring Hitler because Trotsky and Hitler have similar legacies. And someone who spent so much time worshiping a mass murderer is not all that clever.

    3) " …. the two sides cannot even speak comprehensibly to each other." It is not possible to speak comprehensibly to many liberals and progressives because they have somehow convinced themselves that peer reviewed studies have concluded that liberals are the smartest, and prettiest, people at the party and it is impossible to break through progressives invincible ignorance.

    • In response to 3): When we're talking about the polarization of debate, I find your point 3) particularly interesting… "progressives' invincible ignorance'? Kind of a blanket statement, don't you think? You sound like somebody who is very comfortable living within his own biases. I don't think you should be throwing stones at other people for doing the same thing.

    • Oh dear. So much nonsense I do not know where to start. I will limit myself to this:

      "It is not possible to speak comprehensibly to many liberals and progressives because they have somehow convinced themselves that peer reviewed studies have concluded that liberals are the smartest, and prettiest, people at the party and it is impossible to break through progressives invincible ignorance."

      When you have to make stuff up to make your point, you probably do not have one. Maybe, instead of gross exaggerations and deliberate mis-characterizations, you could approach the issue honestly. If you are having problems having a converstion with progressives, it might be because you are not trying to do so on good faith.

      • I suspect Bergkamp was being satirical in the bit you quoted from him. But there is a certain amount of truth in it.
        Liberals and Progressives do display a definite smugness about their opinions. That smugness often turns into intolerance and name-calling when they are confronted by a superior argument.

        • fine, but not the point… if the problem with today's politics is painting one side painting the other side with one broad brush, painting all liberals and progressives with one broad brush (just like painting conservatives with one broad brush) it's a bit rich to toss around generalizations like that.

          • What's the problem with generalizations that are true? Just because something does not apply to 100% does not mean you can't talk about it. A majority of liberals are smug and condescending. So it's worth noting.

            "if the problem with today's politics is painting one side painting the other side with one broad brush"

            Who said that was a problem? That's not a problem at all sometimes, particularly when there is truth to the statement. Is it a problem to say that cars are not pink? it's certainly not 100% true, but there's enough truth to the statement to assert there is a general preference to avoid pink, that's it's not just by chance there's few pink cars on the road.

            Liberals do tend towards smugness and condescension. It is very common. And this condescension does transform itself into nasty name-calling and intolerance when confronted by a superior argument. It leads to a feeling of anger to be bested in debate by an inferior human being. I see it all the time. So it's not an issue to point it out.

          • Expressing an unprovable opinion (liberals do tend towards smugness and condescension) as fact is a pretty smug thing to do, don't you think? Anyway, have fun with your stereotypes and 'superior arguments'. You've made me feel inferior.

          • No, I disagree that expressing the opinion that someone is X means that you too are X.

            For instance, if I say someone is tall, that does not mean that I am tall. By the same token, if I say someone is smug, that doesn't mean that I am smug. There are people out there who are not smug who can express the opinion that someone is smug without condemning themselves to being smug as well by the mere fact of holding the opinion.

          • That is like saying in response:

            What is wrong with pointing out conservatives are ill-informed and not too smart. That does not make me smug and condescending because all I am doing is pointing out the truth.

          • It all depends if conservatives are ill-informed and dumb, or they're not. If they're not, then you're smug.

            I'm pretty sure that there are lots of good conservative arguments that are not ill-informed or smug. And that's how I know that many liberals are smug and condescending.

          • Heh.

            And that is how I know you are ill-informed and dumb.

            Ha ha ha

          • Need you say more s_c_f? It doesn't matter how correct you may be about anything Conservative/Liberal. The Liberal leaners roost on these forums to pounce on any and all Conservatives, it is a pathetic truth. I do agree totally with what you have been saying, the Liberals feel they are enlightened and entitled to Lord over all of us. They love to constantly call us the NeoCons, Religious rednecks, hillbillies, etc. etc. But in no way, shape or form must you call them smug and condescending……that is not right! (sarcasm) It's playground tactics at it's best or should I say worst…….

          • I feel like I'm missing a punchline somewhere.

            Assertion 1:

            Many liberals are smug and condescending, therefore it is appropriate to say that (as a general rule) liberals are smug and condescending.

            Assertion 2:

            Many conservatives are ill-informed, populist mouth breathers, therefore it is appropriate to say that (as a general rule) conservatives are ill-informed, populist mouth breathers.

            Can you clarify what makes Assertion 1 more valid than Assertion 2?

          • Oops, I didn't realise that this article was four days old.

          • Sorry, it's nasty name-calling and intolerance when confronted by a semantic argument, not a superior argument. I've yet to see you present one of those.

          • Gold star!

      • Gayle wrote:

        "Oh dear. So much nonsense I do not know where to start. I will limit myself to this:"

        And there you have it. Liberal condescending psuedo-noblesse oblige in action.

        • Yet it IS nonsense. If you don't see that, you must be a teabagger ;-)

          • There it is again. Liberal condescension.

          • Reader:
            I would encourage you to review my comment and make note of the fact that I did not make any value judgement on what bergkamp posted. If you don't see that, you must be a (insert choice vulgar insult here).

        • I admit I am condescending. That has nothing to do with liberals though. That is me.

          All that said, the post WAS nonsense. So is yours. People are people, individuals are individuals. Because one person is condescending does not mean all people who share their political leanings are condescending.

          Attacking the messenger instead of the message is not a particularly good way to make your point.

          • That statement is nonsense.

            Because one person is condescending does not mean all people who share their political leanings are condescending.

            Balderdash. Nobody said that. Is it a problem to say women are more likely to have long hair? It's not 100% true, but there is a pattern. Sure, we might one day live in a world where all men have long hair and all women shave their heads.

            Your point is so besides the point.

            Liberals do tend towards smugness and condescension. It is very common. And this condescension does transform itself into nasty name-calling and intolerance when confronted by a superior argument. It leads to a feeling of anger to be bested in debate by an inferior human being. I see it all the time. So it's not an issue to point it out. It's true, it's common, it's everywhere.

            Congratulations, you may know some liberals that do not fit the bill. So what? Like I said, to point out a trend is not a crime. Just because you can find an exception, that doesn't add much to the debate.

          • You're presenting an opinion as fact: Liberals do tend towards smugness and condescension. I see smugness and condescension from left-wing know-it-all idiots and from right-wing know-it-all idiots — no part of the political spectrum has a monopoly on dunderheads.

          • I have to ask, at what point have you presented a superiour argument? So far all I have seen you do is name-calling.

          • Please identify the name calling.

          • He's right. All you have done is say that liberals are smug and condescending.

            Though I love it that you do not try to defend your claim of "superior" argument.

          • They are snug and condescending. That's not name-calling. Those are two adjectives being applied to a group. They are not names being applied to an individual. Please identify the name-calling.

          • Sure, Right after you explain how your argument is "superior".

            I will wait.

          • So you are convinced that nothing a conservative says is ever a superior argument? That 35% of the population is always wrong about everything? And you don't think that's a condescending position to take?

            And because of that you refuse to identify the name-calling?

          • No. I am convinced you think saying something magically makes it come true.

            Which is probably why you have not bothered backing up a single thing you have said in several posts on this thread.

            In other words, I am convinced you have yet to mount an actual argument, let alone a superior one.

          • Is delivering your message with a decidedly smug and condescending air part of the message? If so, brilliantly done.

            If not stating opinion as fact, even if the opinion is very strongly held by you might be avoided.

          • Well, exactly where in your comment can we identify the difference between opinion and fact?

            In fact, most of Wells' article is opinion with no factual basis. It's an opinion that the chasm between liberals and conservatives is wide, and that there invective is worse. There is no invective-meter out there. I happen to agree with him, though. Sometime opinions are correct.

          • Speaking of nonsense…
            "People are people, individuals are individuals" – complete nonsense and quite possibly gibberish.
            "Attacking the messenger instead of the message" – you should read my post over and over and over again: I did attack your message. At no point did I, in any way, attack, demean, denigrate, or other wise make derogitory comment about your personal characteristics. My counter-point was entirely focused upon what you voluntarily put in print. Which amply reveals your character, and, when taken in context with the balance of your post, amply illuminates the lazy, knee-jerk, and self-congragilitory attitude that has completely infected the liberal mode of political reasoning. Bad money chasing out good.

          • Individuals are individuals is nonsense?

            Are you part of the Borg collective or something?

            The rest – really not worth my time. I understand what your opinion is – unsubstantiated and baseless as it may be.

          • Red is red
            yellow is yellow
            the sky is the sky
            flowers are flowers
            tuna fish is tuna fish
            door is a door
            gibberish, the lot
            I don't think you really understand much of anything.

          • I understand you make statements about a group of people, notwithstanding the fact that it is a silly thing to do. I also understand you are a little sensitive. Do a lot of people call you stupid and silly?

            i am not sure I need to understand anything else about what you have to say.

          • Gayle you are one of the most Liberal posters on here, give us a break!

    • "Since the late 80s/early 90s and the introduction of political correctness, I have been called racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic …. quite often all because I am libertarian and believe in equality for everyone and not just a few select groups."

      Is this an example of "white self-pity?"

    • "It is not possible to speak comprehensibly to many liberals and progressives because…"

      This from a guy who accuses pro-choice liberals of being "racist eugenicists."

    • Bregkamp, you have hit the nail on the head and Norm Tobin's hypocritical liberal comment is a perfect illustration of what you are referring to. This man who purports to be smarter than the rest seemingly has no knowledge of the role the Democratic Congress played in the housing bubble and the ensuing collapse of major financial institutions and the effeect it had on many people's retirement funds. I guess he was too busy getting more educated than the rest of us to notice how the minority Conservative government were forced by the Liberals, NDP and Bloc to roll out a much larger stimulus package that originally intended.

      Oh and the gall of those Tea Party Crazies and right wing ideologues for wanting the government they elected to start managing the country's finances to keep the country from going bankrupt.

    • 1) Yes, I agree.

      2) I agree, although I do like Hitchens' writing. I think that's all there is to it, he's a good writer. In fact, trudeau was an admirer of castro and the soviet union. On the left, they tend to make a lot of mistakes, and then they wave them off as if they never happened. You can't let the facts get in the way of your ideology.

      3) I agree.

      4) I agree. I think this is the biggest cause of low turnout. Voters know that bureaucrats run the show. Look at how ridiculously hard it is to kill such an incredible bureaucratic boondoggle like the gun registry.

    • Let me scale you back a tad, jwl.

      Each side is capable of the condescending insult, yelling over the head of the other side.

      • Exhibit A: Pinko commie elitist condescending interventionist who has nothing useful to offer society, therefore can't hold down a real job, therefore has no problem stealing wealth from the productive in order to *cough* "earn" *cough* a living busybodying his or her way through "X" Studies Department in university pushing a destructive left-wing agenda through his or her lazy subsidized students, through government and through society, never paying attention to the fact that some command economies fail sooner, some fail later, but all fail.

      • Exhibit B: Selfish isolationist rich old white guy, who not only knows what a bible looks like but might actually believe some of the stuff written inside of it, who would let the kids of a single mom starve rather than share any of that massive private wealth that he didn't deserve anyways (and rather than let her have any control over her own body which led to her being a single mom in the first place), who can't handle things like evidence and facts because his own ideas about maintaining his undeserved advantage over others are good enough for him, and whose only idea of a good tax is when it's spent on shiny new weapons for soldiers to go off and kill innocent civilians somewhere in a war to protect the commercial interests that made him so undeservedly rich in the first place.

        • Bravo, on both caricatures.

    • …'all the major parties are socialist…'
      Can you make this claim while criticizing liberals for having "convinced themselves" they're the smartest? There are no articulate spokesperson for the right because you cannot defend the indefensible. "Conservative thought" is propoganda to convince enough ignorant people to vote against their interests. Rich neighbourhoods know who butters their bread hence the conservative signs. Poor neighbourhoods don't know who butters their bread hence a multiplicity of signs. Property owners are automatically enumerated. Transcient renters are not enumerated. Big business pays big bucks for even bigger bucks. We end up with the best government that we can buy.

  4. I don't think this landscape is really that new. Having straddled the gap between the academic types that Harper attacks and those that make up his rural populist base since the beginnings of the Reform Party, I often wonder why it has taken so long for people to take it seriously.

    Magical thinking and the "stupid is cool" meme have traveled through the political right since at least the 1980's. I don't even see it as populism…most parents want their kids to be smart and educated, after all…but as pandering to the worst instincts of the mob.

    Harper is simply more adept at keeping his wackier members silent and the press less critical of him than Stockwell Day and Preston Manning were.

    • "Harper is simply more adept at keeping his wackier members silent and the press less critical of him than Stockwell Day and Preston Manning were."

      Amen Reverend…

    • Stephen Harper — the Nurse Ratched of Canadian politics?

    • This kind of smarmy dismissal by the left of anyone who doesn't recognize their higher intellectual status is precisely what average Canadians and Americans are sick of.

      Our kids are conservative. They are educated. They are evangelical Christians. They have children. Their kids go to school and hang out with kids of all colours and religions.

      Our son has his own company and lives in Turkey with his family. His assistants there are Muslim. He travels the world on business, often with his chief salesman who is a homosexual. His CFO is a woman.

      Our daughter and her husband own a couple of rental properties. Their favorite tenants are a gay couple.

      So tell me; which of your left wing sterotypes fits our family? Yet I suspect you have already dismissed us as magic thinkers who believe "stupid is cool". Well, for sure, bigotry is not.

      • Funny, I don't even know your family. It seems strange that you would accuse me of accusing them of something.

        if your kids really are educated though, it would seem that Harper considers them to be some sort of dangerous elite, at least by the rhetoric that he spews.

        I find it odd that you know the sexual orientations of your son's employee and your daughter's tenants. I really don't know that much about the workers and acquaintances of my family. It just never comes up…"Hey, bro, is that guy you work with gay?" I mean, I simply don't care one way or the other.

        It seems even odder that you would interject the sexual orientation of second-hand acquaintances into the conversation here. I was talking about anti-intellectualism and the "stupid is cool" thing. I know a few gay people, and their intelligence levels and how they view academia has nothing to do with their sexual orientation…they run the same gamut as the rest of us.

        Oh well, I'm sure I've committed some other imaginary transgression in this post.

        • My expectation of your reaction is conditioned by 40 years of enduring the left's assumed superiority.
          The gay salesman talks openly to our son, and has often been in our home.
          The tenants were invaded by a couple of mice and old a funny story about their reaction including, "of course we didn't go near it, we're gay”.
          Because I am a conservative Christian it is assumed by the hard left that I am a gay bashing, knuckle dragging, wife beating, creationist who is anti education. Actually, I believe that the cosmos evolved, that I'm physically related to chimps, in the Virgin Birth, (after all, as one British scientist remarked, after the incredible fine tuning of the universe required to evolve life, a virgin birth is a “doddle'), and the death and reappearance of Jesus, two of the most extensively witnessed and written about events in the ancient world.
          “Magical thinking and the "stupid is cool" have traveled through the political right since at least the 1980's.” I say “Bigotry”.

          • I grant you the Virgin birth; our scientists could pull that one off themselves these days, and there are rare but documented examples of females of other species spontaneously generating offspring in the absence of a male partner. A God who created the universe would be able to pull off a virgin birth with little difficulty.

            That doesn't negate the fact that Harper has been deliberately cultivating those with a hate on for "intellectuals". The census issue seems a clear example of this. Most supporters appear to either be illiterate or paranoid, based on the posts I've read defending this debacle.

          • As a University graduate, my experience of the left-wing agenda taught at this level is quite overwhelming, as is the complete intolerance of views not held by "the collective". Harper himself has a Master's degree in Economics so I think he qualifies as an "intellectual"–he just doesn't think GPA trumps common sense.

