The front page article in the April 6 Ponoka News outlining Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s triumphal visit to Beaumont as part of his election swing through Alberta painted him as the man for all seasons, if not the saviour of the western world. I suspect that there are more than a few Albertans not quite convinced by such a staged event.
The prospect of another demigod (like Trudeau) at 24 Sussex — even a Conservative one — might be a bit unsettling. For those desiring an introduction to a bit more balanced look at the prime minister’s use of power and his style of “strong leadership,” I suggest a quick read of Lawrence Martin’s Harperland, suitably subtitled “the Politics of Control.”
There you will discover the many instances of Harper’s tendency to promise one thing, and then quickly deliver the exact opposite (fixed election dates, ‘open and transparent’ government.) Martin also catalogues Harper’s almost megalomaniac hunger for power, his almost total centralizing of government in the Prime Minister’s Office, run by appointed people, rather than elected representatives. Martin also cites the many instances of Harper’s biter, hostile and vengeful approach to the running of the country. His rigid control of his own party means that if you disagree with Harper, you are soon gone.
More disturbing to me than any of this, however, is his complete willingness to bypass the practices of parliamentary democracy in the passion for getting his own way in everything. Harper’s “strong leadership” mantra smacks of 19th century Europe, and evokes the names of such characters as Count von Bismarck or Charles DeGaulle.
So, if you find yourself wondering what we are facing if we give such a man a majority government, here is a place to gather information that may help you decide that it might not be such a fine idea in the long run. Martin’s book is available at the Ponoka Public Library.