Stephen Harper is just plain dangerous. He has not just cowed his own MPs, senators and the civil service; he has been allowed to run free by the so-called independent media. The only reason Harper gets away with his antics is because the Fourth Estate is far too accommodating. They fear that if they hold his feet to the fire they will lose what little access they have now. Start asking tough questions and you'll be eliminated.
Better the staged photo-op than no access at all.
Harper is proceeding on an incremental program of power and control which is little different than what happened in Germany in the 1930s. He has disrupted, ignored and violated the conventions and traditions of our parliamentary system like no other Canadian prime minister before him. And the Fourth Estate, upon which an obligation to question such behaviour rests, has, with few exceptions, failed.
If Harper had his way, all power would be vested in him. Head of state, head of government, ministerial decisions; all of it. Parliamentary committees would be neutered completely.
And now, Harper has taken another step outside his jurisdiction. He is setting out to politicize the Canadian system of Honours and Awards and take control of something which quite rightly belongs in the hands of the Governor General.
No big deal, some will say. It has no effect on the majority of Canadians who spend more time wondering when to cash in the empty beer cans than they do about the award their neighbour received or what it's called.
In the Prime Minister’s Office, under officials working with House Leader John Baird, the most publicly partisan of all ministers, a review is under way of the nation’s honours system.The aim is to associate the Prime Minister with more national awards, perhaps at the expense of the Governor-General, with whose office so many awards are now associated. All honours and awards, up to and including (if you can believe it) the Order of Canada, are under review to see which, if any, might be more closely associated with the PMO, and which new ones might be created that are tied to that office and, by definition, to the occupant of that office.
Except that it is another incremental shift of power and control from outside the PMO into Harper's hands. And it's deliberate.
The political opposition? Right where Harper wants them: Useless and far too comfortable. Media scrutiny? Right where Harper wants it: Sparse, tame and far too comfortable. Public action? Crushed: The G8/G20 lockdown of Toronto proved that Harper could impose what amounted to martial law and, not just get away with it, but have people accept it.
It is well-known that Harper is not content with democratically defeating his political opposition; he is intent on destroying it. All of it. If he ever achieves a parliamentary majority that destruction will include those who support his political opponents. He will polarize politics and demonize anyone who opposes him. He has already proven that he is willing to engage in orchestrated smears of anyone who criticizes him.
Canadians won't allow it?
The Germans didn't allow it either. German voters consistently denied Hitler a democratic majority. While leading a minority government he grabbed power in places which the average German thought inconsequential. They allowed him to nibble away at the prerogatives of the head of state until the head of state was folded into the same office as the head of government.
Think Harper isn't attempting the same thing? The evidence says otherwise.