Wednesday, May 21, 2014


While I have never been one to use the term fascist profligately, the creeping authoritarianism that has been the hallmark of the Harper regime gives pause for reconsideration. As the above graphic shows, and as any well-informed citizen knows, the cabal has been intent for many years on tearing down confidence in some institutions while exalting others. The nuances, variety and diversity of a healthy society are discouraged, even suppressed. Cultivating a black-and-white mentality within the population makes it easier to maintain and further control.

Perhaps the most recent and egregious examples of institutional attack has been Harper's attempt to undermine the integrity of the Supreme Court, the court of final arbitration and justice, by questioning and assailing the integrity and motives of Canada's Chief Justice, Beverly McLachlin. While much has been written as to his motives in this attack, it does conform to the above-described pattern.

The road to fascism is made easier by a compliant and docile population. Fortunately, not all dissent has yet been quelled in Harperland. Two former prime ministers, Joe Clark and Paul Martin, are speaking out:

In interviews with the Star, former prime ministers Paul Martin (Liberal) and Joe Clark (Progressive Conservative) and the top aide to former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien delivered scathing reviews of Harper’s comments.

Martin — Harper’s immediate predecessor — offered an unequivocal defence of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s recent actions in flagging a potential legal issue with a Supreme Court appointment.

“The chief justice acted perfectly appropriately. The prime minister has not,” said Martin, who named two judges to the top court during his tenure.

Clark, who appointed one judge to the high court during his brief time in the prime minister’s seat, said: “My gut (reaction) and my considered reaction was it’s very inappropriate.”

Said former Chretien chief of staff, Eddie Goldenberg:

“I actually find it despicable”... “I can disagree with a lot of his policies or agree with some of them but this is just an attack on institutions — I’m trying to think of a word — to try to ‘swift boat’ the chief justice. We’ve never seen this in Canadian history.”

While Harper and his minions have been trying to undermine McLachlin by saying that her attempt to call the prime minister was “inappropriate and inadvisable,”

the two former prime ministers and Goldenberg all said McLachlin had a duty to flag a potential legal question about a judicial candidate’s eligibility under the act that governs such appointments.

Martin said it is a long-standing tradition for a government to welcome a chief judge’s input. He said during the search that ultimately led to two Ontario appointments on the same day — Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron ... [Irwin] Cotler consulted McLachlin twice.

Former prime minister Joe Clark sees a distubring pattern in Harper's behaviour, citing

how Harper has dealt with a litany of institutions, starting with the Commons and the Senate, landing repeated omnibus bills on the agenda, diminishing the role of private members, making Senate appointments “some of which were good and some clearly bad … it did not indicate a respect for the role and the rules of the Senate."

And Clark observes what is the most insidious aspect of this bad behaviour:

“Institutions have statutory lives of their own, but they depend upon legitimacy, and if public opinion and the legitimacy of our most basic institutions is gradually narrowed by whatever source, that’s a danger for democracy. And when the source is the prime minister himself, I find that quite alarming.”

It is reassuring that these former top politicians are sounding the alarm. We can only hope that the message will have reached a large segment of the electorate by 2015.


  1. Harper has been masterful in causing a disaffection in the public for their national government and institutions. The fewer people engaged with their government, the more effective becomes the "old white man" vote so easily motivated by fear and prejudice. That's Harper's base and it delivered him a majority.

    1. No question that that is his strategy, Mound. We can only hope that people see through this in sufficient numbers and let their disgust carry them to the polls in 2015.

  2. Replies
    1. As the Magic Eight-Ball used to say, double nickel, the outcome is uncertain.