          • For a left-wing-indoctrinated grad, you seem to be managing to think fine on your own.

            Got a couple of undergrad degrees myself, and 25 years' worth of post-university experience. I have friends who dropped out of high school that I consider smarter than some masters and doctorates I can name. I find it offensive that Harper is trying to polarize the nation by stirring up anti-intellectual sentiments, just because there are more people without a degree than with. It's a cynical attempt to play the odds.

            Like many Canadians, my politics is a mishmash of left- and right-wing ideas and varies by topic; basically, I follow what makes sense, rather than trying to pigeonhole it. I'm open-minded enough that, if I have a theory that turns out not to mesh with the facts, then I amend my theory; I don't try to force the facts to fit, nor do I ignore or try to hide the facts. For Harperites, ideology is God; if the data doesn't agree, then ignore it. Man, how I miss the PC Party…

          • …"two of the most extensively witnessed and written about events…"
            How do you witness something that never happened to someone who never existed? The first reference about this particular SON/GOD was one hundred and fifty years after his alleged wrongful conviction and execution. You were a child when you were abused with these Christian myths and you had no choice but to believe. You cannot be a conservative and a Christian. There may be a Christian on earth. But it ain't conservative.

      • I find it interesting that your kids are evangelicals yet have gay employees/tennants that they like and respect. (I'm being serious.) Good for them, it's nice to know. But don't you think it's not surprising that "evangelicals" as a group are thought of as anti-gay when so many of their organizations actively attack gay rights? More than attacking same-sex marriage even, it goes beyond that to thinking gays can be "cured" and that private consenting adult behaviour should be criminalized. Is there a debate over gay rights in evangelical circles that is under-reported?

        • Risking being arrested for hate speech, I will say that the bible, to which most evangelicals adhere, teaches that homosexuality is wrong. It also teaches unconditional love of those who do not believe the same way we do, even of those who hate us. Most of the people I know that believe the bible personally like homosexuals as people. They do not agree with their lifestyle choice. To even breathe such a thing now in this country makes one feel like they could be thrown into jail.

          • There IS a difference between not agreeing and trying to legally discriminate against those who practice it – or even criminalizing the act. I'm also Christian – but definitely not of a fundamentalist leaning. I'm no biblical scholar, but as far as I know, Jesus was completely silent on the issue of homosexuality. References to homosexuality exist solely in what many would argue is non-core text. We ARE commanded to love our neighbours as ourselves (with no qualifying footnotes); are told that it is God's place to pass judgment, not ours; and that only those without sin should "cast the first stone". We all break these explicit directions all the time; singling out gays for differential treatment as though they are less worthy is therefore somewhat hypocritical, is it not?

          • I would agree that singling out gays for differential treatment is wrong. One sin is the same as another. There is no such thing as non-core text in the bible. It is all considered to be inspired by God by those who believe/follow Christ. Those who fixate on gays are missing the point, and the message of Christ. I would venture to say that in today's culture, most of us have missed His message, and don't know why He came or what we are supposed to do about it all if we even care …

          • Re "non-core": There are biblical passages -and entire books – that all Christians agree are central to our faith, such as the four Gospels. There are others (primarily Old Testament) that are largely ignored; some of these because they contradict one another, or because they would require of us things that we have come to decide are wrong despite what the bible says. I won't get into a long-winded piece about how the bible came to be, but I can pretty much guarantee you don't give equal weight to all passages. Different Christian sects give different weighting to various passages (for example, not many Anglicans believe God literally created the world in six days). I would argue that, as Christ himself was silent on homosexuality, and as there are very few other references to it elsewhere and was not among those acts expressly forbidden by the ten commandments, that perhaps the obsession with homosexuality is more ours than God's.

          • Thrown into jail? Evangelicals are calling for a holy war against Islam and preaching hate thy neighbour, and the poor white self pitier feels so intimidated he's afraid to lip sync, 'it's a lifestyle choice'. Jeez, you're more effeminate than the gays you claim hate you.

        • Derek,
          In fundamental Christian churches, the truth is gays are welcomed into the congregation. For Christians, it isn't about being against gays, any more than it is about being against thieves, murderers, adulterers, etc. Love the sinner, not the sin. We all fall short of being the best we can be. The gay life-style is a "higher risk" lifestyle in the medical world, so it is difficult to suggest that our society choose this lifestyle and normalize it.
          No one is suggesting that homosexuality should be criminalized–I think we are quite a bit past that. But there are many documentations that indicate homosexuality can be a learned behaviour. There is no evidence to suggest some anomalous rogue "gene" is the culprit. All people should be treated with respect, I agree. And yes, I have seen gays "cured" and know of at least two friends who have chosen to leave the gay lifestyle and are now very happy with that choice.

          • Legal hate literature masquerading as Christian. Christian liberalism; …"…it isn't about being against gays any more than it is about being against thieves, murderers, adulterers, etc."
            There is a difference between consenting adults and being beaten and murdered.
            "Higher risk lifestyle…" AIDS is now a hetersexual disease making homosexuality the wise and safer lifestyle choice for caring Christians.
            As far as allowing Jews of the Old Testicle to be the final arbiters on ' lifestyle choices', do we still have to nail our servants' ears to the door jam after seven years' service or can we just fire them?

      • Our education system has been dominated by the children of the sixties who really are very left leaning and liberal. Anyone who believes there is a God is open to mockery and/or poor marks for being or doing anything that doesn't fit the *norm* of the intellectual elite. Most of the people I know who are more to the right are far from *stupid*. Many are brilliant, and can see where the left leaning is taking us. Harper himself is certainly no dummy. The average Canadian has a great deal of common sense, and has perhaps learned more from the school of life than many who live in the cloistered halls of intellectualism. Why do people feel such a need to despise those without a univ. degree?

        My kids are similar to yours, and I couldn't be prouder! Thanks for speaking up!

        • I have two degrees, as does my wife. Many of our friends have no post-secondary education; some don't even have high school. I've seen enough of life to know that neither the well-educated nor the drop-outs hold a monopoly on common sense. That's one of the reasons why I find Harper's deliberate attempts to foster "anti-intellectual" sentiments and polarize the two sides to be so despicable. Hasn't he learned from the whole Quebec separatist movement just how hurtful and dangerous the politics of division can be?

          The only reason to practice that kind of politics is the uncaring, cynical search for power at all cost. The country matters to him only as something to reign over.

          • I don't believe that Keith. Harper didn't start this "culture war". Conservatives believe in more autonomy for the individual person and for the provinces. I support that view. Opportunity is far more important than security for a healthy economy. The Liberal view is that we need to be led, that the educated professionals (of which I am one, by the way) are the experts at managing our children, our lives, our money and would like to do all this from Ottawa. They are the failed experiment in socialism with their "centrist view". What you are seeing is a clash of ideologies, this is what the politics of division really is. Don't blame Harper –there is equal blame that should be attached to the Opposition. But let's debate and continue to talk –out of opposing views comes much knowledge if one is open to it.

          • Whether he started the "culture war" or not, he's certainly milking it for all he's worth.

            More autonomy for the provinces? Not necessarily a bad thing – but not the issue under discussion. However, since you raised it…

            As a former NLer, I'm well aware of the danger of centralized power; I've seen too much of NL's resources and needs sacrificed for votes from Ontario & Quebec – by liberals and conservatives alike. I've also seen the petty, vindictive behaviour Harper has engaged in with regard to NL simply because he doesn't like Danny Williams. Yes, Danny is a loudmouth, and tends to "negotiate" via the media – but Harper, while silent in front of the media, is the master of the snub, the funding delay, and the funding cut.

        • To paraphrase JFK: I wish people would derive as much pleasure from formulating an opinion as they do expressing one.
          Not everyone is entitled to an opinion and, certainly, not everyone is entitled to express an opinion. In fact, lawyers, doctors, plumbers etc. sell their opinion, their expertise, their professional knowledge, for millions of dollars. And they can be sued for millions of dollars if their opinion is wrong.
          In a democracy, there are many forums for the misinformed, the ignorant, the stupid, to advance their nonsense. There are evil demagogues like the hate-mongers, Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Ann Coulter, Bill Vander Zalm, Stephen Harper, Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn, Vic Toews, etc. who make millions with racist lies. Fact Checkers expose the lies yet the lunch bucket high school dropouts are still too lazy to be informed while demanding a right to an opinion (and not even an educated one). As one dozy right winger said to me,"Experts. What do the experts know?"
          And they allow this knob to vote.

  5. Nicely written piece.

    As others have noted, Canada's New Government is all about expensive performance art. We continue to support the performance through direct tax dollars for "government" PR or generous tax credits for the party donors. The CPC is "legendary" in its ability to raise donations … supported by legendary tax credit gifts for donors from the people of Canada.

    In return, we get Mad Men at its most cynical. It's not necessarily "clever" … but it is certainly manipulative. Let us be clear … make no mistake … (line!) … in this time of restraint and economic crisis affecting all Canadians, we must cut wasteful spending on bloated and costly political party advertising machinery.

  6. I don't disagree with much that Wells has written here, except the title is not quite right. I don't think we have the kind of celebrity pundit in Canada that has infected the US discussion. Its not that we don't have pundits who are fairly well known, but they simply don't ignite the same sort of passions as the ideologues to the south. True, many of the ideas, concepts etc filter up, but often don't quite fit a Canadian context. Evidence for this is that as partisan as this thread is likely to be, it will pale in comparison to any similar column about Pallin or Obama .

    • "I don't think we have the kind of celebrity pundit in Canada that has infected the US discussion. Its not that we don't have pundits who are fairly well known, but they simply don't ignite the same sort of passions as the ideologues to the south."

      Canadians aren't Americans.

    • It is much worse in Canada. REad the posters in the Toronto Sun. I have tried to lay criminal charges under the Hate Literature section of the Criminal Code of Canada against the Sun.
      Bill Vander Zalm: Meanest politician in Canadian history. Like fellow fascist, Mike Harris, elected to ATTACK the poorest. Never-ending war against welfare recipients (ninety percent children).
      OKA: Radio Dj's advocating MURDER. Organized a rock throwing gauntlet killing one man and hurting and terrorizing women and children.
      Mike Harris: I want the f@cking Indians out of the park.
      The murder of Dudley George.

  7. While I accept Paul's general point, somehow I have trouble associating Glenn Beck with the "politics of venom"… he just whimpers too much.

    • Olaf, Of course you correct. The politics of venom is not new. It started at least as far back as the Trudeau years. It has always come from the left. Wells (and many others) will try to convince you that the Conservative are just as bad. It is merely posturing. The Harper Conservatives have governed with reasonable policies for more than 4 years.

      • Yep… Tories always right, opposition always wrong… very reasonable position. When you demonize one side of the debate (like you are right here), you're proving Wells' point about how polarized the debate has become in Canada and the States. The politics of venom has ALWAYS COME FROM THE LEFT? Seriously? The Conservatives are blameless? Seriously?

        • 1. "Soldiers. With Guns. In our streets"
          2. "Just Visiting"

          Let's play "Name that Negative Ad!" You should probably both come to the conclusion that neither side has any monopoly on being sons-of-bitches.

          • No, I did come to that conclusion… I never said the Liberals were saints. But to suggest the blame for the 'politics of venom' lays at the feet of the Liberals is just too rich… there is lots of blame to go 'round. Hyperpartisanship on anybody's part is, well, dumb.

  8. Our politics has been "envenomed" for years, probably since the "Rat Pack" of MPs in the 80s. Trudeau was probably the last PM under which our national discourse could be considered "civilized". The talking heads just don't pay any attention until the Liberals are the victims of it, instead of just the perpetrators; only then does it becomes a national crisis.

    • john g will never be accused of practicing the "politics of venom"

      well at least not by Olaf.

    • I agree with you john. The rat pack was glorified. Journalists loved them and praised them. Now, all of a sudden, the journalistic class is bemoaning the same behaviour, and waxing eloquently about the demise of democracy, for the exact same behaviour. Hmmmmm….. I wonder why?

      That being said, it doesn't explain what caused the behaviour in the first place.

    • Mulroney's camp weren't exactly shy with the partisan rhetoric either. John Crosbie, anyone? "Tequila Sheila", et cetera. There was a lot more humour and a lot less (open) viciousness from both camps back then.

    • I vaguely remember his reactions to people who disagreed with him.

      If one remembers a time when there was little venom and politics seemed civilized, it was a time where everyone agreed on almost everything except who should run the show.


  9. Every teacher who was mean to me. Every government work who was rude. Anyone who was one step up the ladder from me, because he went to university and I didn't and who treated me like dirt. Those are the enemy elites as defined by the Conservative Party. Harper wants me to embrace my anger and impotence and show those bastards a thing or two! The banks, the oil companies and their like on the other hand, will be getting more tax breaks and soon. They can't be the elite, can they?

    • love the tongue in cheek

    • Nah. They're just the companies that hire us little people.

      • Yup. Only banks and oil companies hire people. Schools don't. And a good thing, too: who'd want to waste time educating people?

        • You have to try really hard to miss the point, so I suppose I must congratulate you on your success. Where, oh where, do I state that "only banks and oil companies hire people"? Absolutely nowhere. Please, stop making sh– uh, stuff — up.

          Let's apply your dumb reasoning to respond to your own statement: If you think an economy can recover merely by building schools and using tax dollars to hire a whole bunch of people to work in schools when there is scant economic activity to generate the tax dollars to pay them…

          • Yeah, I totally missed your point, MYL. I had no idea you were attempting some irrelevant (and point-missing) nark against Greg's contention that it is North America's corporate nomenklatura who are our elites (rather than tweedy McGill professors).

            I confess that I should have more adroitly addressed your valid intended response that banks and oil companies happen to be important employers (though it in no way neutralises Greg's original assertion). I just decided to have some fun with what you literally said when you used the restrictive word "that" (i.e. that banks and oil companies are ""the little people's" only employers) rather than interpret your comment generously, because, well…gosh…when do I ever get that courtesy?

          • If you want to go all restrictive, well, go play and have fun. But you have chosen to ignore "and their like." The businesses that will allegedly be getting the tax breaks, "and soon." The businesses that happen to hire us non-elites and keep the economy humming. If you want to keep ignoring my point, well, it's a free country…

          • The businesses that happen to hire us non-elites…

            Yes, banks do tend to hire "non-elites", and I hear it's getting pretty tough out there for them, too. Heck, CIBC even makes its junior financial analysts put a deposit on their branch-issued hard hats and overalls. How petty is that?

            …it's a free country…

            Watch it, pal. That's Islamo-Marxist talk. Want to end up on a no-fly list or find yourself answering rather rudely addressed questions about some guy you definitely know called "Khalid" in a Moroccan jail?

  10. It is indeed a 'culture war'. Rural v Urban, working class v educated class, Joe the Plumber v the 'Elite', and the agricultural and industrial era v the knowledge economy.

    Coffee choices aside, I'd simply point out that any society in the past that has glorified patriotism, religion, class hatred and ignorance …like Mussolini's Italy, Hitler's Germany and Pol Pot's Cambodia ….has ended badly

    Let's not go that route.

    • Well played, Godwin!

      • Santayana's Law:

        'Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it'.

      • Does Godwin still apply if she's right though?

        I find the comparison to Mussolini more apt than the one to Hitler in the case of the Harper government, but the point still stands. When ideology is put ahead of knowledge and science, the result is never good in the long run because the universe doesn't run on political rhetoric or religious belief.

        How about the disaster of the Bush regime in the US? Was it Cheney or Rumsfeld that said they made their own reality? How'd that work out in the end?

        • Pol Pot was a good example, even though we didn't pay much attention to it over here….claimed he wanted to 'cleanse' and 'restart civilization', so he put city people in the countryside to grow crops. Naturally the crops failed, and famine resulted.

