Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The battle ahead

As promised, let's look in a bit more detail at how dangerous the Cons' combination of motivations surrounding the 2008 coalition actually is - and why we'll need to do everything possible to make sure the next (seemingly inevitable) showdown turns out differently.

At the outset, it's worth remembering that the Cons have quite intentionally developed the habit of idolizing their leader. And while the main purpose of that strategy is surely to foster unity within the party, it would seem virtually inevitable that the cult atmosphere would have some effect on Stephen Harper's own view of himself.

That apparently led to Harper being momentarily shattered when he discovered that his actions had consequences, and that he couldn't simply impose his will on the country. But it didn't take long for Harper to summon up his most self-aggrandizing view yet, believing himself to be Canada's saviour against the caricature of a coalition that his party was already starting to paint:
But Mr. Harper’s mood and the government’s fortunes were transformed when Mr. Dion and NDP Leader Jack Layton invited Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe to attend the press conference and sign the document cementing the coalition. Galvanized, the Prime Minister vowed to do everything within his power to prevent what he called the Liberals coalition “with socialists and separatists” from forming the government.
Now, the belief of a controlling leader that a country requires saving at all costs from enemies within would be scary enough to begin with. And indeed one can argue that it's exactly that type of "only we can save Canada!" attitude that led to the Libs' downfall, as the consequences of their willingness to throw money at saving the country from separatists became much of the impetus for their removal from power.

But Harper also adds an extra element to the mix. While the Libs' sins were borne of a desire to stay in control of the country largely as it stands and a willingness to direct public dollars into their own hands to do so, they can't be said to have been willing to do deliberate harm along the way.

In contrast, Harper and his party wasted no time in threatening the country with ruin at their own hands if Michaelle Jean didn't give them the reprieve from democracy that they needed to stay in power. And unfortunately, the fact that attitude has been rewarded seems to have given them little reason to rethink their position.

So as matters stand, we're stuck with a Prime Minister who's spent five years being assured of his own infallibility, who's come to believe that only he stands in the way of untold horrors - and who's willing to destroy the country in order to save it.

Of course, it still remains to be seen exactly how far Harper intends to push matters in order to cling to power. But while I'm still optimistic that the general public won't be convinced by his fearmongering and will give some combination of opposition parties the chance to replace him following the next election, there's little reason to expect anything but a desperate fight at that point. And the more Harper manages to work himself and his party into a fury, the more dangerous the results figure to be for the country.

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