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Friday, February 23, 2007

Stephen Harper is Starting to Remind Me of Richard Nixon


The past few days have been very disturbing. The political interference by Prime Minister Harper in the Judicial Review Committee has escalated. The Supreme Court Chief Justice is now publicly expressing concerns over the continuing independence of the judiciary. Her fears are not unfounded.

Stephen Harper is clearly now all about political power and positioning and is only focused on what he has to do to achieve a majority government in the next election. The personal political power ends apparently justify a wanton disregard for the rights and reputations of people if he decides to vilify or bully then under his Parliamentary privilege protections. He is unapologetic for the damage he may have caused as well.

We see this also in Prime Minister Harper’s implied linking of the Air India Inquiry process to alleging spurious motives to the Opposition’s questioning the continuation of the Anti Terrorism Act. He showed more bad judgment by not ensuring the Inquiry, he appointed, has access and disclosure of government controlled documents so it can do its work.

Instead he sets up a photo op with families of Air India victims as more political positioning and pandering. Is this cheap and tacky politics or, as he would see it, “strategic and tactical messaging.” Either way it is demeaning of the office he holds.

The Harper response to his critics was a counter attack approach, adding more despondence and increased questioning about his personal agenda. Concerns now arise over the content and the quality of his character to be the leader of a country like Canada. His approach may serve him well in pursuit of power in today’s Venezuela - but not Canada.

Then we have the Supreme Court decision on the unconstitutionality of the security certificates process under the ATA. This decision a welcome impetus and opportunty for Canadians to consider the extension of the ATA. It frames the trade off between personal freedoms and security from terrorists. We need to understand and consdier the implications of the ATA legislation and we need to make the trade off choice consciously as a citizenry. Perhaps that will happen in the pending election. One can only hope.

I have not yet had the time to read the SCC decision but I shall soon. I think, based on media reports only, we citizens are being advised by the Court that we need to be worried about potential abuses of these extreme powers by police, security and intelligence agencies and those with discretionary political powers too….like Prime Ministers.

In this Blog have drawn parallels between Stephen Harper and George W. Bush. Those comparisons are still valid between the two men as politicians and political players. There is not valid comparable in terms of their capacity as leaders and holders of the highest office in their lands. Harper is clearly much smarter and is more clever and conniving than the befuddled Bush could ever be.

Harper the man is now less like the bewildered George Bush and is starting to remind me more of the cunning the Richard Nixon we discover in Watergate. I am not suggesting Harper has a Watergate type problem now or in his future. I am suggesting that he worthy of profound distrusts, just as Nixon was found to be untrustworthy. I say this because of how Harper is starting to reflect more of a Nixon personality and political approachs in how he handles opposition, criticism and challenges to his authority.

I am also starting to see Harper’s demeanour in terms of Pierre Trudeau as the “gunslinger” we came to know during the FLQ Crisis. The famous Trudeau line from those days of the War Measures Act was in response to a TV journalists question about “how far would he go?” Trudeau said “Just watch me!”

To my mind Harper has proven himself as someone we need to watch. Canadians need to be very careful how much power and discretion we give him in the next election. In the past week I have withdrawn any benefit of the doubt I previously afforded Stephen Harper as the man I might trust to lead Canada. He raises more questions than he answers. He creates more concerns than he solves.

I have not posted for a few days because I have been busy but I think I would have deferred anyway so I could mull over the events of the past week. I am glad I did take some time. I have mulled and have come to a considered conclusion about Harper suitability for leadership. I have concluded that Mr. Harper is motivated by a goal of personal political power but he is not equipped with the strength of character necessary to govern well. As a result, in my opinion, he is profoundly dangerous to our democracy and disrespectful of the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Canada. He must be opposed.