          He was 'anti-intellectual' and executed anyone he saw as one. Eventually it went to the extreme of excecuting people with glasses, on the grounds it showed they read books.

          Some 20% of the Cambodian population died.

          • I think his example is a little too narrow when compared to Harper because of Harper's corporatism…something I don't recall Pol Pot having much to do with. The anti-intellectualism is there though.

          • Yes, the anti-intellectualism is there.

            Mussolini defined fascism as the joining of the corporations and the state.

    • So who is going that route, Emily?

    • What do Mussolini and Harper have in common?

      A style and ideology that appeals to the prejudiced lowest base instincts of people fed up with politicians' manipulation and arrogance and ready to join an Army of Misdirected Hatred and Scapegoatism! In the 30s it was the Jews. Now, we have the Gays and Women.

      Harper is the most UNCANADIAN PRIME MINISTER this country has ever had. He's breeding a bunch of rotweilers like Baird–no class, no understanding, no intelligence.

      Harper wants Canadians to stay ignorant. Its suits his long-term Oil and Gas agenda of DISMANTLING CANADA'S social systems and civil society. He's the beginning of the End of Canada.

      A Robotic Mussolini with a little maple leaf his corporate logo….

  11. The issue of what happens to moderates who find themselves in parties that make a hard right ideological turn is interesting in Canada. The Progressive Conservative Party died in all but name when Harris took over in Ontario and Reform/Harper demolished the federal PC party.
    This party built Ontario. In Leslie Frost, John Robarts and Bill Davis there was a positive spirit which built our education, highway and electrical infrastructure in the first 75 years of the last century. At the same time the party created a social safety net that was always a few years behind what the left wanted, but was certainly compassionate and adequate.
    The heritage of this party is now being dismantled without a whimper from its creators. Why won't the PC's speak out? Why won't they swallow the truth and openly move to another party? Where are these people?

    • A lot of them moved to the new neo-con version of the party, and then later left in disgust once they realized what it was.

      A bigger group started voting Liberal since that was the only choice left. [No one wants a return to the NDP]

      Some tried a new group, Progressive Canadians I think it was called….the name Progressive Conservative having been banned…even though it still exists at the provincial level….I don't know what happened to them as they didn't get much publicity.

      A lot of them simply don't vote, having given up altogether.

      If I were 20 years younger, I'd start a new party.

    • "The heritage of this party is now being dismantled without a whimper from its creators. Why won't the PC's speak out? Why won't they swallow the truth and openly move to another party? Where are these people?"

      I have the same questions. I find their passivity in this debate fascinating. The only public commentary that I saw was from Sandy White in last week's Globe and I nearly fell off my chair.

      Can we have more of this please?

        • It's too bad both Clark and Mulroney have become damaged goods or at least not too effective. Peter MacKay has never had a thought, and who else is on the back bench? There are some Ontario PCs there but they have been cowed. I wonder about some of the Quebec Conservatives. How do they stand it?
          Bill Davis the nation turns its eyes to you.

        • I stand corrected.

        • Kim Campbell made a feeble attempt on Power and Politics the other day, but far too feeble. Yes, where are these gutless people and why don't they speak out forcefully?

    • Why won't the PC's speak out?

      Hey! I'm standing right here!

      • Well the Ontario PC's were certainly the descendants of the Family Compact; So why did you let the Harper/Reform/Republicans take over the grand old name "Tory"?

        • Don't blame me; I didn't "let" anything happen. I was an Orchard delegate in '03 and campaigned against the Alliance coup later that year.

  12. Harper's doing what Nixon did (sans Watergate) — reshaping political contours.

    Pretty clear he's seen that as his mission for quite some time.

    Time will tell whether he flames out like Tricky Dick or sticks around like Mackenzie King.

  13. Well written article about the increasing polarization of Canadian politics. It is something every voter should be aware of and take seriously. Canadians used to be known for their compromise and respect when dealing with contentious political issues. What happened? Are we too close to the influence of the U.S.?

  14. Paul, gimme a break! "Canada's own political debate has been framed in similar terms at least since Stephen Harper became leader of the new Conservative party in 2004. "

    Riiighhhttt… "guns in our streets" – Liberal campaign ads, 2005
    Liberal campaign ads, 2004 with the gun at the centre of the camera

    Yup. It's the evil Harper that makes it so polarized, all right. You betcha.

    This was a pretty disappointing read. You're better than that.

    • I got this one guys.

      Those examples are after 2004, right? I think that's PW's point. PW said that the rise of polarization was correlative with Harper becoming leader, not necessarily caused by or solely attributable to Harper.

      Also, they don't hold a candle to the NDP's absolutely classic and underappreciated "vote for Harper and your child's head will explode" ad. That's just plain, old fashioned, unadulterated awesome.

      • What Olaf said.

        • Except that it wasn't Harper that was doing the polarizing, was it?

          • Maybe not at first, but it has been for quite some time and – sadly for the country – more effectively.

        • "…Regionalization, a new multi-party dynamic of partisan competition and the electoral
          dominance of the Liberal Party were, perhaps, the most striking features of partisan
          politics in the 1990s…" from Canadian Liberalism, Party Politics and the Chretien Legacy found here: http://www.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_resear

          So no, I don't agree that polarization has risen since 2004. I do agree with another commenter that central Canadian focused media just didn't notice it before the internets.

      • "vote for Harper and your child's head will explode"
        true story; dad did, and, kaboom! messy.

  15. Paul

    A bit odd that you mention Harper prefers the polarized debate, but then wonder if both sides aren't guilty for the level of discourse?

    I would use the climate debate as the classic example. I believe people want an honest debate, but when faced with the over the top manipulations and intellectually disingenious presentations- coupled with a co-ordinated effort to confuse people- the pro-global warming side becomes defensive, less willing to openly discuss any data issues, etc. When you have one side seizing on every thing they can, exaggerating, bastardizing, all in the name of an agenda, then the other side reacts to this circumstance. Rather than blaming all sides, it is imperative to remember how we got here. If scientists have become "political", it is only because ideologues find it necessary to attack their objective work.

    • "A bit odd that you mention Harper prefers the polarized debate, but then wonder if both sides aren't guilty for the level of discourse?"

      Why is it odd? Harper prefers the polarized debate and the opposition has been all too obliging to play along. It wasn't the Conservative ads that were considered over-the-top in the last election. It takes two to tango.

  16. "The Prime Minister is content with a polarized debate, first because it suits his personality, but also because the Conservatives get all of one side and the Liberals have to fight the Bloc and the NDP for the rest."

    Nice of you to slip the Bloc in there but aren't they the main beneficiary of wedge politics. If you're a separatist you vote Bloc and the Liberals, NDP, and Conservatives split the rest.

    • From what I know, a fair number of federalists vote for the Bloc these days as well. Why? Because Bloc MPs do what all MPs are supposed to do: Fight for their riding.

      • The Separatists captured 65% of the seats in QC with 38.1% of the vote. The Federalist vote is in fact the 62% majority in Quebec.
        Does the media treat the Bloc with the same standards as they did the Reform Party?

        • Who cares about your constant red herrings? I reiterate my previous statement.

          • No points again Thwim, just more sour grapes. Margaret Atwood is an apologist for a political party that wants to break up Canada. It is good to know where your both your loyalties lie.

  17. "Sure, it may be a bit more polite and Canadian, but we'll see exactly the same progression of extreme right positions and pundits, delayed but inevitable. Sun Media is already locked and loaded."

    Disagree. I think that Sun Media/Kory TV will have the opposite effect on Canadians. The Reformers only took power because they set aside their angry-white-male rethoric and fooled the media into giving them a more moderate image to voters.

    Should Canada get its own Fox News-like network, I believe that it will further isolate Reformers, not grow their ranks. We'll just agree to disagree.

    • I see parallels between Canada's Reform in the 1990s and today's US tea Party. Reform was slow to to gain power only because the Liberals, and the press successfully branded them as racists and "angry-white-males", neither of which was ever true. Glen Beck and the Tea Parties have directly attacked the accusations of "racism". They have been successful because they have a more balanced press in the USA. In Canada, our press is generally anti-conservative, Anti-Alberta, anti-rural, and anti-reasonable reporting.

      • The press didn't need to portray the The Reform Party as racists and Angry White Males – that's just how they were. And the same guys are now in the CPC. They represent the most base and vile aspects politics, and I'm still stunned that they have control of this country.

        • Agreed: look at vicious Teneycke smearing Atwood.

  18. I will remind you that all 3 leaders I have mentioned were initially elected.

  19. Wells goes on enough as it is…. do you really want him to tell you all the things that he is not saying in a piece?

  20. That's not how arguments work. You can't criticize someone for not preemptively repudiating an inaccurate statement they didn't even make in the first place.

    • But you should have.

      • OK, so comparing Harper to Beck implies that Harper isn't polarizing? Really? Silly me.

        • You're not getting it. Harper is polarizing. He's deliberately polarizing in his politics and his very existence seems to beget the Emily's of this world who actually think he's the next Hitler, Mussolini or Pol Pot. He's both actively and passively polarizing, and by all accounts likes himself that way. And being polarizing isn't necessarily or always a bad thing.

          But PW didn't suggest that Harper is the only Canadian politician who would lower themselves to personal attacks. Nor did he suggest that the entire decline of political discourse in the country is wholly attributable to Harper's moral flaws or efforts to actively polarize the electorate, while the other parties and leaders were just trying to be amiable and polite, as you seem to be accusing. If he did say that, your pointing out that "Liberals do it too" would be an effective rebuttal. But he didn't, so it's not.

          • Olaf, You have fallen for the Liberal and MSM spin. Harper is a moderate leader who has only argued for reasonable policies. He governs with compassion and to the betterment of all of Canada. You, PW, and the vocal left have no real beef so you call Harper polarizing, an inciter of venom, far-right, controlling, Beck-like, etc. Everything but argue against his governance because you know Canadian are well served by Harper.

          • Irony or sarcasm intended but not explicit, right?……Right??

          • You are getting sleepy…

          • Me and PW are the most celebrated spokesmodels for the vocal left, certainly. And personally, I don't think Harper has been "extreme" in any real sense, certainly not as he's often portrayed by the vocal left, me and PW. But that doesn't mean he's not polarizing, which I don't even think is up for debate. His entire political strategy is based on polarizing the electorate, which I think he'd confirm if you asked him after a Tom Collins. And again, people like Emily think that the guy with an "adopt a kitty" feature on his website is likely to shut down Parliament and intern his political opponents for slaughter. He's polarizing.

            I don't even think that's inherently a bad thing to be polarizing, depending on the context – sometimes polarization is necessary to appreciably separate the right thinking from the wrong. He doesn't do extreme things, things outside the bounds of reasonable, polite political discourse in this country. He just does moderate things stupidly, dishonestly and vindictively. I support many Harper policies, certainly more than I support any other party's, I just hate the way he goes about promoting and defending them. His policies aren't unreasonable (although they're often a little tax-and-spend Liberal-y for my tastes), but his behaviour is often deliberately petulant and generally atrocious. That's the problem.

  21. Perhaps you haven't been paying attention, lo, these last 5 years….nearly 10 in the US.

    ' Incremental change' is far more effective than resorting to arms…especially if it's done too soon. It's the story of the frog in the pot of cold water…started on low heat.

    • In the past ten years, the United States has held eight peaceful elections for the lower legislative house, eight peaceful elections for a rotating third of the upper legislative house, and three peaceful elections for the executive office. One of those executive office elections was challenged on the basis of irregularity, and while it continues to be a source of debate, it did not undermine the electoral system. In the past ten years, control of both legislative chambers has switched once, as has control of the executive office.

      In the past ten years, successive American legislative majorities and executive administrations have introduced measures that have restricted civil liberties in the name of security. Many of those measures have been challenged in the independent judicial branch, and certain of those measures have been annulled by judicial decree.

      Has the power of the American state increased over the course of the past ten years? Undoubtedly. As a libertarian I chafe against the growth in government power. But the suggestion that this expansion of the state portends the advent of a fascism akin to that of Hitler or Mussolini is simply untethered.

      • At what point did the Germans realize they were in trouble?

        All the people who spoke out against the direction of those countries….what happened to them?

        They were mocked, scorned and ….eventually, disappeared.

        As to the US….the Romans of 400 AD firmly believed that their civilization was at its strongest, and would last another thousand years. Rome fell in 476.

        • I'm not sure more discussion will be altogether productive, as I'm not really sure that we're speaking to one another, rather than past one another. Critics of conservatism in both the United States and Canada are entirely free to speak their minds in any public forum, and indeed find sympathetic platforms in the editorial pages of each country's widest circulation newspapers, as well as countless television shows and channels. They are sometimes mocked and scorned by those who disagree with them, just as they sometimes mock and scorn their political opponents. Neither group has shown any inclination to have its opponents 'disappeared.'

          The modern Rome may be in the process of falling – I'm sympathetic to the thesis – but that's an issue fundamentally distinct from your allegations of nascent fascism.

          • If you think critics have been free to speak their minds, again you haven't been paying attention.

            Does the phrase 'swift-boating' ring a bell?

            You don't have to literally 'disappear' a person these days…or even drag out a stake. You simply publically shred their life and reputation.

          • Let's assume that's true – that critics of conservatives in North America have their reputations 'shredded.' That doesn't prevent them from running for office. Or voting for candidates they agree with. Or making speeches defending their reputations. Or organizing with their fellow opponents. Or, you know, breathing.

            By contrast, dissidents in any of the societies you mentioned – and to which you compare the modern right – were murdered.

            'Swift-boating' may well be bad for democratic discourse – I sure think it is. But it is not murder. It is not close to murder. It is not comparable to murder. And the failure to understand that distinction undermines your argument, fundamentally.

          • David? Run. You might not be familiar with Emily, but you're engaging in a colossal waste of time. You are being "emilyed", as the expression goes.

          • Will you please stop bringing silliness into serious conversations…

            If you're that bored with retirement, apply to be a Walmart greeter or something.

          • Right. You were having a very serious conversation about the likelihood of Canada soon becoming Hitler's Germany or Pol Pot's Cambodia. I too frequently wonder if Harper will embark on a policy of genocide and start a world war, or if he will just declare martial law and summarily murder 2 million people. It's a serious question asked by a serious person and it deserves a serious answer.

          • Walmart….now

          • Emily, I don't think Olaf is as old as you imagine. Granted, he has the wisdom of a much older man, but if I had to guess I'd say he's less than half your age.

          • Mental age is quite different than chronological age.

          • Agreed. I think your mental age to be about 14 but I'd guess your physical age to be at least a multiple of that. Your arguments are completely vacuous. Pol Pot indeed.

          • I think our culture puts far too much emphasis on age. I firmly believe that you are only as old as you look.

          • Heh. I've always liked this one:

            You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.

          • Fortunately, most new ideas have been around for a few hundred years.

          • Indeed. The latter can be faked.

          • Heh, Olaf, you're letting yourself get Emilied! Save yourself man! I know, I know, it's soo hard to resist…

          • Oh, I just had to get that shot in. I have no intention of going further. I was just trying to save David, who is a legendary Canadian conservative blogging stalwart – the Maders of this world made it ok to be a Canadian conservative online, although by no means advisable.

            It was clear that he wasn't familiar with the odious character he was dealing with, as evidenced by his attempts to converse reasonably and logically, so I basically stepped into the line of fire. I'm a hero, is the point.

          • I'm sorry, but trying to divert the discussion off into proverbs about age and 'Emily' doesn't change the reality of our political situation.

            The problem with Cons is that they can't discuss anything…especially without personal attacks…for longer than about 20 seconds….that is, the point at which they realize they're losing.

