Saturday, May 4, 2013

Are Canadians Experiencing Buyers' Remorse?

Many of us who blog, tweet, or post political views on Facebook cannot, I suspect, avoid the periodic and unsettling notion that we are simply 'preaching to the converted' instead of reaching a larger audience with our perspectives and commentaries. Yet we persevere, both as a catharsis for our own outrage over social and political injustices, especially (at least for me) those induced by the Harper cabal, and in the hope that our words may influence those who don't necessarily feel as we do. But it is always just a hope.

That is why I take such delight when I read things in the mainstream media that suggest our discontent is shared by a constituency much wider than our blogosphere, thereby offering reasons for renewed optimism that changes in Ottawa are indeed quite possible. Such is the case today in reading The Star's Chantal Hebert. Entitled Stephen Harper’s legacy in government may be nastiness, her column suggests that those who made possible the Harper majority are now feeling buyers' remorse:

The latest voting intentions sounding — done by Harris/Decima for The Canadian Press earlier this week — shows the Conservatives in second place, seven points behind the Liberals and more than 10 points down from their 2011 level.

While acknowledging that the results stem in part from Justin Trudeau's recent assumption of the Liberal Party leadership, Hebert suggests they are also a natural consequence of the politics of negativity that Harper and his functionaries have continued to embrace so rabidly, despite their majority:

With a consistency that would have been exemplary if only it had been exerted on the policy front, the majority Conservatives have treated Parliament and the country to [ongoing contempt].

At times it has seemed as if, having fought so hard to conquer a majority, they felt compelled to act like an occupying army rather than a government accountable to all.

Hebert makes the point that Canadians are used to their politics being rough, reminding us of some of the antics and abuses of power that characterized the Chretien reign. She does observe, however, that his government's saving grace was

a series of signature policies for which support extended outside the core Liberal base. A return to balanced budgets, the Clarity Act and a refusal to follow the Americans’ lead on Iraq are three examples.

By contrast, all Harper has left is his die-hard 'true believers', the rest totally alienated from his antics:

He promised to fix the democratic deficit that plagued Parliament. Instead Harper’s contribution to that deficit already surpasses that of his predecessors.

The Conservatives were going to end the culture of entitlement that pervaded previous governments. Instead, some of Harper’s senators and ministers have embraced that culture in relative impunity.

The prime minister also vouched to restore accountability to government. Instead, he has presided over increasingly opaque budgets and a Kafkaesque regime of communication designed to obscure rather than inform. The auditor general himself has trouble following the money through the federal system these days.

Despite my retirement, the English teacher within lives on. Upon reading Hebert's observations, my mind went to a scene in Shakespeare's Macbeth, when, near the end of his unjust and cruel rule, Macbeth is facing invasion from the English, who are helping Scottish patriots overthrow the tyrant. Someone asks about Macbeth's status:

13 Some say he's mad; others that lesser hate him

14 Do call it valiant fury; but, for certain,

15 He cannot buckle his distemper'd cause

16 Within the belt of rule.


Now does he feel

17 His secret murders sticking on his hands;

18 Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach;

19 Those he commands move only in command,

20 Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title

21 Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe

22 Upon a dwarfish thief.

(Act 5, Scene 2)

I, and many others live in the hope that the dwarfish thief currently reigning in Ottawa is soon to experience a 'wardrobe malfunction' and lose his Prime Minister's robes. Hebert's article gives me renewed hope for that outcome.


  1. Canadians may well be reaching the point where they feel "nothing in love" for Harper, Lorne. Shakespeare understood the arc of unbridled power.

  2. Even after all these years, Owen, Shakespeare still has so much to teach us, doesn't he? Little wonder that the arts are held in particular disdain by the reactionary right!