          • Olaf, you give me too much and too little credit all at once! 'Legendary' indeed. Being an Inkless regular, I'm certainly familiar with Emily. But just as I wouldn't want her to dismiss my comments out of hand, I don't want to dismiss hers; and since my original comment – simply accusing her of a Godwin violation – was a bit flip, and since she called me on it, I think it's only fair that we set out our positions.

            Moreover, at the risk of sounding like a total condescending ass, I think it's important for all folks interested in reasoned debate to engage those who hold positions outside the mainstream. On the one hand, it's pretty easy to have a conversation with someone who's willing to say "I understand your position, but disagree with the assumptions that underlie it." At the same time, it's easy to dismiss the arguments of those who are unwilling to give an inch, particularly when they've staked out ground as tenuous as Emily has here.

            Put it this way: we all roll our eyes when someone compares Harper to Hitler. But when was the last time you sat down to list the reasons why the comparison is inapt? Clearly I won't convince Emily, and she won't convince me. But the exercise lets us both see how the arguments for and against can be framed, and forces us – hopefully – to consider points of view we might not otherwise have considered, even if we ultimately reject them.

            Also it's fun.

            (p.s. Still a hero.)

          • Once you've been swift-boated there isn't much point in running for office, or making speeches, and most organizations avoid people who have become toxic.

            No, dissidents weren't just murdered in those countries….they were also swift-boated….some of them fled, but by the time some of them literally disappeared no one cared about them anymore…in fact it was dangerous to do so.

            Swiftboating is a very slippery slope.

          • (A) After being 'swift-boated' by the group that literally gave its name to the practice, Sen. John Kerry ran for re-election, and was re-elected, to political office. He remains alive and very un-murdered.

            (B) In any case I think we've reached a logger-head. You're inclined to believe that some combination of excessive rhetoric and occasional government over-reach warrants a comparison between modern conservatism and totalitarianism. I think the comparison is demonstrably infirm, and I've attempted to make such a demonstration. It will be up to others to judge.

          • And has never been taken seriously again.

            As I said before….at what point did the Germans realize they were in trouble?

            Whenever it was….it wasn't in time.

    • Except for the gun registry (there may be a reason for that) the Conservatives seem to have established a fair bit of control over the RCMP. The tried to create a militaristic tone as opposed to a peacekeeper mentality. They are in the process of establishing control of a major media outlet, and will likely dismantle the traditional public broadcaster. Peaceful protest is violently crushed. More than just increments!

  22. I disagree. Political polarization in this country started long ago. As a child I thought that PET's official title must include the "F" word because the obscenity always preceded his name in my part of the country. The problem was that the media, concentrated in central Canada, was ignorant of the depth of anger. It is only recently, with the internet going mainstream, that those who disagree with journalists have had an outlet to express themselves. "Ditto" for the Tea Party movement, the feelings must have been around for some time or they would not have been so successful so quickly. The anti-elitism and white self-pity argument is merely a desperate attempt to discredit/dismiss a movement that is actually about smaller government, and individual freedom. In fact, unless left wing journalists have the powers of ESP or are shameless copycats, it seems that the "overwhelmingly white" description may have been a agreed to offense against the rally- http://dailycaller.com/2010/08/29/what-theyre-say….

    • and the all white jury agreed.

  23. "What Michael Ignatieff has in common with Hitler/Stalin" …. ya think ??!!!!

    If a Conservative, any conservative, had mused about "lesser evils" such as "torture, targeted assassination, denial of rights, preemptive war", they would be labeled by our diligent and distinguished Canadians MSM as the second coming of Hitler/Stalin … and drummed out of Canadian politics if not out of Canada altogether. No mercy whatsoever.

    But not a peep out of porky Paul Wells and his media political pundit club … as if there was a big curtain drawn over Ignatieff's sordid life pre-2005 … as if he is whitewashed clean after donning Liberal drag. Wonder why ..??!!!

    • Maybe it's similar to why the media isn't focusing on Harper's past writings, either. So much for your conspiracy theory.

      • That's no excuse for censoring out Ignatieff's sordid past political life where as late as 2004 he declared himself a "we, Americans" patriot hectoring other Americans over their patriotism.

        Ignatieff would not have returned to Canada if he was not offered a shot at the Liberal leadership and PM-ship of Canada.

        The man is not only a political chameleon, he is a devious opportunist and interloper … NOT worthy to me PM of Canada.

        • Perhaps we should be discussing why Harper wanted to go into Iran then. Perhaps we should be discussing the presence of white supremacists in the early Reform Party. Perhaps we should be discussing the connections between the religious right in the US and some members of Harper's party. Perhaps we should be discussing the tenets of Harper's church of choice. Perhaps we could discuss why Harper protects Rob Anders? Perhaps we could discuss the Alliance/Conservative early rantings about the Maher Arar case?

          I'm not an Ignatieff supporter, and I have no intention of voting for him, but if you want to discuss his past and compare and contrast it that of Harper and his party, you won't be doing Harper or his party an favours.

          • You deviant Dipper lefty abominations have been ranting about all those things but to no avail … because a majority of Canadians in the RoC have elected the Harper Conservative gov't.

            The only thing that stops Harper is the devious quebecois and their BQ separatist blackmailing party that reduces the available federalist ridings to 233 MPs of which the Conservatives won 133 seats for a 57% MAJORITY. They also received 43% of the vote compared to the Liberal's 27%.

            Perhaps you and your ilk are living in the wrong country … because Canada is going Conservative and the next election will produce a Harper majority gov't. What will you do then … create a Toronto separatist party???

          • The Conservatives have a majority?

            The majority of Canadians voted for parties and MPs to the left of the Harper government.

            Like them or not, the BQ are a legitimate part of the political landscape elected by the constituents of their ridings, and they are also to the left of the Harper government. There is also much more to them than separatism, should you put away the blind rhetoric for long enough to have an honest look.

            Of course most of the democracies on the planet are somewhat to the left of the Harper government.

          • Yes, the Liberals and NDP find common cause with the BQ separatists, getting into bed with each other in a lefty menage a trois coalition cabal … when lefty, ex-separatist Dion led the Liberal party.

            No, the BQ separatists are not true and loyal Canadians and never will be even if you want to clasp them to your left breast. The BQ separatists diminish Canada, but that doesn't bother you as long as they are the enemy of your enemy .. and to hell with the RoC which elected 133 of an available 233 MPs or a 57% MAJORITY. In Quebec, the Conservatives won 10 of an available 25 federalist ridings … which was not enough to form a national majority.

            You obviously approve of a coalition between the Liberals, NDP and BQ separatists to replace the only truly national patriotic Conservative gov't. You would accept neocon "we Americans" Ignatieff, ailing Jack and traitor Duceppe in a coalition government … because you identify them with the "left" … the traitorous "left" … but Canadians won't let that happen in the next election because you traitorous "lefties" will be exposed for the political terrorists that you are… just watch.

          • Clarification to my above posting:

            "…the RoC which elected 133 of an available 233 MPs or a 57% MAJORITY for the Conservative party."

          • Majority of SEATS outside of Quebec, but nowhere near the majority of VOTES. One could argue, given they garnered more votes betwen them than the Conservatives did, that a coalition of Liberals & NDP would be more representative of the wishes of Canadians that the Harperites. I'm very much in favour of replacing the "first-past-the-post" system we currently have with a proportional model. Then again, I also support replacing our current Senate with one containing an equal number of Senators per province / territory, to counterbalance the tendency of the House of Commons to ignore the less populous provinces' needs.

          • Wow, why do hate Quebec so much? Did it steal your candy when you a kid, or what?

            The BQ Members of Parliament are just that…members of parliament. They are elected by their constituents under the same rules and regulations as the members of the other parties. They, by most accounts, get a fair number of votes from non-separatists who vote for them because they like the representation they get. Whether I agree with them or not doesn't enter into it.

            What I really approve of has nothing with the BQ though. In fact it would very likely cost them seats. I support moving to a system of mixed proportional representation because it would better represent the way Canadians vote. It would also reduce the chances of a single party having a de facto dictatorship for five years after getting less than 40% of the vote.

            Go ahead and call me names though. I'm sure you mother is very proud to have raised such an intolerant offspring.

          • I have reported your inflammaTORY posting. If you combine the Reform party with the old PC's you end up with ReformA Tory but the only good tory is a Suppose A Tory.

          • You do your cause no good. You count votes CRAP didn't receive while denying votes against them. This isn't South Florida, Chad. Only fifty per cent of enumerated Canadians voted. Of that, one-third voted for CRAP. One third of fifty per cent of enumerated Canadians voted for CRAP. One turd of a half is still CRAP.
            You fright wingers. You claim Harper has a mandate while denying Hugo Chavez's massive majorities.

          • We should certainly discuss and disseminate a certain speech Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, gave in a June 1997 at the Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

    • What about the media response to Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day wanting to invade Iraq? They're allowed to deny it now but they would have lost two wars at the same time.

  24. Harper has several incidents of beginning to dismantle democratic institutions in Canada. He tried to diddle the CWB elections and interfered with who the farmers wanted to head it. The In and Out Scandal isn't yet over. He's used prorogation for purely partisan reasons. He's refused to acknowledge the supremacy of Parliament. He's tried to sideline the media. He's attempted to take away the ability of minority groups to challenge the government in court.

    The list is long and sordid, and is part of the reason why he is equated so easily with Mussolini, Pol Pot, and Hitler. He may be working a little more slowly and a little more stealthily, but that does not negate the actions he's taken.

    • I think you've actually provided a handy illustration of the fallacy in the comparison. You write that Harper has "attempted to take away the ability of minority groups to challenge the government in court." I believe you're referring to the Harper government's de-funding of the Court Challenges Program. While the withdrawal of government funding may make it more difficult for indigent parties to bring legal challenges, and may therefore be a bad policy, it does not affect the rights of those indigent parties, nor their entitlement to bring a judicial action.

      By contrast, the Nuremberg laws on citizenship stripped certain minority groups of political and legal rights, thereby effectively precluding them from seeking recourse in the judiciary.

      You've listed a number of actions or affairs that certainly reflect poorly on the Harper government, but none that have undermined, in any meaningful way, the fundamental soundness of Canadian democracy. Stephen Harper could be voted out of office at the next sitting of the House of Commons. He would thereafter remain in power if, and only if, he won a free and fair election under current electoral laws – laws that predate his tenure.

      It's one thing to criticize Harper, or any politician, party, or movement, for taking actions that are inconsistent with the highest standards of democratic government. But it's another thing to compare such actions to regimes that stripped citizens of basic rights and then murdered them by the millions.

        • The G20 arrests were outrageous – a gross abuse of police authority. But there is no reason to believe that the arrests were directed by any political body (such as the City of Toronto, which I believe had supervisory authority in that instance), nor any evidence that they were anything more than a gross abuse of police authority. They are not, as best I can tell, part of a pattern of mass arrests by the Harper government of political dissidents. In fact the best comparable and recent Canadian example I can think of – the sort of thing that would suggest a pattern – is the mistreatment of protesters by the RCMP at the 1997 APEC conference. For the record, the prime minister at the time was Jean Chretien. Both instances were deplorable; neither instance turned Canada into a police state.

          • The Minister of Public Safety was in charge of security at the G20.

            Vic Toews.

          • The feds were in charge of security at the G20. Harper has a well-earned reputation of being a micro-manager.

            If the Conservatives did nothing wrong though, then why are they afraid to have an investigation into the matter?

          • I understand that the federal government had ultimate responsibility, but was under the impression that the real-time decision-making was centered in the office of the chief of the Toronto police. But I may be wrong.

            In any case, while I whole-heartedly support an inquiry, and think the Tories are wrong to oppose one (insofar as they do, and I'll take your word for it), I maintain that there's no evidence, nor fact-based suggestion, that the arrests were anything other than a gross abuse of police authority in over-reaction to events earlier in the weekend.

          • No, the Toronto police as well as the OPP were seconded as back-up. There were also police from other depts used to make up the numbers, but the feds were in charge through the ministry of Public Security and the RCMP.

      • Right, no saying anything until the end result has been reached. Gotcha.

        You are making a silly argument. If more would have protested at the beginning, the dictators in question would never have achieved the infamy they have. The time to rein them in would have been at the beginning, when they were still making small changes. That would have saved a lot of problems. The murdering didn't start right away, after all.

        Also, requiring that Harper be as successful as those dictators were…at least in the relatively short term…is ridiculous. So is the requirement that their paths and tactics follow exactly the same path. We live in a far different world. It is interesting that one of Mussolini's ministers said corporatism and fascism were the same thing, and one of Harper's ministers referred to himself as a corporatist though.

        • Yes, my whole point. At what stage do you speak out?

          These things have to be nipped in the bud before the situation is out of control. It's much too late after the tipping point has been reached.

        • I think you're either misunderstanding or ignoring my argument. I've identified what I believe to be a fundamental distinguishing characteristic of the totalitarian regimes Emily identified – namely the elimination of basic human and political rights and the legalization of murder. And I've challenged you (and Emily, and whomever else) to identify any instance or indication of the Canadian or American right's desire to adopt that distinguishing characteristic. In response you've listed various incidents that I think can be fairly categorized as political maneuvers and machinations, such as Harper's alleged interference with the Wheat Board, or legal violations un-connected to politics, such as the G-20 arrests.

          By all means, protest these actions. I protest them too! But suggesting that these assorted improprieties constitute a real and tangible threat to Canadian democracy and a slippery slope to Nazism is unnecessary and unwarranted. It vastly over-states the seriousness of what are already sufficiently serious matters, and it vastly under-states the magnitude of the evils of totalitarianism. There are myriad reasons to criticize the Harper government. Leave Hitler out of it.

          • After 911 the US suspended habeus corpus, instituted Gitmo, and torture, and proceeded to snoop in private correspondence, and to wiretap. Many years later most of these things are still in effect. In fact some of them have gotten worse…the 'legality' of killing Americans overseas and so on.

            Canada is slowly sliding in the same direction…unwarranted search and seizure, secret trials, the firing of people that speak out etc.

            I repeat….at what point did the Germans realize they were in trouble?

    • that must have cut you deep!

      • "…a sudden surge of satisfaction while watching news on TV?

        I mean, like really, really satisfied. In fact, "extremely satisfied." Almost elated, if you will…"

        "… the new channel's mix of "hard news and straight talk" will be a welcome respite from the "dry" news offerings of incumbent networks such as CBC and CTV…"

        Am I sensing a theme here? Is this about young, vigorous, juicy, penetrating news versus old, weary dried up, flaccid news?

        • Well if they're betting on being *that* virile they better have hot hot HOT anchors, is all I'm sayin'. Actually that's their plan. Hot anchors=less critical viewership. They won't be the first to do this, but they'll do it best!

    • And sucessfully avoided the issue, nice move. Typical too of the press when confronted with facts that don't suit their image of themselves or the philosophy they live by. The downsizing in news rooms is not to be lamented folks, who can trust the press for unbiased info anyway? And why should the taxpayer be subsidizing many of their outlets. At least on the independant net sites you get both sides of the issue.

  25. Good article. The one part I disagree with is "Meanwhile, all the sniping turns off legions of potential voters: turnout is near historic lows in both Canadian and U.S. elections". I think thatr is a completely different phenomenon.

    Really, i wonder why there is so much venom spewed for such a small change like the census. It is baffling to me. So much hate and bile for one single government program. It's hard to believe.

    • Because it's not 'one single govt program'. It's one of many, all similar in nature.

      • Sorry, you're having trouble counting. There's only one census form being changed. It's a small change to a part of a single program. It's a frigging form that's been changed!

        • It's not just about the census….any census….pay attention.

          • I think I'll stop paying attention to you, you make no sense.

          • Exactly the Con problem. They refuse to pay attention to information and reason.

          • I just threw up in my mouth a bit.

            Silly Liberals…

        • I believe the official line is that the National Household Survey is not comparable with the long form census.

    • Not to mention all those poll numbers. People are getting tired of stupidity.

    • The census is not "a government programme" like the CPP or VIA Rail or the Economic Action Plan. It's different– it's one of those things that's expected of people who regardless of partisan stripe want to be good citizens and want to see policy based on actual sound evidence. It really was never a big deal with the populace (except a teensy frickin' weensy fraction of a fraction of a minority) until the government decided to make it so, at which time diehards decided suddenly it was a bad thing. It's almost like if they decided "we're tired of the tyranny of an annual Fall Harvest! Down with it! Canadians will no longer have to put up with the relentless gathering of crops in August and September! Liberty for all!"

    • Because it's emblematic of stupid, pointless politics taking precedence over good government.

      Discarding a very useful tool, one which there can really be a strong argument made for that it actually is a "public good" unlike so many other things the government does, is bad enough.

      Replacing said tool with a less effective tool that will cost us more in the offing is simply stupidity.

      Now, Canadians don't mind a government that's stupid. They don't mind a government that lies to them. They don't even mind a government that does both.

      What Canadians don't like is to be reminded how the government is stupid and lying to them. And, thanks to Clement, that's where the fuss is coming from.

  26. "One more feature of the new landscape: because the new conservatism is resolutely populist and frankly doesn't seriously care about fiscal balance"

    That line is unfortunately completely wrong. While Canada does have a deficit, you cannot blame it on conservatism. For one thing, the left in Canada are the ones who fought the hardest for the stimulus. Secondly, Obama's deficit in the states absolutely dwarfs ours.

    • Who's the government again?

      If the CPC were truly financial conservatives, they would have rather fought an election than passed the stimulus package. They had that ability, but they went along with it. Playing the victim when your party forms the government doesn't work; that's the opposition's schtick.

      • They did not have the option to fight another election just two weeks after the last one. The GG would have handed government to the coalition, and then all bets would be off, the stimulus would have been a gazillion dollars. You're playing revisionist history.

        • Sorry, how ridiculous of me to suggest that anyone actually act based on principal or philosophy. I forgot: this isn't about a political philosophy or vision for the country, it's simply about wanting to be the ones with your hands on the levers of power. My mistake.

          • You're not supporting your philosophy when you're turfed out so that someone else can implement the opposite philosophy. What you're doing is failing.
            Because the coalition failed, we now have a smaller deficit and smaller debt. That's called acting based on principal.

          • Idiot. …..: we now have a smaller deficit and smaller debt." Flaherty precipitated the coalition by denying the recession, denying any deficit, and denying funding. Harper, like Joke Lark, thought the leaderless Liberals were down and out. Trudeau resurrected and numb nuts Dion was deposed.
            The deficit was BEFORE the meltdown. Harper broke the law and called an election because all hell was just starting to hit and he'd blown the massive surpluses used to pay down Mulroney's debt and set aside billions to avoid deficit.

          • Regardless of motive, the proposed coalition represented the vast majority of Canadians and their elected MP's. In a parliamentary democracy, the governor general was obligated to ignore the thugs screaming outside her home, workplace and lining the route between, and allow Parliament to form a government. She padlocked the House of Commons for MONTHS preventing action on the global economic meltdown our finance minister denied.

    • There was no fight for the stimulus. Harper agreed to it at the G20 meeting in DC headed by Bush.

    • Harper's choice was let the coalition govern or do some "stimulating." He made the right call. Better to have Harper as PM rather than what Dion would have done to our country.

      • Poor Harper. Whatta victim.

      • Exactly.

      • You are an idiot. A stupid, ignorant idiot. Why do you breath? How do you breath? Automatic? Dion was already deposed MONTHS BEFORE Parliament's padlocks were removed. The Liberals did a Joke Lark on Harper. Trudeau came out of retirement and saved Canada from John Crosbie's budget. Iggy came out of the woodwork to represent the vast majority of Canadians and MP's who did not and would not vote for CRAP.

    • Hey
      Harper put us into deficit long before the stimulus package was a gleam in Flarrety's eye.
      Just like good ole Mike Harris who ran deficits … through a big boom, no less. (except when he sold off the Bob-Rae-created 407 for peanuts to balance a phony budget just before a second election.)

      • Finally, someone gets their facts straight. A conservative cannot balance a budget unless he gets seventy bucks a barrell for dirty oil like Ralph Klein (who just spent it anyway).

    • Liar! Almost every dollar the federal government owes was wracked up by Mulroney and Harper. Mulroney comes in in 1984 as a boom starts. Despite jobs, jobs, jobs, he can't get the deficity down. Him and Mazankowski and Wilson brag they'll get it down to $40 billion. Never do. Mulroney started with $180 billion debt and ballooned it to $580 billion (a substantial majority of the debt). Tax cuts for the rich. Tax increases for the poor including a revenue neutral (remember that?) seven per cent tax on everything. Capital gains almost eradicated.
      Harper inherited massive surpluses from the Liberals who had a contingency fund and had reduced Canada's federal debt to below $500 billion. Harper took two cents off the GST (while inventing the 13 per cent HST), tax cuts for the rich, tax increases for the poorest, a spending spree for the military and a losing war) and DEFICIT BEFORE THE RECESSION! The worst two deficits in history piled onto a debt and back into Mulroney terriTORY.

  27. it's a sad thing that the Cons have embraced dumb. They've betrayed conservatism for expediency.

    • just like the Libranos betrayed all for Cretin's reload in frenchy-land

      • See above for proof of said "embracing dumb"

    • Not having a majority, pressured and pushed, funds flowed pretty much in the East at the expense of the taxpayers.
      Expediency was required but make no mistake – many questions were asked.

  28. Wedge politics has existed for a very long time and it is unclear how Paul can attribute it to Stephen Harper in 2004.

    Every party does it:

    #lpc has lost almost every rural seat it held in 2000. Today it announced it is writing-off what is left #ndp #cdnpoli 3:50 PM Aug 31st via web – http://twitter.com/bradlavigne

    The Liberal leader, John Turner, based his national election campaign on fear and hatred of the Americans — and came fairly close to winning. But when the election was over and Brian Mulroney's Tories had signed the agreement, the Liberals began a long, furtive creep toward the Conservative position. By the time they were returned to power in 1993, with John Turner forgotten and Jean Chrétien the Prime Minister, the Liberals had adopted, without debate, the very policy they had denounced as treason. Having torn the country apart emotionally, turning husbands against wives and parents against children, they simply abandoned the subject. They probably think of it today as a minor incident, another political gimmick that didn't quite work, but surely it left a residue of anti-U.S. distrust. -Robert Fullford

    • I find that Liberals are able to hold two opposing thoughts in their head at the same time. They can demonize someone one day then shamelessly adopt their opposing idea the next, while sneering at the "ignorant" who point out their hypocrisy. Liberals have only a passing interest in principles and integrity. They will say (and many will do) anything to gain power.

    • Not sure what your point was… yes there have been divisive issues in the past. Indeed past issues (Free trade, the Constitution, Charter of Rights) are the kind of things you would expect/want passionate arguments. Still the clip above is a far more rational discussion from both Turner and Mulroney than we have seen during the past 4 years.

      • I disagree with Paul Wells assertion the last four years have seen a rise to wedge politics.

        The difference that I can see is the Conservative Party has the financial capacity to purchase television spots to frame Liberal leaders.
        When Manning and Day both ran against the Liberals, wedge politics was rampant and they were unable to defend themselves.
        Today Liberals unable to afford the defend their leaders and party from the war chest compliments of the donors, and annual political party subsidy between the two leading parties.

        • Virtually by definition, the Liberals rarely have the opportunity to exploit wedge politics. I am not saying they are pure and sweet, just that the Conservatives and NDP have precious little common ground to exploit.

          • Again I disagree with your excusing their behaviour because of their lack of financial capacity. They have been able to secure their partisan talking points on many Liberal friendly media outlets.

            Do you think Wells, Wherry, Don Martin hold each political party to account equally or are unbiased in their articles? Do you believe the CBC are left of centre, unbiased in their coverage in politics and the Climate change subject matter?

            Liberals tried with a state funeral regarding the Holy Host and the media without double checking ran with it for weeks. (Catholic split with Harper wedge)
            They tried to use people stranded to frame this government as racist. The single mother was married and she was also visiting her husband.

            Liberal President, Liberal MPs tried to fear monger over the H1N1 outbreak "their Katrina" and sent out a 10% to a reserve regarding body bags.

            This is a very brief list of three examples of wedge politics by the Liberals and their media enablers.

  29. Next Macleans headline…'Hurricane Earl – how Stephen Harper made it possible.

    • oooo, do tell!

    • Yeah, no doubt. I seem to remember a certain PM standing on the back of a train giving people the finger as he rolled out of town – but he was being his witty and charming self, not divisive or confrontational.

      • Well, Trudeau and his disciple Chretien may have been tyrannical, smug, arrogant pri%ks who played regions against one another in order to cling to power in a way that nearly destroyed the country…but at least they weren't 'polarizing'.

  30. The media blitz continues…

    • Apparently there is nothing else to talk about in Canada. The HST fiasco in two provinces? Puuuleeze. Homegrown terrorists wanting to blow up Montreal? Psshaw.

      Macleans and the MSM cover the important topics, like the making voluntary of filling out the long form census. Thank goodness we have Tavers, Coyne and Wells to stand on guard for thee.

      • This is just some sort transference of emotion by a lot on the left – especially in the media. The Canadian left see Obama getting pummeled by people who are pissed because they can't pay their bills ( and these people don't seem anywhere near as exciting as Obama), so the left turn their anger and disappointment to our country – it is the price we pay for our proximity to the US. Goes both ways though

        • "Goes both ways" doesn't refer to the US/Canada, no, I mean Left/Right in Canada

  31. Sorry, my mistake. Of course the CPC donors are a subset of the People of Canada.

    They are probably the same "15-20% noisy subset" of the "qualified voter subset" of the "People of Canada set" who believe that Canada's "Declaration of Independence" states that every man's man is allowed to keep a rec room of firearms for which he is not responsible in any way – not legal storage, not legal registration, not liability insurance, not reporting to the police if stolen, and sold to any non-FAC holder if the buyer, too, is a Son of Liberty, fighting the machinery of The Big State.

    This is because our Forefathers died for Liberty.

    I do wonder what percentage of the population benefits from the political donation tax credit, and what the odds are that the MAJORITY of Canadians who do NOT benefit … could stamp it out like all the other bad spending programs The State sustains for our … "special interest minorities" and "elites".

    • Really, now, that is a highly selective and therefore, terribly dishonest, needlessly perjorative, and, quite frankly, bigoted piece of yellow journalistic-cum-comments posting piece I have read in quite some time. I would encourage you to make your way to the nearest gun club, black powered range, or gathering of hunters and, word for word, repeat your claims. I would expect that you would come out of such an encounter, dispite your dispicable spewing of lies and confussion, alive and otherwise unmolested because members of the above listed hobby and sport organizations are as responsible, caring, and even-keeled as those other Canadians that tend not to be interested in these sports, past times, and valuable activities that provide need nourishment for their families.

      The MAJORTITY of Canadian, for whom you clearly do not speak, don't go about hysterically mouthing off sour grapes when the ball doesn't roll their way in a system that is otherwise working as designed.

      Your mistake, indeed.

      • Correction: Black powder range. Though, I would visit a black powered range, whatever that is.

      • I think some of what I wrote was intended as satire.
        Some people in the US and here cite "founding documents" and rewrite history … to suit themselves.

        So to eliminate the "LIES and CONFUSION" …

        1. Starting today, all firearms will be registered in compliance with Canadian LAW by all gun owners. No more amnesties to undermine its effectiveness. No more denigration of the registry by the current government.

        2. The Government of Canada will next present a bill in its OWN NAME, based on actual evidence, which ensures firearms owners TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their WEAPONS … tools which are designed to destroy a target. Assuming we all have the right to own tools designed for destroying targets because there is a societal need which justifies the negative outcomes of this policy.

        3. All firearms will be stored, handled and sold/resold in compliance with Canadian law by everyone.

        4. The federal government will rigourously enforce firearms laws.

        PS The majority of Canadians are NOT MEN.

        • And in this case, amherstvw does indeed speak for this member of the majority.

        • What is with the "PS"… when did I mention gender in my post and so what if the majority isn't of the male sex? The gender of HRM Canadian subjects has no legal standing in matters of electoral policy. You are very confussed.
          The opposition to the LGR by actual LGO's is based upon the fact that there wasn't sufficient evidence of spiralling ever higher death rates from LG that warranted the implementation of the hideously expensive LGR and it attendant unwarranted intrusion into the the lives of law abiding subjects of the crown, at the behest of other subject's of the crown's wild fantasies about long guns loose all about the land laying low legions of latte lapping liberals, by which I you would mean the People of Canada.

          In these hard economic times for all Canadians, the People's tax dollars are best spent elsewhere, than on policies resembling your over-zelous, caffene addled nightmares.

          • I've never understood the opposition to registering long guns. We have to register our houses, cars, boats, snowmobiles… why are guns so special as to warrant exemption? I would argue that guns are inherently more dangerous than any of the above. Give me one rational, sane reason why a motorcycle registry, for example, is less subversive and interventionist than the LGR, and you might just have a chance of winning me over.

          • Economic: where is the pay-off? Firearms generally are already covered by numerous laws with there attendent civil and criminal penalties for mis-use. There wasn't any need to set up a completely new bureaucracy when the existing means of education, enforcement and licencing was already functioning effectively, or if not effectively then it was because of underfunding. Why was it underfunded? Do you need an explaination as to why the existing channels of regulation were underfunded?

          • Do I think too much money is being spent on the LGR? Absolutely! Do I think it could be implemented more effectively, and with less red tape? Yes. Do I think it needs an overhaul? Yes. But, as someone with a cop in the family, I think it adds an extra measure of safety to what they do, and potentially helps them track down offenders after the fact. Every cop saved from a wounding or death because of the LGR; every offender caught because of the LGR; that's my payoff. You're right that long guns are not the first firearm of choice of most criminals, nor is the hardened criminal likely to register his or her gun to begin with. But there are times when the info provided by the LGR helps.

          • Actual need: Your listed (false) equivalencies are registered because their need to be identified for insurance purposes. Additionally, there are far more deaths from just snowmobiles and motorcycles in Canada than by LG's, accidental or otherwise. This is so much the case that death by long guns isn't even identified as a catagory in the per capita death rate from accidents. Liability for accidental death as a result of the mis-use of personal property is typically covered by the home insurance policy. So, there isn't any need to set up an additional insurance program for gun owners – the amount of liability to be covered simply doesn't warrant all of the administrative costs. Therefore, why register if there isn't going to be an insurance program set up? Why, that would be irrational, no?

          • "Liability for accidental death as a result of the mis-use of personal property is typically covered by the home insurance policy." Hard to hold someone financially – or criminally – liable if you can't prove ownership. I always find myself thinking that those opposed to the LGR are the same ones that can't be bothered with things like proper storage, handling or use of a firearm. They KNOW they aren't being responsible, and realize that if the guns are registered, it wil be harder to duck responsibility if things go wrong. Granted, maybe I'm just being cynical, but that's how it looks to me.

          • A very cynical view, indeed.

            I do not think that there is a widespread disregard of gun safety, specifically long guns, in Canada. Gun owners realize that there is a very real risk to possessing long guns, especially to their kin, and have made great strides, with education, to improving this safety.

            Isn't this an instance where, having formed an opinion on a matter of political interest, based upon "that's how it looks to me", you need to challenge said opinion? You have already stated that you are opposed to the financial excess of the program. I understand that you, exercising your own not withstanding clause, are prepared to overlook the wasteful spending as it is an article of faith to you that police safety is improved. But what if it is both wasteful spending AND it does nothing to improve police safety, or, worse yet, actually decreases the over all level of police safety in lost opportunity costs? Wouldn't that be irrational?

          • Social contract: Government is a shared resource. It is how a group of people, with widely divergent interests, attempt to get together and somewhat get along without resorting to violence to resolve their differences. Just because group D gets their mitts on the levers of power, doesn't mean that the groups, whose interest are divergent to group D, must, perforce bend to every whim of group D while they are entrusted with the levers of power. The LG owners, fully capable of assessing the social cost/benefit of a given government program, found the public utility underserved by the intrution of the government into their affairs. Perhaps you throw your money away for no good reason. Maybe, having thrown away your cash, you don't mind making others do the same. But you would be quite mistaken in believing that everyone else in Canada is eager to do the same.

          • Social contract: We citizens have a responsibility to one another. The Charter is a wobbly stool because Trudeau left off one of the legs: Responsibilities. Maybe he thought our responsibilities to society and to one another were so blindingly obvious that it wasn't necessary to codify it, but the last few decades have shown how wrong he was about that.

            As to your "mitts on the levers of power" argument, it cuts both ways; gun ownership is a privilege, not a right. If the majority want to put restrictions on that right, then should a government elected by a minority of the voters throw out that restriction to appease a vocal minority to whom they are beholden for support?

          • I am not totally sure, but I think Canadian are properly called subjects and not citizens. I realize that in common usage they are interchangeable, but in terms of the law, we are subjects of HRM of Canada, aka The Crown. But lets stick to the LGR and not open the box: Constitutional reform. Please.

            Additionally, by definition, a right is a Royal grant of privalege that is exempt from the democratic will of the HoC. It is there by, exempt from your will of the majority. I suspect that a comprehensive brief could be writen showing how gun ownership in Canada is a common heritage and should be construed as a right.

            But I don`t want that to happen and neighter do you!! I want guns to be regulated. I want gun owners to get a licence. I want prospective gun owners to have to take a gun safety course. I want all gun owners to do their darnest to achieve that. All of these things were in place before the LGR. I am still at a loss as to how the LGR improved this process.

          • Hey, I have found a bag. And there is a cat in it! Let`s let it out….

            The LG community, being much more aware of the context, legal and social, that they possessed their firearms in, rightly recognized that the LGR did next nothing, if not exactly nothing to improve the safety of LG in Canada.

            What was rightly recognized was the fact that registration was the first step to confiscation. If an effort to defend LG ownership was not mounted over the registration, confiscation would be much more difficult to oppose. Gun ownership in Europe provides a very clear example of this.

          • Right of Protest: There are numerous cause celeb that liberal-minded folks have mounted the baracades for, made hue and cry over, and generally screamed until blue in the face about because they found them to be disagreable, unjustified, contrary to their rights, and/or just plain old annoying. What comes around goes around.

            But I suspect "turn-about is fair play" isn't on your list of rational, sane reasons, for reasons I won't get into at this point.

          • So where's your support for the people exercizing their right to protest at the G20. Walk the walk, buddy.

          • I appreaciate your interest in my opinion on diverse topics. Unfortunately, I am currently engaged on a specific topic. Perhaps we can exchange views on that matter at a later date.

          • Not arguing your right to protest; just saying I don't think your protest makes much sense. there are lots of other protests which don't make much sense to me either – and lots of things I object to that others may think of as a waste of time & breath. That's democracy.

          • We don`t really live in a democracy. I would suggest that you spend a little time getting to know the Westminister parlimentary system in relation to other forms of government, specifically democracies, republics, and the authoritarian models. The role of the monarchy seems to be absent from your political reasoning.

            As to the protest not making much sense, well, I have presented my case and, sorry to say, I don`t really see you comprehensively demonstrating how my case is either illogical, irrational, unreasonalbe or what ever metric you are using. You asked for rational explanation, excepting that this is a political question and not a mathematical calculation, I do not see where you have pinned the badge of irrationality upon my case.

          • Conflation and false equivalency: A long gun is designed for, as others have put it, destruction of targets. Therefore, it can be said that a long gun purpose is to destroy. A vehicle is designed to transport, not to destroy. One, when put to it's intended use, leads to destruction the other to transportation. That is all well and good for the residual scholastic in your reasoning-about-public-good apparatus, but the outcomes are vastly different in practice. The vehicle, in practice, while not designed for destruction, is the means by which a great amount of death, maming, and destruction of personal and public property comes about. The long gun, while actually being designed for destruction, in practice, causes very little of death, maming, or destruction of personal property – not none, but orders of magnitude less than vehicles. Therefore, it is false to equate long guns with vehicles and place them in the set {dangerous items needing registration to serve the public good}.

          • I would argue that anything DESIGNED to cause destruction should be subject to AT LEAST the same level of control as items that, when used properly, lead to shelter or transportation. Fertilizer, when used correctly, causes things to grow. But certain types of fertilizer, when mixed with other ingedients, can go "BOOM", so we are very careful about controlling who gets to buy it.

            When you argue about how dangerous vehicles can be when misused, do you give any thought to how dangerous guns can be when misused? I grant you that stats show that as a group long gun users are more responsible than, say, motorcycle or snowmobile users – but you can't guarantee that there won't be some idiots among the users. It seems to me that the odds of that increase, the less we regulate ownership.

          • My good fellow, there are no guarranties, and you know it. Idiots, and I do not consider you one, are legion. We must, never the less, attempt to get along as best as possible, with the understanding that idiots need to be factored into the equation. But let us remember: nothing is fool proof because fools are so ingenious!

          • An important distinctionn needs to be made here between vehicular ownership and LG ownership. There is a great degree of difference in per capita use of vehicles vs. LG's. Further this difference, there is a great disparity in regional distribution of LG ownership along the urban/rural split. People that live with greater or more convenient access to wilderness, tend to have more LGs. So, while almost everybody owns a vehicle, very few own long guns. Therefore, an insufficient number of people have the required interest, experience, and to be frank, willingness to reason through the question to its completion by transference from a region of experience that they do possess. At the end of the day is the LGR sound policy? Does the benefit justify the expense? Is this program a wise expenditure of social capital?

            No. No. No.

          • Specialness issue: Are guns inherently different from other implements? Yes. Is there more than one classification of guns. Yes: hand guns; artillery pieces; antique hand and long guns; long guns, semi and fully automatic guns both long and hand. What does the LGR seek to register and in so registering make more accessable to regulating. Long guns. Are long guns, in there use, the cause of more or less death, maming or damage to property than other implements that have destructive potentials in their designs – power tools being an excellent comparison – I say: not likely. So, while it is generally true that guns are special, meaning of a special nature that makes them inherently different from other implements, it is not particularly true of long guns themselves.

          • Yes, the LGR was introduced to cut down on gun crimes, and if you put your blinders on and view it solely from that perspective then it can easily seem like a boondoggle. Surely there are better ways to crack down on gun crimes? The majority of such crimes are commited with something other than a long gun.

            But by their very nature, ALL guns, including long guns, are inherently dangerous. Registering them does NOT, IN ANY WAY, prevent an owner from using the guns in a proper, legal fashion. Which brings me back to my original point: Why do long gun owners see it as such a big deal? I can only conclude that the Liberals made them feel like people thought they were ALL criminals by bringing it in as a crime prevention measure.

            Yes, there is a lot that can be done to improve the LGR and save a lot of money to boot. And perhaps the Libs owe LG owners an apology for besmirching their reputations. But in the end, I still think it's a good thing.

          • Paragraph 1: Gun crimes are a subset of crimes. Very few crimes are committed with guns. Of that small set {gun crimes} very, very few are of the set {gun crimes; using LG}. The LGR does not cut down on LG crimes, as it was advertised to do, therefore: boondoggle. Game, set, and match.

            Why do they see it as a big deal? I'll give you $1.2 billion reasons on the government tab (that's your pocket, too) and the additional expense on the LG owner's tab. LG owner's aren't protesting because the legislation was writen by the Liberal Party of Canada. No. The protest is centred on the fact that it is ridiculously expense, to no justifiable common good, and a thoughtless impossition of the (fictitious) interests of one group of Canadians upon another (and in so doing vilified the LG owners, to boot.)

  32. Harper knows the mainstream media was going to be against him in the next election more than ever no matter what, since the next election is a binary election (Conservative majority or Coalition majority). So he has been provoking the mainstream to expose whose "side" they are on more clearly, and thus, neutralize them.

    Wells and Coyne have fallen into his "trap" along with all the other usual media suspects.

    Harper did this once before in the Charlottetown referendum when he stood with Trudeau against all the mainstream political parties and media and won.

    • Yes, indeed, Harper is hitting the media very hard in the fist with his face!

    • You mean the mainstream media that mostly endorsed Harper in the last two elections?

    • Wells and others are crying wolf. They serve Canadians poorly when they do. Harper is the most reasonable PM Canadian have had in 50 years. His stewardship has made Canada the envy of the world.

      • Er…could I have directions to the gate to your particular alternate universe?

    • So true, and Wells is building on the narrative: its the elite intellectuals against foolish and naive everyman – that's a good one – Go Paul! – this is entertaining stuff

      • But you are correct – more should be given to bridge-building. Most of the time I look at comment sections as real-time sounding boards, rather than full thought-out opinion on issues, and I read your work all the time and respect it – for whatever that is worth.

  33. "…in Stephen Harper's Canada…",

    Just a sec. The opposition has been telling us that this is most definitely NOT Harper's Canada because, according to the story, the LPC and the pumpkins have been standing on guard for us. Such as that is…

    "…the gulf between cultural visions on the left and right is so wide the two sides cannot even speak comprehensibly to each other."

    Really? I'm pretty sure that it was Ignatieff that scuttled 18 months of involved refugee reform with the full acquiescence to his immigration critics demands. He did that because the Quebec wing squawked loud enough to scare him onto a bus.

    Of course, Ignatieff the noble did this just in time for another round of national angst due to yet another boat of rent seekers allowed all and sundry merely for lying correctly.

    So yea, at least spread the vitriol around Wells….

    • "…the gulf between cultural visions on the left and right is so wide the two sides cannot even speak comprehensibly to each other."

      Um…I think Wells could scan this whole board and simply conclude: "I rest my case".

  34. Liberals never tried to 'straddle the centre'.
    Low voter turnout is a sign of good government.
    And it's about time we hear about 'polarized' debates instead of liberals and Liberals in heated agreement, 'consensus' is when politicians reach across the isle to screw over their citizens.

    • Low voter turnout is a sign of good government? What TF?

  35. When I first saw the "child's exploding head", I laughed out loud. I couldn't believe that NDP propaganda had become so unhinged. Does anyone know the firm responsible for creating that depraved masterpiece?

  36. Anyone who sees Harper as a "dangerous right wing ideologue" cannot be taken seriously. A Liberal government under Paul Martin for the past four years would have done little different, except maybe funnel more tax dollars to their party coffers (and their own pockets). As for blaming the Conservatives for the "nastiness" in national politics, the really nasty turn came from those opposed to the Reform Party back in the 80s and 90s. The millions who supported Reform were called ignorant, racist, hayseeds, homophobes, and every other nasty name. So now the "tolerant" left is reaping the whirlwind of its own intolerance, and trying to blame everyone but itself. Typical.

    • "The millions who supported Reform were called ignorant, racist, hayseeds, homophobes, and every other nasty name."

      They were tagged as those things because of statements they made, associations they had, and actions they took. If you are going to deny evolution, people are going to call you ignorant. If you, mistakenly or not, allow white supremacists to act as your security, you are going to be labelled racist. If you try to start a fist fight in the House of Commons, people might think you're a hayseed. If you speak and vote against equal rights for homosexuals, your homophobia is likely to be noted.

      • You're evading the point. The Reform viewpoint was basically declared illegitimate by the establishment wholesale. Lots of individual Liberals have done stupid or racist things, but that doesn't de-legitimize members of the Liberal Party. Yes, evolution is a fact and Stockwell Day's belief in creationism makes one doubt his intelligence, but what about Chretien and Martin who presumably believe in transubstantiation or the resurrection of Christ or the virgin birth? All are equally idiotic supernatural beliefs, but for some reason we focus on Reform or the Conservatives and not on the Liberals or NDP. All I'm saying is that it's not the Tories who started this nastiness. In fact, Preston Manning made a valiant effort to end (or diminish) it.

        • So your point is that we mustn't call racists racist? We must pretend stupid people are intelligent?

          • No Holly, my point is that it diminishes political discourse (the topic of the article) when all supporters of a certain party or ideology are written off as stupid, racist, etc. because a few members of the group believe and express stupid or racist ideas. Unfortunately, it's easier to call names than to deal honestly with differing ideas. And I guess that's why we get a lot of name-calling on these comment boards. The thoughtful people start to tune out in disgust, leaving the name-callers with the field to themselves. That can't be a good thing, and I suspect it's a part of why voter participation has fallen and people have become much more cynical.

  37. I didn't realise the death penalty was being re-instituted to punish detractors of the political right.

    • It's been the implication made in some conversations I've been part of. Is it serious? Doesn't matter, it's part of the culture of intimidation that's developed in the ranks of the right-wing.

      • Of what rank in the right-wing? Government officials? Or anonymous blow-hards typing in ALL CAPS on a free forum over the internets?

        • Judging by the talking points, they are the same people. ;-)

          Really though, Conservative supporters on the internet and in real life have made points like that to me. Another that was popular for a while after Harper first got elected was the threat of a tax audit.

          It's odd that such things come from the Conservative rank and file so readily, yet I've never faced that mindset when disagreeing with Liberals.

  38. We have to wait for Harper to publish his plan for domination in "Mein Puck".

    • Okay, I genuinely laughed out loud at that one!

      Thank you!

  39. The Harper government's actions at the G20 were, from the very start, an attempt to silence dissent.

    Let's be clear, people who parade around waving crayoned placards and singing puerile jingles are not dissenting from the government. They are dissenting from adult conversation.

    • Let's be clear, your mis-portrayal of protesters and your apparent inability to understand the importance of protest in a democratic society are a regression from adult conversation.

      • I am inclined to think that there are better ways for effecting change in a democratic society than by joining an assembly of glorified buskers and providing cover for masked vandals trying to advance their utopia of no controls (anarchism) by demonstrating just how much they need to be controlled.

        • Now you've gone and shown that you don't understand the latest incarnations of the anarchist movement either. Hint: Most anarchists don't take part in vandalism. My problem with them is that they don't show up at the ballot box either, but that's not illegal.

          You've also shown, once again, that you understand little or nothing about the role of protest in a democracy. You may not like their message, just as I don't like the messages of the anti-choice people or the pro-gun people, but they have every right (many would say it's a duty) to protest.

          there was no good reason why the vandals couldn't have been arrested by the police while they were on their little rampage in Toronto. Depending which count of the protesters you believe, the number of police either matched or exceeded the total number of protesters at that point. There were, according to the police, about sixty vandals. Everybody in the country could find out out where those vandals were at any given time simply by turning on one of our news networks. The police were told to stand down. Where did that order come from?

          • My problem with [most anarchists] is that they don't show up at the ballot box…

            That might be one of the "better ways for effecting change in a democratic society" that I was alluding to earlier.

            You may not like their message… but they have every right (many would say it's a duty) to protest.

            I never said they had no right to protest. Indeed, I may not like their message, but I really wouldn't know, as, from my experience, their "message" was a hodgepodge of garrulous grievances, varying wildly in both coherence and consistency, and ranging from empty, cue-carded, beauty-queen platitudes ("I want to end world poverty") to far-flung conspiracy theories. However, in the end, I suppose, all these disparate factions were able to coalesce around a common cause: capturing any footage on their iPhones that could possibly be edited into 45 second YouTube clip revealing police officers overstepping their bounds.

            Where did that order come from?

            The Harper Government, for fear of otherwise looking as if it was crushing dissent?

          • "That might be one of the "better ways for effecting change in a democratic society" that I was alluding to earlier. "

            Both are integral to democracy.

            "I never said they had no right to protest. Indeed, I may not like their message, but I really wouldn't know, as, from my experience, their "message" was a hodgepodge of garrulous grievances, varying wildly in both coherence and consistency, and ranging from empty, cue-carded, beauty-queen platitudes ("I want to end world poverty") to far-flung conspiracy theories. However, in the end, I suppose, all these disparate factions were able to coalesce around a common cause: capturing any footage on their iPhones that could possibly be edited into 45 second YouTube clip revealing police officers overstepping their bounds. "

            Why do they have to coalesce around a common cause? How come the media never covered the meetings and forums that were held on the run-up to the protests? How come, if you are so willing to give your opinion of the protesters, you haven't taken the time to actually learn about their causes and concerns? I'm betting that if you made an honest attempt, you'd even find yourself agreeing with some of them.

            " The Harper Government, for fear of otherwise looking as if it was crushing dissent?"

            Nonsense. Arresting people who are vandalizing things isn't crushing dissent. Building a huge fence, arresting people for singing the national anthem, and beating peaceful protesters with clubs is suppressing dissent though.

        • The Black Bloc are dangerous vandals and anarchists….the rest were mostly aging Flower Children.

          There's a way to tell them apart.

          • I don't think the Black Bloc types are very dangerous…I have a feeling a lot of them would curl up in the fetal position and scream for help were they to find themselves in some of the bars I frequent.

            Vandalism isn't generally considered a violent crime either.

            I even understand why they are angry enough to want to break windows. What I don't understand is why they think that actually breaking windows is likely to win people over to their cause.

            I don't buy the aging flower children thing either. I saw a lot of people out there (through the media) of varying ages. I've noticed the same at the occasional thing that I've been to in person. I do notice that my own generation (what Coupland called Gen X) is generally under-represented though.

    • Justin, very often, protesters have tried several other ways of expressing themselves before going to the streets. I was part of the protests when Harper prorogued Parliament. It was a very "adult" thing to do, and it was effective since Harper's ratings went down 10 points soon after.

      Prior to the protests, I, and thousands of others, sent letters to my MP, the GG and the PMO.

      • Please do not interpret me as saying that all protest is childish. That is not what I think.

        What I am saying is that much of the G20 protesting struck me as the work of rebels in search of causes. I think that many of the people who went were looking to instigate police reactions which they could later supply as evidence of government suppression. I think that holding governments accountable is important business, business that is done a disservice by masquerading malcontents not opposing a specific government action, but rather trying to manufacture a government action to oppose.

  40. harper will get his majority
    he will build 20 new jails and fill them with pot users and growers.
    no more legal abortions
    no more gay rights of any kind
    ever-diminishing rights and funding for women's things (he is sad cause his wife isn't…. around much)
    mandatory military service (like they have in Israel)
    more cops than you ever thought possible
    broad powers of coercion and intrusion.

    like the movie V for Vendetta…. that is what Harper's Canada will look like, only without the revolution and the masks and all that. canadians don't DO revolution. we just do bitchy obedience.

    • Judging from the pic you could be a candidate! Go smoke a joint and let the adults debate.

  41. If only Harper could resonate with Canadians as Beck does with Americans, he would have his majority by now. What a compliment though, Beck is quite the constitutionalist and having a PM with similar beliefs to a patriotic American such as Beck is surely something Harper would be proud of.

    • Canadians are not Americans.

      We don't hold our hands over our hearts when they play the anthem, we don't demand our leaders proclaim their religious affiliation (we'd rather not hear about it at all, thanks) and generally we respond to over-heated, over-simplified political rhetoric with either embarrassment or derision. Most Canadians look on Glenn Beck and the Tea Party as a bit of a joke whereas apparently a substantial number of Americans do not.

      "If only Harper could resonate with Canadians as Beck does with Americans, he would have his majority by now."

      Agreed. He can't though.

      Harper's majority will never happen in this country.

  42. Paul and all,

    The opening words, "Politics of Venom," must refer to the opposition. You always focus on the mean PM. How about taking a look at the hysterical fools in the opposition, Wayne Easter, Carolyn Bennet, Pat Martin–I could go on. How come you never note the many affectations of the Ignatieff, that he is and was and always be? Haven't you noticed his penchant for taking on whatever persona he thinks might make him popular? Poor man–it's almost too embarrassing to mention.

    • Q.E.D.

    • Both sides have their hysterical fools, but unlike the Conservatives', the Liberals' aren't cabinet ministers making decisions that affect the lives of millions of Canadians…

  43. I mentioned Bill Davis in a previous comment.
    While reading Well's article I was also reminded of a time in Ontario politics when Bill Davis Progressive Conservative was Premier, Bob Nixon was Liberal leader, and Stephen Lewis was NDP leader.

    • All seems so quaintly civilized, in retrospect.

  44. "More than any Conservative leader since Diefenbaker, Harper has worked to pull our politics onto the treacherous but potentially highly rewarding terrain of culture, patriotism and religion."

    Wells is hyper-over-analyzing again. (not to mention fear-mongering) There's a good deal of Canadians who love Canada and have values leaning to the conservative side who may or may not be religious. They don't vote Conservative because of Faith, but because of good economic smarts and respect from other countries. (Harper has represented Canada very well; we've actually acquired the reputation of being a competent and admirable country under his watch) That's why Harper's Conservatives have a minority right now.

    If the Cons steer too far to the right and the Libs are smart enough to disassociate from their socialist-minded (useless) colleagues and take up the middle again, then the Libs will take the reins of government. Pure and Simple.

    P.s. How the heck does a rank amateur with an emotional disorder like Wells manage to keep his job? Pathetic, really.

  45. You seem to be on a roll, Wells.

  46. The Harper Vitriol has infected Canadian politics for the last few years and it will become increasingly difficult to find a remedy unless voters wake up to the new Canadian Republicanism that threatens to destroy the strides we've made as a country to be "envied".

    I still remember Alan Fotheringham (no liberal) who said back in 2006 that Parliament is becoming increasingly uncivil due to the new boys on the Hill redefining the game.

    It has nothing to do with Harper's Vitriolic Charms that promotes rotweilers of the Baird kind onto women and children everywhere!
    It has to do with a lack of communication by the Opposition–which represents the REAL Canada we fought long and hard to build and sustain–of the REAL ISSUES plaguing Canadians that are getting worse with the neo Conservatives at the helm.

  47. Harper was dreadfully wrong on the budget and had ot be forced by the Oppositoin parties to find his senses and redraft it. Meantime, he was advising us in September 2008 (when the markets were melting) to "buy stocks" as if Canadians had the bucks to buy them, and poor darn advice. HARPER IS THE REAL ELITIST. He is protecting the interests of a few Oil and Gas Corporations (Alberta Numero Uno) and his idea of a "civil society" is thte cutting to the bone of WOMEN'S SHELTERS, legal supports for domestic abuse, and destroy the dream of signle moms with children who wanted a National Child Care Plan that the neocons destroyed like bullies in the playground!

    Meantime, the pseudo-Conservatives spend $2 BILLION for a G20 Toronto-trashing Fiasco and are buying with taxpayers' hard-earned dollars $16BILLION OF FIGHTER JETS!

    And while all the Police Chiefs and the parents of the 20 girls massacred in Dec.6/89 @ Polytechnique want the sensible gun Registry to stay in place, the Neantherhal Party wants to scrap it. And on top of that is bashing our Veterans by wanting cheaper, better dead than alive!

  48. That socialist rag, THE ECONOMIST, said in its January Editorial:

    "Canada's democratic institutions (with Harper) are fast eroding and country is ruled by a RUTHLESS TACTICIAN"!!!

    Glenn Beck, welcome to Ottawa!

    • Calling the Economist a “socialist rag” is akin to calling Atlas Shrugged “Marxist”.

      I love how idiotic comments like these make the critical work of we progressives so easy!

  49. Fascism, at it's very heart, is the mixing of the state with the corporation though. It's why so many North American industrialists were fond of the various European fascists in the early part of the 20th century.

    A certain amount of authoritarianism goes along with that. You won't find a lot of CEOs asking their employees to vote on corporate policy. It isn't just authoritarianism that defines fascism though, it is also the existence of a ruling elite, jingoism, and the false use of populism.

    There is also a certain distrust, and a pattern of trying to undermine, democratic institutions, since they are inconvenient to the authoritarian mindset. I don't think Harper is stupid enough to try to use the exact same methods as Hitler and Mussolini. We do know that he is a fan of Leo Strauss and neo-conservative philosophy. If you take the time to read Strauss, the parallels to fascism become pretty apparent. If you read Strauss and watch Harper, the similarity between them becomes pretty clear too.

    I also don't think we can just toss the "intemperate ramblings of anonymous internet commenters aside," since those commenters seem, in a very real way, to represent the rank and file of the Conservative party.

    As an example of that, I've been watching the whisper campaign about the (Liberal) government wanting the registry to take away guns for decades now…since the original bill was introduced. The reason the Liberals, in this particular Conservative fantasy, want to take away the guns is to avoid a revolution. The whisper campaign carries with it an inherent threat…that if things get too liberal, and can't be defeated democratically, the conservative factions will resort to violence.

    I know the whole conspiracy theory is stupid…nobody is going to take over Canada with deer rifles…but it was echoed by Conservative MP Briekreitz (sp?) in a recent opinion piece. This in a government where the PMO vets all articles by MPs before they are published.

    So yeah, when I see certain ideas repeated over and over by anonymous Conservative posters on the internet, I pay attention.

    • "The reason the Liberals, in this particular Conservative fantasy, want to take away the guns is to avoid a revolution. The whisper campaign carries with it an inherent threat…that if things get too liberal, and can't be defeated democratically, the conservative factions will resort to violence."

      Seriously? That's what you got out of the objections to the possibility of gun confiscation?

      It isn't about revolution. It's about the fact that urban lefties are superstitious and don't understand what guns are, and are afraid of them. They will confiscate guns to try and make themselves feel safer, even though it won't. That is what we are worried about, that we will have a tool for hunting and pest control taken away simply to satisfy the neurotic fears of urbanites.

      • That's what I've heard from gun people in rural areas. Not just a single individual, but enough of them that I would mention it. It seems to be a rather popular conspiracy theory.

        I'm not one of those urban people who are afraid of guns. I've been around them. I've used them. I understand them.

        I also talk to people in cities. Nobody wants to take your guns away. That's just a variation of the first conspiracy theory, and it doesn't make any more sense.

        Most urban people understand that guns are part of life in rural areas. What they do want to do is regulate them. Part of that regulation is the registry.

        The constant jabbering about how urban people don't understand rural people doesn't stand up to examination either. Most understand that things are different in rural areas. Many have friends and relatives in rural areas. Many spend at least some time in rural areas, even if only for short vacations. What they don't understand is why allegedly responsible gun owners are opposed to registering dangerous weapons.

        Perhaps instead of spouting paranoia about "urban lefties", you should have a look at the facts.

  50. ITALY had its MUSSOLINI
    AMERICA has its BECK
    CANADA has its HARPO!

    Harper is the LEAST CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER by definition in the last 5 decades.

    God Save Canada from Harper!

  51. Bearing in mind 'liberalisim' is a mental disorder the left wing loon-atics must be going crazy at Becks honesty. They (the left) doesn't even know how to spell the word. Watch for the hate from the left to really gear up in future articles. Beck isn't impressed with the Republicans either but that doesn't cut any slack with you haters. Most on the left are parasites, maggots and leeches so they don't care if the country goes bankrupt.

    • Jeet yet?

  52. "elite press… 'gotcha hournalism'"

    You take your talking points directly from Sarah Palin, I see.

  53. I would love to see the leftists' hysterics with a real devout socon and hard core fiscal conservative running the show.

    The factual and logical leaps by the likes of Wells to attempt to paint Harper than so much more "radical" than the mildly conservative centrist that he is, again says so much more about the location on the political spectrum of the likes of Wells, than anything of Harper.

    As for the precise local on the left side of the spectrum? That's hard to quantify, but to get a pretty good guage, take a look that the positive ratings from some of the far flung leftist commenters agreeing with Mr. Wells, and conversely, the hostility to anything approaching conservative positions.

    In short, not full blown marxism, but also uncomfortably far from the center, which is tthe appropriate locale for someone who purports to provide straight analysis, rather than using the pulpit of "journalism" as a platform to spout one's preferred political positions.

  54. You've evaded addressing the fact that it's not the Harper Tories that started all the nastiness in politics. You apparently feel that all the nasty invective directed against the Reform Party and its supporters was justified. Fine, that's your opinion and we can agree to disagree. But justified or not, that was long before the Harper Tories took office, and it was spewed by the Liberals and PCs at the time, both of which saw Reform as a threat. So Well's claim that the Harper Tories are responsible for the ugliness of the current political dialog is not true. Saying that Reformers deserved it doesn't change the falsity of Well's assertion.

    • Nonsense. The Liberals never wrote a guide on how to disrupt committees; they never answered every question with a personal, almost always off-topic attack, often a very personal one, on the opposition members; they didn't run attack ads when there was no election on; they never tried to destroy reputations with lies and innuendo.

      It was also the Reform/Alliance/Conservatives who set the precedent for scandal-mongering over policy discussions. Remember "strippergate"? What could have been a productive political conversation about the rights of temporary workers was turned into a ridiculous farce by the Conservatives. Remember the completely over-blown rhetoric about the Sponsorship scandal? The Conservatives didn't want it investigated, weren't (still aren't), interested in the facts. They wanted to hold a kangaroo court in the media. How about doing everything but outright accusing Chretien of terrorism for not going into Iraq?
      Remember the Conservative attacks on the Liberals for not shipping Maher Arar off to Guantanamo or some other hellhole?

      The reality is that there is a deeply disturbing mean streak in the Conservative Party. It goes way beyond partisanship. Winning isn't enough, instead they seek to destroy people. The Liberals play rough, but they don't have that mean streak. The PCs played rough, but they didn't have that mean streak either. there was always a bit of it in Reform Party, and it seemed to pick up under the Alliance under Day, but when Harper took over, things got really nasty.

      • Oh, okay. I guess you're right. Harper and his Tories, the Reform Party and Canadian Alliance are the only ones responsible for all the ugliness and intolerance in political discourse these days. The other parties play "rough," but any party associated with Harper was, and is, "mean." Thanks for straightening me out.

  55. In most of the developed world, the political centre has been drifting right for the past 30 years and the political parties have followed. Harper is simply trying to keep pushing it farther and farther. It's only working with his core supporters. Most of us are resisting it. The result is that there is greater political distance between the left and right.

    Time to dump Harper and rediscover what Canada really isabout.

  56. Hmmmmmmmm In Common? Both humans, both talkers,both worship the same God, both politicians, and both love the spot light.
    Not in common? one is a rehabilitated drug addict and the other never used drugs and became a PM, one is a political talker make millions and one is a political doer live on a government salary.

  57. The proposed structure, which is NOT at "ground zero" is NOT a Mosque. Second, it has the approval of the Mayor of New York, Mr. Bloomberg. Third, it is modelled on the JCC 9The Jewish Community Centre and the YMCA, both of which contain similar "prayer spaces". Fourth, it has Jewish and Cgristian advisors and at least one professional Jewish woman sits on its board.

  58. What concerns me is that the primary perveyors of investive and venomn in the political class (USA and Canada) somehow get away with characterizing themselves as Christians, while the policies they espouse contradict the most basic teachings of Jesus Christ. Help you neighbour? No, they should look after themselves. Comfort a sinner? No, throw them in prison. Welcome the different? No; throw out those homos and immigrants.

  59. There's a major diff between Beck & Harpo.

    Beck's a Mormon whereas Harper is just a Moron.

  60. What will be really sweet is when Harper wins another election….again.

  61. With George Bush off the scene the Liberal press has to try a new scare monger comparison. There is none. Nice try idiots. This is so blatant anyone can see through it.

  62. You and me both, boss.

    Kneepads, anyone?

  63. In a speech to Libertarians at a conference sponsored by the Manning Centre in 2009, Stephen Harper claimed that his 3 main pillars were: Freedom Faith Family. Let's see how he's doing.

    Appointed a Science Minister that's a Christian and won't confirm he believes in evolution.

    Severed all contact with Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences after election in 2006… no need to talk to scientists

    In himself: His gut feelings are stronger than statistics, eg killing the mandatory census and the gun registry

    Cut funding to those women's groups that did not share his views on abortion

    of choice: $30 million for a voluntary survey instead of a less expensive and and more useful mandatory census

    from responsibility: Prorogation of Parliament twice to avoid accountability to elected Members of Parliament

    of information: with government documents? LOL

    to disagree: as long as you have no access to the media, if you do, you're scheming to bring down the government and form a coalition…

    cancellation of federal-provincial national day care program negotiated by Ken Dryden

    cancellation of Kelowna Accord to help Aboriginal people receive national standard of services for children, women, clean water, housing, education, economic development, etc.

    Reversal of solemn promise to seniors NOT TO TAX INCOME TRUSTS

    $9 billion to needlessly expand prisons instead of child day care spaces

    You're married to a veteran. What an honour! Any chance of helping with my photo op? An injured veteran? Oh….

    In summary…

    FREEDOM to govern unfettered by reason and accountability

    FAITH in his own infallibility

    His FAMILY at 24 Sussex … now and forever…

  64. Harper & Beck have one major thing in Common.

    That is to destroy the countries that they now live in.

    Fortunately, for Canadians, the Conservatives have little future. When the national media finally admit & report that the Conservatives accepted over a 2 Billion dollar bribe ( those are Canadian dollars ) to follow the direction of another country then it is all over for them.

    What Canada really needs now, is a new beginning where our past Political dynasties become irrelevant and we can begin a new era, where Canadians can actually be represented BY a party that is Canadian .

    • —such an evil man that would profess that the 3 things that encourage him to continue in public life are freedom,faith and family. If only we were blessed with a dictatorial, family-hating atheist, I`m sure you would feel better represented.

    • —sorry, that was meant as a reply to SidZehd.

  65. I'm no fan of Harper, I long for a government that reflects the true nature of our great country and delivers us from this ideologue. I have a great distaste for his politics, his divisiveness and his obvious disdain for those with whom he does not disagree. But I most wholeheartedly agree that comparisons between Harper's Conservatives and any of the regimes listed above is baseless and demeans the arguments of those who oppose this government, not to mention defaming the memory of the victims and survivors of real totalitarianism. All of the abuses listed above (insomuch as they can be linked to Harper directly, not all necessarily can), are of great concern and are affronts to democracy as David has agreed. But come on people. There's alot of ground to cover between here and fascism. I'm pretty sure you and I and Kady O'Malley can keep a good eye on Stevie and the boys. Hell, with any luck, they'll be gone by Easter anyways

  66. This article by journalist Wells covers a broad spectrum of politics and notable is the distain for Stephen Harper – even throwing Conrad Black into the mix. This is a new era and, imho, extremely ugly with hatred being rampant. It matters which party leader heads the country and pragmatic Harper does it well considering the agreements prior to his becoming Prime Minister. Harper learned on the job, faced extreme pressure from his political opponents – none of which has the aplomb to lead Canada's government. We are facing real – real challenges in todays world of mayhem. The young, without morals, support of family and or church beliefs, face a different world; including the lack of jobs and horrendous living costs. Is it wrong to enact laws making people accountable for their actions and pay for their crimes? Ask any family parent who have lost a beloved one. While morals went out the window TV and the media showing the ugliness of life helped it along the way. As for Conservatism – wasn't that the base root for establishing the western world?

    • Um, no. No it wasn't.

  67. Where the media have failed is in their (initial) admiration for all the dirt and mud and blood on the floor, e.g. when the first disgusting attack ads appeared, such as the ones smearing and degrading Dion. Some individuals seem to be coming to their senses, but possibly too late for any lasting return to decency and rational debate.

  68. Norm Tobin wrote, "…the right is becoming more extreme…" and Reverend_Blair wrote, "Magical thinking and the 'stupid is cool' meme have traveled through the political right since at least the 1980's", both showing their ignorance about the calibre of people that make up the voting public and their distain for those they claim to care about. The Liberal/liberal mantra has beentheir concern for the people, but if one of them finds fault with liberal methods or ideology they are branded ignorant, stupid, or somehow unworthy of being acknowledged for their point of view. That's the way it always is with narrow minded elitists. A pox on you both and any who think like you. We have a great country and the sooner we all realize that disagreement doesn't necessarily mean political polarization, then the sooner we will be able to have a respectful dialogue and most towards better government.

  69. Well, well we have here something very rare I think in Canadian journalism; a journalists with self awareness of his left/lib bias. I should hasten to add that I do not for a minute condemn him for his views or bias, indeed, given the social, economic, educational class which most journalists come from it amazes me that there actually are some that possess a right wing bias. So kudos to Mr. Wells for his self awareness – now if only some of his counter parts at the Globe and Mail and CBC could undergo a similiar epiphany we would indeed be making progress.

    • Where exactly did Wells express awareness of this purported left/lib bias?

      • Read (re-read) the last two sentences.

        • Here is the whole last paragraph, to provide better context. Now please explain where "left/lib bias" is thus demonstrated here.

          "…Take Conrad Black. When he launched the National Post in 1998, Black saw himself as the finest example of well-earned elitism in battle against “envy,” which he defined as jealous carping by people who had not earned their bragging rights. But Stephen Harper has reversed the polarity of Canadian conservatism: envy is in now. Elites are the enemy. Black, fresh from his detour through the correctional system, struggles to find his bearings. “It is a howling mystery to me why the Harper government is seeing to placate the reactionary end of the law and order vote,” Black writes. You and me both, boss. Welcome back to the urban elites."

  70. I really cannot get over the punditocracy's shock over the ostensibly "sudden" efflorescence of America's Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins. Have they forgotten the Father Coughlins, the Phyllis Schlaflys, the Anita Bryants, the George Wallaces, and the Newt Gingriches? Has there ever been a time when America's public discourse was not infested with divisive, demagogic zooplankton eager to exploit the human psyche's basest, darkest atavisms? Will there ever be such a time?

    Gosh, Mr. Brecht. Tell us what you think about the situation:

    "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again…."

  71. this is very thoughtful and thought provoking piece. I want to pick up on my one strand in particular

    "Another is that, thanks to websites and broadcasts that preach to the converted with pinpoint accuracy (Huffington Post, Beck's The Blaze), the possibility of consensus collapses further because neither side even hears what the other is talking about."

    That line jumped out at me after perousing the latest down hear in Australia this morning. Rumours have the independents going to Labor (following the day's meeting with both Leaders). we shall see, but the related point is whoever ends up as the opposition is expected to be "the most angry Opposition you can get" and as such unlikely to be saying anything constructive or, at all.

    So the problem becomes "not hearing the other side" but being deliberatively obstructive as both method and message. Being obstrcutive of course is not new, but I would think being solely obstructive for the sake of obstruction might be. it also makes hope that we might do better to be more empathetic or at least willing to give a fair shake to one another near fantatsy.

    • Good point, and one made just recently by our PM in what he believes seems to be what drives the opposition parties here in Canada now—-being obstructive for the sake of being obstructive.

      • Of course it's Harper's government which gave out manuals on how to obstruct Parliamentary committees. So if Harper made that point recently,he was just following the dishonest rightwinger habit of projecting their own faults on their opponents.

  72. I feel like one of the 6% who didn't vote for Hitler when I read the diatribe of the left wing sheeple that read this drivel. The rest of you (94%) towed your party line and look where it got Germany. The gap between the right and left has become a chasm solely due to the fanaticism of the left. There is just no stopping the left wing destruction of what was once the best society on earth.

  73. Strong feelings are not a novelty. What is a novelty is the medium in which everyone can express their strong feelings – the ignorant peasants as well as the blessed and enlightened elite. Prior to that we had mostly what the media permitted to be read and seen.

    The notion that bad faith, viciousness, etc exists primarily on "the right" doesn't stand scrutiny by anyone whose memory goes back more than four years. If that's too long, just read the comments to this article to see where the hyperbole lies.

  74. OK – I posted this in a reply (to scf I think – but am re-posting here where it isn't buried) when he referenced "Obama's deficit"

    Though the media has accepted that idiotic talking point, the real owner is GWB http://www.cbpp.org/images/cms//12-16-09bud-rev6-

  75. While any thinking person would know that Obama did not start off with a clean slate, it would be an " idiotic talking point " to use a graph that uses the assumed policies of the previous administration as a basis for the future deficits.

    If it`s a blame-game you`re playing why not go back even further and go after that spendthrift Truman ?

  76. This country,like the US has had it with the left telling us we should be ashamed of who we are and how we built this country.Enough of the were sorry to every group who thinks they should be paid off for something dead people did before most of us were even born.The media in this country are one of the biggest problems we have and should be held accountable for the lies and half truths they print,yes you Mr.Wells are a part of the problem,your writing prove you think like one of those elites you speak of,you spend your time talking down Harper but you fail to see most of us think like him.The time is coming when you lefties will pay the piper and its starting in Toronto with Ford.Watch out lefties you are about to be run over, we are taking back our country and mostly the right to teach our childern our own values and not your twisted view on whats right and wrong.

  77. "The Politics of Venom and Accusation" by Paul Wells.

    I am not sure that I understand Mr. Wells analogy of Mr. Harper as "disorienting the federal Liberals. I thought they started to become disoriented as soon as Jean Chretien step down. As for Mr. Harper pulling our politics on the rewarding terrain of culture, patriotism, and religion, I have never heard Mr. Harper mention the word Christianity let alone say it was in danger. Mr. Harper has done more to boost our international image than any leader has in many years. I agree that our politics have become "nasty and hotly accusatory" but you have to agree that the Liberals were in power for a long time, and they had a good kick at the cat before the Conservatives came on board. The Conservatives are merely trying to "clean up" some of the mess that was created by other side.

    The Liberals are suffering from all the lefties that moved over from the NDP, such Bob Rae, Gerard Kennedy, etc.that's the change you have seen in the Liberal camp and no fault of the Conservatives. No wonder they can't find a leader who would stand up for what they stand for. They are not quite sure anymore themselves. The Liberals have not presented any policy or plan, but they are quick to criticize and oppose anything the Conservatives bring up.

    It seems that Mr. Wells has a leaning towards the Liberals in his article and trying to dissuade voters from voting for the Conservatives. It stands to reason that many people are fed up with the antics of the restless politicians in Ottawa, who do nothing but bitch and complain about anything and everything, when they should be governing the country.

    Mr. Harper is the first Leader in a long time, who has a statesman presence on the world scene. He is intelligent, and well spoken, and certainly is a no nonsense person, with a sensible head on his shoulders. Patriotism? Is protecting our Northern borders patriotism, maybe, but he is the first who has gone there to provide the support that is long over due. The Liberals certainly did not do very much to develop our northern borders, let alone visit.

    • And of course you get a thumbs down for that great comment. Expect no less from macleans commenters.

      But again, well said.

    • Agreed. I don't like Harper one bit, but to project US' right-wing thinking and actions onto Harper & the Conservatives is incorrect. There would be some cross-over, as there would be with the right-wing government of the Netherlands, but mostly there are differences. Why? Because (as much as this is nearly impossible for Canadians to grasp) Canada and the US are two separate countries. With two separate histories. With different parties. With their own histories. With different individuals leading those parties. With their own separate histories. In two different countries.

  78. So it's Harper who is engaging in the politics of polarisation? I seem to recall the Liberals winning an election or two by insinuating that the opposition were closet extremists (because –you know– most Christians are extremists). It seems to me that the concerns of voters over legitimate problems like spiralling deficits and aggressive refashioning of culture by the left are dismissed as merely "bitter, fearful people clinging to their guns and religion." Through conversations with left-thinking friends I have increasing doubts whether the left –which for the most part can no longer be called liberal– still favours the democratic process over rule by those who assure themselves of their intellectual and moral superiority. That is, I fear for the future of democratic pluralism. Neither self-congratulation nor the demonisation of dissent are helpful.

  79. This is so much nonsense. The Liberals are the ones spreading all this venom and trying to portray Harper in a scary light. Liberal propaganda is all this is. Stop trying to compare him with Sara Palin or other Republican members. He is no fanatic as he has show us many times in his actions. Where is all this coming from? The Macleans magazine hasn't had a good arcticle in ages. They should change their writers and be able to report in a manner that is not so partisan. You are expressing an opinion which most of the media do.

  80. I always like your writing, Wells, and usually enjoy the construction of your arguments. This time, no. You unfortunately fell into the same weak trap that so many writers of Canadian politics and culture do where they lazily use US events to back up their claims of this country. Most of your historic and current event highlights were about a fully foreign country, the States, and therefore come across to me as weak and loose and, like I say, lazy.
    Now, I know what you and most Canadians will respond with: But but but, There's a strong NORTH AMERICAN culture; We cannot take the States lightly; Elephant; Mouse; Peril; Blah, blah blah.
    That would stand if the article was about North American culture, but it's about Canada's. You don't use the words "North America", but rather cite US political examples to back a Canadian trend.
    Now I agree, there IS a N.A. culture, and that the politics of these 2 countries have some significant cross-overs and therefore can be used for comparison. But I'd say there is an equal amount of complete dissimilarity between the two countries, their parties and their mindsets. Enough so that using Reagan's actions to back up what Harper is doing is quite nonsensical.
    Why not do more research and go back into Canadian history to show a trend in this country? Why not? An idea so simple, it just might make sense. If you must, sure, tie in a bit of the States (I mean, NO Canadian writer could ever NOT mention SOMETHING about the US…) but also use other countries, and preface it all by saying that the trend in Canada extends throughout N.A. and possibly into the Western World. You do this sometimes, but in this article, you mostly sneak around it. This kind of integrity in our national writing happens sometimes. Just not near enough.

  81. Fundamentalist religion of any kind is incredibly dangerous when mixed with the political reigns of power. It scares me and should scare everyone else it becomes an unfair system where a church/temple/synagogue/mosque makes decisions for all. There seems to be very little tolerance when that happens, there seems to be a lot less understanding and we all know that there are wars raging right now that are totally religiously driven and those that are of neither faith are being caught in the middle. Just trying to get through the day in one piece, finding a little ray of sunshine to share with family and friends and hoping they won't get blown to bits in the process.
    We seem to forget that the basic premise of all religions is that of the golden rule of doing unto others, of compassion, of harming none. The world would be a whole lot bet off with a whole lot less religion and politiking and a whole lot more simple compassion. Find me a political party that will simply do the right thing for everyone without worrying about them having some other agenda that frankly is supposed to be divided from the state anyway. Find me a political party that just wants to make sure that everyone will be treated equally and fairly. A party that does not seem to have to be political but could be oh I don't know what is the word…..oh yes honorable, who want to be public servants which means to serve the public good and trust. Find a political party like that and people will vote in droves but right now you seem to have a choice of slimes and yet I still vote in every election with hope.

  82. Note: The US just came off from a high turnout mid-term ellection which followed a high ternout presidential ellection. (Mid terms allways have low ternouts in comparison to presidential ellections.) At least in the US ternouts are low when people feel there is no real choice or they are content with the status quo.